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

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

Monday, 1 April 2019

Looking forward to Derry

Starting this coming weekend, I have been invited to Long Tower Parish in Derry to lead a Parish Retreat. It is an honour and privilege to be invited for this and I look forward to being there among the people of that lovely city. 

Last Saturday morning at St Joseph's we held the First Reconciliation for children which had been deferred from December 2018 due to unrest in the area at that time. We had an almost full attendance despite some apprehension. The children and the parents were full of enthusiasm for this lovely occasion. These 37 children will receive their First Communion on the eve of Pentecost, 8  June. 

This year also we will have 5 adults receiving Baptism at the Easter Vigil. These will be joined by two others who are already baptised and I will have joy of Confirming these seven adults and giving them Holy Communion. With all that is so wrong and sinful in the recent history of the Church, moments like these give hope at a time when it is really needed. 

None of this, of course, is my doing. I can just marvel at the wonderful generosity of people, young and older, and thank God for letting me have some part in His work.                               AT

Tuesday, 26 March 2019


I am ashamed at my neglect of the Blog. Have no excuse. Lent going ahead well with usual Liturgies and prayers. I had a good St Patrick's weekend. Much to my amazement I was asked to be 'Grand Marshal' for Paris St Patrick's Day Parade on 17 March. 'Irish in France' committee contacted me with this request. When I realised that it was a serious request, I was pleased to accept. About 5,000 people joined in the parade - up from 500 last year. It was a musical, joyful event and drew people from many countries to share in celebrating the National Apostle of Ireland. After the Parade, Mass was celebrated at church of St Etienne du Mont, organised by Mgr. Hugh Connolly of the Irish College. Bishop Kevin Doran in Paris on a visit, was principal celebrant. Mgr. Hugh preached the homily in Irish, English and French. There were many wonderful events held at the Irish Cultural Centre over that weekend. Saturdays are still watched with care at St Joseph's but we have been able to continue a complete schedule of Masses and other services over recent months.
I really must pay more attention to this blog in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading this. A

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

A Little Snow

The first snow of the year arrived yesterday but did not linger. It is still cold but those of us with a roof over our heads cannot complain. There are so many who do not have this and the little I and others can do to help must be done with generosity. Regularly, the Youth Adult Ministry along with other parishioners, prepare at St Joseph's around 200 meals and bring them out onto the streets for those in great need.

Last Sunday I had the joy of offering Mass at the Irish College, Paris. It was great to meet that lovely congregation again. It won't be long until I am back there for the Saint Patrick's Day Parade. This year, our second, will be bigger and better than last year!

This Saturday there is a Confirmation Retreat for Candidates from St Joseph's and Marymount School Paris. This is a significant moment in their lives and next day is their Enrolment Mass at St Joseph's. There is something about signing a name to commit to the Sacrament that brings home the significance of the step they are about to take. In this day and age, I admire so much the young people and their families who come forward to continue the journey of faith.

Back again soon, I hope!                                                                                   AT