Year 12 spend Easter in Lourdes
This Easter Year 12 went on their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes – the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains setting the perfect backdrop for an incredible adventure.
Arriving early evening of Easter Sunday, the tired group of Alton Convent School and Salesians piled off the coach to be greeted by dinner at the hotel. Once fed and settled the group set out to the Domain in the centre of Lourdes where the basilicas are situated. Crossing the river to give a fabulous view of the grotto we took part in a liturgy and were given an introduction to Lourdes by Father Pat Sherlock. The entire area was lit by candle light and the people were alive with the atmosphere. To finish the evening we crossed the river to gather around the statue of Mary, lit up by candles.
Starting off the working week with a photo in front of the basilica set us all off to a great start as the sun was shining and we were all eager to get started. During the week there were a huge variety of duties such as working in the HCPT shop, playing with a family group, face painting at the play base and leading singing at the baths. These jobs allowed us to truly experience the sense of service at the heart of Lourdes, and opened our eyes to the life-changing work that HCPT do, and we were honoured to be a part of it.
The most rewarding duty was spending time with a family group because you got to have quality moments with the children who had a range of disabilities, and, at the same time, give the leaders a helping hand. We were able to see the amazing job that the workers did to help these families and were hit by a range of emotions. The children will always stick in our minds and our hearts as they were inspirational.
As part of HCPT we were involved in their candle light procession. We were assigned jobs such as lining paths and guiding the crowd with candles. This night was exceptional. Nothing can describe it, as the crowd of people came towards the basilica raising their candles to the dark sky. To make this experience even more phenomenal, student volunteer groups, including ours, got the opportunity to lead the famous song Rise and Shine which is a Lourdes favourite with actions and all to the glowing crowd of nearly 10,000. For many this was the most unbelievable experience and we did not want it to end.
One day we were lucky enough to all travel up into the mountains to Gavarnie. The coach journey was a challenging climb up steep mountains, but to arrive in ‘God’s cathedral’ was a huge reward. The beautiful setting of the snow-capped mountains cut up by streams, was the perfect place to sit by a mountain spring and dip our feet in the fresh water. It was freezing.
However, the moment we had all been waiting for was the HCPT Trust Mass in the underground basilica which was watched by 25,000 people as it was broadcast live to Lourdes TV and captured on Youtube. The majority of the Alton Convent girls formed the choir but 4 who volunteered were part of the Trust Dance Team. For everyone, no matter how they took part, it was overwhelming and the crowd was buzzing with the spirit of Lourdes. Everywhere you looked there was a happy smiling face staring back at you. The feeling was infectious, lasting the whole day.
Due to the range of activities each individual was involved in, every person has come home with a unique story to tell. Having written this up we have come to the realisation that there are not enough words to describe our time there and we miss it more every day.
Post writen by Aerin Scott, Serena Noble and Kiera Leather, Year 12