Fr Vincent Mulligan was honoured by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers for the decades of service he has given to the “sick and most vulnerable” as the director of pilgrimages with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) order in Dublin.
Fr Mulligan has been at the helm of the Lourdes pilgrimage for 27 years, bringing hundreds of patients to the French holy site.
The 74-year-old also spent a number of years working as a teacher, bringing students there on the Easter break from school.
“I am just a figure head at the top of a great, great movement of people. I’ve been to Lourdes well over 100 times, and this was my 27th year in a row,” he said.
The Co Westmeath native this year celebrated his golden jubilee as a priest, and revealed that he was shocked to receive the prestigious award.
“I didn’t expect it at all, and I don’t deserve it either,” the humble man said.
“I am just an ordinary working priest. Lourdes is a place of peace and contentment. You are faced with suffering on a massive scale. Your health is your wealth and if you haven’t got that, you’ve got nothing.”
Fr Mulligan revealed that the strength of the volunteers who accompany him has a “tremendous effect” on him.
“I look forward to it. You are helping people that cannot help themselves. 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,” he added.
The Inchicore based priest received his medal at a ceremony in Lourdes last week, and Zygmunt Zimowski – the President of the Pontifical Council – wrote to him to thank him for his unwavering service.