Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meet the NET Ministry Team in Cork.

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 for them 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 local Net Team here in Cork for lunch in Mt. St. Joseph today.

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 five work here in St. Mary’s, Pope’s Quay and in the Sacred Heart Parish, Western Rd. They use the Presentation Brothers Youth Centre for some of their daily and evening activities. The Team members are: Lizzy from Australia, Pierce from Ireland, Stephanie from Canada, Sarah from USA and Jacob from Canada. They are here in Cork ‘til May 2016.   

Their ministry is to Parish groups as well as visiting 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, inspirational and happy bunch of young people and well worth getting to know.

(Should you wish to speak with the team, you can email them at Corknetteam@gmail.com) 




Thursday, October 22, 2015

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.

Halloween has its origins in Celtic times. 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. 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. 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!       

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Laudato Si – Praise be to you, my Lord!


Pope Francis in his recent address to the UN General Assembly covered a wide range of issues including the worrying issue of our environment. The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. There is solid scientific evidence and consensus that we are witnessing a disturbing warming of the climate system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events.

Lara Marlowe, correspondent with the Irish Times, Saturday, October 10, 2015 says in her article that scientists believe after five mass extinctions that transformed the world over the past four and a half billion years, we are now rushing headlong into a sixth mass extinction, but this time it is us human beings are the culprits. She draws from, the experience of Elizabeth Kolbert’s best-selling book, The Sixth Extinction; An UnNaturnal History.

Elizabeth Kolbert uses the example of how a giant asteroid collided with Earth with the force of 100 million megatonnes of TNT 66 million years ago, plunging the planet into cold and darkness, wiping out three-quarters of all species, including the dinosaurs. That cataclysm event was not explained ‘til 1980 by Walter Alvarez, a geologist, and his father, Luis, a physicist. 

Each one of us is called to recognise the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. If present trends continue, our country, planet earth may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems.

I may need an “ecological conversion” so that the effects of my encounter with my creator God become evident in my relationship with the world around me. Living out my call to be a protector of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of care for my common home; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of my Christian experience.

(If you wish to know more about the life and work of the Presentation Brothers, please feel free to shoot me an email at your convenience; vocation@presentationbrothers.org)






Monday, October 12, 2015

Inside Out

I recently watched the film Inside Out. It is a beautiful animation about Riley, an 11-year -old girl who is a happy, hockey-loving girl from the Midwest in America, but her world was turned upside down when she left home with her parents in the Midwest and settled in San Francisco. Growing up can be a bumpy road and it’s no exception for Riley.

Riley’s emotions try to guide her through this difficult time. Her emotions are characters that live in her head. After Riley left home in the Midwest, her emotions of Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness, conflict on how best to navigate a new city, home and school. These emotions inside Riley’s mind advise her through her everyday struggle.   

The stress of the move brings Sadness to the fore. When Joy and Sadness are swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind, the only emotions left in her head are Anger, Fear and Disgust. The film is very clever and effective that it ‘gets in your head’ and you find yourself thinking about it for days later.

Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive while the other emotions conflict on how best help her navigate a new city, house and school. Joy is constantly trying to supress Sadness. But as the film plays out, Joy sees the important role Sadness has played in Riley’s life.

This got me thinking. When we share our sad moments with people who love us, it allows us to feel loved which brings joy back into our lives. Inside Out tries to teach us that Sadness is normal, even necessary in our lives. When we are vulnerable and we share our sadness with those around us, it gives them an opportunity to reach out to us in love. 

(I am vocation director for the Presentation Brothers. If you wish to find out about the life of a Brother, don’t hesitate to email me at the following address; vocation@presentationbrothers.org) 




Friday, October 9, 2015

Decluttering is Life Changing!

Our Province Leadership Team has recently employed Mercedes Cunningham, a Healthcare Co-ordinator in the Irish Province. Her brief is to help improve the quality of care of each Brother in the Province. It challenges us to be willing to change personal practices so that life can be better for ourselves and others and begin to see again in a different way.

I have discovered that excessive clutter, physical disarray and dis-organisation in my daily life can often be a symptom and a cause of stress and tension and it can affect every facet of my life. Clutter can distract me, weigh me down, and in general may bring chaos into my life. I tend to be a hoarder of so many unnecessary bits and pieces. I believe by getting rid of some or all of these can create a new fresh space that is both healthy and life-giving.

In the Gospel, Jesus lived and travelled light. He also encourages us to do the same. He told his disciples; “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” (Lk. 9: 3–6). So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

We are encouraged to make more space for calm and quietness among the clutter of our lives. It is easy to say I will do it next week or next month. If you are a hoarder like me, now is the time to take steps to begin that clean up and clean out. The best way to tackle the decluttering of your home, your work space, your room and your life is to take one step at a time. Small steps will lead to big improvements that will be easier to maintain in the long run.



Monday, October 5, 2015

A Day at the Ploughing!

‘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 281,000 visitors to this year’s event. Local farmers provided 700 hundred acres of their land to meet the requirements for the ploughing events, parking and over 1,000 exhibits.    

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.