Over 300 people from across the Diocese of Clogher were in Lourdes, on pilgrimage at the place in the south-west of France where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette in 1858. The pilgrims were led by the Bishop of Clogher, Bishop Larry Duffy. This was his first time to lead the pilgrimage, which has been a feature of diocesan life since the early 1970s. In a message to pilgrims the Bishop of Clogher noted that it was 36 years since he had been there, and little did he think then that one day he would be leading the pilgrimage as a bishop. "Pilgrimage reminds us of the journey of life, a journey towards God and with God," he said.

Lourdes is a special place for the sick and there were 25 assisted-pilgrims among those who travelled. Included in the numbers of pilgrims too were nine priests and 72 representatives of Clogher don Óige, the diocesan youth ministry of Clogher. In addition, there were 60 staff members, including medical personnel and support team, helpers and leaders. Putting all of this in place is an organisational feat for which the Lourdes Pilgrimage Committee deserve much credit.

The programme included two Masses at the Grotto, the anointing of the sick, the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other devotions such as the Way of the Cross and the famous Torchlight procession. On the first full day at Lourdes, the Clogher pilgrims joined with pilgrims from Derry and Galloway for Mass at the Grotto where Our Lady appeared. The preacher at that Mass was Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, whose grandfather hailed from Emyvale. The traditional photo of the pilgrimage group was taken after that Mass.

A new feature of this year’s pilgrimage was the inclusion of Eucharistic Adoration/Holy Hour, which was led by Father Raymond Donnelly, Enniskillen. This was greatly appreciated by the pilgrims. The celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation was led by Canon Macartan McQuaid and on Monday morning the Mass was prepared by Clogher don Óige pilgrims, with Father Leo Creelman, Monaghan, as chief celebrant.