Community AA and AO in Plovdiv
11-19 August 2006 Ecumenical Visit to Lourdes
Our parish's pilgrimage to
Lourdes was the must important event of the summer. It took place after
much preparation and many meetings.
It was a very long and
exhausting trip; we slept in the bus two nights on the way there and three
on the way back. It was a rich experience of fraternity and solidarity. We
were particularly happy to meet with the pastor and parishioners of Busto
Arsizio near Milan, the hometown of both Fathers Claudio and Celeste. Some
of the highlights: the Mass celebrated in the Byzantine rite, the solemn
litanies of the novena to prepare the feast of the Assumption, the
fraternal meals for which we wish to recognize with gratitude the spirit
of our Orthodox brothers, and the welcome we so generously received at
On the second night of our trip we arrived near Montpellier. The purpose of our stop there was to make a visit of the Orthodox monastery of Bousquet d’Orb, but unfortunately we were unable to go. Disappointed, we made our way immediately to Lourdes.
The 13,14,15 and the 16 of
August were 4 extremely busy days, with so many celebrations and other
events to remember. There were so many significant moments that marked our
souls: the Way of the Cross organized by Father Marie Gerard, the
Orthodox prayer to the Virgin Mary prepared by Fathers Athanase and
Theodore in Bernadette’s church; the candlelight procession through
town, the Assumption feast, the Mass with the Anointing of the Sick in
the underground basilica (including Fr. Daniel's father).
We left Lourdes August 16 in the afternoon our hearts heavy but aware inside of us of having just celebrated something very special, something that we would ponder in our hearts for a long time. As we continued our itinerary we made our way in he footsteps of St. Bernadette. We arrived in Nevers where she entered religious life and stayed till the end of her life.
Awaiting us were some French friends, Bernard and Claude Thierry.
We spent the morning with the celebration of Mass in the Byzantine rite, a visit of the convent where the saint’s body lies and a stroll through the town.
Then there was another night of
travel on our way. In the morning the Italian sun welcomed us to Padua,
another significant site of Christian pilgrimage. Italian friends Alfonzo,
Graciela, and Teresa were available to guide us through town,
particularly to the basilica Saint Anthony of Padua, a saint much
recognized even in the East .
Then there was one more night of
travel till we reached home. We arrived at the border and waited to get
through customs. We were tired, but we were beginning to hear words in
Bulgarian that were evermore familiar. We finally arrived in Plovdiv, our
starting point. Yes, we were very tired and ready to sleep with dreams of
another day and perhaps another pilgrimage one day.....
Many thanks to all the people who made this experience possible.