Saturday, November 18, 2017

Happy Presentation Day!

November 21st, the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady - is the feast day of the Presentation Brothers and Presentation Sisters. It is an occasion each year when we celebrate our call and mission as religious men and women in the Presentation Congregations.      
 
The feast recalls a Jewish custom whereby young Jewish men and women went to the Temple of Jerusalem to dedicate their lives to God.

In this feast we remember that Mary PRESENTS her life to God. Mary in turn PRESENTS Jesus to the world. This is the ideal of the Presentation Brothers and Sisters - to do their best to present Jesus Christ in the world today by the example of our lives. The mission of the Presentation Brothers is Forming Christ in the Young.

Christmas ads are already appearing on our television screens. They remind us of a time of year that is fast approaching. Part of Christmas is the giving of gifts. The challenge for those of us as Presentation religious is to present our lives as a gift to others. Each one of us is blessed with many gifts, we may not think so but we are a gift to others. 

“Never doubt the power of a small group of committed people to change the world, for indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Meade 
During the week the Presentation family around the world celebrate the Feast of the Presentation. All associated with the Presentation Family, communities, schools, friends, and young people are invited to join with the Presentation Brothers in celebrating this great feast.
For those of you informing yourselves about your future careers, I encourage and challenge you to keep the option of serving others as a Presentation Brother or Sister among your list of options. Do not be afraid, have courage, be risk takers and explore this option. I believe people need the witness of Brothers and Sisters in a world where there is so much suffering, pain and division. 

For those of you discerning your vocation in life - know that you on this special Feast dedicated to Mary our Mother, are held in our thoughts and prayers.



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

In November we Remember!

We celebrate the feast of All Saints on November 1st which reminds us that October 31 truly is All Hallows Eve. It is the beginning of the last month in the Church’s Year so we call on all the saints of all time to intercede for us before the Lord. We have many saints in the Church calendar. The Church devotes the month of November to prayer for our loved ones beginning with All Souls Day on November 2nd. Often overshadowed by the two days preceding it, Halloween (Oct. 31st) & All Saints Day (Nov 1st), All Souls Day is a solemn celebration commemorating all of those who have gone before us! Indeed, the Church encourages us during the month of November to take time to pause, remember and pray for all our loved ones.   

But the month is not limited to the many saints whose names are in the calendar and are celebrated at an appropriate date with a feast day and memory. It includes all the faithful departed who have gone before us and are now in the presence of the Lord. The vast majority of these are not canonised but are known to those with whom they lived and loved. We all know many good people whose lives were exemplary and a testament to all those around them. During the month of November, we have all of these in mind as we remember with confidence our saints.

Many people pay a visit to a cemetery with a flower or a night light. ‘It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be freed to eternal life’. In prayer we are in God’s presence and we believe we are in some way in communion with our loved ones. 

We may wish of course to avoid talking about death, we don’t like being reminded of our mortality. Woody Allen famously quipped, “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” It strikes a chord because that is how many of us deal with death. We joke about it while keeping our real thoughts and fears to ourselves.

Some of our deceased relatives we got to say goodbye to, while others left us before any goodbyes could be exchanged. By remembering our deceased in prayer or by visiting their resting place is an attempt at saying we haven’t forgotten them and that they will always be a special part of our lives.  

It’s a custom too in Ireland to abstain from alcohol and or cigarettes during the month of November. Fasting and sacrifice help us to focus our mind on prayer. ‘I’ve given up alcohol. And, yes, it’s tough!’ As we spend the month recalling the example of people of faith who went before us, spare a thought for your future too. Would life as a religious help you to be the saint that you are called to be?

May all our loved ones who have died, rest in peace!




Saturday, October 21, 2017

Happy Halloween!


We are about to move from the month of October to November and there is a sense of time slipping by very quickly. A reminder of that is in the shops and at the entrance to our houses. They are awash with ghoulish and macabre Halloween outfits and accessories.  Grinning skulls, skeleton costumes and fake tombstones can be purchased. Witches’ broomsticks and wizards’ wands are accompanied by various images and symbols marked with an RIP.  It’s all very different from the simple Halloween apples and nuts festivities of my childhood. Rightly so, time moves on and social habits change. 

The word Halloween has been corrupted with time. It's full title is ALL HALLOWS EVE, which means 'the evening before All Saints'. 'Hallow' is another word for holy or saint. We meet it in the common version of the Our Father. 

Halloween has its origins in Celtic times associated with the ancient Gaelic festival of 'Samhain', which was a celebration of the end of the harvest season and take stock of supplies and prepare for the winter. It was at this time of the year a celebration of the transition from light to darkness was ritualised. Our Celtic ancestors also believed that the boundary between our world and that of the dead was very thin; they believed the spirits of the dead returned. The veil between this world and the next was at its weakest, demons crossed over from the beyond and extracted their revenge on those they felt scorned by, carrying you or yours back to hell with them. People wore masks and costumes to mimic or appease the spirits. I wonder if the death-themes in our Halloween celebrations are an attempt to recapture the spirit of the Feast of All Souls, on November 2, when Christians remember and pray for their deceased relatives!

We may think Halloween is silly nonsense driven by commercialism and a waste of money. In recent times, it is very much a children's feast with their custom of dressing up in various scary costumes and visiting the houses in the neighbourhood. At the door they shout 'Trick or Treat' - implying that they would play some trick on the people if they did not receive some treat from them. Children love it and always will. Halloween has a lot to offer. It can put us in touch with the mystery of life and that some things in life are often clouded in darkness. It puts us in touch with the struggle between light and darkness and the struggle between good and evil. Halloween may have pagan origins but it embraces the Christian message too. It’s a simple Halloween message that God calms, encourages and reassures us, especially when we struggle with darkness, evil, mystery and the unknown. Enjoy a happy and safe Halloween break!       


