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Catholic Schools Week 2018

WELCOME

To celebrate Catholic Schools Week 2018, Bishop Brendan Kelly will be Principal Celebrant at Mass in St James’ Church, Charlestown on Wednesday January 31st at 7pm.  This Mass will be a Diocesan Gathering to celebrate the life lived in the schools of our Diocese. Prayers will be offered and blessings sought for all pupils, teachers, families and staff.

Please know that you are welcome to come along, join us in prayer, and to support the work done in classrooms and behind the scenes in all our schools.


The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2018 is:

“Catholic Schools: Families of Faith”.


For information on Catholic Schools Week 2018, please click HERE


Some images from Mass in Charlestown on Wednesday, January 31st.

https://youtu.be/IeGOh-x1-G8?rel=0

Sr Mary Richardson and Mrs Marian Maloney (Diocesan Advisors to Primary Schools) were very instrumental in arranging this evening’s Liturgy.  At the end of the Mass, Sr Mary spoke words of thanks to Bishop Brendan on behalf of those gathered.  She thanked him for his commitment and dedicated service to the school communities of the diocese during his ten years as Bishop of Achonry.  She wished him continued blessings as he prepares to move to Galway, where he will become Bishop of Galway on February 11th.

She concluded her words with a brief quotation from the late poet and writer, John O’Donohue

https://youtu.be/aQ-FJ6GHX5Y?rel=0

Bishop Brendan, in response, made the following comments before offering his prayers and blessings to all gathered.

https://youtu.be/BvaQsHBMHOs?rel=o

Bishop Brendan appointed Bishop of Galway

Bishop Brendan Kelly

Bishop Brendan, appointed Bishop of Achonry in November 2007 and ordained in January 2008, has today been appointed Bishop of Galway.  The Diocese, in thanking him for his wonderful leadership over the past nine years, is tinged with sadness as we prepare to bid him farewell.  Returning to his native diocese, we wish him every happiness and blessing and know that his contribution to the life of Galway diocese will be meaningful and rooted in the Gospel he so cherishes.


STATEMENT OF MONSIGNOR THOMAS JOHNSTON, VICAR GENERAL

I congratulate Bishop Brendan Kelly on his appointment as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and as Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, and with the priests, religious and people of Achonry I pray God’s blessing on him in this new ministry.

Bishop Brendan was ordained bishop of Achonry in January 2008 and he brought to that office many fine qualities, personal and pastoral. We thank him most especially for his kindness to priests and people alike, his commitment to priesthood and dedication to ministry.

We appreciate the initiatives he introduced, encouraged and supported within the diocese, his deep appreciation of the work of priests, his encouragement for their various ministries and his understanding of their ever increasing work-load.

As bishop, he was always deeply aware and encouraging of the ministries and activities carried out by the many volunteers at parish and diocesan level.

His appointment to the see of Galway takes him back to the place of his birth and early priesthood and while we would love to see him remain in Achonry, we know that God’s will comes first.

We remain forever grateful for the time Bishop Brendan spent in our diocese and assure him today and always of our continued prayers.

Monsignor Thomas Johnston,

Vicar-General Diocese of Achonry

11th December 2017


STATEMENT OF ARCHBISHOP EAMONN MARTIN

Following the appointment today by Pope Francis of Bishop Brendan Kelly as the new Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and as Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, Archbishop Eamon Martin has published the following statement of congratulations:

“I wish to offer my warmest congratulations and prayerful support to Bishop Brendan Kelly for his generous acceptance of a new episcopal appointment.

“Bishop Brendan’s ten years of pastoral service as Bishop of Achonry have been characterised by a natural warmth and empathy towards the people, priests and religious of the diocese, and a gentle, prayerful and caring leadership.

Now he returns to his roots! As a native of Craughwell, and a priest of longstanding, dedicated service in the diocese of Galway, Bishop Brendan will no doubt receive a wholehearted welcome home from the clergy and faithful of his native diocese. He returns with the benefit of new wisdom and experience garnered among the faithful people of Achonry.

“I am pleased that Bishop Brendan will continue his valued service to the Irish Episcopal Conference. His contribution, to date, has been immense – as a member of Standing Committee, the Commission for Catholic Education and Formation, Council for Liturgy and as chair of the Bishops’ Council for Education.

“In recent days, we rejoiced with Bishop Brendan as he brought to completion a project that has been dear to his heart as a native Irish speaker – the launch of the new altar edition of An Leabhar Aifrinn Rómhánach, the Irish translation of the Roman Missal.  One of the most important recent cultural achievements in this country, its preparation and production was the fruit of years of intensive work and collaboration of many individuals from throughout the Church, and Bishop Brendan deserves great credit for delivering an Irish Missal that we can all be proud of.

A man of great gifts, I wish him happiness and fulfilment in his new appointment.

“May Saint Colman, Saint Fachanan and Our Lady Assumed into Heaven guide Bishop Brendan in his new role in Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

Guím gach rath Dé air agus ar a chuid saothair.”


STATEMENT OF ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL NEARY

“On behalf of the Bishops of the metropolitan province of Tuam, I wish to take this opportunity to warmly congratulate Bishop Brendan Kelly on his new appointment as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

“Bishop Brendan was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Galway in 1971 and will now return as its bishop.  As both priest and bishop, Bishop Brendan has been a much loved local pastor and a very popular shepherd to the faithful of Achonry since his ordination as bishop on 27 January 2008.  His personal integrity, generosity of spirit and outstanding ministry to the people of the diocese will surely be missed.  No doubt he will bring the same natural enthusiasm and pastoral leadership to the people of his diocese of origin in Galway.”

Archbishop Neary concluded, “On this special day for the diocese and for the country, I ask the faithful to join with me in prayer to ask the Lord to guide and bless Bishop Brendan as he undertakes his new and important Episcopal appointment.”


APPOINTMENT WELCOMED BY CANON MICHAEL McLOUGHLIN,

Please see below the statement of welcome by the Very Reverend Michael Canon McLoughlin, Diocesan Administrator, regarding the news today that the Most Reverend Bishop Brendan Kelly has been appointed by Pope Francis as the new Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora:

“With great joy and with a feeling of some relief, I am honoured and I am proud to say to our new bishop – ceád mile fáilte romhat abhaile arís.

“We, the priests and people of these three ancient dioceses, have been through a sixteen-month Advent since the retirement of Bishop Martin Drennan in July 2016.  We have been waiting daily in expectation and in hope for white smoke.  Now that hope has been fulfilled with news from Rome and we at last can begin preparations to welcome one of our own back home to lead us and to be our shepherd.

“We have no doubt that Bishop Brendan will be a good shepherd.  The people of Lisdoonvarna and of Spiddal can testify to his compassion and his dedication, to his gentleness and his kindness when he were their priest.  Those many pupils he taught in Coláiste Éinde and in Our Lady’s College, Gort will also know of his abilities and commitment both inside and outside the classroom.  Although he left us ten years ago for Ballaghaderreen, we watched and regarded him with pride and we always kept him in our prayers.

“And now we are very pleased indeed that he has come back to us. We look forward to making him feel welcome and to helping him readjust.  We know some of his many gifts.  Like Bishop Drennan and Bishop McLoughlin before him, he has a passion for the Irish language and for Irish culture.  In his work he has always prioritised evangelisation and the wonderful potential of Catholic education. We know from his words in Oranmore last September, when he ordained our newest priest – Father Declan Lohan – that fostering and inspiring vocations to the priesthood and the religious life has always been to the fore in everything he says and does.  And we know too that he is a man of integrity and of deep faith.  These things are important to us: the priests and people of this diocese.  We look forward, with the help of God and our Blessed Mother, to sharing the journey in the years ahead with our new Bishop.  May God bless our work together mar ní neart go cur le chéile !

“On a personal note, as my time as Diocesan Administrator draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank, with deep gratitude, those many people who have supported me in my work these past sixteen months.  I will be forever indebted to our retired bishop, Martin Drennan, for his wisdom and unfailing kindness and to all those many people who worked closely with me in the Diocesan Office, in Moycullen, throughout Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and beyond.  I believe that Bishop Brendan is coming back home to a diocese full of enormous potential and promise and I wish him, and pray him, bountiful blessings.

“When a priest is first ordained, each priest at the ceremony goes at once to him, offers him the kiss of peace and whispers quietly in his ear ‘ad multos annos’, which means ‘to many years’.  Bishop Brendan, on my own behalf and on behalf of your priests and your people, from our hearts, we also say on this special day: ad multos annos!” 


BISHOP BRENDAN KELLY REFLECTS ON APPOINTMENT

A Cháirde dhíl,

Go mbeannaí Dia dhaoibh … Níor shíl mé riamh go mbeinn anseo, ná go mbeadh an ócáid seo ag tarlú.  Go raibh maith agaibh as teacht agus fanacht.

I am still somewhat in shock.  Having settled happily in Achonry, I never expected I never expected to be asked to take on the shepherding of another diocese.  However, the fact that it is my own native diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora makes it much easier to say yes to this appointment with which Pope Francis has chosen to honour me.  I am very grateful to the Holy Father for his trust.  And it is good to be coming home.

Tá mé sásta freisin bheith ag freastal arís i ndeoise ina bhfuil paróistí bhreátha Gaeltachta. Ba mhór an bheannacht  dom féin blianta a chaitheamh i measc muintir Chois Fharraige  i bparóiste An Spidéil.  Is maith bheith ar ais libh arís.

It is now over 10 years since I was appointed by Pope Benedict as Bishop of Achonry.  I have been very happy in Ballaghaderreen. I am deeply grateful first of all to the priests of the Achonry diocese.  Their welcome to me from the beginning was entirely generous and warm. I believe we have worked together well. I want to thank them with all my heart for their constant support, kindness and acceptance of all I asked of them. I will miss them, but I believe the bonds of friendship and fraternity will endure and continue to sustain me.

From the start, the welcome and acceptance I experienced from the people of Achonry, including the Religious, has been warm and generous, too.  It has been a grace from God to serve them and I trust they will continue to carry me in prayer as I will them. There are those then who worked with me on a daily basis in Achonry. I owe them a special debt of gratitude. I thank them and will miss them.

Now as I stand here in this beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas, I am conscious of all that lies ahead.  I look forward to working again with the priests of Galway diocese, colleagues since the day I was ordained up to the time I left here 10 years ago.  Many of you have been good friends to me for years.  And I am thinking today with deep gratitude to God of so many of them atá imithe ar shlí na fírinne, great mentors and friends.

I realise there is much work to be done. Somewhere all of us in the Church in Ireland need renewal in faith and in prayer at this time.  Pope Francis is very clear. All of us who have been baptised are missionaries and all of us must be on a continuous journey of conversion. The world needs the Good News as much or more than at any other moment in history.  We have all, priests and people, been solemnly commissioned at Baptism to carry that Good News to the people of our times, most particularly to those who are  experiencing exclusion, isolation and rejection and who are in need of good shepherds.  I invite you all to assume along with me a new determination to be those good shepherds and bearers of the Good News, priests and people together.

I want to say a particular word of thanks here today to my friend Canon Michael McLoughlin, with whom I served happy years in Lisdoonvarna.  Canon Michael has carried the burden of the Administration of the diocese since Bishop Martin retired.  I thank you, Michael, for the courage and faith with which you took on the task, the work you have done and the kindness with which you have dealt with each situation and the people involved.

I want to thank also Bishop Martin, my predecessor as bishop, for honouring the occasion with your presence, and I am so glad you are here today. Thank you for the years you gave shepherding all of us here in the diocese of Galway. Your prayers and scholarly love for God’s Word along with your wise counsel are still needed and I will be availing of them. We are glad that, in retirement, you have chosen to make your home among us and I personally look forward to your ongoing prayerful presence in the years ahead.  And speaking to you as a Kilkenny man, I have to say that I am glad to be returning at a time when Liam McCarthy is making his home again very happily west of the Shannon in this great County!

At the present time we are all looking forward to the World Meeting of Families in August in Dublin and particularly, please God, to a visit from Pope Francis. Pope Francis has set a very clear path for the Church in our time: He has placed the family at the heart of his programme from the start.  The theme he has given for the World Meeting in Dublin is “The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World”. We are all called to be and to build family domestically and at every level.  It is nothing short of tragic that in a time of unprecedented prosperity for so many, too many families are finding that there is no house for them, no room for them in the Inn. Then there is Our Holy Father’s focus on young people who must always be our first priority in the Church of Jesus Christ.  Along with family and young people, there is the critical mission in Ireland at this time that is Evangelisation: discovering anew the wonder and gift that Jesus Christ is for ourselves and learning anew how to share this gift with others.  We are becoming a smaller, weaker and poorer church.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I look forward to working closely with the priests and people of our parishes and diocese, with colleagues and good friends in the other Christian communities represented in our city and beyond, and with all people of good will, men and women, both the young and those who have the wisdom of years, as we build together the Kingdom of God. We must work together in new ways and as never before so that we will be a church that is open and welcoming, humble and full of mercy, and cherishing human life at its most fragile and vulnerable, no matter what the price: in other words, a church that confidently takes our stand always with the one who was crucified and whose birth outside and in abject poverty we are preparing now to celebrate again at Christmas.

Finally, mo bhuíochas ó chroí daoibh ar fad as bheith anseo ar maidin.  Please pray for me that I may give my life as Jesus did in service of you, his people.


BIOGRAPHY (Catholic Communications Office)

He was ordained to the priesthood on 20 June 1971 by Bishop Brown in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas in Galway city.

His first appointment was to the parish of Kinvara as a curate before being appointed to the teaching staff of Coláiste Éinde in Salthill in 1972, completing a Higher Diploma in Education in the then University College Galway (now the National University of Ireland, Galway) in 1973.

Bishop Brendan remained on the staff of Coláiste Éinde until 1980 when he was transferred to the teaching staff of Our Lady’s College, Gort, becoming President in 1986.

Following the 1995 amalgamation of the three Gort secondary schools, Bishop Brendan applied for and was granted sabbatical leave from his diocese for one year and went to live with the L’Arche Community at Cuise-la-Motte in France.  Founded by Jean Vanier in 1964, the worldwide L’Arche movement seeks to create inclusive, creative and caring families where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work in friendship, joy and mutual respect.

Returning to his diocese in 1996, Bishop Brendan was appointed by Bishop James McLoughlin as

Parish Priest of Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare and subsequently as Parish Priest of An Spidéal in 2003.

On 20 November 2007, Bishop Brendan was named by Pope Benedict XVI as the Bishop of Achonry, succeeding recently retired Bishop Thomas Flynn.  On 27 January 2008 he was ordained to the episcopate by Cardinal Seán Brady in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and Saint Nathy in Ballaghaderreen.

Today, 11 December 2017, Pope Francis, named Bishop Brendan as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, succeeding Bishop Martin Drennan who retired in July 2016.

It is planned that Bishop Brendan’s ‘Installation Ceremony’ will take place in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas on 11 February 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Bishop Brendan’s episcopal motto is ‘De réir d’fhocail’ (‘According to your word’ Lk 1:38).  He:

– is a fluent Irish speaker and has a working knowledge of the French language;

– was a member of the Standing Committee of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference for six years;

– is a member of the Bishops’ Council of the Liturgy;

– is a member of the Bishops’ An Coiste Comhairleach um Liotúirge i nGaeilge;

– is a member of the Bishops’ Commission for Catholic Education and Formation;

– is Chairman of the Bishops’ Council for Education;

– is a member of The Council for the West.

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.

