Lourdes 2017

Wow! What a fantastic half term we have all had in Lourdes, supporting and caring for our ‘supported pilgrims’. It started with a ‘yes’… Yes to going to Lourdes; yes to helping and caring for others; yes to spending a week with Mary, walking in the footsteps of St Bernadette. So….. 12 students, 3 members of staff and one ex-Sacred Heart student all set off for Lourdes on Friday 26th May via coach to south west France. We shared the coach with St Peters Secondary South Bank and St Patricks Secondary, Thornaby. This coach journey allowed students to make new friends straight away.

We had the pleasure of the company of Fr Damian the assistant priest at St Andrew’s, who led morning and evening prayers on the coach.

This year was my second time to Lourdes, my first time as group leader. What a great experience this was for me. To get to know the students individually and support them with their spiritual journey. For me, Lourdes is a unique place; it is one of the most incredible places I have visited. I got to experience God’s love in so many ways, especially through the work of other young people.

The theme for this year’s 64th Middlesbrough Diocesan Pilgrimage was “The Almighty has done great things for me” which is taken from a prayer called The Magnificat. This prayer is the first thing that Mary says after meeting her cousin Elizabeth and sharing in her joy of being a mother too. It’s remarkable that Mary, who was herself a young person, recognizes that God has done great things for her. Even though she, like all of us, would have been able to point to all of the good things in her life and thank God for them, she must have been very anxious once the Angel Gabriel had appeared to her. But she still say yes to God’s plan for her and gave thanks to God even though what she was asked to do was difficult and even a little bit frightening.

Just as Mary said “Yes” to being the Mother of Jesus despite her difficult circumstances, the 12 students also said Yes! Yes to trusting that God will do great things for them.

A central part of our Lourdes Pilgrimage is the celebration of Mass which happens every day. This allows us to meet Jesus, be strengthened by listening to God’s word and nourished by receiving the Eucharist, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My personal highlight of the week was our International Mass, which took place in the underground Basilica. Meeting all the other Dioceses from around the world; everyone coming together as one family, God’s family.

As well as celebrating Mass daily, the Torch Light Procession is another highlight of mine. The Torch Light Procession takes places every night at 9pm. As the sun is setting thousands of Pilgrims from all over the world gather to a follow the Statue of the Virgin Mary and meditate on the Mysteries of the Rosary, with a single candle in their hand. The Rosary is prayed in many different languages. At the end of a decade of the rosary we all join together by singing…

Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.

The message of Lourdes is a simple one. It is the same message that we can find in the pages of the Gospel. It brings no new teaching, no startling revelations or magical promises, but simply calls us once more back to the basics of the good news of Jesus. It can be summed up in four simple ideas:

Poverty, Prayer, Penance and Participation

The jigsaw of Lourdes is incomplete without each of these four pieces, and when we put them all together we find the heart of the message and the source of its inspiration: the Gospel. The message of Lourdes is to return to the word of God.

Lourdes is a unique holiday, a holiday which you will never ever forget.

Lourdes is also a working holiday, but very rewarding.

Throughout the week, the MYMission team set students various challenges to carry out. You can see some of these photographs on the screens around school and in our image gallery.

Taking selfies with a priest or even the Bishop

Lighting a candle

Have a sing along on the coach

Refrain from asking the question, “are we nearly there yet?”

This year in Lourdes the students received a Lourdes journal to fill in everyday as a record of their time and experiences in Lourdes. This is some of their responses to the questions:

In 5 words, describe what Lourdes means to you?
Your presence is always appreciated

What great things have happened to you this week?

Making new friends

Realising how lucky I am

I have re-affirmed my faith in myself and Catholicism.

That I want to be part of a community

If you could say thank you to someone this week, who would it be and why?

For my friends for keeping me company, making me smile and helping me not to be nervous.

For Miss Cantwell for organising the whole trip, staying strong and coping with us.

Miss Cantwell as she was the one who got me into the trip in the first place and it has changed me.

I would say thank you to everyone as they are all amazing, but I would say a big thank you to the ‘supported pilgrims’ as they make our time worthwhile and I have enjoyed every second with them.

Would you like to return to Lourdes next year?


Remember….. Your Lourdes journey has not ended.

Your Lourdes friends last a lifetime, along with the memory.

Lourdes 2018, will you be there!!!

Do not delay, sign up today.

For more information, please see Miss Cantwell.

God Bless

Miss Cantwell