This annual event always needs new helpers aged 17+ to join them on this fantastic week away. Option to go as a helper or within the Family Group, or for our younger members aged between 15 - 16, as a Redshirt (see below). Financial assistance may be available for any new helpers from the parish.
Of the ten hotels the pilgrimage uses in Lourdes, two are usually for the Family Group. The Family Group consists of helpers, nurses, chaplains and a doctor as well as children with their parents and/or other relatives/friends. The helpers provide support to the families; whether it is looking after children, of varying abilities, or assisting parents and other relatives (also of varying abilities). For the last couple of years the Family Group has been lucky enough to have had two hotels next to each other with a garden in-between which provides a safe place for the children to run around and play games.
The Family Group joins the rest of the pilgrimage for most of the main events in the week but they also do a few other children-orientated activities along the way. There is usually a Family Group fancy dress party early in the week, where the children (and adults) get involved; enjoying fun and games whilst getting to know each other better. They also usually have a day-trip to Cité Saint Pierre to enjoy a special Family Group mass in the open air and some extra space for a picnic lunch followed by games. During the week there is a dedicated children’s reconciliation service and children’s liturgy for most of the masses. The helpers and families all get involved with the activities but it is usually possible for the parents to arrange a bit of quiet time to themselves, knowing their children are in safe hands. In addition to the pilgrimage Masses, services and processions the Family Group has allotted children’s prayer time as well as adult-orientated prayer within the hotels.
The Youth Service Pilgrimage, affectionately known as the Redshirts, came into being to fulfil a need for teenage pilgrims who had outgrown children’s activities, but were too young to serve as helpers. In 2004 Ray Mooney, Diocesan Youth Ministry Advisor, organised a group of young pilgrims aged 15 or 16 years old as a Youth Service Pilgrimage, with the intention of introducing young people to the concept of pilgrimage, Lourdes and Service to others. This group, known as the “Redshirts” is a much loved and respected part of the diocesan pilgrimage.
Effingham and Fetcham Parish have supported several young people on their pilgrimage as Redshirts, resulting in them returning to Lourdes in subsequent years. If you are interested in going as a Redshirt, please speak to Fr Stephen for further details.