Lourdes – the students experience
Sunday 8th September
The final full day of the pilgrimage began with glorious sunshine tinged with a bittersweet feeling in the air. While we consider how lovely it will be to see our families on our return and inform them of our experience over the last five days, the impact of this journey has created a feeling that we will be leaving a new family behind.
The previous days have seemed to fly by in a whirlwind of friendship, spirituality, support, humour and respect. As we made our way to the Acceuil for the last morning we discussed small gifts we might get for our VIP’s (very important pilgrims) on the respective wards. We took in the hustle and bustle on the way into the Sanctuary as people from all nationalities were making their ways to Sunday Mass in the many locations throughout the grounds.
The Dublin Pilgrimage celebrated mass at 10.30am at St. Bernadette’s Church and as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin concluded proceedings, he reminded all the blue and white shirt helpers and pilgrims to take Lourdes home in our hearts. The experience of Lourdes for our group has been challenging, powerful, enlightening and humbling across the last week and this message rang true for us as we said our goodbyes later that day.
While the afternoon saw the Closing Ceremony experience a short delay (argued by the flag holders as rather a long delay!) we were reminded of the delay at the airport on the way out which was only last Wednesday!! As the minutes ticked into hours Wednesday morning, the customary anger never materialised such was the good humour and conversation among all those waiting. This was again seen outside St. Bernadette’s Church as we waited to begin the ceremony. The incredible music at this last event further created the feeling of being in this very spiritual place at this time.
Later that evening we helped to decorate the Transit Lounges and create a carnival atmosphere as we sang, laughed, told stories and danced with our VIPs. After we said our goodbyes to all our new friends, we made our way to the last Prairie. The theme was Thanksgiving and reflecting on the week we felt very thankful of the memories we had created in this short space of time. All of the teachers and blue shirts then extended sincere sympathies to Mr. Francis Marron (Clongowes Wood College) who experienced a very sudden family bereavement that day.
We would like to say a huge thank you to all the Lourdes Committee who helped made this happen for us especially David Carrigy, Chief Brancardier and Ciara Murray, Chief Handmaid. We return to school tomorrow with a renewed sense of purpose as we face the Leaving Certificate in 2020.
David King, Hugo Stapleton, Joe Kilmartin, Karl Nicholson and Keith Rice
St. Michael’s College
Today was a beautiful day in Lourdes. In our group, three of us are on Stewarding Duty and two are on Ward duty. Every morning we met with our Duty Coordinator at the Acceuil.
Our morning duties included bringing our pilgrims to the Stations of the Cross which were beautifully enacted by our school groups. Our VIPs, the sick pilgrims, really enjoyed this occasion. We also brought many of our pilgrims to the Baths. We had a lovely hour chatting to the pilgrims and blue and white shirts by the river.
We returned to our hotel for a quick lunch and then made preparations for the Youth Mass. We really enjoyed this celebration as it was our Mass and it was held in beautiful Basilica. Father Paul celebrated the Mass with Father Seán, there was brilliant singing from the Choir and it finished with lovely words from Archbishop Martin. I loved the sign of the peace where all the Blueshirts could offer peace to the Pilgrims.
After Mass, we had a picnic in the Solitude with singing from anyone brave enough to take part.The talent was exceptional and it was a lovely way for us to be with the pilgrims and sing and dance.
After the picnic, we had arranged to meet Past Pupils from our school for a pizza and chat. We didn’t have much time as we had to return promptly to the Acceuil for the Dublin Diocesan Procession which was emotionally uplifting and the pilgrims thoroughly enjoyed it.
We finished the day with our Prairie and lovely reflection from our fellow school groups.We also had the sacrament of Reconciliation outside St Bernadette’s which was accompanied by beautiful music.A long day but one we will never forget and always savour.
The team effort of all the blue and white shirts ensured our VIPs returned with very special memories.
St Stephen’s Green