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Bishop Brendan has announced the following Diocesan Retirements and Appointments.
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.
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
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
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
The Diocese of Achonry is saddened to announce the death of one of its priests, Fr Dermot Burns, R.I.P.
Fr Dermot served as a priest of the Diocese since his ordination in 1974 and ministered in a number of parishes of the Diocese; Bonniconlon, Ballymote, Kilmovee (Kilkelly) and Straide. in 2011, he retired as Parish Priest of Straide due to ill-health but continued to live in the Parish Community until his death on March 29th.
We extend our sympathies to his family and wide circle of friends.
Please remember Fr Dermot in your prayers.
Bishop Brendan reflects on the upcoming gathering for families and on the call to support the preparation for this important Faith Event
Miriam Marivel Campos Perez, a thirty-year-old mother, and her six-year-old daughter Maria live in Cuyamel, not far from the city of San Pedro Sula in the north of Honduras. Their village is built around a life of fishing and farming. The small village is often victim to flooding.
Cuyamel used to be one hundred meters away from the sea; however, as a result of a massive earthquake in 2009, the seabed has sunken by 60 cm, and this, combined with rising sea levels caused by climate change, means the village is now prone to devastating flooding. ‘I have maybe a few months left in my home,’ says Miriam. ‘We are hardly living there these days because every time there is bad weather we have to evacuate.’ When the floods come the alert is sounded and the villagers have little time to get ready as the water comes very fast.
In school, six-year-old Maria learns the traffic light system. Green means everything is ok. Orange means the weather is starting to turn and they must start to get ready for the floods. Red means they must run fast as the water is coming. Mother and daughter grab hold of each other and run.
Maria says that she shouts ‘let’s go, let’s go’ to her mother because she is so afraid. They must run fast as the water brings with it timber and other debris; if you are hit you could get badly hurt. On returning home, flooding is another trauma. ‘It’s really sad when I come back and see how my house looks. I want to run away and never return. The sea brings sand and is full of garbage that gets washed here.’ The family spends days cleaning their home, which is now damp and mouldy. Miriam says that her daughter has nowhere to play as the land is filled with debris and rubbish. It also gets covered in salt, so people can’t grow food.
Trócaire, through local partners, is supporting Miriam, Maria, and their community by supporting the emergency response teams. We are creating safe routes for people to move quickly away when the flood is coming. Together we are providing food, shelter and training for local people.
(Courtesy of Trocaire's Lenten Campaign Material 2017)
INTERVIEW ON FAITH ALIVE (With Monica Morley) SUNDAY FEBRUARY 26th
Last November I had the chance to visit Honduras with Trocaire to see some of the work that is done in that country. As part of our visit, we met with Miriam and her family, including Maria (with me in photo) and it made it very real for me. Truth told though, I could walk away from the reality - that’s not an option for Miriam, Maria and those living in this village. Neither is it an option for Trocaire, whose workers are so committed to supporting this community and many other needs that present themselves, not just in Honduras but throughout the world. Trocaire literally means “Mercy” and it was clear to me that mercy is at the heart of all work done in our name by the staff and associates of Trocaire.
We visited many of Trocaire's work sites and met with a wide variety of people over our days in Honduras. Groups varied from a Youth Club where boys and girls learn to be respectful and appreciative of one another. Violence against women is a major problem in Honduras and, in this initiative Trocaire (and its partner agency) offers a way to help boys and girls grow in awareness of each other, learn from one another and journey together, as equals. It was clear to us all that the work is having a positive effect. The young people and their leaders spoke movingly about how much this club means to them. We met a group of women who are farming as a co-operative and, once again, Trocaire's presence and support were clearly evident and acknowledged. There was a Community Group that is trying to claim back rights to a local river - rights that have been taken over by a large company. One of Trocaire's partner agencies, with Trocaire's support, is offering assistance and guidance to this group.
The village where Miriam and Maria live is accessible only by one road. We travelled this road for many hours and the conditions were treacherous. The village (as mentioned above) is by the edge of the ocean. In another setting, the location could be classed as idyllic but not here because the homes are too close to the ocean and the buildings are of a very poor standard. When the ocean rises and winds become storms, these homes and their occupants stand no chance. Here Trocaire is involved in the development of a man made canal that will allow people escape via the river since the one road, we had travelled, quickly becomes impassable.
There is a photo that remains with me, it's of Maria playing "X+0's" with Alexis (one of Trocaire's Team in Honduras). As I watched, I could see that Alexis was doing all he could to let her win. I couldn't help but wish that she would - not just the game in the sand, that would be washed away in the next visit of the tides, but in life and for life.
Apart from memories of people and places we visited, I think my abiding memory is the dedication of Trocaire to the people in its care. I had a real sense of very good people wanting to make a difference in very difficult and challenging situations. It struck me that the Trocaire Staff we met were well grounded people, focused and committed. I could not help but think they could have chosen easier paths in life, 9-5 jobs (not that they don't have their challenges too) where coming home in the evening meant switching off and relaxing. My real sense of Trocaire is that "switching off" isn't an option but that readiness to be with people is the driving force.
For some more photos and an overview of the visit with Trocaire to Honduras, please click here
For some more photos and a few thoughts around Trocaire's work in Honduras please click here
My name is Vincent Sherlock, a priest of the Diocese of Achonry and Diocesan Communications Officer. I had the opportunity to visit Hounduras last November and am pleased to be able to share here and through the links given some of the stories and people we met along the way. I hope that this year's Lenten Campaign in the diocese will assist Trocaire's work and with Fr Gerry Davey (Trocaire Rep for our Diocese) encourage your support in whatever form it may take.
Trocaire's website is www.trocaire.org
God Bless the work. God bless the world.
On Saturday, February 11th, there was a preliminary meeting to establish a Diocesan Eucharistic Adoration Committee. The gathering was in the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Charelestown, Co. Mayo.
The diocese was well represented at this meeting and the training of this committee will take place over the coming weeks.
We wish all involved every blessing as they embark upon this Spiritual Journey and express gratitude to Brendan Cleary and John Howard who were “inspirational” in their presentation on Saturday.
Speaking about this initiative Bishop Brendan says:
The practice of Eucharistic Adoration has been growing in the parishes of our diocese for the past number of years. This has been happening at the same time as traditional practice of the faith has been in decline (Mass attendance dropping, etc.), and it is a great blessing.
However, like every aspect of living our Catholic faith, we need to ensure that constant renewal and deepening occurs in this practice. For us Catholics the Holy Eucharist is the most sacred reality and is at the heart of our faith. It is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in our midst and it is the source and summit of our Christian life and faith. So it is appropriate, good and essential that we take the utmost care of this most sacred and holy inheritance from Jesus himself.
The Diocesan Eucharistic Adoration Committee will be given this sacred trust. So training and preparation for taking care of the practice of Eucharistic Adoration and of its promulgation amongst the faithful is necessary. I have no doubt God’s blessing will be upon all those who will come and participate in the upcoming six training sessions.
See below for details of Training Sessions.
Click HERE to download copy
Bishop Brendan reflects, in this short video clip, on the recent Ad Limina Visit to Rome and the Bishops’ meeting with Pope Francis (courtesy of iCatholic.ie) This is part of a series of interviews with bishops from Ireland who took part in the Ad Limina. Other interviews may be viewed on the iCatholic Player.