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Lourdes, the Miracle of Hope

Founded thirty years ago, the Lourdes Cancer Hope Association offers spiritual, moral and practical support to people affected by cancer and those around them. The annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, this year from 15-19 September, is the high.light of the association’s year.

 

Hope? Marie-Claude Aizpurua, herself from Lourdes and president of the Lourdes Cancer Hope Association, speaks very clearly on the subject: “Hope is limit.less, but may also appear as a small gesture: a smile, an act of kindness or a phone call. When we are feeling down it can require just a few kind words to raise our spirits, or give us fresh courage. It’s there we can rediscover God’s hand. Looking back, you realize the people you encountered weren’t just random: God put us on a path. Hope is also knowing that there is ‘an after’ where we will meet each other one day.”

Lourdes Cancer Hope represents a huge family for all those who, since 1985, wished to not have to face cancer alone. “We actually now have almost 10,000 members of whom more than 5,000 come to Lourdes each year”, explains Dr. Bertrand Barjou, director of the pilgrimage which has become, numerically, one of Lourdes’ largest. “This proves that the work performed by our 75 representatives throughout France, Belgium, Switzerland and Monaco is vital in establishing con.tacts and forming friendships. Lourdes Cancer Hope brings such peace, strength and joy!”

Since 1990, following a promise made to a 20-year old mother on her death bed, Dr. Jean-Noel Le Chevoir participates each year in the Lourdes Cancer Hope pilgrimage: “As a doctor, I believe that Lourdes’ biggest miracle is that each person is able to openly talk about the disease, including to doctors. We are learning another method of dealing with cancer, that of listening to the patient. Far too often it’s only the doctor that speaks.”
“Something very powerful and unique occurs during the pilgrim.age”, says Brigitte Grandou. “In 2010, whilst suffering a second bout of cancer, I immediately understood the ‘magic’ of the Virgin Mary’s compassion for us. At the association we meet people who have love for the sick. The masses are magnificent and passionate. Our hearts seem freed and lifted up. The communion nourishes us. There is real joy in the pilgrimage. I couldn’t keep it just for myself and therefore felt a need to share these experiences.” Brigitte has since become an association representative in the French Alps-Maritimes department. “I am just a cog in the machinery so that others may benefit from spiritual and moral support. It is my mission.” She remains convinced, “The things which occur through the Lourdes Cancer Hope Association come straight from heaven!”

If the September pilgrimage is international, other smaller ‘individual’ pilgrim.ages are organized on request to fit the needs of families, which was the case for Yves and Benedicte Oriou, parents of Brice, taken at the age of 7 by a brain tumour. “We came on pilgrimage to Lourdes with Brice, his sisters and friends, in December 2011,” they explain. “Our trip was planned with Arche, the OCH Foundation and Lourdes Cancer Hope. During the three weeks which followed the pilgrimage we felt that Brice came to be at peace and was able to accept Jesus in his heart. God’s infinite love is available to us all.”

“The pilgrims whom I accompany throughout the year as part of Lourdes Cancer Hope, experience a mystery which eclipses their lives: that of encountering God and the Virgin Mary,” explains Father Robert Boisvert, chaplain to the Hospitality. “Faced with the ordeal they are experiencing physically or in their family, they come to the Grotto, not to demand, but with an attitude of offering and acceptance.” The priest particularly remembers a moment he shared with a 4 year old child, sick, being carried on his father’s shoulders: “As it was raining, I held an umbrella above their heads. At this instant, I was certain that God was present with the three of us in the Blessed Sacrament Procession: the father was carrying Jesus Himself.”

Pope Francis states: “We cannot say we have hope in our lives if we don’t put our Hope in Jesus (…). When we unite with Jesus in his Passion, with him we remake the world. We form a new world.” A miracle of which Martine Delloye, a Belgian Lourdes Cancer Hope representative, can confirm: “Don’t wait to be.come ill to welcome the Light! When we make a place for Jesus in our hearts, He will come and fill it. In Lourdes, we learn how to make space for God.”

 

Lourdes Cancer Espérance
Résidence « Bet Ceu »
46, Place du Champ Commun
65100 Lourdes  - Tél 05.62.42.11.91
lourdes.cancer.esperance@wanadoo.fr
www.lourdescanceresperance.com