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Reek Sunday – part of a faith that is a living reality

By Cian Molloy - 30 July, 2017

Archbishop Michael Neary

Our faith has a heritage of values that is not confined to the past but is “a living and relevant reality” Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam told pilgrims participating in this year’s Reek Sunday.

Speaking on the 765 m high summit of Croagh Patrick, Archbishop Neary said that in contrast with consumerist society, Ireland’s holy mountain presents “an occasion whereby we may access an alternative set of values”.

“We are living at a time when there seems to be no limits to individual choice and human progress,” he said in his homily. “We are part of a vast sea of change over which we have very little control. Many feel disorientated, threatened and traumatised. It is easy to become cynical.

“Religion ought to provide us with an opportunity to acknowledge and address the deeper issues of meaning and purpose in life and the dignity of each person. Religious faith enables and encourages us to ask deeper questions, which are frequently ignored – why we are here and what kind of world do we wish to create and hand on to those who come after us. It is easy to undervalue faith, frequently dismissing the faith perspective of life. Faith has a heritage of values that are not confined to the past but have a living and relevant reality.

“Faith gives people a sense of dignity and worth that is not determined by what they earn or own. Faith, family and community are very closely interrelated and the neglect of one impinges on the others.”

Pilgrims ascend Croagh Patrick

The Archbishop continued: “In our society laws affect the way in which we view behaviour as acceptable or unacceptable. While the insights of our faith should not be imposed on the laws of our society, to disregard what is associated with faith will have implications for human life and human rights.”

Dr Neary said: “The lessons we learn on this mountain need to be rooted in our everyday routine. These lessons call for great and unselfish teamwork when the person who finds the going tough is granted a helping hand, when the one who stumbles and falls is set on their feet again, when the climber who is confused and runs the risk of getting lost in the swirling mist is welcomed back into the group.

“May our pilgrimage enable us to stand back and take a clear, critical, but constructive, look at the direction in which our society is moving today.”

While good footwear and suitable clothing were strongly recommended for those scaling the mountain, many have chosen to make the journey barefoot. A plenary indulgence is gained by all those who complete the pilgrimage and who receive both the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist within 48 hours of climbing the mountain.

A virtual tour of Croagh Patrick can be accessed via the website of Tuam Diocese:


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