Asociatia Maria

Impressions

"Visiting Romania in 1993 and working as I did in a hospital in Sighisoara I met children whom I wanted so much to share  this special holiday experience. It took a number of years for this dream to be realised.

But the last 8 years have provided us with an enriching experience of sharing so much that is valuable but something not easily explained in words.

We have shared fun and parties, music, song and dance and together we have been so enriched. Many friendships have been made, memories have been created and we have returned home wth so much to tell our families.

Language has not been a barrier. In some places it has been replaced with a smile or a helping hand or just sittingcomfortably on the coach up into the mountains or on route to the seaside. There on the beach sandcastels are built, races into the water happen and the language is one of laughter.

The children also have fun teaching each other words belonging to their language  and the English child can be heard to say 'mulţumesc' to the Romanian child's gleeful 'thank you'. In this place of special holiday there are no barriers.

We look forward to this continuing for many years to come and hope that many more children will be able to join the group.”

Bridget Mullens
Group Leader

A group of  nice and warm children, a hearty adult team and a great ambience. Unfortunately sometimes the rain ruined our plans but just because of it we could visit new and lovely places,
make new friends, share and give. Saës Bernard  (volunteer helper)

Thank good Lord that I got back into this holy place, Lourdes where I feel much closer to the Virgin Mary who gives me strength, safety and happiness. I am happy that once again I could share these wonderful moments with friends, that I could help children who accompanied us. Ciulin Lavinia Lucrecia (volunteer helper)                           

Lourdes is where you meet the most love per square meter. Here you learn to love and self-giving more than you ever thought you could do, here we rediscover God in a way that you would not have thought of, but you love it so much because it makes you feel closer to people. Here you see everyone smiling and holding out a helping hand to their peers, here people, though they speak all languages of the world, understand each other perfectly, because in fact all that  happens at Lourdes is a MARVEL. Găitan Beatrice Lorena (guest)

Each time I come to Lourdes at the Sanctuary of Mary I exoerience the same emotions and feelings. Peace, simplicity and God's greatness are always present in this holy place.

If I were alone in front of the Grotto for sure all my feelings and experiences would be greatly reduced, but this year I had the opportunity to help and be supported by a group, an extraordinary community.  Each life history that I found out, every need I tried to fulfill, small denominations, small conflicts and especially the great joys I have experienced helped to complete my prayers and  abandom myself into God's hands by serving the one next to me.
I rediscovered that great treasures are often in clay pots, which do not reveal at first glance the wealth they bear, fragile and delicate things.
The strength of a child in pain, his desire to overcome the barriers that for others are mundane realities: to walk, run, not to depend on others, moved me and made me to reflect more on the gift of life and its value.
This pilgrimage holiday helps me build the man and Christian in me, enjoy the simple things in life and praise God for having called me by name to be closer to Him and to witness His LOVE for us all. Ştefănescu Eugen Ştefan (volunteer helper)

It is a privilege for us to be here in a year fully marked by meanings (50 years since Virgin Mary appeared at Lourdes) and even more this year we celebrate 10 years since our friends in HCPT called us to share with them the miracle of Lourdes. Popa Adriana (group leader)

I remember how skeptical and uncertain I was about this project 16 years ago when I first met at the airport, on our way to Lourdes, with three volunteer assistants. Today together we form the nucleus of Group 640 in Romania (Adriana, Gabi and Dan). Not for a moment did I imagine then that Bridgit's desire to form an HCPT group of pilgrims in Romania would become reality. I knew that for us it will be hard to convince people at home that this pilgrimage holiday is more than a simple trip. Bridget has always found a solution, kind-hearted people who have understood that at Lourdes children are offered much love and if there is love and generosity miracles are not impossible. I do not know what was stronger, her desire or our courage to face bureaucracy, prejudices, hardships, trials that we were all subjected to, children and volunteer assistants. Perhaps God wanted to chalange us and see how strong we are and how great is our desire thus giving us a sign that our way and mission in Lourdes  is finally accepted by Him.
Over 120 children have accompanied us throughout the years (we are still in touch with many, some became friends, Raymond is in our hearts and souls even if he is not with us) and lived with us unforgettable moments confessed in words or just read in their eyes. Their smile, the joy of communicating and discovering they are not alone, that others understand, care and love them, for them and for those who will join us we need to continue. Who knows, maybe some of us will someday celebrate their 50th anniversary as some of the veterans of this pilgrimage do.
Thank you to the parents who have trusted us, thank you to the children who gave us the opportunity to share love, understanding, compassion, friendship, thank you to over 30 volunteer helpers, priests and sisters, wonderful people with whom I have lived unforgettable moments, thanks to you all and each of you today I cannot imagine a year without a week with Maria in LourdesIoniţă Elena (president of Maria Association)

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Asociatia Maria Made by Irina & Tamara