The Mass in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes at Westminster Cathedral took place this year on 7 February, on the Day of Prayer for the Sick.
Cardinal Vincent was the principal celebrant. He was joined by Bishop John and Bishop Nicholas, as well as the Bishop of the Forces, Bishop Richard Moth, who is the lead bishop for the Bishops’ Conference Mental Health Project. Priests from around the Diocese who also concelebrated the Mass included Fr Dennis Touw, the Director of the Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage, Fr David Reilly, the Youth Chaplain, Vocations Director Fr Richard Nesbitt who leads the Reds (junior Red Caps) on the annual pilgrimage, as well as Fr Giles Pinnock representing Hospital Chaplains who carried the Oil of the Sick in the procession.
The procession was led by the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, carried by the Red Caps who also processed in with banners and torches.
Usually heard at the Dismissal, the Mass had as its theme this year, the phrase ‘Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life’. Reflecting on these words, Cardinal Vincent explained in his introduction: ‘There is a wonderful exchange: when we give of ourselves in loving service to our sick brothers and sisters, recognising in them the beauty of Christ, we receive from them, from Christ present in their suffering, the gift of becoming more like Christ ourselves! Our sick brothers and sisters are not, then, a burden to be avoided, rather a valuable gift to be welcomed.’s and assisted throughout the Mass. The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was given by the celebrants during the Mass.
As the Mass honours Our Lady of Lourdes, in his homily the Cardinal reflected on the role of Mary as our mother: ‘We remember that it is she who responds with such astonishing generosity to the sick and the burdened who come to her in Lourdes. She raises their spirits with her glance of love. Her loving presence is reflected a thousand, thousand times in the faces, the hearts and the hands of all who care for the sick both in Lourdes and at home, for she is mother to every helper, inspiring and guiding them in every action.’