Welcome – Accueil

Our update on our first full day in Lourdes is written by Sarah McGeary, a sixth year pupil at St John’s in Dundee:

This morning we came together as a group for the first time. We chatted about keeping safe and what to expect from the coming week before the yellow shirts spent a short period getting to know our partners for the week from the Xaverian college in Manchester. 

Now together as one big group, we visited the “Accueil” for the first time and got to explore our surroundings. 

We made sure everything was set up and awaited the arrival of the pilgrims. The Yellow T-shirts welcomed the Dunkeld assisted pilgrims to the Accueil and helped them settle in by assisting them in unpacking and getting to know them over a cup of tea. 

For many of us personally who are in Lourdes for the first time it was especially touching to be so warmly welcomed in return by all the pilgrims who, after 10 minutes of chatting, made us feel like we had known them forever. 

Our day finished with a small group visiting the Grotto. Before we arrived a large number yellow shirts who had visited many times before had told us they could not describe the feeling that a walk around the grotto provided them with. It was such a lovely way to end an amazing day and to understand the emotions that being here makes you feel.

Travelling

Our first daily update comes from Ciara Barker, a long-serving Yellow T-Shirt who is now on her 5th pilgrimage to Lourdes with Dunkeld:

The journey to Lourdes is always one that people comment on. They say, “3 days on a bus must be long”. In many ways, however, I think it is the opposite. The past three days have been incredible. Between meeting new people and catching up with returning members I don’t think any of us stopped for breath. We shared Lourdes stories and found out about people’s lives back home, while at the same time travelling through 4 countries. We spent the night on the boat eating, dancing and singing. The following day on the bus we watched films and played games to pass the time, with some even managing to sleep.

Tours was a relatively new stopping point for the pilgrimage, so we explored the city in the evening before getting as much rest as we could – we were arriving in Lourdes the following morning.

The final leg of the journey to Lourdes will always be one of my favourite aspects, as it’s an opportunity to meet the people we will be spending the rest of the week with. Without that time, connecting on pilgrimage would not happen as naturally as it does.