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Lourdes

 

Annually, Sixth Form pupils are given the opportunity to sign up for a week-long residential project involving caring and companionship.

Lourdes is one of the most famous pilgrimage venues where help and support is extended to individuals whose daily lives and general travel prospects are restricted by disability. The young volunteers provide them with a substitute family during their time in Lourdes, offering them practical and social support.

In most years, a trip to Lourdes from the School takes place. Situated in the Pyrenees, Lourdes is one the major religious pilgrimage sites in the world, drawing around 5 million visitors annually. It has a tremendous reputation as a place of care and comfort extended to all but particularly to the most vulnerable and weak.

Sixth Form pupils work as voluntary helpers among the sick, elderly and disabled pilgrims, making their stay in Lourdes one of easier access and comfortable welfare. The pupils travel by coach, accompanied by the Chaplain and a number of other staff members. They are supervised in Lourdes by professional care personnel and medical staff. They also form a cohort of able-bodied ushers and ceremonial assistants at the many functions which are held in Lourdes during a pilgrimage. The overall direction of the operation is undertaken by clergy and adult volunteers from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster so that the Oratory School group works closely with them and is directed by them. The overland journey both ways also includes overnight stops in Chartres, Rocamadour and Amiens, three famous locations, each with their own distinctive flavour and attraction.

The trip both provides opportunities for developing human skills of communication with and care for others as well as a broadening of spiritual and intellectual experience.