Feature

‘A sacred place, a communion of love to guide us on our journey’
For more than 50 generations, families have carried forward the faith of their families who made their way to Lough Derg

Lough Derg offers families a unique connection with their ancestoral family whose spiritual footsteps down the generations awaits them in this sacred island. The Lough Derg Pilgrimage season connects us with the flame of faith, hope and love lit in Ireland by St Patrick in the 5th Century and continues to give light to families today. 

Fr Owen McEneaney, Prior of Lough Derg extends a personal invitation to one and all to come and walk in the spiritual footsteps of your family – parents, grandparents, relations – walk the same ground where they walked and prayed, reconnect with their prayer for their family and future family. Today you are that family; come and be touched by God’s grace in the sanctuary of St Patrick. 

A sacred place where we look to God – Father, Son and Spirit – that communion of love to guide us on our faith-filled journey. 

Communion of love

From the time of St Patrick right up to today, experiencing this communion of love at the heart of God has a particular resonance for pilgrims to Lough Derg, leaving the island as they often do with a deep, deep sense of God’s presence, closeness and love. It is as if they have been taken into the communion of love that is Father, Son and Spirit.

If you have thought about coming to Lough Derg but never managed to get here or if you have been here in the past and thought you will come back some day – let that some-day be this year.

It is our hope that you will say yes and come as you are, come home to the love of God’s family and connect with your family prayer here on Lough Derg.

Lough Derg has a special place in the hearts of the MacAllister family from Belfast. Paul shares his family story: “Earlier today, the family travelled from Belfast for the One Day Retreat and I asked Mum when did she first do the pilgrimage on Lough Derg – her teens was as near as she could put it and this year is her 92nd birthday, so it was a long time ago. 

“I started to come here when I was in my mid-teens with the school and then twice in succession in 1994 when my father passed away. Since then I’ve done it around seven times and then we started to come on the One Day Retreats, primarily to bring Mum back to the island as she wasn’t able for the challenge of the three days anymore. 

“Mum did the pilgrimage some 15–20 times from memory and I do know that my father did it 26 times, God rest him. It was a tradition with him right at the start of June to be on Lough Derg. So there is a history of my family coming to the island and it was always my father’s wish that all of us, six children, would do pilgrimage together but sadly that didn’t happen. 

“However, I know that he did it with my three sisters. 

“What brings me here today... first of all we have come as family with some friends and a work colleague from Scotland – an opportunity for us all to be together. Personally for me it’s the only place I have ever found on God’s Earth where time doesn’t necessarily stand still but it slows down and that is a very precious thing for me in an otherwise very busy working life. 

 

Pilgrim reflection after their first pilgrimage...

To hear the whisper of the Lord,

you must turn down

the volume of the world.

Find time to disconnect

from everything around you

and be still in His presence.

 

“Another reason I make a point of being on Lough Derg is to give thanks – I am happily married, lovely children and all in good health and finally the third reason, it just seems like the right thing to do – hard to sum up in a few words this place, but it’s a place I will continue to come back to.

“Being here with Mum today and listening to her remembering her experience of her time on the island – she remembers every little thing about the pilgrimage even now in her twilight years. To spend a whole day with her in this connected place, is a very precious thing.”

Unbroken link

As Ireland gets ready to host the World Meeting of Families, Lough Derg extends an invitation to family groups, the parish family and the diocesan family to come and prepare for this occasion, to be part of the unbroken link of Lough Derg as a place of continuous prayer for families over the generations.

The Lough Derg team can be contacted for more information on 071 9861518 daily from 8.00am until 9.00pm during June, July and August. Full season details on loughderg.org