Tag Archives: ballaghaderreen

Catholic Schools Week 2017

Bishop Brendan was Principal Celebrant at Diocesan Mass celebrating Catholic Schools Week. The Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy, Ballaghaderreen and was co-ordinated by Srs Regina Lydon and Mary Richardson, Diocesan Advisors to Primary Schools.  Children from schools throughout the diocese, together with families and teachers were in attendance.  Many of the priests of the diocese were also present.

We include here some photos from the celebration.  Many thanks to all who took part. It was a worthy celebration of school life in our diocese.

Baptism of The Lord

Homily given in Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy, Ballaghderreen, by Bishop Brendan Kelly on the Feast of The Baptism of The Lord and in light of the news that Syrian Refugees are to be re-located to Ballaghaderreen.


‘The truth I have now come to realise’ St Peter says in the house of the Gentile Cornelius, ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him’.

I find these words from the second reading today very striking in the light of the news that refugees from Syria will be housed amongst us, and that that will be happening soon.

Many people were interviewed by media here on Friday, and it was so good to hear over and over that we will welcome these people whose terrible suffering we have witnessed for years now on our television screens. This deep compassion for the people who will come was, as one paper put it, mixed with a sense of exasperation that there had been no consultation with the people locally.

One person who was interviewed described Syria very appropriately as ‘St Paul’s country’. Yes, sometimes the sacred scripture becomes alive and real and very close to us. Our own history of famine and emigration comes alive and close too at moments like this.  People were saying that too in the reports from Ballaghaderreen.

I am struck too by the fact that we celebrated the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus at Bethlehem on the very day this surprise announcement was made: We know that as soon as the Wise men had left them, Mary and Joseph had to gather up whatever they could and take flight with their infant, Jesus, becoming refugees in Egypt. After the Wise Men had left ‘the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt…for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him”’ (Mt 2:13).

Just as Jesus identified with the most impoverished and rejected people in being born in a shed, and with the condemned and criminals in dying on the cross, so he identifies with all refugees, and all endangered, innocent and helpless people. It is our faith that Jesus comes to us in them. And so must we  reach out to help in whatever way we can … It’s a big challenge, but we are up for it, please God.

Today, this first Sunday of the Year, is the feast of the Baptism of Jesus. Every one of us too is baptised. In baptism we identify with Jesus. ‘This is my son, my daughter’ the voice of the Father declares of each person who is baptised, as He did of Jesus. We are each of us beloved of the Father, sharing that relationship with Jesus by adoption as it were.  Today is a day for us to remember this fact, and to look again at all that Baptism is, and what our identity now as brother, sister of Jesus means for our lives and attitudes.

And this has implications for how we see all other people…and particularly those who are different and who are victims of the hatred, inhumanity and terror so widespread in our times. For us as for Jesus, all people are fundamentally children of God, his beloved sons or daughters…whether they know it or not, whether they accept it or not. This is how we see them and treat them. Each one a gift of God to us, to the world…each one having the capability of being gift.

We have had a long tradition of men and women going out to faraway places to serve people who are very different to ourselves…missionaries of the Love of God, wanting to serve them in whatever way they could.

More and more that call is at home. ‘My neighbour is all mankind, even those who injure me or differ from me in religion’, many of us learned in the old catechism years ago. God does not have favourites, as St Peter tells us today. May that same God, present as Father Son and Holy Spirit at the Baptism of Jesus and at all our baptisms, enable us now and always to be good neighbours…and particularly to people who are new amongst us.

AMEN

A neighbour recalls

Pat Hunt, a native of Ballaghaderreen, shared the following.  

His piece also features in the 2016 Publication of “Ballaghaderreen Echoes” (going on sale December 8th).  

Both men are remembered with fondness and respect within our diocese and further afield.  May they rest in peace.

We are grateful to him for sharing his thoughts and memories with us on our Diocesan Website.


Two remarkable priest brothers from Ballaghaderreen

Monsignor Gerard Spelman (1930-1990)

Monsignor Gerry Spelman, R.I.P.

