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