Report by Mrs Millar
All S2 pupils recently enjoyed a day’s retreat at Carfin Grotto. This report relates directly to the Monday retreat with 2N4, but all days were similar.
Carfin Grotto is a beautiful tranquil spot; a hidden gem in darkest Lanarkshire! The brainchild of Monsignor Thomas Canon Taylor, the Carfin Grotto is a replica of the grotto in Lourdes which was built to celebrate the apparations of Our Blessed Lady to St Bernadette. In the 1920s when unemployment was high, Msgr Taylor asked for and received the help of unemployed miners of Carfin and the surrounding area to recreate the Lourdes Grotto.
Each day started with a prayer, then the class was divided into three groups. The staff responsible for the Pilgrimage Centre then gave a very brief introduction to the day, telling the children how the Grotto came to be built and its connections with Lourdes. Then each group completed three activities:
- The Reliquary. This is a fantastic resource which has been built up over many years and which spans the entire range of Christendom. There are relics from as far afield as China relating to saints ranging from St Therese to the Chinese Martyrs. After a quick tour, the children were given a quest sheet which they had to complete by finding out as much as they could about the saints and their relics.
- The Grotto. Starting at the main entrance the children took a tour of all the hidden treasures of the Grotto again in the form of a quest.
- The Pilgrimage Centre. A more recent addition to the Grotto’s resources, this display celebrates the pilgrim of all faiths and cultures. It is a fascinating collection of artefacts and photographs from around the world – from Mecca to Jerusalem and India. Again the children were given a brief introduction by staff before the final quest.
No day would be complete without Mass, and the children were lucky enough to be given their own private Mass in St Francis Xavier’s Church, celebrated by a member of the Holy Ghost Fathers, home from the missions. Both humorous and down to earth, the Father had a great connection with the children, coming down off the altar to be among them as he delivered his homily.
A great time was had by all, and the sun even shone for us all day.