The theme for the 2016 pilgrimage is “Thanks be to God!” There are many reasons to thank God this year. First and foremost it is HCPT’s 60th anniversary pilgrimage, our Diamond Jubilee. For 60 years we have travelled to Lourdes with disabled and disadvantaged children and with vulnerable adults. In all that time we have been “changing lives through pilgrimage.” It is important to remember that, as HCPT Founder Brother Michael has reminded us, it is God who is changing lives through pilgrimage, we are his instruments. St Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians (4:7) reminds us that we are the earthen vessels who contain the treasure of God’s love and we are called to share it with everyone, and that is what we do on pilgrimage.
St Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians (2:10), also reminds us that we are “God’s work of art”; each and every one of us is made in the image and likeness of God and is loved by God. For God’s love we give thanks! God does not love us for what we can do; he doesn’t love us for what we know; he simply loves us for our own sake. We give thanks also for the gift of each other. Over the last 60 years we have seen our pilgrimage grow from a small group to an international community which gathers from around the world to answer Mary’s call to come in procession, to do penance and to drink at the spring.
We give thanks also for the Year of Mercy which we are celebrating, a year in which Pope Francis calls on us to reflect on the greatness of God’s mercy and love. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that we might have life through Him” (John 3:16). There are many reasons to shout “Thanks be to God!” Let’s make HCPT’s 60th anniversary a huge celebration which highlights for everyone how loved they are by God. Let’s help the Lord change lives through pilgrimage.
Full resources for 2016 will be available in the new year.