The Midleton Lourdes Invalid Fund has been helping those with a special devotion to The Blessed Mary for almost 70 Years. Mary Fitzgerald of Fr Murphy Place, Ballinacurra, took her best china out on Wednesday 27 February, for her annual Charity Coffee Morning.
This is the fifty fourth year that the Midleton and District Lourdes Invalid Fund have assisted in sending the sick and disabled on a 6 day pilgrimage to receive a special blessing from Our Lady. In order to fund the trip, monies are raised through Coffee Mornings like Mary Fitzgerald’s, along with an annual Gala ticket event, to cover costs. Mrs Fitzgerald, who has been travelling to the French town for the past 26 years said that going to such a spiritual place can be life changing. “Everyone is at peace there and always happy.”
This is Mary’s twenty third year raising funds to help the sick and disabled from the area to travel to Lourdes. Wednesday morning’s fundraising event helped raise almost €1600 towards the cost of the trip.
Officially 80,000 sick and disabled people every year travel to Lourdes, to touch the rock of the Grotto for the strength to face their moral or physical pain and give purpose to their lives. There truly is something special about this small village, which has a population of just under 17,000. Annually, up to 6 million visit the sites where St. Bernadette was born, where she received her Baptism and First Holy Communion, as well as the apparition site. Pilgrims travel from April to October, with the Midleton Pilgrimage taking place this year between 31 May and 5 June.
Mary Fitzgerald, who is part of a team of 18 who give financial assistance through the Midleton and District Lourdes Invalid fund said: “It may often be the difference of €100 to €200 that prevent some of the area’s sick and elderly from travelling to Lourdes. We gather names of prospective devotees and follow up as a Committee.” Mrs Fitzgerald added “each person would pay a deposit, as it is not seen as a free trip.”
Speaking with The East Cork Journal Mrs Fitzgerald said the Coffee Morning is always well supported. “Local businesses supply spot prizes for a draw which takes place on the morning, for which I am very grateful." East Cork also has a long history of sending the younger generation to assist the infirm.
When Arch Bishop Mc Quaid established the first Pilgrimage in 1949 he requested the initial committee to find young people to assist the sick. That tradition continues today with Transition Year students from colleges around East Cork forming part of an army of helpers, most of whom pay their own way and give of their free time.
Anyone requiring assistance from the Midleton and District Invalid Lourdes fund can contact Secretary, Mary McCarthy on 086-8103328 before Friday 8 March for inclusion in this year’s trip.