Newcastle West Youth Lourdes Trip 2014

During the Easter holidays students from Desmond College, Scoil Mhuire agus Ide, Hazel Wood College and Laurel Hill experien-ced the trip of a lifetime in Lourdes. As well as daily visits to the Grotto, students took part in daily Masses and prayer services that were thought provoking and uplifting. In glorious sunshine the students enjoyed a walking tour of Lourdes and travelled the Way of the Cross, which is situated on the mountainside overlooking the town of Lourdes. The candle light procession was a beautiful sight! The students also had the chance to visit the baths of Lourdes, described by students as “a great experience”. Our visit to Lourdes coincided with the HCPT pilgrimage to Lourdes, which saw a huge number of disabled children from all over the world visit Lourdes. Fr Richard, our spiritual leader, described this by saying, “on seeing and meeting these fellow pilgrims it was striking how they all had smiles on their faces and how they engaged in singing at the masses, in cafes and restaurants. Our Newcastle West youths witnessed how these children, who had been given consi-derable less starting out in life, managed to maintain such a positive attitude to life”. Our group got to learn the story of St Bernadette and the challenges she faced personally with illness, poverty and learning difficulties. They were brought to her family home and saw the abject poverty she lived in with her brothers and sisters. They were also told the story of how Mary visited St Bernadette many times and gave us the gift of miraculous water. Our students were moved by this experience and many of them commented that this tour was better by far from any other school trip. It is hard to imagine how 30 youths of 16 years of age survived without Disney style fun parks, water-world resorts, Dundrum type shopping malls, Facebook, Snapchat, Sky Plus and the X-box; to stress a few of the regular distractions. However these students did, and revelled in the time spent with each other and in learning the simple story of St Bernadette. Perhaps the youth of today are being underestimated for their ability to adapt to new cultures and environments and their capacity to broaden their understanding of both spirituality and humanity.