Lourdes Pilgrimage 2k16

Students and teachers give insight into this life-changing experience

Robinson%2C+DiStefano+and+Mrs.+Martinson+enjoying+their+journey

courtesy of Brittany Robinson '17

Robinson, DiStefano and Mrs. Martinson enjoying their journey

Elie Carlos

“Eye-opening.” “Unbelievable.” “Life-changing.” Three students who went on the annual Lourdes Pilgrimage this year – juniors Brittany Robinson and Ava DiStefano and senior Caroline Kennedy – used these words to describe their experience on their trip.

Alongside Sr. Joan Fitzgerald, Sr. Joanie Nuckols, Fr. Kevin Grimditch, Mr. Tony and Mrs. Stacy DiStefano, Mrs. Linda Martinson, Mrs. Jenny James and a number of other teachers, they traveled to Lourdes as well as as Paris, Normandy and Lisieux over Easter vacation. All three girls had heard about other people’s experiences in France and were encouraged to go on the trip.

After the trip, Robinson, Kennedy and DiStefano all chose Lourdes as their favorite place to visit. “It was homey and small, but had a ton of places to visit. There was a small soap store down the road from our hotel that the group of girls and I visited at least 15 times while we were there,” said DiStefano. Additionally, all three of them remembered waking up early and “waiting in line for 7 hours to take a bath in the Lourdes holy water,” according to Robinson. “The millions of people that congregated together because of such a wonderful thing as the baths was indescribable,” added Kennedy.

Mrs. DiStefano remembered “walking down to the Grotto for the first time” where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette several times.

“I found just a great joy in celebrating Easter, (and) celebrating the Resurrection at this apparition site, where Mary, as one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection, and to celebrate Easter with her and that special way in that grotto,” said Grimditch.

Mr. DiStefano enjoyed seeing the people from different cultures. “There I was, an American of Italian, German and Polish descent who speaks English, hearing a Chinese woman offer a prayer for the worldwide Church in German. That’s something of what the Church means when it calls itself Catholic. Beautiful,” Mr. DiStefano said.

They also went to Saint-Jean-de-Luz Cathedral where they went to celebrate mass. “I will remember singing in the choir at Lourdes,” said Martinson.

Then, the group traveled to Paris where they visited many sights like Museum of Invalides, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Musee d’Orsay, Versailles, Fontainebleau, Notre Dame, the River Seine and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, according to James. She enjoyed seeing the castles like Versailles and Fontainebleau because of their knowledgeable tour guide, Nuckols.

Everyone who went on the trip recommends it to anyone who is interested. “It is so beautiful, and you learn so much, and it’s so great to have Sr. Joanie as a tour guide. You learn so much more than reading a book,” said James.

Grimditch thought that the trip helped show students the principles that Xavier is founded on. “The sisters have this devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and the school is really built in a real way around that. And so, Our Lady of Lourdes really represents that in such a beautiful, powerful way,” he said.

Finally, DiStefano shared that even students who are not Catholic can enjoy this trip: “Lots of people may think there’s ‘too much church’ on this trip, but every single place we visited was gorgeous, and obviously the bread was to die for.”