Warriors to Lourdes (Full Documentary)

♪ [sad music] ♪ -There is a saying that in war, there are no unwounded soldiers. There is no way.

♪ [sad music] ♪ -There is a saying that in war,
there are no unwounded soldiers. There is no way that any of our
warriors can go through combat without damage. -There is a recognition, that
no matter how righteous any particular combat may
be, it still has a damaging effect on the soul. -The International Military
Pilgrimage to Lourdes, gives people the opportunity
for a ritual healing. It’s so crucial to
the mental, emotional, spiritual health
of the individual. -Everyone that comes to Lourdes
feels a sense of spiritual healing, especially for our
military personnel, who have gone through
such terrible events. They’re spiritual injury. Their spiritual suffering,
is very deep and very real. ♪ [dramitic music] ♪ -Here, we bring our sick, our
wounded, our ill, and our injured, to join our brothers
and sisters from the militaries of over 40 nations, where they
can in fact seek the healing and the peace that they need. ♪ [dramatic music] ♪ ♪ [gentle guitar music] ♪ -Anyone who comes to Lourdes
comes to the arms of the Blessed Virgin, who really is the heart
of the church, and I think it’s very, very important that our
wounded warriors experience this healing and loving embrace. ♪ [music] ♪ -Warriors to Lourdes is an event
for military personnel and their families,
their caregivers. It takes place in Lourdes,
France every year, in conjunction with the
International Military Pilgrimage, and there’s also
some events that are arranged just specially for the American
Pilgrims, by the Archdiocese and Military Services USA, and
the Knights of Columbus. ♪ [music] ♪ -The International Military
Pilgrimage, started at the end of World War II, for the
healing and reconciliation of the warring powers. ♪ [music] ♪ -It was a moment of healing,
of easing, of tensions, of recognizing that in a common
faith, even if there had been a separation of war, there could
now be unity, there could now be a lived fraternity, and
also a common faith. ♪ [music] ♪ The Knights of Columbus found
partnering with the Archdiocese for Military Service,
such a natural complement. We’ve had a century of working
with our military personnel, our military chaplains,
and also helping veterans, and helping the handicapped. -The Knights of
Columbus was formed, not that long after the
end of the Civil War. Many of the men in Saint Mary’s
Parish, which is the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus,
served in the Civil War in the Union forces. -Back in 1917, the Knights
of Columbus provided auxiliary chaplains for the
U.S. Forces coming to Europe, during the first World War. The Archdiocese for Military
Services, and the Knights of Columbus walked together very
easily in this type of endeavor. ♪ [sad music] ♪ -I lived in New York
City during 9/11. I was in fourth grade and I
remember reading the newspaper, and I just remember at
that moment thinking, I’m gonna join the service. I wanted to make it a career,
and the reason I wanted to make it a career, was because it was
the most concrete way to serve. -As a military spouse, early
on, I knew I was going to have a lot of time to myself. I was going to have to sacrifice
common things that most people for the first year
of marriage get. They get their
spouse at their side. I knew that I was gonna marry
him on Saturday, and by Monday he was going back to
California to get ready to deploy to Afghanistan. -While I was deployed, I was
what’s called the point man. So I was the first in line
on every single patrol. For the first five months, I
went on every single patrol. I didn’t, I didn’t hang
back, for one of them. It’s four in the morning,
we’re getting all kitted up. I’m putting my gear on. I’m getting my weapon ready. My squad leader, his name was
Sergeant William Stacy, and he comes up to me, and he
says, what are you doing? I was like, well,
I’m getting ready. I’m the point man. He was like, not today. I want you on the machine gun. You’re going to stay on base. Will, the squad leader ended up
running point, for that patrol. The role that I normally took, and he stepped on an
IED on that patrol. [distant explosion] -When he got back from
Afghanistan, he had PTSD. His injuries are not
outwardly physical. He’s not missing a leg. He’s It’s internal, and a lot of
people do not understand that. -What I experienced most was an
overwhelming sense of guilt, that I didn’t get to do my job, that someone else
had to do my job for me. They lost their
life because of it. We moved from California to
Lansing, Michigan, so that I could become an officer. The minute that
we got to Michigan, my joints started to swell. I was either on crutches,
or in a wheelchair. I lost a tremendous amount of
weight, 30 pounds in a month. We were concerned
about organ failure. It, it got, a little dicey. No one could really figure
out what was going wrong. I ended up getting diagnosed
with Crohn’s disease, and at first it was a relief, not
because I was happy that I had Crohn’s disease, but
because I was just relieved that we had an answer. -Illnesses catch you off guard. You’re still, you’re
young, and you just try to wrap your head around it. -It challenged my belief in God,
after seeing some of the things that human beings can do to
each other, and then, having something like Crohn’s disease
occur shortly after, it challenges, just fundamentally
