by Jack Simpson, Coach 4
This year was my 8th and final pilgrimage to Lourdes as a young person and it is fair to say that Lourdes has made me who I am today. Lourdes is truly a special place where you have the unique opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of pilgrims from our diocese while growing as an individual along with 450 other like-minded young people. Over my 8 years as a youth, this pilgrimage has played a massive role in developing my confidence, social skills and my faith.
The week we travel to Lourdes is consistently the highlight of my year and this year was no exception. Most people would say that a 26 hour coach journey is not their idea of fun but what they don’t realise is that every hour of the journey is full of laughter and singing whilst getting to know the people on the coach. Even from day one, you can feel the strong sense of community.
Once we arrived, we started the pilgrimage off with our youth opening mass. These masses are full of energy with lively music and powerful, relatable messages.
The next day we welcomed the pilgrims with a mini tour around the domain before taking them to their welcome mass. One of the highlights of the week is that first day, getting to know the pilgrims and seeing friendships starting to form. After coming for a few years, you start to recognise pilgrims that you have worked with previously and it is amazing to see them again and spend time with them to catch up!
Throughout the week there are lots of opportunities to socialise with pilgrims and share powerful religious experiences such as the blessed sacrament procession, the torchlight procession, mass at the grotto and taking them to the holy baths.
Towards the end of the week, I did over 18’s duty, where I was able to get up early, serve the pilgrims breakfast in the St. Frai before helping them get ready to go out for the day! The young people also attended a ‘night of mercy’ which was a moving experience, where we had a chance to reflect on our lives, go to reconciliation and spend time with God during adoration.
Finally, I was lucky enough to end the week by singing and waving goodbye to the pilgrims leaving on the jumbulance. It was a fitting end to an unbelievable journey!
When people ask me what makes the trip so special, I always struggle to put the experience into words. It is true that words genuinely don’t come close to doing it justice.
I would encourage any young person to take this amazing opportunity in the future and I am sure they too are will also fall in love with this incredible place.
Lourdes 2020 application forms are available now: http://www.animateyouth.org/lourdes/lourdes-application/