Friday, May 16, 2014

Lourdes: 56th International Military Pilgrimage

....or "the Pilgrimage that we didn't plan to make...."

........UNTIL we received an email from our first priest.
Father Kleffman, US Army (retired), served as the Army
chaplain in Hohenfels, Germany. When Flint proposed, he (Flint) began
handing me booklets on how to become Catholic. After our marriage, we
met weekly with Father Kleffman as I learned more about Catholicism. He guided
me through the initial Sacraments and blessed our marriage. With overlapping dates in
Lourdes, how could we NOT make a special point to be with someone who remains
so dear to our hearts?
Our final evening included our visit with  Father Kleffman.

(If you enlarge this picture, and look at the outline above my head on the column,
you will see a figure that resembles the Madonna and Child. The waiters called our attention to it.)
This was our first time to stay in Hotel Moderne. I highly recommend it. Great staff, beautiful building, and
excellent location.)
Flint had received an earlier email from the Knights of Columbus asking for volunteers. He was the final Knight to apply. At times, it was as if we were on different pilgrimages as he served in a unique capacity. I was honored to meet some of our Wounded Warriors, and Flint thought I managed to get in some nurturing although I wasn't a 'real' volunteer.
Following the Welcome and Mass for American Pilgrims
The Knights Honor Guard with Bishop Spencer of the

With our new Sicilian friend who was in our tour group.

Processions:  Outdoor, Indoor, in the Streets....

English-Speaking Mass with Great Britain and Ireland

Stations of the Cross

Maura, an Irish lady, and I walked the Stations together.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Not a cloud in the sky for three days!

The Spanish soldiers sang while posing for their picture.

Flags of participating countries fly only during the PMI.
It seems that fewer countries participated than in previous years.

A sign in our hotel announced the tour of Dr. Scott Hahn, noted author and convert. He and his wife
were leading a group to Fatima, Avila, and Lourdes. Dr. Hahn was gracious enough to pose with
us as we met him at the door. I met his dear wife, Kimberly, in the lobby, and we both met
one of his wonderful sons.

Another special moment was meeting Supreme Knight of Columbus, Carl Anderson, at a reception.

Gary, the District Deputy of Europe, who we have now seen at several KofC events,
 and Kevin who we met last year. Marlys, the coordinator of the US Delegation, nailed it when she said that the PMI is like home week. We saw many familiar faces.

Our dining companions
in our 'new' dining room.
This came about as Flint seldom ate with the group since he had to be elsewhere. On the
day we did manage a meal together, we sat at a table for two against the wall. However, when the
two women who had been seated there for a couple of meals came in, they were not happy. The hotel people asked if we would move.
Our new found friends cornered the hotel people and asked if they could join us. Management complied, and we certainly
enjoyed their company.

When Father Kleffman joined us, the priest accompanying the Scott
Hahn entourage stopped by our table to visit after he had blessed
articles for his group. We were trying to be polite and not talk during the blessing. Every time
we thought he had finished, he blessed some more. Father Kleffman's
humor remains....."I think he used the long form!"

We have been blessed beyond measure to make multiple pilgrimage to Lourdes.
You who read this, may you find the peace of Lourdes in your heart today. It is a place like no other.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

St. Bernadette, pray for us!

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