LOURDES — A full week of spiritual and social activities will help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
Henry (Hank) Gaudon said the parish is expecting a lot of people in Lourdes on the Port au Port Peninsula to take part in the celebrations that kick off Monday with an opening ceremony at 7 p.m. in the Parish Church involving Bishop Peter Hundt, diocesan priests and pastoral administrators.
The history behind Our Lady of Lourdes began with a news report in early March 1912 that stated, "Reverend Fr. Pineault came from Woods Island last week and took Friday's train enroute to Clam Bank Cove, Port au Port, where he will be stationed in the future."
The area became a parish with the arrival of Rev. (Pierre) Pineault, who Gaudon said was from France. It appears Pineault changed the name of Clam Bank Cove to Lourdes very soon after his arrival. The Baptismal Register, written in Pineault's own hand the month of his arrival, lists children as having been born at Lourdes.
Clam Bank Cove
The Catholic Directory of 1914 gives the new name, no longer Clam Bank Cove — but Our Lady of Lourdes Parish with Mainland, Three Rock Cove, Black Duck Brook, West Bay and Piccadilly mentioned as missions.
Pineault was parish priest from 1912-28. His last entry in the parish records was made on Aug. 6, 1928. During his time a parish hall was built and at the time of his leaving, a church at Lourdes — which he began, was near completion.
Gaudon believes the name change was made in honour of Lourdes, France, which he believes Pineault had visited. Later, the community took on the name Lourdes.
Our Lady of Lourdes is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary invoked by Roman Catholics in honour of the Marian apparitions, which are said to have taken place before various individuals on separate occasions around Lourdes, France.
While no apparitions are recorded to have taken place at Lourdes on the Port au Port Peninsula, there have been some life-changing events for people, according to Gaudon.
He said the man (Michael Flavin — a stone mason) who first built the grotto on the parish grounds back in 1978 was ailing with arthritis and was deaf. He said when Flavin woke up on the morning after he completed the grotto his hands were fine and he claimed he could hear a bird chirp from a distance.
Gaudon said there have been other instances where people with cancer have gone into remission after cleansing themselves with the blessed water at the site.
There was another instance where a woman said her son, who had an extreme case of eczema, had it cleared up and the eczema never returned.
"I can't claim these are miracles that happened, but it sure made a difference in the lives of people who experienced those events," he said.
Gaudon said they get a lot of visitors to the parish and they often come from places with French backgrounds, including France, Quebec and St-Pierre-Miquelon. Often they are groups of nuns and priests.
He said the parish is doing well in its centennial year thanks to donations, which is now likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars through the years; and volunteer work by five retired schoolteachers, along with several others each summer.
Other activities through the week include, an Acadian kitchen party dance on Tuesday evening; bishop's blessings on Wednesday evening; a mini garden party on Thursday afternoon and a giant bingo that evening; dinner theatre on Friday evening; an adult dance on Saturday night; the blessing of relationships on Sunday afternoon; and a centennial memorial service on Monday evening followed by a social.