Hundreds of pilgrims gathered at St Chad's Cathedral on Sunday 19 May for the Blessing of Hands Mass. The Mass takes place to bless the hands of pilgrims for their service and ministry in Lourdes, as over 700 people will join the diocesan pilgrimage next week.

This year's pilgrimage focuses on "Blessed are the Poor" and takes place from the 25-31 May. Over half of those attending are children and young adults, called to serve.

Uplifting music filled the Cathedral thanks to CJM Music, who will be leading on music and liturgy for pilgrims in Lourdes with a team of talented young people.

Mgr Tim Menezes, Acting Dean introduced the clergy giving blessings: Fr Craig Szmidt, Fr Paul Whieldon, Canon Gerry Breen and Fr Michael Doman

Fr Michael Dolman told his own story of pilgrimage and faith in the homily:

"I still remember my first pilgrimage as a teenager. It was an experience that changed my life of faith. Until that point, faith was part of my life but perhaps it belonged more to my family, parish and school than it did to me. I got it at one level but didn’t really have much bearing on my day to day priorities.

This faith could really be real

"During this pilgrimage two things came alive for me. I was going to a far-away place - Wales- where Mary had appeared and miracles had happened. While I was there it dawned on me- “This faith could really be real”

I realised that God accepted and loved me

"As the days of pilgrimage passed by I came to realise I was loved by this living God and by Mary. I sensed this in a real way. My insecurities, failings, awkwardness remained but I realised that God accepted and loved me.

"St Paul says today “We all have to experience many hardships”. As a teenager I had my worries and uncertainties but now there was a peace that God held me in this. Today Jesus gives the great commandment “love one another just as I have loved you”

"I went on pilgrimage with a church group. Up until then I found church a little bit anonymous, exchanging a few pleasantries. Going on pilgrimage I got to know all of these other people in a more real way. Elderly and infirm, priests, families, other pilgrims my age, those whose faith was strong, those who weren’t sure.

A living reality, a way of life

"We prayed together, socialized, served and helped each other, shared our faith and grew closer together. Being part of church suddenly became real, a bit messy, tangible. It was not just about me and God, an idea or moral code, but a living reality, way of life.

"I wouldn’t say that this pilgrimage caused all of the light to come on for my faith- but enough to pursue it. Our faith develops gradually through life: practicing.

A time of renewal

"In a moment we are going to have hands blessed for service. Perhaps we can pray that we will be open to receive a miracle.

A deeper awareness of God’s living presence

A greater sense of belonging to the family of church.

"In St John’s vision of a new heaven and a new earth, the one sitting on the throne spoke: “Now I am making the whole of creation new”

"May our pilgrimage to Lourdes be a time of renewal for us all.

"Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us."

You can follow the Lourdes Pilgrimage on the Diocesan website and by using the hashtag #Brum2Lourdes


Photo Gallery

Blessing of Hands 2019