Fr Nicholas King SJ has been made a chaplain of honour of the sanctuaries during a celebration of Mass at the Grotto in Lourdes by the Catholic Association Pilgrimage.
He was one of three Lourdes chaplains appointed by Mgr Jacques Perrier, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes; the other two were Fr Antony Lester OCarm, and Mgr William Saunders of Southwark diocese.
The position of chaplain of honour dates back over 100 years and is a recognition of the work done by clergy in promoting the message of Lourdes, pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Grotto and the Shrine’s pastoral life and outreach.
The citation, read by Colette Sharrock, president of the Catholic Association Hospitalité (helpers’ organisation) praised the work done by Fr King and Fr Lester as brancardiers (helpers) of the Catholic Association, caring for the sick and disabled, as members of the International Lourdes Hospitalité.
The citation also acknowledged the work done by them as chaplains who have promoted the spirituality of Lourdes – especially among the young – through their writings, preaching and retreats, not only with the Catholic Association but also with the Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT) and other groups.
Fr Saunders has enjoyed long service as pilgrimage director of the Catholic Association and brings several hundred pilgrims to Lourdes each August from various dioceses, as well as from Stonyhurst College. Colette Sharrock said: “Their nomination is a great honour for the Catholic Association. The distinctive insignia of a chaplain of honour is a cross with Marian symbols.
“In this year when we reflect on the pastoral theme of ‘Making the Sign of the Cross with Bernadette’, we pray that these crosses will be a sign of our thanks to Bill, Tony and Nick for their contribution to our pilgrimage and to Our Lady’s Sanctuary.”
The pilgrimage directors of Southwark (deacon Michael Kennedy), Stonyhurst (Richard Brumby) and the British Province of Carmelites (Johan Bergström-Allen) carried the chaplains’ crosses for them to be blessed by Bishop Paul Hendricks, auxiliary in Southwark and chairman of the Catholic Association.