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Lourdes Pilgrimage: An experience of a lifetime.
When Denise and Claire agreed to join the Ampleforth Group on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, they had no idea what they were in for. Now back at work, the pair share their experience...
Thank you to everyone who wished us well on our journey to Lourdes. The journey didn't start well when Denise went to pick Claire up to go to the airport and she was still in bed!
Thankfully things only improved from that point.
From the moment we met the Ampleforth group (consisting of approx. 380 people, both helpers, assisted pilgrims and their carers) we were made very welcome. Very quickly we realised it was quite a privilege to be part of such a special team; each with a common goal- to facilitate a spiritual journey/holiday for many that without medical and nursing care would be unable to make this journey.
During our week we threw ourselves feet first into the experience sharing many special events including international mass, blessing of the hands ceremony and the torch light procession. On one of our free afternoons we were able to honour our promise of leaving our patients prayers and petitions in the Holy Domain.
One of the personal highlights for us was visiting the cathedral in the forest. This gave us an overwhelming sense of belonging to the Ampleforth group. They are a group who truly touched our hearts with their caring, loving and non-discriminatory approach to each and every individual. Although, we must add pushing an assisted pilgrim in a voiture - a cross between a rickshaw and a wheelchair - was a huge challenge to us.
Denise volunteered us both to take part in the 'ward party'. Claire wasn't so keen. Between the two of us we rewrote the words for 'All things bright and beautiful', the "Day Therapy Way". Anyone who knows us will be aware that this little number was comical. It had to be censored by Father Luke and Sister Philomena (who volunteers at the Day Therapy Unit) so they took full responsibility for our song. Needless to say our little ditty went down a storm and will always be remembered by the Ampleforth gang.
So our journey is now over. It was an experience of a life time that we have very much enjoyed. We would like to extend our thanks to the Ampleforth Pilgrimage for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful experience.