‘May the living waters of Christ which flow in the shrine of Lourdes flow also through this ward.’ These are the words with which Bishop Nicholas Hudson began Mass at St Joseph’s Hospice before he opened the refurbished Lourdes ward.
The Gospel told of Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman. Bishop Nicholas suggested that Jesus’s telling this woman he is the Messiah is a measure of how much he thirsts for her. This thirst he expresses poetically by saying, ‘The waters that I shall give will turn into a living spring inside you.’ ‘And what he says to her he says to each of us too: “Yes, I am the Messiah. And yes, I want to live in you - if only you would let me”.’ Bishop Nicholas said his hope was that all who visit this ward will meet that life, that live-giving water in one another.
After Mass, Bishop Nicholas blessed the ward and met several of the patients. He told the assembly gathered at a festive lunch that he was touched that St Joseph’s had chosen to rededicate this thoroughly reappointed ward to the Shrine of Lourdes. He said he felt sure that Our Lady would watch over all who came there: patients, patients’ families, friends and staff. ‘And Saint Bernadette too! Because it was to Bernadette that Our Lady revealed her desire, God’s desire, that the sick come to Lourdes, not necessarily to be cured but strengthened, given courage to bear their illness. And I’d like to suggest,’ he said, ‘that this desire of Our Lady touches the very heart of St Joseph’s mission, which is to give strength and courage to all who come here.’
‘Of course,’ he added, ‘it’s a message the Sisters of Charity have been communicating for more than a century, ever since they opened their doors to the sick and poor of the locality a hundred and fourteen years ago in 1905. Part of what is in our hearts today is surely to thank and congratulate them for what they set in train, set in train and maintained, all those years ago. We rejoice with them to see another major step in the mission of St Joseph’s Hospice realised today in the recreation of Lourdes Ward.’