Author Archives: Diocese of Achonry

Fr Heribert Wolf, R.I.P.

Fr Heribert Wolf, R.I.P.

The death has taken place of Fr Heribert Wolf.  Fr Wolf was a priest of the Diocese of Limburg (Germany) but had lived in Foxford, Co. Mayo, since his retirement in 1995.  A popular figure in the Parish Community, he celebrated parish life there and enjoyed a happy retirement.  Our thoughts are with his family, the Bishop and priests of Limburg and the community in Foxford. May he rest in peace.


FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS

Reposing at Clarke’s Funeral Home, Foxford Friday evening 5.30pm-7.00pm

Removal to St Michael’s Church, Foxford at 7.15pm for Evening Prayer.

Funeral Mass on Saturday at 2pm, followed by burial in Church Grounds.


 

Ordination Homily

Bishop Brendan returned to his native diocese of Galway on Sunday July 16th to ordain the diocese’s newest priest, Fr Declan Lohan.  Declan who trained in law and had been called to The Bar, responded to God’s call to serve His people as a priest.  This is the text of Bishop Brendan’s homily.  Our own diocese wishes Fr Declan every blessing for his future ministry among God’s people in the Diocese of Galway.


Declan,

The biographical note published by Father Diarmuid for your ordination today tells us that you ‘give much credit for your vocation to the witness and example of many significant people in your life.’

The words ‘witness’ and ‘example’ leaped off the page when I read this.  I’d like us then to reflect today on the importance of witness and example.  Particularly when it comes to our task in the Church today, so emphasised by Pope Francis and all recent Popes, of spreading the word, planting the good seed.  The day is gone in Europe, and particularly in Ireland, when the dominant culture will do that for us.

It’s now 42 years since Pope Paul the Sixth (now Blessed Paul VI) made the following oft-quoted remark in his powerful exhortation on the proclamation of the gospel, Evangelii Nuntiandi :

‘Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses’.  Example is the great teacher, for good or ill.  Children will do what I do, not what I say.  Faith is caught, not taught, and caught best when the life I live is in sync with the words I speak.  But in a particular way in these times when all institutions and traditional sources of authority and wisdom are doubted and under severe scrutiny, witness and example in the matter of faith become far more significant.  This is true for all followers of Jesus Christ, but especially for those of us called to the service of priesthood.  Such witness will expose us to opposition, even ridicule and possibly danger.  Never forget what Saint Paul says today: The spirit comes to help us in our weakness.

You go on to say Declan, that the significant people whose example and witness led you to this day were your family, your teachers, your neighbours and your friends.  These people are here today.  You yourselves know who you are.

And what you are describing, Declan, is the community of faith out of which your call from God emerged and within which it could be discerned.  Clearly this community of faith in Oranmore feels affirmed by your ordination: the sense of celebration and joy is palpable here today and rightly so.

As a priest, the witness of your life will be everything.  The rituals you perform, the clothes you will wear have their significance, but what people will see above all is the life you live, the way you relate.  And as a priest, your work will be the work of building community, community after the heart of God who is love, as revealed by Jesus Christ.  That is the community of faith that is the church.  That community always stands in need of being built and re-built (as our family homes do, and indeed our families themselves), for the community is made up of people, all of us, priests and people, imperfect and unfinished by definition – and we sin. [Isn’t that why the owner therefore in today’s Gospel cautions his over-eager servants or ministers against their plans for  purification now.]  The harvest is rich as Jesus said, and in need of labourers.  You have responded to Jesus’ appeal.  The heart of the God who is Holy Trinity longs for his children to love one another, and that’s what building the community that in his church is all about.

Pope Paul went on to say ‘It is ..primarily by her conduct and life that the church will evangelize (bring the Good News to) the world, in other words by her living witness to the Lord Jesus, the living witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in face of the powers of this world…’ 

The implements that will do the building of the community of Jesus Christ are poverty and detachment, and freedom in face of the powers of the world.  These are the implements of the priestly trade.  These were Jesus’ implements, the tools of his trade, for which at the age of thirty he laid aside the tools of his training in the carpenter’s shed at Nazareth.