“Goodbye Monsignor, we’ll meet in heaven,” were among the words spoken by about 30 parishioners after their tenth and final annual visit to the grave in Kilcolman of Monsignor Gerard Spelman, their late parish priest in the diocese of Leeds.

Monsignor Gerard died suddenly in his Leeds parish in March 1990 after 35 years’ devoted service. One hundred priests and almost 1,000 people attended his funeral mass before his remains were taken home to Ballaghaderreen for burial.

Ordained in All Hallows College in 1955, he worked for 13 years as a curate, and then served nine years as chaplain to two teacher-training colleges, and is remembered by former students with gratitude and affection.

He was then appointed Director of Wood Hall, the diocesan pastoral centre, where he ministered with patience and understanding to the needs of Vietnamese refugees. In 1981 he was assigned as parish priest to the first of his two parishes (St Augustine’s and St Paul’s) in Leeds. At that time the Irish community in the city numbered almost 31,000 persons. Older Irish people there remember him as a particularly dedicated chaplain to the Irish community.

He touched the lives of many, many people in Leeds. At the time of his passing, all spoke of his great patience, kindness, and above all, his gentleness. Many Irish emigrants who arrived in the city with little money and even less in the way of job prospects found Fr Gerry a willing listener who always found the time and energy to put them in touch with potential employers.

Monsignor Joseph Spelman (1932-2016)

Monsignor Joe Spelman, R.I.P.

His brother, Joseph, was ordained in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in 1959. After a year on a Ford Fellowship at Stanford University, California, he ministered in Palo Alto parish, Archdiocese of San Francisco until 1965.

On his return to Ireland in 1965 he taught in St Nathy’s College and Ballaghaderreen Vocational School. Patsy McGarry (Irish Times), a past pupil, has warm memories of Fr Joe. “He had a wry sense of humour and paid me the first compliment I ever recall for something I wrote. It was for a line in an essay. It tickled Fr Spelman’s sense of humour and he commented, “…Very good, Very good’. I stood very tall indeed!”

In 1969 he was appointed Professor of Mathematical Physics in Maynooth, a position he held until he was appointed a monsignor and parish priest of Collooney in 1992. He became Vicar General of Achonry diocese.

Fr Joe loved local history. He researched and wrote, for example, the definitive account of how Ballaghaderreen came to be located in Co Roscommon, not Mayo. He circulated a pamphlet on this topic, which I hope is still available to help young local people explore their identity. In Collooney he loved to hear older people recall the people and lore of days long ago. Many parishioners said he was a great listener.

In his homily at Monsignor Joe’s funeral mass last June, Bishop Brendan Kelly related how people described him as a ‘gentleman’ — in every sense a gentleman and gentle man. “He was quiet spoken and reserved, laconic and witty, discreet but welcoming, very attentive to people, and kind, always kind.”

Fr Vincent Sherlock, who served with Fr Joe in Collooney wrote, “He moved with people at their pace, prayed with people … and stayed for as long he was needed. He was a good priest, a role model and thankfully a friend.”

His former Maynooth teaching colleagues gathered in September to offer a memorial mass for Monsignor Joe. Chief celebrant, Fr Pat Hannon, professor emeritus of Moral Theology, recalled a gifted teacher “who bore his learning and piety lightly”. He added that when Fr Joe was recalled to his home diocese after 25 years’ service in Maynooth, he first took a sabbatical “to brush up on theology, liturgy and pastoral work”. Such was his dedication to his priestly calling.

As a boy and student I had the privilege of serving mass regularly for the Spelman priests when they spent their respective summer holidays in their native town. I have vivid memories of their mother sitting radiantly in the front row of a side altar in the cathedral attentive to their every word and ritual. Even then I was aware that for them each celebration of mass was an intensely spiritual experience.

Gentleness and kindness were their shared hallmarks then and for the rest of their lives. May their noble souls enjoy eternal peace.

Spelman family

The priest brothers were the sons of Joe and Mary Spelman. Joe (Snr) was a hardware manager in Flannery’s, although he started his career in Monica Duff’s. His brother, Canon James Spelman PP, served in many parishes in Achonry diocese and is buried in the chapel grounds in Tubbercurry. Another brother, Willie, ran a successful garage business in Barrack Street, later passed on to his son, Billy (RIP).

Born in Monaghan, his wife, Mary Spelman, came to Ballaghaderreen first to teach in the Convent NS but later found her true and much celebrated niche as junior infant teacher in Coolavin NS (Monasteraden). Marie, the third Spelman sibling, took up nursing in Dublin, later married Frank Gallagher (RIP) and set up her present home in the capital.

Golden era for vocations

Ten young men from the Ballaghaderreen area were ordained to the priesthood in the 1950s: Paddy Kilgarriff (1953), Robert Flynn (1954), Edward Towey (1955), Thomas Flynn (1956), Dominic Doherty (1956), James Creaton (1958), Edward Dorrington (1958), Sean Flanagan (1959), Gerry (1955) and Joe (1959) Spelman. The early 1960s saw six more ordinations: Barry Freyne (1960), Des McMahon (1961), Seamus McMahon (1964), Joe Macken (1965), Jack Madden (1963), James Shryane (1965). Fine men and priests, one and all.

Patrick Hunt

Homily at Funeral Mass of Monsignor Joe Spelman

Monsignor Joe Spelman, R.I.P.

Monsignor Joe Spelman, R.I.P.

On Saturday June 25th, Bishop Brendan was Principal Celebrant at the Funeral of Monsignor Joe Spelman, retired Parish Priest of Collooney and former Vicar General of the Diocese of Achonry.  The following is the test of the Homily preached at the Funeral Mass in the Church of The Assumption, Collooney, Co. Sligo.


No sooner had the Apostles, his closest collaborators, experienced the First Eucharist with Jesus, we are told, than ‘A dispute arose also between them about which should be reckoned the greatest’. In spite of their closeness to Jesus, the Apostles were slow to understand what he was about and what he was showing them by his words, his gestures, his life. With extraordinary patience, he gently but firmly spells it all out… he is not about degrees of importance or status. Still less is he about controlling anyone or lording it over, but rather ‘Here am I among you as one who serves’.

At the heart of being Jesus’ follower or apostle is the simple matter of willingness to serve, getting down in the dust, washing feet…

After Joe Spelman’s mother died on the 29th of August 1982, an appreciation written by a past pupil appeared in one of the local newspapers. Mary Spelman had spent 30 years as teacher of the junior classes in Coolavin school in Monasteraden. These are some of the things written about her in that tribute:

‘For those of us venturing out to school for the first time, her hand had a comforting feel; once inside her classroom door, we were safe; she taught us all we were able to learn; above all she taught us to pray (followed by a wonderful description of how she instilled such love and devotion to the Blessed sacrament in her little charges as she prepared them for their first holy communion). The writer went on to say ‘she carved a niche in our hearts’. I think her son carved a good niche too in the hearts of many people…

I thought these things about his mother Mary were worth quoting today at Fr Joe’s Mass. They speak the rock out of which this good man was hewn.

People invariably have described Fr Joe Spelman as a ‘gentleman’. In every sense: a gentleman and a gentle man. Kind mother for it, as the old expression would put it. And father too, no doubt. The other word I heard most often these last few days: ‘he was gracious’. And he was. When I asked one colleague what he’d say about him, his first words were: ‘I liked him’- ‘A decent man’.

 Joseph Spelman was an extraordinarily bright student, he became an extraordinary scholar and first class student in Mathematics and Physics. But he was learned in many other fields as well – history, for example, which he loved. (He researched and wrote, for example, the definitive account of why Ballaghaderreen play their football in Mayo). He loved his native place.

He became a superb teacher in St Nathy’s and in Maynooth College, invariably going way beyond the call of duty in serving and helping his students. He was quiet spoken and reserved, laconic and witty, discreet but welcoming, very attentive to people, and kind, always kind. These are the sort of things people have said about him these last couple of days.

