Background & Challenge

This statement evolved from a series of reflections over the past number of years. It is the fruit of discussion by the Board and various national meetings. It is however an incomplete summary of our reflections and by nature is open to further discernment, evolvement and redefinition. The challenge is constantly for the organisation to reflect and explore the statement. This further reflection and exploration will bring about more evolvement and redefinition reflecting who we are and spurring us on to new horizons.

The challenge to an organisation such as The Irish Pilgrimage Trust is to take some time in the midst of a busy and already loaded schedule to do this work. There is a danger with an organisation such as ours that we become task-oriented. There is always something to be done: distribution of application forms, supplementary forms to forward and trace, passports to be put in place and be updated, Christmas cards to be sold and paid for, regional and national meetings to attend. And then, like a cloud hanging over us there is the constant challenge of fundraising. Man cannot live on bread alone but funds are necessary to keep the wheels of The Trust rolling. In the midst of all this essential work the challenge is to set aside some time to reflect on the original intention of the founders of the Trust, to know these intentions and to interpret them in light of the world around us and its ever changing needs. It is essential for every organisation to have a vision, an ideal. This calls us beyond the present. It calls us constantly to review. It charges us with the responsibility to be open to the Spirit. It demands that we read the signs of the times (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuantiandi) and just like the generation before us respond in faith, adapt with vision and dream with imagination to respond to the stirrings of the Spirit, Jesus' parting gift to his disciples who would be 'fired' with fearless energy on the first Pentecost.

It is absolutely imperative that we have a vision and mission statement. Not just because we should but because without it there is always the danger that we just simply execute tasks. Without a vision we will never have a passion. Passion is what stirs us to action. Passion is what makes us stand and fund raise on a cold January evening. Passion is what prompts us to bag pack at the local supermarket. Passion is what drives us from the comfort of our space to the unknown of our neighbour’s world. If we do not have a passion for what we do we can execute tasks well but without heart. We are like the gong booming, the cymbal clashing that St Paul speaks of in I Corinthians 13. Or as St Augustine puts it: the one who is lost in his/her passion is less lost that the one has lost his/her passion. To paraphrase St Paul (1 Corinthians 13: 1-4):

If we have all our forms in on time, pinks and blues in correct sequence, passport pictures glued on the right way, if our funds are raised and the trustees are happy, and we are without the ethos of the Trust, well we are like a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If we attend meetings, sell all our Christmas cards, bring five friendship weeks to Kilcuan and know how to lift a patient correctly, but do so without the ethos of the Trust we are nothing at all. If we have the bus ordered, carers ready, shopping in the bag, medals blessed, postcards sent, fares in, application forms out, posters up, but do not know why it is we do all this then we are nothing at all.

The Trust Mission Statement

This is our vision, the vision of The Irish Pilgrimage Trust, and we will affirm it as trustees, staff, officers, leaders and volunteers in the following ways:

a. We affirm our special relationship with Lourdes through our pilgrimages

b. We will welcome people to share our pilgrim journey as volunteers, supporters and benefactors.

c. We will invite pilgrims to travel with The Trust on a spiritual journey with a loving family of friends, where all individuals are valued and cherished as they are. Whereas we cannot bring all people on pilgrimage, we will give preference to young people who are disadvantaged, ill, disabled or marginalized.

d. We will work closely with other members of the International Trust Family.

e. We will encourage other groups and organisations to share our vision by welcoming them to "Kilcuan", our home in Clarinbridge, Co. Galway or "Cois Cuain" our home in Kilrane, Co. Wexford.

f. We will be open to new ways to share our vision with others.

The Trust Vision Statement

a. We are a Christian community and a pilgrim people journeying with Mary, the first disciple.

b. We are called to act with justice always, to love tenderly those we meet, to serve one another in friendship and to walk humbly with God.

c. We value and cherish all people as they are, irrespective of race, gender, ability, religion or social status.

d. We strive to establish this spirituality of communion with the people with whom we work – staff, volunteers and pilgrims.