Almost 350 people will begin the annual Clogher Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes today. This pilgrimage, which lasts until next Tuesday, is a central feature of diocesan life and provides an outstanding opportunity for pilgrims from across our diocese to make the journey to the shrine in south-west France where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette in 1858.
Lourdes is a special place for the sick and among those travelling from Clogher diocese will be 36 assisted pilgrims who will avail of first-class specialised facilities at the Marian shrine for the entire duration of the pilgrimage. They will be assisted by 67 voluntary pilgrim staff members (doctors, nurses, carers etc) who will accompany them throughout.
A notable feature of the pilgrimage again this year is that a large number of young people will take part. Some 69 members of the youth ministry group Clogher don Óige will travel and they will also assist the pilgrims in a variety of ways and add their own special contribution to the pilgrimage experience.
The pilgrimage is led by the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Clogher, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness. The pilgrimage has a new director this year and he is the first layperson to undertake the role. Brian Armitage from Lisnaskea replaces Canon Joseph Mullin who carried out the role of pilgrimage director faithfully for almost quarter of a century. Fr Noel McGahan Parish Priest of Clogher and Eskra parishes, is the new Spiritual Director while John Hueston, also of Lisnaskea, is the new pilgrimage secretary. Ten priests from the diocese will also be taking part in the pilgrimage and assisting with the various liturgies.
The opening Mass of the pilgrimage will be celebrated at 9am (local time) tomorrow morning while the Mass at the Grotto, at which Monsignor McGuinness will deliver the homily, will be celebrated on Saturday morning at 8.30am (local time).