The national and internationally renowned pilgrimage shrine of Lough Derg in Co Donegal is to have a new Prior.

As part of the Clogher Diocesan Changes announced today by the Diocesan Administrator, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, Fr Laurence (La) Flynn, the present Parish Priest of Ballybay (Tullycorbet), Co Monaghan, is to take over the role on 1 October. He will also be the Administrator of the Parish of Pettigo. Fr Flynn will succeed Fr Owen J McEneaney, who has held both roles since 2013 and who has been appointed Parish Priest of Ballybay (Tullycorbet) in place of Fr Flynn. Fr McEneaney previously served in Ballybay during the 1980s following his ordination. The other changes announced today are that Fr Ian Fee CC, Bundoran-Ballyshannon (Magh Ene), Co Donegal, is to take leave of absence from the diocese while Fr Alan Ward CF, Finner Camp, Ballyshannon is to take sabbatical leave for one year. Rev Sean Mulligan, newly-ordained deacon, has been assigned to the parish of Carrickmacross.

Commenting on the appointment of Fr Flynn, the Diocesan Administrator, Mgr McGuinness said that Lough Derg continues to hold a very special place in the lives of many people in Clogher diocese, throughout Ireland and further afield. ‘It is foremost a place of prayer and renewal, a place where creation, history and the everlasting presence of God converge. Fr Flynn already has great experience and knowledge of Lough Derg through his long association with the island. This will be of enormous benefit to Lough Derg’s next stage of development and I pray God’s blessings on him and the entire team there. I thank him for the generous service he has given to the people of Tullycorbet parish as PP for the last thirteen years’, he said.

Mgr McGuinness paid tribute to Fr McEneaney for his outstanding service during the past four years. ‘We appreciate immensely the leadership which Fr McEneaney has given to the Lough Derg pilgrimage and the great commitment he has shown for the pastoral and spiritual welfare of all who have come to the island. We thank him also for his devotion to the people of Pettigo parish and wish him every blessing in his new role in Tullycorbet parish’, Mgr McGuinness said.

The shrine of Lough Derg, known also as St Patrick’s Purgatory, is located near Pettigo in Co Donegal. It is dedicated to St Patrick and the spirituality of St Patrick is remembered and renewed every year by pilgrims. The Island shrine is a meeting place where God’s healing grace is experienced in an intensity seldom encountered elsewhere, through the spiritual programmes, the companionship of fellow pilgrims and the sheer holiness of the Island. Lough Derg acquired extraordinary fame in the middle ages both in Christian history and general literature. The Island, made holy by the prayers of millions of pilgrims down through the centuries provides a safe haven for spiritual rest, personal reflection and renewal.

The Lough Derg Pilgrimage Season occurs annually from May through until October and the traditional Three-Day Pilgrimage season happens between 1st June and 15th August. One-Day Retreats and Special Retreat Days run in the months of May, late August and September followed by Youth Retreats in September and October.

The Diocese of Clogher has been responsible for Lough Derg since 1780. Fr Flynn will be the 14th Prior since then.

Further information can be found on www.loughderg.org

Biographical Notes:

    Biographical Note on Fr Laurence Flynn:

Fr La Flynn was born in Roslea, Co Fermanagh in 1950. From primary school at St Tierney’s he went on to St Michael’s College, Enniskillen. His seminary training was in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and then in the Irish College in Rome. After his ordination as priest in 1976, Fr Flynn first ministered on Lough Derg during the three-day pilgrimage season of 1978, and he has served there for at least some weeks each summer continuously ever since, apart from 1992-98 during which time his ministry included service in Kitui Diocese in Kenya. Among his written works is a booklet on Lough Derg, published in 1987 as part of the Irish Heritage Series. His appointments have included CC Monaghan, teaching staff St Macartan’s College, CC Carrickmacross and Clogher, before becoming PP of Ballybay (Tullycorbet) in 2004. Fr La’s areas of engagement include liturgical renewal and church music, ecumenism (he is a founder member of Fermanagh Churches Forum), and adult faith development, especially in the New Heart New Spirit programme which ran in various venues across Clogher Diocese for twelve years from 2003.

Biographical Note on Fr Owen J. McEneaney

    Fr Owen J McEneaney was born in 1961 and is a native of Raferagh in the parish of Carrickmacross, County Monaghan. Following his studies for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, he was ordained in 1984. Since then he has served as CC in Ballybay (Tullycorbet) (1984-1990), Monaghan (1990-2001), Administrator of Monaghan (Cathedral) parish (2001-2013) before his appointment as Prior of Lough Derg and Administrator of Pettigo in 2013. Fr McEneaney also undertook further studies in liturgy at the Institute for Pastoral Liturgy in Carlow during the year 1995-1996.


      On learning of his appointment as Prior of Lough Derg, Fr Flynn said; ‘My first thought is gratitude to Fr Owen McEneaney and his team at Lough Derg for their sterling work over these past four years. In a time when everyone recognises how significantly the faith-landscape in Ireland is changing, I truly believe that Lough Derg still has a unique contribution to offer, and I look forward with humility to taking on the trust that is being placed in me. To borrow some expressions beloved of Pope Francis: I intend to seek the way for Lough Derg to move ahead “in a missionary key”, reaching out from a place that is geographically “on the margins” to offer a welcome to those who feel themselves to be “on the margins”, and spiritual accompaniment to all who hear the call to be a pilgrim and who come our way as part of their journey.”

      Speaking about Lough Derg and his appointment to Tullycorbet Fr McEneaney said; ‘It was a privilege to have been part of Lough Derg and to have encountered so many wonderful people –
      particularly the pilgrims and their humble witness to faith. I am thankful to the Lough Derg team for their support and wish them and Fr La every blessing for the time ahead. I look forward to my new appointment and returning to County Monaghan’.

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