(pupils past and present)
Each Year pupils from Muckross fundraise to send a group of volunteers to Lourdes for the Dublin Dioscesan Pilgrimage. Below are a few thoughts from one of this year's volunteers:
Before going to Lourdes I was in the position many of you are in now. I knew Muckross sent students to go every year and I knew they helped people… that was about it. The process started in February of 5th year when we were told we would be given the opportunity to go. We wrote letters of application, there was no format, no questions to be answered; we simply had to write why we thought we would be a suitable candidate.
As my year head Ms Delaney once said, Fiona Meehan and Late are three words that go hand in hand. I considered how this might affect my application but decided to give it a shot anyway. From the letters received, 20 students are chosen to go on to an interview process with an INDEPENDENT OUTSIDER. Meaning if like me, you have a tendency to take that extra 7 minutes to get out of bed in the morning it will not affect your opportunity to go. How smart you are, how well you do in school, how much money you have, where you live, it’s all irrelevant in Lourdes. There is solely one thing you need to go and that’s a desire to help others.
From the interview, Catriona Petoia, Ruth Anderson, Muireann Neville Claire O’Connor and myself were chosen to support and assist the pilgrimage that would take place. From the get go you’re thrown into the deep end, it’s not a situation which you can ease into day by day. You have to step right outside your comfort zone and into unknown territory, this involved walking over to a complete stranger, sitting down, and talking about something, about anything. Luckily the nature of Lourdes means that everyone that goes has a kind face and a kinder heart.
Before I departed for Lourdes I messaged a couple of past pupils on Facebook for some tips on what to expect. I got told repeatedly, time and time again “It is life changing” “It’s an experience like no other” “You will come back a different person” “Be prepared for the best 5 days of your life” This didn’t really help. I didn’t understand. How could 5 days with a group of people you’ve never met before could change your life. That was until I went.
The start of 6th year could not be a more perfect time to go on a trip like this. We had been in school for 2 weeks. The stress had begun to grow and the reality of June was beginning to dawn on me. It was going to be a year filled with frustration anger and tears, I had accepted that. Until I went to Lourdes. The people you are helping and looking after have terminal illnesses, chronic conditions or may be mentally unstable. They have so many reasons to walk around with a sour expression and take their anger out on others. But they don’t. They are some of the most inspiring motivating and contented people I have ever met. How could I come back to Dublin and complain about an exam. A mediocre exam.
Lourdes taught me what is important about life and what is simply superficial addition and I can say with confidence, that I am a better person because of it.