Our 3rd annual pilgrimage to Lourdes commences this Sunday for HCPT Group 729.
After some 48 or so pilgrimages with HCPT Group 24 (initially inspired by the Jesuits at Beaumont) then Group 35 with Brian (sadly since decd.) and the large number of children and adult helpers who formed those groups, it is great to be able to pilgrimage again to Lourdes with HCPT Group 729 although now for age reasons at least, without children in the group although we frequently assist other groups with their child pilgrims when called upon to do so.
The HCPT limit of 5, renewable to 10, pilgrimages as a leader of a children's group, which was instituted I think about 4 years ago, is in my humble opinion excellent. The challenge will be to recruit new blood to be group leaders for the benefit of the younger child pilgrims.
There is no doubt that the responsibility of leading groups which include many disabled and able bodied young people, is challenging and tiring. One of the main challenges of course is to ensure that the young pilgrims in the group especially, have a safe, great and memorable time as well as an holy one.
Yet participating and maybe especially leading in, an HCPT children's group, is really rewarding for those privileged enough to accept this responsibility. There are many practical difficulties of course, perhaps the most important of which is ensuring that the parents and families of prospective child pilgrims become attracted to the idea of their loved ones going away to France for a week. Other less significant though still real , difficulties are fund raising, training of helpers and of course finding volunteer helpers keen to come.
C21 society has become more materialistic and less aware of or even interested in, the old religions than was the case in C20. Young people and I think especially boys, today look for more exciting sounding adventures such as going to Mount Everest than pilgrimaging to Lourdes. Yet the experiences of being with someone whose life and perhaps expected lifespan are so different from one's own is both very humbling and exciting. The overwhelming feelings at the end of each HCPT pilgrimage are life enhancing but of course include those of tiredness yet the dynamism of the human spirit and warmth towards others predominate.
The essences of being human and hugely special in the eyes of our creator, come across more and more strongly after each year with the HCPT in Lourdes - long may that continue.