I have recently returned from a parish pilgrimage to the tomb of St Giles, our patron, to the Abbaye de St Gilles in Provence. It was a wonderful experience to receive the Blessed Sacrament only feet away from the remains of St Giles, in such beautiful surroundings, having received an extraordinarily warm welcome from the ecumenically minded Cure who equipped us with all we needed, even finding a suitable alb for our Rector and worshipping with us until he had to leave to conduct a funeral elsewhere.

But a pilgrimage also involves a very special journey. When one travels with family and friends it is to journey with people whose interests and tasted you share, or least understand; that is what binds you together. With a pilgrimage group it is different; some are interested in history and architecture, others are not; some enjoy a Mediterranean French cuisine, others would prefer a burger and chips and so on. The journey is important as it is the preparatory time when you learn to appreciate, and sometimes tolerate, differences, discover strengths and weaknesses in each other and discern kindness and gentleness in surprising places. By the time you reach the shrine you become a cohesive group of one mind, able to worship together in that one place. It is representative of our Christian journey on earth.

In the Templar Pilgrimage Trust we are very aware of the importance of such journeys, particularly as we concentrate our giving more and more towards disadvantaged young people, who often courageously proclaim their Christian faith in an increasingly alien secular world. One girl in her late teens burst into tears when told that she would be able to go to Lourdes to help the sick and disabled she felt drawn to serve. Apparently she was moved by the knowledge that people she had never met were prepared to help her. This is what we as Templars are about.

We, the Trustees are very grateful for the regular contributions some of you make to T.P.T. Every last penny is ear-marked for pilgrims. None of the Trustees claim any expenses; we individually bear the cost of travel, telephone, postage etc as part of our offering. Even the smart office in London we use for meetings is the generous gift of one of our non-Templar trustees. The young girl I mentioned, and her friend, were brought to our attention by one of our Novices who came across them by chance and acted upon his instinct that their school desperately needed help. What a splendid start to his life as a Templar! If you do not already support us financially, please consider doing so. Even the price of a couple of drinks each month could make a difference to what we are able to do.