A Pilgrimage to Remember
Around fifty pilgrims from Lebanon, twenty-three of which are SSVP Youth, traveled to France from July 22, 2017 to August 1, 2017 to visit the many places that has been very significant in the life of St. Vincent de Paul. This pilgrimage, organized by the Congregation of the Mission of Lazarist priests, aimed to have a glimpse of the life of the said Saint who, in his journey from childhood to priesthood, responded and followed the will of the Father.
According to Mr. Said Safar, SSVP Youth Coordinator of Lebanon, they spent quality time altogether during the 12 days of the trip going to places and cities like Chatillon, Folleville, Le Berceau, Paris and Lourdes. According to him, the pilgrimage was very enriching both on practical and spiritual aspects.
On the practical aspect: To help them defray the cost of expenses for the members of SSVP, during preparation, they organized a fund-raising project. With God’s providence, the project covers for most of the expenses. Truly, where God sends, He equips.
On the spiritual aspect: Mr. Safar has been deeply affected most in two of the many places they have been. First, in Lourdes, the place where the Virgin Mary appeared to Sainte Bernadette Soubirou. This place was the dirtiest in the town as all rubbishes were discarded there. Knowing this made him realize that the Lord is telling him not to be afraid as He is always ready to reveal Himself even in the dirtiest and darkest side of his life.
The second place that had a great effect on him was Folleville, where St. Vincent de Paul greatly experienced God as he recognized the spiritual needs of the poor. Upon reflecting, Mr. Safar realized that he should not be discouraged even if he is experiencing spiritual dryness in his life because God, even after 17 years, has touched the life of St. Vincent de Paul through the saint’s encounter with the poor. Through this, St. Vincent was able to see Jesus in the many faces of the poor; truly a real and transforming encounter with the Lord. Realizing that the person in front of him is no ordinary person, St. Vincent de Paul was able to receive the Good News of salvation, and from that moment on, he fully embraced and received new life in Christ and thus, his life was truly transformed.
Indeed, this has been a pilgrimage to remember that will forever be embedded in the hearts of the pilgrims. They were able to walk through the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul and get a glimpse of how he has been truly a servant of God. It is hoped that, through God’s grace, this will build them up as a community of young Vincentian volunteers who will bring Christ’s love as they serve the poorest of the poor.