"The people are amazing:
it is a once in a lifetime trip."
"She came back from Lourdes more at peace, less angry with the world."
"He came back from Lourdes this year with his own drinks bottle, and now there's no stopping him!"
"If they can take Jack safely, they can take anyone. I trust them totally."
On most days we will make a stop at a cafe for a quick hot chocolate, orangina, milkshake or whatever else we fancy to drink! On really hot days we might have an ice-cream and on Saturday morning we head out for a cafe breakfast (we can choose anything we like!).
When the weather is fine we take every opportunity to head to the meadow for parachute games, football and sunbathing. There's plenty of time to chat, eat sweets and generally relax. We often meet friends from other groups on the meadow as well - its a fabulous place.
Our trip to Hosanna House is really special. This is the villa that HCPT has in the mountains - here we share Mass with other groups in the beautiful chapel and then enjoy the fabulous arts, crafts and activities put on by the youth helpers. It's such a fun and friendly place!
When the weather isn't so great, or we want a rest from playing outside, we gather in one of the hotel conference rooms and get crafty.
Decorating t-shirts, making spoon people and beading necklaces and bracelets are all things that have featured on our list.
At some point in our week we will head off to the Animal Park where we can see all sorts of animals including bears and otters and even get to feed the goats.
Its a really exciting trip and a great way of getting to know each other as we wander around the park.
We get a chance to show off each of our best talents at the Talent Show. Singing, dancing, joke telling, toy-squeaking, we've seen it all. Prizes are handed out for the best in each category (and no-one goes home empty handed!)
This is the highlight of the week for many people. All 5000 or so pilgrims who have come to Lourdes with HCPT gather in the underground Basilica for a service like no other! It feels more like a party: we all wear our group clothes, some of us have our faces painted, and there is general joy in the air! A true celebration.
The torchlight procession takes place every night in Lourdes, following Mary's instructions to "come and walk in procession". It is a central part of the experience. On the Tuesday of our week, HCPT lead some of the music and groups process with their banners. We watch from the side holding glo-sticks.
There is a long tradition of lighting candles to leave behind in Lourdes, symbolizing our ongoing prayers. Each year we take time out from our busy week to decorate a huge candle and dedicate to all those that we love and love and support us. Fr PJ leads us in prayer around our candle before we leave Lourdes.
The Grotto is the very special place where Mary first appeared to Bernadette. Here we can see the spring that Bernadette uncovered in the mud and touch the walls that millions of other pilgrims have touched over the years. We try to visit the Grotto every day while we are in Lourdes.
For this celebration we gather with all the other groups in the Met Deep South Region, who come from Hampshire, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex. We all do our best to show how great our group is by singing and dancing, and it is good to meet up with people from back home, who sometimes don’t live to far away from us.
The stations tell the story of the last week or so of Jesus’ life, and how he came to die and rise again for us. We are very lucky that we go to Lourdes at Easter, so the story is even more relevant, and there are some amazing marble sculptures showing the pictures of the story which can touch as well as look at.
FUN & GAMES
PRAYER & PRAISE
HCPT Group 170 the Southampton based family group from HCPT The Pilgrimage Trust.
Registered Charity in England and Wales (281074) and Scotland (SC043743).
Registered in England as a Company Limited by Guarantee No. 109519