You too have laid aside the trade in which you were trained, to follow Jesus as a priest, with and for the people of God in the Diocese of Galway.  Your priesthood and shepherding will be enhanced by your first training, just as the experience of being wood-worker was never lost on Jesus.  On behalf of the diocese I thank you, and thank God for inspiring you, for the quiet persistence with which he planted that good seed of your vocation and gathered you into a community in which you could hear his call.

Talking of poverty and detachment, Pope Francis, speaking to priests, religious and seminarians in Havana in September of 2015, told them ‘to love poverty like a mother’.  That’s not the message the world gives, nor any of us want to hear maybe.  And then, when you think a mother gives life and unconditional love.  Isn’t the Pope saying that it is out of our poverty and detachment that we become life-givers?

He went on then to invite them to ask themselves the question ‘How is my spirit of poverty doing?’ And ‘How is my spirit of interior detachment?’  Good questions for all of us priests as we ponder ordination today and if we are to be renewed joyfully in the call to priesthood now coming to its first fruition in Declan.  Can it be that my greatest gift or talent in this particular calling lies in the areas in which I need you and you and you who have the gifts and talents I don’t have?  The first Beatitude of Jesus – and the one that matters most – is Blessed are the poor’ as Saint Luke’s version has it, indicating something visible and Blessed are the Poor in Spirit’ in Saint Matthew’s better-known version, indicating an interior reality as well.  But never forget Saint Paul in today’s second reading: ‘The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness’.  What I lack, my poverty, leaves room for the Holy Spirit.  If I think I have it all, or should have it all, the Holy Spirit cannot get in.

And last year Pope Francis in his prayer for the Year of Mercy gave us another powerful reason to give thanks for our poverty: ‘Lord, you willed that your ministers would be clothed in weakness, in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error.  Let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved and forgiven by God’.  Declan my brother, do not ever be afraid, when you doubt yourself, feel unable or incapable, feel lost or famished.  These things are God’s gift so you can be the man of compassion like Jesus, with a heart always for the misery people experience.

The enemy of today’s parable continues to scatter his seed when the planter of the good seed is sleeping.  The field in which you will now prosper, please God, has its share of darnel, weed, in it.  Growing strong, loud at times, assertive and threatening to swallow up and smother the good wheat.  In the face of all that, you must keep your eyes on the master and owner of the field and your ears especially open to his word, above all other words and promptings.  And when that word seems dry and lifeless, remember again Paul’s words today: ‘when we cannot pray properly, the Spirit Himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words…’  Servants in the field of the Lord can panic in our day too at the seeming strength and proliferation of the darnel. ‘Do you want us to weed it out?’  Let’s clean things up now!  The owner’s concern and passion is for the good wheat: rooting out weed at this point will do damage, destroy the good wheat too.  Leave the judgment to the owner.  ‘No’, he is definite and clear.  The voice of Wisdom herself, who tells us in today’s first reading that our relationship with our fellow-men, all of them, must be governed by kindness.

The Gospel story today brings home to us – thank God – that God is patient above all else with this world he has made and all of us who are in it.  Love is patient always in the first place, because the God who is Love is patient above all.  Jesus addressed this God always as ‘Father’, as you will be Declan from today.  Patient with all things and with everybody.  Including yourself.

We’re not priests in order to fix the world, or anybody in it.  So we can relax on that score.  We are priests however because God has called us, and like him we believe for all, we hope for all, hope against hope often, and we love each one more than they do themselves, and to love too God’s field, the Church and the common home in which the God of life has planted all people, for their thriving.

Diocesan Appointments 2017

Parishes of Diocese of Achonry (Map by Brendan Cleary 2017)

 

Bishop Brendan has announced the following Diocesan Retirements and Appointments.


