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Jubilee Pilgrimage to Lough Derg

This week the Irish Province of the Dominican Order undertook our penitential pilgrimage to Lough Derg. (Lough Derg is an island in Co. Donegal. It has been a place of pilgrimage for well over one thousand years. Some claim that St. Patrick himself spent time doing penance on the island).

Part of the biblical theology regarding a Jubilee year involves the people asking for mercy while acknowledging their sins. We in Ireland have a unique opportunity within the Order to make this aspect of the Jubilee very concrete. No other province has a place like Lough Derg. (The pilgrimage takes three days to complete. During those three days one is only allowed to eat dry bread and drink black tea of coffee once each day. The first thing you do on reaching the island is to remove all foot wear. You walk bare footed for the three days. There are many other  penitential practices during the days and night. One is not allowed to sleep for one 24 hour period as one keeps vigil).  Therefore when arranging the Province’s year of the Jubilee of the Order, especially during this Extraordinary Year of Mercy for the Universal Church, we decided to have a Pilgrimage to Lough Derg.

On Monday the 13th twelve brothers joined together to undertake the pilgrimage. We joined over 150 other pilgrims, who were already on the ‘Station Island’ or who started their three day pilgrimage at the same time as us.  Some especially came in an answer to our call to join us in prayer and penance as part of our jubilee celebrations, among whom was a parishioner from St. Vincent Ferrer parish in New York City, she saw the pilgrimage advertised while holidaying in Ireland and decided to join the friars.  

No one who has undertaken the three day pilgrimage on Lough Derg would be expected to say that it is a joyful occasion. It is a unique experience to share time with God and the others pilgrims, and the fruits of this brave enterprise are manifold. It was an excellent time of prayer, community and friendship and while the merits for the individual, the Dominican Order and the Church as a whole cannot be measured, we trust in God that they will be bountiful.

It was an unique way to celebrate the jubilee.

Please find some photo’s of the pilgrimage below:

 

Pilgrimage to Lough Derg

Part of the biblical theology regarding the Jubilee year always involved the people in asking for mercy while acknowledging their sins. We in Ireland have a unique opportunity within the Order to make this aspect of the Jubilee very concrete. No other province has a place like Lough Derg. Therefore when arranging the Province’s year of the Jubilee of the Order, especially during this Extraordinary Year of Mercy for the Universal Church, we decided to have a Pilgrimage to Lough Derg.

This pilgrimage will follow the schedule as practiced in Lough Derg. We will gather on the blessed island on Monday 13 June and leave on Wednesday 15 June. We invite you to join us during these days of renewal in the spirit of the preaching of grace of Our Holy father St. Dominic in the midst of this year of mercy.

“Yet we too, sons and daughters of the Church, have sinned and have hindered the Bride of Christ from shining forth in all her beauty. Our sin has impeded the Spirit’s working in the hearts of many people. Our meagre faith has meant that many have lapsed into apathy and been driven away from a true encounter with Christ.

I ask that in this year of mercy the Church, strong in the holiness which she receives from her Lord, should kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters. All have sinned and none can claim righteousness before God (cf. 1 Kgs 8:46). Let it be said once more without fear: “We have sinned” (Jer 3:25), but let us keep alive the certainty that “where sin increased, grace abounded even more” (Rom 5:20).” (Pope John Paul II)

Post Lough Derk

Jubilee celebration in Belfast

On the 1st of May the Dominican Family of Belfast celebrated with great joy the 800th Jubilee of the Order. Dominican Friars first arrived in the Diocese of Down and Connor in 1244 founding a convent at Newtownards, north of Belfast City. The Priory was destroyed during the persecutions of the 1600s and the friars fled for safety living in small houses of refuge in Castlewellan and Moneyscalp. In these places they ministered to the local people often celebrating the Holy Mass on Mass Rocks hidden deep in the countryside. The last friars left in the 1840s ending a long history in the diocese. In 1870 Bishop Dorian of Down and Connor invited the Dominican Sisters to the city of Belfast to open schools for girls and in time a teacher training college was founded. To this day, St. Dominic’s and Fortwilliam College are the leading schools for the education of girls in the city and the county.

Along with the arriving of the Dominican Sisters, fraternities of Lay Dominicans were founded and to this day Belfast has four thriving Lay Dominican Chapters, at the Cathedral of St. Peter, St. Dominic’s Convent, Falls Road, Fortwilliam and St. Brigid’s Parish on the Malone Road.

The celebration of the Jubilee was organised by the members of the Lay Dominicans Chapters in Belfast City. The day began with Solemn Mass at the Convent Chapel in Fortwilliam. The Principle Celebrant and Preacher was Fr. John Walsh, O.P., Promoter for the Dominican Family in Ireland and the Mass was concelebrated by Dominican friars and local clergy. Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor presided in choir and spoke after the final prayer, thanking the Order and its many branches for its contribution to the faith and education in the city and diocese. Fortwilliam College Choir accompanied the Mass with beautiful singing, much to the pleasure of congregation.

After the Mass refreshments were served in the college and a talk was given on the role of the Lay Dominican in the modern world by Mr. Damien McDonnell, O.P., President of the Lay Dominican Chapter in Kilkenny.

Following the talk vespers was sung in the choir of the Convent Chapel.

This great celebration marked not only the joy of the Lay Dominicans fraternities but also the enduring presence of the Order in the Diocese from 1244 to the present time.

History of the Irish Province

This year the Dominican Order celebrates their 800th Jubilee of the foundation of the order.

This short video gives some history of the Irish Province since the Dominicans arrived in Ireland almost 800 years ago in 1224.

Opening of the Jubilee Year – 800 Years Dominicans

This short video gives an impression of the celebration of the start of the 800 years Jubilee of the Dominican Order. Many of the brethren came from all over Ireland to share in the celebration which included two talks, one on the history of the Irish Province, and a second on the Theology of Jubilee in the Old Testament. After the two talks there were was Solemn Vespers and a feastive dinner.