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Reek Sunday pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick is cancelled

By Susan Gately - 26 July, 2015

Archbishop Michael Neary

Archbishop Michael Neary

For the first time, the annual “Reek Sunday” pilgrimage at Croagh Patrick Co Mayo, has been cancelled today due to adverse weather conditions. Met Éireann is forecasting heavy rain with isolated thunderstorms.

The decision was taken following consultation with different agencies, including the Mayo Mountain Rescue, Mayo County Council, Civil Defence and the Gardaí.

While the mountain is a public place and so cannot be closed to climbers, the strong advice is for people not to make the journey. Thousands of pilgrims were due to make the climb today and celebrate mass on its summit.

Instead masses will be celebrated at the nearby St Patrick’s Church in Lecanvey instead.

Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary said it was disappointing that “Reek Sunday” had been cancelled: “There will be mass and confession available. Mass will be available every half hour in Lecanvey Church, which is just a little bit west of Croagh Patrick.”

“It’s disappointing that the pilgrimage has been cancelled. I’m not aware that it has ever been cancelled before and I have been climbing this mountain since I was a young lad many, many years ago,” Dr Neary added.

At the vigil mass last night, Archbishop Neary addressed the theme of faith and hope.

We live in a consumerist culture where artificially generated needs are met by over produced and over-advertised goods, the Archbishhop of Tuam has said.

“Religious faith ought to be a protest against rather than an acceptance of this situation and ensure that we do not substitute the politically correct for genuine values, the distinction between right and wrong. Surely, the acid test of any society or indeed of any faith is the care it takes of the disadvantaged, as it hears the silent cry of the afflicted, the lonely, the marginalised, the poor and the powerless and responds to them?” he asked in a homily yesterday evening in advance of Reek Sunday today.

Do we undervalue faith today? he asked. “There is much that religious faith can contribute to the collective conversation of where we have come from, where we are now and where we are heading.”

The more diverse society becomes, the more we need to reflect on what holds us together, he said.

“We are faced with the challenge of respecting cultural and religious diversity while at the same time promoting the common good. It is in families and communities that we first learn to become responsible. Faith, family and community are closely interrelated. The neglect of one has serious implications for the other.”

Archbishop Neary said that often the impression was given in society of an “irreconcilable and unbridgeable difference” between faith and life. Extreme voices got attention, consensus was frequently dismissed. Civil society required a willingness to listen to those with different world views, but often perspectives coming from a faith perspective were “dismissed as ‘judgemental’”.

“But in truth the Christian faith is built on a foundation of love, which seeks to include everyone, especially those in the margins,” he said.

Pilgrims climbing Croagh Patrick

Pilgrims climbing Croagh Patrick

“Religious faith provides us with the courage to make judgements and commend some ways of life while drawing attention to shortcomings of others,” he said. “People need to be supported in their efforts to maintain a way of life which may not be supported by the opinion polls today.”

This was not an argument for nostalgia or a return to the past, but a call to  summon up the courage to acknowledge how faith and religion can contribute to “rebuilding a consensus.”

Reminding his listeners of the courage of St Patrick, Archbishop Neary said he proclaimed God’s message with “power and conviction”.  “Patrick teaches us how to view the details of our lives, or our culture and of our surroundings as part of the work of God. He is confronted by trials, betrayal and hardship. Yet his writings reflect a tremendous sense of inner peace and confidence in the help of God.”

He went on: “Patrick confronted discouragement with the hope of the gospel. And if there is one thing we all need in Ireland today surely it is hope, and that hope comes directly from Jesus Christ.”

rchbishop Neary called on Christians to “light a candle of hope for people who live in a dark world”.
“Like Saint Patrick we too are challenged to march to a different drummer and answer a Gospel call that is profoundly counter-cultural, because the primary ideological voices of our time are the voices of autonomy, to do one’s own thing, self-fulfilment. Patrick calls us to self-transcend and therefore to a fulfilment beyond this world’s dreams.”

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