Faith and Light” pilgrimage to Lourdes

The “Faith and Light” pilgrimage, marking the 50th anniversary of the movement, took place in Lourdes from the 27th to the 31st of October 2022. Sr Annick Le Hasif fj participated with a group of six people from Pontivy, France. She tells us about it.

It was a time of celebration and thanksgiving for the vitality and welcome of difference in our communities over the years. At Faith and Light, the diversity of people is a treasure.

Faith and Light communities offer adapted accompaniment and are like laboratories of inclusion for parishes skilled in liturgical animation, conviviality and sharing. The Church needs Faith and Light! Our wish is that everyone, as they are, constitute the Church of today and tomorrow.”

Comments by André Haurine, national chaplain of the movement.

What we experienced

This “Faith and Light” gathering in Lourdes brought together 3,000 mentally handicapped people and their carers from 180 communities in France, Belgium, and Martinique.

During the pilgrimage, we experienced different highlights :

  • The washing of the feet
  • The way of the Cross
  • The penitential celebration
  • The festive Mass of thanksgiving for the 50th anniversary of “Faith and Light”
  • Workshops in the footsteps of Bernadette, on synodality, the discovery of Bartrès
  • Singing with gestures and with the Body, the expression of the Gospel with gestures
  • Time for an exchange with Mgr Jacques Benoit Gonnin, the Bishop of Beauvais
  • Times of celebration, and a torchlight procession.

Some testimonies from my group

Véronique, the mother of Rémi with autism, said to us:

“Rémi, who is autistic, says that he is very happy with the pilgrimage. On our way to the grotto, Rémi, who has so few words to express himself, to our great surprise, said these two words “Faith and Light3.

This is the first time I have been on a pilgrimage with Faith and Light and I am “surprised” by the spontaneous friendship between everyone. I’ve never seen that anywhere else.

Communicating with people with disabilities is simple and easy. They come to us.

What touched me was the immense joy: simple songs of unbelievable beauty inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Asking a crowd to make affectionate gestures to their neighbour on the right and left was an invitation to be concrete in our love.

The battle between evil and the divine virtues, expressed using sailing ships, was extremely well thought out and a profound metaphor.

This pilgrimage has strengthened the affection between all the people of Faith and Light in Pontivy.

Thank you, Mary, for appearing in Lourdes. It is a holy city. We felt her presence there very strongly.”

Testimony of Marie Micheline

Marie Micheline is the mother of Eve, who is 25 years old and autistic.

“Eve expressed herself in the songs.

The organisation was superb, and the testimonies were emotionally charged.

It was like being in heaven during the Marian procession.

I never thought I would experience this with the Faith and Light communities of France, Belgium and Martinique, which brought together 3000 people.

I will always remember these intense moments.”

Testimony of Brice, a friend of Faith and Light

“This pilgrimage was fabulous in its sharing, love, joy and simplicity. We lived together as God asks us to and, with Him, we felt our love for Him and our holy Mother in each brother and sister. It was a little foretaste of Heaven on earth.

How I lived this exceptional time

I lived an extraordinary adventure of love, exchange, and fraternity in great freedom. The organisation was exceptional with great spectacles. We lived in joy, an immense joy. Faces were beaming.

The Holy Spirit touched our hearts through Mary.

It was a call to get more involved in Faith and Light, a place where welcome, kindness and friendship are present during our monthly meetings with disabled people. Through them, with them, we discovered the way of the heart that transforms us.

 I dare to write this song that is often sung at Lourdes:

Thank you, Jesus, for being the true Light for me.

Thank you, friends, for being with me, Faith and Light.

I believe that there is a treasure within me.

I share it, it shines out: the love that makes us stronger.”

This experience challenges me to be present in everyday life to the world of the “little ones” and to let myself be loved by them.

This experience challenges me to be present in everyday life to the world of the “little ones” and to let myself be loved by them.

“Faithful to the grace of our origins, we wish to show special compassion for the most deprived. Like Jesus, who was concerned for the outcasts of his day, we wish to be attentive to the cry of those most in need in our area.”

Rule of Life, no 17.

Sr Annick Le Hasif, dj, Pontivy, France

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