Loreto College, St Stephen’s Green
“Early on Thursday morning, we brought the pilgrims to St Bernadette’s Church to celebrate the Youth Mass.
All of the school groups were very excited to attend this mass as we have heard from many of the older helpers that it is a very special Mass and the music is unrivalled. Upon taking our seats, we could already feel the sensational atmosphere around us. The music began and ‘lead us to the water’ was the first song we heard, we understood what all the fuss was about; the music was very enjoyable. Our teacher, Ms Travers, shared a reflection on our experience and the meaning of Lourdes and the sense of joy we feel here when we share our time and talents with others.
During the mass, we remembered all those affected by the Berkeley tragedy earlier this summer. Candles were blessed on their behalf and we kept them in our prayers thoughtout the ceremony. We were reminded that fight isn’t necessarily a bad thing when we heard of the fight that the injured Berkeley students displayed and through the choir singing ‘Fight Song’ . It was a very moving ceremony which we all feel enriched our experience of Lourdes.”
“In the afternoon we all began to get our VIPs ready to head to a picnic in Bartres. Bartres is a day trip out for the pilgrims to the nearby village where St. Bernadette spent some time at a young age. We were told about St. Bernadette and her life story and how Lourdes and Bartres were such a special places for her. Before we headed out to Bartres all the VIPs had to get ready and gather whatever they needed for this trip. We made our ways to the buses and headed for our 20 minute bus journey from Lourdes. Luckily the weather was beautiful and the sun was shining.
Upon arriving at the Bartres we all took our seats around the colourfully decorated trees and bar. The pilgrims were seated around the trees decorated with balloons and banners.
We had a sing song and the nurses and white shirts picked very good songs to get all the pilgrims plus the helpers up standing and dancing together. They had a key board and microphones for everyone to hear. There were lively songs such as Twist&Shout and old well known songs which everyone sang along too. It was a nice break for the pilgrims as there was ice cream and tea and coffee also served. All VIPs had a smile on their face and you could tell really enjoyed themselves throughout the day.”
The Candlelight procession
“In the evening all helpers arrived at the wards to bring our VIPS to the torchlight procession.
We gathered at the grotto at 8.30am to start at 9.00am. We walked around rosary square with our VIPS while carrying our candles and lanterns. It lit up rosary square. It is very hard to describe the feeling of being in the torchlight procession.
The quietness and peace while in the middle of a large crowd was amazing. We sat and watched as the lights lit up the square. It was a beautiful scene, there was a great sense of togetherness. Everyone put their worries behind and just enjoyed the beauty of the procession. Prayers were said in English, Irish, Spanish, German and French. The music was very moving and created a very reflective atmosphere. It was an incredible experience.”
Holy Child School, Killiney
“Three of us are on flag duty. We started our day with the penitential service. We then got to go back to our hotel for lunch. After that was the anointing of the sick where we processed in with flags again.
Following the mass we went to the grotto and formed a guard of honour for all the pilgrims to walk through. Flags can be very tiring but we are really enjoying it. When we were finished we went to the Accueil where we chatted with some of the pilgrims and took some pictures.
After our dinner we went to light our school candle beside the grotto and then went to Prairie where we did a reflection on forgiveness and then a sing along.”
– Julia, Megan and Judith
“Three of us are on Ref duty. We started the day by setting up for breakfast and then serving the pilgrims.
Ref is a very tiring yet rewarding job as we are constantly interacting with the pilgrims. We tidy up the tables afterwards and get lots of opportunities to chat with all the pilgrims.
We have really enjoyed all of our time that we have spent in Ref and look forward to the last few days. We finish up everyday with serving dinner and it has been highly enjoyable.”
– Ally, Jessica and Sophie
De La Salle College, Churchtown
Friday 11th September
“When we got up this morning it was still dark out which was very discouraging after the bit of a lie-in we had yesterday, but breakfast slowly woke us up. After breakfast the six of us went down to the wards to clean the rooms, and then at 9:30 we had to perform the second station of the cross – in the garden of Gethsemane – for the pilgrims. Ronan acted as Jesus while the rest of us – Eoghan, Paul, Robert, Stephen and Cathal – were the apostles and had to lay on the ground. This was a very tough role for the five of us but we prevailed in a stunning performance.
We spent most of the rest of the afternoon in town with the pilgrims, helping them shop for souvenirs and relaxing with them in cafés and restaurants. As this was our last full day, we also made sure to do some of our own shopping and see all the places in the sanctuary we had not got a chance to experience yet. In the evening we had a party to end the pilgrimage which was a lot of fun for both pilgrims and helpers, with many performers from both entertaining. When the party finally came to us close, we had to say our last goodbyes to the many pilgrims in our rooms who were going on the early flight the next day which was very sad.
To finish the day we had our last prairie as well and we were the last school to perform. Unlike each of the other groups that night we did not sing because we have no musical talent between us, but just read our reflections on the theme of thanksgiving.
Fr Paul then stopped us before we returned to our places to say some very kind words about our teacher Mr Mac Giolla Rua who was officially retiring the day after we were due to fly home and to take a photo of us together. Exhausted, but having had an absolutely amazing experience during our time here in Lourdes and ready for one more early rise and day of work, we headed gratefully back to our hotel and to our beds.”