Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Last week our Community Care group ran a non-uniform day (actually three class periods: 9.00-11.00am) in aid of our Barnardo's Christmas party. Community Care are a group of fifth and transition year students who volunteer to do fund-raise for charities etc. The party goes back to before my time but when I took over I switched from asking the students to donate toys to raising money (begging) instead. This year I eventually got tired of that. A few years ago one frustrated fifth year student referred to a class as a "shower of stingy b******s". I guess she was a little over enthusiastic. So this year we ran cake sales. The group is divided into four teams named after the seasons and each team does a Friday cake sale which involves making the cakes and selling them during little and big break. All though this was going very well we also ran the non-uniform day and raised over €1640. Now we can run our Christmas party and give a sizeable donation to Barnardo's as well. The cake sales will now be in aid of the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless instead. The cake sales are fun. I get a kick our of advertising the produce and trying to do it in a humourous way. It adds to the 'buzz' of a Friday and the kids get to do something pleasurable (e.g. eating chocolate muffins) and help those less well off. It gives my Community Care group an experience of fund-raising and self-sacrifice. One group seemed to have had more fun making a mess of their cakes than anything else. I didn't think it was possible to make chocolate Rice Krispy cakes that had no chocolate in them and didn't even stick together. I had never heard of 'Rocky Road' before - apparently the ingredients include chocolate, of course, as well as marshmallow, biscuit and Crunchy. Some have a real knack for baking unless, of course, it's their mother's cooking they're passing off as their own. As soon as we have a date settled for the party I will give each group their allotment of cash and the names and ages of the kids and let them go but presents. The party only lasts about an hour and a half to two hours but it's great fun. Watch this space.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


While surfing the net, catching up with news, I came across, via New Advent, this article from George Weigel . I know Mr. Weigel is respected in some Church circles but what gets my blood boiling is that an American writer or pundit thinks that he can comment on the state of the Irish Church while not actually living here. The Irish Church has problems. These are deep and fundamentally theological and spiritual problems. They also have administrative dimensions but I am not convinced that his root and branch pruning would work. We Irish in Ireland are a people deeply aware of our roots and our place in the world. We have our own spirituality within the Catholic tradition and it is from within that tradition that the healing of Ireland will come. Only a return to the penitential way of our ancestors (most visible in Croagh Patrick and Lough Derg) will reawaken our hearts. We need to become a people that weeps for and with the abused, for and with the abusers, for those who failed and for the renewal of our Church and our land. I am not sure even those outside Ireland of Irish descent would properly grasp that kind of Irishness. As for his suggestion that an American bishop be sent well that beggars belief. The Irish clergy who went to America went to serve the Irish Catholics in America and built up the American Church as a consequence. An American bishop sent to Ireland, even one of Irish descent, would be coming to a different culture and from the start would be seen as an imposition and an insult. It would be interpreted as a punishment. Neither am I convinced that resizing would help. That might make it easier for the Holy Father and his advisers to find bishops for Irish Sees but it would not necessarily mean a boon to Ireland. Ireland really is a parochial country where there can be 'micro-cultures' to parallel our micro-climates. Just spending a year in a parish in Cork as a deacon taught me that. Some reorganization is needed. Some rationalization could help. But unless there is a fundamental shift at a theological and spiritual level (and changing structures will not do this) all that change will be cosmetic. For Ireland to change it must come from within. It must be a return to our roots. That insight came to me on retreat while reading Irene Hausherr's Penthos. Only if we turn to Christ and plead for His help will there be real change.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


So the Irish Government, having made itself a laughing stock for closing the embassy in the Vatican while keeping embassies in places like Lesotho, will not be extending an invitation to the Holy Father to visit our country next year. So? He should come anyway. The hierarchy should invite him. Stuff the Government. Separation of Church and State works both ways. The Holy Father should come, he should meet victims of CSA and he should get the opportunity to address the Irish people directly. The secularists fear that. They fear that he would make a serious impact on Ireland and against their cause. They think they have the Irish Church on the back foot, that she is in terminal decline and that its only a matter of time before she is finished. They should read history. The Holy Spirit has again and again fulfilled our Lord's promises. He will look after everything if only we are faithful. It is up to us who love the Church and want to see her flourishing to fast, pray and sacrifice for her renewal. That renewal begins with each of us, in the heart, in our lives. Governments come and go. The Irish Government doesn't speak for the Irish people in everything. Let the Holy Father come and stuff the begrudgers!


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