Our journey to Lourdes as first time Kenyan pilgrims and companions was filled with a great deal of curiosity.
Before the trip, we spent time googling and exploring the story of The appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous, a simple peasant girl, in a small and insignificant village called Lourdes, France.
The 1858 Marian apparition made Bernadette the victim of ridicule and scorn in the small community, but she endured the vilification for the greater good of responding to God’s will. Bringing to life the lesson that in His time, God’s will is not so much for us to comprehend but to obey.
Arriving in Lourdes, we were struck by the magnificent beauty and Gothic-style architecture of The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. By comparison, the Grotto of Massabielle with its simple plain stone undecorated altar. The silence of Lourdes creates an atmosphere of devotion.
We drank and washed our faces with the Lourdes Water from the miraculous spring.
The torchlight processions for the sick and disabled pilgrims were a sight to behold. We knew we were standing on Holy ground. There is truly something powerful and miraculous by just being in Lourdes.
Under the supervision and guidance of the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (BASMOM), we were immersed in the Orders world, upholding human dignity and caring for people in need.
We worked in teams on the hospital wards, and met new friends; pilgrims, nurses, doctors, volunteers and chaplains. New friends forever.
Each of us came on the pilgrimage as an act of devotion as our testimonies affirm the following:
“Going to Lourdes in France is the best experience ever in my entire life, I made new friends, a new family and a lot of things in my life, and my children have changed. First to start with me being selected for the paravolly Kenya national team without obstacles like before is because of the prayers at Lourdes. To be honest, it is like a new beginning of my life. I would be happy and joyful when given another chance to join the team on the pilgrimage next year. Thank you, and God bless you guys. I’m so much grateful 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽Sam and Nathalie. God bless you guys for making it possible for me.” Esther Asega, Kenyan pilgrim to Lourdes May 2023
“It was an experience of a lifetime, served to rekindle my desire to serve humanity, especially the sick and needy..and most importantly, remember that I need to set time in my life to lock everything out and lock God in. An experience I’m looking forward to again one day” Dr Arnold Babu May 2023
“My experience was very personal. I saw how much people love God and are ready to share their resources with me and all of us. I could see the world. It was unbelievable to note that masses are said throughout the day every hour. I saw challenged people loved, and I was personally challenged. The rosary prayer is real for me.” Sr. Bernadette May 2023
I came to ourdes with an open heart and mind. I left touched in heart and soul. Never have I experienced the true service of doing activities that make life comfortable, easier and enjoyable for sick strangers. This left me feeling inner peace, gratitude, and strength to overcome difficulties and find atonement. Healing and Grace are everywhere” Alison Ngibuini Kenyan Volunteer to Lourdes May 2023
To the President of the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (BASMOM), Celestrine Hales, thank you for taking us under your wings of service.
We applaud the Orders Ambassador to Kenya, HE Wilhelm von Trott zu Solz, our Hospital Pilgrim (HP), our Kenyan Pilgrims and the broader network of the Companions of Kenya.
Sam Mattock, thank you so much for the generous gift of the invitation to Lourdes. We appreciate your constant persistence in getting us to commit to the pilgrimage. You made it happen, and we experienced the presence of God.
God Bless you all.