Runners raise funds for young Lourdes pilgrims

Four Lourdes marathon runners

Four Lourdes marathon runners

Four volunteers are in training to run a half marathon to raise funds to help pay for young people in the Diocese of Middlesbrough to go to Lourdes. Catherine Kelly, Liz Jayasuriya, Chris Lovell and Father Phil Cunnah all hope to cover 13 miles, the distance of the Great North Run, which has been cancelled this year.

"Lourdes is a hugely formative experience for the young people who travel with their schools," said Catherine, who came up with the idea and will run from Normanby to Saltburn with Liz.

"Volunteering to care for our supported pilgrims alongside doctors, nurses, handmaids, brancardiers and as musicians helps children form their aspirations for the future."

Catherine works for Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust, which includes some of the schools whose pupils will benefit from the funding.

"Our youth actively participate in services and celebrations, reading in front of hundreds of pilgrims and building lasting friendships with one another spanning across the diocese from Hull to York and Middlesbrough," she said.

"We want to make sure all of our young people have the opportunity to participate. However, some of our schools are located in the most deprived areas of the country and many young people need extra financial support to attend."

Primary school teacher Chris, who will be running from Norton to Yarm and back, was planning to take part in his fifth Great North Run this year. He has been to Lourdes three times as a student and once as an adult and has a special reason to be devoted to the shrine - his parents Siobhan and Martin met there!

"The funds raised will help give children the opportunity for personal and spiritual growth and to travel and experience different customs," said Chris.

"I've made friends for life through Lourdes and everyone you speak to about says the same. Even if you only see them once a year on pilgrimage, they're still friends for life. Last year it was lovely to see how much some of the kids grew in confidence with the supported pilgrims. Put all that together and the reason to go is love and growth."

Father Phil is going to run from his home at Bishop's House in Linthorpe to St Mary's Cathedral in Coulby Newham and back.

The event takes place on Sunday September 13. Follow @mymissionteam on Instagram and Twitter for live updates on the day or search the hashtag #runningforlourdesyouth.

For more details including how you can sponsor the runners, visit:

Tags: Lourdes

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