your belief, in a higher power. ♪ [music] ♪ -PTSD is a fear-based response. Somebody tried to hurt me. Moral injury is a guilt
or shame-based response. The reality is, killing an
image bearer of God, we are all created in God’s image,
goes against our design, is bothersome to who we are. The only way to help a person
with guilt, is to speak grace and forgiveness into
a person’s life. That’s where pilgrimage is
just brilliant for the purpose, because that’s what
we’re here for. -People come to Lourde’s all
time for physical healing, which is incredible. There’s incredible stories
of the miraculous healings, just as legitimate, are those
wounds to the soul. -That first trip to Lourdes,
I went as a pilgrim, and I went expressly
for healing. -It was hard, because in that
moment my faith wasn’t as strong, but we were just
really hoping for a miracle, and that’s where you
can go and get one, so… -To see the Basilica, is
something special in itself. Just, the the magnitude of it,
and then to realize that, that which makes it special is not
the basilica, it’s the water, something that simple. ♪ [music] ♪ To go to the baths
is to experience a different type of prayer. It’s not just getting
dunked in water. It’s a continuous prayer, and everyone there
is praying for you. ♪ [music] ♪ -I was in my third year at West
Point, no warning, I just froze up, and fell off the rock
wall, and had a seizure when I hit the ground, and they told me
that I had a brain tumor, the size of a golf ball. I lost the use of the
right side of my body, and I have speech difficulty. We came to the bath
for physical healing. I had some spiritual
trepidation, and the water is
very, very cold. You pray and then they dunk you. You really feel the Blessed
Mother interceding for you. It’s an incredible feeling. ♪ [music] ♪ [helicoptor approaching] [Duane Brown] 2007, I had a
parachute malfunction, and really got busted
up, landed on a runway. On my second trip to
Iraq, got blowing up in an armored personnel carrier. I’ve been through seven
surgeries so far, and I’m about to have another
one, but I don’t expect to come here and get a miracle. I just wanted to have the
opportunity to, to dip my body into the springs and seek some
healing, to ease the pain I’m putting my family through, as
they watch me in the healing process, after so many
deployments in combat zones as United States Army soldier. ♪ [music] ♪ -First trip to Lourdes, my
knee started to swell, and we realized that being in a
wheelchair was inevitable. ♪ [music] ♪ My wife pushed me around for
the duration of the trip. It served as a connection for
me and my wife, that I had to humble myself to allow her to
push me, and it became an honor for her to help me in that way. -You can say in sickness and in
health, but until that happens, you don’t realize your
marriage can grow. Being able to take care of my
husband, with the many things that he has, I saw
it as a blessing. We get to spend the four intense
days, in pilgrimage together. -We ended up in front
of the mural of Mary being crowned Queen of Heaven. We were offered to go and get
our marriage vows renewed. It was a moment where we
could just say, guess what? I love you still and
I want to keep going through this life with you. ♪ [music] ♪ Looking into the
eyes of the person you love, and professing your faith and
your commitment to them is, something that only
happens in marriage. -God consecrating our marriage
again, it was Him letting us know that his presence is real. That was part of
the healing for me. I didn’t experience remission,
but I did experience a deeper connection with my wife, with
my other service members with my own faith, and I think that
was more rewarding and more nourishing than any physical
healing would have been. [crowd praying] -The emotional injuries that
many people have, they live with and they try not to allow
other people to see it, either because they think
it’s a form of weakness. They don’t want people to look
down on them, or they just want to hide that from others,
because they think they can deal with it themselves. But when they come together and
they see that other people have that same turmoil internally,
they’re able to actually relate to someone and talk to them in a
location that is very spiritual and there’s a great support
structure there for them, and they open more than
they are able to in their, you know, current locations. ♪ [music] ♪ I am son of a refugee
mother from Vietnam, and my father was a US Marine,
recruited out of Vietnam, when my family came over
after the Fall of Saigon, the country gave my
family freedom. So, I wanted to join the
military to repay that debt to the country. In 2003, I was deployed
to Iraq where I had my first combat tour. My faith journey as a soldier
has fluctuated at times. When I find myself in combat, I
tend to rely and speak to Christ more, ’cause there’s no better
person to have as ya know your copilot or your
wingman, than Christ. In 2007, I was deployed to
Afghanistan, and there I was approached by a brother Catholic
who asked me if I wanted to become a Knight of Columbus. Being a Knight of Columbus
introduced me to the Warriors to Lourdes Pilgrimage. ♪ [music] ♪ As a Catholic, this
pilgrimage plays a large role on my spiritual life. I find it an honor to be
able to lead the troops. ♪ [music] ♪ We just attended the English
speaking mass in the Grotto. This is a place where
Saint Bernadette had the apparition of Mary. It’s a great thing to have all
