Pilgrims who will travel to Croagh Patrick and Lourdes this year launch their annual programme at a Mass at a school in West Yorkshire

Pilgrims who will travel to Croagh Patrick and Lourdes later this year launched their annual programme at a Mass celebrated at Holy Family School in Keighley, West Yorkshire, recently.

Year 9 students will travel to Croagh Patrick at Easter where they carry their pilgrimage cross to the top of the holy mountain.

The older (Year 10) students will journey to Lourdes in the south of France in May. There they will act as nurses and helpers to the sick pilgrims for whom Lourdes is a special place.

At Mass the pilgrims, with the Lourdes pilgrims wearing their coveted yellow jerseys for the first time, carried lighted candles into the school chapel where they lit the candles of family and friends who were present as a sign of sharing care and concern. The Mass was celebrated by Fr Mike, the school chaplin assisted by Mgr Andrew Summersgill, parish priest at St Stephen’s, Skipton, and Fr Jack Kennedy.

The evening also saw the first use of the new pilgrim banner, recently made as a gift to the school.

Patrick Moran, pilgrimage director, said: “The banner is almost like the army standards of old. It serves as a rallying station for us in the crowds, especially at Lourdes where it as always busy. There is also a deep sense of pride having a worthy focal point to walk behind in the processions.”

The dismissal at the end included the reflection: “I am a link in a chain…” from Blessed John Henry Newman. Patrick Moran, said: “Most of these youngsters are making a serious pilgrimage for the first time. Anything that we can do that will help them to grasp the enormity of what they are involved in – we will do. And not only for the pilgrimages, life itself is about playing one’s part, however small, and realising the often completely unknown effect it can have on other people.”