Seeking Strength and Finding Hope on the Sanctuary of Lough Derg

14 Sep, 2017 | News

‘Seeking Strength – Finding Hope’ is the theme of the ‘Living With Suicide’ one-day retreat taking place on Lough Derg on Saturday 30 September. The retreat day, which is in its fifth year, is offered to those who have been affected by suicide and to those working in the area of suicide prevention.

Speakers and facilitators at this year’s retreat are Father Cathal Deery, a priest of the diocese of Clogher; Mr Mark H Durkan, Social Democratic Labour Party politician and Joan Freeman, founder of Pieta House.

Fr Cathal Deery is the Clogher Diocesan resource person for Suicide. He is also involved in a number of suicide awareness groups and initiatives both sides of the border. He is also a member of the ministry team on Lough Derg.

Mark H Durkan was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011, representing the Foyle Constituency, Mark is a Social Democratic Labour Party politician. Mark will speak on his life’s experience following the loss of his sister to suicide over five years ago. He is greatly involved in community work and regularly gives of his time to charitable causes. He is married with two children.

Joan Freeman founded and then went on to facilitate Pieta House, an organisation she says that really was created by the people of Ireland. Married to Pat for 35 years, Joan has four adult children. She works part-time as a psychologist and her passion is bringing awareness of the life-saving service of Pieta House to the rest of the world.

Speaking ahead of the event Father Cathal Deery said, “Suicide touches everybody regardless of whether you have faith or not. It is no respecter of age, gender, background, class or religious denomination. This special day on the Island Sanctuary of Lough Derg offers those affected by suicide, either through personal loss or with suicidal ideation and those working in support services or who minister to the suicide bereaved, the opportunity for deeper understanding and support to make sense of it all. Lough Derg welcomes everyone. Living with the impact of suicide requires strength for the long haul and support can be even more important the longer time passes.”

Father Cathal went on to reflect on his own ministry on Lough Derg. He said, “Every year I encounter more people who live with the struggles of suicide and who search for answers to their questions. Many people come to the Island seeking help and searching for meaning for what is happening in their lives. But equally so, we are aware that many people live in silence and isolation.

“Anyone who has been affected in any way by suicide, including those who minister and support in this area are welcome. We invite you to come and listen, come as you are to this safe place, a place where no one is judged and where all are equal.”

Explaining the focus of the retreat day, Father Cathal said, “This day is not a conference in the secular sense of the world but rather to invite people to come to a safe place where they might find some sense of healing and peace in the midst of pain and struggle. What is very important is that there is no expectation on anyone who attends to say or share anything. There will be no other activities on the island during the day.”

The programme for the day is as follows:

Boats available from 9.15am
9.30 – 10.00am – Arrival on Island (Tea/Coffee etc.)
10.30am – Welcome
11.00am – Mark H Durkan (speaker)
11.50am – Comfort Break
12.00 noon – Joan Freeman (speaker)
12.50pm – Prayer
1.00pm – Lunch
2.30pm – Reflection, Comments, Questions
3.00pm – Mass
3.45pm – Departure

The cost for the retreat day is €40/£35 per person (includes return boat, refreshments and lunch).

Advance booking essential. For more information or to book contact Sharon or Maureen on 071 986 1518 or email [email protected].

The Island Sanctuary of Lough Derg is currently overseen by the Prior, the Very Rev Owen J McEneaney, a priest of the Clogher Diocese. St Patrick’s Sanctuary, Lough Derg, Pettigo, Co Donegal.  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. Since the 7th Century this Island has been a place of pilgrimage.

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