One of the really good and lovely things that happens often around death, particularly when it is natural and the person is full of years, it’s as if the goodness and gift that the person was emerges more strongly than ever before. So the tears and sorrow are mixed with gratitude and fuller appreciation. We want to thank God. We become thank-full. A sense that we have been touched by grace in the one who is no longer with us in the flesh…and his passing leaves a gap…

‘A dispute arose between them about who should be reckoned the greatest’. Mrs Spelman’s son had no interest in being the greatest. But he did seek to serve. That emerged strongly too after he retired from his academic life and returned to the diocese, here to Collooney. He never regarded becoming a parish priest as opportunity to relax and put up the feet, but rather he humbly asked his colleagues for help and advice, as he sought now to be a good shepherd to his people. He was all of that. Fr Joe liked people. And he knew that to serve God meant in practice to serve people. He was particularly attentive to those who were not well or not well-off. Visiting those in hospitals or homes was a big priority, a weekly pilgrimage.

‘Here am I among you as one who serves’, Jesus said to his friends and collaborators. ‘In the end of life, we will be judged on love’ the great St John of the Cross so rightly said. The love that is service is what he’s talking about. Jesus and the Father he revealed know no other way:  the way of self-giving, of self-sacrifice, of always putting the other first, especially the least and poorest.

On November 20, 2007, I arrived into the diocese for the first time. It was the day I was announced as bishop. At 4 in the afternoon I met all the priests in Ballaghaderreen. Mgr Joe as Vicar General was the one who welcomed me to the diocese. In the course of his brief speech, he cut straight to the heart of the matter. He told me I came here and was welcomed as successor of the Apostles. That this was what I would be expected to be. At least that is what I heard. And it was what I needed to hear. Up to then it had been a somewhat euphoric and mostly emotional day, full of congratulations and good wishes, but this was a coming down to earth, the essential, the truth of the situation. He rendered me a service that was necessary and brought me into balance and the real. The man who is a true servant never seeks popularity. And it is a grace of God to work alongside a person of that integrity. For this we are thankful to God today.

It wasn’t long after that that Parkinson’s disease came to Joe. He wasn’t a man to speak of his ailment at all, apart from saying his walk wasn’t good. There was no self-pity. He retired on coming to the age, and as his disability affected him more, withdrew graciously from committees on which he served. A loss, because his interventions were wise, and his advice was invariably sound. Eventually he did his own research and chose to enter the Sacred Heart Residence in 2013. He knew he could not manage anymore without assistance. And he wanted to be close to Marie and her family, as he always had been. And it was the right decision, taken in his own time, though not without a certain struggle.

He accepted his decline without complaint and with little comment. He was a good patient. He was blessed that you his family were extraordinarily attentive to him. And he was well-cared for by the nursing home staff, who liked him very much.

Yes. Joe Spelman ‘fought the good fight to the end, finished the course God gave him, kept the faith’.

It was a grace given this man who for others was so often full of grace.

In this year of mercy, though, he would want us today to implore God to be merciful to him. He had no false notions about himself, and knew his limits and failings. That is our purpose in celebrating this holy Eucharist.

May Father Joe, by your mercy Lord, be conferred with your kingdom, and may this man of the Eucharist ‘eat and drink now at the table in your kingdom’, according to your promise.

Death of Monsignor Joe Spelman

Spelman, Joseph

Monsignor Joe Spelman

The death has taken place of Monsignor Joe Spelman, R.I.P.  A native of Ballaghaderreen and  former Professor of Mathematical Physics in St Patrick’s College Maynooth, Joe served as Vicar General of the Diocese and Parish Priest of Collooney until his retirement..

Please remember him in your prayers.  Our sympathies to his family and wide circle of friends.

______________

June 23rd, 2016

24 Hours For The Lord

24hoursforthelord

This weekend, the Diocese of Achonry will hold “24 Hours For The Lord” as part of its response to the call of Pope Francis to celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy.

On Sunday there will be a Pilgrimage to The Holy Door at the Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy, Ballaghaderreen.  Parishes from around the diocese are invited to attend.  The Cathedral will be open to welcome you at all times during that day but especially between 3.00pm-7.00pm when you are invited to come along and “pray the stations” around the Holy Door.  A booklet with prayers and some bacground to the 10 Stations will be available.  The Stations of The Cross will be reflected upon during the final half hour, 6.30pm-7.00m.

Priests will be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation throughout the afternoon.

suggestion

Please check back on this page for updates of Parish Events.


COUNTY ROSCOMMON

CATHEDRAL, Ballaghaderreen

Friday: Adoration commences 7.00pm

Saturday: Adoration concludes 7.00pm

Sunday: Pilgrimage to Holy Door 3.00pm-7.00pm

Stations of The Cross 6.30lm

COUNTY SLIGO

BALLISODARE, Co. Sligo

Friday: Adoration 9.00am-6.00pm

Saturday: Adoration 10.00am-6.00pm

BALLYMOTE, Co. Sligo

Friday:24 Hour Adoration of Blessed Sacrament commences at 8.00pm

Friday: Confessions 9.00pm-10.00pm

Saturday: Confessions 12.00pm-1.00pm

Saturday: 24 Hours Adoration concludes at 8pm (Vigial Mass)

COLLOONEY, Co. Sligo

Friday: Adoration 10.00am-Midnight

Saturday: Adoration 10.00am-8.00pm

Sunday: Confessoins 6pm-7pm

COOLANEY, Co. Sligo

Mass Friday 7pm followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

until Saturday 6.55pm.Mass at 7pm.

CURRY, Co. Sligo

Thursday: Adoration from 10am to 9pm.

Friday: Evening Mass at 7pm, followed by adoration until 9pm.
Saturday: Mass at 10am, followed by adoration until 6.45pm.
Sunday: Confessions from 6.00pm-7.00pm

GURTEEN, Co. Sligo

Friday: Adoration of Blessed Sacrament from 8.00pm
Saturday: Conclusion of  Adoration 6.00pm

TUBBERCURRY, Co. Sligo

Friday: Adoration of Blessed Sacrament from 10.00am
Saturday: Conclusion of  Adoration 9.00am
Sunday: Reconciliation Service 7.30pm

COUNTY MAYO

ATTYMASS, Co. Mayo

Friday: Mass 7.30pm.  24 Hour Adoration 8.00pm

Saturday: Adoration concludes 7.25pm – Vigil Mass 7.30pm

BOHOLA, Co. Mayo

Friday: Adoration of Blessed Sacrament from evening to Vigil Mass on Saturday.
Confessions on Friday 9.00pm-10.00pm.

CARRACASTLE, Co. Mayo

Friday: Adoration of Blessed Sacrament from evening to Vigil Mass on Saturday.
Confessions on Friday 9.00pm-10.00pm.

CHARLESTOWN, Co. Mayo

Friday: 24 Hours Adoration of Blessed Sacrament 8.00pm.
Friday: Confessions  9.00pm-10.00pm.
Satirdau: Conclusion of 24 Hours Adoration 8.00pm

FOXFORD, Co. Mayo

Friday: Adoration of Blessed Sacrament 7.00pm-11.00pm

Saturday: Adoration of Blessed Sacrament 8.00am-7.00pm

KILMOVEE, Co. Mayo

Friday: Mass at 8pm followed by  24 Hours Adoration of Blessed Sacrament –
Friday: Confessions 9.00pm-10.00pm
Saturday: 24 Hours Adoration concludes with Vigil Mass.
(PLEASE NOTE : Church in use for 24 Hours for The Lord, is St Patrick’s Church, Glann)

KILTIMAGH, Co. Mayo

Friday: Adoration of Blessed Sacrament from 8.00pm.
Saturday: 24 Hour adoration concludes with Vigil Mass 8.00pm

SWINFORD, Co. Mayo

Friday: Adoration of Blessed Sacrament from evening to Vigil Mass on Saturday.
Confessions on Friday 9.00pm-10.00pm.

Sisters of Mercy

There was a special gathering at the 12pm Mass in the cathedral on Sunday December 20, which was a Con-celebrated Mass of Thanksgiving for the work and presence of the Sisters of Mercy in Ballaghaderreen since 1971.

mercysisters

Sisters of Mercy from the Diocese of Achonry gathered with Bishop Brendan and con-celebrants after Mass of Thanksgiving. (Photo Michael McCormack)

The last of the sisters to leave the parish was Sr Dolores Gallagher  at the end of October 2015.

Door of Mercy

doorofmercy2Bishop Brendan, together with priests and people from the diocese, gathered at noon on Sunday December 13th to celebrate Mass and open the “Door of Mercy” in the Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy, Ballaghaderreen.  The ceremony, simple and to the point, sought to mark the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis. Michael McCormack a local photographer has supplied the accompanying images.

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Golden Jubilee

Fr Michael Joyce gathered with family and friends to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Church of Our Lady Help of Christians, Swinford on June 19th – the eve of the Golden Jubilee of his Ordination to Priesthood for the Diocese of Achonry.  Fr Michael’s ministry in the diocese saw him teaching for two years in St Patrick’s, Swinford and until 1992 in St Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen.  Since then he has served as Parish Priest in three parishes – Curry, Swinford and Bohola.  Fr Michael retired last year and now resides in Swinford.  A native of the Parish of Foxford, he spoke at the Mass about the faith that was so evident in his home parish and of the many priests who were native to the parish and visited during his youth.  He talked of the Nuns asking him to serve Masses for these priests during their summer visits and how much he loved doing that.  He spoke too of the priests and the nuns of Foxford and how much they did for the community.  Added to this, his mother’s deep and abiding faith ensured prayer was central to their home (and games of cards too!!!).  All of this, Fr Michael believes, formed a piece that made the idea of priesthood very appealing to him and meaningful for him.

His love of priesthood is obvious and he spoke very movingly about his love of the Mass and his belief in God as a Loving Father who seeks never to punish but always to encourage and bring out the best in people.  He said he hopes he has relayed this belief during his time in the diocese. Referring to the mysteries of the Rosary, he said he was convinced his priesthood had taken him through much of the joyful and sorrowful mysteries – where he rejoiced with people in their celebrations and hoped he had been something of a support in times of trial, sickness, uncertainty and death.  The “Glorious” mysteries, he believes, await us all.

He mentioned the death of his father (aged 50) and that two days after the funeral he went to St Nathy’s as a First Year pupil.  It was a difficult time but he found great support and friendship in St Nathy’s and later in Maynooth College that has remained a constant in his life.  He has a keen interest in sport and believes this has been a great help to him through is life.

With a little emotion welling in his throat, he brought his words to a close with the simple and profound wish that God would “bless you all”.  The standing ovation that followed, bore witness to the regard people have for Fr Michael.

Speaking at the end of Mass Parish Priest, Fr Dermot Meehan, spoke of meeting Fr Michael when he went to St Nathy’s over forty years ago as a first year.  (Hard to believe Michael was less than ten years ordained then).  Fr Dermot said that Michael’s care for students and his great ability as a teacher had a strong part to play in his own decision to become a priest.  Thanking him, and other former teachers from St Nathy’s (also present at the Mass), Fr Michael was wished much joy and hearty congratulations.

Bishop Brendan spoke too of Michael’s kindness.  He commented on Michael’s use of the words “lovely” and “love” and believes these are rooted in his upbringing and experience of God.  It is clear Michael believes in God’s love and has sought to share it with others through the years of his ministry.

God Bless you Fr Michael.  Ad multos annos.

Chrism Mass Homily

chrism (Gospel: Lk 4:16-21)

Jesus, at home with his own people in the Synagogue of Nazareth, searches out in the Book of Isaiah the passage that was our First Reading today, and proclaims it for his own people.  Everything Jesus does in this short dramatic reading is very deliberate.  Most of all, this is true of the word he spoke at the end, when all eyes were fixed on him: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen”.  [And please God it is being fulfilled today through our agency]

When Pope Francis spoke to the assembled Bishops and other participants at the end of the Extraordinary Synod last October in Rome, he might have been commenting on this reading when he said:

“The first duty of the Pastor is to nourish the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome, with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears, the lost sheep”. 

