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.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Remembering All Students Doing Exams

Lord, today I am just really stressed. You know, Lord, that I am having some trouble with the test I am about to take. I know it's probably not the biggest world problem, with people starving, people turning away from you, people in wars, and more. But, Lord, it's what I'm facing right now, and I need you in this time. I know that no problem is too big or too small for you to handle, and I need to turn this stress over to you to help me with.

Lord, I just need to be able to focus. I need your help to look at this information so I can remember and apply it well on my exam. I need you to help me feel more confident going into the test and relax a bit so I can concentrate. Lord, please help the people around me to understand that I need to focus and study.

Also, Lord, help me when I walk into the exam. Give me the peace, when it is all said and done, to know that I walked in and did my best. I pray, Lord, for your guiding hand as I take the exam, and I ask for your welcome calm when I walk out of the classroom after.

 Lord, thank you for all the blessings you have placed in my life. Thank you for being here in this time when I feel a bit overwhelmed. Thank you for always being there and allowing me to rely on you. Praise your name. Amen.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chapter 2017

The curtain came down on our Chapter (Assembly) after Easter in Rome. A sense of quiet satisfaction reigns as Brothers reflect back on the two weeks and allow ourselves the credit of a job well done. Guided by the facilitator, Sister Catherine Ryan, a direction for the next six years was charted.
It was a good experience being at Villa Palazzola. It was an opportunity to meet with Brothers from other units around the congregation. It was for me a prayerful, reflective time and a time of inspiration and openess. I enjoyed the sense of Brotherhood, the communal dimension of shared meals, laughter, negotiating the stone stairways, the walks and beautiful scenery, the various liturgies, and the opportunties to share faith, A graced time!
On the final day, participants departed by taxis for the various airports or other places. We were happy that the Chapter was a graced moment and a wonderful experience. Jesus was among us and the Spirit was present in many moments of invitation and challenge.

A Chapter Statement will eventually be shared more widely and its inspiration will inform decision-making across the wider Congregation of the Presentation Brothers. We wish the new Congregation Leadership Team success and many blessings. They will be supported by the prayers and good wishes of many. For updates from the Chapter, you are welcome to visit; chapter 2017.presentationbrothers.org  

“It Spreads like Wildfire”



When I read the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit from the Acts of the Apostles, I think our God has a sense of humour! It seems that the coming of the Holy Spirit on the early Christians at Pentecost was by no means a quiet or gentle event; it was a noisy, chaotic and somewhat disorganised affair! Certainly, I think that if many of us were given the responsibility for the official “launch” of the Church (which is what Pentecost is about), I think we would organise it far more efficiently – noises, tongues of fire, people speaking different languages – no way!

The poem “Pentecost” by the 19th century poet William Blake captures some of the power of the scene, with the repetition of the phrase “catch fire”. When a piece of news or gossip gets around quickly, we say it “spreads like wildfire”! By its very nature, fire jumps from one thing to another, burning more intensely the more it spreads as was evidenced in the West of Ireland recently.

The symbol of tongues of fire is apt then. The arrival of the Holy Spirit propels the apostles from the room where they were huddled out into the street. They cannot contain themselves as they begin to preach and spread the Good News far and wide – like wildfire.


Perhaps what Luke (the author of Acts) wants to convey to us is that God does not always act in a way that is humanly reasonable. God does not meet our expectations! Our God is a God of surprises! The feast of Pentecost should teach us to be open to the wonderful and amazing things God can do in our lives. There is noise, chaos, many different languages in our world and in our Church today and as disciples of Jesus, this is our time. We are called to engage and embrace this diversity in a positive way. The Catholic Church is at its best when it is precisely that – truly Catholic, with a welcome and a place for everyone. So, let us not be afraid of entering into the confusion of our times – there we will find God.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Be Patient!


I find the readings at Mass during this Easter season joyful and life-giving. Aside from the beautiful Gospel readings on Sundays there are other very interesting passages. They are very relevant to those of us who live in the Western World where the Church faces many pressures.

The Acts of the Apostles reminds us that times were difficult also for the first Christians. The early Church faced challenges from within and without. Challenges from within were of hypocrisy (Acts 5: 1–3); murmuring (Acts 6 – 1) and doctrinal questions (Acts 15: 1). The major external challenge was one of persecution (Acts: 4: 1-3; 5: 17–18). The challenges that face us as we follow Christ are both internal and external. Persecution of Christian minorities is all too common today. The threat to Christians and Christian places of worship is now a worldwide phenomenon.

