Ask anyone who has been on a pilgrimage to Lourdes to describe it and you will either find yourself on the receiving end of an hour long diatribe or they will be lost for words.
In most cases, it is a truly transforming experience, which cannot quite be described with just words. Every Easter, the College sends around fifteen to twenty students to Lourdes, a small village in the heart of the French Pyrenees, with Fr Martin, our College Chaplain, and a number of special guests, all with some form of disability. Each student, along with a few others is entrusted with the care and wellbeing of a guest, effectively becoming a surrogate parent for a week.
It is an exhausting effort, and you are often on a twenty four hour alert. Yet, despite the sleepless nights and the exhaustion of pushing a wheelchair up the numerous hills around the town, receiving a simple smile or holding the hand of your guest more than compensates.
St George's College travels with HCPT, an enormous organisation which takes almost 2,000 children with a whole variety of disabilities along with many more helpers. The spirit amongst all the pilgrims is amazing, as everyone is treated like a long-lost friend, indeed Alan, a seasoned Lourdes veteran, on the last count knew approximately 96% of the HCPT congregation.
Highlights of the week include a spectacular torchlight procession and an enormous Mass with almost 10,000 people assembled in a huge underground Basilica. That is not to forget the small yet equally momentous happenings that take place throughout the week; your first feeding experience or the first nappy change! What may seem like a daunting prospect at first soon becomes second nature.
Understandably, the demand for a place is great, so be sure to apply as soon as possible, so not to miss out on this most phenomenal of experiences.