Surge in young people signing up to volunteer for Lourdes
The country’s biggest religious pilgrimage set off for Lourdes from Dublin Airport yesterday, bringing 2,000 believers to the famed French shrine.
This is the 66th year that the Dublin diocese has organised the Lourdes trip.
The Director of the pilgrimage, Fr Martin Noone, said there had been an increase in interest in Lourdes and volunteering on this pilgrimage among secondary school students .
“The fact that 300 students and young people have signed up for this pilgrimage is really heartening and gives us some hope for the next 66 years,” he said.
One of the students is Sadhbh McCarrick, a sixth-year Leaving Cert student at Mount Anville in Goatstown.
“Everyone who has done this says it’s an incredible experience to be able to help and care for those who are sick,” she said.
One of the new friends she made was 85-year-old Nora Lacey from Donnybrook, who suffered a serious stroke a few years ago. She looks forward to the pilgrimage every year as it gives her a holiday, helps her faith and gives her daughter, who cares for her, a week’s respite.
According to Fr Noone, it is “rare that a real miracle happens” in Lourdes, but he said miracles do happen all the time as pilgrims “bring back peace in their hearts”.
The Director of Nursing for the Dublin Diocesan Lourdes pilgrimage is Rosaleen O’Malley who works in the Emergency Department at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.
This is her 14th year taking part in the pilgrimage.
“We have a team of 50 nurses travelling down this year, all bringing with them their own expertise,” she said.
“We all do this on a voluntary basis. There is something special about Lourdes and there is a great camaraderie.”