Today so far there is strange mix of sombre Good Friday atmosphere on the one hand and lovely spring warmth and sunshine on the other.
Preparing for Group 35's annual HCPT pilgrimage to Lourdes from Easter Sunday to Low Sunday tips the balance towards brightness. Interesting too how the burden of recession is making itself felt in a not entirely dark manner either. Traveling overland to Lourdes by Eurostar to Paris thence by HCPT Chartered overnight couchette train to Lourdes costs some £200 less than direct flights to Tabres/Lourdes airport from London. Overland travel is also more in keeping with the traditional concept of pilgrimage as well as being less injurious to the environment. Last year - the first HCPT pilgrimage for (I think) a decade to include an HCPT chartered train - there were only sufficient pilgrims for two Eurostar trains; this year there will be four.
The recession and tight finances may have had their effect on another HCPT Group which by February 2011 decided that they could not after all travel. Fortuitously Group 35 helpers were just about to meet again for another pilgrimage preparation session when we were asked if we could include a remnant of the other Group with ours. The remnant's helpers gave priority to joining the Group 35 preparation day and visits by and to the child pilgrims' family members having been effected, they are all happily by April part of Group 35, which partly as a result, now comprises a recession beating 29 people - almost twice as many as in 2010. This increase in numbers is arises not only as a result of absorbing the other group's remnant but also from a large increase in 6th form student applications from the two Wimbledon catholic high schools. All this gives some bright and positive food for thought, hope and maybe faith (or is that Faith?).
I gather too that student helpers from a Salesian College ancilliary group are travelling in greatly increased number this year so maybe the recession is causing people to consider more fulfilling less expensive action in their/our lives.