Friday 7th September 2012- Team Lourdes 2012
It was straight into the deep end when we arrived at Dublinairport this morning but we threw ourselves into it, chatting and socialising with the pilgrims. We got their life stories. They are all great craic and everyone had a laugh! It was a long day because there were many delays getting the pilgrims on and off the plane but the sing songs and cracking jokes got us through! By the end of our flight we all had new buddies. We arrived inLourdesand only had two seconds in the hotel before rushing off to the Prairie. On arrival we were handed candles , it was a magical sight …. until Kim set her hair on fire (don’t worry it was all under control!) A few schools shared a reflection on tonight’s theme of hope and expectation. We sang along to the songs and held our candles high in the air! We were last to share but it was fine it all went well, Kate played her violin while the rest of us read out our thoughts and reflections on the theme! We got a nice surprise of bumping into the other past pupils from Beaufort! Three years ago, Hannah Taylor, Danielle Murray, Fiona Tynan, Niamh Sexton and Rebecca Hearns travelled with Chaplain Ms. Niamh Donohue toLourdesfor the first time. This Pilgrimage will be the girls third time volunteering with the sick! We are all tired and looking forward to our first day in the Acceuil tomorrow- where the sick pilgrims stay.
Day 2: Saturday 8th of September- Team Beaufort 2012
We finally got to start our duties after hearing so much about it for months! It feels weird living out the stories we have been told. After a quick breakfast in the hotel we set out early not to be late for our first morning on duty! We got our name badges which made it official. We were nervous when we went onto the wards, we were all assigned to different wards except for Kim and Kate. It was very comforting to see some familiar Beaufort faces on wards! We were thrown into our first job of cleaning the rooms from top to bottom and getting used to the ins and outs of the Acceuil. We all met our pilgrims in our rooms and began making friends. The opening mass of the pilgrimage was in St. Bernadette’s Grotto where the Archbishop celebrated mass. On the way we got our first experience of driving the Pilgrims on the voitures , its no easy job going up and down the hills in 32 degrees , the girls never mentioned we needed to body build beforeLourdes! After the ceremony all participants on the pilgrimage gathered for a group photo outside the rosary Basilica before heading back to the wards for lunch. After lunch we had the stations of the cross where we reenacted a dramatic interpretation of the 9th station starring Kim as Jesus and Hannah as the cross with a supporting cast of Louise Kate and Catherine. After the sick pilgrims had afternoon tea we assembled in the amazing underground Basilica which is the size ofCrokePark where the Eucharistic Procession took place. We ended our first day on the wards with a sing song with our pilgrims it was great craic! We made our way to Prairie for the nightly reflection; The theme of the night was Reconciliation and we were all offered the option of receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
After night prayer all the school groups enjoyed a sing song in the hotel- it was a great way to wind down!
Day 3: Sunday 9th September- Team Beaufort 2012
We had a sleep in until 7.15 which was much appreciated – the day opened with the Penitential Ceremony the church was so impressive and the mass was celebrated in different languages including sign language.
We had a very enjoyable afternoon getting to know our pilgrims when we brought the pilgrims shopping followed by a refreshing mineral in the local cafe. We rushed back to the Anointing of the sick ceremony and it was a really moving and rather emotional ceremony. We were all anointed with our pilgrims
We were very proud to see the Beaufort girls receiving their bronze medals and hope that we will also get the chance to come back! Hannah Taylor, Niamh Sexton, Rebecca Hearns, Fiona Tynan and Danielle Murray travelled to Lourdes for the first time three years ago and started the Beaufort tradition. And have returned independently for the past two years. They received bronze medals from the Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. After a chit chat on the wards we headed to prairie where the Archbishop joined us for the reflection on the rosary, it was a touching and personal gathering. We then headed to Hotel Solitude for a table quiz we got to know some more blue shirts before finishing the night with an ice-cream 🙂 we are all dead on our feet and drained of energy, thank Goodness for Berocca boost and each other!!!!
Day 4- Monday 10th September 2012 Team Lourdes 2012
Today started with the youth mass to celebrate all of the young volunteers. It was a lively, enjoyable and upbeat atmosphere. We all processed up the aisle and Kim presented a candle on behalf of Beaufort. The youth choir lead the mass and their modern, gospel style music kept us all entertained. After a quick lunch ourselves, we all headed down to the picnic with our pilgrims. This involved a very spirited sing song with many enthusiastic performers. We all had great craic. All the blue shirts then had the opportunity to visit the baths. We were really nervous going into it but we all agreed it was a truly amazing experience. It is hard to find the words to describe it.
It has been so lovely having the older girls from Beaufort here for the odd hello and smiles on the wards but today we finally got to sit down for a proper chat with all the Beaufort girls. We bought them dinner to thank them for all their support and gave them each a small token of thanks for setting the bar so high for us here inLourdes. It was short and sweet as we were all rushing back for the torchlight procession.
We all lined our pilgrims up in procession and each carried a lighted candle as the whole pilgrimage made their way towards the Rosary Basilica. It was truly inspiring and breath taking to see all of the thousands of people walking together and reciting the rosary in their own native language. Although we were part of a big crowd it still felt so close and personal. It was an unforgettable experience.
There was one thing that we knew was approaching for the entire week- time for personal reflection in the grotto. After such a hectic and fast paced week it was nice to have some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the Accueil. We each lit candles for our own personal worries and intentions and also lit a candle for 6th years and Ms. Donohue. We were all overcome by the strong sense of emotion that came to the surface in all of us. We don’t know what we would have done without the soft, kind voice of Ms. Mc Andrew that soothed us and gave us a real sense of comfort. She was such a mom when we needed one. Overall it was an emotionally draining day but nothing chocolate and a hot drink back in the hotel couldn’t cure 🙂