A Coach 4 pilgrim reflects on another memorable week in Lourdes with the Liverpool Archdiocese Youth Pilgrimage.
This year was my eighth and final pilgrimage to Lourdes as a young person and it is fair to say that Lourdes has made me who I am today. Lourdes is truly a special place where you have the unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of pilgrims from our diocese while growing as an individual along with 450 other like-minded young people. Over my eight years, the Archdiocesan Youth Pilgrimage has played a massive role in developing my confidence, social skills and my faith.
The week that we travel to Lourdes is consistently the highlight of my year and this year was no exception. Most people would say that a 26-hour coach journey is not their idea of fun but what they don’t realise is that every hour of the journey is full of laughter and singing, of getting to know the people sharing that journey with you. Even from day one, you can feel the strong sense of community.
Once we arrived in Lourdes, we started the pilgrimage off with our own opening Mass for the Liverpool Youth. These masses are full of energy with lively music and powerful, relatable messages.
The next day we welcomed the pilgrims with a mini-tour around the domain before taking them to their welcome Mass. One of the highlights of the week is that first day, getting to know the pilgrims and seeing friendships start to form. Once you have been on a few pilgrimages, you start to recognise people that you have worked with previously; it is amazing to see them again and a pleasure to spend time catching up.
Throughout the week there are lots of opportunities to socialise with pilgrims and share powerful religious experiences such as the Blessed Sacrament procession, the Torchlight procession, Mass at the Grotto, and the visit to the baths.
Towards the end of the week, I did Over-18s duty, which involved getting up early and serving the sick pilgrims breakfast at the St Frai hospital before helping them get ready to go out for the day. For the youth pilgrims, there was also a ‘night of mercy’ which was a moving experience, where we had a chance to reflect on our lives, go to reconciliation and spend time with God during adoration.
Finally, I was lucky enough to end the week by singing and waving goodbye to the pilgrims leaving on the Jumbulance – a fitting end to an unbelievable journey.
When people ask me what makes a pilgrimage to Lourdes so special, I always struggle to put the experience into words. It is true that words genuinely don’t come close to doing it justice. I would encourage any young person to take this amazing opportunity in the future as I am sure they too would fall in love with this incredible place.
Dates for the diary
1 September – Lourdes Reunion Mass, 6.30pm at St Michael and All Angels, Kirkby.
All are welcome to join us for Mass as we take a look back over Lourdes 2019.
24 September – Faith in Action training, 5.30pm at Lowe House, St Helens.
For all interested in running the Faith in Action award in their parishes and schools.
1 October – Lourdes 2020 application forms released. Download your application form from 9am at www.animateyouth.org.