I assure you it is an experience we’ll never forget.
By David Boylan, Rhetoric Xavier
On the 6th of September, 10 Belvedere students, along with Mr. Foley and Br. Davis, travelled to Lourdes for a week to work on the Dublin Diocese Pilgrimage.
When we arrived we were trained by an experienced helper on how to lift the pilgrims and operate voitures and chaises (transport vehicles for the pilgrims). After that, we waited eagerly in the hospital for the pilgrims. Once they had arrived, we helped them to settle into their rooms.
Over the next few days we began to settle into our separate routines. The Dublin Pilgrimage allocates specific jobs to each helper. The Belvedere group consisted of “Wards”, “Reception” and “Stewards”. The ward helpers assisted the pilgrims in the hospital. They talked to the pilgrims, sharing meaningful experiences with each other. The reception team moved the pilgrims from wheelchairs into voitures and vice versa, a difficult job in itself, whilst also maintaining a conversation with the pilgrims. Lastly, stewards brought the pilgrims to the services in the churches throughout the day, again, chatting to them on the way.
We awoke early each day and then went to work at our different jobs. At the end of each day we had dinner together and then had a prairie. Here, we reflected on our day with the rest of the 6th years from other schools. We all valued this time since the day was so hectic, it gave us a chance to look back on what we had done.
Near the end of the day, we went to the baths. We were nervous going in but everyone was greatly surprised. We thought it was an amazing experience and we were all really grateful we had had the opportunity. Late that night we also lit a candle for the pilgrims, the Belvedere community and our families, amongst others.
Our last day with the pilgrims was emotional. We waved goodbye to the pilgrims and to all the helpers. Our flight was the day after everyone else’s so we were to be the last to leave Lourdes. On our last day we climbed the nearby mountain, aided by a cable car. On the mountain we all realised what a euphoric experience Lourdes had been. We finished the day with a youth mass in the town church, which we all enjoyed very much.
We would like to thank Mr. Foley and Br. Davis and everyone else who was involved in organising the pilgrimage. I assure you it is an experience we’ll never forget. I would strongly recommend it to anyone.