Brother Bill Sherlog, C.F.C., and two of his students from Cardinal Hayes High School recently traveled with other pilgrims on a trip to the Lourdes shrine in France, a journey that one of the Hayes students said showed him “how our faith can connect us all together.”
“It was a Christian service project, about 20 high school students from all over. It was beautiful,” said Brother Sherlog, a religion teacher at Hayes, in an Aug. 4 interview with Catholic New York at the Bronx high school.
“There were students from Texas and Chicago, from Florida, the Boston area and metropolitan New York. The goal was to form Christian community and to be of service to the pilgrims who come to Lourdes; so we were pilgrims and we were volunteers…The story of Lourdes is one of basic faith and simplicity.”
The Hayes students who traveled with Brother Sherlog were Lucas Koon-Perez and Tylar Moore, who are both 18 and entering their senior year.
Brother Sherlog, Lucas and Tylar met up with other pilgrims and traveled to Lourdes through a nonprofit organization called Our Lady’s Pilgrimage (OLP), based in New Canaan, Conn. All gathered at JFK airport July 22 and traveled to and from Lourdes together, participating in activities and events together at Lourdes. The seven-day pilgrimage ended July 29.
“It strengthened my faith; just going on this trip, it opened my eyes,” Lucas told CNY. “It gave me so much joy; we were there to be of service, helping people cope and deal with whatever issues they have…I personally asked for health and safety for my family members, all my loved ones.”
Tylar said the journey for him was all about “patience, guidance, love and family…And it was just so diverse, there were Italians, Germans and just people coming from throughout the world. You just feel the spiritual connection, and the people of Lourdes are just so nice. It was like a safe zone for me. It was more so of: I know I’m serving them, but in a sense they’re actually helping me.”
Tylar added, “It has impacted a lot of people. I think that’s the most beautiful thing about Lourdes: about how our faith can connect us all together…You don’t know what they’ve been through, but you feel their pain.”
Brother Sherlog noted, “For the longest time, they had these actual baths and people would actually go into this marble tub and immerse themselves in the water; but because of Covid they changed the protocols and they came up with this water gesture.”
(The sanctuary encourages pilgrims to undertake an individual gesture of water, which consists of personally wetting one’s face and hands with the water from the cave flowing from the fountains).
Brother Sherlog said most of the volunteer work involved hospitality and helping at the baths where pilgrims seek healings, and helping to organize two major processions each day—the Eucharistic procession and a candlelight procession. The group assisted with Mass celebrations, such as helping with collections. Brother Sherlog noted the pilgrimage for Lucas and Tylar was funded by the widow of a Hayes alumnus (Ed Lyons); he said the grateful Lucas and Tylar were chosen by the school because of their exceptionally active volunteer service.
(Brother Sherlog said two students from Cristo Rey New York High School in East Harlem were also part of the group: David Pacheco and Jonathan Bernal.)
The Lourdes Sanctuaire reports: "At the Grotto of Apparitions under the rock is the source of the Lourdes Water and the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Grotto is the place where the apparitions took place in 1858: Eighteen meetings between the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, and Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old girl."
Mary’s words to Bernadette were: Go to the source, drink and wash yourself there. Penance, penance, penance. Pray for sinners. Come in procession. Let a chapel be built. I am the Immaculate Conception.