Thursday, October 12, 2017

October we celebrate Mission Month


Each year the focus is put on mission during the month of October. In the past when we thought of mission we thought of the thousands of heroic Irish women and men who went all over the world giving of their time to work with people in spreading the Gospel. There are in excess of 1,000 Irish missionaries serving throughout the world. During the month of October, we celebrate the work of our missionaries, remembering them in our prayers and asking God's blessing on the good work that they do.


However, we have a wider sense of mission today. Pope Francis gives us the theme for World Mission Sunday on 22nd October 2017, when he says, ‘Mission is at the heart of Christian Faith’. In his message for World Mission Sunday, he focuses on the need to gather round the person of Jesus and to heed his call to “proclaim the Gospel of the love of God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit”. He also emphasises the Church’s role as being “missionary in nature” and that “young people are the hope of mission”.

Every Christian is a Missionary. Today every country is mission territory, every Christian, each one of us is called to witness to the joy of the Gospel in our families, in the factories and on the farm, in offices and schools and in the places where we socialise. Being a missionary in this sense can be as simple as an encouraging word, a smile, reaching out to a neighbour in need, being with people who grieve, encouraging or being patient with the young or the old. That is how the Gospel is spread. And for most of us that ‘home mission’ is the difficult challenge we face every day.

If you would like to be a missionary or wish to find out more about the Presentation Brothers, don't hesitate to drop me an email at: vocation@presentationbrothers.org. 


Monday, October 2, 2017

A Visit to the Ploughing Championships!

‘No one who puts their hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God’ Lk. 9:62.


I always enjoy a day at the ploughing championships maybe because of the happy memories I retain from growing up on the family farm. The world and his mother beat a track to the ploughing every September. It is Europe’s largest outdoor event with in excess of 280.000 visitors attending this year’s event in Screggan, Tullamore. Local farmers provided 600 hundred acres of their land to meet the requirements for the ploughing events, parking and approx. 2,000 exhibits. 

I was representing Vocations Ireland. I shared a stand with Franciscans OFM. NET Ministries Team joined us for the three days. We were kept on our toes with the footfall to our stand which was very encouraging. People were requesting prayers of all kinds; children were seeking prayer cards for their pets and animals. Farmers a blessing for their land and others a prayer for sick friends. Wrist bands and crosses were also in great demand.    

It is said that people who are close to the earth are close to God and to the beauty of God’s creation. Jesus uses many images from the land in his stories in the Gospels. He uses the image of the plough. “No one who puts their hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”. The person who is constantly looking back will get nowhere. Too much time is wasted and lost in looking back. Nothing can change anything we have done in the past. Getting it right now gives us much more control in doing things better. God wants us to move focus on the job at hand and move forward in hope.

If you are interested in finding out about the Presentation Brothers, don’t hesitate to email me at the following address;vocation@presentationbrothers.org.




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vocations Ireland NET Team


NET Ministry (National Evangelisation Team) is an international voluntary movement consisting of teams of young adults. Their mission is to share faith through personal witness of God’s love for them and invite young people with whom they engage to get to know God’s love in their lives. They do this by giving of their time, nine months possibly in another country as a NET Missionary. It was a privilege to meet with the NET Teams in Rossnowlagh, in August and especially with the team who are now working with Vocations Ireland.

The NET Ministry volunteers spend six weeks in preparation for their mission sharing their own faith journey and building team relationships. They engage with thousands of youth each year in schools and parishes throughout Ireland and elsewhere. A team of six will work in schools and parishes in Kilkenny, in parishes in Dublin and Dundalk. They will work with the Presentation Brothers Evangelisation Programme in Glasthule, Co. Dublin and use the centre for some of their activities. The Team members are; Conor and Vanessa from Canada, Rachel and Rene from the U.S. Pierce from Ireland and Alex from Scotland. They will be with us ‘til May 2018.   

Their ministry is to Parish groups as well as doing encounter days in schools, facilitating retreats and engaging with youth. They also initiate Sunday morning Family Programmes in their associate parishes. They work with young adults from their Parish to prepare them with the necessary skills to continue the programs once the NET Team departs. They are a lovely, talented, inspirational and happy group of young people and well worth getting to know.


(Should you wish to contact the team, you can email them at; vocationsirelandnetteam@gmail.com) 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New Beginnings




The words of St. Augustine, “If you aspire to great things, begin with little ones, remind me the summer holidays are over” thus signalling a return to work, to school and the halls of academia. The return can be both a stressful and an enjoyable experience. Much will be achieved but always in small steps.

As we welcome the month of September, my hope is that all of us, irrespective of age or disposition will be open to new beginnings and to new possibilities in our lives.

I enjoyed a visit to Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal recently to meet with forty passionate, enthusiastic young people in their faith from NET Ministries (National Evangelisation Team). They are an international voluntary movement consisting of teams of young adults. They were preparing to embark on mission to selected schools and parishes during the next nine months.

They were spending six weeks in preparation for their mission sharing their own faith journey and building team relationships. They will engage with hundreds of fellow youth in schools and parishes throughout Ireland and elsewhere. It was a privilege to meet with the team who will be working with Vocations Ireland for the coming year.

Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.


Blessings for the year ahead!