In reflecting on the readings of these weeks I also think of the question, “Who will roll away the stone?” posed by the women on their way to the tomb. I find an answer from St. Paul when he reflects on the struggle that is part of human life in Romans 7, telling us, “It is the Lord!”

The stone is rolled away and we are opened up to new possibilities, new life and seeing things radically differently. This is accomplished by God. Our task is to allow it to be done.

The strange thing is that on entering the tomb the women learn that Jesus is risen, but at this stage they don’t see or experience the risen Lord. They must wait awhile. For each of us Jesus may be risen but we may have to wait awhile before we come to experience this as a lived reality.

Patience is an important virtue for all of us but especially for men and women who are discerning religious life. Maybe, when discerning our future, we too must be patient until we see and experience where the risen Lord may be leading us.

Perhaps, as we approach the Church’s Holy Week when Our Lord himself was crucified, we, his followers shouldn’t expect to be treated otherwise. With hope, we await the Resurrection.

P.S. I will be in Rome for our Chapter Assembly ‘til the end of April. The blogging brother will return in early May. A Blessed Easter to all my followers! For further updates on our assembly cf. www.presentationbrothers.org/utube channel link.



Friday, March 31, 2017

Living forward – understanding afterwards


Not a day goes by without our being confronted with the reality of death. We receive phone calls informing us of the death of friends, relatives and colleagues. We reach out to neighbours who have lost a loved one through illness, suicide or accident. Our T.V news networks show us graphic pictures of terrorist atrocities that claim scores of lives. In the face of all that, this story assures us that God’s love, reflected in so many ways by prophets, saints and ordinary, decent human beings, is stronger than death. The clear message is that God favours not death but resurrection.

Coming as it does on the Sunday before Holy Week, the gospel story of the raising of Lazarus from the grave is effectively a preview of the resurrection of Jesus. I often wondered, did Jesus know of events in advance? Was it all kind of “mapped-out?” I don’t think so. He felt deeply the pain of people and he took part fully – he was not like an actor passively going through the motions.
Did Jesus know as he stood (4 days late) before the tomb of Lazarus – “that will be me not long from now? A stone, even a few guards and precious few to mourn.” Did he know how things would turn out?

I always like the child’s statement in class who said that this is a story of Jesus bringing us back to life no matter how “stinky” we become. I agree. It would be nice if we realised that there is life before death as well as after. I do not believe that we have to wait until our physical death to experience resurrection on some level. If you like, our entire life is a series of deaths and resurrections.

What Jesus is asking us to do in this story is to look at living and dying in a completely new way. We have to look at it not just in reference to the last day, but in relation to the present, to the deaths we experience in our daily lives, when we lose people close to us, when our close relationships fall apart, when family members just don’t come home, when others laugh at us, when we fail to live up to our own values and expectations, when our human frailty gets the better of us.

Belief in Jesus and his message strengthens us to see all those kinds of “deaths” in a new way. That kind of trust and belief in Jesus helps us to see that resurrection is already here. So, instead of complaining, instead of lapsing into grief, depression and despair, I am encouraged by Jesus to trust the power of God’s love at work in me and see God’s love and unfailing source of renewal and life. The words that Jesus addresses to Lazarus: “Unbind him, let him go free” are meant to resound beyond today’s reading into my life. Jesus invites me out of the graves in which I can so easily bury myself; out of the graves of anger, self-pity, bitterness, desire to get even, or anything else that binds me from experiencing the richness of God’s life and love.