John Paul 11 Awards

The diocese of Achonry had its first presentation of the (St) John Paul 11 Awards this evening (November 21st) in St Nathy’s College, Ballaghderreen.  Bishop Brendan Kelly presented the awards to nineteen students from throughout the diocese in the presence of their families, teachers and friends.  Members of the Knights of St Columbanus were also in attendance.  This first group, though small, is seen as a very important development in the diocese.  Monica Morley spoke to the gathering and encouraged the young people to keep deeply involved in their church, making the point that Parish is the touchstone.  Bishop Brendan thanked the young people and congratulated them on their achievements.  Three of the recipients spoke of their journey through the awards process and it was evident the journey had been good for them.  Activities included volunteering in St Vincent de Paul Shop, being part of the youth group on our Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, helping a local priest edit and publish the parish bulletin, joining Folk Group, being Ministers of The Word and much more.  All in all, impressive presentations by impressive young people.  Well done to them all.

The students were from secondary schools in Charlestown, Tubbercurry, Ballymote, Ballaghaderren and Ballisodare.  Fr Joe Gavigan, Chaplain to the Knights of St Columbanus, welcomed them all and wished them well.

Sisters of St Louis Kiltimagh

On Sunday, October 9th 2016, Bishop Brendan was Principal Celebrant at Mass in Kiltimagh.  The Mass was one of thanksgiving and farewell for the Sisters of St Louis, whose long link with Kiltimagh has come to an end.  Below is the text of the homily preached by Bishop Brendan on this sad but memorable occasion for the parish and the Sisters of St Louis.


St Louis Secondary School, Kiltimagh

St Louis Secondary School, Kiltimagh

Go mbeannaí Dia dhaoibh a phobail dílis Dé Choillte Mách. Is maith bheith libh inniu ar an ócaid buíoch, brónach, stairiúil seo: Slán le Siúracha Naomh Lughaidh.

I’m happy to be with you today for this Mass of Thanksgiving for the immense, immeasurable and irreplaceable contribution of the Sisters of St Louis to this parish and its people over one hundred and nineteen years. Our theme can only be thanksgiving, but it is tinged with a deep sense of sadness. The loss of a praying community, consecrated to God and to the welfare of his people, particularly the most needy, that loss to this parish and to the entire diocese is a great one.

The Gospel today is apt for the occasion. The leper who came back to Jesus when he found himself cured ‘threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him’

That is exactly what we are doing here today in this Mass, metaphorically: throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus and thanking him for 119 years of the dedicated service and faithful presence of the Sisters of St Louis in our midst, as parish and diocese. In doing so we throw ourselves too at your feet, sisters, in deep gratitude to you and all those St Louis Sisters who have served here all the way back to the arrival here of the first six sisters on the 14th of September, 1897.

The person responsible for what a newspaper of the day called ‘the home-bringing’ of the nuns to Kiltimagh was the great Fr Denis O Hara. The paper goes on to report that the ‘good nuns of St Louis’ arrived ‘amid the prayers and blessings of priests and people’…referring to the crowd that had gathered at the station to greet the sisters and accompany them to the new convent Fr Denis had had built for them. Today, the prayers and blessings of priests and people now accompany the final departure of the nuns, though these prayers and blessings are accompanied now more with sadness than celebration.

Today is October 9th, the feast of St Denis, when the girls in the St Louis Secondary school always got a free day. Such was the respect in which Fr Denis was always held and remembered by the sisters. I like to think that it’s no mere coincidence that we happen to be giving thanks to God for the sisters on this day. It is most surely the hand of Providence giving us a sign. What is happening now in October 2016 regarding the sisters and this parish is all part of God’s providential design. May we be able to discern truly its meaning for this parish and for the sisters in this year of Our Lord, 2016. That calls for deep faith and trust in the eternal wisdom and goodness of God towards us.

