This month, 13 undergraduate and
graduate students, along with five alumni of St.
John’s University participated in Campus Ministry’s Service
Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. Students spent their time
serving in various ministries surrounding the Grotto
in Lourdes where Mary appeared to St.
Bernadette in 1858. The spring from the Grotto has
proven to be miraculous. Pilgrims from around the world
travel to Lourdes in hope of a cure.
One of the services that students provide is assisting in the baths
(piscines) where pilgrims sit in the water and pray for healing.
Emily Seder of Staten Island comments, “I felt
very privileged to be able to serve the pilgrims as they bathed in
the Lourdes water. Many pilgrims look forward to their trip
to Lourdes for many years, and I was blessed to share their moment
Students also assisted pilgrims as they exited the train and worked
the rosary procession in the evening. Tim Woods, a
graduate student in Queens commented on the experience by saying,
“As a servant being present for these pilgrims, we are likewise
drawn into the moment of healing and get to experience something
incredibly intimate and beautiful for ourselves. Some people never
have this experience in their entire lives, yet Lourdes allows
millions every year to feel connected to their faith and their
Those who worked with our students and alumni during the six days
of service commented often on the caliber of their work,
leadership, and level of prayer. The mission and
spirit of St. John’s University was brought to
In addition to providing service while in Lourdes, the group was
given a special opportunity to attend the Beatification of Marguerite Rutan in Dax,
the birthplace of St.
Vincent DePaul. This event brought an end to service
day with the Vincentian Family in France. Of this experience
Omar Neshweit, a graduate student in Queens
reflected, “St. Vincent’s birthplace and beatification just put the
cherry on top. I couldn't help but think that I can't live like
them — they're saints, I'm just a college student. However,
after seeing St. Vincent's birthplace and the beatification, the
saints became people to me — people who lived their life in service
to the Lord. It gave me confidence that anybody, including myself,
can live a life in service to the Lord.”