Post Conference Pilgrimage to Glenalough

Women's Ordination Worldwide
First International Conference
Now is the Time: A Celebration of Women's Call to a Renewed Priesthood in the Catholic Church
Dublin, Ireland
June 29 - July 1, 2001


by Rita Connolly

Two coachloads of pilgrims set out for Glendalough on the Monday morning after the Conference.


There was a clear and cloudless blue sky and the countryside looked like a perfect rustic scene once outside the city - green fields and hills with sheep and cattle grazing peacefully; a perfect setting for a meditative afternoon. We duly arrived in Glendalough and the plan for the day was explained.

We met our two guides Sr. Genevieve Mooney and Sr. Mary Doyle who were going to lead our group on the meditative walk. After a very pleasant lunch at the Glendalough Hotel the first group set off and the second group was to follow soon after. I was to assist with the second group of pilgrims - checking that no one got lost or left behind etc. It soon became clear that most of the second group had in fact taken off with the first group, leaving a straggle of lost sheep with no guide! We hurried along to catch up. As our guides pointed out various items of interest on the way, a natural exchange of walking companions was facilitated so thoughts and experiences of other pilgrims were exchanged, reminding me of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, as we wended our way along the side of the lake. We heard the tale of St. Kevin befriending the monster of the lake - a possible new approach for dealing with our own personal monsters perhaps? Further along we were invited to pick a stone and cast it into the lake and with it our worries and difficulties. We ended our walk encircled by a stone wall, where we prayed an ancient Celtic prayer.

At this stage I for one, was very glad to hear that our bus was waiting to pick us up at this point. As we reassembled to take our places in the buses once more however, the tranquility of the afternoon came rather abruptly to an end; some people had to be at the airport at 6 p.m. and the time was now 4.30! Others who had opted for a meditative afternoon at the hotel could not be found when we called to collect them. Blood pressures rose almost as high as the Glendalough mountains surrounding us and some decidedly unmeditative exchanges were heard! However, I am happy to say that in spite of our difficulties - including luggage lost and thankfully found later - there were no lost pilgrims. I suddenly realised what a stressful job a shepherd/ess has - scarcely a moment's relaxation - and having to contend with wolves as well!

A word of tribute must be paid to our two coach drivers who gave valiant assistance in sorting out our problems and gallantly agreed to drop our pilgrims to city centre and beyond.

A memorable day indeed.