Unforgettable times. The Youth in Lourdes
Sixty young people from the Diocese have just returned from Lourdes as part of the annual diocesan pilgrimage: click here for the photos. It is impossible to round up the whole experience, but our young people were an unfailing source of inspiration. So much happens in the week but all the young people spoke of how they loved being part of the whole experience and being part of such an amazing pilgrimage: meeting new people, making new friends and being with the VIPs, helping them, and joining in the great events such as the baths, the torchlight procession and the stations of the cross. Each night the youth also had the opportunity to go down to the Grotto and pray quietly amidst the peace of the candlelight, the spring and the flowing river that runs past the Grotto. ‘It is so hard to put into words because Lourdes is such an unexplainable place’, one young person said. ‘You have to be there to understand what an amazing experience it is’. Another added, ‘Lourdes has given me a strong spiritual cleansing, and given to me a global sense of God’s grace, deepening my relationship with God’. Another said that the week had ‘made me realize life’s true meaning and helped me to realize that we are all part of God’s precious family’. Writing about the experience, Emma, 18, from Kirkham described Lourdes as the ‘most moving and unforgettable thing you can ever do. The pilgrimage has strengthened my faith as I have felt God’s presence at many different points. After going to the baths I felt full of the Holy Spirit and inspired to go and talk to others about my faith. Praying in front of the Grotto also always makes me feel close to God and strengthens my faith in the power of prayer. Also making friends is an important part of the pilgrimage and I have loved the way that as the week went on people became closer to each other and more able to open up to one another about their feelings and their faith. Overall, this pilgrimage to Lourdes has been one of the best weeks of my life. The feeling that I go home with is one of fulfillment, knowing that I have played a small part in the assistance of the VIPs, and of great hope’. George, also 18, from Preston, concurs, adding that ‘Lourdes never ceases to bring new opportunities, challenges and friends. The energy and unwavering enthusiasm of our youth certainly kept me on my toes in my first year as a senior youth, but seeing the power of faith in all the young people has been a real source of enjoyment, making this year a closer diocesan group, and especially the youth section, of which I am honoured to be part of’.