On Sunday March 20, more than 200 people gathered at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington for the Annual Mass and Anointing of the Sick, sponsored by the Northern Virginia Region. Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge was the celebrant and homilist. Individuals from many states far beyond the Diocese of Arlington came to pray for comfort and healing, and to receive the sacramental anointing. More than 20 dames, knights, and volunteers from across the region came in uniform to serve our lords, the poor and the sick in the tradition of our Masses in Lourdes.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde, bishop emeritus of Arlington and a conventual chaplain ad honorem, assisted at the Mass and the Anointing of the Sick. In anointing everyone wearing blue and silver Miraculous Medals distributed by the Order prior to Mass, they were joined by the Very Rev. Andrew Fisher, pastor of St. Ambrose Church; the Very Rev. Patrick Posey, rector of the cathedral; and the Rev. Michael Weston, master of ceremonies.
Bishop Burbidge commended the malades for offering their pain and suffering for the sake of the Church. He thanked the Order for its good work in the diocese, and especially thanked the malades for their faithful witness as they unite themselves to the Lord and his cross. As Bishop Burbidge noted, those who are sick are very close to Our Lord at this moment in their lives. For that reason, he encouraged them to offer their sufferings for the Church, especially at this time, when so many in the Church need healing and transformation.
Knights, dames, and volunteers from across the Northern Virginia Region provided Lourdes water and prayer petitions to be taken to the Grotto by a knight making a private pilgrimage to Lourdes at the end of March. After the Mass, these volunteers collected prayer petitions and addressed special postcards to be mailed from Lourdes back to those who filled out their petitions at the cathedral. Many attendees expressed their gratitude for being able to attend the Mass for the first time after two years of being prevented by Covid restrictions in Virginia.
Northern Virginia Regional Hospitaller Laura Mead, DM, noted that this is one of several important works within the region, but the only one designed to bring the Lourdes experience to people who could not travel there. She appreciated the witness of malades and companions, who also carry heavy crosses. “This Mass just shows me that in this time of crisis in the Church, Jesus and his Church are so strong and alive,” she said. “It's important in these times to run to the sacraments and to continue to trust that Our Lord will always care for us—our physical needs, our spiritual needs and any other needs that we have.”