Love the children … and make a great effort to improve their education
and raise it to as high a degree as possible. Blessed Anne-Marie Javouhey

Lourdes Pilgrimage 2023

Lourdes Pilgrimage 2023
By: Sarah McMenamin

On the 7th of September, Ali Diamond, Ruby Jones, Sarah McMenamin and Emer O’Connor accompanied by Ms Kennedy set off on their pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Dublin Diocese.

Having the opportunity to go to Lourdes as a blue shirt with the Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage was an experience of a lifetime, from the beautiful Basilica and peaceful river, to all the people that we met along the way and friendships that we made while being there.

One of the most memorable experiences of the trip though was Hotel Support. Hotel Support was where we really got the chance to connect with the pilgrims. From pushing them in their wheelchairs to each Mass, and back to their hotels, we got to develop close friendships with them and really got an insight into their lives as they shared their stories with us. We could see the hardships they have faced, but we were also inspired by how they all dealt with them so positively. It was very rewarding to know, that we were able to help them get to places, which they usually wouldn’t be able to go to, ensuring that they could experience Lourdes to the fullest.

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The Ref in the Accueil is where all of the sick pilgrims eat their meals. We were on Ref duty every second day which consisted of setting the tables, assisting the nurses and helpers with the food and sitting and chatting with the pilgrims during mealtimes. This was all of our favourite duties. Spending time with either, elderly or sometimes special needs people, and having conversations with them was really eye-opening and interesting. Hearing stories about these people’s lives really shifted our perspectives on the illnesses and hardships that they struggle with from day to day and for us to be able to provide support, through talking to them or taking them on walks meant so much to them. Being on Ref was such a rewarding job as we could see how happy we were making the pilgrims and how much they enjoyed talking to us. We will all cherish the relationships and bonds we made with these pilgrims during mealtimes in the Ref, and we’ll carry the memories made through the rest of our lives.

In general the masses were very interesting. We usually had a daily mass with the pilgrims, white shirts and fellow blue shirts, in St. Bernadette’s church. Every morning we would go down to The Grotto for morning prayers with Fr Paul Thornton. This was a really mindful and calming start to the hectic days. We also had Prairie every evening where each school would get a chance to sing a song, read a poem or say a prayer. Most nights this turned into a full singalong. It was not only a great laugh for us but also for our teachers, who took time out of their busy schedules to join us on this Pilgrimage. During our trip, we also got the chance to go to The Baths, where we got our hands and faces blessed with the holy water, but also a chance to drink this water. Most masses were accompanied by the Dublin folk group made up of pilgrims and helpers. I can say first hand that it was truly special to be a part of. It’s hard to describe how genuinely amazing our trip was. It is something we will hold onto forever and encourage everyone to do.

On the of 9th of September, we got to experience the Torchlight Procession. Assisting the pilgrims in voitures and wheelchairs, we gathered to walk the grounds of Lourdes, with a flaming torch in our hands, as we said the rosary, sang hymns and the traditional 'Ave Maria' song of Lourdes. This lifetime experience is a touching and magical moment to witness, and brings people together from the four corners of the earth. It's impossible not to be swept away by the power and beauty of all those flames, whose light spreads far beyond the sanctuary. It is an amazing sight to see, and the sheer volume of people parading around the grounds, allows us to understand that you are never alone in this community. An unmissable experience during your time in Lourdes...’

We hope that this insight into our incredible experience of Lourdes, inspires others to take part in this wonderful pilgrimage, in years to come. We would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to Ms Kennedy, who accompanied us on this pilgrimage. Also a big thank you to Mr Porter who helped out in the run up to this pilgrimage and also to Ms O’Flaherty who helped in the application process of this trip.

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Dublin 20,
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