LAPORTE | La Lumiere students Patrick Lake and Fiona Whalen embarked on a 15-day pilgrimage of service and conversion at the Shrine of Our Lady in Lourdes, France on July 31. Lake and Whalen, and 33 other teenagers from across the United States, along with Father Wayne Watts, served the sick and elderly in Lourdes and visited shrines and historic venues in Madrid, Spain and Rome, Italy.
Watts, a member of La Lumiere’s Board of Trustees, is Pastor of Saint John Berchmans at Archdiocese of Chicago and Associate Administrator at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He has led pilgrimages to Lourdes for 19 years.
Over the two week period the students were asked to sacrifice, step out of their comfort zones, pray more than usual, and to serve generously. They worked together in Lourdes with teens and adults from around the globe, most especially with those from the eastern French Diocese of Belley-Ars. The students bonded and served together despite the obvious language barriers. Their faith and desire to serve united them.
“Father Wayne’s trip was an eye opening experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity," said La Lumiere sophomore Fiona Whalen. "I had so much fun while learning and experiencing more about my religion.” Patrick Lake said, “The Lourdes trip, to say the least, was an experience of a lifetime. As a Catholic, my faith has been strengthened in ways I never thought possible.”
After their time in Lourdes the group traveled to Rome where they celebrated Mass at the tomb of Saint Peter below the high Altar of the centuries old basilica. On Aug. 15, the group returned home, no longer 35 strangers but new found friends. Each student celebrated a renewed appreciation for the faith and its call to serve.
“The courage and faithfulness of La Lumiere students Patrick Lake and Fiona Whalen, joining a group relatively unknown to them on an international pilgrimage, impresses but doesn't surprise me," said Watts. "The character of La Lumiere students and their desire to grow in their faith make the school the special place it is.”