  • Archdeacon Patrick Kilcoyne, P.P, Kiltimagh to retire
  • Fr Thomas Mulligan, P.P., Attymass to retire
  • Fr Michael Quinn, P.P., Carracastle to become Parish Priest of Kiltimagh
  • Fr John Maloney, C.C, Kilkelly to become Administrator Parish of Attymass
  • Fr Gerard Davey, C.C., Swinford to become Administrator Parish of Carracastle

Appointments come into effect on the first weekend of September 2017.  You are asked to remember in your prayers these priests and the parishes connected with diocesan changes this year.

 

Trocaire Collection in aid of East Africa

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has announced today that special collections at all Masses will take place across Ireland on the weekend of 22 and 23 July to fund life-saving aid for people currently affected by the devastating hunger crisis in east-Africa.  The money raised will be donated to Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, which is delivering emergency food, water and health care to the 25 million people affected.

Severe drought, driven by climate change, is currently affecting Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia and this has resulted in failed harvests and the widespread death of livestock.  Conflict has exacerbated the effects in South Sudan and Somalia, with areas in both countries now on the verge of famine.

The United Nations has described the situation in the drought-ravaged parts of Africa as the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

Trócaire has a long-standing presence in all four affected countries and is working with local communities to deliver life-saving aid, including food, water and healthcare, to hundreds of thousands of those worst affected.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, says the situation is critical and has urged support for the collection from parishioners, “With the failure of successive rains and a prolonged drought having taken hold of the region, just surviving has now become the main challenge facing people in large parts of east Africa.  Millions of people in the region are facing starvation.  The crops have failed and animals are dying because of a lack of grazing and water.  The large number of people affected may shock us, but we must realise that behind these stark numbers are real people: mothers and fathers unable to provide for their hungry children.

“The Catholic Church in Ireland is already responding to this crisis through Trócaire.  However, needs are so enormous that we will hold special collections across the country on the weekend of 22 July.  All money collected will go directly to Trócaire’s humanitarian relief work in east Africa.  Bishops are asking clergy and parishioners to respond to this terrible tragedy with generosity.”

Bishop William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne and chairperson of Trócaire, says the agency is already working on the ground saving lives: “Trócaire is currently running an advertising campaign to raise awareness of this crisis.  We have been providing emergency food aid, water and healthcare to affected communities – quite literally life-support for affected people.  Trócaire’s health centres in Somalia are treating approximately 19,000 people each month for malnutrition and associated illnesses.  With the support of parishioners here at home in the coming weeks, many tens of thousands more people will receive help.  For example, over 13,000 children in Kenya will receive supplementary high-energy food, new boreholes will be provided for communities, many more people will receive monthly food rations and schools will be supplied with water.

“Globally, this crisis has received very little attention.  Appeals for aid are under-funded.  For example, the UN has received just 37% of the funding it needs to respond to the crisis in Somalia.  The world is distracted by the actions of a handful of powerful politicians, while in east Africa millions suffer in silence.  It is unacceptable for so many to go hungry.”

Donations to Trócaire’s east Africa hunger crisis appeal can be made at www.trocaire.org or by phoning 1850 408 408 (Republic of Ireland) or 0800 912 1200 (Northern Ireland).


Photo: Antal Abdi Haji has her severely dehydrated son, Rahma, examined by personnel at Akara CTC. Photo: Amunga Eshuchi

Accord @ 40

“O blessed trinity of love, for whom the human heart was made, to you be praise and timeless song and everlasting homage paid” – that’s what you do when you work for Accord” (Bishop Brendan Kelly)

On Sunday, June 11th, Bishop Brendan was Principal Celebrant at a Mass of Thanksgiving in St James’ Church, Charlestown.  Joined by priests of the diocese who, over the years, have been associated with the work of Accord within the diocese and with many of the counsellors and associates of Accord, thanks was given for the great work done over the past four decades.

Bishop Brendan spoke of the significance of the word – ACCORD – and its central role in the harmony of the home and family, whose core is marriage. He acknowledged the work done by ACCORD in preparing couples for marriage, accompanying them through it and, in some cases, offering support in the event of separation or bereavement.

Remembering members of Achonry’s Accord Team who have died over the years, there were prayers for the repose of their Souls and for God’s reward of the part they played in sustaining the Sacrament of Marriage.

“To serve marriage …. can never be anywhere but at the heart of the church”

“What is God like?” is a question we are often asked and Bishop Brendan felt that God was readily identifiable in the living of married life and, so in answer to the question, we might well be told: “Take a look and Mary and Pat, John and Margaret …” and you will see God present in the shared love and journey of married life with all its ups and downs, good days and bad, joys and sorrows.

“Love is our origin”, the bishop quoted from one of the Prefaces of Marriage, “it is our constant calling and our fulfillment in Heaven”.  Accord, in its work, supports such love and draws strength from this same love for its own journey.

The final word of course centred on “thanks” and the bishop was convinced this was not just a trite or throw away phrase.  He wanted all involved with the work of Accord, at present, in the past and into the future to know the gratitude of our diocese for the work so well done, the time so freely given and the ministry fulfilled. “We are grateful to you, we thank you and ask God to continue to bless you in your great work. Amen.”


BISHOP BRENDAN’S HOMILY

 

 

 

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Eucharistic Adoration Committee Homily

Text of homily preached at Mass in St James’ Church, Charlestown to launch recently trained Diocesan Team to oversee and develop Eucharistic Adoration in the Diocese of Achonry.


The rulers, elders and scribes were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen”, the first Reading today tells us.

After that,  in the Gospel, we find that when Mary of Magdala told the disciples that Jesus had appeared to her, “they did not believe her when they heard her say that he was alive and that she had seen him”.

Neither did the rest of the apostles believe their two companions who said they had met Jesus on the road.

Incredulity and obstinacy” the Gospel today tells us, is what Jesus himself encountered in the eleven. And yet – to these doubting, unbelieving and obstinate men he entrusted his entire mission:

Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation!”

People who were considered “uneducated laymen”!

There is a depth and a mystery here that is worth pondering. And particularly in the light of what we are doing here today, what we are beginning: the commissioning of a Diocesan Eucharistic Adoration Committee, made up entirely of laymen and women.

Pope Francis never ceases to emphasise that the mission of the Church is not, and never has been that of Clergy and Religious only. It is entrusted to ALL believers.

Declaring one person ‘better’ or more ‘elevated’ than another is not in Jesus’ way of seeing things. We don’t all have the same mission. But we all have THE mission and we are ALL missionaries. Like Mary of Magdala, we are called to share the Good News, our own experience of faith, what we have heard and seen.

You are people who have come to a deep appreciation of the Holy Eucharist. You’ve come to love silence and adoration, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. You are now assuming responsibility for this practice throughout our parishes with the blessing of the diocese and the Bishop. What you love is your gift and is now your mission. ‘How much children and young people long to be led into reverence, and to stillness’, a secondary school teacher said to me recently. And it is so critical that we do lead people to stillness and reverence, to adoration: it will redress the balance in a world where there is far too much careless exploitation of people and of mother earth. All that the church stands for and that Jesus stands for has much to do with reverence and respect: looking at, marveling and enjoying, never just using or consuming. The utilitarian attitude is destroying people and our world. Everything we stand for as Christians and as Church particularly in the matter of caring for the sick and disabled, and in the teaching we propose on sexuality, human relationships, and fidelity – all of these are entirely connected to the attitude of reverence and respect which Jesus proposes. This is the attitude Eucharistic Adoration nurtures. It was never so badly needed in the world.

The Holy Eucharist is foundational and central to the Christian scheme of things. It is the summit and the source of all Christian life, as the Second Vatican Council pointed out. You are people who have come to appreciate this. And so you are men and women of prayer, contemplation and adoration. As members of this committee, committed to Eucharistic Adoration, you do yourselves what you show to others and will now lead them to, please God, all over our diocese.  Eucharistic Adoration has the power to transform our diocese, our parishes and our homes, too, and all our relationships.

And as you adore, please pray for vocations. We need the priesthood, if we are to have the Eucharist and if the deep longing for Eucharist which lives in the hearts of all true believers is to be satisfied.

A living word

During the days of Holy Week, Fr Vincent Sherlock shares early morning reflections on RTE RADIO 1’s “A Living Word” (6.15am)

Here we include links to the reflections which are based on the notion of letters shared between Jesus and some of the characters of the Passion Narrative. “A Living Word” is produced by Aidan Mathews, R.T.E.

This page will be updated during Holy Week.


MONDAY APRIL 10th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Dear Judas

TUESDAY APRIL 11th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Judas’ Reply

WEDNESDAY APRIL 12th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Dear (Pontius) Pilate

THURSDAY APRIL 13th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Pilate’s Reply

FRIDAY APRIL 14th, 2017 – “A LIVING WORD” – Centurion’s Letter and Jesus’ Reply

Fr Dermot Burns Funeral Mass Homily

This is the text of the Homily preached by Fr Martin Convey, P.P, Straide at the Funeral Mass for Fr Dermot Burns in the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Straide, Co. Mayo on Saturday April 1st 2017


Today, we gather to commend to the Lord the soul of Fr. Dermot - a brother priest who faithfully served the People of God here in the Diocese of Achonry for 42 years. To Father Dermot’s brothers, sister, in-laws, nieces and nephews, relatives and friends, we extend to you our deepest sympathies on the loss of your brother and uncle.

I don’t need to tell you, his family, or anyone who knew the man that Fr. Dermot was very much in love with life; so full of the zest of living, so brimming with joy, so full of banter, so full of fun and merriment. He exuded life and cherished it to the very last breath.

We all have our own particular fond memories of Fr. Dermot. They are usually very happy and very funny memories. Those memories abound today and they weave together a unique tapestry of a unique life.

One of my own fondest memories goes back a few years. I wasn’t too long in the parish at the time. I remember returning to the parochial house after saying the morning Mass. As I turned the key in the door I could swear I got the smell of freshly burnt toast. It didn’t take me long to discover a rather elderly man (a total stranger) sitting at the kitchen table having a leisurely breakfast. Before I could ask who he was and how he got in, the uninvited stranger managed to speak first. He demanded to know who I was, how I got in and what on earth was I doing in Fr. Dermot’s house. It quickly emerged that he was an elderly priest friend of Fr. Dermot. One of the many many friends he had made over the years. At some stage Fr. Dermot must has given him the loan of a key to the parochial house. He hadn’t known Fr. Dermot had retired and was merely availing of his hospitality (as he had done, on occasion, in the past) while waiting for him to return from the Church.

Fr. Dermot got a great laugh out of that when I told him! And that’s just one of the more sanitised events Fr. Dermot is remembered for.

The incident was funny but it really sums up Fr. Dermot’s life as a priest and as a human being.

The key to the front door, given freely and trustingly, was symbolic of the key to his soul (which he gave so generously to God in the priesthood) and the key to his life (which he gave to his family, friends and parishioners).

Fr. Dermot was, very much, an open book. What you saw is what you got. He wore his great big heart openly on his sleeve. This was a quality which endeared him to so many people whose lives he touched in his ministry as a priest.

He was great with people. In exchange for the keys to his inner spiritual self he received, in return, from others the keys to their lives. The bonds he forged, over the years, with people he encountered (as parishioners or as colleagues) were truly remarkable. Those bonds he held on to and never let break.

No matter where he might be, I would always notice people going out of their way to approach him and talk to him. He was a kind of a magnet for people. Even after the passage of time (often decades), he kept up ties and friendships. He was the only individual I knew whose Christmas Card list actually increased every year.

And it wasn’t just his friends from Straide parish who kept in contact with him. It was, also, his friends in all the other parishes he had served in - Bonniconlon, Achonry, Ballymote and Kilkelly. They all remembered him for the same reasons. They remembered his compassion, his kindness, his generosity, his sincerity, his wit and his humour.

He was a very people-centred person who generously gave the open door of his life to so many others: celebrating their successes, lamenting their failures, consoling their distress, and (when necessary) helping carry their crosses. In this, and in so many other regards, he was a priest to be admired and respected. He had learned his theology in Maynooth but had spent his days, ever since, living that theology.

