Each year a group of our Sixth Form students and staff join the annual Birmingham Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, a small town in the Hautes-Pyrenees in south west France. Lourdes is close to the hearts of all St. Francis of Assisi students.
The pilgrimage provides the opportunity for students to visit this special place, travelling with other people of faith for prayer, reflection and the exploration of spirituality. During the visit, the students also act as volunteers on a number of tasks, including the care of some of the sick pilgrims.
Group Leader, Miss Clensy, said of the last pilgrimage "the students were a true inspiration to me as they put their faith into action at every opportunity." "They worked with the VIP pilgrims from our Diocese, taking them to masses and processions and serving meals, cleaning and accompanying them on shopping trips. Our pupils were keen to experience every opportunity and were asked to do extra duties regularly." "These ranged from serving at the International Mass with Cardinal Murphy O'Connor to carrying Our Lady at the Marian Procession. They showed great composure and spirituality at all times and really were a credit to the school and the Diocese."
For their part, the students said they found the pilgrimage to be both an amazing and life-changing event. Three comments from the students are below:
“The one week that we spent in Lourdes is undoubtedly one of the most amazing experiences in my life. The peaceful atmosphere, the fellowship and even the unending rain, all in its own way, had such an enlightening and spiritual effect. Lourdes is so different to all the other places of pilgrimage and is moving in such a unique way. It is honestly so hard to put into words how amazing my experience was, but I can honestly say that it is something that will remain in my heart for a long time and I’m sure those who came with me would say the same.”
“I knew Lourdes would be incredible, but once you’re there you just can’t explain how surreal it is, it’s just incredible, the most amazing place on the planet. You have to be there to understand what it is all about and to have experienced a week like that at Lourdes is just amazing for me to say. To know that I am part of the same community as all these people is beyond amazing. The love and care which everyone showed to each other is extraordinary. It is such an emotional place and really gets to you, to know we all share the same faith and all believe in the same thing. Many Thanks.”
“Our pilgrimage to Lourdes was amazing, and I am definitely planning to go again this time next year. I would recommend it to other students because it is a very beautiful and holy place. There were so many ways that we could take part in the masses every morning and the International Mass, like carrying the banner for our school up to the alter, doing the offertory and especially singing all of the amazing songs that we were taught before some of the services. I was so glad that we had the Mass booklet, because it meant I knew exactly what was happening in the Masses and that I can now keep the songs and a piece of my experience at Lourdes with me for years to come.”