The Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, made his first visit to Ireland’s ancient Christian shrine of Lough Derg, Co Donegal, on Saturday last to take part in the annual Clogher Diocesan One-Day Retreat at the world-famous place of pilgrimage. Archbishop Okolo was accompanied by the First Secretary at the Papal Nunciature, Monsignor Piotr Tarnawski as well as the religious sisters who assist there. They were greeted on arrival by the Prior of Lough Derg, Fr La Flynn and by the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Clogher, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness.
Several hundred people took part in the retreat, which was led by members of the Lough Derg team, Maureen Boyle and Mary McDaid, together with Fr Flynn. The day featured periods of meditation, prayer, talks, time for the sacrament of reconciliation and the praying of the Way of the Cross in the beautiful basilica of St Patrick, with its windows by Harry Clarke which depict the moments of Jesus’ passion and death. In the afternoon, the Papal Nuncio was the chief celebrant of the Mass, assisted by a number of priests from across the diocese and elsewhere. Archbishop Okolo gave a very moving and hope-filled homily. Prayers were offered for the success of the process that is underway for the selection of a new bishop for the Diocese of Clogher. The diocese has been without a bishop since the retirement of Bishop Liam MacDaid in October 2016.
The one-day retreats at Lough Derg will recommence on the weekend of 18/19 August. The three-day pilgrimage season begins on Friday 1 June and lasts until 15 August. The three-day pilgrimage is a programme of prayer, fasting (one simple Lough Derg meal each day) walking bare-footed and 24hr Vigil. Without shoes and sleep and little food, people are confronted with the essential aspects of life. People can often discover hidden strengths and rediscover what really matters in life. For more information, visit www.loughderg.org or call 00353 (0) 71 9861518.