Bursary FundPublish Date: Tue 27th Nov 2018
Emma Daly talks about her recent pilgrimage to Lourdes which was supported by the Catenian Bursary Fund
On her pilgrimage to Lourdes earlier this year, one group prayer evening in particular stood out for Emma. The theme was about being thankful.
She says: “Given all the difficulties and troubles the children and even the adults in our group have faced, I was encouraged to reflect on the power of being thankful, and how we can all transform our lives with the correct outlook and the power of Jesus Christ.”
Aged 23 and a qualified teacher, Emma was part of HCPT’s group 177 Lourdes 2018 pilgrimage, which was partly financed by a generous award from the Catenian Bursary Fund. Emma’s group comprised of, among others, eight VIP guests who had diagnosed learning disabilities and/or social or financial difficulties.
“These children provided the group with a very special purpose, to bind our Catholic community together and support each other through serving Christ’s mission. The group also contained eight sixth formers from St Gregory’s Catholic Science College, Kenton, who supported the VIP guests throughout the week and who also had an opportunity to explore their own faith. The group also included qualified teachers from local Catholic schools, a wonderful group leader, Siobhan McCarthy, and deputy group leader, Louise Together.” As a musician, Emma was fortunate to be given the opportunity to take part in the regional Mass.
Emma added: “It was a very powerful experience which made me appreciate my talents and recognise and appreciate the talents of others. The Mass was an exceptional experience in itself. A particularly moving moment was when a member of each group was unexpectedly invited to the altar and reminded of why they were special. It was a heart-warming experience and was inspired by God’s presence in our lives.” In addition to getting together with other musicians, Emma met HCPT groups from around the world, something she will never forget.
Group 177 ready for the fancy dress party
Visit to Gavamie
“Meeting others provided strength and solidarity for what we are doing as pilgrims and reminded me that there are plenty of other young Catholics who are committed to Christ’s mission. A great opportunity to meet others was at the HCPT Youth Gather which allowed young Catholics to converse with other groups and reflect upon the reason
they’re here. It meant that throughout the week, I was able to recognise different groups and remind myself of the hard work that goes on throughout the pilgrimage.” Meanwhile, visiting the grotto and bathing in holy water was a spiritually moving experience. “It was a particularly poignant experience due to the reason we were all together – the children. It allowed me to reflect upon my own life and be grateful for what I have as a young adult. Furthermore, as a teacher, it reminded me of my mission as an educator and the importance of remembering that Christ has a special plan for each individual and that I am instrumental to this.”
Day trips included excursions to the mountainous terrain of Gavarnie and the tranquil seaside at St-Jean-de-Luz. Yet, Emma says, what made these places particularly beautiful was the joy experienced by the group.
“As part of our duties and responsibilities as helpers, we supported and guided our VIP guests throughout the day, played games and treated them. It meant that those pupils with difficulties could be themselves and were able to experience happiness and joy.”
As for the overall experience, Emma says that she came away with a clear sense of purpose and a renewal of her faith and values. “The experience allowed me to deepen my faith and appreciate what I have. Sometimes a trip which isn’t sitting on a beach or just relaxing by the pool can really give you perspective. By giving up my time to help others, I felt I’d accomplished something and that I was part of a special community.”
And, of all the special moments, the torchlight procession was truly important. “Holding a candle in one hand and holding the hand of an autistic child who needed me for support and direction reminded me that we all have a purpose in life, no matter how big or small and no matter where we come from. We are all God’s children and, most importantly, we are all special.”
The advertisement of the video competition encouraged me to create a video for the group. As a result, this video has been watched hundreds of times and has been used to promote the Lourdes trip to hundreds of pupils in local Catholic feeder schools. The video has also been shown to sponsors who have been able to see what great things we get up to on the trip. She adds: “I had never heard of the Catenian Bursary Fund before, so to have been given the award, despite not being linked with the Catenians myself, meant they came across as a welcoming and committed organisation. As part of their efforts to help young Catholics, they encouraged me to create a video of my week. It was great fun filming these special moments and I hope they are able to catch a glimpse of the joy and happiness experienced by the group.”
The advertisement of the video competition encouraged me to create a video for the group. As a result, this This video has been watched hundreds of times and has been used to promote the Lourdes trip to hundreds of pupils in local Catholic feeder schools. The video has also been shown to sponsors who have been able to see what great things we get up to on the trip.
“I would strongly encourage young people to apply to the Bursary Fund for an award, as the memories and life experiences made on the trip, which was made possible by the Catenians, are extremely special.”
Please see https://vimeo.com/263711797 to view the video: