Station island on Lough Derg.. Annual pilgrimage to Donegal's Lough Derg has been cancelled
The traditional pilgrimage on Donegal's Lough Derg will not go ahead this summer, it has been confirmed.
The public health measures still in place within the phased relaxation of restrictions do not go far enough at this time to enable Station Island to reopen for the safe return of pilgrims, an organsier for the event said.
In a normal season, over 10,000 pilgrims would make their annual pilgrimage or retreat during the summer months to Station Island.
This year again the Prior, Fr La Flynn, will move out to the Island on the first of June to begin his witness of a daily Station Prayer on behalf of pilgrims who otherwise would themselves be coming on pilgrimage over the ten weeks until August 15.
This offers also a pledge of assurance to the many who send their petitions and prayers to Lough Derg, that these will be remembered before God on this holy ground.
Fr La commented on how it feels, this second time around, knowing that we will be into a third year before the return of a full pilgrimage programme in 2022: “Here at Lough Derg we accept that the steady roll-out of the vaccine programme is something that is a priority for people at this time, offering hope and joy.
"We respect the wisdom of a phased and stable relaxing of restrictions. The timing is just not on our side this year.
"Lough Derg sees itself with a responsibility towards its thousands of faithful pilgrims and friends, to help them keep connected to the momentum of prayer that I hope to maintain from today until August 15.
"The tradition of prayer and intercession is part of the fabric of this place. As I take up the daily Station Prayer of the Pilgrimage I do so with a glad heart, carrying the prayer of our pilgrim family near and far.”
Fr La continued: “Many areas of society are returning to some normality. I particularly rejoice at the welcome return of faithful people to their places of worship. I want to say that Lough Derg is still here.
"I am very confident that, with a further easing of restrictions on outdoor gatherings in the coming weeks, Lough Derg will be able to offer the ‘Pilgrimage along the Lakeshore’ with a possibility of open-air Mass.
"Our regular pilgrims will be glad to learn that the ‘Pilgrimage from Afar’, offered in response to the pandemic last year, will be held on 3-5 July.
"From their own home, pilgrims will be able to join with me and some members of our pastoral team to do their Three Day Pilgrimage from where they are, with a live stream link.
“Participation in ‘Do Lough Derg from wherever you are’ will be open to anyone across Ireland and indeed worldwide who is up for the challenge of the traditional pilgrimage.
"Last year we were joined across timelines by pilgrims from Beijing to Vancouver, all sharing in a continuum of prayer that has been kept alive by families from generation to generation back through the centuries.”
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