Lourdes 2022

by Emily Kennedy, Year 13

Lourdes has been an extraordinary experience, one that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Similar to myself I don’t believe a single person in our group making their first pilgrimage knew what to expect when boarding the flight, but it is safe to say we were not disappointed! 

Most of the group began our first day by attending the HCPT opening mass. However, myself and four other members of our group were asked to participate in leading the blessed sacrament procession. We each carried a flag (which were unbelievably heavy) for the duration of the procession. It was not until we turned a corner that I could finally look behind me and I realised how many people were following behind us, it was breathtaking. For me personally, witnessing the large number of people participating in the procession allowed me to grasp the true meaning of Lourdes; it showed me the true power of faith in uniting people from all walks of life, from all over the world. 

Lourdes is a remarkable place. One of the ways this comes through is that everyone is truly accepted no matter who they are or where they come from. It was an amazing opportunity to meet new people, make friends and make memories for life. The feeling of making others smile even by doing something as small as cheering and singing as they enter for mass is indescribable; it has allowed me to appreciate the true value of kindness and the positive impact you can have on others. The power of singing and dancing in bringing everyone together as one was incredible to be part of. 

Part of our week also involved leading ‘family groups’ through the stations of the cross.  This was a great experience as it allowed us all the opportunity to take a step back from the fast-paced activities we had endured up to that point and reflect upon the 14 stations and Jesus’ final journey in saving humanity. It was important to be reminded of the way Jesus put his faith and trust in God and that we, like Jesus, should do the same in times of struggle and suffering. 

The pilgrimage to Lourdes has ultimately enabled me to reconnect with both my faith and with God, something prior to visiting Lourdes I felt as though I was distanced from. Prior to the pilgrimage people told me about how life-changing Lourdes was.  Initially I found this hard to believe but after experiencing it first-hand it is fair to say that they were right.  By the end of the week I found myself not wanting to leave, so much so that I hope to return with group 36 next year! Lourdes 2023 let’s do this!