On Saturday evening last, 25 June 2016, at the Vigil Mass in Saint Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan, over 200 young people from across the Diocese of Clogher were ‘sent out’ as diocesan representatives and leaders on a number of pilgrimages over the coming weeks. The young people are part of Clogher don Óige, the diocesan youth ministry that was founded in 2003 and which seeks to inspire young people to grow in esteem, confidence and faith. The journeys in which they participate include the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes; ten days of prayer at the ecumenical community of Taizé in France; and, the forthcoming World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, which will be attended by Pope Francis.
The Mass of Sending, which was presided over by Father Leo Creelman, Castleblayney, (Chaplain to Clogher don Óige and representing Bishop Liam MacDaid) emphasised that the young people are being called to fulfill the mission entrusted by Jesus to the Church to make his love and compassion known to all. In keeping with the message of Saint Pope John Paul II, these young people are answering the call of Jesus to be the hope for the future.
Preaching at the Mass Father Creelman said that the readings of the Sunday (from Gospel of Saint Luke 9:51-62) brought to mind discipleship and commitment and he related very vividly how in coming to terms with his own vocation of priesthood he had to struggle with the calls and demands of daily life in business and elsewhere. He pointed out that the young people present were also answering the call to be witnesses to Christ. Like all pilgrims, they were walking in his footsteps, symbolised by the fact that that evening they had walked from Colaiste Oiriall after their final preparation day for their respective pilgrimages.
Father Creelman pointed out that “the common denominator in all these activities is the development of faith. These young people in front of us want to follow Jesus. This evening we send our youth out from this Mass as representatives of our diocese, of our parishes, of our schools and of our families”.
Father Creelman concluded, “Their blue distinctive sports tops act as their uniform and their identity wherever they travel. The jersey bears the Clogher don Óige logo, a cross which is on the left hand side, directly over the heart.
Of those who were commissioned and sent forth last Saturday, 100 will travel to Lourdes between 6-11 July on the annual pilgrimage which will again be led by Bishop MacDaid. There they will play a pivotal role, especially for the assisted pilgrims. They will also participate in all of the exercises and liturgies of the pilgrimage to the Marian shrine. A further 80 will travel on pilgrimage to Taizé between 2-11 July. There they will join over 2,000 other young people from around the world in activities that have a strong faith emphasis. They will pray three times each day and live a basic community life, in a place that, since its foundation in 1940, has become famous for being an ecumenical space of prayer for all Christians and for its well-known chants. Later, some 12 young representatives from across the diocese will travel to Krakow for the World Youth Day between 25-31 July. This will be attended by Pope Francis. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of World Youth Day (WYD) by Saint John Paul II in 1985. It is appropriate therefore that this year’s event takes place in the city where he was the Archbishop and where he lived for much of his life. The programme for WYD will include catechetical sessions with visiting bishops, a walking pilgrimage to the event site, celebrations of the sacrament of reconciliation, the sacrament of Eucharist and other occasions of prayer, including a Saturday evening vigil of prayer with Pope Francis. The WYD will conclude on Sunday 31 July with a Mass after which the venue of the next will be announced. In addition, many of the young people will participate in three Assume Summer Camps organised for Newscastle, Co Down later in the summer.
Among those commissioned on Saturday last were over 30 trained leaders who voluntarily give up their time over the summer to be with the young people. Most of these have been on similar pilgrimages in the recent past and have all undergone leadership training and faith formation, provided by Clogher don Óige.