Christ came "to serve not to be served"
The partnership between St Michael’s Catholic High School and the Society of Our Lady of Lourdes started in 2009, when the school started supporting sick and assisted pilgrims travelling to Lourdes.
The Lourdes experience in Year 10 has allowed over 225 students and staff with a unique opportunity to put their faith into action. It is a place where the sick and the dying, who are usually kept out of sight, are moved centre stage. Alienation and loneliness are replaced with an intense solidarity.
Lourdes is a stark reminder that no-one should be written off: not the elderly, the sick nor the less gifted. All are endowed with dignity and qualities proper to a human being. In Lourdes the dignity of every human is respected and valued and a true sense of community is established.
Life is an extraordinary adventure, a God-given gift to be cherished, treasured and protected. People have found that Lourdes profoundly touches and inspires them through the witness of sick pilgrims.
Our students are involved in looking after the needs of the sick and infirm, working alongside doctors and nurses and carers with the Society, taking the pilgrims around in wheelchairs, entertaining them, accompanying them to liturgies. In recent years the school have been active in leading liturgies. The now familiar “Green hoodies” add great colour to the services and events of the week. Many students and staff return with their life changed for the better, bringing the lessons of Lourdes into the school community. Many students choose to return as helpers with the Society such is the impact of the week.
The first school trip abroad after Covid restrictions were lifted was, fittingly, Lourdes. St Michael’s resumed our annual pilgrimage with the Society of Our Lady of Lourdes during the May Half Term. The school sent 17 students in Year 10 and 8 students from Year 12. The Year 12 students were originally selected to travel in 2020 before the Pilgrimage was cancelled. It was apt they were all given the opportunity to fulfil their dream.
The students and staff of St Michael’s, wearing their traditional “green t-shirts” formed the majority of “helpers” for the week. The Society brought with them 30 assisted pilgrims who needed varying levels of help throughout the week in the Acceuli Notre Dame. This is a “hospital” that accommodates those too ill to stay in the hotels. It was a wonderful week. St Michaels set the standard once again for all helpers – both young and old – to follow. The students were completely selfless and gave themselves wholeheartedly to the service of the sick.
Whilst Lourdes was quieter than normal the week was the busiest yet. There were less helpers from the Society due to Covid, so the majority of the work was carried out by the greens. It was great to meet up with our former Headteacher Mr John Murphy who was with a small group called the NYPD. Mr Murphy was definitely impressed with the work carried out by everyone at his former school.
Lourdes 2022 was tiring, emotional, testing, rewarding and challenging. Many of the students have made some great friends for life with the assisted pilgrims. Going home to Lourdes was well worth it.
The joy spread by contact with the students is tangible and creates a glow that is felt by all.
Danny Murphy, School Co-ordinator, Society of Our Lady of Lourdes
I continue to learn much from watching the students in action. My aim is to show the same kindness and love they do - they are truly inspiring.
Tom Casey, Society of Our Lady of Lourdes