Never been before?

Is this your first time joining us on the Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes?

Are you wondering what the work entails?

Read on below to find out more about the different roles involved as a "Yellow Shirt" and "Purple Shirt".

Title: Lourdes Youth Coach Member (over 18 Yellow Shirt)

Duties: 

As an over 18 you will be expected to perform some slightly different roles than an under 18 helper. These include:

• Taking pilgrims to and from mass and the grotto. Sometimes you may be asked to guide under 18's, with pilgrims, to the destinations.

• Helping out at the St. Frai (basically a hospital) by assisting the St. Frai team with cleaning surfaces, serving teas and coffees, taking pilgrims to meal times. Don't worry you're just assisting and will never be asked to do anything which makes you feel uncomfortable! 

• Taking out pilgrims out shopping or for a drink when they have some free time. 

Skills and competencies:

• Good listener and talker- these should go hand in hand! Not only listen to the pilgrim but also talk about yourself as they'd love to get to know you more.

• Cheerful- being happy yourself helps to make others happy. 

• Obedient- for an operation as big as the Liverpool pilgrimage, it is important to listen to coach leaders so the process is a smooth one. That way there is no hassle and everyone is happy.

• Respectful- although you don't have to have a strong faith, you can always find that whilst you're in Lourdes, you have to have the ability to recognise when to be quite and mindful e.g. during mass or prayer time at the grotto. 

Salary:

The salary can vary depending upon the person:

• (In the long run) possible beatification.

• Self satisfaction 

• At the very least, a great week making new friends, having themed nights out at bars with other coaches, and enjoying yourself!

Title: Lourdes Youth St. Frai Member (over 18 Purple Shirt)

The St Frai team, of the Youth Pilgrimage, is a chance for older youth pilgrims to broaden their service to assisted pilgrims. These experiences often encourage youth pilgrims to continue participating in this service with the Liverpool Hospitalite.

Below is a personal account from Caroline Rigby, St. Frai member for 2 years who began her Lourdes experience as a "Yellow Shirt".

For four years I spent a week of my summer holidays as a member of a Coach on the annual Youth Pilgrimage to Lourdes.

However, in 2013 I decided it was time to move on to a different team. I enjoyed all of the responsibilities and activities as a member of a Coach but my favourite times were those I spent in the St Frai hospital, helping to serve breakfast and lunch to the sick pilgrims, or simply spending time with them.

I knew, therefore, that I wanted to join a team which held more responsibility and which spent more time with the sick in the hospital. So I decided to join the St Frai Team. 

I was apprehensive about joining the St Frai team. I was comfortable with the Coach I was a part of and the way things worked. So, I was uneasy about leaving this group but I knew it was time to step out of my comfort zone.

From the start there were many differences: for one thing, we don’t travel by coach but by plane; hence why we are sometimes called ‘The Plane Team’. We also wear purple t-shirts rather than yellow – providing us with another nickname: ‘The Purple Team’.  

Our role includes helping the sick, frail and elderly during their Lourdes pilgrimage. It can be difficult at times and, although I was never expected to take on a task which I was uncomfortable with, I nevertheless found myself in situations I’d never anticipated and, what is more, I found myself dealing with them quite well!

A typical day involves a very early start, arriving at the hospital and helping the pilgrims to get ready for the day ahead.

This may involve the personal care of some of the sick who, due to medical reasons, are unable to take themselves to the toilet, who are unable to shower themselves or dress themselves.

Some may find this a difficult role to undertake, but you are never expected to do anything which you are uncomfortable with, and there are always other important jobs to be done! These include cleaning, serving breakfast or even just keeping someone company.

After breakfast and when everyone is organised we are ready for ‘the yellow t-shirts’ to come and take the pilgrims to whatever is on the agenda for that day.

During this time, some members of the St Frai team will be on ‘security duty’ and will therefore remain in the hospital so as not to leave things unattended.

Other members of ‘the purple team’ attend the activities with the sick, so they are on hand to help when and where necessary.

Then it is time for lunch in the hospital and getting everyone ready for the afternoon ahead.

In the evenings members of the St Frai team remain in the hospital to sit with the pilgrims; to talk about their day and to help them get ready for bed.

Evenings can also be spent entertaining the hospital pilgrims; playing bingo with them; performing on karaoke and even just sitting with a cup of tea having a chat.

We always have a day off as a team. This is the perfect opportunity to do any shopping or to spend some private time down at the grotto or even go to Lourdes Zoo!

I have never been as tired as I was after my week as a member of the St Frai team but every second was worth it. I have made friends for life, young and old; I learned new skills and realised I was capable of more things than I originally thought, and being attached to the youth also means that we don’t miss out on any of the youth pilgrimage activities either – the best of both worlds really!