Saturday, October 21, 2017

Happy Halloween!


We are about to move from the month of October to November and there is a sense of time slipping by very quickly. A reminder of that is in the shops and at the entrance to our houses. They are awash with ghoulish and macabre Halloween outfits and accessories.  Grinning skulls, skeleton costumes and fake tombstones can be purchased. Witches’ broomsticks and wizards’ wands are accompanied by various images and symbols marked with an RIP.  It’s all very different from the simple Halloween apples and nuts festivities of my childhood. Rightly so, time moves on and social habits change. 

The word Halloween has been corrupted with time. It's full title is ALL HALLOWS EVE, which means 'the evening before All Saints'. 'Hallow' is another word for holy or saint. We meet it in the common version of the Our Father. 

Halloween has its origins in Celtic times associated with the ancient Gaelic festival of 'Samhain', which was a celebration of the end of the harvest season and take stock of supplies and prepare for the winter. It was at this time of the year a celebration of the transition from light to darkness was ritualised. Our Celtic ancestors also believed that the boundary between our world and that of the dead was very thin; they believed the spirits of the dead returned. The veil between this world and the next was at its weakest, demons crossed over from the beyond and extracted their revenge on those they felt scorned by, carrying you or yours back to hell with them. People wore masks and costumes to mimic or appease the spirits. I wonder if the death-themes in our Halloween celebrations are an attempt to recapture the spirit of the Feast of All Souls, on November 2, when Christians remember and pray for their deceased relatives!

We may think Halloween is silly nonsense driven by commercialism and a waste of money. In recent times, it is very much a children's feast with their custom of dressing up in various scary costumes and visiting the houses in the neighbourhood. At the door they shout 'Trick or Treat' - implying that they would play some trick on the people if they did not receive some treat from them. Children love it and always will. Halloween has a lot to offer. It can put us in touch with the mystery of life and that some things in life are often clouded in darkness. It puts us in touch with the struggle between light and darkness and the struggle between good and evil. Halloween may have pagan origins but it embraces the Christian message too. It’s a simple Halloween message that God calms, encourages and reassures us, especially when we struggle with darkness, evil, mystery and the unknown. Enjoy a happy and safe Halloween break!       


Thursday, October 12, 2017

October we celebrate Mission Month


Each year the focus is put on mission during the month of October. In the past when we thought of mission we thought of the thousands of heroic Irish women and men who went all over the world giving of their time to work with people in spreading the Gospel. There are in excess of 1,000 Irish missionaries serving throughout the world. During the month of October, we celebrate the work of our missionaries, remembering them in our prayers and asking God's blessing on the good work that they do.


However, we have a wider sense of mission today. Pope Francis gives us the theme for World Mission Sunday on 22nd October 2017, when he says, ‘Mission is at the heart of Christian Faith’. In his message for World Mission Sunday, he focuses on the need to gather round the person of Jesus and to heed his call to “proclaim the Gospel of the love of God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit”. He also emphasises the Church’s role as being “missionary in nature” and that “young people are the hope of mission”.

Every Christian is a Missionary. Today every country is mission territory, every Christian, each one of us is called to witness to the joy of the Gospel in our families, in the factories and on the farm, in offices and schools and in the places where we socialise. Being a missionary in this sense can be as simple as an encouraging word, a smile, reaching out to a neighbour in need, being with people who grieve, encouraging or being patient with the young or the old. That is how the Gospel is spread. And for most of us that ‘home mission’ is the difficult challenge we face every day.

If you would like to be a missionary or wish to find out more about the Presentation Brothers, don't hesitate to drop me an email at: vocation@presentationbrothers.org. 


Monday, October 2, 2017

A Visit to the Ploughing Championships!

‘No one who puts their hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God’ Lk. 9:62.


I always enjoy a day at the ploughing championships maybe because of the happy memories I retain from growing up on the family farm. The world and his mother beat a track to the ploughing every September. It is Europe’s largest outdoor event with in excess of 280.000 visitors attending this year’s event in Screggan, Tullamore. Local farmers provided 600 hundred acres of their land to meet the requirements for the ploughing events, parking and approx. 2,000 exhibits. 

I was representing Vocations Ireland. I shared a stand with Franciscans OFM. NET Ministries Team joined us for the three days. We were kept on our toes with the footfall to our stand which was very encouraging. People were requesting prayers of all kinds; children were seeking prayer cards for their pets and animals. Farmers a blessing for their land and others a prayer for sick friends. Wrist bands and crosses were also in great demand.    

It is said that people who are close to the earth are close to God and to the beauty of God’s creation. Jesus uses many images from the land in his stories in the Gospels. He uses the image of the plough. “No one who puts their hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”. The person who is constantly looking back will get nowhere. Too much time is wasted and lost in looking back. Nothing can change anything we have done in the past. Getting it right now gives us much more control in doing things better. God wants us to move focus on the job at hand and move forward in hope.

If you are interested in finding out about the Presentation Brothers, don’t hesitate to email me at the following address;vocation@presentationbrothers.org.




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vocations Ireland NET Team


NET Ministry (National Evangelisation Team) is an international voluntary movement consisting of teams of young adults. Their mission is to share faith through personal witness of God’s love for them and invite young people with whom they engage to get to know God’s love in their lives. They do this by giving of their time, nine months possibly in another country as a NET Missionary. It was a privilege to meet with the NET Teams in Rossnowlagh, in August and especially with the team who are now working with Vocations Ireland.

The NET Ministry volunteers spend six weeks in preparation for their mission sharing their own faith journey and building team relationships. They engage with thousands of youth each year in schools and parishes throughout Ireland and elsewhere. A team of six will work in schools and parishes in Kilkenny, in parishes in Dublin and Dundalk. They will work with the Presentation Brothers Evangelisation Programme in Glasthule, Co. Dublin and use the centre for some of their activities. The Team members are; Conor and Vanessa from Canada, Rachel and Rene from the U.S. Pierce from Ireland and Alex from Scotland. They will be with us ‘til May 2018.   

Their ministry is to Parish groups as well as doing encounter days in schools, facilitating retreats and engaging with youth. They also initiate Sunday morning Family Programmes in their associate parishes. They work with young adults from their Parish to prepare them with the necessary skills to continue the programs once the NET Team departs. They are a lovely, talented, inspirational and happy group of young people and well worth getting to know.


(Should you wish to contact the team, you can email them at; vocationsirelandnetteam@gmail.com) 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New Beginnings




The words of St. Augustine, “If you aspire to great things, begin with little ones, remind me the summer holidays are over” thus signalling a return to work, to school and the halls of academia. The return can be both a stressful and an enjoyable experience. Much will be achieved but always in small steps.

As we welcome the month of September, my hope is that all of us, irrespective of age or disposition will be open to new beginnings and to new possibilities in our lives.

I enjoyed a visit to Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal recently to meet with forty passionate, enthusiastic young people in their faith from NET Ministries (National Evangelisation Team). They are an international voluntary movement consisting of teams of young adults. They were preparing to embark on mission to selected schools and parishes during the next nine months.

They were spending six weeks in preparation for their mission sharing their own faith journey and building team relationships. They will engage with hundreds of fellow youth in schools and parishes throughout Ireland and elsewhere. It was a privilege to meet with the team who will be working with Vocations Ireland for the coming year.

Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.


Blessings for the year ahead!  

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Summer is here.


Summer holidays are in the air. Our weather is warm and sunny. Days are long and bright, airports are busier than usual, strawberries and ice-cream is popular again - all announcing that summer is here. The schools have closed until late August or early September, and university exams are all but over. Families are making plans to get away to the sea-side or   take a break. Despite what St. Paul seems to be saying in Romans 8:9, 11-13, we really do owe a debt to the flesh, in the sense that we have a responsibility to care for the bodies with which God has blessed us. Our bodies, minds and spirits all need to be renewed and refreshed from time to time, and, for most of us, summer is the traditional time for that.  Paul’s focus is on a theme he often repeats: If we engage in dull, destructive, repulsive pastimes, we’ll naturally end up dull, deadened and repulsive. And that’s hardly an expression of appreciation to the God who loved us into life. The debt we owe to the flesh is to revive its energy, to bolster it up, to prepare it to encounter life’s stress.

In Mt. 11, 25-30, we hear Jesus’ invitation to rest.  And it’s an invitation that is supported by his action. The Gospel writers make frequent references to his going off by himself to rest and pray.  Without rest and renewal, we do, in fact, reduce our productivity, and become irritable, prickly and testy. All too often, rest and holidays fall into the category of privilege rather than necessity.  I am reminded of a cartoon that depicted a family on a beach outing, all in swim wear - dad is sitting under an umbrella tapping away at his laptop, mum is seriously talking on her I-phone, and two teenage children are fully engrossed in electronic games. Even on holidays, we feel the need to be constantly connected with the business and people we have left behind, through emails, texting, What’s App, Facebook and other social media. Perhaps we might need to consider that rest for the weary and heavily-laden is as much a matter of justice as of anything else.

What’s more, we may well benefit from reflecting on some of the implications of accepting Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Is it an invitation we accept with eagerness? When did you and I last respond to it with joy? In reality, I can use busyness as a means of keeping myself away from a personal encounter with Jesus, of keeping God at a distance. Accepting Jesus’ invitation implies getting close to him, and that can make me uncomfortable.  I may have to ponder some of his questions and reflect on his challenges.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eucharist Procession


The sun reigned on the ninety second Annual Eucharistic Procession on Sunday 18th June, 2017. It is a significant part of Cork’s Religious Heritage.

The procession takes place on the Sunday afternoon nearest to the feast of “Corpus Christi”. People walked from the North Cathedral of St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s and gathered in Daunt Square. Bishop Buckley, of Cork brought the Blessed Sacrament from the Cathedral to Daunt Square where there was a religious service consisting of prayers, readings and hymns. On arriving in Daunt Square, Bishop Buckley first blessed the sick and infirm in a special reserved area near the altar. Bishop William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne preached the homily.

The idea of a Eucharist Procession through the City of Cork is that it is a public witness to faith. It celebrates the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and also in people today, when we gather as a community of brothers and sisters and reach out to people in need. Many Catholic groups who contribute to the life of the city attended the procession. Cork’s multi-cultural nature was on display during the procession, with members of the Asian, African and East European communities in the city in attendance.

The ceremony was live-streamed to facilitate households, patients in hospitals, nursing homes and Cork people around the world.


Bishop Buckley thanked the City Council, the Gardai, the Civil Defence, order of Malta and St. John Ambulance brigade for their assistance with the procession. He thanked the Church of the Incarnation choir for their singing, particularly soloists Jessica O’Connell and Ramelo Gregorio, and paid tribute to the organising committee.