July Joy!

Saturday July 26th 2014

I can’t believe this is my second last blog as a Michaela Foundation Scholar! I remember the official celebration we had in Queens student union before it all kicked off where I got to meet the other gems of scholars! Who’d have guessed that I would even have been away on holiday for a week with one?!

I must say being a student has many perks! From student discount to being able to party during the year- but for me an incredible long summer holiday is hard to beat! I can see why others may think they are bored after a month, but mine has been jam packed and I still have around six weeks left!
There have been many highlights, of course spending time with my two little nieces and nephew, swimming pool trips, movie days and lunch dates are few and far between during the year so I’m making the most of them now.

July has been immense for two reasons; The Michaela girls summer camp and my pilgrimage to Medjugorje! Both experiences I will now try to put in words- and I’ll never do them justice but here goes!

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On Monday the 14th of July, 80 shy and quiet girls between the age of 11-13, gathered in St Malachy’s Glencull Primary School to begin their campette journey. After a few ice breakers they were split into their groups for the week and the real fun then commenced. The girls engaged in 5 elements; Fun, Fashion, Faith, Irish and Well Being. These were the five inspirational, core values that Michaela held dear in her life and the legacy she left behind is unbelievable when you witness this camp.

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I was in the Faith team, and this year was the end of the three cycle journey. The theme this year in faith was the tree and there is just so much symbolism and relevance of the tree in our faith. From role plays to UV raves, going on prayer hunts, finding God in absolutely any object, decorating spiritual specs and hearing Mickey Harte’s powerful testimony on the roots of his faith are only a few of the highlights. I always say it is like a retreat for the leaders as we get so much out of it as well as the campettes! The week just flew in and it was amazing to watch how the girls grew in self confidence and faith through the week; they just blew us away. The final closing ceremony and Mass was beautiful- even though the rain tried to dampen our spirits it soon disappeared! Most primary schools lie dormant and quiet during the summer holidays, but St. Malachy’s Glencull P.S was a hive of activity. The only word I could use to describe it was ‘electric!’
It’s an honour to have had the opportunity to share such a special week with inspirational people- all in the memory of a talented, ordinary lady, who lived an extra-ordinary life without limits.

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I had the week after camp to recharge my batteries and get organised for my trip to Medjugorje and somehow prepare myself for a week of prayer and fun. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew it was going to be a special week. I was part of a group of 55 people and we were called Esperanza ministries!
We were privileged to be there for the international youth festival, where the Masses were incredible! Ireland was one of the smallest countries there, but we had the tallest flag and definitely made the most noise. Some of the highlights would have to be climbing the Apparition hill, Blue Cross and Cross mountains; all places where Our Lady appeared. I decided to climb Cross Mountain bare foot, just as another little sacrifice for the people I know who can’t climb mountains. We had the opportunity to meet one of the visionaries, a lady who I can only describe as joyful. She radiates happiness and love and I wouldn’t be able to put into words the presence she had. We got an invitation to sing at St James Church on the opening day of the festival and everyone seemed to love it- we got an applause after (you aren’t allowed to clap in the chapel!). It was like one of those sister act moments!
Our guide for the week was Danjella and she could not have done more for us! She made sure we got everything covered while we were there and even worked her magic by allowing us to gain access to an orphanage while we were there! A real exclusive one off! How lucky were we!!

One of the most touching moments of the whole trip was when our inspirational leader Meabh Carlin revealed that she had letters for us from home! It was a real tear jerker and such an emotional evening. The theme for the week was ‘behold thy mother’ and it was just so special to receive a surprise letter from our mothers as meaningful as that!

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Myself and fellow scholar Aoife had a great time- and we shared some lovely moments together. It’s amazing how our paths crossed at the beginning of our scholar journey and neither of us would ever have guessed that we would have shared an experience as special as Medjugorje. This wasn’t just a pilgrimage, it was a holiday- we got to go to the swimming pool and the waterfalls to catch the rays-it wasn’t just all prayer! Who said you can’t have a holiday with faith and fun?!

Medjugorje was so peaceful and is such a picturesque place. I would encourage everyone to get it on their bucket list- you won’t regret it!