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Order of Malta brings Lourdes closer to home

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Traveling to St. Ambrose Church in Annandale March 17 was the closest many could get to Lourdes for the Anointing of the Sick. It is a mission of the Order of Malta to bring a Lourdes pilgrimage experience to the faithful of Arlington who could not otherwise travel there. 

The malades, the ill as they are known by the Order of Malta, came with canes, crutches and wheelchairs, people of all ages searching for healing. Around 400 people attended the Mass and many were anointed. 

They were greeted at the doors of the church by members of the Order of Malta Federal Association USA Northern Virginia Region, and given Miraculous Medals on blue ribbons if they wanted to be anointed. They also were given a small bottle of Lourdes water. 

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated the Mass and Anointing of the Sick. He was joined by Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde and several concelebrants.

During his homily, Bishop Burbidge reflected on the lessons of St. Patrick. “St. Patrick teaches us whenever we entrust our lives to the Lord, especially in faith and in time of need, we will become a new creation in and through His saving power,” he said. “You come forward in faith and your reception of the sacrament reflects your understanding of God‘s great love for you, of His abiding presence, and of His saving power to make you that new creation according to His holy will.”

Victoria Guzman and her son, Christopher, had the opportunity to travel to Lourdes in 2016 and have attended the Mass several times. “This is very special to us and close to our heart,” said Victoria, a parishioner of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria. “Ever since Christopher was born, the Virgin Mary has been very close to us. We want to keep participating and sharing about the Order of Malta.” 

Mary Petrino, a dame of Malta, said this year is the 60th anniversary of the Order of Malta making its annual pilgrimage to Lourdes. It was begun by Fra Andrew Berti, the 78th Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, as a work of the order. The pilgrimage is made during the first week in May. 

Marta Daza, a parishioner of Nativity Church in Burke, received the Anointing of the Sick. “We all know God is present in us and when we have the anointing we feel God’s hands through the bishop’s hands on our own head,” she said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018