Archbishop Michael Neary to lead annual Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage

23 Jul 2013

Archbishop Michael Neary to lead annual Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage

  • Mass to be celebrated on the summit every half hour beginning at 8.00am
  • Reek Sunday pilgrimage extended to week-long celebration to mark Year of Faith and The Gathering
  • New Pilgrim Prayer card available to pilgrims

You or a representative are invited to attend the annual Reek Sunday Pilgrimage which will take place this weekend on Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick, County Mayo in the Archdiocese of Tuam. The pilgrimage has been undertaken – uninterrupted – for over 1500 years. Croagh Patrick has over 100,000 visitors annually with up to 20,000 people expected on this special weekend.

This year’s pilgrimage will be led by Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam who will be accompanied by Archbishop Charles J. Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland.  This year they will be joined by Bishop Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Achonry, who is completing the Reek Sunday pilgrimage as part of a personal Year of Faith journey of various pilgrimage sites. The bishops will begin their climb on Sunday at 7.00am.

On Saturday evening at 6.30pm Archbishop Brown will be the principal celebrant at the vigil Mass in Saint Mary’s Church, Westport to mark the beginning of the pilgrimage. Archbishop Neary will preside and will preach the homily.

On Sunday Mass will be celebrated on the summit of Croagh Patrick every half hour beginning at 8:00am, with the final Mass commencing at 2.00pm.

–          The 9.30am Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Charles J Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland

–          The 10.00am Mass will be as Gaeilge.

–          The 10.30am Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Michael Neary.

–          The 11.00am Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Brendan Kelly.

Pilgrims can avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the summit from 7.30am to 2.00pm

This year to mark the Year of Faith in the Catholic Church and The Gathering, the Reek Sunday pilgrimage has been extended to a week – long celebration, with Mass being celebrated on the summit each day during the week.  Those who register to climb the mountain on pilgrimage from Monday to Saturday will be able to avail of a specially commissioned Certificate of Completion, which is co-signed by the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. Michael Neary, and the Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, John O’Malley. The certificate will be marked with the official seal of Croagh Patrick.

Launch of new Pilgrim Prayer Card

For thousands of years pilgrims have been following in the footsteps of Saint Patrick.  They have followed the traditional stations of the Reek, however many are unaware what the traditional stations are, and this year for the first time, the stations are being produced on a handy pocket-sized, weather-proof prayer card for pilgrims to carry.  To mark the Year of Faith, Mary Connolly, the liturgist attached to Westport Parish, has composed a very reflective and comprehensive Pilgrims Prayer, which again is pocket – sized and waterproof.  This prayer card will be launched during Reek Week and made available to pilgrims who climb.

Summit Photography Sign

Most people who climb Croagh Patrick have their photograph taken at the summit.  This year for the first time a sign indicating that you are at the top of Croagh Patrick has been placed at the summit. The sign hosts the Reek Week logo, which incorporates logos of both the Gathering and the Year of Faith, and is the brainchild of Harry Hughes, chairperson of the Reek Week Committee.

Important safety note for pilgrims

Croagh Patrick is a physically demanding pilgrimage. All those who intend to make the pilgrimage climb are asked to come prepared for the changeable weather conditions, to bring suitable clothing and footwear, water, a walking stick/staff and to be mindful at all times of their own safety and the safety of other pilgrims.

An Garda Síochána are working with the Civil Defence, Order of Malta, Mayo Mountain Rescue, Marine Search and Rescue and other volunteers to ensure all visitors enjoy Reek Sunday. The Gardai will have an event management plan in place and ask pilgrims to help them by following a few guidelines:

  • Garda advise all motorists to allow adequate time for their trip & not to compromise the safety of any other road user. Pedestrians, cyclists & motor cyclists are particularly vulnerable where large crowds are gathering.
  • There will be ample car parking areas available locally on the day and visitors are asked not to park on the roadside. Visitors are also asked to be considerate to local residents when parking their cars. Please comply with directions given by Gardaí and stewards with regard to parking.
  • Please lock all valuables in the boot of your vehicle before arriving at Croagh Patrick. Be crime aware and don’t allow opportunist thieves to spoil your day.

Notes to Editors:

  • Archbishop Neary’s homily for Reek Sunday will be published by the Catholic Communications Office in advance and under embargo.
  • Croagh Patrick, (c.2,510ft/765m) Ireland’s holy mountain, dominates the landscape of southwest Mayo both spiritually and physically.  The Croagh Patrick pilgrimage is associated with our patron saint – Saint Patrick who, in 441, spent forty days and nights fasting on the summit, following the example of Christ and Moses. The name ‘Reek Sunday’ comes from Patrick’s ability to Christianise many pagan customs including the festival of Lughnasa, which previously had heralded the start of the harvest festival honouring the ancient pagan god Lugh, whose name is encompassed in the Irish word for August: Lughnasa. This festival’s tradition became absorbed into the new Christian beliefs and locally become known as Domhnach na Cruaiche (Reek Sunday).
  • For Reek Sunday 2006, Archbishop Neary and other pilgrims were accompanied by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.  As successor to Saint Patrick, Cardinal Brady was the first Archbishop of Armagh to climb the Holy Mountain since Saint Patrick.  In 2005, Archbishop Neary unveiled a plaque to mark the centenary of Saint Patrick’s Oratory on the summit.
  • Saint Patrick’s Oratory – the church on the summit of Croagh Patrick is open daily during July and August and gives pilgrims the opportunity to come in, say a prayer and light a candle, at what for many people is the goal of their journey.
  • Further information on Croagh Patrick, and a virtual tour of the mountain, can be viewed on the website of the Archdiocese of Tuam  The website of Westport parish also contains additional information about the Holy Mountain.
  • Reek Week is the brainchild of Martin Keating, Director of Services with Mayo County Council and  Johnny Groden of Murrisk Community Development.

 For media contact: Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth, Brenda Drumm 087 310 4444, Father Charlie McDonnell in Westport – Mobile (086) 8193884