The first two weekends in May welcomed hundreds of One-Day retreatants to the Island Sanctuary.
Prior Richard Mohan said; ‘This is our 21st year of One Day Retreats and, being the Year of Faith, we have been encouraged by the numbers who joined us these past two weekends for the opening of the Day Retreat season which runs each Saturday, Sunday and Monday during May.’
Prior Mohan continued “I invite people to come and spend a day this month in this very special place, walk in the footsteps of so many others, breathe in the atmosphere, savour the peacefulness and become aware of the power of pilgrims’ prayers. Back in 1992 we introduced Day Retreats because there were so many people who couldn’t, for one reason or another, do the traditional Three Day Pilgrimage but who wanted to spend time in the Sanctuary of St Patrick and be connected with the prayers of pilgrims down the centuries. With the generous support of organisers and individuals we hope to continue offering this service into the future.”
Boats to the Island for One Day Retreats run from 9.15am and with return at 4.30pm. Remaining dates in May are 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26 & 27. To make a booking or find out more, phone 071 9861518 (from NI 686 32391). Email: email@example.com Visit www.loughderg.org
For further information contact Lough Derg Communications Office Sharon@loughderg.org or 071 986151/086 0304670
Lough Derg, Pettigo, an ancient place of pilgrimage will host a special Celebration of Difference Day on Saturday 27th April.
This unique day on the island sanctuary of Lough Derg offers an opportunity for friends and neighbours from different churches to celebrate their Christian faith together in prayer and friendship.
3 speakers will talk on
Reflection; Mrs Mary Good, wife of Church of Ireland Bishop Ken Good.
Worship; Rev Chris Hudson, All Soul’s Church, Elmwood Ave, Belfast, will speak on Worship.
Reconciliation & Renewal; Fr David Donnelly, St Michael’s Parish, Enniskillen.
Lough Derg Prior Richard Mohan said; ‘The Celebration of Difference Day will be a sharing of what we have in common as Christians. My hope is that this day of celebration together will help, in some small way, to empower people to return to their communities and live their faith with greater joy and conviction.’
This ecumenical day will be of particular interest to inter-church groups to celebrate together and enjoy the peace and beauty of the island sanctuary Lough Derg.
Contact Lough Derg for more detail or to book: From NI: 028 6863239: From ROI: 0719861518
‘Attitudes are changed eventually by the building of relationships, by a willingness to be open and vulnerable, by inviting someone who is different across the threshold of one’s life, and to risk enough also to step across theirs’
Ruth Patterson-A Farther Shore
After twelve years and much soul-searching I have decided the time is right to say goodbye, or as the French say “À bientôt" to this special little Island and what a journey this has been for me. Twelve years I was approached while still living in Canada to become Manager of a ‘Visitor Attraction Site in Co. Donegal’. With my background in Recreation Management and having also worked in the hospitality sector, I was interested. My interest rose to intrigue when I heard what the visitor attraction was Lough Derg, half an hour from where I grew up and a million miles away from my then home in the Canadian Rockies.
However there was something within me-probably a feeling that is shared by many of you –who are tired of ‘barriers’, that compelled me to accept the invitation.... or the challenge.
I was so encouraged by the vision of this Catholic priest, the Prior, Richard Mohan, that if he was willing to reach out- to risk alienation, to dare to break down a barrier, then who was I to question that. On the contrary I was humbled to be part of that dream. I have been at Lough Derg now 12 years and working alongside the Prior, the man with the vision or the willingness to ‘go against the norm’, we have strived to take Lough Derg to a new audience. He, a Catholic priest, ordained the same year I was born, and I a female Presbyterian with a business background, working alongside one another for a better tomorrow.
I believe we are all on a journey, and on any journey, resting places are vital, whether that be an inn, a city of refuge, an oasis, or a place apart-somewhere that the spirit can be refreshed or the body renewed. For those of you who have experienced Lough Derg, and having done the pilgrimage six times, and being around the place, I feel strongly that it truly is a ‘place apart’.
I feel so blessed to have worked in such a place and to be entrusted in some small way with moulding its future. 12 years is but a blip in its 1500 year old past but I hope I have been able to make a small but positive impact.
