The diocesan trip to Lourdes in August was a great experience! It was filled with prayer, laughter and camaraderie. We were there for just under a week led by our Bishop Terence Brain. There were roughly 700 people in attendance from the Diocese with over 200 of them being teenagers and young adults who had fundraised to be out there and help look after our sick pilgrims during the week. Lourdes always carries with it a very special atmosphere and this year was no exception. One of my highlights is always going down to the Grotto late at night, where it’s all quiet and reflective, and surrounded by candles and people at prayer.
This year, for the second year in a row I was chaplain to a group of young people called “Old Bedian’s” . They’re made up of former students from St Bede’s Catholic School in Manchester, who were either University students or had just left St Bede’s. They were also assisted this year by one of our own parishioners from Sabden. Once again it was a great experience to journey with those young people throughout the week providing spiritual support and sharing laughter and fun with them. Many pilgrims comment on how they are inspired by the young people who work so hard assisting the doctors and nurses in looking after the sick pilgrims and how they throw themselves into the week.
Throughout the course of the Pilgrimage we had Mass every day with the Bishop, assisted by guest preachers from around the Diocese and accompanied by the Diocesan Lourdes choir. There was also the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of Healing, and the chance to listen to our future priests by attending catechesis sessions led by the Diocesan seminarians. There’s also a visit to the grotto itself and the opportunity to bathe in the Lourdes water. And not forgetting there’s plenty of time to relax and socialise, shopping, sitting in bars having coffee or having a few drinks of an evening.
One of the biggest inspirations of going to Lourdes is to witness people of all ages grow in faith and relationship with God, for in Lourdes one is blessed and encounters another level of faith.
We plan to organise a pilgrimage next year from the Parish to join with the Diocesan pilgrimage at the beginning of August. So watch this space for more details in the upcoming months.