Oblate Youth Service News

My Lourdes Experience 2015 - Ronan Butler

Ronan Butler shares his experience of traveling to Lourdes for the first time with the Oblate Youth Service

My Lourdes Expectations

Flying out of Dublin airport early on Tuesday morning the 17th of September, I really had no idea what lay ahead. I had heard numerous people speak about their previous experience in Lourdes. However I got the feeling that it was something that just couldn’t be explained and it was something I would have to experience myself to fully appreciate. This definitely turned out to be true.

Settling Into Lourdes Life

We spent the first two days in Lourdes familiarising ourselves with the town, the various churches in the sanctuary, the grotto and getting to know the other Oblate Youth Service members. We were also trained on the various pieces of equipment that we would be using once the guests arrived. The first night after we arrived, all the OYS members visited the grotto. That first time I saw the grotto I was truly blown away. It was dark when we arrived and the grotto was illuminated beautifully. Those two days were quite relaxed and easy-going. However once the guests arrived there was a rapid increase in workload.

The Arrival of the Guests

Standing in the transit lounge on the top floor of the accueil, waiting for the guests to arrive was a frightening experience to say the least. Their flight had been due to arrive at 4pm however as a result of significant delays it was closer to midnight before they arrived. I had no idea how I was going to handle what was to come. I was told that help would always be at hand and I was very glad this turned out to be true, especially on the first day or two.

Lourdes - My Overall Impressions

The next few days we spent with the guests flew by in a flash. The days were filled with various ceremonies and masses but there was always enough time in between for a chat and a cup of tea with the guests. I was truly amazed at the friendships and bonds that I developed with both the Oblate Youth Service members and the guests alike. My time in Lourdes was definitely one that I will never forget. It was an extremely humbling and eye opening experience. There is no doubt that the work is challenging at times but it is always extremely rewarding. It really was an unbelievable experience, I will never forget the people who made my first trip so special and I hope to do it all again next year.


The Author: Ronan Butler

Oblate Youth Service Member