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IHCPT - The Irish Pilgrimage Trust (www.ihcpt.com)
Contributed by Fergal McCrory

The Irish Pilgrimage Trust is a registered charity in Ireland. Each year, at Easter, it travels on pilgrimage to Lourdes with young people with special needs. There is an annual pilgrimage to Hosanna House in Bartres, close to the town of Lourdes. In 1997 IHCPT opened a house in Clarenbridge Co Galway and welcomes groups there all year round. Every two years a group of cyclists travel through France to Lourdes - a different kind of pilgrimage to the Grotto.

For 35 years groups have travelled to Lourdes on Easter Sunday and participated in the unique week at the Grotto. Together with friends from the wider community of HCPT thousands of pilgrims have enjoyed the unique experience which the French Lourdes authorities now refer to as 'HCPT Week' in Lourdes. The groups participate in the life of the sanctuary: the Eucharistic processions, the Marian Candlelight procession, visits to the Grotto, sharing in the waters from the spring that Bernadette uncovered in 1858, enjoying the wonderful eucharistic celebrations of IHCPT and HCPT, participating in the celebrations within the group itself. While no week is the same year after year and no group follows the same programme there are certain characteristics which make up a visit with IHCPT and HCPT to Lourdes.

Over the past number of years during Easter Week IHCPT have booked a Mass at the Grotto on Friday morning. Celebrated by the visiting Irish Bishop this Mass is prayed for all deceased helpers who have travelled with IHCPT over the years.

IHCPT is a family. It is based on small groups within which a caring family type atmosphere is generated during the pilgrimage. But for many IHCPT is also strongly connected with their own families. There are several examples of different generations who have volunteered to be part of the week in Lourdes, the annual trip to Hosanna House or the Friendship Weeks that take place in Ireland.

This Mass is celebrated for those were carers and many family members take these few quiet mornings at the start of Friday as personal time to pray for their loved one who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.