Service is an important part of being a Christian, and going on pilgrimage with the Diocese to Lourdes is a great way of serving those in need, as well as an opportunity to grow in your faith.
What it involves
Every year, in the last week of July, the Diocese of Westminster embarks on a pilgrimage to a small town in the south of France, called Lourdes. Hundreds of young people take up the invitation to serve in one of the roles: Redcaps.
Hotel Redcap: members of the hospitalite whose duties include getting assigned an ‘assisted pilgrim’ (a fellow pilgrim who is elderly, sick or disabled) and helping them with their every need throughout the week in Lourdes. Being a Redcap can also involve helping with the main events, such as the candlelight procession or reconciliation service. You must be at least 16 years old to do this role.
St Frai Redcap: The St Frai is a building in Lourdes that is set up more like a hospital, with wards, and can provide more specialist care than the hotels. As with Hotel-Assisted pilgrims, St Frai-Assisted Pilgrims also require assistance to and from venues during the pilgrimage. The St Frai operates on a slightly different timetable to the rest of the pilgrimage, so this role is based on a shift rota to make sure all the pilgrim’s needs are met. You must be at least 16 years old to do this role.
St Frai Helpers: The role of the St Frai helper is to support the doctors and nurses who provide care for the pilgrims staying in the St Frai. You do not need any medical qualifications to do this role. It includes helping pilgrims to get ready in the morning, making tea, socialising with the pilgrims – whatever is needed. You must be at least 18 years old to do this role.
Team Leaders: All Redcaps are assigned a Redcap Team Leader once they arrive in Lourdes. The team leaders have a variety of responsibilities, including allocating duties, supporting the Redcaps and liaising with the Group Leaders. You must be at least 18 years old to do this role, and have volunteered on at least two Westminster pilgrimages.
So, Lourdes is a packed week, with lots of responsibilities – and tiredness is guaranteed! – but it’s very rewarding and an excellent use of your time and energy. It also looks great on the CV.
What we provide
Much of the organisation and preparation for Lourdes is done through other diocesan departments, and the Lourdes Leadership team. They work in partnership with a number of different schools and parishes who bring groups, as well as any young people who wish to volunteer independently.
Training is provided to make sure you feel safe and comfortable with your role in Lourdes. This includes online training and a practical training day.
What to do next
If you’re interested in becoming a Redcap for the next Lourdes pilgrimage, here are some options as to what to do next: