At Easter 2017, Loreto students travelled to Lourdes and formed the inaugural HCPT Group 733! Lourdes is a town in the south of France where it is believed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to a girl called Bernadette. Lourdes has become associated with miracles of healing, so is visited by thousands of people each year. Many sick and disabled people visit Lourdes, some with the hope of being healed, others for the opportunity for prayer and friendship.

Each year HCPT takes around 1000 disabled and disadvantaged children on their Easter pilgrimage holiday. The children are aged 8 to 18 from across the UK. Of the children that go, many are wheelchair users, others have different disabilities or disadvantages. Around half the children and young people benefiting from the pilgrimage holiday have learning difficulties. Children and young people taking the pilgrimage holiday with HCPT come from all faiths and none. As part of their pilgrimage our students: helped set up events, greeted people, entertained disabled children with games and sports, helped care for the children.

“The trip that I went on this Easter to Lourdes with Loreto was life changing. This is because I had the chance to work with so many people from different backgrounds and with different disabilities. Just seeing every single child happy each day made me work so much better and helped me create friendships with them. Even though most of our time was working, we were able to play football with the children, go to masses with them and have a regional party. There were some times that I felt God’s presence – in the Grotto, touching the rock there, bathing in the holy water. My time in Lourdes will always be a memory for me and my fellow students and I will never ever forget it, even when I’m old.”

Joel Pitt X14

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Lourdes trip; it was a completely new experience, helping children with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds, and one I will never forget. The highlight of my trip had to be leading the torchlight procession (of almost 8,000 people); it was a surreal thing to be a part of and such a beautiful moment to witness as well. Lourdes has changed me as a person and it gave me so many wonderful memories that I’ll always treasure. I can’t stress enough how great an opportunity Lourdes is and I would suggest, no matter who you are, it’s definitely something worth doing. I intend to return to Lourdes in the future to create some more wonderful memories.”

Ronan Fitzgerald D16