Next year's pilgrimage will take place Thursday 25 July to Friday 2 August 2024, applications will open in the New Year. 2024 will be a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage and the 20th Anniversary of the Redshirts youth programme, both of which have helped so many people encounter God’s love through witnessing the pilgrimage vison of ‘Love in Action’. Further details of special anniversary events in the UK will be advertised in the coming months, watch this space.
‘As the coach pulled away I didn't know what to expect all I knew was that it was going to be an adventure. An adventure where I could have the opportunity to deepen my faith along with other like-minded young people. An adventure where I would hopefully make lifelong memories and build new friendships, and I did.’ - Redshirt testimony. Click here for more testimonies from our Redshirts and Young Helpers.
What is a Redshirt/Young Helper?
Redshirts (school years 10 & 11) provide a much-valued service of spiritual support and welcome; providing a ‘Red Carpet of Welcome’ to meet and greet pilgrims attending services; music ministry; leading groups in prayer. In their smaller formation groups they participate in ministry sessions to discover more about their faith, shared experiences and other pilgrimage activities. They also prepare a presentation which includes music, scripture and testimony to over 400 pilgrims. Some free time is scheduled each day.
Young Helpers (year 12) travel with the Redshirts and are based in the same hotel, however they go out to serve each day in hotel groups alongside other helpers, taking care of our Assisted Pilgrims through pushing their wheelchairs and spending time with them socially, assisting with all the activities they engage in throughout the day. Young Helpers then come together back at their base hotel every evening, mostly from supper onwards. During the evenings they will have time together as a group of young people with their own leaders and chaplain, to debrief on the days experiences, for prayer and social activities to explore and grow their faith in a supportive and fun environment. You can find out more about being a Redshirt or Young Helper by clicking on the buttons below. To contact our team click here.
How do Redshirts & Young Helpers fit into the Pilgrimage?
“We radiate light – we shine – by welcoming Jesus into our hearts and learning to love as he does. To love like Jesus: that is what makes us shine, makes us do works of love. Friends, I am telling you the truth: whenever you do works of love, you become light.” - Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2023
The diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes consists of around 700 pilgrims. Some of the pilgrims, known as Assisted Pilgrims, are supported and cared for by members of the Diocesan Hospitalité which Redshirts and Young Helpers are part of. The Lourdes Youth Teams exist to lead young people in the Diocese to a closer encounter with Jesus and to help them discover the joy of following him through building community, serving others, nurturing a relationship with Jesus in prayer and the Sacraments, exploring the journey of discipleship and connecting with the local Church in our Diocesan parishes.
Why do Redshirts and Young Helpers exist?
Among the many challenges you face as a young person approaching adulthood today, is the demand that you show the sort of skills needed in all sorts of occupations and careers. These are not always learned in the classroom and we want to give you the opportunity to prove to yourself and others that you have, and can develop, these skills. You will have the opportunity to take responsibility for different things, to lead others, to speak to groups, to offer assistance in various ways. In this way you will find value in others and yourself:
To nurture spiritual development of young people, within a framework that develops their skills and talents but recognises they are not yet adults.
To experience a sense of community within the group and with the wider community of the diocesan pilgrimage, to be of service to each other and to other pilgrims and to have opportunities to experience prayer in various forms.
To provide opportunities to foster leadership skills and to provide a pathway to being a helper in Lourdes when they have left school and are embarking on the next chapter of their lives.
We know from past pilgrimages that you will have memorable and fulfilling experiences. We are surrounded by our fellow pilgrims to help and support us, and most importantly, we have God to guide us. God uses us as His hands to serve others and to live out the pilgrimage motto of ‘Love in Action’. In essence, we have an awesome opportunity to encounter Christ in a friendly and enjoyable atmosphere of love and acceptance.
What is expected of me?
The main thing that is expected of you is that you should be yourself. You should be willing to participate in activities, some maybe unfamiliar or even challenging to you, we hope you show eagerness to learn and experience new things with a respect for yourself and others with everyone there to support you. God does not choose us or love us because of our particular abilities, God loves us for our full selves. On pilgrimage you have the opportunity to discover more about yourself, to try new things and be open to new experiences. As with many things in life, the more you put in the more you get out! There is an old saying: ‘tourists demand, pilgrims give thanks!’
Redshirts and Young Helpers on the Arundel & Brighton Pilgrimage are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects favourably on themselves, their families, parishes and schools. You will be expected to project an image of Christian consideration, sensitivity and respect for yourself and for each other during the trip. Pilgrimage helps us to discover that we are all pilgrims on our own journey. When we do this, we realise the value of others walking along side us and we know there is an ultimate destination for each of us. We know too that God has every intention of ensuring we reach that place, if only we let Him!