Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Thursday, May 5, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Mt Angel Towers 8.13

Home : News : Nation and World
Carrying physical and emotional baggage, U.S. military visit Lourdes
Catholic News Service photo
The U.S. flag is carried in procession as military personnel leave after a candlelight vigil at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southwestern France May 17. About 60 wounded U.S. military personnel, together with family members and caregivers, were a part of the annual International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Catholic News Service photo
The U.S. flag is carried in procession as military personnel leave after a candlelight vigil at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southwestern France May 17. About 60 wounded U.S. military personnel, together with family members and caregivers, were a part of the annual International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Catholic News Service

LOURDES, France — About 60 retired or active duty U.S. military personnel packed their uniforms, flags, wheelchairs, canes and the inevitable emotional baggage of their daily struggles to take part in a pilgrimage to Lourdes.

While many of these men and women, who had been injured in some way in the line of duty, went to seek peace and healing from this sacred place, some said they also found enormous and unexpected blessings from the people they encountered on their journey.

The soldiers, together with family members or caregivers, took part in a "Warriors to Lourdes" pilgrimage, sponsored by the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Knights of Columbus. The Knights covered the costs for the wounded personnel for the weeklong encounter of prayer, healing and friendship. For many of them, the May 13-19 visit to Lourdes -- where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 -- was their first pilgrimage ever.

Kirsten Sippel-Klug, a physical therapist at the U.S. Army Health Clinic in Stuttgart, Germany, went on the pilgrimage as a volunteer to serve soldiers needing assistance. At first her idea was just to help others on their spiritual journey; she did not think much about her own.

She said she saw going to Lourdes as a service, a way to honor her very Catholic grandmother, and as a way to get a "jumpstart back to an active religious faith" after fighting stage 3 breast cancer. She said the language and cultural barriers at her local German parish have kept her from truly feeling a part of the faith community.

The pilgrimage "feels like a homecoming," she said, because she has been able to attend Mass in English, and she went to confession for the first time in 30 years. "The first thing the priest said to me was 'Welcome back,' which was a super-smart first line."

"Right now the door is open, I've stepped in and I have a lot of questions" about the church's teachings and how they stand up to her more science-oriented mindset.

"I'm your average lapsed Catholic and I'm so glad I did it. It's a beautiful way back into the church," she said. "I want to come back next year and keep coming back to serve" and reflect.

U.S. Army Maj. Derrick Mitchell said long deployments overseas mean spiritual life is "just you and God"; going to church and Scripture studies and discussions are nearly impossible.

Since he returned stateside, he's been seeking greater closeness to God with his church, and he saw the pilgrimage as an opportunity for "spiritual uplifting and renewal."

As a member of an African Methodist Episcopal church near Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Mitchell said he was learning about the significance of lighting candles, the Eucharist and the veneration of Our Lady in Catholicism.

Though the rituals were unfamiliar and new, "the story behind it is the same," he said. "It's all about love and taking care of your brother."

"In the military, we definitely believe in covering the other guy's back, looking out for him, just like Jesus believed that the stronger  should look out for the weaker."

The warriors pilgrimage "has taught us about love and to (find) the good in the other no matter where you are" in life and what culture you belong to. "We all have that commonality."

Army Capt. Pamela Duggins, who served in Iraq, had seen the importance of a pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims during her time in the Middle East. She said when a friend gave her a brochure about the "Warriors to Lourdes" event and she saw a religious pilgrimage "exists for Christians, I was like, 'Oh my God, seriously? I want to experience that.'"

"I wanted to renew my faith, and my faith is pretty strong, but sometimes you want to be around people who are seeking the same thing," said the officer, who retired to Arizona on medical disability.

She said she had come with a clear idea of what she wanted from God, but instead she "got something completely different."

"And what's so amazing is it turns out that ends up being exactly what I needed and you don't realize it at first because we're so busy thinking, 'No, this is what I want.'"

After talking to the many men and women on the trip who were going through even bigger challenges, "I wondered, 'Why was I complaining?'" Sharing stories and experiences, "you realize people have gone through the same thing and gotten through it."

Facing a string of difficulties, Duggins credits her Christian faith with keeping her alive and getting her through each day, "one day at a time."

Even though she's read about the Lord's Passion "thousands of times," taking part in the Way of the Cross procession in Lourdes, where "you see it laid out, stage by stage" before life-sized statues depicting Jesus' passion and death on the cross, really hit home for her, she said.

Referring to the crosses every person carries in life, she said Jesus "keeps telling us each and every day just to leave it, 'I got it. I got it.' And all we have to do is just turn around and leave it at the foot of the cross and he's going to take it all."

Lt. Col. Theresia Pawlowski, a U.S. Army officer of the Secretary of Defense working out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, said she hoped the pilgrimage would help the soldiers who are at a crossroads in their careers -- those who don't know yet whether their medical situations will lead them to early retirement or reassignment.

She was praying people learn to "not depend on their own strength and find out the will of God."

Article Comment Submissions
Submit your comments, please. 
Comments are reviewed before being posted to the site. Comments must use respectful language and address the story. Comments are not posted immediately to the site. The site editor may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours. Comments may also be considered to appear as letters in our print edition, unless the writer specifices no.
Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved