Monday, 27 October 2014

Clock changes

The dark days of Winter are not far away. Today in Paris it is a sunny almost summer's day! Long may it last like this. My own unscientific view is that the time should be left alone all year round. A few tourists were a little annoyed with me yesterday that the times of Masses at St Joseph's Church, Paris had not been changed by one hour to match the change of the clocks at the weekend. You don't follow that? Neither did I when it was first said nor have I gained any insight since! But, as we all know - the customer is always right! No travel this week. Last weekend I was at an Ordination of a Passionist student in Wales. During the week I attended meetings during visits to St Mungo's, Glasgow and Holy Cross, Belfast. Getting ready now for Feast of All Saints on Saturday and All Souls on Sunday. The year is slipping past. When shopping recently Chritmas fare was in evidence. A.T.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Feast of Saint Paul of the Cross - Founder of the Passionists

Today is special. All over the world the inspiration of St Paul of the Cross is being celebrated in Passionist Churches, Monasteries, Convents and in the hearts of believers touched by this saintly mystic. The Passionist ordination in Wales yesterday was a moment of great joy for Gareth, his family, and Passionist companions. I'm just back to Paris from Cardiff.
A few thoughts I penned during the week about St Paul of the Cross are in this week's St Joseph's Parish Bulletin distributed today. If you would like to read it go to and then click to enter the website. Go to 'Practical Information' and click on 'Links' and there is Aidan's Blog.
Happy Feastday to all!        A.T.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Ordination in Wales

Tomorrow, Gareth Thomas will be ordained a priest in his native Wales. I hope and pray that all will go well. This is the first time a Passionist student from Ireland/Scotland has been ordained in over 20 years. Blessing though the ordination tomorrow certainly is, the deaths and departures of priests during those years leaves gaps that will not be filled. My hope and prayer is that a thorough review and renewal of priesthood will be undertaken. The Synod on the Family ending in Rome this weekend may help the Church to begin asking about the critical situation regarding the priesthood especially in those countries that until recent years were sending missionaries to other local churches needing priests. A few weeks ago I passed the 50 year mark since taking vows as a Passionist. Maybe it wouldn't help to consult priests still engaged in ministry, but I find it a bit strange that nobody at 'official' church level has asked me, and I'm sure the vast majority of priests, for an opinion regarding the future of priesthood. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised after all these years. Pray for those good and honest priests trying to continue building the Kingdom among and with God's People.  A.T.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Odds and Ends

Had the anti-flu injection today. Got a parish banner put up on the area outside the church thanks to a most helpful friend. Planned coming weeks up to New Year with the other two priests who minister here. Read the daily Catholic newspaper La Croix on the Synod on the Family. My Skype connection is gone - my computer like myself is getting old! Pastoral Council met tonight. These busy parish members meet once a month out of care for the parish. They are stalwarts. Watched an old episode of Fools and Horses and went to bed. Maybe nobody will read this blog of mine but then people tell me that nobody reads the Parish Bulletin that I write 52 weeks of the year. Please don't laugh - but I take seriously the weekly Bulletin reflection and notices that I compile week in and week out. These take hours to research and compose. If no one else reads the Bulletin or this Blog, I have a certainty that Jesus knows about them. It is worth writing them for that reason alone! Deo gratias!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Nobel Peace Prize

Malala Yousafzai, the brave girl from Pakistan, is one worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize - well done! Her campaigning for the right of girls to go to school is truly commendable. 220 very brave girls aged 4 - 11 years bravely walked to and from school in Belfast thirteen years ago despite efforts to stop them. These children and their Parents along with their Primary School stood up for the right of all children, especially girls, to receive an education without hindrance. They will always be heroes to me along with that great young lady, Malala.              A.T.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

RCIA 2014 - 2015

Today, 9th October 2014, the first session of a new course of Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults begins at St Joseph's Church, Paris. A good number of people have enrolled. But, it is only when the day arrives that it will be known who is joining our group. What I find great is that since I got involved in 2008 at St Joseph's, not only have I had the privilege of celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation with Adults, but some have brought along a baby of theirs to have baptism. Two 'graduates' of RCIA over the years have married at St Joseph's and invited me to be present at the Sacrament of Marriage. Of course, some have moved on - approximately 33% of our parish move each summer. Among those who remain, I am privileged to have made some good friends. The most difficult part of RCIA is getting the administrative dossier of each candidate ready for the Archdiocese of Paris. No shortcuts are accepted! When I arrived here in 2008, the RCIA team was Siona and Gabriel and Joe. The present RCIA team still has Joe and in recent years, Joan and Arthur. We are blessed in having these parishioners to witness so strongly to their faith and to set out the teaching of Christ and the Church. Long may this continue to be a part of the life of the Mission Anglophone Paris!       A.T.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

