In June every year, your Executive submit the dates for the Liverpool pilgrimage two year ahead. Unfortunately, when we submitted the dates for our 2019 pilgrimage in June 2017, there was a breakdown in communications between the Sanctuaries and the St Frai. This breakdown in communication was nothing to do with the Executive or Joe Walsh Tours. We had submitted everything we needed well ahead of the deadlines.
The dates we have been given by the St Frai are 19th July to 26th July 2019. Conscious that this week is far from ideal, we investigated all possible options during the recent planning meetings in Lourdes to move our pilgrimage, including:
- Asking the St Frai to move our pilgrimage a week later. Unfortunately, the St Frai was already fully booked. The only alternative within the St Frai was asking two other pilgrimages to swap their dates as well and our pilgrimage would go Wednesday to Wednesday. The two other pilgrimages involved in this option weren’t prepared to change their dates. Therefore this possibility was no longer an option.
- Moving to the Accueil Notre Dame. Disappointingly, the Accueil Notre Dame only had 30 beds available during the week we wanted. The alternative offered was to go on a Sunday and return home on a Saturday. Following our experience this year, we know we cannot secure appropriate aircraft on Saturdays, which therefore removed this as a viable option.
- Accept the dates we have been offered by the St Frai.
We had 24 hours in which to appraise the options and reach a decision. After log discussions with various parties, the Executive decided to accept the dates offered to us by the St Frai. Therefore, the dates for the 2019 pilgrimage are now set as Friday 19th July to Friday 26th July 2019.
We are acutely aware that these dates are far from ideal for several of you. However, the decision was not taken lightly. Ultimately, the choice came down to having a pilgrimage in 2019 or not going at all.
Your pilgrimage, more than ever, needs your help and support. We need to ensure we have sufficient helpers to ensure all of us have a happy, rewarding and safe pilgrimage. If you will be unable to take part in the Liverpool pilgrimage in 2019, please let the Executive Secretary, Una Giles, know before the pilgrimage this year as then we will be able to gauge the impact our decision has had and put plans in place to mitigate the effects. Una’s contact details are available on request.
Rev Fr Des Seddon
on behalf of the Executive