Thursday 4th June 2015
On the 6th of April 2015 a group of nineteen wonderful senior students from Ardscoil Mhuire set off on the school’s annual pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Led by Sr. Patricia Lee, and accompanied by a team of enthusiastic volunteers, the group left Limerick in the small hours of the morning, arriving in Lourdes, via Dublin, in the afternoon.
The group launched themselves enthusiastically into a week packed full of prayer, reflection, celebration, and fun. Sitting down with Sr. Pat for a friendly chat moments after their arrival, the girls listened with fascination to the story of Lourdes before setting off for the Grotto itself, where St Bernadette had witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady in 1858.
Every visit to the Grotto was charged with emotion as the girls and leaders witnessed the breathtaking devotion of those who visited it alongside them whilst they remembered, and prayed for, their loved ones at home in Ireland.
The girls also had the valuable opportunity to visit the buildings in Lourdes where St Bernadette had lived and worked in as a child, gaining a deep appreciation for the special and inspirational person that she really was. In a remarkable moment whilst visiting the small town of Bartrès, the girls were given the special honour of touching a relic of St Bernadette during a beautiful and musical service.
Many services were memorable during the week, the first being the Children’s Mass that took place in the Church of St. Bernadette. Aided by the HCPT, children from all over the World, themselves in desperate need of comfort and care, came together in Lourdes to celebrate life and sing some of the happiest songs ever heard! In an intensely emotional, yet affirming, sermon Ireland’s own Bishop McKeown reminded us all that we are all made in God’s image and that we are all beautiful.
This was a highly emotional service for all involved and helped our entire group to see the blessings of health and love in their own lives.
The Blessing of the Sick in the Underground Basilica was another amazing experience for our girls. Whilst offering up prayers for those who they care about they again reflected on the multiple blessings of health, family, and friends in their
This was followed by the awe-inspiring night-time spectacle that is the Candlelight Procession. As thousands of the devoted
from all walks of life wound their way through the Sanctuary, this massive demonstration of faith by so many people had a
profound impact on the girls.
Whilst visiting the City of the Poor (where the truly needy are accommodated during their pilgrimages) the group had the
indescribable pleasure of taking mass in the idyllic setting of the Outdoor Cathedral. In a sermon inspired by the natural
splendour surrounding him Canon O’ Shea (Abbeyfeale) reminded us of our own personal responsibility to safeguard the future of our beautiful World starting with our own areas.
This mass was offered for the family, friends, and loved ones of our group.
Our last full day in Lourdes was busy, yet enlightening. This began with an early mass in the Grotto where, once again, the
girls witnessed first-hand a powerful display of faith from all assembled. Later, one group of girls took the opportunity to
experience the Baths, agreeing that it was the singular experience that made the whole trip extra-special. Again these girls were struck by the devotion on display by the desperately sick and elderly, and found the experience to be incredibly reflective and emotional.
It was during all of these rituals that we kept those whom we love foremost in our thoughts and prayers. Everything that
happened during those six amazing days was offered to Our Lady for them and their intentions.
In the midst of all this, we still managed to keep ourselves entertained! Whether it was a tense ride on a cable-car to 100
metres; the perfectly beautiful panoramic-view from the top of Pic du Jer; an intense night of (mostly) friendly competition with the Abbeyfeale girls; the much commented upon sing-song in the lobby of the Agena; or the banter and the selfies, everyone has a special memory to bring back to Limerick with them!
We are all incredibly grateful to Ardscoil Mhuire and our other friends for facilitating the trip; to the adult volunteers for their
care and patience; and to Sr Pat and Mr Keating for making the whole, spectacular, life-changing event possible year after year.
However, our most sincere thanks must also go to the nineteen amazing young ladies who made the trip so special. They were enthusiastic, energetic yet respectful, kind, caring, considerate, and in more ways than can be listed, did our school, their families, and most importantly, Our Lady, immensely proud.