Westminster Redcaps remember Lourdes first posted 25 June 2002

 LONDON - first posted 25 June 2002 - 440 words

Final preparations are underway for this year's Westminster Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes next month. Last year, more than 100 young people - the Redcaps - travelled with the group as volunteer helpers. Many will be returning again this year. Here are some of the impressions from their 2001 trip.

Ian O'Brien and Frances Murphy St Joan of Arc school, Rickmansworth Herts wrote: "Lourdes is a fantastic place. You would walk past the tacky shops and neon lights through St Joseph's gate into the Domain and get a real sense of peace and become convinced that there is a presence there.

"Whether you believe this is God or not, the feeling it gives you is indescribably and totally addictive! I've been twice. Each Redcap is assigned to a sick or elderly pilgrim (malade) whom they help all week. By the end of the week the malade has become your friend and you exchange phone numbers and addresses. Therefore it is the Recaps that gain most from the experience through having the opportunity to serve. As a priest told me: 'If only their parents or even the media could see these young people in action, perhaps society would have a more positive view of them."

Jade Ferguson-Duncan, from Hanwell Parish group wrote: "Unity, friendship and Self-Realisation - Just a few words to express the meaning that Lourdes has to me, and many others. Lourdes gives you the opportunity to be alone and think and reflect - even though there are thousands of others around. You are away from everyday life and everyday problems in beautiful surroundings with strangers soon to become your life-long friends! being a Recap is so unique and special because although many don't realise how much joy they bring to others as they are busy enjoying themselves!"

Alana McFarlane, Lisa Durcan, Lauren Samat, Sinead Cassidy from Lords RC Girls School, St Alban's Herts: " We recommend a trip to Lourdes for all young people and will be coming back! It was a touching and rewarding experience shared by all.

"We are looking forward to next year! It was fantastic! - "hard work yet exhilarating and rewarding. Everyone is so open and friendly - there are no barriers:- young old, sick,well, all blend together to form good friendships - no one is excluded!" God would be pleased with a week of no distinctions/prejudices - only equality!"

Michael Kirwin from Shepperton Group: "Lourdes is a week of hard work and hard play intertwined with stunning scenery and an unbeatable sense of fulfilment and spiritual tranquillity."

Daniel O'Shea - Shepperton Group: "The best advert you could give for Lourdes is to show the photos of all the smiling faces , young and old, helpers and malades. A life-changing experience."

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