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Great Happenings in Lourdes

On Monday 26th June, 400 pilgrims set out from the Diocese of Killaloe on the summer Pilgrimage to Lourdes. By Monday night everyone including our Bishop, Fintan Monhan, eight priests, 52 assisted pilgrims, nursing and hospitality staff, 48 youth helpers, ten youth leaders and the choir from the parish of Ogonnelloe had landed safely in Lourdes. The theme of this year’s pilgrimage was ‘The Almighty has done great things for me,’ from the Magnificat of Hope.

Our opening Mass was celebrated by Bishop Fintan Monahan and he was delighted to officially welcome all pilgrims on Tuesday morning. Bishop Fintan spoke about our pilgrim journey to ‘this sacred place’ and he defined pilgrimage as making a journey to a sacred place in petition of a special intention. He used the scallop shell as a symbol of pilgrimage and his hope would be that the shell of our hearts would return home with a sense of love and peace in our homes, in our communities and in our workplaces. On Tuesday afternoon pilgrims had the opportunity to avail of the baths. The assisted pilgrims journeyed with the youth to the baths and it was a refreshing and emotional experience for all. Later in the afternoon we took part in the Blessed Sacrament Procession which was led by Bishop Fintan Monahan. The procession took place in the Underground Basilica due to the rain. Fr Ger Jones,  Nenagh, read the Gospel and some of the youth helpers represented our diocese by carrying flags and banners.

On Wednesday morning, we began with a celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation led by Father Ger Jones. He spoke to the pilgrims about the importance of experiencing God’s mercy emphasising that, ‘the church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.’ The afternoon saw Fr. Donagh O’ Meara, Ogonnelloe,  lead the pilgrims in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. For many of the sick and assisted pilgrims this was a deeply moving and comforting ceremony. Unfortunately, the Marian Torchlight procession scheduled for the evening had to be cancelled due to heavy rain but this did not dampen the spirits of the poncho clad pilgrims.

On Thursday morning, the pilgrims were led in the celebration of the Eucharist by Bishop Fintan Monahan at the Grotto. It was an uplifting Mass celebrated on the feast of SS Peter and Paul. Bishop Fintan described Lourdes as a magnetic place that draws people looking for calm, serenity and prayer. He also told the congregation that the greatest miracle of all is the love and care shown to the sick by the doctors, nurses, staff and the fantastic youth that give so generously of their time. After Mass, the assisted pilgrims took part in the low Stations of the Cross while the rest of the pilgrims were given the opportunity to avail of the high Stations later in the day. In the afternoon, the assisted pilgrims availed of the opportunity to go shopping and they enjoyed some free time with our youth group. On Thursday night, our diocese was led in a reflective, personal and spiritual Holy Hour by Tracy Murray from the Parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane. Tracy reflected on the joint themes of ‘the Lord has done wonderful things for me’ and the theme of family.

On Friday morning, Fr Michael Geraghty, Nenagh,  spoke on the meaning and importance of pilgrimage. He compared pilgrimage to a satellite navigation system and reminded us that just as maps and batteries are required to get us to our destination so is setting time aside for yourself important, otherwise we might follow roads that no longer exist. Our three seminarians, Anton, Martin, and Aidan brought up the gifts of bread and wine. The afternoon gave the pilgrims some free time to take part in various tours or to take some time for themselves. Our youth group journeyed to Bartres, a village outside Lourdes,with Bishop Fintan and their youth leaders. It was an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all as they got to walk and talk together and visit the place where Bernadette spent some time minding sheep as a young girl. On Friday evening, we concluded our pilgrimage with our closing ceremony and the blessing of the pilgrimage candle. This year, our pilgrimage candle was lit by our very own Rose of Clare, Aoife Murray from Sixmilebridge. Fr Tom Ryan, Shannon, wished Aoife the best of luck as she travels to Tralee in August to represent Co. Clare. Aoife spoke about her first experience of Lourdes as a youth helper and how she always wanted to return as part of the Hospitality Section and she was delighted to be given that opportunity this year. As pilgrimage director, Fr Tom Ryan thanked everyone involved in the 61st Diocsan pilgrimage to Lourdes.

Our Youth Helpers were highly complimented for their the work over the course of the five day pilgrimage. They did everything that was asked of them with a smile and a gentle hand under the watchful and caring eye of the Youth Director, Fr Michael Geraghty, and his team of leaders.

The Autumn Pilgrimage from the Diocese will leave Shannon airport on Sunday 1st October , returning on Friday 6th October. Details are available in all parishes. There is limited availability on this pilgrimage so early booking is advisable.

Maria Kelly is a Primary School Teacher in Newmarket–on–Fergus, a parishioner of Shannon Parish , she has travelled on the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes as a Youth Leader for the past fifteen years.

St. Senan's Parish | Tel : 061 364 133 | Fax : 061 364 516 | Email : office@shannonparish.ie
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