As a consequence to that, as a disciple of Jesus, I am urged to free other people from their graves of embarrassment, shame, fear, addiction, or whatever is keeping them bound up without freedom, life or hope.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Every Day is Mother’s Day

                                                   
Who was there when you were born – to wrap you up and keep you warm,
To stroke your cheek and change your nappy – to bring you home and make you happy?
Who was there to wipe your nose – to sing you songs and tickle your toes,
To make you polish your shoes – to wipe your tears or mend a fuse?
Who was there to open the door to tidy your room and wash the floor?
Who was there to comb your hair and mend your clothes and give you a chair?
Who was there to open the door to welcome you home from school at four?
Who was there to share your joys, who was there to mend your toys?
Who was there to make you warm when you were caught in a terrible storm?
Who pushed the swing – who loaned you a penny when you had none?
Who sang you to sleep, who played hide and seek?
Who taught you to talk and helped you to walk?
Who came to your aid in the midst of a crises?
Who saw you grow, offered advice or sat by the fire when you went out at night
Who saw you get married and leave home for good – to make a new start like everyone should?
Who saw your first-born and felt terribly happy! To know they would have the pleasure of changing a nappy.
God gave us a mother right down through the ages – so she deserves mention in life’s book of pages.
(Bridget Kerrigan; Isle of Man)



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Daffodil Day


Daffodils are blooming in parks and in the country side as winter gives way to spring. They symbolise renewal and new life, promise and hope which makes them significant in Lent, and approaching Easter. As a child I loved their scent, maybe because of their calming effect on me.

We have come to associate daffodils with the Irish Cancer Society. Daffodil Day takes place on Friday, March 24th. Various events take place nationally throughout the month of March. It is the biggest fundraising event for the Irish Cancer Society. Thousands of volunteers sell daffodil pins and flowers on the streets, in businesses, homes and shopping centres to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society.

Cancer affects us in so many different ways. As a child growing up in rural Ireland, I recall people referring to it as the “The Dreaded C” or the “Big C”. It was an illness of which little was known with no immediate known cure. We often hear of sad stories but we are aware too of stories with happy endings.

This Daffodil Day concept originated in Canada six decades ago. Representing the first flower of Spring, it is used for its bright, life-giving qualities and it is seen as a symbol of hope. The Irish Cancer Society was founded in Ireland by Professor Austin Darragh. He was inspired to start the Society in 1963 after being shocked by a statistic that 100 people in Ireland died each year from curable skin treatment.

Our fundraising efforts help cancer patients at every stage of their journey. Patients are given information and support from the Society’s Nurses on line or in one of the Society’s Centres throughout the country, to being driven to and from chemotherapy treatment by the Society’s Volunteer Drivers, to receiving emotional support through their professional counselling service. Fundraising for the Society makes sure cancer patients can access these services free of charge when they need it most.

It is the Society’s Night Nursing service which is synonymous with Daffodil Day and which supports patients at the end of their cancer journey. The Night Nursing Service operates every night of the year, providing palliative care to cancer patients so they can stay in the comfort of their own home. The Society’s Night Nurses give end of life care, offering support, advice and reassurance to their patients.

So when you buy a daffodil, support Daffodil Day or participate in an event organised in your local area, know that you are supporting a great cause, helping patients and families affected by cancer. We pray for all affected by cancer, we pray for doctors, nurses and carers who are bearers of God’s healing to all who are affected by cancer!   


Monday, March 13, 2017

St. Patrick


St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s better known saints. He was born in Britain towards the end of the fourth century. Tradition says he was captured and taken to Ireland where he worked as a slave. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his faith for solace, becoming a devout Christian.

He eventually escaped to Britain and studied for the priesthood and later became a bishop. He returned to Ireland, preached the Gospel and converted many.

For people discerning a call to religious life there are similarities with St. Patrick.

• Prayer was important to him.
• He faced challenges in his life and moments of decision.
• Ultimately he chose to devote his life to others and to the service of the Gospel mission.

St. Patrick’s Day also reminds us of the strong missionary tradition of the Irish Church and the missionary dimension of the Christian vocation. We remember our Irish missionaries throughout the world and also the Irish people who have had to leave home to work.
Today, indeed, is a day of celebration and thanksgiving. Life can be tough at the best of times and we need to relax and enjoy ourselves on this day. St. Patrick lived through difficult times too but at all times he simply put his trust in God. For some that may be a step too far but to give it an honest effort puts us in a very good place.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! 

"And our hearts shall yet burn where so ever we roam, for God and St Patrick and our native home."


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lenten Reflection.


