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.
Bishop Brendan has announced the appointment of Fr Paul Kivlehan as Vocations Director for the diocese of Achonry. He succeeds Fr Gabriel Murphy in this role.
Bishop Brendan and all in the diocese express gratitude to both men for their commitment to this vital ministry. We ask that you will remember Fr Paul in his work and support him through your prayers for vocations.
Fr Paul, ordained in 2013, is the most recently ordained priest serving in our diocese. His own “Vocation Story” is shared on our Vocations Page
Contact Fr Paul if you would like to receive further information about Diocesan Priesthood in the Diocese of Achonry. Please use the following “Contact” Form.
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.
Please check back on this page for updates of Parish Events.
Bishop 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.
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.
Earlier today (Sunday February 1st) the Religious based in our diocese joined with Bishop Brendan and a number of our Diocesan Priests to celebrate Evening Prayer for the Vigil of The Presentation in the Temple. It was a very pleasant gathering and was intended to highlight the ministry of the Religious in our diocese. Sisters of the Mercy Order, St Louis Community, Ursulines, Marists, St John of God and one priest of the Holy Cross order were in attendance. Each Community brought forward a symbol associated with the Religous Community and spoke about the particular charism of the order. Each spoke too about what gives joy in the living of the Religious Vocation. Bishop Brendan read and spoke around the Gospel Passage of the Presentation in the Temple
HOMILY: [Gospel: The Presentation in the Temple (Lk 2:22-40)]
Simeon was ‘righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him…’
Anna ‘was of great age…a widow…84 years of age; she never left the Temple, but worshipped there with prayer and fasting night and day…’
When Mary and Joseph brought their infant to present him to the Lord in the Temple, they met an elderly man and an elderly woman, Simeon and Anna. She was a widow of 84 years of age, and about Simeon, we know ‘it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death till he had seen the Lord’s Messiah’, and when he had seen the child Jesus, he exclaimed ‘Now Master you may dismiss your servant in peace…’ so we presume he too was well on in years, preparing for death.
They clearly were very ordinary people, truly belonging to God’s Anawim: simple living, poor and utterly trusting in God, their lives centred on the Temple, the house of God. Anna ‘never left the Temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day’. Two people, utterly open to God, therefore wise and prophetic. What a climax to a life, what a maturity! Wilfrid Harrington says of Simeon: ‘There are still Simeons (and we can say also Annas) in our midst – many more, indeed, than we might think. They are not demonstrative people and do not get involved in controversy; they form no pressure group. Their piety is unobtrusive, but it is very real. They can live with sloppy liturgy and gimmickry because they can see beyond it. They can bear patiently and charitably with the foibles and failings of clergy. They can adapt to change. Though largely unnoticed, they form the backbone of a community. And the Holy Spirit works in them and through them’. (The Drama of Christ’s Coming’. 1988. Dominican Publications). Simeon foresaw what the infant, and his mother Mary, would go through: Anna we are told ‘told of the Infant to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem’. Having met the Word of God incarnate, she spoke of him to others, shared what she had seen and recognised (her heart, in other words). A missionary without going beyond those she met – or came to see her.
These two old people had come to know the truth: they found it incarnate in the tiny child and we can taste most of all in this story their profound joy. Simeon – ‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, according to your promise…my eyes have seen your salvation…for all nations…the light to enlighten all people…the glory of the people who believe’…
And Anna…praising God and speaking about the child to all who had ears and hopes…!
Two old people left in a state of absolute joy… what a gift they must have been to their community, and to the whole world since then down to ourselves today…
There are great temptations as we grow old and are not able to keep up with things, to give in to the critical, our questions are more persistent, our hopes bruised by what we see or can’t see… the seeming non-future of the consecrated life we chose with such youthful enthusiasm and ideals.
That’s why this Year from Pope Francis for Consecrated Life is such a surprise…Powerful affirmation that Consecrated Life is as central to the Church of the 21st Century as in any other, as foundational for the future of the Body of Christ as are Simeon and Anna to the story of Jesus from the beginning.
The Holy Father asks us to celebrate this year of Consecrated Life by looking at the past with gratitude, by living the present with passion, and by embracing the future with hope. It’s all about attitude, a way of looking at things, the constant and ever new call of Jesus to conversion. What is clear from his message for this year, but also from so many of his utterances, is that Pope Francis wants us most of all to check ourselves honestly against these standards. If I look on the past with gratitude, then I will be free to live the present with passion (happy now with all I can’t, as much as in the seeming little I can, do. – ‘for when I am weak, then I am strong’, as St Paul said. And finally I will then look to the future with hope…
What the Holy Father gives us is a recipe for joy. ‘Where there are Religious’, the Holy Father says ‘there is joy’. And its true. There was joy in preparing this little evening with you, and there is joy in your presence here today. That joy is sourced on choices made in youth, in the fidelity and repentance that you have practiced in lives of total service.
‘It is not by proselytising that the church grows, but by attraction’ the Pope says in Evangelium Gaudii, and ‘our effectiveness lies in the eloquence of our lives’
Let me end with a witness to the truth of that statement, and to the power for the Gospel we acquire in old age and when weakness takes pride of place in our lives:
David Neuhaus is a Jesuit priest in Israel. Last year he spoke at the Knock Novena. This week last year he was with the Bishops for our Retreat in Knock. He’s a wonderful scholar of the Old and New Testaments, and priest for the Hebrew speaking Catholic Community in Israel. He is also a Jew, whose family fled the Holocaust and was brought up in S Africa. At the age of 15 he was sent to Jerusalem to receive the best possible Jewish education. I’ll let him speak for himself
Father Neuhaus: I arrived in Israel at the age of 15 with a passion for history, and went off in search of a Russian princess who I knew had moved to Jerusalem. I was a Jewish adolescent and the scion of the Russian Empire I met, Mother Barbara, was almost 90, a Russian Orthodox nun for more than 50 years.
We spent hours together, talking about the last days of the Russian Empire, the revolution and its aftermath. In the course of our conversations, I noticed that this very old and frail lady shone with joy. I found that very strange as she was almost completely bedridden, confined to a small room in a convent and the only prospect she was facing was death.
One day, I plucked up the courage and asked her: Why are you so joyful? She knew I was a Jew and she was hesitant at first, but then as she began to speak of the great love in her life, the words came tumbling out and she became ever more radiant. She told me about Jesus Christ, about God’s love expressed in him, about her life of joy with him in the convent.
I was struck and know today that in her radiant joy I saw the face of Jesus for the first time.
The rest is history, we might say.
But what a history. And what a history we have here today. And the power of the Consecrated life you have chosen and lived is more powerful now potentially for the Church and the people of God in Achonry and the world than at any time before.
More than that, on this first day of Spring, Lá Fhéile Bríde, your continuing faithful living of the call of this moment of your existence as Consecrated people is planting tiny mustard seeds in the soil of God’s good earth that will bear fruit we know not in times when we are long forgotten.
Following a brave and faith-filled encounter with Motor Neurone Disease, Fr Andrew Finan died earlier this morning, February 2nd 2014, the Feast of The Lord’s Presentation in the Temple. May he rest in peace.
Ordained in 1980, Andrew spent practically all of his priestly life as a member of the teaching staff of St Nathy’s College.
We offer our deepest sympathy to his brother, family, teaching colleagues and many friends within and beyond our diocese.
With Simeon, central to this Feast Day, we pray:
“At last, all-powerful Master, you give leave to your servant to go in peace, according to your promise. For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared for all nations, the light to enlighten the Gentiles and give glory to Israel, your people.”
Monday: Reposing Sharkey’s Funeral Home, Ballaghaderreen from 4pm. Prayers at 6pm with removal to the Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy at 7.45pm for arrival at 8pm.
Tuesday: Funeral Mass at 1pm in Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy, followed by burial at Corrownagh Church, Ballisodare, Co Sligo.
MESSAGES OF SYMPATHY
If you would like to include a message of sympathy or a memory of Fr Andrew, please use the form below (Messages received will be included on this page)
Sympathy to +Brendan Kelly & Collleagues on Andrew Finan’s Death. His final “Nunc Dimittis” was on Sunday as we celebrated the Feast of the Light of the Lord’s Presence for all people.
“AT LAST” Andrew, whose Patron’s name was the Apostle who led Peter to Jesus, can now know that making sense of life and suffering also means having a meaning for death. I visited him often when he was in hospital and in the Nursing Home. His faith accepted the illness, which was borne with a calm hope. Gethsemane and Calvary merged for him.
When I was in London as an Emigrant Chaplain, Andrew stayed with me. He was intensely investigative on so many areas of life and people, but never nosey!! Andrew’s own Faith was strong…I have no doubt he led many to the Lord with all his unique interests. Sorry that I cannot make it to the Funeral Mass.
Fr John Cullen
God rest Fr Andrew. Having worked with him in the diocese for nearly 27 years, I can say that his illness, tragic and uninvited, led him to his finest hour. His witness was was humbling, his faith certain and his priesthood lived at the Altar of suffering. May he rest in the peace he so truly deserves.
My deepest sympathy to Andrew’s family and brother-priests in Achonry. May his gentle soul rest in peace.
Having attended Saint Nathy’s in my secondary schooling I had the pleasure to have his educational influence in my life. I was deeply upset to hear of his passing as his sole influence in my life turned me from a Liverpool urbanite (my junior school years) to what kind of person I am today. He solely introduced me into the world of poetry, opened tangents of mindful thinking, philosophy, romantic Ireland of the past and I was uniquely honoured to receive the copy of The Universal Prayer from which Fr Andrew regularly recited extracts in our post class prayer. I would not be the man I am today, the regular poet, the browser of self help books, open mindedness had it not been for this wonderful man’s education. I would be honoured if you can email me back so I can send you the poem I wrote in his memory yesterday.
On life and learning (in memory of Fr.Andrew Finan)
Some people lay instruction to get all the gold and silver you can,
To spur us from youth to adulthood, from boyhood into man,
There are those whom were loving as a child,
But life turneth them into hatred with their spirit running wild,
There are men who make war with peace a bitter pill,
People who make false testament , promises but never will.
Personal gains of wealth, recognition is not for me,
Just to write my thoughts on paper and simply let me be,
The power of words unveiled to me by such a well read man,
Proved to me in adult life, it’s words that simply can,
Change a way of thinking , open the mind to spectrums of intuition
I thank the man who brought me into poetic fruition,
Let no stone be unturned in our learning life on earth,
Let each person know their individual and their own self worth,
Let us grow rich by the page that we turn not the power of our name,
Because underneath we are human, our composition all the same.
Betwixt the broadsheets, he would underline fact from fiction,
And turned my glance of past poets into an intriguing addiction,
He sought truth from literature with self-building interpretation,
But I moved on in life and never stopped to give him congratulation
I will gladly carry the teachings and share the richness I absorbed back then,
And thank you Father Andrew for all you gave the power of the pen.
Some images from Ordination Ceremony on June 9th in Achonry-Mullinabreena Parish. Fr Paul Kivlehan becomes the newest priest in our diocese. We thank God for his ordination and pray God’s many and continued blessings on his ministry.
BISHOP BRENDAN’S HOMILY
Anointing with Chrism
‘As the father has loved me
So I have loved you.
Remain in my love….
Love one another as I have loved you….’(Gospel John 15, 9-17)
My dear people of Achonry-Mullinabreena
It is good to be with you today, gathered in this beautifully renewed church of the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart of God’s Love. I’m deeply conscious of how you have prepared for this day, the effort and time put in, especially over the past year, so that this would be what it should be, a day to remember, a day when you are at your best as God’s people, a family of faith. Thank you and thank you for Paul.
I’m deeply conscious too that this is the parish of St Nathy, and the parish that gives its name to our diocese. St Nathy is our patron and our father in the faith.
Being here focusses us on the origins, the beginnings of the faith story of the diocese 1500 years ago, and how deep are the roots of the faith that is expressed so eloquently in all the preparations, as in all that we are doing today in Ordaining Paul as priest.
In this Year of Faith, it is no accident that we are having our first Ordination to the priesthood in 10 years, and that that ordination is taking place here in the parish of the priest Nathy himself, with whom the faith story of the diocese began, all those centuries ago.
The faith womb from which Paul the priest is being born today is very deep….
People of Achonry-Mullinabreena, you have restored and renewed this church building for this day on which you give Paul to the diocese as priest. Please let us pray today and let deep reflection begin on the treasure that is our Christian faith, and belonging with Jesus to the family of God, and how that gift of faith may be renewed and restored in the hearts of all the people of this diocese of St Nathy. May this day mark a new beginning for faith throughout our diocese, beginning from this parish….
In the context of renewal, I am reminded of what Pope John Paul 2 said at Knock in September 1979, the very month in which you were born, Paul:
“The task of renewal in Christ is never finished. Every generation, with its own mentality and characteristics, is like a new continent to be won for Christ. The Church must constantly look for new ways that will enable her to understand more profoundly and to carry out with renewed vigour the mission received from her Founder’. If that was true in 1979, it is even more true today….and we take these words to heart on this day of profound hope and, yes, why not, new beginning for us all.
I want to welcome your family, Paul. There are many of them here, including your brother Walter. But I want especially to welcome Annie-Mae and Walter, your parents. They have been your first teachers in the ways of Faith, your best teachers. And you will find Paul that they will continue to be that. A home and parents where prayer and faith is part of the air we breathe is a fountain from which you will continue to draw ever deeper strength as you respond to God’s call, and bring the Good News of God’s love to others in your priestly ministry, especially when the going gets tough. As it will betimes.
In a few moments we will continue with the Ordination ceremony. It is a solemn and joyful ceremony, with many moments rich in word and in sign. The final moment will be when your parents bring forward the chalice and paten which I will then present to you with the words:
‘Accept from the holy people of God
the gifts to be offered to Him.
Know what you are doing,
And imitate the mystery you celebrate:
Model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross’.
This entire ordination ceremony is embedded in the Eucharist, which is the mystery of the Lord’s cross. Out of that mystery, though, Resurrection and new life are born. And out of this mystery too your priesthood is born. Today you become a man of the Eucharist.
A priest doesn’t just celebrate the Holy Eucharist or preside at it:
He becomes eucharist: taken, blest, broken, given.
‘Know what you are doing’, the ceremony will state in a moment, ‘and imitate the mystery you celebrate’.
Already in responding to that small persistent voice [which you recognised in several seemingly small but key moments in your life,] you are aware of the fact that responding to God’s call to priesthood costs. There is a cross. The preface of today’s mass speaking of the priestly vocation, puts it well as it prays to God for priests: it says
‘As they give up their lives for you and for the salvation of their brothers and sisters, they strive to be conformed to the image of Christ himself and offer you a constant witness of faith and love’.
The commitment to celibacy made with diaconate, the promise of obedience today, are part of that giving up, that witness of faith and love. Priesthood doesn’t come cheap.
Were this not a Sunday, we would be celebrating on this day, June 9, the feast of the great St Colmcille or Columba. In this context, there is an ancient little tale recounted in the Book of Lismore. It tells us that Colmcille came to visit Nathy here in Achonry one time. Along with him were two other famous saints and founders of churches, St Cainneach of Ossory (Kilkenny) and St Comghall of Bangor. They arrived after evening meal time, and Nathy left them without food till the morning – that was the normal fasting time in the ancient Irish monasteries – and then he assessed their reactions! Fasting was a central part of Christian practice in ancient Achonry. The fact is worth pondering, but we won’t talk about fasting here now for today and tomorrow!
You see Nathy, good priest that he was, was right…assessing the reaction of his friends to the fasting, the sacrifice the situation they found themselves in demanded. Life as priest invites us to fast often…as it invites all the people of God, whose servants we are. That’s how it was for the Master who calls us, even to the ultimate deprivation and desolation that was Golgotha.
But already, Paul, you have tasted too the truth of resurrection, new life, joy. You come here today surrounded by love: family, friends, neighbours …community, the rocklike security of knowing you belong and are cherished…. This ceremony and this day with all its preparation, as already mentioned, is redolent of sacrifice and unselfish giving: and all of that, a sure image and taste of the infinite love of the one Jesus reveals to us all as Father. We beautify our churches so they will remind us of heaven, and the great joy that is the fulfilment of all human longing. We are a people of Resurrection, and you will be a man of resurrection, feet firmly planted in the whole of the Paschal mystery, because you are man of the Holy Eucharist
The mayflower is in full bloom outside and the sun glorious in the sky, our ceremony here is rich and we are all gathered in faith and hope and love around you. God is doing a good thing in you, Paul, for all our sakes. Thank you for your yes to him, and may He, who has begun this work in you, bring it to fulfilment in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.