Oblate Youth Service - Lourdes
Oblate Youth Service – Belvedere Pilgrimage to Lourdes (September 2013)
The OYS was founded in 1987, still retaining its original aim of the service of others today. The helpers or volunteers as part of the Oblates are made up of young Anglo-Irish adults, with some dedicated members living further afield. This year, a select group of 6th year Belvedere students were very lucky to have been chosen out of more than 80 applicants, and given the opportunity to travel on the Pilgrimage to Lourdes. We shared in a very difficult, tiring, but ultimately incredibly rewarding week and put into practice the familiar school motto of “Men for Others”.
Having taken part in the Pilgrimage, I can say now that the only downside is the difficulty of putting into words what this time on the trip meant to me. Lourdes is something, that in order to be fully appreciated has to be experienced. We took part in various masses, ceremonies – most notably of which, the famous Torchlight Procession of the Rosary Square, which was led by the Oblate Pilgrimage on Wednesday 18th September this year.
But for me, this was only a very minuscule aspect of my time spent there. What will remain firmly in my memory are the smiles, jokes and laughter shared with the patients, more fondly referred to as “guests” or “VIPs”. These precious moments, amidst the chaos of transporting nearly 100 elderly, sick or disabled to a ceremony, will remain distinctly in my memory for a long time.
Heading into the rest of my Leaving Cert year, I am confident that I will not lose perspective of what matters, thanks to this experience. The elderly guests who I have met and formed friendships with, over the week, have taught me invaluable life lessons. Despite their various losses, illnesses and life-circumstances, the joy and humour they showed will constantly remind me that, despite its difficulties – life is made for living.