There are so many precious memories...moments of grace, conversations with pilgrims, wonderful staff…my first pilgrimage and a dawn on that first occasion which will remain etched in my mind-a reassurance from God that I was in the right place; the unveiling of Patrick the Pilgrim at the lakeshore; the helicopter visit of the relics of St Therese; our first school retreat with St Gerard’s, Bray, breaking bread with Fr Ragheed (RIP) on 16th August in a mass attended by just him, I and the Prior; the opening of Davog House after many months of doodling and dreaming; our first Musical Evening with the enchanting sound of Noirin Ni Rian and her two sons; site meetings at the top of the Basilica as we replaced the copper roof; the camaraderie shared by everyone at the annual Ash Wednesday services; the frenetic fun of family days; the humbling simplicity of Faith and Light…our swans…
I have been blessed to have had Lough Derg in my life and know it has made me a better person. I will always be a ‘friend of Lough Derg’, and when I leave on the last boat, I will look back! I remember on my first few days, watching the intensity of those praying on the ‘Beds’, slightly mesmeriszed and a little old woman smiling saying: ‘I don’t know what it is about the place, but there’s something about the thousands of pilgrims walking in their bare feet on the very bedrock of the Island for generations, that the place can’t not be holy!’
Thank you for allowing me to share it…. Go raibh maith agat.
Lough Derg continues to be creative in its approach to inviting people to experience what is sacred and special about the ancient Sanctuary.
2013 sees the biggest ever programme on offer at the Island. Extra events have been added to celebrate The Year of Faith as well as the Gathering. One such new event is taking place this Sunday, 17th March, St Patrick’s Day. Too often the true meaning of celebrating St Patrick is lost in parades and parties which prompted those at St Patrick’s Purgatory to organise this day to remember Patrick for what he was - the man who united Ireland in Christianity. Patrick is thought to have spent time in prayer on this remote Donegal Island and whilst there he had visions of purgatory. It was this vision that gave the Island its name, Purgatorium Sancti Patricii and gave rise to the practice of pilgrimage; put simply - others wanted to spend 24 hours in the cave in the hope that they too might see the vision. Such is the importance of Lough Derg’s connection with St Patrick, that Prior Mohan and others were invited to attend a recent reception celebrating the life of Patrick at Aras an Uachtarain, hosted by President Michael Higgins.
On Sunday morning boats will start running to the Island at 10am where people can enjoy a welcoming cup of tea and homemade scone before listening to a talk by Bishop Joseph Duffy and Fr Tom Hamill, both renowned scholars on Patrick. Children will be supervised during this time enjoying arts and crafts. Lunch will be traditional Irish stew and there will be an opportunity to enjoy Irish music. The day will conclude with the celebration of Mass at 2pm. Advance booking is essential.
Over the last ten years Lough Derg have been innovative in their approach in welcoming new pilgrims and visitors to the ancient site. As well as the St Patrick’s Day event, there is much to look forward to this season – a Mother and Daughter Retreat, Celebration of Difference Day, Pre Exam Workshop, Living With Grief & Living With Suicide Workshops and many more. At the heart of Lough Derg remains the traditional Three Day Pilgrimage which will run from 31st May until 13th August as well as One Day Retreats offered during May, August and September. The diversity of programmes on offer has something for everyone.
All pilgrims new and old will be made feel most welcome to this Island sanctuary. For a copy of the 2013 Season Guide, log on to the website www.loughderg.org or call 07198 61518 (from NI 02868632391)
This coming season at Lough Derg will be an exciting one as pilgrims and visitors celebrate the Year of Faith as well as the Gathering. Now an integral part of the Island’s calendar, the 2013 Season will be launched with a day of celebration...a Day of Friendship and Prayer on February 13th. This year the Guest Speaker will be Gillian Kingston, Lay Leader of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland. She is a Chaplain in UCD, having also worked in a similar role in Trinity College, Dublin and is also Director of the Glenstal Ecumenical Conference as well as being involved with a number of other ecumenical bodies. Last year’s event had over 450 people in attendance - the biggest single event on the Island in 2012 - surely a sign that people are seeking opportunities to celebrate not what divides them but what they have in common.
Ash Wednesday’s theme is ‘We would like to see Jesus’. This day, for Christians of all denominations will be the first of many events that Lough Derg will offer this season as they launch yet another exciting blend of pilgrimages, retreats, workshops and special events. Best known of course for the traditional Three-Day Pilgrimage which remains at the heart of this sacred Island, many would be surprised to learn of the wide array of events on offer nowadays which hopefully can give everyone a chance to reconnect, to refresh, to renew - from Pre Exam Workshops for students, to Mother and Daughter Retreats, Seminars on grief and suicide, Senior’s Citizens’ outing; Lough Derg is really trying to live according to the motto for this year of ‘Celebrating Faith, Offering Hope’. Lough Derg regards this type of outreach as vital to their ministry, emphasising the message that the Sanctuary belongs to all of us and truly is a place of welcome for everyone. Lough Derg’s theme for 2013 is ‘Celebrating Faith, Offering Hope - this special day is the first of many days where all will be made very welcome, whatever their background.
