Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Easing of Restrictions

These are different times in so many ways. Some I have come to apprecite and some will never sit easy with me. The absence of frantic activity has left me time to explore my heart a bit more. There is much I could say but suffice it to say I believe that I am now in a better place personally than when we went into 'lockdown'. There is much that I miss and always will - human contact, meals with people and strangely enough, a trip home to Ireland! Most of my life I have lived away from home in Ireland and would never have thought there was much to it. Ah yes, but up to now I could from time to time reconnect with family, friends and the familiar that has shaped me. Now I am not sure when that will be possible. 

One lesson from this, is a deeper and greater appreciation of people who for various reasons, have left home and for the foreseeable future cannot return. I know some refugees but only now even begin to feel what some of them are missing of home. Enough of this for the moment.

At St Joseph's we are trying to work out how we might safely plan a phased reopening  of the church for Mass with people in the seats and no longer 'behind closed doors'. That will be such a joy. Yet, the dangers from the virus are still there and one illness - God forbid one death - would be irresponsible should the doors be unlocked before it is safe.

Finally, the YouTube transmissions of daily and Sunday Mass from St Joseph's - www.stjoeparis.org - have brought messages from people all over the world now part of Saint Joseph's Virtual Parish!                                                                                                                                                                      AT

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Paris

Like most places, Paris has been in 'lockdown' and it is so very quiet. This church of St Joseph is not recognisable these days with no people about. Every weekend with five Masses, it is wonderful to welcome over 2,000 people who come to worship. Along with these are 220 children who come to prepare each Sunday for their First Communion and Confirmation. Fortunately, some years ago YouTube was installed in the church and Mass has been transmitted each weekday and all day Sunday. Now this is of great value as morning Mass at 8.30 is transmitted live and also Sunday Mass at 9.30 a.m. goes out live., but all will no people present. It is a different experience preaching to an empty church. There are no faces to 'read' telling that it is time to stop! These recordings remain on the website (www.stjoeparis.org) afterwards and so parishioners and others living in different time zones around the world can see them at a time that suits. I hope that a lot of lessons will be learned from this amazing turn of events for our whole world. Keep strong, keep well and keep in contact with others,                                                                                                                                         AT

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

A New Year

Again I start by saying sorry for my long neglect of this blog. The intentions for it are good, but........ The Christmas and New Year celebrations at St Joseph's were a joy to be part of and to see the determination of big numbers of people to get to church in difficult circumstances due to the transport strike that began on 5th December 2019. One couple walked for three hours to get to Mass at Christmas. The Carol Service had a memorable Pageant presented by CCD students that took the story of the Birth of Christ from the perspective of Saint Joseph. Last year we marked 150 years on this site beside the Arc de Triomphe. The church was sinking and had to be demolished in 1985 and rebuilt, reopening in 1987. Since then St Joseph's has served all who come to us from near or far. We are delighted to welcome a great number of visitors in Paris. This year, we move on to another year of remembrance when the 300th anniversary of the foundation of the Passionists by Saint Paul of the Cross will be launched. From very small beginnings in Italy, the female and male Passionists have carried his charism and vision to the ends of the earth. 
At Christmas I was overwhelmed to receive greetings from so many parishioners who are now living in countries near and far away. It is such a joy to hear from people who were part of St Joseph's community but for family or employment reasons have moved on from Paris. It is lovely for me to think of these people carrying something of St Joseph's spirit to their new parishes. Sincere thanks for the privilege of having met you.
Well, at least I am now writing on the blog again and hope that I will not let it slip for as long as I often have done in the past.
                                 A Happy New Year to all who read these few words.                   Aidan

Monday, 16 September 2019

La Rentrée 2019

Oh my goodness - I am embarrassed to see that it is June since I visited this 'old' blog. It is good to be back! I know that the path to hell is paved with good intentions, but I do intend to be more attentive to the blog in the coming months.

A wonderful summer has passed. It was great to be back in Ireland for a few weeks visiting family and friends. Had a game of golf at Carton House, Co Kildare and a day in Belfast. I was delighted to visit Holy Cross monastery where I spent 7 very happy years. The 10.00 o'clock Mass was about to begin and I was delighted to concelebrate and after Mass to greet some parishioners. It is a place that will always have a special place in my heart and I am amazed at the number of people there who still keep in contact by phone, Facebook and occasionally ring the doorbell in Paris to say 'hello'. It is hard to me to believe that I left Holy Cross Belfast eleven years ago this month. My hope and prayer is that the present speculation over 'Brexit' will not have any bad consequences for people North or South. The Good Friday Agreement has served the Island of Ireland well and is above party politics. There is not a day goes bye that I do not pray for a good outcome to the present uncertainty.

