Thursday, August 25, 2011

Home again, home again!

I've finally gotten acclimated enough to our U.S. time zone that I think I can think straight enough to finish this blog today. It's been an interesting journey.

By now I'm sure you've heard (and reheard) the many wonderfully inspiring and delightfully uplifting stories from your teens and young adult children. I know they have some terrific photos to share as well.

Monday morning after breakfasting at the airport hotel cafe, our homebound troop boarded our flight back to the states at the de Gaulle airport in France with little trouble after we shopped for Parisian souvenirs in the airport stores. (Oh and I did learn that a small group of curious pilgrims woke early and traveled the train into Paris to visit Notre Dame and take photos of each other by the Eiffel Tower before breakfast ... lucky guys!)

The flight took us over land and sea without a hitch and we arrived safely in the Detroit and Chicago airports as scheduled. After traversing customs, where I was severely reproached for snapping a picture of our weary group in a secure area, (oh my!) we made our way to the busses that would take us home.

Our three hour ride went smoothly, stopping only once in Angola to let a few pilgrims off there. We were overjoyed to arrive at our destination parking lot that we were thrilled to see was filled with expectant family members and friends. Our homecoming was sweet and as I watched parents locate their pilgrims, it brought tears of joy to my eyes. There was much laughter, story telling and hugging. (I received a heartfelt welcome from my own daughter that soothed my weary soul.) It is great to be back home!

A Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated in the spiritual center at St. Vincent for those who stayed over. For those that went home, I suspect they were praying their own personal prayer of thanksgiving for our safe and inspiring travel.

I want to share some photos with you over the next few days as I process all that transpired on this trip. I will also post witness stories that I have received from our pilgrims. So stay tuned!

Please continue to pray for our youth who are back at school now, that they keep the memory of this grace filled pilgrimage in their hearts as they process this journey. We had discussed that we believe the fruit of this journey will manifest in the days, weeks and months to come as our faith continues to grow.

God is good!

These are photos from our visit to Lourdes.

 This group poses before a field of crosses on the Lourdes complex. Can you see all the crosses?

Pilgrims enjoyed local cuisine. This crepe stand was positioned right outside the entrance to the Lourdes complex. (And, my, the crepes were good!)
Father Fernando gives a local woman a blessing outside a French shop down the street from our hotel at Lourdes.

This castle sits atop a mountain across from the grotto.
 Dinner at Arcade hotel in Lourdes, France.
           Pilgrims made rope rosaries every spare moment throughout the trip to trade at WYD.

Our Franciscan friars and sisters pray at the grotto.
Below is Mass at the grotto.

These pilgrims are awaiting the procession to Mass.

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