HCPT is a charity offering pilgrimage holidays, to Lourdes in the south of France, for disabled and disadvantaged people from around the UK and further afield. HCPT is a Catholic charity and its services are open to all. Volunteers and beneficiaries come from all walks of life and from all faiths and none. Every Easter, over 1,000 disabled and disadvantaged children enjoy a week in Lourdes, staying in hotels with their volunteer helpers. To learn more about the Trust you can visit their web page http://www.hcpt.org.uk/
Annually, St Richard’s run a Service group to Lourdes. Led by Mr Campbell as Group leader and Jo (Lay Chaplain) as Deputy Group Leader, the group is made up of Year 11 pupils. A Service group do not take children with them like a family group but instead provide service in various ways, for example marshalling the Torchlight procession; helping with the music for our regional Mass; leading games with groups on the prairie; assisting as marshals for the Trust Mass and many other activities. We are fortunate to have 3 groups from our area who we assist: Group 154, Group 210 and Group 71. All of these groups take children from our area and many of the helpers and group leaders are ex-pupils of St Richard’s.
In 2016, the Trust was celebrating its Jubilee and Cardinal Nicholls celebrated the Trust Mass. He was so impressed by the enthusiasm and generosity shown by the pupils from all the Services groups that he requested a picture at the end of the Mass. This trip can really move and inspire the pupils and many have gone on to join family groups as helpers as a result of their experience in Lourdes.
For the last four years, Jo (Lay Chaplain), has taken the role of Leader with the Youth Service for the Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. The Diocese travels in the last week of July to Lourdes. Over 800 pilgrims young and old take part in the pilgrimage.
The Youth Service known as the Redshirts is a key part of the pilgrimage providing a service to the whole pilgrimage through welcoming and marshalling various events and leading music, and various different services within the 10 days in Lourdes. Redshirts is offered to Year 10 and 11 pupils and an assembly will take place in advance of the application deadline to offer the opportunity to St Richard’s pupils.
Over the years, a number of pupils have preferred to take this opportunity rather than go with groups 715 as it is in the holidays and so avoids interfering with studies in Year 11. Last year, we had 3 pupils go and alongside Jo, our former head girl, Emily Staffiere, was a leader.
Year 10 pupils set off very early on the Monday of February half term for a week’s pilgrimage to Rome. After the very wet and windy weather of January and February, blue skies, warm sun and pleasant temperatures came as a wonderful change in the Eternal City.
Highlights of the trip were the Colosseum, Vatican Museum, The Pantheon and the Dome of St. Peter’s (9 intrepid pupils, Miss Easton and Jo climbed the 537 steps to the very top!).
We were unlucky that Pope Francis was away in Mexico so we were unable to have a Papal audience. We did have the opportunity to enter through not one but three Holy Doors, including the Basilica of St Peter (see picture to the right) where Pope Francis launched the Year of Mercy.
We were so fortunate to have Fr David Parmiter with us who having lived in Rome for a number of years was able to act as our Guide on a number of occasions. Rome is truly a beautiful city, steeped in Catholic history. This trip will run on a bi-annual basis and be offered to both Year 10 and 11.
Future plans – Combined MFL/Chaplaincy trips
We hope to have a number of MFL/Chaplaincy trips in the future to places such as Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and Taize in France. Watch this space for more information on these.