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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Lourdes pilgrimage helps US military find faith, spiritual boost

Active and retired members of the US Armed Forces said they were deeply moved by their experiences as part of the annual Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage, taking place this year from 15th to 22nd May during the 60th annual International Military Pilgrimage to the Marian shrine in France.

“It’s a great spiritual boost. It’s like having a reunion,” said Fr Mark C. Bristol, a lieutenant in the US Navy ordained to the priesthood in 2016. “You’re meeting with guys who have served in similar areas and have had similar experiences. It feels wonderful to be here.”

Capt. Gary M. Rose, a Medal of Honour recipient, recommended the journey for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There’s so much faith here and so much concern for other people – especially for people suffering from PTSD of any kind,” he told Catholic News Service. Rose first visited Lourdes with his wife in 1982 and found it personally beneficial. He said he believes this second trip will also be helpful.

Rose and Fr Bristol are travelling with a group of about 200, including staff and volunteers, participating in the pilgrimage, sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Knights of Columbus. Included in the group are about 80 to 100 wounded veterans with their caregivers and families.

Picture: Capt. Gary M. Rose wears his Medal of Honour during a visit to Lourdes, France, on 17th May. (CNS photo/Tamino Petelinsek courtesy Knights of Columbus).