During Easter Week 2010 fifty one sixth formers and fifteen staff members from Salesian College Farnborough and Alton Convent were ‘Called to Serve’ pilgrims in Lourdes, especially the five thousand on the annual HCPT pilgrimage Trust for children and young people. They were led by Mr Patrick Wilson, Headmaster of Salesian College.
It was in 1992, nearly twenty years ago, that a small group of sixth form students from the Salesian College in Farnborough, Hampshire, decided to offer their services as a helper group to HCPT. For the last twelve years nearly every member of the Lower Sixth at Salesian College has volunteered to go to Lourdes with HCPT, each paying their own fare. About ten years ago students from the nearby Alton Convent joined the group.
The young people supported the pilgrimage in a variety of ways:
helping the groups looking after children with disabilities
acting as stewards
carrying banners and the statue of Our Lady in processions
singing in the choir and playing musical instruments
dramatising the Gospel and animating the liturgy
… and so on!
As well as serving others the young people had the opportunity to visit the important places associated with St Bernadette in Lourdes, take part in the Stations of the Cross and celebrations of the Eucharist in the ‘City of the Poor’ and other places, and spend a day in the beautiful mountain scenery of Gavarnie.
One of the students commented:
Prior to going to Lourdes, I fully understood the concept that it was purely for the children, and making this week the most enjoyable week we could possibly give them. However, throughout the course of the week I realised something. I realised that by making their time enjoyable, the spiritual reward and satisfaction I received made it all the more enjoyable for myself.