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Appeal for priests to assist in this year’s Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage season

The Annual National Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick or ‘Reek Sunday’ has been extended to incorporate the whole month of July. Those who wish to fulfil the ‘Reek Sunday’ obligations can do so from Wednesday to Saturday each week during July.

To this end a greater number of priests are needed to climb the Reek on one or more of the pilgrimage dates in July in order to hear Confessions and celebrate Mass on the summit.  Organisers aim to have two priests on the summit on any given day.  Any priest making the pilgrimage will have accommodation and breakfast provided for them in Westport the night before they climb should they require it. 

Commenting on the preparations for Reek Sunday, Father Charlie McDonnell said, “Pilgrimage has always been a strong vehicle for both petition and thanksgiving and, in 2021, above any year, we are delighted to offer and extended Reek Pilgrimage acknowledging and giving thanks for the fact that we journey very much under the protective hand of God.

“Each year, while all of the spiritual benefits of the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage have been available to pilgrims from June to September, up to now the Sacraments have only been available on Reek Sunday.  This year, due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, it would be impossible to facilitate the pilgrimage on one day only so I am arranging to greatly extend provision of the Sacraments for pilgrims throughout the month of July.  It is my dear hope that this unprecedented and adventurous undertaking will provide all those who wish to come to Ireland’s Holy Mountain as pilgrims to do so safely and in their own time. 

“For generations, the annual Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage has held a central place in the life of the Church in Ireland and I am delighted that an extended version will be available next month.  Reek Pilgrimage 2021 is an exciting and ambitious project to undertake and will require great generosity on the part of lay volunteers and priests alike.  It is wonderful to be in a position to go ahead under very clear health management guidelines and I encourage all pilgrims to enter into it in a way that makes it a success for all involved.”

Beginning Thursday, 1 July and ending Saturday, 31 July, the pilgrimage times and dates are as follows:

Wednesday to Friday: 

Confessions before Mass from 11 to 11:45am

Mass at 12 noon

Confessions after Mass from 12:45 to 1:15pm

Saturday: ​​

Mass at 10am 

Confessions after Mass from 10:45 to 11:30am

Archbishop Michael Neary will celebrate Mass at 6.30pm on 24 July, in Saint Mary’s Church, Westport. 

Priests interested in assisting with this year’s pilgrimage season can contact Father Charlie McDonnell by email at [email protected].

Notes to Editors

  • Croagh Patrick, Ireland`s holy mountain, (2,510ft/765m) lies within the parish of Westport about 8km outside of the town.  Croagh Patrick dominates the landscape of southwest Mayo both spiritually and physically.  The Croagh Patrick pilgrimage is associated with Saint Patrick who, in 441AD, spent 40 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. The festival’s tradition became absorbed into the new Christian beliefs and locally become known as Domhnach na Cruaiche (Reek Sunday).  The Reek pilgrimage has been undertaken for 1,500 years and an estimated 100,000 pilgrims visit the holy mountain annually.  A virtual tour of the mountain can be viewed on the website of the Archdiocese of Tuam www.tuamarchdiocese.org.
  • The Masses will be limited to the numbers permitted for outdoor gatherings at that particular time, which currently apply to 100 people up to 4 July and 200 people from 5 July.
  • The Reek Pilgrimage normally takes place on the last Sunday in July, however the indulgence for the pilgrimage extends throughout the summer months up to the end of September.
  • Details of how to fulfil the spiritual requirements of the pilgrimage are available on www.westportparish.ie and on signage in the carpark at the start of the ascent.
  • Pilgrims are asked to plan their trip to Croagh Patrick as early as possible and keep in mind that mid-week is traditionally a quieter time to climb.
  • Please familiarize yourself with advice on www.westportparish.ie www.mayomountainrescue.ie and www.mountaineering.ie as well as checking the weather on www.met.ie
  • Please remember that all Covid-19 guidelines and precautions followed on the ground must also be followed on the mountain.

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Brenda Drumm +353 (0) 87 310 4444 or Oisin Walsh +353 (0) 86 167 9504

 

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