Helen Foy updated members on the security arrangements in the Domain and the town of Lourdes. Following the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel on July 26, 2016 in his Normandy church in St Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen while celebrating morning Mass, and the terrorist attack in Nice on July 14 just under two weeks earlier, security at Lourdes was substantially increased and became a lot more visible. From mid-July, there were only two gates open and with specific closing hours. The Domain was not accessible at all from 12:30am until 5:00am and any need to access the Accueil Notre Dame during these hours had to be via the Route de Pau and the fifth floor transit level.
The Bishop of the diocese of Lourdes and Tarbes has appointed a so-called trouble shooter to put forward a plan that will help to resolve the financial difficulties that have led to a a deficit this year. The total number travelling to Lourdes continues to fall with a knock-on impact to the financial strength of the shrine.
There has been shortages of accommodation at certain times of the season. There are very few options on how to avoid this impacting in your stage. The best advice is to make your reservation as early as possible; even as you leave Lourdes, you are encouraged to submit your application for the next year.
For the 2016 season, the Hospitalité Notre Dame de Lourdes changed the arrangements for the Engagement Service so that it was held on Tuesday evening at St Cosmas & Damien chapel. This was met with mixed views and much feedback to HNDL.
For 2017, it has been proposed that the Engagement ceremony will take place after the Hospitalité Mass on a Wednesday evening. There will be more details after the December meeting HNDL Council meeting.
On a related note, it has been confirmed that Consecrations will cease in 2016 and no further applications can be submitted.