9th October

Since signing up on Facebook some years ago, the world and his wife know that it is my birthday on 9th October. When I turned 21 years of age, I was concerned about how old I was getting! Since then, I have not worried about my age - there is nothing I can do about it anyhow. God has blessed me with good health so far and as long as He does, I will keep going. To celebrate my birthday tomorrow, 9th October, I really look forward to welcoming a new class of candidates for RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). We will meet each Thursday evening until the Easter Vigil of 2015 when Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion will be celebrated. For the past six years at St Joseph's Paris, this has been a highlight of each year for me. Along with Joan, Arthur and Joe we will do our best to open up the love of Christ and His care for this group. While we are at class each Thursday evening, people are invited to come along to St Joseph's Church to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance on the Altar for our RCIA candidates.. Pray for us all, please.        A.T.

50 Years

On 27th September 1964, I professed four Vows at a ceremony in the Passionist Monastery, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. I had entered the Novitiate on 31st August 1963 having completed my Leaving Certificate at CBS, Bray, that summer. The way I looked at is was that I wanted to try out this strange thing called a 'vocation' and if it was not for me, I would have been happy to get on with my life. A local priest suggested I wait a few years before joining but understood my wish to test this now rather than wait and then find out it was not for me. Little could I have know that I would never see my Mother again in this life - she died suddenly on 19th March 1964.
That was then. 50 years later, all I can say is that I am still a Passionist. Some people find it (me?) strange that I did not want an 'official' celebration. At the Information Day in St Joseph's garden a very kind group of people prepared a banner and presented me with a cake - that was very much appreciated.. At a student retreat Mass in Marymount School that weekend, some lovely words were spoken about the occasion and a gift presented. In the old days, a special Jubilee holiday was provided by the Passionists to some part of the world that the one celebrating wished to visit!
My reason for not marking the event is because I feel it would be insensitive to celebrate now. During those 50 years a great deal of damage was done to children and vulnerable adults by a relatively small number of consecrated Religious. Even though I am, by the grace of God, not numbered among those who damaged God's little ones or committed criminal acts, I belong to a church that did. It would go against my principles to have a celebration at a time when so many people are still hurting.
My reason for going into details about this is that some people may have thought that I was being deliberately awkward or odd! At present I am so delighted to hear the words of Pope Francis and others reflecting what I have always believed to be the mind and heart of Christ. I left home in 1964 from a loving family and entered into a system of clerical formation that even then did not make much sense to me. I remained hoping that the clerical formation would improve. It didn't and was slow to change. I loved the studies I did, the friends that I made but the training to which my generation was subjected was not of Christ.
I have survived in religious life because of God and the start I got from my parents and family. I have been truly fortunate that in all the places I have ever lived over the past 50 years, I have been cared for by loving people who showed me why God put us on this earth. I have friends to this day stretching back to student days and since. For these people I could never thank God enough.
On 19th December 2020, if God spares me, I will celebrate 50 years as a priest. That is another day like 27th September 2014 on which I will know that all this is God's work and not my achievement.                   A.T.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Jog

Delighted to have got back to jogging. In July I got an knee injury that stopped me jogging until tonight. During that time I developed a liking for cycling. The Velib is the public bicycle service in Paris.               A.T.

Synod of Bishops October 2014

The Synod looks like it is coming to life although it is still early days. A lot of reading to be done and even more praying.       A.T.

