News Story

Georgetown Junior Nursing Majors Plan Second Lourdes Pilgrimage

OCTOBER 22, 2018 – During summer break, Nicole Chen (NHS’20) and Rebecca Kazor (NHS’20), two junior nursing majors at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, participated in a religious pilgrimage to Lourdes, France.

Now, the two are leading a fundraising effort to support 10 student participants in 2019. “We were so privileged to get to go last year and are so excited to go again this coming year to this site where Mary appeared to Bernadette,” says Kazor.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, according to its website, commemorates the Marian apparitions Bernadette Soubirous recounted in the mid-19th century. (Visit a timeline of St. Bernadette’s story.)

‘Hard to Put into Words’

The students, along with their faculty advisor Edilma Yearwood, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, chair of the Department of Professional Nursing Practice, spent five days volunteering in the sanctuary’s baths, where many pilgrims go each year for healing.

“Some have waited months or years to come to Lourdes,” says Chen. “It is a huge relief for them to finally make it.”

A highlight of this pilgrimage for the two students, who became teary-eyed as they shared the impact of the experience, was entering the water of the baths themselves. “It’s hard to put into words exactly what we felt,” Chen adds.

Chen, Yearwood, and Kazor near the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Chen, Yearwood, and Kazor stand in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during their journey to France. They also had the chance to visit the Sanctuary of Loyola in Spain, where St. Ignatius, who founded the Society of Jesus, was born.

Powerful Moments

Yearwood, who described the efforts of placing individuals – some of whom are with disabilities, in the baths. “The pilgrimage was one of the most powerful experiences the three of us have ever experienced,” she says. “We worked with some amazing volunteers from all over the world who taught us how to safely work in the baths.”

The 2018 trip took place through a partnership with Loyola University in Chicago, and Yearwood notes that she looks forward to continuing that collaboration in 2019. Joining next year’s group will be Sarah Vittone, DBe, RN, assistant professor of professional nursing practice, and the Rev. Jerry Hayes, SJ, director of Ignatian Programs at Georgetown.

‘Bonding Experience’

About the trip, the two student leaders highlighted a few key qualities: faith and spiritual growth, the intersection of health and well-being with spirituality, the experience of aiding participants on the pilgrimage, working together with Georgetown’s Office of Mission and Ministry, and living Georgetown’s Catholic, Jesuit identity.

As Chen notes, the relationship-building also really mattered. “It was a great bonding experience for all of us,” she says.

Editor’s note: Georgetown students interested in learning more about the trip should email Chen or Kazor.