Five Clongowes students travelled to Lourdes on 7 September as part of the Dublin Diocesan Annual Pilgrimage. It was for them an “amazing experience”, for the opportunities it gave them both to develop personally and to meet other pilgrims and to help out when they could. The students were Ronan Molony, Joe Bullman, Tommy Inglis, Ben Matuschka and Paddy White. Accompanying them were Mr Francis Marron, Fr Dermot Murray SJ, Mrs Eileen Lumb and Philip Playoust (left above). The boys take up the story…
It was another busy year in Lourdes for the Clongowes boys. It began with Reception Duty from day one: preparing the ‘Voitures’, with blankets and rain covers for the pilgrims. Soon the Accueil (Reception) was buzzing with activity as the pilgrims began to make their way to the various sacred places. At the Penitential Service, Tommy and Joe gave out Mass leaflets at the door and then the impressive procession of priests was led by Paddy, Ronan and Ben carrying the huge diocesan banner and other parish banners into the beautiful St. Bernadette’s church. This service was followed by the opportunity for all pilgrims to have reconciliation with a priest.
The Anointing of the Sick also took place in St Bernadette’s Church. Archbishop Martin was the chief celebrant at this beautiful and poignant Mass with all sick pilgrims receiving an anointing. Seeing so many people receive the sacrament was very moving for all. This Mass was immediately followed by the sick pilgrims processing through the Grotto. It was very special to experience this as a diocese because the grotto is an intimate space amidst the size and space of the Domain.
The Clongowes boys also visited the healing baths. We were uncertain as to what to expect but were buzzing with anticipation as we had heard so much about them. We prayed for our intentions before going in and were then immersed in the water. It was freezing cold but invigorating and then we were surprised to find that we were instantly dry and didn’t need to towel down. The baths were definitely the highlight of that day.
The following evening, after dinner, we visited the wards and spent time chatting with sick pilgrims. This sounds like a small thing but it meant so much to them to have interaction with young people and we always come away humbled to hear how much the Lourdes experience means to them.
Each night in Lourdes ended with Night Prayer, which is a great way to spend some quiet time together, and then we went to a local hotel for a singsong. We had a great time belting out songs, with some getting the chance to show off their solo talents. An exhilarating way to end the day!
We had heard so much about Lourdes before we arrived and the amazing experience we had in this beautiful, vibrant place definitely exceeded our expectations.