On Sunday 4th August the Parish Faith community of Greencastle parish in Co. Tyrone, numerically the smallest and physically the highest in the Diocese of Derry gathered with visitors and friends at a local Mass Rock in the townland of Crouck to celebrate ‘The Year of Faith’ initiated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Thursday 11th October, 2012. The Mass rock at Crouck is one of three in this mountain parish – the others being in the townlands of Formil and Dorville.
The Eucharist was led by Fr. Eugene Hasson, parish priest in this community and con-celebrated by Fr. C. Kevin Gillespie SJ, President of St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia who in his homily paid tribute to the inheritance of faith this generation has received from previous generations, celebrated the faith of those who had come together on this mountainside in the Sperrins and gave encouragement to all for the journey that lies ahead and Fr. Mark Monaghan SMA, a native of neighbouring Drumragh parish, ministering in Nigeria.
A huge dark cloud greeted the pilgrims to this sacred site as they gathered but it moved on and was replaced by warm sunshine that added to the joy-filled spirit of all who had gathered. When the tunes of the final hymn ‘Thanks Be To God’ filtered down the valley towards Glenhull a sending-out liturgy took place in which a lighted candle, symbol of faith was passed from a parishioner in his ninth decade of life, through eight further generations to an eight year old parishioner who earlier this year had received the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist for the first time. Each ‘passing’ was accompanied by a prayer of thanksgiving and of joyful hope. While this took place the whole gathering of around three hundred people gently descended the hillside until they reached the place where their pilgrimage had begun – a metaphor for the journey of faith in this special year.