Fulfilling Goal Three through the Lourdes pilgrimage

Every year, a group of Sacred Heart Greenwich students travel to Lourdes, France, to assist pilgrims who may be ill or disabled, and to honor Our Lady of Lourdes.  Sacred Heart takes part in the pilgrimage under the banner of Ampleforth Abbey and College in North Yorkshire, England.  Their daily schedule includes attending daily mass, reflecting, and supporting the Assisted Pilgrims (APs).  The students shared their experiences and stories with the Upper School at this year’s annual Lourdes chapel service Monday, February 4, to demonstrate how the trip helped them live out Goal Three of Sacred Heart’s Goals and Criteria, “a social awareness which impels to action.”

Our Lady of Lourdes revealed herself to a shepherd girl named Bernadette, February 11, 1858, according to bestcatholic.com.  Bernadette reported that she witnessed 18 apparitions from Our Lady of Lourdes between February 11 and July 16, 1858, one of them instructing her to build a chapel in the grotto.  At the grotto, pilgrims and visitors often leave flowers, intentions, and prayers for their loved ones. 

The Rosary Basilica is a Roman Catholic Church in Lourdes, France.  Daisy Steinthal ’19

Sacred Heart seniors Catherine Hamilton, Emma O’Connor, Ryan Smith, Daisy Steinthal, Mary Anne Gallagher, Natty Pazos, and Sarah Eckerson attended Lourdes along with chaperones Mrs. Phyllis Pregiato, Upper School Theology Teacher and Upper School Theology Department Chair, and Mrs. Maureen Crowley, Middle School Theology Teacher and Lower and Middle School Theology Department Chair.  The group left for France July 11, 2018, and returned home July 21, 2018.

Members from the Class of 2018 went to Lourdes to accompany members of the Class of 2019 on the pilgrimage.  The alumnae who joined were Katie McCabe ’18, Charlotte Sheehan ’18, Paolina Kovalenko-Baloup ’18, Abby Leyson ’18, Emily Coster ’18, and Stephanie Jordan ’18.  Two members from the Class of 2014, Sarah McDonald ’14 and Mimi Dunn ’14, also took part in the pilgrimage.

During their time in Lourdes, the students participated in many spiritual services including the Anointing of the Sick, visiting the Grotto, and attending an International Mass. The girls normally had to be awake at 6 a.m. to assist with the APs. 
During the Lourdes chapel, the seniors reflected on their service and the people they met.  Daisy cherished a close relationship she developed with one of the APs named Wendy.  She shared her sentimental memories walking around the St. Frai hospital with Wendy and bonding with her over their favorite music genres.

Natty Pazos, Daisy Steinthal, Sarah Eckerson, Mary Anne Gallagher, Mrs. Phyllis Pregiato, Emma O’Connor, Ryan Smith, Catherine Hamilton, and Mrs. Maureen Crowley standing in front of the grotto.  Courtesy of Katie McCabe ’18

“Everyone loves Wendy not in spite of any struggles she may have, but because of the contagious spirit and beautiful happiness that she has grown through her adversities,” Daisy said.  “That reflection of happiness and joy that she and all the APs bring to Lourdes kept me pushing voitures, what they call wheelchairs, and waking up at 5:00 a.m. with a smile on my face more than any coffee.”

Catherine also shared her thoughts on the trip as she is looking forward to visiting Lourdes again this year as a Sacred Heart alumna.

“I was so exhausted, but I never wanted to leave,” Catherine said. “It was the best ten days ever and I feel so lucky to have been able to experience it and meet the most amazing people.”

Featured Image by Daisy Steinthal ’19