Annual Lourdes Pilgrimage as 'Red Caps'
Gumley students support the local Westminster Diocesan pilgrimage each year - with as many as 30 Sixth Form students attending each year, accompanied by menbers of staff. In total there are about six hundred taking part in the pilgrimage, including about one hundred sick and elderly people who need to be helped and assisted. These are known as the ‘APs’ or Assisted Pilgrims.
Our Gumley students team up with another one hundred and fifty young people, known as the Red Caps, to offer practical assistance, in particular assisting the APs in wheel chairs. The Gumley team are reputed in being the hardest working and most organised groups of Red Caps. In addition to offering this practical help, the Gumley team assist with the smooth running of the pilgrimage liturgies, from carrying banners and helping with the readings. They also operate the pilgrimage charity shop and, over the course of a week, have raised over £1200 for the Westminster Lourdes Fund. An impressive set of achievements.
Here are a selection of positive comments from the students who went to Lourdes. It is easy to spot the common thread, in that they really loved working with sick and the elderly (the Assisted Pilgrims).
“I liked how over the Lourdes trip everyone opened up to each other. I also really enjoyed being with the pilgrims and seeing how happy we made them” (Ella)
“I enjoyed stepping away from my own life to assist others for the week in Lourdes. Being on the pilgrimage helped me to understand how really lucky I am and also what I can do for those who are in need” (Eva)
“Lourdes was a really fulfilling experience. All the APs were so sweet and interesting to talk to. I also appreciated the chance to speak and work with some of the others from Gumley I would not normally associate with. I have so much respect for how vulnerable everyone in this group could make themselves” (Lucy)
“I enjoyed getting to know people from completely different backgrounds and ages. I was happy that I could be of value to someone who needed my assistance. I believe this trip has given me a greater understanding of my faith and it was a very fulfilling experience” (Rachel)
“My favourite part of the Lourdes trip was the rosary torchlight procession. It was wonderful to unite with a variety of people with different nationalities and languages. I also enjoyed spending time with the assisted pilgrims and helping them over the last week” (Anna)
“Lourdes has been thee most eye opening experience for me. Even though it has been both physically and emotionally challenging at times, I have ultimately really enjoyed myself. I. Would definitely recommend this once in a lifetime opportunity to everyone” (Millie)
“I really enjoyed helping the APs to strengthen their faith. The physically and emotionally draining draining journey was well worth it. I would definitely do it again” (Isabella)
“Leaning the stories of the APs was both heart breaking and wonderful, and they would bring you to tears. It has been world changing” (Lucy O)
“Getting to come to Lourdes gave me a new perspective in life” (Julen)
“I feel like my eyes have been opened – the joy and emotion Lourdes brings out is exhilarating and allows you to connect with others and yourself in ways that you could not have imagined” (Lily)