the different armed service members there at the mass,
because the Grotto is a perfect place for healing. -I was one of the readers
for the intentions. There was something that just
evokes calmness and tranquility, and an inner peace, and
I think that’s why people are drawn here. When I was able to look
up at our Blessed Mother, as I was kneeling after
receiving the Eucharist, and it honestly was surreal. I couldn’t believe
that I was sitting, where the Blessed
Mother appeared to us. ♪ [music] ♪ -My first experience of knowing
that God wanted me to be here, was at the homily at the Grotto. The priest said that God loves
you just the way you are, and I broke down into
tears, just seeing that, just witnessing that truth. I converted to Catholicism
when I was 16 years old, when I was in high school. When I applied to Boston
College, my parents said, get a scholarship, or you
join the military. I was a bit too lazy to
write, so I ended up joining the military instead. Being deployed is a
stressful experience, because you don’t know
where you’re going. You don’t know what
you’ll be doing. I was stationed in
Djibouti, Africa. I was deployed in a combat area. I was just feeling a bit
of distress of being in a high tempo area. ♪ [gentle music] ♪ Luckily, there was a military
chaplain on base, who I went to regularly, and he was a source
of encouragement for me. I found out about Lourdes in the
base chapel, and was hoping to find some answers in to,
where does God want me to do after my deployment? When I got to the hotel, I found
out that there was a group of American pilgrims there, that
were in the military, and the priest reach out to
me and said, “Stay with me.” He shared with me his
joys of the priesthood, and also his struggles. That left me with a
great sense of courage. I returned back to
deployment, and I had a new found joy and hope. The most amazing thing that
happened, was I was ordained a priest, a priest of Jesus
Christ, and I wanted to return back to Lourdes in Thanksgiving,
for the gift of my priesthood. [heavy artilery fire] -I strongly believe
in the old cliche of, there are no atheists
in a foxhole. When soldiers are in a battle
zone, or a theater of combat, when you’re really
in that need of help, there’s always somebody that you
call to, and it’s always God. -During my time serving in the
Navy, I was not able to receive the sacraments, for an
extended period of time. It was a very painful experience
for me, and in the midst of that pain, I felt God
saying, why don’t you be a part of the solution? God was calling me to
military chaplaincy. -We send these military
personnel into areas where they’re in harm’s way, and we
tell them, you don’t ever have the chance to go to mass. There’s no possibility
of confession. The unspoken hero
is the chaplain, who is there thick and thin. He goes on the front line
with these men to serve. -The role of the chaplain is to
be a visible reminder of holy. Being a Roman Catholic priest,
one of the great privileges that I have, is to be able to
offer our service members the gift of the Eucharist. Also, the Sacrament of
Reconciliation, because oftentimes our troops are
looking for forgiveness for what they might’ve
seen or had to do, especially when
they’re in combat. -The Knights of Columbus, make
sure that chaplains come from other backgrounds such as
myself, as an Anglican. It is a Catholic pilgrimage
destination, but it is open to people from all different
backgrounds, as long as they’re wanting to come and participate. They make a point of ensuring
an ecumenical nature. -When you come to a shrine like
Lourdes, this is a wonderful way to understand Catholic
devotion to the Mother of God, and for us to share in
their commitment, and their understanding of the faith. ♪ [gentle music] ♪ -I believe heavily that
motion creates emotion. So many of these people that go,
they intermingle with each other and they go through all these
different ceremonials, and it build this emotion
that inspires everyone. It inspires them physically,
mentally, and spiritually. It creates a vibe throughout,
that is very positive. It brings them closer to the
Lord, and is very patriotic. -This military pilgrimage,
witnesses a very fundamental fact that our Catholic values
promote a patriotism, that respects the patriotism of
individuals in other countries. -For me, because I’ve left the
country 12 times, you know, I see a lot of these soldiers,
from different armies. It’s usually when we’re standing
in the tent, receiving a battle brief, or getting ready to move
out on the mission, and they’ve got their team, and we’ve got
their team, but we’re, we’re all the same, no matter what
color uniform you are, or what color you are, at the end
of the day, we’re soldiers, and we all do the same thing. [cheers] Well, I can tell you what, from
the ceremony, we just want to, from the sound of
the wars, being an NFL fan, there can be no less than
20,000 people down in there. I can’t even put it into
words like for real. I’m so stoked. and uh, I’m blessed. I am blessed. ♪ [gentle guitar music] ♪ -The sports challenge was an
opportunity for us to compete, against other nations
on an obstacle course, and we had to work as a team. I really didn’t know
what I was getting in to. I ran for about a
mile and a half, carrying another individual. -You had to do these
activities, like throw a rock, do push-ups at this place. It was really fun. That was fun, to kind of
just hang out with everyone. It was physically intense.
