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25th Pilgrimage to Lourdes, France

Meredith Berry-Toon

Students and faculty chaperones participated in the momentous 25th annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, France this past August. Lourdes, an internationally recognized Grotto, is the site to which over five million pilgrims travel to each year.

While in there, the students assist with the malades (sick) entering into the sacred bath space, exiting and arriving to the trains that transport many people to the city, and assisting in other areas where need be. They meet other high school students from across the globe, attend mass, and write reflections of their experiences each evening.

Nearly a dozen students took part in this year's trip. Faculty chaperones on this year's trip include longtime and now retired faculty members Guy and Viv Simonelli as well as Marc Vanasse '73 and current faculty Julio Omaña (Director of International Travel) and Tracy Garcia LaVigne (Director of the Center for Spirituality, Service, and Justice).

The pilgrimage began the summer of 1994 following a Canterbury-sponsored trip to the World Youth Day gathering in Denver, Colorado the year prior. Hope Carter, former President of the Board of Trustees, inspired the inaugural Lourdes Pilgrimage and has been instrumental in Canterbury's continued involvement. She and several members of her family have continued to lead the Pilgrimage with the Canterbury team.

For more information on the Lourdes Pilgrimage as well as travel opportunities for Canterbury students, please contact Julio Omaña directly at

To view photos of the trip, taken by Marc Vanasse '73, visit our Flickr here.