April 20, 2018

Msgr. Stumpf to lead pilgrimage to shrines in France this fall

By Sean Gallagher

Msgr. William F. Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, will lead a pilgrimage to France on Oct. 22-Nov. 1.

The 11-day pilgrimage, titled “The Shrines of France,” will feature a visit to Lourdes, where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. The shrine there has been the place of many miraculous healings.

From Lourdes, pilgrims will visit the home and resting place of St. Bernadette, chateaus in the Loire Valley, the historic gothic cathedral in Chartres, and the monastery of Mont St. Michel in Normandy.

The pilgrimage will continue on in Normandy to visit sites associated with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the “Little Flower,” including the Carmelite convent where she lived as a nun and her resting place.

While in Normandy, the pilgrims will also visit Omaha Beach, where allied troops came ashore in Nazi-occupied France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the nearby American Military Cemetery and Monument.

Msgr. Stumpf has visited the D-Day beaches and cemeteries before, and is looking forward to seeing them again.

“It is a religious experience,” he said. “It was for me. It’s very powerful to walk through that cemetery and visit the chapel there and realize all the people who gave their lives and what they sacrificed.”

The pilgrimage will then conclude in Paris with visits to its Notre Dame Cathedral, its historic Opera House, the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower. Mass and the praying of the rosary will be offered throughout the pilgrimage.

This will be the ninth overseas pilgrimage led by Msgr. Stumpf.

“There is something about visiting holy places that draws you in and causes you to reflect,” he said. “There’s also something special that I’ve always found about doing it with a group.

“It’s wonderful to hear people’s stories about how it’s touched them. I led one pilgrimage where, for one woman, it was an incredible healing after the death of her dad. She didn’t sign up for the pilgrimage for that. But she found out by participating that it brought about a great deal of healing.”

He is looking forward in particular to visiting Lourdes during October, a month traditionally dedicated to Mary, and being able to participate with the pilgrims in a candlelight rosary procession there with other pilgrims from around the world.

“I think that would be incredibly moving,” Msgr. Stumpf said.

This pilgrimage, he continued, will be meaningful not so much because of the places that will be visited but because of the people tied to them.

“It’s not just the places,” Msgr. Stumpf said. “It’s about their connection to people of our faith, like St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Bernadette, who have had a tremendous impact as witnesses of our faith. We’re still very much moved and learn from people like that.”

(The “Shrines of France” pilgrimage is $3,699 per person for double occupancy and $4,644 for single occupancy. It includes round-trip airfare from Indianapolis, deluxe motor coach, most meals, entrance fees and comprehensive sightseeing guides. For more information, call Msgr. Stumpf at 317‑236‑1405 or e-mail him at bstumpf@archindy.org. The deadline for registration for the pilgrimage is June 15.)

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