It was tough. It was a workout.
It was truly a workout. -We did make it to the
finish line, thanks to the support
and the brotherhood, that we shared with one another. ♪ [music] ♪ -I had a very powerful
experience at Lourdes, and I felt that by
going back as a troop leader, I’d have that opportunity, not only to share my own
testimony, but just to give them that same space and
guidance, that I received. One year to go, from
wheelchair to walking, is a pretty big deal, and
that’s not lost on me. I was very grateful for that. ♪ [music] ♪ The stations of the
Cross in Lourdes, there’s a certain
magnitude to them. I went out with a gentleman
named Chuck Bollinger. I got the honor of pushing him
around in a wheelchair to go to the baths, and he chose to
walk the Stations of the Cross. Not only am I going and seeing
what Christ went through, but I’m seeing what Chuck’s
going through as well, and I’m seeing him push. So, you start and
you’re walking uphill, and it’s extremely steep. You connect as a community with
this idea of suffering, and I remember getting to the end of
the stations and really feeling just a beautiful connection
to Christ’s suffering, and I understood that he
gets it, that He understands what it means to be human. He made helping someone,
and being helped holy. He made mourning,
and mourning others, and moving beyond it, holy. Anytime that I feel like I’m in
a spiritual desert and I’m being tested, I can
go back to the stations. ♪ [music] ♪ -The candlelight vigil
at Lourdes was amazing. We were with thousands of people
singing Ave, Ave Maria, and praying the rosary. -You see Mary right there
with the flags up above, and you kind of see that
the borders are broken. Our Lady opened your
heart just a little bit. -With everybody praying, in all
the different languages that the rosary was said in,
just reminded me of how the disciples went out and spoke
all different languages, and touched so many
different people. -Seeing the candles during
the procession was wonderful. In the darkness of the
night, you see the light. We could see the
light of Mary shining. -Walking along in that mass
crowd, in that silence, and that continued prayer, showed me the
beauty of our Catholic faith. The beauty that you won’t
see else in this world. ♪ [music] ♪ -Throughout the Bible, everyone
goes to a mountaintop to find a deeper connection with God, and
at Lourdes, it’s a spiritual mountain top, where you go to
… you can hear Him speak to you, and you could
speak to Him as well. ♪ [music] ♪ -This is a place where peace
can be found, and coming here just really allowed myself to
get a little closer to God. -Ever since becoming Catholic,
I heard about Lourdes and it is an answer to prayers
that I was able to come. Whether you’re suffering
emotionally or physically, you receive God’s grace,
and I think that’s why people are drawn here. ♪ [music] ♪ -When you go to Lourdes, you
can find a brotherhood beyond boundaries,
beyond faith, boundaries beyond
country boundaries. You find the humanity in
us being on this earth, that God’s blessed us with. ♪ [music] ♪ You don’t go to Lourdes
because you are Catholic. You go to Lourdes,
because you’re human searching for healing. ♪ [music] ♪ -I showed up there. I was embraced by a community
of military service members, who looked out for me, and accompany
me on this spiritual journey, and I felt a
connection with them. ♪ [music] ♪ -It is giving you the moral
courage and the spiritual strength, to address the issues
and the problems of your life, whether they’re
physical, mental, moral. ♪ [music] ♪ That’s the healing power of
Lourdes, and the Blessed Mother. ♪ [music] ♪ ♪ [gentle guitar music] ♪

4 thoughts on “Warriors to Lourdes (Full Documentary)”

  1. I, with my wounded warrior husband, attended 2014. Awe-inspiring and we made great friends who we still are in touch with today (and have met-up with through the years).

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