He was also a man who, to his great credit, never hesitated to delegate responsibility within the parish. He realised something we priests all eventually learn - namely, that there are always people within every community who can do many things we do far better than we, ourselves, can.

It stands to reason, then, that we should build strong teams and allow the gifts and charisms of a community to flourish. This is exactly what Fr. Dermot did. In this respect, he left a great legacy behind. One has only to observe the pristine condition of this Church and grounds to see how much he achieved.

Family meant everything to Fr. Dermot: his twin brother Pat, his brother Frank, his sister Joan, his nephews and nieces and in-laws. Not to forget his beloved parents (Una & Paddy) and brother John who have already gone to their eternal reward. No family could have supported a brother any better than you have done.

As one might expect, Fr. Dermot was particularly close to his twin brother Pat who was especially good to him and looked after him above and beyond the call of even brotherly love and duty. 

This parish of Straide was, also, very very special to Fr. Dermot. It was here he spent the last 23 years of his life. He often confided how happy he was here - how kind and how good parishioners were to him.

Fr. Dermot worked in parish ministry for all of his 42 years of priesthood. His priesthood was founded on a deep unshakable faith and on a spiritual life that brought him ever closer to God. His priestly ministry was truly a beacon of hope for so many people. He exercised his ministry brightening so many lives, binding so many hearts, smoothing so many paths, calming so many souls, warming so many lives. And it is great to see so many of his former parishioners here today at his funeral Mass. Fr. Dermot just had that wonderful gift of connecting with the people he came in contact with.

When, unfortunately, in 2011 he had to retire due to ill health there was never a question of him living anywhere else except in Straide. He chose to spend his (all too short) final years with the people he knew and loved. That is certainly a great compliment to his former parishioners who are owed a great debt of gratitude for the manner in which they looked after and cared for Fr. Dermot.

Another thread in the tapestry of Memory I have of Fr. Dermot is chatting to him about how difficult it can be to find something new to preach on every weekend. He consoled me by saying that “It’s difficult to be profound every Sunday”. Then thought for a while and added “But it would, indeed, be nice to be profound the odd Sunday though!”

I’m sure there were days when he, too, stood at this lectern and looked to the heavens for divine inspiration. I’m sure from this spot he, also, must have focused his eyes on a particular design on the windows of the gallery – a design which catches my eye frequently.

There are, as you would expect, images of crosses on those stained glass windows. However, there is also a subtle detail that can easily be missed. If you look carefully you can see that there are little green shoots of growth emerging from the foot of each cross.

The Cross was something Fr. Dermot became all too familiar with in his later years following a life-threatening diagnosis just before Christmas 2010. But the cross he was given to carry never dampened his spirit or took from his wit and good humour. Even when given very bad news a few short weeks back, he never lost hope and he never gave up but, rather, fought bravely on.

I think he got great consolation from the green shoots of growth that are always there at the foot of even the heaviest of crosses we are sometimes given to bear. Fr. Dermot’s deep Christian faith led him to believe those green shoots would, ultimately, bring him New Life. Today, we pray that he has, already received, that reward.

After this, his funeral Mass, Fr. Dermot will be laid to rest in the Church grounds - facing East to greet the rising sun each morning. He will be under the shade of two oak trees planted last year by Bishop Brendan in honour of Ss. Peter and Paul to mark the centenary of this Church dedicated to the two giants of our faith. Those oak trees are young now. But, I’m told, they will spend the next 300 years growing and, then, another 300 years stagnant before they will spend a final 300 in decline.

Knowing Fr. Dermot as I do, I don’t think he will wait that long to visit St. Peter. No doubt, he has already entered the gates of heaven and is, by now, making his presence felt and catching up with old friends.

Hopefully, at some stage, he might get a hold of St. Peter’s Keys and have a few copies made for us, too, on the quiet so that when our time comes may let ourselves in to one of the many rooms that today’s Gospel assures us are already prepared for us.

In the meantime, until we meet our friend and brother again, may his gentle soul now Rest in Peace. Amen

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