Lourdes 2015 was our 43rd pilgrimage and another wonderful year shared with 54 special people from De la Salle.
Every year it seems we say we have had a wonderful week and we have. Nothing in life can ever be perfect but this year’s Lourdes trip and group were definitely 99% perfect— the fastest travel ever, everything in the programme ran smoothly, there were no problems within the group, no illness or incidents and we proved the weather forecast is never right as every day the forecast promised rain and it was dry, warm and sunny. We were very fortunate this year to have our own priest with is—Fr Andrew Shaw, who gave so much to every member of the group and enhanced all our services and activities. So many people doubt the power of the love and friendship, the happiness and joy, the fun and enjoyment found in a De la Salle Lourdes group but no one other than the young people themselves can tell you what they gained from their week and the posts on Facebook since our return say it all.
A week in Lourdes with De la Salle is a unique and truly amazing experience Lourdes
In the words of members!
When 1 describe Lourdes to others I always say what was said to me: “No one else can tell you; find out for yourself!” Anyone can describe the Domain and the Hotel St Clair and the Torchlight Procession, the day at the beach, the parties but you will never really know how fantastic an experience it is unless you go and try it for yourself. One other piece of advice would be to go when you're younger than Gold level. I had an amazing time at Lourdes this year but I looked enviously at the younger year groups thinking that they will be able to return. By going for the first time as a Gold member I had the opportunity of see everything but also had the responsibility for my residential part of my award. I can safely say that my only regret is that I did not go sooner!
Lourdes affected me in a way that I never believed it could. Living in such close proximity to the others in the group for the whole week with little privacy or alone time was something l wasn't particularly looking forward to, however Lourdes changed my perspective on that so drastically that once 1 had returned home, where I have comparatively much more private time and a bedroom to myself, I actually missed not having someone around! Through the course of the week, admittedly much to my surprise, I found that those I least expected to join in and open up were actually doing those exact things more, or at least equally as much, as all the others. Now that I have returned from Lourdes I am in complete agreement with what I was told before I went: you can't truly tell people what Lourdes is like. All of the things that people told me about Lourdes were true but understated! It is so special.
Lourdes to me is something you cannot explain to others, it is a life changing experience and is different every time. The people you meet, the paths you cross and the friendships you gain are beneficial and life changing. The pilgrimage really changes you for the better.
Many of the group were clearly not religious or have different views on Christianity. Having been before with De La Salle, to Lourdes previously I knew what to expect in regards to how moving the private time at the (irotto and torchlight procession in particular are. Both times I have been to Lourdes I have been amazed at how close to God and Our Lady I have felt at these times. Lourdes to me, selfish as it sounds, makes me forget just for a moment, about the rest of the world; about the problems left at home, friendships broken and made and the overwhelming stress of A-levels, and helps me to take a step back and realise that there is more to life than the seemingly trivial things we worry about constantly on a daily basis.
One of the best experiences I had in Lourdes was definitely working with and aiding the sick and handicapped, two of our nights were spent entertaining elderly or sick people at the Alba and Hosanna House and seeing the joy we can bring to them simply by all taking part in ridiculous songs and dances melted my heart. Each night, at least one handicapped person stole the limelight and took to the stage either with a sing or showing off their dance skills and despite all the hardships they have faced throughout their lives, all the illness and difficulties, I have never seen people as happy and content as they were on those nights, nor have I experienced gratitude or the welcome such its they offered us simply for coming along to entertain them. / think that if everyone in the world had just a portion of their happiness and care -free nature, the world would be definitely be a better place
Working with the less able helped me to realise the importance of treasuring every single minute spent with friends, family and helping others, Lourdes definitely helped me to decide that helping and working with others is something I would like to do as a career, as well as helped me feel a lot more comfortable and confident working with elderly or disabled people.
I only knew 2 other people when I joined the group. I now have 54 great friends
I can simply say that I love Lourdes and In future I will certainly return to help the younger groups have the same brilliant experience I have had, in the hope that their pilgrimage will be as special as mine has been every time I’ve been.
The best thing about being part of a big group is that you never have to worry about being by yourself there is always someone to talk to and have a laugh with.
Everyone was always smiling and happy I could have happily stayed in Lourdes with everyone for another week
Initially, 1 was a bit anxious about the religious aspects of Lourdes mainly because I hadn’t been to church properly in about 2 years and I thought I may have forgotten how to act. Despite this it was made out to be rather fun and sitting with everyone in the group around me it just felt right. I wasn’t afraid to sing, even though I have an awful singing voice, because everyone around me was joining in and it wasn’t hard to hear that the majority of them also didn’t have voices of angels. I especially enjoyed the mass where I had to do my reading, which was on the morning of our second day in Lourdes. This was because I felt like I was taking part and doing something useful instead of sitting staring into space. This was also the first mass when 1 realised Phyllis and Father Bob came together. No one will forget Michael from the Special Needs group keeping the priests in order and hurrying them along! Mass with De la Salle is lively, everyone participates and it is wonderful to share with the special needs young people and see how enthusiastic and happy they are. Our daily trips to mass were fun and enjoyable.
My original ideas on the pilgrimage to Lourdes haven’t really changed because I had spoken to people who had already been and they all said how great it was, but it has made me realise they were all telling the truth, if not under exaggerating their experience. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my trip and had a great time with everybody there. I can’t remember the last time I have smiled and laughed that much in one week.
Lourdes is the first time I have really experienced REAL LOVE and FAMILY LIFE. Thank you to the leaders who are there for everyone at all times. De la Salle is my family.
From a parent!
I was completely against my son going to Lourdes in the middle of AS but my wife who had been with DLS at Gold level “persuaded me" to let him go. He was predicted 3B’s and 1C. He came back from Lourdes sat his exams and got 3A’s and IB. I’ve had to apologise! Going to Lourdes before or in the middle of exam time? My advice is….. GO!