Wednesday, 18th January 2017
Missionaries of the Sacred Heart - Vocations

Rise and Shine! IPT Pilgrimage to Lourdes

Posted on 19. Apr, 2012

The Nightly Torch Lit Procession at Lourdes

Last week I was in the third largest Catholic basilica in the world jumping up and down to the Proclaimer’s 500 Miles with over 5,000 other people. It seems a little incongruous, even slightly scandalous that a place of worship should be used for a party, but in reality nothing could have been further from the truth.

The Basilica in question way Pius X and I was in Lourdes for Easter Week with an Irish Pilgrimage Trust (IPT) group from Co. Kerry. The Trust organises teams of carers to bring young people with special needs on pilgrimage to Lourdes each year. It is as one bishop put it, ‘The Catholic Church at its very best.’ During our time there we had an incredible celebration of faith ranging from a trip to the baths, the aforementioned concert, a couple of incredible Masses, a fancy dress party and a train ride around the town toting water pistols.

Some of the Groups at the IPT Mass

An IPT pilgrimage is a incredible experience to describe and any explanation will fail to it justice. Perhaps the best insight for me happened on my third day there during one of our large Masses. The Church of St. Bernadette was packed to the rafters, the choir was going strong and the bishop had begun the opening liturgy. When we came to the Kyrie three young people with special needs came forward to lead us. When the first had finished the ‘Lord have mercy‘ he got a round of applause. As fast as Usain Bolt, the MC was on the sanctuary and I thought that we were in for it. Clapping in a church – simply outrageous. To my surprise when he got the microphone he told us that wasn’t a proper clap and we should try again with a lot more energy. We raised the roof!

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One question I heard time and again during the week there was, ‘Why can’t it be like this at home?‘ When was the last time you came away from Mass with a real sense of elation? The spirit of our faith is one of wonder, awe and joy. The theme song of all the IPT pilgrimages is ‘Rise and Shine,’ and as Catholics it should be ours as well. What do we need to stop mourning our faith and really start celebrating?

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