Around the time Fr Denis came here in 1887 as PP, a newspaper of the day described Kiltimagh as a ‘ruined hamlet of thatched hovels’. Fr Denis immediately set about improving the lot of the people. Within two years of his arrival, this magnificent Church was built and consecrated. By the time he convinced the Sisters of St Louis in Monaghan to come here in 1897 and provide education for girls, Fr Denis had been instrumental in establishing six primary schools in the parish, bringing the railway to Kiltimagh, in forcing landlords to lower rents. He was a steadfast in his support of Michael Davitt and the Land League, for the sake of the impoverished tenants.

But no project was dearer to this good man’s heart than convincing the St Louis sisters in Monaghan to come here. Fr Denis could see the value of an education for the local women and girls as part of his great dream of lifting the people here out of poverty, giving new hope and creating new opportunities for them, thus enabling them to cope and contribute confidently to building of family, community and society, be that at home or as emigrants, for emigration was the destiny of many from these parts.

Fr Denis chose well. Over the subsequent years, the sisters took charge first of the new girls primary school, then established the Technical school for women and girls, where practical skills – dressmaking, laundry, poultry-keeping and finer arts like lace-making were taught. Within 4 weeks of its opening, 80 girls and women were enrolled. The sisters travelled all around the area on foot encouraging and inviting the young ladies of the area to come. Then St Philomena’s boarding school was established, and soon acquired a reputation for excellence in education that was nation-wide. Later on in the 30’s a highly successful commercial school was established. Along with all of that the sisters were discreetly and always available to help people in their need and poverty, in whatever way they could.
It’s an extraordinary story of extraordinary achievement that must not be forgotten. It arouses a deep sense of admiration but most of all of gratitude in any decent heart. Such stories need telling and remembering in these days when a sense of unearned entitlement so often takes all the space and the capacity for generosity, service, self-sacrifice is not awakened and called forth in men and women. The question for us all now is how can these qualities, so evident in the story of the sisters of St Louis be enkindled and ignited in this generation? This is where a new evangelisation, a new connecting with the greatest story of hope ever lived, the story of Jesus, is called for. For it was out of faith in Jesus, and joyful intimacy with his word and way that the story and the contribution of the Sisters of St Louis in Kiltimagh was born and sustained over so many decades.

The changes that occurred from the 1960’s on – the government more and more taking responsibility for education and social welfare, free education, growing material prosperity, the opening up to the world that came with television, cheaper transport etc., saw the sisters adjusting – coeducation, decline in need for Boarding schools etc. Eventually the amalgamation with Scoil Raftearaí took place and the St Louis Community School was born. Vocations to the sisterhood declined and gradually the sisters withdrew, quietly and without fanfare or fuss, as always accepting the new and emerging reality as part of God’s mysterious plan.

And so we come to this day. This moment of Farewell. I’d like to quote what one of the sisters has written: ‘The sisters have given much, but they received much too in this community of Kiltimagh. It has been their home and a place of friendships, kindnesses, support, being church together and part of a community, especially in these latter years in Cordarragh. Many sisters are buried here, both in the former convent cemetery and in Kilkenure in the past 20 years.’ In other words, they are part forever of the story of this parish and community and for that are deeply grateful.

The story of the sisters here is one, like that of Fr Denis O Hara who brought them here, of building and serving the great ideal and command of Jesus: be community, not just individual. Build communion, that most holy thing. Servants of unity…of what Jesus prayed for at the very end: that they may all be one. The wisdom of God lives in lives that are faithful to his word: that is how that unity, that communion, is formed and grows. These were the values set in place by the founders of the St Louis story in France one hundred years exactly – 1797- before they came to Kiltimagh.

AS we look back today, sisters, over your presence here for 119 years, we see how faithfully you carried out and lived your founding ideals. Our hearts are full of gratitude then at this Mass as we remember, and we give God thanks for you. And as we pray his blessing on each and every one of you. This community, this parish, this diocese will not forget.

The Samaritan leper came back, we are told today. Crying out the praise of God, threw himself at the feet of Jesus, and thanked him. So do we thank God and thank you as we now celebrate this Holy Eucharist.

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