Papal Visit to France 2015

Good news announced today is that Pope Francis will visit France at some stage during 2015. On 25th November 2014, the Pope will visit the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg. The Pope's visit to France in 2015 (dates not yet announced) will involve a visit to Lourdes and to Paris. This reminds us of 1979 when Pope John Paul II (now canonised) visited Ireland. I was over eight years ordained a priest and recall vividly going to Phoenix Park, Galway and Maynooth College. Little did many of us know what lay around the corner for the church in Ireland following the visit. It will be a different setting when Pope Francis comes to France and one that I am looking forward to greatly.     A.T.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Geneva Visit Ending

Had a recollection day for parish of St John XX111 at the Diocesan Retreat Centre in Geneva.
Lovely group of parishioners including the Pastoral Council and the Parish Administrative Council.
Now ready for last train back to Paris for Mass on Sunday at St Joseph's.          A.T.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Geneva Retreats

Arrived in Geneva last night by train from Paris. How I love trains! Maybe it has to do with my Father working on the railway all his life. Today I was at a beautiful conference centre outside Geneva to accompany the clergy and parish staff of the English language church of Geneva. It was a joy to listen and share with this dedicated and talented group. After the sessions, I saw UN buildings, Headquarters of World Council of Churches, WHO, EUFA & FIFA headquarters, Notre Dame Cathedral in Geneva, Lake Geneva and a few other places. Soon I will offer the Evening Mass.
Saturday there will be a day of recollection for parishioners at Cenacle Retreat Centre. Then, I hope to travel on a late train back to Paris in time for Sunday Masses. This invitation arose from meeting Fr Richard, Pastor, at European Pastors' Meetings in recent years.          A.T

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Sad Loss of two great Mercy Sisters

It was with shock and great sadness that I heard of the deaths of Sr Frances and St Marie in a traffic accident near Newry on Tuesday morning. May they both rest in peace and may their families and friends draw strength from the power of these women of faith and goodness. My life at Holy Cross would have so much the poorer without the Mercy Sisters in our parish; On an almost daily basis, I met with Sr Frances - when Principal of Mercy Primary or after that in the huge amount of pastoral care that she offered. These great Mercy Sisters have taught us what Consecrated Life can give to the world and the church. They will be missed and may they rest in peace now.      A.T.

28th September 2014

Last Sunday was special to me on a personal as well as a parish level. On 28th September 2008 (6 years ago), at 4 p.m. I arrived through the front door of St Joseph's Church to begin a journey with no idea whatsoever as to where it would lead. People of all races and languages over the past six years have shown me the way forward and have cared for me. Thanks to all who have walked me over the past six years and to those still on the journey. Without these people, what happened for good would simply not have happened as it did. If any of these read this post - don't lose heart! There is only about 20 months to go before the next change for me will come from Passionist H/Q in Ireland. People who know this ask where is next for me to go - only God knows! After 50 years of Passionist Profession (27 Sept. 1964), every day is a gift to be treasured!                                                             

St Joseph's Information Day and Food Fest on 28 September 2014

Last Sunday was special. It was a brilliant sunny day and the people of St Joseph's gave us a day to remember. All the planning, all the work, all the preparations were worth it. The Parish Pastoral Council gave a lead and individuals, families and leaders of ministries at St Joseph's walked to the same drum beat. What the Body of Christ can be was seen by our own eyes as we had our usual 5 Masses and a call to mission went out to appoximately 1,500 people at those Masses.
Like the Gospel when Jesus got people together, He instructed his followers not to send them away but, "you feed them". And all were fed. Without counting the cost, people brought food, cooked it and served it with graciousness worthy of a Christian community. People ate foods of many nations and cultures and we rejoiced in our diversity.
At the same time over 200 children and young people were applying themselves to CCD (religious formation and instruction) under the guidance of volunteer teachers and supportive families. We were glad to welcome ACWO (American Catholic Women's Organisation) and Marymount International School Paris, as friends and fellow travellers along the way in building the Kingdom of God.
At St Joseph's we are a truly international community at peace at a time when many nations and groups are at war. May we continue to witness to peace and justice and all that makes this world truly reflect the beauty and goodness intended by God at the dawn of creation.
This day will remain with me for a long time to come - I saw the Body of Christ at its best. It made a welcome change from that same Body being debased by crime and sin against the most vulnerable. My sincere thanks to the huge number of people who last Sunday gave my faith and trust a huge boost. You are witnesses to Chist in all that is best among human beings.
On 24th November 2013, Pope Francis signed off on "Evangelii Gaudium" in Rome.
On 28th September 2014, we experienced "The Joy of the Gospel" in Paris.                   A.T.