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The Adventures of Marists - Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, on a pilgrimage to France

 

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28/09/2012: United States

 

 

Brother Patrick Hogan, F.M.S., led 23 students and chaperones from Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, on a pilgrimage of service and reflection to France. This marks the eighth year the Archbishop Molloy community served the sick who travel to Lourdes to bathe in the healing waters of the Grotto, where the Immaculate Conception revealed herself to St. Bernadette.

The women volunteered in the Grotto, where they helped the sick to dress and undress and lowered them into the water when necessary. At night, they participated in the rosary by singing and praying a decade every night.

The men had crowd control duty. They helped people off the trains that came from all over Europe, parked wheelchairs in the Grotto and helped pilgrims find their way around during the procession. They also assisted at the International Mass and during the Eucharistic procession in the afternoons.

This year, Brother Patrick, a guidance counselor at Molloy, took the pilgrims to La Valla-en-Gier, the place where St. Marcellin Champagnat founded the Marist Brothers, the congregation that owns and operates Archbishop Molloy H.S.

The pilgrimage relied on donations and fundraisers.

“Raising money is always the most difficult task,” Brother Patrick said. “It is so difficult that at least four times during the year, I almost canceled the trip…looking back, what a tragedy that would have been.”

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Reflections from the Pilgrims

The miracles of Lourdes are often unnoticed. This was my eighth trip to Lourdes with the students from Archbishop Molloy. I am 74 now, and each year is more difficult for me to do everything.
One afternoon I was on my own and I was two-thirds up the ramp to the upper Basilica and struggling. All of a sudden an arm shot out beside me and, as I grab on, I look to see who was extending this deeply felt kindness. In English, I said: “Thanks very much, where are you from?” Her response was “France.” “That is very nice of you to help…thank you.” Her response was: “That is why I am here to help and to be kind.” I said in reply: “That is why I grew old, so that you help and be kind.” We reached the top. She said goodbye and darted into the Upper Basilica – I never saw her again. But I will never forget the kindness of that young girl, and I will pray for her often.  —  Brother Patrick Hogan

The experience is a complex one, and I have not yet figured out exactly what it meant to me. It changed me in ways that I am not certain of just yet, but I undoubtedly came back home a different person. Lourdes is a place unlike any other, so different from the world we live in daily. It offers an escape – a chance to clear our minds and dust off our souls.
My time in the Hermitage enabled me to bring a lot of thoughts together and to connect with my high school days. The things I experienced at Molloy came into focus, and now I understand what the school motto really means: “Not for School but for Life.”  —  Natalie Kurzyna

To be honest, in the beginning I was skeptical about coming on this trip. Two weeks was a long time to be away from home, and I really didn’t know what to expect. However, looking back now, going on the trip was one of the best decisions I have made. In Lourdes, we worked hard and it was tiring, but at the same time, the work was so rewarding and made you feel good about yourself. As much as we helped people on this trip, the experience has helped me just as much. I learned that being a nurse is definitely what I want to do with my life. Seeing the sick people who would come into the baths was hard and at times heart wrenching, however you knew that though you couldn’t cure them, you were doing something remarkable for them.  —  Paige Whelan

While sitting around the table Champagnat built himself, Brother Pat asked us to think about how our life would be different if Champagnat never existed. I had never thought about the impact the Marist Brothers make on my life before this moment. I realized everything that’s worth doing in my life was made possible because of the Marist Brothers. Without them, my life wouldn’t be anywhere near as fulfilling as it is. All the volunteer work I do through the Marist Brothers restores my faith in humanity, and it reminds me that there still is good in this world.  —  Dana Giuntini

Lourdes was indeed a beautiful place. The vistas, the people, the service all contributed to this grand experience that I have yet to fully process. It gave me a taste of a community focused on selflessness and service. It gave me a taste of a different life I could live. At home, I sit on the computer. I sit in front of a TV. I feel pressured to have a high paying job. I feel pressured to be in a relationship. In all sorts of ways, I feel not good enough. I feel as if I am not enough. Lourdes and the service our group did there gave me a taste of being whole and of something to work toward.
I will serve all and in doing so serve myself. Because in my volunteering and my service, I feel more myself than ever before. It is what I am meant to do.  —  Scott Kuhner

I’m so happy that I decided to go to Lourdes this year. It’s a place that’s really hard to describe to people that haven’t been before, but people who have gone to Lourdes understand what a unique experience it is. Working in the baths was awesome. We got to meet so many women from different countries around the world who had their own stories and reason for coming to bathe in the Piscines. Our work days were exhausting, both emotionally and physically, but I think everyone can agree that each shift was worth it. Each time a lady thanked me in the bath with a hug or a kiss, it made me wan to cry – but in a good way! Like I said, it’s hard to explain, but I believe that everyone should go to Lourdes at least once in their lifetime.
The Hermitage was also really exciting because I think it brought our group together as a Marist family. At Molloy, we hear St. Marcellin Champagnat’s name nonstop. At the Hermitage, we were able to take a closer look at who he was as a child and what prompted him to start the Marist Brothers. This experience strengthened my identity as a Marist Catholic individual.  —  Karla Hernandez

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