Then Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry…                                                                      Matthew 4, 1-11


Back in the late 1840s, a Quaker Elder wrote the words of Simple Gifts, a hymn which picks up the true themes of Lent  -  to unclutter our lives by living with simplicity, and to turn our minds and hearts away from whatever lessens us and to point them towards the things of God:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed;
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
                                                                                     Joseph Brackett, 1848

Aaron Copland echoed Brackett’s tune in his orchestral ballet piece, Appalachian Spring.  In much more recent times, Frank Andersen msc has picked up the same themes in his beautifully haunting Ash Wednesday antiphon based on the call of the prophet, Joel:

Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn; turn to the Lord, turn to the Lord, again.                                   Frank Andersen msc, Rising Moon, Ash Wednesday


Monday, February 27, 2017

The Season of Lent


Lent begins on March 1st. Part of a regular medical check-up is to have tests taken of your pulse, blood pressure, a heart check and perhaps a blood test. With the beginning of Lent, there is the invitation for a spiritual check-up – one that lasts for forty days!

Just as many of us do not like visiting doctors, many of us may not like the season of Lent. Perhaps it is for the same reason. Are there issues I may not wish to face up to? Perhaps we are not as well as we would like to be; perhaps changes in life-style will be called for, when we want to continue as we are. Nevertheless, in both cases, we know it is for our benefit and we are being irresponsible if we avoid looking after body, mind and spirit. I don’t know about you, but the above certainly applies to me!

Lent can perhaps be seen as a check-up on how well we have been transformed into the mind, heart and vision of God. St. Paul puts it like this: do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Our Lenten ritual was a practice that evolved over the first few centuries of Christianity. The word itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘lencten’ meaning Springtide, the season of growth and rebirth. The notion of Springtide, a time of rebirth invites us to reflect on Lent in the light of new knowledge and understanding that has come to us courtesy of the last few centuries.

Let us use the time of Lent to examine our minds and hearts and to commit ourselves to transformation and renewal so that we truly can “discern the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect”. 
Focus on gratitude, be positive, think kindly thoughts, trust Divine Providence, be hopeful, be forgiving, return good for evil, be positive, be more patient, enjoy the beauty around you and turn to virtue.     






Sunday, February 26, 2017

Divine Mercy Conference 2017


                         With Ms. Margaret Cartwright, Director of Vocations Ireland

I spent much of the weekend at the Divine Mercy Conference at the RDS in Dublin. It was a lovely week end and it was an opportunity to meet with friends and listen to peoples’ stories over a coffee.

The Divine Mercy Conference drew thousands of people who gathered to listen to testimonies and talks, and attend Mass and a healing service. There was a great spirit of prayer throughout the weekend. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Rosary were prayed with great devotion. I wasn't the only Presentation Brother to attend-Brother Andrew from our community in Dublin was there as well as Brother Kevin from the Integration & Support Unit in Waterford.

The Presentation Brothers had a stand promoting their work in youth ministry and vocations. Our thanks to John Quinn, our evangelisation officer who erected our stand and made sure there was a good supply of literature available. It was great to meet people at different stages of their journey. Some did think about religious life at some stage, others were thinking about religious life for the first time and were wondering, "where do I start?" Others seemed to have discerned that religious life was for them and were now discerning what congregation's story was drawing them most. 

The Divine Mercy motto is "Jesus, I trust in you". I was thinking of this a lot over the weekend. It has an obvious resonance for those discerning a religious vocation. We can always trust that the path which the Lord has prepared for us is the right one. We just need the guidance and the courage to follow it. 

If you think the Lord is calling you to this way of life, then I’d love to hear from you. If ever you want to talk about the vocation of a religious brother, feel free to shoot me an email at vocation@presentationbrothers.org

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A President Acknowledges



I worked and lived as a Presentation Brother, in West Africa. I realise what a boost a recent address by our President Michael D. Higgins was to missionaries working with the poor and disadvantaged.

He acknowledged the work of Irish Missionaries during his recent visit to Peru, Colombia and Cuba. He praised and affirmed the endeavours of missionaries working in challenging situations. He told them, they present ‘values of Ireland at their very best’, through the ‘joy, practical help and hope’ that they bring to disadvantaged communities in Latin America.

The President expressed his delight that he was ‘very privileged’ and ‘so pleased’ that they were able to gather to meet him at short notice. ‘It so very important for you to know that as President of Ireland, it makes my heart lift to know there are people who are working to create hope where it doesn’t exist and where hope does, that spark is there, to make sure it is a bright flame that keeps people going.’ he commented.

‘You bring so much joy but practical help, and you bring hope, and you indicate what I think are the values of Ireland at their very best.’

