Sunday, February 19, 2017

A President Acknowledges

I worked and lived as a Presentation Brother, in West Africa. I realise what a boost a recent address by our President Michael D. Higgins was to missionaries working with the poor and disadvantaged.

He acknowledged the work of Irish Missionaries during his recent visit to Peru, Colombia and Cuba. He praised and affirmed the endeavours of missionaries working in challenging situations. He told them, they present ‘values of Ireland at their very best’, through the ‘joy, practical help and hope’ that they bring to disadvantaged communities in Latin America.

The President expressed his delight that he was ‘very privileged’ and ‘so pleased’ that they were able to gather to meet him at short notice. ‘It so very important for you to know that as President of Ireland, it makes my heart lift to know there are people who are working to create hope where it doesn’t exist and where hope does, that spark is there, to make sure it is a bright flame that keeps people going.’ he commented.

‘You bring so much joy but practical help, and you bring hope, and you indicate what I think are the values of Ireland at their very best.’

President Higgins said he is ‘moved’ whenever he hears Pope Francis speaking out against ‘those models that are failing not just the poor but failing humanity’ and ‘to think that you are on the ground doing all these things and putting them into practice’.

Let’s continue to remember our Priests, Brothers, Sisters and Lay Missionaries everywhere at this time.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 14th, is of course St Valentine's Day, a day when we talk about love more than usual. A lot of the discussion you hear today will be light-hearted and fun.

But who was St Valentine? There are some conflicting accounts but we know he existed and his remains have been identified in the catacombs of Rome. This feast day has been celebrated for 15 centuries!

Three things you need to know:
1. He was a Catholic priest
2. He was arrested for tending to the needs of the persecuted Christians of Rome. 
3. He was executed for refusing to renounce the Catholic faith during the persecution of Roman Emperor Claudius.

For men and women discerning a vocation, then there is an obvious resonance here.

For a start St Valentine answered the call to serve by embracing a religious vocation. Secondly, he served those in need and risked his own life to do so. Finally, he refused to deny his faith and has since been remembered as an icon of love. 

It's ironic that at a time when celibacy and chaste love are dismissed, the day on which the world celebrates love is in fact a day in honour of a priest who died for his faith!

(Take time to read this beautiful reflection below)

Fall in Love
Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Culture of Encounter

On Saturday, together with other members of our Vocations Strategy Team, I spent a very informative day in the company of Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic.  He introduced us to the many ways we can embrace the culture of encounter in today’s world.

He referred to Pope Francis and how he uses social media to spread the Joy of the Gospel.  Pope Francis received Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook, at the Vatican.  They spoke on how best to use communications technology to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter and a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged in our world.

He highlighted the significance of the global media and how it is influencing our lives today.  Among some of the most influential social media outlets are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.  He also gave us important tips for interviews with the media and how to write a press release.  There was also an opportunity to walk the talk and do some real interviews.

There are so many learnings that I take from the day.  Almost 80% of the stories in our newspapers are generated by media releases.  Beyonce "broke the internet" through Instagram with her record number of tweets - just because she is expecting twins.  Another popular person of Twitter is Katy Perry with in excess of 95 million followers.  Hot on her heels is Justin Bieber with over 91 million followers.  The Barcelona footballer, Ronaldo, has over 50 million followers, while Pope Francis claims 35 million followers.

Today, we are asked to follow so many people, but Jesus is the one who asks us to follow him so that we might build a true culture of encounter in our lives.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Spring is in the Air!

Anois teacht an Earraigh, beidh an lá ag dul chun síneadh. Is tar éis na féile Bríde, árdóigh mé mo sheol.” (Antoine Ó Raifteirí). Now that Spring is coming, the days will be getting longer. And after St Brigid's Day, I'll raise up my sail.”

The beginning of February is traditionally associated with the heralding of spring and the arrival of fertility to the land. The land dormant during the winter months begins to stir and new life embarks on its journey towards the light. Precious seeds, deep within the soil are germinating, awaiting the breath of spring to accompany them to the earth’s surface.

These are days when we are invited into our own spring space – a space where new life is stirring, awakening and becoming, a space full of potential and possibility. These are days of rebirth and re-growth, of renewal and resurrection. Then with their first appearance they adorn the earth with their beautiful presence and remind us of resurrection.

The 1st of February marks the feast of St. Brigid, patroness of Ireland, and we celebrate this great woman of prayer and her great devotion to God and neighbour. She founded a monastery in Kildare and convents throughout the country. She dedicated her life to God and to the poor. Her extraordinary spirituality, charity and compassion for those distressed were legendary. She became known for her good works and many young women were inspired to follow her. There is also a lovely tradition of gathering bunches of rushes to make St. Brigid's crosses for protection throughout the year.  

