Our mass to mark the beginning of the academic year is a very important occasion in our school calendar. The entire school community gathers together in Marino Parish Church where we welcome new students and staff, wish former staff and students well, pray together and share in the Eucharist.
The theme of this year’s mass echoed the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “Christ has no body now but yours”, focusing particularly on the power of our hands to do good in the world. This theme was beautifully woven into the liturgy and reiterated in the words of Fr. Tom’s homily, encouraging us to use our hands to build rather than to break.
Many students throughout the school contributed to the school mass through art, music and reading. Our new First Years were welcomed and our newly appointed Prefects were presented with their badges.
Less than two weeks after the World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, it was now time for the Maryfield girls accompanied by Ms. Seery to join the over 2,000 Dublin parishioners and pilgrims as part of the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Friday September 7th saw seven aircraft depart from Dublin for Lourdes carrying sick pilgrims, helpers, medical staff, clergy and students.
Our four 6th Years, Aoife Hayes, Aoife Traynor, Hannah Byrne Kennedy and Dearbhaile Mulrooney, were among the wonderful young people from twenty-five secondary schools taking part.
177 sick pilgrims
300 young volunteers/helpers
133 ‘Blue Shirts’
20 parish groups
The Maryfield girls were part of the ‘Blue Shirts’ team. They began work on their arrival at the airport on Friday the 7th, helping to load all the sick pilgrims onto the planes. They continued to work tirelessly until our arrival back at Dublin Airport on September 12th where they assisted with the disembarkation of pilgrims.
The whole Lourdes experience was amazing, the weather glorious and the encounters with the people truly special. The girls’ duties involved working the acceuil (reception duties) and flag/stewarding duties at the ceremonies throughout the pilgrimage. This year, the Maryfield girls also lent their voices to the Lourdes Folk Group at the liturgies held for the pilgrims.
Every evening (after 10pm most nights) when all duties and ceremonies had ended, the ‘Blue Shirts’ then attended ‘Prairie’ with the youth chaplain, Fr. Paul Thornton, the youth Lourdes Pilgrimage leaders Michelle and Eoin, and all the teachers and students from the various schools. ‘Prairie’ allows the young people to reflect on their experiences each day in Lourdes.
There are so many highlights of the pilgrimage, so many moving moments (the ‘Baths’), so many times when you are touched by being with the sick pilgrims, simply serving. At the same time you are made aware of your own good health and good fortune.
One evening we attended the Medal Ceremony, where individual helpers are awarded medals for their years of service. One man was presented with a special award for sixty years’ service to the Dublin Pilgrimage.
The girls made many friends and joined in all the activities including a table-quiz, and a ‘sing-song’, where again there was no stopping their musical talent with a version of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’.
A special tradition that we have established is to go privately to the Grotto on the last night and light a very large candle for all connected with Maryfield College, and for those who supported us through our fund-raising efforts. We prayed at the Grotto for everyone’s intentions. This year we lit a very special candle in memory of our beloved Ciara Hawe, and we prayed especially for Ciara’s family and friends. Our four girls this year also lit four candles to pray for last year’s four volunteers from Maryfield – to bless them as they begin the new directions in their lives having finished school.
It is hard to put into words the experience of Lourdes. There is definitely something special, spiritual and sacred about this place. The legacy of Our Blessed Lady and St. Bernadette is truly present.
Our four students were amazing ambassadors for our school and we can be extremely proud of them. Lourdes will always be a unique experience for them, and hopefully at a later stage they will return there.