July 29, 2017

Pilgrims return home from journey to Fatima and Lourdes

By Carolee McGrath

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski and Father Gary Dailey led the Marian pilgrimage through Portugal, Spain and France, July 14 through July 28.

SPRINGFIELD – After an 12-day faith-filled journey to holy sites in Fatima, Portugal and Lourdes, France, 58 pilgrims returned home to Springfield full of joy and no doubt tired, Friday July 28. The group left Friday, July 14 for the pilgrimage making stops in Portugal, Spain and France. Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, along with Father Gary M. Dailey, the director of the Newman Catholic Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, led the Marian pilgrimage, which was sponsored by Catholic Communications.

“The trip was spiritually a huge success, in the sense of the shrines we visited. It was very uplifting and it had a great impact on the pilgrims,” said Father Dailey.

The pilgrimage was planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. From May to October 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children: Lucia dos Santos,10, and her two cousins, Jacinta, 7, and Francisco Marto, 9.

The Blessed Mother told the children to pray the rosary daily for peace and to offer up their suffering for the conversion of souls.

The local pilgrims were able to visit the homes of the children and saw the oak tree that is near where the apparitions occurred.

After Portugal, the group traveled to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where the shrine to the apostle St. James the Great is located.

On the last leg of the trip, the pilgrims made their way to Lourdes, France, where the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858. She told the fourteen-year-old girl to dig in the ground and drink from the water. Today, the spring is still flowing and has been credited with countless miracles. Each year, millions of people travel to Lourdes, many of them are ill and praying for healing.

Father Dailey said the nightly procession in Lourdes was moving.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski celebrates Mass in Lourdes, France.

“It had a deep impact. It’s a procession that begins at 9 p.m. The rosary is prayed. Thirty-five hundred people from England, just from England were there, thousands more from all over the world,” Father Dailey explained. “Some people come here seeking physical healing. What they leave with most often is spiritual healing, a greater faith to bear the cross,” he added.

Bishop Rozanski posted regular updates throughout the trip on his Facebook page.

“In Lourdes, the scene is filled with wheelchairs, with those who come in faith wanting to bathe in the Lourdes water, touch that water that our Lady gave to St. Bernadette,” said Bishop Rozanski in a video post.

“Lourdes is a place of healing. One can feel it in the water. One can feel it in the ceremony, in the Masses, and in the words of encouragement, especially to those most ill. Let us remember them in prayer always, because of them we see the suffering of Christ, and in that suffering of Christ we have redemption,” stated the bishop.

Deacon Thomas Lynch, who is assigned to the Newman Catholic Center, made the pilgrimage with his wife Linda.

“It was fabulous on so many different levels,” said Deacon Lynch.

“People were taken by the experience of going to places where heaven touched earth, taken by this experience of people of so many different backgrounds, cultures, languages all gathering to worship the same God. It speaks to the universality of the church,” Deacon Lynch added.

You can see all of Bishop Rozanski’s videos on his Facebook page ( and view more pictures on the Catholic Communications Facebook page (


A full video series on this just completed pilgrimage will air this October on “Real to Reel” the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly television news magazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22 NEWS