So what else is happening in this neck of the woods? The parish activities are getting back into full swing after the summer break. This past weekend, the COD programme which prepared children and young people for Sacraments restarted. We have approximately 200 young people who come each Sunday to class and are instructed by volunteer teachers (over 30 in number). These students are at State schools which has a separation of Church and State. The advantage is that all the 200 students have enrolled for this catechism voluntarily and with their Parents' agreement.

It breaks my heart when I hear and read stories complaining about the 'imposition' of religious education on children and their families. When families here freely choose to have their child baptised, it is not with a view to school admission. When Sunday after Sunday families come to Mass and to class, there is no compulsion to do this. Interestingly, we have a waiting list of those who wish to join in this catechetical programme. We have severe restrictions on the space available, but it is such a joy for me when I see these children and parents arrive. Their Holy Communion and Confirmation will take place at Pentecost 2020. Without freedom of choice for parents and children to engage with the Church, there is something gone seriously wrong within the Body of Christ. 

Just in case anyone might think that all is perfect here with such a positive engagement, that is not the case. No, there is always more and better that can be done. As the sole priest here for over a year, I am painfully aware of my shortcomings. I have a long way to go on the road to holiness - even after all these years! All I can say is that the lack of a second or third Passionist as was the case until recently, has brought a greater than ever awareness that the priest is serving the community and not the one to do everything. In truth, this parish leaves me feeling humbled when I see the dedication of so many people ministering withing the community of St Joseph's.

To finish on a lighter note - the weekend 'five-in-a row' by Dubs men and 'three-in-a- row' by Dubs women was a great conclusion to a wonderful weekend.                                                     AT

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Jean Vanier


Reflection by Aidan Troy

Good Shepherd Sunday Refelction
www.stjoeparis.org

If you go to the above link and go to the Good Shepherd Sunday reflection, I have put together a few lines about the late Jean Vanier. May he rest in peace.

His writings first and then retreats he gave have a big influnece on my life.

May God bless l'Arche communities everywhere in their lives and great work.       AT

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Sri Lanka suffers an Easter Massacre

After Christmas 2018, I went to Colombo in Sri Lanka to be with two parishioners who were being married and  to share in their great day. Their families were delighted to travel from Paris to a wedding at home. This was the first time I had visited this beautiful country with wonderful people.

Having been in Sri Lanka a few months ago, the killings at hotels and at Easter Mass have saddened me deeply. May the deceased rest in peace. May those who lost loved ones have support around them and try to find hope. At Sunday and at weekday Masses at St Joseph's Church, we joined in prayer for Sri Lanka as a way of expressing solidarity with them as the cross of suffering comes upon them.

Along with the murder of Lyra McKee in Derry, work and prayer for peace and reconciliation are more urgent than ever. Only a few weeks ago, I was in Long Tower Parish in Derry to conduct their parish retreat in preparation for Easter. The parishioners and clergy were wonderfully kind and responsive. Now Derry is in the headlines for a killing of a journalist at her work. There is so much more to praise and appreicate in Derry. May Lyra rest in peace.   AT

Monday, 15 April 2019

Parish Retreat at Long Tower, Derry

The last post told that I was looking forward to going to Derry for a retreat. Well, I'm back now after a wonderful visit to Long Tower Parish. The warmth of welcome extended by all was nothing short of wonderful. Bishop McKeown, the Cathedral clergy and staff, Long Tower clergy and staff were so good to me. Most of all the parishioners who came to their church day after day was a joy to see. The first Mass each day was 6.30 a.m. in the tradition of retreats in Derry. A great feature was the great response to the invitation to meet Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation - numbers coming to Confession must have been a great outpouring of God's grace. Even the night the retreat closed, afterwards I was only too pleased to spend more time welcoming many who came along for absolution and peace. 

St Paul of the Cross founded the Passionists 300 years ago to preach the Passion of Jesus not only as an historical event, but as a continuing Passion in the lives of people to this day. Truthfully, that is why I joined the Passionists and just wish I could engage more often in the preaching of missions and retreats. But, all my assignments are given by superiors and are accepted by me because of a vow of obedience that I took when becoming a Passionist religious.

Getting back from Derry, it was back to another retreat. The Lenten Retreat here at St Joseph's was held on Saturday past. It was a day of prayer, of reflection and of reconciliation with God. The turn out was good and the spirit among those taking part was excellent. 

Palm Sunday launched us into Holy Week. Great crowds joined in all 6 Masses - 5 in English language and one in Kiwshalili celebrated by priests from Kenya. We had so many participating in all these Masses that we ran out of palm. Still, we felt that the journey with Christ in Jerusalem for this  momentous week did not absolutely require that each of us have a piece if palm in our hands.

I'm looking forward to this Holy Week and wish you a very Happy Easter and one filled with joy and peace.                                AT