Friday was our last day with the Pilgrims. We were up again at 5:30 to get ready and eat to be over to help them at 6:45. The student volunteers had to hurry the pilgrims along because we were going to grotto Mass at 8:30. We got everyone situated in their wheelchairs and we lined them up just to the side of the altar in the grotto. It was a cool, crisp morning and we were all bundled up. Our priests concelebrated the Mass and the student volunteers sang, read, and served Mass. Afterwards we were able to walk behind the altar and touch the grotto rock and see the spring where Bernadette dug in the ground.
I left Liz with Mark so that I could go to the last medical meeting. Nurse Carol and nurse JoAnn shared their career path stories with us and it was really amazing to hear all the things they have done throughout their career. I had a chance to talk to nurse JoAnn afterwards and she was so sweet, kind, and encouraging. I will definitely carry her words of advice with me throughout my career about standing up for life, the patient’s beliefs, and my own beliefs even if people don’t agree with me.
After the medical meeting I volunteered to help Fran finish the water project. North American Lourdes Volunteers ships Lourdes water to their office in Syracuse to use during virtual pilgrimages and to give away to people. During the week, they guys had filled 36 jugs of water that each weighed about 66 pounds. They had then put nine on a wooden palate and wrapped them all together in plastic wrap to get them ready for shipment. Fran and I had to put the shipping labels on top and put more plastic wrap on top to keep the labels in place. It took a lot of work because we had this clumsy huge roll of sticky plastic that we were maneuvering around between the palates. We finished up just in time for lunch and headed over to the caf.
When I came back from lunch, I played with Makayla for a while. We ran around and spun in circles, she played on her mom’s phone on my lap, we went and found Chuy, and we watched out the window for butterflies. It was so much fun to speld time with a cute little girl. When the rest of the pilgrims finished lunch they all had a departure meeting. Everyone was given a chance to share something of their experience during the week and there were many stories from the pilgrims of how wonderful they thought the volunteers were. Most of the volunteers thanked the pilgrims for giving us the opportunity to serve them. It was really inspiring to hear everyone thanking everyone else for everything they had taught them.
After the departure meeting we all got ready to go out to the grotto. We stopped by the candles and were given the opportunity to meet St. Bernadette’s great, great, great, great, great, great nephew. He doesn’t meet with anyone and no one knows he works the candles except for North American Lourdes Volunteers so it was a very special privilege to meet him. He is deaf, but he has St. Bernadette’s eyes.
We continued on our way and went over to the stations of the cross that were recently put in. They are large stone carvings and they are beautiful in the sunlight. We brought all the pilgrims in front of each station and Fr. Menei, Fr. Matt, and Fr. Walter all took turns leading the stations. We sang a praise and worship song at the end and then slowly meandered by the river back to the Accueil.
For dinner, some of the pilgrims ate at the Accueil and some ate at restaurants in town. After I finished cleaning up, Hana and I headed back to Ave Maria so she could get the friendship bracelets she had made for the pilgrims. We stopped and got raspberry ice cream on the way back to the Accueil and made it back just in time to scoot through the rosary procession before they blocked it off.
It was time to say goodbye to the pilgrims and adult volunteers. We had all grown so close over the past week and knew so much about each other that no one wanted to leave. Hana was so sweet as she gave each pilgrim a bracelet and I went around with her to say good bye. They were all packing but of course they all stopped to say goodbye. We had a great laugh with Paz, Ms. Goldman, Linda, and Grace the kitchen volunteers when they wanted to take our pictures. I was laughing so hard I was crying. I got to say goodbye to Gabe and take a picture with him and then he wanted another hug. He was so precious. Unfortunately I didn’t get to say goodbye to his Aunt Liz, but I left a message with Pam for her. After we said all our goodbyes, Hana and I picked up the sack lunches for the student volunteers and headed back to Ave Maria.