Lourdes, 6th Year To Mahon Falls, Junior Football
6th October 2014
Why Lourdes? When I first mentioned this to my family they thought I was after having a divine intervention and was setting myself up for a life of devotion. This was clearly not true. People do have the wrong impression of Lourdes. I strongly believe after my trip that even to begin to understand the meaning of Lourdes you must experience it first hand. I was asked numerous times what would a person of my age get out of Lourdes. Most people believe that it’s a place for the sick, dying or overly religious, I am none of those and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of my visit.
Every year the Waterford and Lismore Diocese hold a pilgrimage to Lourdes. The amount of organising the leaders do before we even get on the plane is enormous. I decided to go as a youth helper last June. I fundraised all the money and on the 6th of June I set off for Lourdes. Being completely in the dark about Lourdes, I really wasn’t even one hundred percent sure exactly where it was. The youth helpers are a vital part of every pilgrimage because without them the sick people would have no way of getting to or from mass; they would have no one to bring them in the various processions throughout the five days; and more importantly they would have no one to talk to or bring them tea! Over eighty teenagers from the diocese took off extremely early to start a week of what we thought was going to be hard work. We were all apprehensive, none of us really knew what to expect.
“Inspiring” is the first word that comes to mind when I think about Lourdes. The pilgrims, young and old, that I got to know throughout my stay were amazing. The smiles on their faces everyday made me grateful for everything that I have, especially my health. All the invalids had their own personal battle but they never let it get them down, they got on with their daily lives and enjoyed themselves on their little holiday away from hospital monitors, worrying family members and loneliness. To say we went to Lourdes to work is an understatement: if work was like Lourdes I would leave school and start now! Yes, I did my fair share of moving the invalids but I learned more about myself in those five days than I ever have from a school book. Lourdes was a journey of discovery: for me, it helped me decide on a career in health care; for the invalids it was a journey of religious discovery. I may have played only a small role in their journey but they played a big role in mine.
Our time wasn’t all spent praying with sick people. Many invalids were up for fun as well. Danny, a young man with Down’s Syndrome, was most definitely not the biggest mass fan. Most days were spent racing each other in wheelchairs around the hospital and smuggling in treats. All of us youth helpers were up to mischief throughout the pilgrim. One night we all dressed up for the invalids and had a party. We all got to waltz with the pilgrims and Danny had me wrecked from all the dancing. Danny never failed to make us laugh with his endless hugs and dancing; he was a true inspiration.
Each of us had our favourite patients. Mine was a man named Patsy. When I wasn’t racing with Danny I spent my time with Patsy wandering around the streets of the holy town, or in the pub listening to him tell me stories from his life. That’s all he or any of the other invalids wanted: an ear. I spent more time laughing with Patsy than with anyone else throughout the whole trip. That week was a first trip to Lourdes for both of us and I promised Patsy that once I’m finished my exams I will return with him again.
I’m not an extremely religious person. I do go to mass occasionally and I do say the odd prayer, but no one would call me religious. However the spiritual experience of Lourdes was something nobody could have anticipated. Just walking down the narrow winding streets of the holy city makes one feel at peace. One of the highlights was in fact a night-time mass with a torchlight procession. We brought the patients in the procession and they all had their own candles. As darkness fell all we could see for a mile was candlelight. It was a truly breath-taking sight. The moment I looked back at the crowd it felt like time stood still.
At midnight the whole youth group went to the Grotto, where Our Lady appeared to St.Bernedette on numerous occasions and it has become a place of Christian worship. At midnight it was completely different from the normal bustling activity of the day. Calmness and serenity set in. We each said our personal prayer and lit candles for our loved ones. Amazingly all of us, who were strangers just days before, comforted each other while every one of us shed tears. Tears of joy, remorse, regret and sadness for different moments in our lives, and the life changing experiences we had all week.
“All good things must come to an end.” Our life-changing trip had to come to an end after a week away from all the troubles of home. We all separated at the airport, different, more mature. Memories will stay of lifelong friends with whom I will never lose contact; of the achievement in helping those most in need; and feeling proud that I took on such a mature task. Now I can hold my head higher. Walking down the street and meeting people I had the privilege of helping and working with in Lourdes is mood changing. Just to see the smile on an old man’s face or the giggle of one of the sick children I helped, helps me remember that no matter how hard my own life is, there are people much worse off who can still smile. Lourdes is a journey, and mine is not over yet!
6th Year Geography Fieldtrip
6th Class Geology Trip Makes It Real
On Wednesday, 24th September the 6th Year Geography students set off with wellies in tow to complete their Geographical Investigation. Their teachers Ms. O’Shea and Ms. Neylin accompanied them on the trip to the River Mahon. The students spent the day investigating the process of erosion on the upper and middle stage of the River Mahon. This investigation is worth 20% of the Leaving Certificate Geography grade; we wish the girls the best in getting these valuable marks.
On 25th September our Junior football team played against St. Mary’s of Mitchelstown in Ballinameela. The girls played well in the first half but some unfortunate wides led to a lead of only one point at half time. Knowing their opponents would be determined to seek their first win of the championship spurred on the Árd Scoil girls. Shannon Cockwell of first year made her debut in the match and scored an impressive three goals. The Árd Scoil entered this year’s championship with a bang winning the match 6-13 to 2-6. Congratulations to all of those involved and best of luck in the next match.
The 6th Class mmidst the impressive geology of Mahon Falls