American veterans in search of healing attended a recent pilgrimage to Lourdes, through the Archdiocese for Military Services and the Knights of Columbus.
Among the pilgrims was Charles Baldinger, a West Point-educated infantry officer who had to retire due to Stage 4 brain cancer.
“We came for physical healing with my right side and speech. We got spiritual healing and strength for the journey instead and it was more important,” he said in a video recap for the Knights of Columbus.
The pilgrimage coordinator, Col. Charles Gallia, USMC (Ret.), said the event gives “the moral courage and spiritual strength to address the issues and problems of your life whether they’re physical, mental, moral. That’s the healing power of Lourdes and the Blessed Mother.”
The Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage, held May 15-22, drew over 200 pilgrims. The pilgrimage, now in its fifth year, was sponsored by the Archdiocese for Military Services and the Knights of Columbus. Knights of Columbus Charities covered expenses for veterans and their caregivers.
Father Mark Bristol, a military chaplain, said the Warriors to Lourdes program gives the pilgrims an experience “to encounter God in a powerful way.” Whatever they are undergoing, “they’re not alone and that more importantly there’s people to walk with them to accompany them along the way.”
The American Lourdes pilgrimage joined the 60th annual International Military Pilgrimage, which was launched after World War II to foster reconciliation, peace and healing. Its theme this year is “Pacem in Terris,” a Latin phrase meaning “Peace on Earth” and the title of a 1963 encyclical by Pope St. John XXIII. Forty countries from six continents were represented.
“The Marian Shrine at Lourdes is a place of hope where healings of many types take place, both physical and spiritual,” Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson said May 14. “It is an opportunity for active-duty personnel, veterans and their caregivers to experience an abundance of peace and consolation while in this holy place.”
Fr. Jeffrey Laible, a priest on the pilgrimage, reflected on the event’s importance.
“Often times our troops are looking for forgiveness for what they might have seen or done, especially when they’re in combat feeling guilt or shame anger,” the priest said. “Warrior to Lourdes pilgrimage helps our service members to experience healing and forgiveness.”
Full story at Catholic News Agency.