A group of parishioners joined the Parish of Saintfield annual one day retreat to Saint Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg on Saturday 8th September 2012.
The coach left Kircubbin at 6am and we were joined by pilgrims from Portaferry, Newtownards, Downpatrick and also our hosts, Saintfield. Our Priest leader this year was Father Vincent McKay who hails from Saintfield and has been on the missions in Brazil with the Holy Ghost Fathers or Spiritans as they are now called. Good time was made on our journey and Father Vincent led us in the Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary which we said in honour of Our Lady’s Birthday. Shortly after the rosary we reached Omagh for our rest and coffee break.
Our day on the island consisted of Opening Prayers, the Way of the Cross, Prayers of Intercession which were said while walking around the outside of the Basilica to remind us of the traditional Lough Derg pilgrimage exercises. Then we said the Angelus which was followed by a talk on Reconciliation and Healing of Memories in preparation for the Sacrament of Penance.
Lunch was then provided by the island staff and shortly afterwards it was time for Confession in Davog House. When confessions were all heard we had our Mass which was concelebrated by two of the island’s priests along with two pilgrim priests. After the final hymn of Mass it was time to say our farewells to the island and head back to the ‘mainland’ on the boats to where our coach was waiting for us. After a short journey into Pettigo we stopped to get ice cream before hitting the road home again. A long but enjoyable day was had by all and we were blessed with warm and dry weather.
The island now has its own museum showing artifacts from Lough Derg’s history including the vestments that were worn in days gone by. On the lough shore beside the statue of Saint Patrick, sits the Healing Stone which was blessed at the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in June 2012.