President Higgins said he is ‘moved’ whenever he hears Pope Francis speaking out against ‘those models that are failing not just the poor but failing humanity’ and ‘to think that you are on the ground doing all these things and putting them into practice’.

Let’s continue to remember our Priests, Brothers, Sisters and Lay Missionaries everywhere at this time.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy St. Valentine's Day!


Tuesday, February 14th, is of course St Valentine's Day, a day when we talk about love more than usual. A lot of the discussion you hear today will be light-hearted and fun.

But who was St Valentine? There are some conflicting accounts but we know he existed and his remains have been identified in the catacombs of Rome. This feast day has been celebrated for 15 centuries!

Three things you need to know:
1. He was a Catholic priest
2. He was arrested for tending to the needs of the persecuted Christians of Rome. 
3. He was executed for refusing to renounce the Catholic faith during the persecution of Roman Emperor Claudius.

For men and women discerning a vocation, then there is an obvious resonance here.

For a start St Valentine answered the call to serve by embracing a religious vocation. Secondly, he served those in need and risked his own life to do so. Finally, he refused to deny his faith and has since been remembered as an icon of love. 

It's ironic that at a time when celibacy and chaste love are dismissed, the day on which the world celebrates love is in fact a day in honour of a priest who died for his faith!

(Take time to read this beautiful reflection below)

Fall in Love
Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.



Monday, February 6, 2017

A Culture of Encounter


On Saturday, together with other members of our Vocations Strategy Team, I spent a very informative day in the company of Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic.  He introduced us to the many ways we can embrace the culture of encounter in today’s world.

He referred to Pope Francis and how he uses social media to spread the Joy of the Gospel.  Pope Francis received Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook, at the Vatican.  They spoke on how best to use communications technology to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter and a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged in our world.

He highlighted the significance of the global media and how it is influencing our lives today.  Among some of the most influential social media outlets are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.  He also gave us important tips for interviews with the media and how to write a press release.  There was also an opportunity to walk the talk and do some real interviews.


There are so many learnings that I take from the day.  Almost 80% of the stories in our newspapers are generated by media releases.  Beyonce "broke the internet" through Instagram with her record number of tweets - just because she is expecting twins.  Another popular person of Twitter is Katy Perry with in excess of 95 million followers.  Hot on her heels is Justin Bieber with over 91 million followers.  The Barcelona footballer, Ronaldo, has over 50 million followers, while Pope Francis claims 35 million followers.

Today, we are asked to follow so many people, but Jesus is the one who asks us to follow him so that we might build a true culture of encounter in our lives.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Spring is in the Air!


Anois teacht an Earraigh, beidh an lá ag dul chun síneadh. Is tar éis na féile Bríde, árdóigh mé mo sheol.” (Antoine Ó Raifteirí). Now that Spring is coming, the days will be getting longer. And after St Brigid's Day, I'll raise up my sail.”

The beginning of February is traditionally associated with the heralding of spring and the arrival of fertility to the land. The land dormant during the winter months begins to stir and new life embarks on its journey towards the light. Precious seeds, deep within the soil are germinating, awaiting the breath of spring to accompany them to the earth’s surface.

These are days when we are invited into our own spring space – a space where new life is stirring, awakening and becoming, a space full of potential and possibility. These are days of rebirth and re-growth, of renewal and resurrection. Then with their first appearance they adorn the earth with their beautiful presence and remind us of resurrection.

The 1st of February marks the feast of St. Brigid, patroness of Ireland, and we celebrate this great woman of prayer and her great devotion to God and neighbour. She founded a monastery in Kildare and convents throughout the country. She dedicated her life to God and to the poor. Her extraordinary spirituality, charity and compassion for those distressed were legendary. She became known for her good works and many young women were inspired to follow her. There is also a lovely tradition of gathering bunches of rushes to make St. Brigid's crosses for protection throughout the year.  

One can explore the legacy and heritage of St. Brigid of Kildare by visiting the beautiful Solas Bride and Hermitage Centre, in Kildare Town.

