Two Students, Katie Lynch and Meabh Grogan addressed the school at the opening year mass, relaying their experiences of partaking in the Loreto group at World Youth Day, last August in Madrid.  Here’s what they said:

Irish Loreto Group at WYD
We were privileged to have travelled to Madrid for World Youth Day in August of this year along with six fellow students and other Loreto students from around Ireland including Loreto Kilkenny, Beaufort and Bray. For those who may not know what World Youth Day is, it is a gathering of millions of young people from all over the world to celebrate our faith. World Youth Day was started by Pope John Paul II in 1985 and is celebrated at a week-long international level every two to three years at different locations throughout the world. It was celebrated in Sydney Australia in 2008, Madrid 2011 and in 2013 it will be celebrated in Rio de Janero in Brazil.
WYD is open to all young people and is a fantastic opportunity to experience first hand the love that God has for each and every one of us. It was amazing that everyone at WYD spoke different languages, had different cultures and familiy backgrounds but the one thing we all had in common was our commitment to God and serving others. It was a great way to deepen our faith but also to meet thousands of other young people sharing the same ambitions and interests as us.

The atmosphere on the streets of Madrid and indeed the Loreto School was incredible and none of us will ever forget the feeling. The singing, cheering, dancing everywhere we turned, the crowded trains full of excited pilgrims dancing and singing. We even had
sing-offs with other groups of pilgrims on the trains!! The joy that radiated from each person there was spectacular. We speak on behalf of all the girls when we say it was the most influential and most positive experience we have ever had in our young lives.

Although we were there for nearly two weeks the main WYD celebrations spread over a 4 day programme beginning with an opening mass by the Pope in the centre of Madrid. During these 4 days we stayed in a Loreto school in El Soto with Loreto boys and girls from Spain and England. Each day we attended work shops which included video making, the life and teachings of Mary ward, Justice and Peace, equality issues and music and dance. In our works shops we worked along side many different cultures which was definitely one of the highlights! In the evening we would travel into Madrid for the main celebrations with the Pope. These included Stations of the Cross through the streets of Madrid and the all night vigil with the Pope. This was an amazing and unique experience. Especially when the sheer force of the hurricane winds blew the Pope’s hat off and a spectacular thunder and lightning storm made the night sky light up in a way none of us had seen before. At that time we saw the force, the complexity and the beauty of Gods world right before us. It was definitely an experience we will never forget. People danced and sang all night long and we had a chance to meet some amazing and interesting people that you would never have had an opportunity to meet before. We also saw the Pope drive by us on a few occasions which was a surreal experience.The streets of Madrid

Not only did we fully participate in the WYD programme but we also got a chance to experience the Spanish culture when we went on day trips to Segovia the home of the most significant and best-preserved ancient monuments left on the Iberian Peninsula, and El Escorial the burial place of the Spanish Royal familiy and into Madrid for some of the amazing shopping it has to offer. We got to experience the culture, food and history of these places that would not have been on offer to us if we did not go on the trip. We even had time to rest and relax by the pool. During this time we had a chance to get to know the other girls and reflect on our experiences. It has been said that “something as powerful and unique as world youth day can light a fire within us that will have a hold on in good stead for all our lives.” It centres us and  gives us a fresh perspective on life in which no challenge or burden in life is too big for us to take on.
Cultural Days Out!
We would like to thank especially Sr. Kathleen McLennan for making this experience possible and along with our Religion teacher Ms. Sheelan and Sr. Phil for looking after us with more love and compassion than we could have ever thought possible. We find it amazing how being a part of a community like Loreto can make you feel like you are part of a wider familiy and network of people even though you may be sleeping in a school hall, a thousand miles away from Ireland and staying with students that you have never met before we still felt so welcome and so at home with our Loreto Family.
We would like to conclude by saying if you have never been to a World Youth Day or would have never considered going, someday give it a try. It is a small investment that will reap huge rewards and benefits for the rest of your lives and can have a powerful influence on the lives of others around you. For it is events like these that help us live out the vision of Mary Ward to be: ” Seekers of truth and Doers of Justice”
Students Speak of their Experience in Spain