Hope is a word we all could be doing with seeing more of these days, switch on the news any day and all we hear are stories of governments collapsing, loss of jobs, civil unrest and natural disaster. Lough Derg is a place where perhaps we can capture a glimmer of light, a glimpse of hope.
Bishop Liam McDaid, unfortunately will not be in attendance but when asked about the upcoming event, he commented: ‘There are days in the year that are special, and for different reasons. Normally you would expect few people to get excited about Ash Wednesday. Most would consider it to be a rather gloomy day, and the issues highlighted not ones to lift the spirit. But for a number of years past, many Christians and others of good will have headed west and into the wind on that morning – an unusual mix of people all heading for a boat bound for an island of mystery and prayer. Many inspirational and memorable words have been spoken on that morning and voices unaccustomed to each other sang and prayed in harmony. But most striking of all has been the camaraderie among people who rarely meet the disparate pilgrim company of that day. Lough Derg has an uncanny knack of bringing together all kinds of colours, even if they don’t match perfectly. I will miss that special day this year. I expect to be in Ethiopia, having a look at mission projects. I’m not sure who should be envious.
This day on the remote Donegal island really does reflect the ethos of Lough Derg - a day of bridging differences, of sharing sameness and offering one another hope. Regular pilgrims, as well as those who have never been, are invited to the Island on Ash Wednesday, 13th February, with a friend from another Church, to experience the sanctity and peace that Lough Derg offers to all.
In talking to the Prior, Gillian Kingston said ‘Friendship and prayer are two of the most significant activities in which we can get involved as the people of God. I am delighted to have been invited to Lough Derg for this event, not least because my husband and I enjoyed three very happy years in Pettigo forty years ago - it feels like a homecoming’!
Lent traditionally brings different responses from each of us, for many it brings more dark thoughts....the all too familiar groans, ‘Oh no don’t tell me that I have to give up something again this year’. Let 2013 be the year that Lent is more about an opportunity for spiritual reconciliation, a time to look at our relationship with God, our families and our neighbours. Don’t let this wonderful and important time of year pass you by. More than ever we all need to look inside, whether that is our governments, our families, ourselves. Lent allows us to catch a glimpse of the great message of Easter through the dark clouds.
Prior of Lough Derg, Monsignor Richard Mohan and Manager of Lough Derg, Deborah Maxwell, a Presbyterian from Castlederg extend a warm welcome to all.
In this year when Ireland is busier talking about The Gathering than The Year of Faith, Wednesday last witnessed a very special Gathering. Lough Derg, long renowned as Ireland’s most ancient place of pilgrimage, has undertaken an initiative to get parishes across the country taking time out to celebrate the Year of Faith. Prior Richard Mohan, aided by his team of priests and staff, invited Lough Derg contact persons nominated by their diocesan bishops to gather together at Maynooth.
It is a testing time for many in Irish society – we do not need to throw out statistics or even name the many issues with which people struggle. But this tiny, remote Donegal Island has stood the test of time. It is tried and tested. It’s not an easy place to get to, it’s not an easy pilgrimage to do – the toughest, they say, in Europe if not the world – but then again good things don’t come easy. Lough Derg is real... it gives people hope... it offers solace... it provides a sanctuary. It’s a safe place. As Fr Éamonn Conway said at the event, ‘It strengthens your spiritual muscle’.
And so as the Prior and his team look to the start of another season they are delighted that in 2013, a year that we pray will be significant for the new evangelisation and for the renewal of faith in Ireland, with the backing of the Episcopal Conference and the help of this keen and able group of Diocesan contacts, Lough Derg will play its part to really spread good news. Parishes and communities across the land will be able, at local level, to find opportunities for setting out together in a pilgrim spirit to gather at Lough Derg.
Staff there are very aware that people need to be met where they are at, and welcomed, and something provided for them that offers them hope. To that end, in addition to the traditional Three-Day Pilgrimage which remains at the heart of Lough Derg and still attracts people in their thousands, there are also Day-Retreats, Youth Retreats, Workshops on suicide, on exams, Seminars for those in caring professions, special days for families, for mothers and daughters, ecumenical days. Whether it be a few days on pilgrimage in this special place, or even a few hours at a day retreat or workshop, the real journey is always the journey within.
The invitation is simple and heartfelt: come to Lough Derg, celebrate your faith, and experience the offer of hope.
Despite the weather, pilgrims have continued to make their way to this small Island tucked away in Donegal. The notion of fasting, going without sleep and shoes would seem contrary to the world we live in today where everything is instant and too often about ourselves. But still the practice continues unabated-pilgrims have been travelling to this remote Donegal Island for centuries, from all over Ireland and indeed the world. There are records of pilgrims coming from Catalonia in Spain in the 1300s-and in 2012 pilgrims have not only travelled from every county in Ireland to this treasured Sanctuary but also from 25 different countries as far afield as Angola and Vietnam!
