by Ellen Teague
As more than 1,000 disabled children and their groups left the annual HCPT Trust Mass in Lourdes during Easter Week, the President of HCPT described this year’s celebration as ‘another beautiful and happy year’. Archbishop Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, had concelebrated with eight other bishops from England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the USA.
HCPT Group 144 from Chiswick, was one of the Westminster groups participating. At a regional Mass, group leader James Teague assembled a large wooden heart made up of decorated jigsaw pieces of groups in the London Region. At the huge Trust Mass the congregation of more than 2,000, sitting in their distinctive group colours, raised the roof of the Salle Bernadette Church opposite the Grotto with such hymns as ‘Sing it in the Valleys’ and ‘Rise and Shine’. Disabled children read the bidding prayers, reminding us that on this pilgrimage the children come first. Each child was cheered after prayers were said, remembering the sick, poor, homeless and families at home.
The Westminster groups could be seen visiting the Grotto, where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette in 1858, the Cachot prison cell where Bernadette lived at the time of the apparitions, and the Stations of the Cross by the shimmering River Gave. A final visit to the Grotto saw groups place large candles decorated with group names, hearts, stars and hands of service, in the domain area, in thanksgiving for the blessings of the pilgrimage.