Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy


The Year Of Consecrated Life: A Pilgrim Walk In West Cork

At 10.30am on Sunday the 21st of June, a group of female and male religious met in Ballingeary, Co Cork and set out on a prayerful pilgrimage to the 6th century monastery of St. Finbarr in Gougane Barra. This event was one of the activities organised by CORI for the Year of Consecrated Life.  Fr. Pat Rogers cp organised and led the pilgrimage and was accompanied by Fr. Peter Rodgers ofm cap, Director General of CORI.  A local guide, Tomas O’hAoidh, entertained us with historical facts and many myths and stories about the landscape and times past.

Sisters from the Southern and the South Central Provinces attended as well as religious from other congregations. As we walked over the hills to Gougane Barra, with rucksacks on our backs, we had time for silence and time for chatting to friends. We had time to admire the beauty of the boulders left after the ice age and time to appreciate the trees, wild flowers, sheep and cattle and to feel the sun and the wind on our faces.

Pause for Prayer

We stopped a number of times during our walk for prayers and reflections. On our first stop our prayer recognised the desire to take the pilgrim way, and that we would remain faithful along the way. Regardless of whatever we encountered as we travelled we would “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.”

Srs. Mary OLA, Regina Power, Pauline Murphy & Margaret Twomey

Elsewhere we prayed that we would “travel unhindered by worldly possessions” simply trusting in the provider of all things for what we need. In our prayer we recognised: while “sometimes our hearts will be heavy as we plod along and our feet may ache and our bones be weary,” at other times we would “rejoice as the sun shines on our path.”

Gougane Barra

And as we neared our destination we prayed for the blessings of the Trinity – that the One who creates would guide our footsteps, the One who redeems would share our journey and the One who sanctifies would lead us on life’s way.

Srs. Eileen McSweeney, Martina, Pauline Murphy, Lily O’Byrne, Bishop J. Buckley, Sr. Joan O’Regan & Fr. P. Rogers outside St. Finbarr’s Oratory

When we arrived at the Oratory in Gougane, two and a half hours later, Bishop Buckley joined us in the celebration of Mass. During the Mass we sang, “Wake up the World Today”, which was composed by Marie Dunne CHF, for the Year of Consecrated Life. Our physical hunger was satisfied in Lucey’s Hotel, where we enjoyed soup, sandwiches, tea and coffee. Some drove back to Ballingeary to pick up their cars, but rumour has it that some lively souls wanted to continue the pilgrimage and walked back to Ballingeary!

Eileen McSweeney
Southern Province

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