Of the ten hotels the pilgrimage uses in Lourdes, two are usually for the Family Group. The Family Group consists of helpers, nurses, chaplains and a doctor as well as children with their parents and/or other relatives/friends. The helpers provide support to the families; whether it is looking after children, of varying abilities, or assisting parents and other relatives (also of varying abilities). For the last couple of years the Family Group has been lucky enough to have had two hotels next to each other with a garden in-between which provides a safe place for the children to run around and play games.
The Family Group joins the rest of the pilgrimage for most of the main events in the week but they also do a few other children-orientated activities along the way. There is usually a Family Group fancy dress party early in the week, where the children (and adults) get involved; enjoying fun and games whilst getting to know each other better. They also usually have a day-trip to Cité Saint Pierre to enjoy a special Family Group mass in the open air and some extra space for a picnic lunch followed by games. During the week there is a dedicated children’s reconciliation service and children’s liturgy for most of the masses. The helpers and families all get involved with the activities but it is usually possible for the parents to arrange a bit of quiet time to themselves, knowing their children are in safe hands. In addition to the pilgrimage masses, services and processions the Family Group has allotted children’s prayer time as well as adult-orientated prayer within the hotels.
There are still opportunities throughout the week for children and adults alike to get involved with aspects of the wider A&B pilgrimage, such as singing in the choir, playing in the music group, reading in mass or serving on the altar etc. If you would like more information about the Family Group please feel free to contact the Lourdes office or the Family Group co-ordinators.