The following day is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, a day dedicated to Consecrated Life. We celebrate the many priests, brothers and sisters whose faith, devotion and commitment influenced many of our lives. We remember the young men and women who continue to discern a call to priesthood or religious life. We continue to pray for them all and thank God for their lives of quiet dedication.
We also celebrate the feast of St. Blaise on the 3rd of February, whose life was very simple and ordinary. He is known worldwide for his care of those who were sick and particularly those with ailments of the throat. Many churches will give a blessing on the day. If you can't make it to a church, then our own quiet prayer to St. Blaise will be just as effective and important. 

At the beginning of spring, maybe now is the time to go deeper in your discernment journey...

I'm always available at 
vocation@presentationbrothers.org if you'd like more information.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Visit to the Young Scientist Exhibition!

What better way to begin the new year with a visit to the BT Young Science and Technology Exhibition in the RDS, Dublin!
What youth may lack in experience, they certainly make up for in courage, vision and imagination. Henry Taylor (poet) once said; ‘Imagination lit every lamp in this country, built every church, performed every act of kindness and progress, created more and better things for more people. It is a priceless ingredient for a better day’. With a little imagination many things are possible. Without it our lives are dull and lack direction. This gift was truly alive on a visit to the Young Scientist Exhibition earlier this month.
It was the 53rd year of this prestigious event and it featured 550 projects across four categories: Technology; Biological and Ecological; Social and Behavioural Sciences; and Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Over 2,000 entries initially were whittled down to 550. A record number of entries were submitted, engaging over four and a half thousand students from the beginning.
The quality of projects on display was extraordinary, tackling some of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing society today. Projects were as varied as they were many. The projects covered a wide variety of topics, from dating to farming and everything in between.
Not to be outdone was the Primary Science Fair with pupils from the senior classes exhibiting their projects also at the RDS.
The overall winner was Shane Curran from Terenure College. He has the opportunity to represent Ireland at the EU young scientist competition later in the year in Estonia. Cormac Larkin claimed the runner-up in the individual award. Cormac is a student at Colaiste An Spioraid Naoimh, Cork, one of the schools in the Presentation Brothers schools Trust. The Colaiste is no stranger to the Young Scientist Exhibition. Raphael Hurley captured the overall prize in 1998.
Great credit is due to teachers, parents and especially the young people for their selfless dedication and commitment to the research done for the benefit of society. We are justifiably proud of you.
For further information about this impressive exhibition visit; btyoungscientist.com



Friday, January 13, 2017

Religion 'very important' to fb founder.




The founder of social media giant Facebook has asserted the importance of faith in a Christmas message to followers.

The previously avowed atheist took to social media over the festive period to wish one and all a “Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah”, prompting one viewer to pose the question: “Aren’t you an atheist?”

Zuckerberg was quick to reply: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”

Zuckerberg’s words on faith came just months after he and his wife Priscilla attended a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, a meeting which had a profound effect on the industry leader.

We told him how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he’s found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world.” Zuckerberg wrote later, “It was a meeting we’ll never forget. You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people.” From humble beginnings as a computer programmer, Zuckerberg became a universally recognised individual when, along with fellow college students in 2004, he came up with the idea of an online networking site, Facebook. The site is used today by one billion people. Zuckerberg is currently ranked by Forbes magazine as the 10th most powerful individual in the world.

Together with his wife, the Facebook founder is responsible for the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, an initiative tasked with donating some 45 billion dollars of his internet earnings to charitable causes focused on education and curing diseases.
(Irish Catholic, January 5, 2017)



A Man of God!





The footballer responsible for a spectacular ‘scorpion kick’ goal during a New Year’s game in the English premier league has said God helped him to carry off the near-impossible shot to bring his team to victory.

Playing with Arsenal in the January 1 face-off against south London’s Crystal Palace, French international Olivier Giroud made the most of a pass delivered behind him to flick the ball with the back of his heel and send it on target for what was immediately described by pundits as an early contender for ‘Goal of the Season’.

Clearly delighted with the results of the masterly display, Giroud afterwards thanked God for the goal: “I needed God’s help to score this goal,” he told an interviewer at full time, when Arsenal had beaten Palace 2-0. A proclaimed Catholic- he has stated that he is “a strong believer”.

Olivier Giroud carries a reminder of his faith into every game in the form of a tattoo on his forearm which is a Latin rendering of Psalm 23: Dominus regit me et nihil deerit – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Though he does not cross himself in preparation for competition as so many athletes do, Giroud has said he says a prayer before every game.


(Irish Catholic, January 5, 2017)