Oblate Youth Service News

Lourdes Pilgrimage 2014

The Oblate Youth Service took part in its 27th OMI pilgrimage to Lourdes during September 2014. The 80 member OYS joined with handmaids, brancardier, nurses, and clergy to care for almost 100 sick guests in what was another truly unforgettable week. For the Oblate Youth Service, the pilgrimage ran from September 15th-23rd with the guests arriving on the evening of Wednesday the 17th and departing in the early hours of Monday the 22nd.

The day before the guests’ arrival saw the Youth Service exchange their usual annual trip to the seaside in St Jean de Lux for a day of relaxation in Lourdes itself. This offered a great oppertunity for the group to take in the sights and history of the town and sanctury before getting into the serious business of training the following day. More importantly it was a great oppertunity for the everyone to get to know each other praticularly to small groups who had a picnic together on the prairy. However that was where the nicities spirits remained upbeat by the time the fiercely contested annual table quiz came around later that evening in the Hotel St Etienne – the group’s base for the pilgrimage.

A special word of thanks should go to Caoimhe Carroll for compiling all the questions, and to Theo Emmanuel who was the MC for proceedings. In a new addition, there could be no accusations of foul play this year with all smartphones rounded up and put under lock and key for the entirety of the event. Final scores were noticeably lower than previous years.

The arrival of the guests the following evening saw all hands on deck in the Accueil Notre Dame where the guests were based for the week. The combined efforts of the Oblate Youth Service and the nursing and handmaid teams, as well as the brancardier, meant guests were wined and dined and ready for bed with the minimum fuss and maximum care.

Various ceremonies, processions, the odd shopping day and more than one cup of tea ensued over the following days. The annual torchlight procession, usually one of the standout memories of the week’s festivities, will be recalled less favourably by some Oblate Youth Service members who opted against packing wet weather clothing despite several warnings. Thankfully all guests were safely tucked away under layers of warm blankets and raingear in the iconic blue chariots, heroically pulled by the pilgrimage volunteers who gave up another week of their time to care for the sick and elderly.

The transit lounge on the top floor of the Accueil was immaculately transformed with balloons, banners and bunting for the annual party on the Friday night. Several guests took the microphone in hand to belt out some of the favourite tunes while the able bodied guests took to the dance floor joined by youth service members, nurses and handmaids.

Early morning flights home for the guests meant an even earlier start for the OYS on the Saturday morning, who were on hand to make sure that all our guest were ready and their bags were packed before their journey home after what all would describe as a most enjoyable week in Lourdes.

The Author: Sam Griffin

Oblate Youth Service, Lourdes Committee