Lough Derg’s strapline is ‘Bringing you the Gift of Hope’, and this message seems to pervade the air on the third morning when pilgrims depart a little lighter in their heart after this tough but rewarding experience.
Embracing all mediums to spread the good news, Lough Derg is actively tweeting and using facebook to keep in touch with their pilgrims, bringing to reality their commitment of ‘Being with you on Life’s Journey’ .
For a place to have survived 1500 years it cannot stand still-and Lough Derg certainly is passionate about creating new opportunities for people to enjoy the sanctity of the Island. 2012 has seen the biggest programme on offer ever.
If the three day pilgrimage is not your cup of tea, Lough Derg is very keen to invite you just or a day with their theme ‘What a Difference a Day Makes’ .From August 17th-September 30th, there’ll be everything from a Senior Citizen’s Afternoon to a Family Day, workshops on meditation, mindfulness and angels, as well as a new Caring for Carer’s Day-this range of programmes really dispels the myth that Lough Derg is only for those who can endure all the hardships of no shoes, and little sleep-it really is nowadays a place of welcome for everyone, offering if only for a little while, a place to renew and recharge.
There are still a few weeks left to take three days to yourself, to give yourself the gift of time, of regeneration, of reflection and healing-an opportunity to connect with yourself, and with this special place of prayer. Or if you fancy coming for a day, then there really is something for everyone. Lough Derg-you just gotta go!
Young people of Ireland are fanning the flame of faith as next Monday (23rd July) a large number of younger people from each Diocese from Clogher to Tuam will take part in a relay walk carrying a penal cross and a flame to Knock Shrine. Bishop Donal Mc Keown will begin the walk at Lough Derg and those taking part in the relay will walk between 5 & 6 hours a day and each day will finish will a celebration of the Eucharist in the next diocese before the flame is passed to the next group of young people.
Deborah Maxwell, Manager of Lough Derg commented:
"We are delighted that ‘The Walk to Knock’ initiative is kicking off at Lough Derg on Monday. Having just had our youth pilgrimage a few weeks we always look forward to any initiative that will get young people to the island, or in this instance, even to the shores. With so many pressures at this time of year, exam results looming, wondering if enough points or the right grades will be achieved for university, and the prospect maybe of moving away from home for the first time, more than ever, young people need to be able to find a space to take time out, and refocus and get support . Lough Derg is a haven for many…we see that year after year with our fully subscribed school retreat programme which happens in September and October. There’s still over a month remaining for young people to take up the challenge. Come to the Island and just chill out for a few days knowing that you’ve survived the toughest pilgrimage in Western Europe-makes climbing Croagh Patrick look easy!"
The healing stone which was unveiled at the opening of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress last weekend will find a permanent home at St Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg.
The stone, a large piece of Wicklow granite is engraved with a prayer that originally featured in the Liturgy of Lament celebrated in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral in February of last year. The prayer reads:
"Lord, we are so sorry for what some of us did to your children: treated them so cruelly, especially, in their hour of need. We have left them with a lifelong suffering. This was not your plan for them or us. Please help us to help the. Guide us, Lord, Amen.”
Congress Secretary General, Fr Kevin Doran explained that Lough Derg “seems to be particularly appropriate because of the penitential history of the location and because of the pilgrimage there of the papal legate, His Eminence Marc Cardinal Ouellet, which binds the Congress very closely to Lough Derg”
His Eminence visited the Island earlier this week as part of the Congress, meeting with survivors of clerical abuse alongside the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, and Bishop of Clogher, Dr Liam MacDaid.
Pope Benedict XVI requested that His Eminence, Marc Cardinal Ouellet personally pay visit to the Island as part of the International Eurcharistic Congress and to address the issue of abuse within the church, with Cardinal Ouellet undertaking the penetential pilgrimage exercises as a public expression of penance and repentance for the abuse of children and vulnerable persons by clerics in the Irish and universal Catholc Church.
On the Island, His Eminence, Marc Cardinal Ouellet alongside Dr Liam MacDaid, Bishop of Clogher, and Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown met with survivors of abuse both men and women who travelled from different parts of Ireland.
During his homily at the evening Mass on the Island, His Eminence, expressed that the response of Church authorities to these crimes was often inefficient and inadequate. The group of survivors also atended the service and for some it was their first time attending Mass in a number of years and the Cardinal was moved by the meeting and the opportunity to apologise for the church's wrongs.
The full text from the homily can be downloaded here
“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.” ”