Carmel McConigley, Teresa Boyle, Fr. Eamonn Kelly and Mary Heffernan on their walk to Knock Shrine in County Mayo
The Parish Priest behind the Mary's Meals 'Step by Step to Feed the Next Child' walk told the Tribune this week that their walk from Thurles, through Roscrea and Birr and onto Knock Shrine recently was a very special experience.
Fr Eamonn Kelly, PP Raphoe, Co Donegal writes following the walk:
It is hard to find words to describe the feelings when you get the first sight of Knock (Mayo) after walking for nine days to get there.
The first sight is the very top of the Cross at the Basilica. There is elation of nearly being there and yet a wee reminder in the head – not yet, for there are three or four kilometres still to go.
The muscle aches seem to lose their pain and the blisters do not bother as much, for soon there will be no more walking. And you can rest tomorrow and the day after that if you so wish”, Fr Kelly writes.
The joyous excitement of making a difference is probably the most over-whelming emotion. Because of the walk, many people have responded to the plight of the hungry children. Because of the effort of the walkers and collectors and all else involved in the walk, literally thousands of children will receive a meal each day in a place of education with Mary's Meals.
Then as Knock gets closer, one can see walkers coming in from another direction and all walking for the same common purpose – to relieve the suffering of our little brothers and sisters. When the walkers meet, the hugs are genuine, with tears of relief and joy, of release and delight, of achievement and happiness.
The walk up the Main Street of Knock is very emotional as the stress of the nine days of pounding the tarmac gives way to the knowledge that another child has been fed and will be fed.
After the final prayers of the two hundred plus kilometre trek, the adrenaline pumps through the veins and the smiling faces of the blue t-shirted walkers state clearly that it was all worthwhile.
Hundreds and thousands of different and separate moments of the past nine days becomes blurred and melts into one big moment in your own induvial history.
And deep in your heart you understand, beyond words, the work of Mary's Meals: ordinary people changing lives as they offer their money, skill, goods, time, or prayer, and so provide the food to help those suffering the effects of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest communities.
This was the first year a walk commenced in Thurles. Our walk began the same weekend as Dillon Quirke passed away suddenly in Semple Stadium. As our Tipperary trek began, we remembered and prayed for Dillon and for his family, friends and club.
The sadness and sense of loss was palpable as we journeyed those first few days on the by-roads of Tipperary. As we celebrated Mass in the Church of Saint John the Baptist, Camblin, we remembered Dillon in a special way.
We met and were joined by many kind and generous individuals over the course of our newest walk. As we stopped at one local shop for a bottle of water, we met a group of children who were shocked to hear that nine cents can provide a lunch.
On behalf of all the nine cents’ raised over the course of our walk, we thank you on behalf of the many, many children who will eat thanks to your generosity.
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