The monthly Animate Youth Ministries‘ Youth Alive’ Mass at St Mary’s, Lowe House, St Helens doubled up as the Departure Mass for 450 young people from the Archdiocese of Liverpool who will be travelling to Lourdes on the annual Youth Pilgrimage later this month.
Ten coaches will be leaving from points across the Archdiocese at 7.30 am on Friday 22 July. Young people will be travelling from Bootle, Chorley, Kirkby, Leyland, Liverpool, St Helens, Warrington, Widnes, Wigan, and the Isle of Man. The pilgrimage starts with this testing twenty-six hour coach journey which offers a chance for the young people to make the first bonds of friendship with each other which grow stronger throughout the week and often last for the rest of their lives.
Tom Williams, 15, says that ‘words cannot explain the feeling you receive from travelling to Lourdes. I think that on this occasion seeing really is believing’.
The young people work alongside the main Archdiocesan Pilgrimage which this year takes place from Friday 22 July to Friday 29 July and will be led by Bishop Vincent Malone. Following their arduous coach journey, the young pilgrims have to get up as early as 4:30 am to work in the hospital, while others follow them down in order to push the pilgrims in wheelchairs to the different places of devotion and to Mass.
Everything about Lourdes is hard work, but as Annie McCann, 18, says ‘Lourdes is a place where I can just be myself, knowing I’m surrounded by likeminded individuals, making a difference’.
It’s not just about the week of pilgrimage though. Almost a year of meetings and fundraising takes place, with bag packing and quizzes being popular ways to raise the money needed for the young people to go on pilgrimage.