SUNDAY, 21 MAY, 2000

As part of the celebrations to mark the year 2000, the National Day of Pilgrimage was celebrated in the Archdiocese of Armagh on the afternoon of Sunday, 21 May, with Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh at 3.00pm. Cardinal Brady was the chief-celebrant and preacher. The Cathedral was packed to overflowing, each parish having been allocated several tickets.

Inner Journey

In his introductory words at the Mass Cardinal Brady said: “We are a pilgrim people, that is, people on a journey, a journey of faith. Today’s pilgrimage is a preparation for the Jubilee Journey back to the House of the Father. It is essentially an Inner Journey – a journey of heart and soul and mind. It is both an everyday process and a life-long journey. We are pilgrims, not tourist or sightseers. If the tourist, the sightseer, is to become a pilgrim he must hear the call to follow the way. She must pray for the strength to finish the journey.”

Day of Jubilee Joy

It was a day of great jubilee joy, resplendent in colour, loud with festive music. St Jarlath’s Independent Band, Portmor, played at the Cathedral Plaza before the Mass while the O’Neills’ AOH Pipe Band, also from Portmor, led the procession from the sacristy, preceded by a scout colour party. The choir for the day was St Malachy’s Church Choir, Armagh, under the baton of Mr Seán Boylan. Armagh Pipers Club played a number of hymns during the Mass.

Taking part in the entrance procession of the Mass were two representatives of each parish. One carried a banner bearing the name of the parish, while the other carried a geographical representation of the parish. With the representations a vertical map of the diocese was constructed. The parishes were called up in alphabetical order to place their map piece and their banner while a commentary prepared by Fr Benny Fee, Chaplain, St Pauls’ High School, Bessbrook, was read, to the background of the harp. Fr Fee’s commentary on the 61 parishes of the Archdiocese was rich in historical, faith and local allusion. Fr Fee was assisted by Fr Paul Clayton-Lea in reading the commentary. This creative prayer of thanksgiving to God, verbal and visual, the brainchild of Fr Fee and Mrs Isobel McKenna, which took place before the beginning of Mass, was most favourably received by the congregation.

Refreshments were served afterwards for all in St Patrick’s Grammar School.

Primary School Jubilee Christian Heritage Project

A display of art and projects on our national Christian heritage by senior primary school pupils from throughout the diocese was held in the Synod Hall, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, during the week of 15th – 22nd May. The exhibition was described by Cardinal Brady as a “feast of colour and artistic excellence” and was visited by several hundreds before and after the Pilgrimage Mass.

Day of Hope and Anticipation

Speaking after the Mass Cardinal Brady said: “This has been a most memorable day in the Armagh diocesan Jubilee calendar. We have gathered, representatives from the 61 parishes, to thank the Lord for sixteen centuries of faith and worship in this diocese. We look forward in hope and eager anticipation to the unfolding of the future of the Church and of the Christian story in Armagh.”
The Archbishop paid rich tribute to the work of the Armagh Diocesan Jubilee Committee under the chairmanship of Bishop Gerard Clifford.

Photographs available from Vincent Loughran, Armagh
Tel: 028 3752 3938 (Mobile) 077905 49382

23 May, 2000