During Easter week, a group of sixth form pupils gave up their time to volunteer during the HCPT Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
HCPT is a charity which takes disabled and disadvantaged children to Lourdes for a week of fun, prayer, singing and dancing. It is one of the most travelled pilgrimages in the world, with groups from across England, the USA, Europe and the West Indies joining the fun.
This year Wales were leading the pilgrimage with the theme of ‘Cariad – God’s love is the best love’, giving thanks to all of the memories that have been created over the last 60 years. During the week, the pupils got involved in various activities. We worked closely with the Manchester region family groups, where we got to spend time with the children, took part in the Blessed Sacrament procession, visited the Holy Baths, gathered as young people for the youth liturgy, worked at Hosanna House in Bartres where there was games, face painting, arts and crafts and a petting zoo.
There are two main events during Lourdes with HCPT – the torchlight procession and the Trust Mass. When our Lady appeared to the young girl Bernadette, she told her to “tell people to come in procession.” During the torchlight, thousands of people process around the main square all holding candles – and this event is finished by singing and dancing. The trust mass is one of the final events, and this is when the whole of HCPT gather together for the final time to celebrate the week. The Mass was beaming with colours, smiling faces, musical instruments and of course – dancing to ‘Rise and Shine.’ It is an amazing sight to see how happy some of these children are, but also great to see so many people, young and old, coming together for their faith and devoting their time to other people.
There is also time for reflection and on our final evening we gathered as a group to reflect on our week, the impact Lourdes will have on our lives and to decorate our group candle and to remember people in our prayer. One of the most amazing places in Lourdes is the Grotto (where Our Lady appeared) at midnight. After a busy week it was nice to take some time together in this very peaceful place and it gave us all a chance to remember people who we want to pray for, the young people we have worked with and to give thanks for the memories that we have all created during this incredible life-changing week.
You can also visit the website of HCPT if you would like more information about their work: http://www.hcpt.org.uk/