QUEENS VILLAGE — The feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes was celebrated multicultural style with a Mass and candlelit procession on Feb. 11 at the namesake parish in Queens Village.
Members of ethnic ministries — including Bangladesh, Filipino, Haitian, Igbo, Indian, Irish, Italian, Latino and Nigerian groups — read the Prayers of the Faithful in their native tongue and brought forward the offertory gifts.
About 200 people attended the Mass and procession, which was preceded by a nine-day novena leading up to the feast day.
“It’s only our second year doing this … and we’re always dependent on weather this time of the year, but we’ve been blessed,” the Father Patrick Longalong, the pastor. “The parishioners were inspired to do something for Our Lady of Lourdes, because this is our parish feast. It means a lot to the people here … No matter what the weather is, they come.”
The Mass was celebrated by Father Jean Delva, pastor of Our Lady of Miracles, Canarsie, and co-celebrated by the priests from surrounding parishes.
“As people of faith, let us surrender our hearts to be of service to those in need, especially to the sick, the way Mary did with her whole heart,” Father Delva said in his homily, telling a story about how he went to Lourdes when he was a seminarian and witnessed a miracle there.
“The faith that I witnessed myself in Lourdes, to see people coming for their faith and healing… it was like Mary’s yes, and how the infant in her womb leapt for joy. Let us renew our own yes, to bring our service and our joy before the Lord.”
Our Lady of Lourdes refers to Marian apparitions seen by a 14-year-old peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, in Lourdes, France, in 1958. The site is now famous for its pilgrimages and for being a place of healing.
“It is easy for us to come and celebrate together; all the cultures, languages, traditional costumes,” said Father Robert Ambalathingal, a resident at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish who likened the worldwide devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes in France to a devotion in India to Our Lady of Velankanni. Velankanni is a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where according to oral tradition, Mary appeared twice during the 16th century and once in the 17th century.
Feb. 11 is also the World Day of the Sick, a day the faithful can offer their prayers for those suffering from illness.
“The people are thirsty for healing,” Father Ambalathingal said. “When we have a celebration like this, the people are coming not only from our church, but from many other parishes, too, all in need of physical, spiritual and mental healing. That’s the beautiful message of Lourdes … that we can be healed. She is the patroness of our parish.”