Archbishop Bernard Longley has spoken about his first Archdiocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes in 2010 and warmly thanked the doctors, who regularly go to Lourdes during his first address to the Lourdes Medical Association conference, writes Peter Jennings.
Archbishop Longley said: “The lives of people were changed last year through the impact of the Apostolic Visit of Pope Benedict and in particular by the beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman at Cofton Park.
“I am very grateful to those of you who were involved in the Holy Father’s visit,” the Archbishop of Birmingham told more than 50 eminent Catholic doctors from throughout Great Britain who were attending the 37th weekend AGM and conference, held at the Ramada Hotel, Sutton Coldfield in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, on January 29.
He continued: “In Lourdes we are conscious of those occasions when God’s power is at work in a particular and unusual way so as to bring about an otherwise inexplicable healing. The same stringent criteria that the Church requires in order to describe such a healing at Lourdes as miraculous, also comes into play when it is claimed that a miraculous healing results from prayer to the saints.
“No doubt you regularly go to Lourdes because of your particular professional expertise and because your presence can give a particular peace of mind to the pilgrims you serve.
“You are able to help restore physical well-being and to alleviate pain for those who suffer. In both of these you reflect the ministry of Our Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit.
“May Our Lady’s prayers help you to see more clearly the words and deeds of Christ the healer in your own professional skills and to experience the effects of his power acting through your vocation.
“Thank you for the unique witness to your faith that you are able to give, especially in Lourdes. Your time in Lourdes is a particularly precious gift to God. May it be rewarded in the blessings he gives to you through the prayers of Our Lady of Lourdes.”
During the weekend the doctors attended a clinical session as well as a formal dinner during which they exchanged information and ideas. Among the speakers was Jim McManus, a director of public health for the City of Birmingham, and Fr Dan Fitzpatrick from Scotland. A former doctor, Fr Fitzpatrick travelled to Lourdes with the Diocese of Paisley before becoming a priest 10 years ago.
The local hosts included Dr Patricia Crosby from Nuneaton, medical director Birmingham Lourdes Pilgrimage and a founder member of the Association; and Canon Gerry Breen, dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham and pilgrimage director for the Birmingham Lourdes Pilgrimage since 1997.
The Lourdes Medical Association was conceived by a group of 18 Catholic doctors over dinner in Lourdes while on diocesan pilgrimages in 1973. The first AGM of the new Association was held in 1974 at Penns Hall, Sutton Coldfield (now the Ramada Hotel).
Today this important national Association has a membership of more than 130 and includes distinguished consultants and doctors from England, Wales and Scotland, who generously give of their time to accompany and care for the medical needs of pilgrims, especially the sick, to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Each of the three countries represented has an elected representative on the International Medical Committee of Lourdes, which meets annually in France. Archbishop Bernard Longley was expected to celebrate Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, at 4.30pm on Saturday February 12.
The occasion was to be a joint celebration for World Day for the Sick and the Lourdes Hospitalité for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11).