Croagh Patrick: 25,000 make annual pilgrimmage

Up to 25,000 pilgrims today made the annual trek to the summit of Croagh Patrick.

Up to 25,000 pilgrims today made the annual trek to the summit of Croagh Patrick.

Led by Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary, the ascent up the 2,510ft mountain began in the village of Murrisk in Co Mayo at 7am.

Mayo Mountain Rescue said weather conditions were good for the climb, with only a small number of minor injuries reported.

In a Mass service at the summit, the Archbishop told pilgrims that despite wealth and prosperity, people have not found inner joy.

“Today consumer values are often not creatively interpreted,” he said in the first services to be televised from the top of the mountain.

“True, they can seduce and reduce everything to wealth and security. The truly reflective person learns from this and probes deeper. In the midst of our recent wealth and prosperity we failed to find the inner joy, peace and faith that we might have expected.

“Faith enables and encourages us to search for meaning in the particular call we have received from God.”

The pilgrimage – which has been carried out uninterrupted for more than 1,500 years – is traditionally held on the last Sunday in July. Some 100,000 people now climb Croagh Patrick throughout each year.

Hundreds of first aid, civil defence and mountain rescue personnel were on duty during the day to assist the pilgrims, many who have climbed barefoot up the Reek, as it is known locally.

The mountain has been traditionally associated with St Patrick who, in 441, is said to have spent 40 days and nights fasting on the summit.

As the Catholic Church strives to attract more young men to the priesthood, the theme of this year’s climb was vocation.

The Archbishop said vocation is a call to witness, service and love and urged people to ask themselves if God could be calling them to life as a priest or as a religious sister or brother.

“It is not so much about what we do but about who we are and how we live our lives,” he continued.

“In years gone by this would have focused solely on the call to religious life or priesthood but now we realise that through our baptism, we are all called to live out our lives in whatever vocation or ministry we find ourselves.

“Today the priest is expected to be a man of courage, energy and compassion who wades into the impossible and makes things new. His ministry is a life-long struggle to open up the world to God’s power and thereby transform human relationships.

“His pastoral task is one of empowering others as he stands free and hope-filled in a world that is fearful.

“A new generation of priests will spring up when they see the full living of the Christian life in their homes, their schools, in their work places and parish communities.

“Only then will they be prompted to give themselves to radical service of Christian people.”

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