This phrase was one of many I have heard over the years from a man who our Pilgrimage owes much to. Fr. Pat Harnett, who today passed away. Fr Pat was an incredible influence on generations of young people in our Archdiocese. I first met him on a youth pilgrimage to Rome in 1983 and it didn’t take long for him to encourage me to join the Youth Service Pilgrimage the following year. That journey was the start of a much longer journey over the past 34 years. There were many stopping points along the way, Lourdes, the Holy Land, Walsingham to name but three. Who could ever forget as he sat at the front of the coach on the way down to Lourdes, a small gin and tonic and the Sound of Music on VHS seemingly on repeat.
For the Youth Pilgrimage to Lourdes under his guidance took on a life of its own. How many Diocesan priests, youth leaders. RE teachers and more are there who can directly attribute the path they have have taken in some way to the influence of Pat Harnett, the Youth Service and Lourdes?
In 1985 the Youth Pilgrimage changed the colour of its t shirts to yellow in the light of the Heysel disaster. Those yellow t shirts have become a fixture of our Archdiocese and Lourdes. As Lowe House is the home of the Lourdes pilgrimage for this generation of young people, so Eavsham House in Sefton Park was for my generation. So this year when you look at the lines of yellow t shirts and the young people who wear them with such pride, cast your mind to the priest whose vision and energy made it all possible.
Courage et Confiance would be his message to us as we journey this year. Fr Pat may you have the rewards you so richly deserve. This year in Lourdes I know you will be in the hearts and prayers of many pilgrims who owe so much to your influence. May you rest in peace and rise in glory, thank you for so much x