"Lourdes has affected me in such a profound and deep way"

"Lourdes has affected me in such a profound and deep way"

"Lourdes has affected me in such a profound and deep way"

Corey first joined an HCPT Easter pilgrimage as a sponsored child in 2004. He has since joined us for both Easter and Summer pilgrimages. He is a member of HCPT's vibrant Youth Committee. He explains what HCPT and Lourdes mean to him, and his faith.

I'm Corey. I am 26 years old. I live independently in my own flat. I have achieved many great things but I still have my own personal imperfections as we all do. I am a champion of disability equality I am also interested in politics and the monarchy as well as doing swimming and writing my own poetry. I have a university degree in disability studies. Potential can be unlocked through academic prowess or voluntary commitment but surely the greatest potential lies within a Christian lifestyle and the values that it seeks to represent with a person truly knowing the everlasting grace and mercy of Christ.

To date I have been to Lourdes five times. Three visits as a child, and twice as an adult with groups 44, 5 and 544 (all from the Manchester region) so I think it is fair to say I have become a proud veteran of HCPT pilgrimages. I've recently joined the HCPT Youth Committee. I am happy to offer my contributions to it because I feel like I am giving something back to a Trust that has given me so much!

From the first time I went to Lourdes with HCPT I could never have envisaged how much it would change my life. I was 12 and I was very daunted at the prospect of going away without my Mum - something that I had not done before. I cried a lot before going, because of the anxiety, but even more when I returned - I didn't want to come back! My family encouraged me to take that leap of faith and I am so glad they did. It doesn't matter what your group colours are - whether they are red and white, blue and cream, purple and aqua - we are all part of one shared global family and brand.

HCPT can transform lives through the spirituality of pilgrimage holidays if we engage and embrace the countless blessings the special journey seeks to offer. We should all play our equal part in sharing our mutual love and compassion for each other resulting in us all contributing to the future success of the HCPT family in line with what brother Michael Strode first envisaged over 60 years ago. HCPT seeks to respond to Mary's invitation to prayer and to follow Saint Bernadette's example of service, sacrifice and obedience.

Granted, everyone will have their own interpretations and expectations of the experience depending on their individual circumstances, as well as their willingness to acknowledge their own personal development. Lourdes has taught me many valuable lessons over the years about the precious nature of life, since my first pilgrimage in Easter 2004.

The Easter and Summer pilgrimages are equally incredible, and different every time you travel. The spiritual heart of HCPT should always be sustained and valued – and never be taken for granted by any of us.

There are familiar spiritual events that we regularly attend during the Easter week such as the Trust Mass, the Blessed Sacrament Procession and the Torchlight Procession. We also experience the Baths that contain holy water. We have lighter moments too when we go on trips to the beach for example and occasionally to the zoo. We can go to the aquarium or play games on a grassy area known as the prairie. We have a fancy dress party as well.

The summer pilgrimage sometimes includes an open air Mass, a quiz and a trip into the mountains in Gavarnie. It is a lot more chilled and relaxed than the Easter week and people can often absorb aspects of it at their own pace.

We often sing songs in the local cafes at both times of the year. There is always a delicate balance struck between carefree fun time and reflection time.

Lourdes has affected me in such a profound and deep way to a degree that even now surprises me. I like to support the work of my local churches where I live, but the whole experience has made me want to examine and explore my own faith in much more depth a journey that I am enjoying and finding rewarding. Especially discovering my planned life purpose and identity.