During July and August of 2021, eleven friars from Italy, France, Romania, Croatia and the Middle East, most of them simply professed, enjoyed a profound spiritual, fraternal and pastoral experience in Lourdes, France. They were hosted by the friars at the local Friary of Saint Maximilien M. Kolbe.
The different ages and cultures of the visiting friars made for a healthy and beautiful fraternity, full of mutual respect, dialogue and brotherly love. Throughout their stay, the friars were eagerly cared for by the confreres of the Conventual community in Lourdes.
They joined the local community each day for Mass, Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer at noon, recitation of the Rosary and finally, Evening Prayer. Although the language barrier posed certain difficulties, the celebrations were conducted in a way that took advantage of the internationality of the friars and united the participants in the Lord.
The visiting friars also had the opportunity to spend time in personal prayer at the grotto of Mary’s apparition, surrounded by the many pilgrims who, despite the ongoing pandemic, are still coming to Lourdes. The eleven visiting friars also participated in the mission of providing service at the exhibition on St. Maximilian M. Kolbe and the Militia of the Immaculate, set up in the friary.
Almost every day, the friars were at the Shrine for Eucharistic Adoration, the recitation of the Holy Rosary and the evening procession. Moreover, they attended other celebrations at the Shrine of Lourdes that helped them discover the beauty of the universal Church and the evangelizing power of the Holy Virgin.
The visiting friars also helped with household chores around the friary. Such service reminded them of St. Martha, who worked hard to prepare food for the brothers, manage the household and provide hospitality.
Despite unpredictable weather, the friars were also able to enjoy some community outings, in particular, hiking in the French Pyrenees, and visiting some other communities, such as the Poor Clares on the feast of St. Clare, the Capuchin Friars, and others. In addition, they enjoyed stopping by the summer youth camp set up by the friars of the community. While there, they joined the young people in celebrating the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of the friary in Lourdes.
The visiting friars are thankful to the Lord for this experience and thankful to their confreres in Lourdes for their hospitality and generosity.
Friar Mateo VUJČIĆ, Province of Croatia