A welcome and reassuring feature of the Westminster Lourdes Pilgrimage is the red tabard worn by a Redcap. Without their selflessness, enthusiasm and generosity in service, there would not be a pilgrimage. They are so important to the day-today running of Westminster's week in Lourdes.
In their own words, here are some of their testimonies describing what their role meant to them, and some of the personal challenges they overcame:
"The most enjoyable part of the week was meeting the pilgrims and helping the pilgrims to have the best week possible, making new friendships with the redcaps and hearing inspiring stories about the pilgrims’ lives. "
"The most challenging part of the trip, as this was my 1st time being a team leader, was for me to make sure I have enough red caps for our pilgrims. I also had to ensure my team got enough rest so they can recover from the work they have done during the day. I did also get loads of help from everyone so have learnt a lot about being a team leader."
"Going to Lourdes is honestly such an amazing experience and can have such a impact on your outlook of your faith or even your life. You make such amazing connections between the pilgrims and Redcaps, some of which I hope I’ll keep for life. While it can be hard work pushing wheelchairs around all day we have socials in the evening to help you relax and have fun which only adds to why it’s fun. There’s also a chance to take a trip outside of the town with your pilgrims for instance this year I went to Gavarnie, a town along the Pyrenees mountains, which has some amazing views.
All in all, I can’t recommend enough joining and taking part on this trip, it’s quite a life changer and seriously rewarding and I can’t wait to hopefully go next year!"
"I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Lourdes Pilgrimage 2023 as a Redcap. It was such a memorable and uplifting experience. We helped the Pilgrims as soon as we arrived at the airport, helping them through security, keeping them and their belongings safe. This gave me a sense of responsibility, not only was this the first time I had travelled alone I also was responsible for a vulnerable person. Lourdes itself was amazing, so different from what I had envisaged. The grounds were spectacular and peaceful giving both myself and the Pilgrim who I was assigned to time to reflect. My personal highlight was seeing the Grotto for my own eyes. We had some lovely outdoor youth masses which brought us all closer together as a group. We had time to socialise and relax in the evenings with all the Westminster diocese redcaps. Overall, a life-changing experience and I would encourage anybody to go."
"The Lourdes trip was a great experience, I loved how you could meet so many new people in such a short amount of time, everyone was happy and friendly and it made the trip so worth it. It’s a really beautiful place and I look forward to going again next year."
"My favourite part of the week was working together as a team with other Redcaps to assist the assisted pilgrims. Having a sense of responsibility and the need for care and even needing to adapt towards these roles in situations to be able to fully assist the pilgrims made the role fulfilling."
"I loved being able to socialise with the pilgrims, it was really heartwarming and eye-opening. I also loved making friends with the other Redcaps "
"I found that looking after very vulnerable people can be quite stressful and emotionally draining. I had to remember that looking after myself first is just as important as looking after others, as only then can you properly care for those around you. I had heard many people saying that those who go to Lourdes have their lives changed in some way and I never fully understood what that meant; having gone there and lived through the week's experiences, I can honestly say that it's been a life changing time for me and I am very grateful that I got this opportunity to go. I would be really happy if I got to go back again next year. ☺ "
Please do remember to keep Westminster Lourdes Redcaps in your prayers, and to spread the word to your Parish Priest, teachers and catechists about this brilliant opportunity to enrich your faith in a very special and unique way so you join us in Lourdes in 2024!