By Fr. Lorcan O’Reilly, OMI
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate have been organizing pilgrimages from Britain and Ireland to Lourdes since 1888 and for the last 28 years Fr. Vincent Mulligan, OMI has led the group. Each year in September, the Oblates journey with 120 sick pilgrims to the Shrine of Our Lady in Lourdes. For Fr. Vincent the care of the sick has been at the core of his ministry and he is highly regarded for his dedication to caring for those often forgotten and rejected by modern day society. This year, to mark his distinguished service and on the occasion of his golden jubilee as a priest, he was awarded the “Good Samaritan Medal” by the Pontifical Council for Health Care workers. Bishop Ray Field presented the medal and Fr. Vincent is the first person in Ireland to receive this award.
In an interview after received the award with the Irish Independent newspaper Fr. Vincent said, “I didn’t expect it at all, and I don’t deserve it either, I am just an ordinary working priest. Lourdes is a place of peace and contentment. You are faced with suffering on a massive scale. I am just a figure head at the top of a great, great movement of people. It is not something I expected at all in any shape or form. I feel this is recognition of all the workers, all of them. Without them, and without the young people, we could not do what we do here.”
In awarding the medal, Archbishop Zimowski said. “As President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, I feel honoured to grant the award of the Good Samaritan Medal to a distinguished priest of the Anglo-Irish Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Fr. Vincent Mulligan, OMI, for being a neighbour, for being the Christ for the many brothers and sisters he has helped flee to mother Mary, during their times of pain and trial, knowing that she would listen to her suffering children and bring them close to the heart of her Son and their brother Christ. Thank you for being an instrument of God’s love and compassion. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging them to trust in God always. Thank you for being a Good Samaritan. Thank you for being somebody they can lean on in their pilgrimage.”