But then the Holy Father immediately corrected himself: “I made a mistake here”, he said, “I said ‘welcome’…rather it is ‘to go out and find them’”.

The challenge Pope Francis has been putting to us constantly and unrelentingly since he succeeded to the See of Peter has been the challenge to become a missionary people: each one of us personally, and together also, to be a community of men and women who go out to the very people Isaiah speaks about in this text that Jesus searched out and proclaimed to his own people at Nazareth at the beginning of his public ministry.

‘Missionary’ now for us, then, means going out to our own people primarily and finding them. And it’s not a task for some priests or some people, but for all priests and all people. It is what we must turn our attention to in our diocesan and parish councils, in our teaching and preaching and above all in our renewed prayer. And there is room in this mission for all: for all adults of course, but also for all children, for all who are ill, suffering or disabled, and for all who are in the Golden Years of old Age. All of us Missionary together, going out actively if we are able, and in spirit if not so able, but going out to the lonely and the lost, the poor and the friendless, going out in our hearts all of us, and with our feet if blessed with physical energy and limbs that are still strong …

We live in a very inward-looking, self-regarding world. Even the most critical and noble of human quests, like the quest for justice, fairness human rights or freedom, can be turned into a narrow and egotistical pursuit. Realistically, this has always been the case. The love Jesus proclaimed and modelled for us supremely in the events we commemorate this week, was never easy for people to accept, not to mind embrace. Peter very blatantly and the other apostles too (except for the youngest, John), not to mention the crowd who cheered Jesus on last Sunday, demonstrate that this week so well.  Showing scant regard for the greater good of society and the future of humanity is not new.

To love is to go out of oneself, to put the other before oneself, to serve the other and to die in his or her defence if it comes to that.

In other words, it is the Way of the Cross, as this week that we call ‘holy’ proclaims. To love in this way, the way Jesus loved, is not easy.

But our call is to live ourselves the love he lived ‘to the end’ during these days. It is not for us to demand it of others, but to be examples of this love to them ourselves. With regard to how others may act, he set down the marker for us all: ‘Father, forgive them. They know not what they do’.

The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians. Laying down our own lives is what achieves the society we wish to build. There is no other way to establishing the Kingdom of God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The first prayer of this Mass today, our prayer today, asked God to grant: ‘…that being made sharers in Christ’s consecration, we may bear witness to His Redemption in the world’

The arena in which we live out our priesthood is ‘the world’. We are secular priests. For you and I, that world is now the world of 2015 here in the diocese of Achonry.

Our gift for this world is that we be ‘witnesses of His Redemption’ in it. Otherwise our words are empty.

This witnessing comes because we have accepted the call of God to share in Jesus’ consecration, as the prayer puts it. That is what happened when we were solemnly anointed with Holy Oil of Chrism at our ordination: we were made participators in Jesus’ own consecration as the Christ, Redeemer and Saviour.  So we are part of Christ…which means Jesus has washed my feet and I continually allow him do so. “If I do not wash you” Jesus said to Peter setting him straight, “You can have no part with me”.

To know how much I need this washing and to want it is the first step always… And tonight we will be challenged again with Peter….and there must only be one response, the response of Peter: “Then, Lord, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well”.

In other words, I come to him all the time to be cleansed, refreshed, and restored. I am to be Act of Contrition, morning noon and night. The first word of Jesus with which he began his public ministry was the cry: “Repent!”. If we have not made this first invitation of Jesus public’ ministry our own as priests – or is it not rather a demand, a sine qua non? -, we have no right to proclaim to anybody the second part of that invitation/command: ‘believe the Good News’

This means surely regular reconciliation, along with constant intimacy with him in reflection on the Gospel, prayer and contemplation. So that we ourselves be believers, first and foremost.

A lifestyle based on these foundations is what makes me a worthy and suitable minister of Christ’s sacraments to God’s people, the Sacraments so present to us all today in the Solemn Blessing of the Sacred Oil of Chrism, along with the other Holy Oils of Baptism and the Sick, to which we will proceed now as soon as we have made the renewal of our priestly promises.

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