Lough Derg has opened for the 2017 pilgrimage seaso. Lough Derg, the sacred Sanctuary of Saint Patrick, is very much a living part of Irish Christian Heritage. A unique island, rich in prayer and faith, an island which has been calling pilgrims for over a thousand years, an island which Saint Patrick himself was called to. Lough Derg lies about four miles north of the village of Pettigo in County Donegal. Station Island, the location of the Pilgrimage, is often referred to as Saint Patrick’s Purgatory or simply Lough Derg is set in calm lake waters, offers no distraction, no artificialities or interruptions. Instead you are warmly welcomed and cared for.
The island, made holy by the prayers of millions of pilgrims over the centuries, continues to provide a safe haven for rest, reflection and renewal to all who wish to ‘Come away to a quiet place and rest a while’ (Mark 6:31).
For many people Lough Derg provides an opportunity to step back from their lives, to take stock and examine the direction which their lives are taking. For many others it is a time to come closer to God through prayer and reflection.
The island will reopen to welcome pilgrims for the 2017 pilgrimage season on Sunday 1 May. The staff on Lough Derg are extending a special invitation to pilgrims to join them in this Jubilee Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis. Saint Patrick’s Basilica on Lough Derg will be a Jubilee Church and those who make a pilgrimage to Lough Derg can cross through the Holy Door of Mercy there.
The sacred space and peaceful setting make the Island a truly extraordinary place to celebrate the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. Walking on the hallowed ground, feeling the energy of the prayers of millions of pilgrims and being touched by the grace of this sacred Island is part of the experience. On crossing over to the Island a calm descends upon people as they join with others, falling into the centuries-old ritual of reflection and prayer, switching off and gaining an overwhelming sense of serenity and ease – an antidote to the stresses of modern living.
The full list of pilgrimage dates for both the one day retreats and the three day pilgrimage season are as follows:
ONE DAY RETREATS
Saturday 6, 13, 20, 27
Sunday Dates 7, 14, 21, 28
Monday Dates 1, 22, 29
Tuesday Dates 9, 16,
Sunday 20, 27
Monday 21, 28
Tuesday 22, 29
Saturday 2, 9, 16, 23
Sunday 3, 17, 24
Tuesday 5, 12
One Day Retreats enable a much wider audience to enjoy the sanctity of this island made holy through centuries of Pilgrim Prayer. Find out more about the One Day Retreat Programme here
THREE DAY PILGRIMAGE
Pilgrims can begin the Three Day Pilgrimage on any day during the Three Day Pilgrimage Season, which typically runs during the summer months. In 2017 the first day is Thursday 1 June continuing until Sunday 13 August. The Three Day Pilgrimage season ends on Tuesday 15 August 2017. Find out more about the Three Day Pilgrimage here
Lough Derg also plays host to a number of quiet days and special pilgrimages. These will continue for 2017 as follows:
A self-directed day in the peaceful sacred island of Lough Derg is offered on Monday 5 May 2017
and on Friday 1 September 2017.
FAMILY DAY RETREAT
A day dedicated to Families offering the opportunity to renew the family relationship with God. The Family Day will be hosted on Friday 18 August 2017.
DAY OF FRIENDSHIP & PRAYER
An Ecumenical day of friendship and prayer offers the occasion to gather in an ancient place of pilgrimage, and to pray in company with other Christians across the religious traditions. The Day of Friendship & Prayer will be on Wednesday 13 September 2017.
LIVING WITH SUICIDE DAY RETREAT
This is a special day on the Island and is for anyone affected by suicide, bereaved by suicide, working in the area of suicide awareness and prevention, those working in schools, clergy working in parishes, or those in emergency medicine. Full details of the Living with Suicide Day on Saturday 30 September will be detailed here nearer the time.
If you wish to find out more about the 2017 season or if you wish to organise a group to make a pilgrimage to the island for a One Day Retreat or a Group Tour the staff on Lough Derg will be delighted to help you.