At the beginning of September, 6th Year students –Isabelle Banim, Siofra Delaney, Maria Mallin and Gracie-may McSharry travelled to Lourdes as part of a 5-day long pilgrimage, accompanied by their amazing religion teacher, Frances. The students took part in helping pilgrims during their stay and prayed for the Teresian School Community at the Grotto of our Lady.
Every day came packed with new surprises and experiences. No day had repetition and boredom was never an option. Everyday started with a morning reflection led by Father Paul. These reflections stayed as a memory with everyone. The morning air and the amazing view of the grotto framed the experience. It was an amazingly relaxing start to what would be a long hectic day and a lovely time to sit back and reflect on your thoughts and feeling from the previous day.
Every morning we were given different duties to enact during the mass. These were things such as water duty, carrying flags, doing readings, and handing out leaflets to the pilgrims or we were given the duty of helping the pilgrims to and from the masses or the grotto, either in wheelchairs or voitures. This was a lovely time to get to know the pilgrims and we met many incredible people and heard many fascinating stories from their youth.
The masses held a special place in our hearts thanks to the comedic abilities of Fr. Paul and the archbishop and we cannot mention any of the services without giving credit to the fabulous choir which really brought together the entire experience. Made up of students from all different schools including our own Siofra Delaney they deserved a standing ovation at the end of the pilgrimage.
During the day we were set to work helping pilgrims, engaging in spiritual activities such as re- enacting the stations of the cross for the sicker pilgrims who weren’t able to hike in the September heat. We had a small bit of free time to explore the lovely town of Lourdes. Most afternoons we were put on wheelchair duty where we would be once again helping the pilgrims either in wheelchairs or voitures to the evening services or the torchlit procession. During this entire experience we were joined by two past pupils of the Teresian school who had returned many years in a row to continue to help the pilgrims. We had a lovely dinner with them as per tradition where we reminisced about the school and the memories we shared. They have motivated us all to return as white shirts, F
As there we weren’t working in The Accueil this year due to covid, some of our time was spent on day trips in towns surrounding Lourdes. On the 2nd day we went on a walking tour of Lourdes itself, indulging in the rich history of Lourdes itself. On the 3rd day we walked to a town called Bartrez, to visit where St. Bernadette spent a part of her life, working on a farm. On the 4th day we went to the mountainous town Guillvarne, we bonded with the other blue shirts playing games and walking with views of the alps. On the Sunday, we had essentially an afternoon tea party which was a great time to interact and get to know the pilgrims better. During the evenings, we had a quiz night and singsong nights, at singsongs nights we gathered around a piano, arm in arm, singing. The medal ceremony took place on the Sunday. Here, our amazing teacher Frances was awarded her 3 year medal. Which we all hope to receive in 2 years!
Collectively, our favourite part of the entire trip was connecting with the pilgrims. The experience of helping those who could no longer care for themselves awakened a sense of empathy, a considerate side in all of us we didn’t even know existed. The sick pilgrims may have lost their capacity to care for themselves fully however we felt extremely lucky to be in the presence of each and everyone of them and listen to their guidance and advice from their life stories. They held a unique drive for life and sense of ambition which was inspiring to be in the presence of. We all look forward in anticipation for our return Lourdes as white shirts .
-Written by Isabelle, Siofra, Gracie-May and Maria