Father La Flynn, Prior of Lough Derg has invited visitors to the island known as the Sanctuary of Saint Patrick to pray for the right to life of the unborn child ahead of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment on 25 May.
Welcoming the initiative, Father Flynn said, ‘One of the blessings of ministry on Lough Derg for me has been the learning in how to listen: to listen beyond the immediate opening words of the conversation to hear the deeper matters and the often painful concerns that underlie them. In the referendum, voters will face a yes or no choice about the present constitutional guarantee of equal regard for the right to life of a mother and her unborn baby. As the date approaches, I am inviting the Lough Derg Family of pilgrims and friends to become deep listeners in every conversation that arises for them around this choice.’
He continued, ‘Can we learn to listen deeply enough to hear with true compassion the distress that can be felt by parents, especially mothers, who face an unwelcome or difficult pregnancy, and at the same time to hear the faint heartbeat that can be detected when a baby is 22 days old in its mother’s womb? Only a society that can learn to listen to both of these, and to love them both, will be able for the journey beyond the referendum, whatever the choice that the electorate will make. The deeper issues and the values behind them will not go away when the votes have been counted.’
‘I ask you to join me in prayer that the protection offered by the Irish Constitution to unborn human life may not be set aside. And pray with me also for mothers and fathers of children still in the womb, and especially for those whose unborn child may be particularly vulnerable because of difficult circumstances in which its parents find themselves. May these parents, and all to whom they may turn for advice and help, be filled by the Holy Spirit with understanding of all that is at stake for their unborn baby and with courage to do what is truly life-giving.’
Father Flynn also invited the faithful to read the pastoral message of Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, Compassion with both eyes open.
The island Sanctuary of 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. In 1780 Lough Derg came under the custodianship of the Diocese of Clogher.
Lough Derg pilgrimage season for 2018 opened on Saturday 5 May, with One Day Retreats continuing until the end of the month. Three Day Pilgrimage season will take place between Friday 1 June and 15 August.
The three-day pilgrimage follows a 1000-year-old pattern of prayer. Over the course of the three days, pilgrims will take part in various spiritual activities, including a 24-hour vigil and the completion of nine ‘Station’ prayers at various locations on the island, along with fasting and prayer and reflection in bare feet.
For more information, please see www.loughderg.org.