Pilgrimage to Lourdes: A Journey of Faith and Friendship

From the 28th June to 5th July 2024, students from the Hallam Diocese embarked on a memorable pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. Travelling by coach in a convoy from various pick-up points, we were united under this year’s theme: “Come to Lourdes in Procession.” The 24 hour journey brought us to this Holy site, marking the beginning of a profound and transformative experience.

Upon arrival in Lourdes, our young people were introduced to their pilgrims and wasted no time in immersing themselves in the spiritual activities that awaited them. A highlight was the interaction between the young people and their pilgrims and throughout the week, strong bonds formed, evidenced by the growing laughter, care and support among the group.

The week was filled with significant moments, beginning with Mass a St Bernadette’s church on the Monday.  Sunday’s Mass was held the revered Holy Grotto, a site of immense religious importance where the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette. The underground basilica also hosted a Mass, providing a unique and moving setting for worship, with 20,000 people in the congregation. The choir sang beautifully; like a choir of angels.

Reconciliation was a key aspect of the pilgrimage, with a dedicated group of priests offering the opportunity for confession. The young people with their pilgrims participated in both the Torchlight Procession and the Blessed Sacrament Procession, each a powerful testament to their faith and devotion.

One day was dedicated to relaxation and fun at a nearby lake, where everyone enjoyed various activities and shared moments of joy. Phil’s karaoke-style entertainment setup added to the day’s merriment. The day concluded with a trip to the Youth Village, providing more opportunities for games, conversations, and connection. A short, lively liturgy led by some of the group leaders  left us feeling inspired and uplifted.

A memorable Tuesday evening featured a “party” at the Alba Hotel, including pilgrims and members of the Hallam Diocese. The event was filled with fun, laughter, and dancing, creating cherished memories. Even Bishop Ralph joined the festivities on the dance floor, much to the delight of everyone there!

The final day in Lourdes saw the group come together for a special liturgy led by Sue McDonald and several young pilgrims. This celebration included the praying of the rosary and reflections on each of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, providing a fitting conclusion to our spiritual journey.

As the group departed on Thursday, there was a palpable sense of sadness. However, the experiences shared, the relationships forged, and the friendships strengthened throughout the pilgrimage left a lasting impact. The journey to Lourdes was more than a physical trip; it was a profound journey of faith, fellowship, and spiritual growth that will remain with the pilgrims and our young people forever.

God Bless.