Friday 13th July dawned bright and fresh as we hit the road westwards for County Mayo with a prayer that our drivers would take us safely to our destination! After a somewhat long journey, broken by a stop or two to admire the scenery of the various counties we traversed, we finally made it to our meeting point in Newport for a picnic lunch with those who had managed to get a long weekend off.
Fortified by our lunch, we then headed for Achill Sound where Sean had organised hired bikes for an exhilarating ride back to Newport. As we cycled the Great Western Greenway which was once an old railway, we passed through some beautiful bog land between lakes and mountains before reaching Mulranny for the traditional stop for ice-cream overlooking the spectacular scenery of Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick. Mounting our bikes again, we attempted to reach the Greenway again on two wheels...alas only the boys made it to the top of the hill in one piece with one girl who will remain unnamed falling off her bike in slow motion as her machine came parallel with the hill on a sharp turn! After following the coastline from the hills above Mulranny, a second stop had to be made by one and all at Nevin's to quench our thirst and this time everyone made it back onto the Greenway in one piece. The lads then sped on ahead to make sure they had time to stop for tea at a tea shop before arriving at our destination....a proper tea shop with tea pots and tea cups apiece....meanwhile the girls sailed calmly by to win the race into Newport.....slow and steady wins the race! Back at Valley Lodge Hostel which Dominic had kindly booked for the night, we had dinner which we finished off with Tim Tams all the way from Down Under before tuning up for choir practice for the following morning.
Saturday morning saw us back on the road in the rain and mist heading for Knock where we said a rosary in the Apparition Chapel to ask Our Lady for the grace to make a good pilgrimage up the Reek. At 10am Mass at St. Patrick's Church in Lecanvey, Fr. Ockerse reminded us that a pilgrimage is three things: a spiritual work, a prayer and a way of doing penance to atone for sin or to obtain graces. This prompted us to form our intentions for this pilgrimage at Holy Mass. We began to climb Croagh Patrick while reciting the Rosary together before the fitter galloped ahead! A nice cloud of mist sitting on the peak all day provided us with some extra penance in the cold and wind and hopefully allowed us to gain some extra graces. We finished off the day with a well deserved BBQ and singalong before night prayers.
After Mass at Corpus Christi in Athlone on Sunday morning where the group helped serve and sing, we headed to Moate to venerate the relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and those of her parents. Following this, Father gave an introductory talk to a series of conferences that he will give on the next few young adults weekends on the eight Beatitudes. Father outlined what the Beatitudes are: positive rules of life for practising virtue that are applicable to us all and that will bring us joy if practised well. These were embodied by the Saints in different ways and are therefore our models. He will speak of each of the Beatitudes in more detail in the conferences to follow. The weekend then drew to an official close with Father giving us his priestly blessing for a safe journey home. May we all live up to the ideals of Comhaltas Chríost Rí and keep fighting the good fight until we next meet again on 4th August for the study day!
Chronicle by Therese McKeown