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Parish Mission in the Parish of Drumbo and Carryduff

Our brothers have recently returned from preaching a Parish Mission in the Parish of Drumbo and Carryduff in East Belfast. Fr’s John Walsh, Maurice Colgan and Terence Crotty preach the mission dedicated to the Centenary of Fatima. The Parish Church was the first church to be dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Ireland, so it was fitting to preach on the message of Fatima for nine days.

Preaching topics covered by the friars included, Prayer, Reconciliation, Healing, the Holy Eucharist, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Rosary. Three liturgies were celebrated daily, Morning Mass with preaching at 7.00am, again at 9.30 am and an evening liturgy of Rosary, Sermon and Solemn Benediction. Many hours of confessions were heard over the nine days, including one whole day of confessions. The mission concluded with the blessing of Roses and Rosaries on the final weekend when the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was crowned and vested with a special rosary beads from the shrine at Fatima.

The brethren were very grateful to the people of Carryduff for the kindness and welcome shown to them over the mission days and especially grateful to Fr. Michael Sheenan, PP and Fr. Conor McGrath, CC for their kind invitation to preach in their parish.

Dominican Parish Mission 6-14th of May 2017.

Dominican Parish Mission Derry

The Dominican brethren were invited to preach a Parish Mission in Derry City from the 15th to the 23rd of October during the Year of Mercy. The Mission took place in the parish of the Three Patron’s: St. Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn, St. Brigid’s Church Cairnhill, St. Joseph’s Church, Gallaigh.

Dominicans are not new to this northern city, as the first Friars arrived in 1279 and founded a sizeable convent and public chapel dedicated to St. Dominic, commonly called St. Dominic’s Abbey. Tradition has it that St.Vincent Ferrer, O.P., visited the Derry Dominicans and stayed for some time with his Irish brothers in the 15th Century.

The Abbey was sacked in the 1600’s and in 1601, 32 friars were martyred. They gave their lives for the Catholic faith and shed their blood in an area known as the Diamond close to the city walls. All 32 brothers were put to death in one night shedding their blood in the public square witnessed by many onlookers. The brothers finally left the city in the 1700s after many years of ministering in hiding.

The Parish Mission was preached by Frs. John Harris, John Walsh, Ciaran Dougherty, Luuk Jansen and Eoin Casey.

Each day the brothers celebrated  and preached Holy Mass at 6.30 am,10.00am and a Holy Hour at 7.30 pm in each church of the Parish. Three whole days were given to all day confessions and the sacrament was offered after each daily session.  Many people waited for long periods in the churches to avail of the sacrament in this Year of Mercy.

Topics covered by the brethren in their preaching, were Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation and Mercy, Family, Healing, Prayer and the Holy Rosary.

It was a blessed time and wonderful to see hundreds of faithful Derry Catholics attending daily, even at the early hour of 6.30 am. The faith is strong in Derry, a city which experienced much tragedy and sorrow from the 1960s  until the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement.

The brethren have been blessed by receiving such a wonderful welcome and being able to experience the faith and devotion of the Derry faithful. May Our Lady of Derry and the Dominican Martyrs intercede for her faithful people.

Online Video Review: #IrelandInspires

The video above, produced by Fáilte Ireland (the Irish tourist board) has been doing the rounds recently. It was produced in honour of St Patrick’s Day, and its central message is, ‘Ireland Inspires’. It celebrates the achievements of this little island in a way that blends the old (literature, landscape) and the new (science and technology, contemporary music). Initially, I was impressed, but watching it a second time highlighted something that made me uncomfortable: this self-presentation of Ireland involved a major emphasis on business prowess. In itself, this isn’t a bad thing, but taken with the absence of any witness to transcendent values, this video shows the dominance of the utilitarian over the spiritual which is sadly definitive of contemporary Ireland.

It’s hard to understand the processes that have led to Ireland turning so quickly and decisively away from its Catholic heritage. We shouldn’t exaggerate the situation, of course, and there are good practice rates in many parts of the country. But all the major cultural outlets exhibit the same disdain for all things ecclesiastical, and even all things spiritual – Ireland has ‘come a long way’ and is continuing to ‘move on’.

In this context, a major temptation presents itself to Irish Catholics: retreat to the ghetto. Such a strategy essentially involves substituting retrenchment for evangelisation, making do with a ‘faith world’ which offers familiarity and comfort (a strategy which is shared by so-called ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ alike). Like all temptations, this retreat strategy includes some desirable aspects: at the very least it provides some kind of escape from the rapid change of values that is engulfing modern Ireland. What it lacks, though, is an essential element of Irish Christianity from its inception: the missionary spirit.

We can find the wellsprings of this missionary spirit in the life and writings of St Patrick himself. St Patrick was extremely unusual for his time: a missionary bishop whose obedience to God’s call brought him (back) beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire. His Confessio bears passionate testimony to his conversion, his vocation as a missionary to the Irish, and his intimate following of Christ through immense difficulties. His work in Ireland bore great fruit, to his own amazement:

How, then, does it happen in Ireland that a people who in their ignorance of God always worshipped only idols and unclean things up to now, have lately become a people of the Lord and are called children of God? How is it that the sons and daughters of Irish chieftains are seen to be monks and virgins dedicated to Christ? (Conf. 41).

This simple saint saw himself as ‘a letter of Christ bearing salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth’, even if the letter is not ‘elegantly written’. He knew that his gifts were limited, and that his mission was daunting, but, more importantly, he knew that nobody should be excluded from the love of Christ, even those in the ‘uttermost parts of the earth’, even those, as Pope Francis would say, ‘at the margins’.

The contemporary situation in Ireland makes many followers of Christ despair of ever ‘regaining’ Ireland. ‘The Irish people are gone astray’, we might say, ‘Let them go their way, and let us focus on being good Christians’. Evangelical St Patrick points to a different way:

In Hosea God says: “Those who are not my people I will call ‘my people’ and her who had not received mercy I will call ‘her who has received mercy’. And in the very place where it was said, ‘You are not my people’, they will be called ‘sons of the living God” (Conf. 40, quoting segments from Hosea 2).

True sons and daughters of St Patrick, then, will never give up on their contemporaries, but will see, even in those furthest from the Church, children loved by the Father, called to receive mercy and adoption into His people.

#IrelandInspires? Perhaps. But more importantly, #PatrickInspiresApostles.