One can explore the legacy and heritage of St. Brigid of Kildare by visiting the beautiful Solas Bride and Hermitage Centre, in Kildare Town.

The following day is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, a day dedicated to Consecrated Life. We celebrate the many priests, brothers and sisters whose faith, devotion and commitment influenced many of our lives. We remember the young men and women who continue to discern a call to priesthood or religious life. We continue to pray for them all and thank God for their lives of quiet dedication.
We also celebrate the feast of St. Blaise on the 3rd of February, whose life was very simple and ordinary. He is known worldwide for his care of those who were sick and particularly those with ailments of the throat. Many churches will give a blessing on the day. If you can't make it to a church, then our own quiet prayer to St. Blaise will be just as effective and important. 

At the beginning of spring, maybe now is the time to go deeper in your discernment journey...

I'm always available at if you'd like more information.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Visit to the Young Scientist Exhibition!

What better way to begin the new year with a visit to the BT Young Science and Technology Exhibition in the RDS, Dublin!
What youth may lack in experience, they certainly make up for in courage, vision and imagination. Henry Taylor (poet) once said; ‘Imagination lit every lamp in this country, built every church, performed every act of kindness and progress, created more and better things for more people. It is a priceless ingredient for a better day’. With a little imagination many things are possible. Without it our lives are dull and lack direction. This gift was truly alive on a visit to the Young Scientist Exhibition earlier this month.
It was the 53rd year of this prestigious event and it featured 550 projects across four categories: Technology; Biological and Ecological; Social and Behavioural Sciences; and Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Over 2,000 entries initially were whittled down to 550. A record number of entries were submitted, engaging over four and a half thousand students from the beginning.
The quality of projects on display was extraordinary, tackling some of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing society today. Projects were as varied as they were many. The projects covered a wide variety of topics, from dating to farming and everything in between.
Not to be outdone was the Primary Science Fair with pupils from the senior classes exhibiting their projects also at the RDS.
The overall winner was Shane Curran from Terenure College. He has the opportunity to represent Ireland at the EU young scientist competition later in the year in Estonia. Cormac Larkin claimed the runner-up in the individual award. Cormac is a student at Colaiste An Spioraid Naoimh, Cork, one of the schools in the Presentation Brothers schools Trust. The Colaiste is no stranger to the Young Scientist Exhibition. Raphael Hurley captured the overall prize in 1998.
Great credit is due to teachers, parents and especially the young people for their selfless dedication and commitment to the research done for the benefit of society. We are justifiably proud of you.
For further information about this impressive exhibition visit;

Friday, January 13, 2017

Religion 'very important' to fb founder.

The founder of social media giant Facebook has asserted the importance of faith in a Christmas message to followers.

The previously avowed atheist took to social media over the festive period to wish one and all a “Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah”, prompting one viewer to pose the question: “Aren’t you an atheist?”

Zuckerberg was quick to reply: “No. I was raised Jewish and then I went through a period where I questioned things, but now I believe religion is very important.”

Zuckerberg’s words on faith came just months after he and his wife Priscilla attended a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, a meeting which had a profound effect on the industry leader.

We told him how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he’s found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world.” Zuckerberg wrote later, “It was a meeting we’ll never forget. You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people.” From humble beginnings as a computer programmer, Zuckerberg became a universally recognised individual when, along with fellow college students in 2004, he came up with the idea of an online networking site, Facebook. The site is used today by one billion people. Zuckerberg is currently ranked by Forbes magazine as the 10th most powerful individual in the world.

Together with his wife, the Facebook founder is responsible for the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, an initiative tasked with donating some 45 billion dollars of his internet earnings to charitable causes focused on education and curing diseases.
(Irish Catholic, January 5, 2017)

A Man of God!

The footballer responsible for a spectacular ‘scorpion kick’ goal during a New Year’s game in the English premier league has said God helped him to carry off the near-impossible shot to bring his team to victory.

Playing with Arsenal in the January 1 face-off against south London’s Crystal Palace, French international Olivier Giroud made the most of a pass delivered behind him to flick the ball with the back of his heel and send it on target for what was immediately described by pundits as an early contender for ‘Goal of the Season’.

Clearly delighted with the results of the masterly display, Giroud afterwards thanked God for the goal: “I needed God’s help to score this goal,” he told an interviewer at full time, when Arsenal had beaten Palace 2-0. A proclaimed Catholic- he has stated that he is “a strong believer”.

Olivier Giroud carries a reminder of his faith into every game in the form of a tattoo on his forearm which is a Latin rendering of Psalm 23: Dominus regit me et nihil deerit – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Though he does not cross himself in preparation for competition as so many athletes do, Giroud has said he says a prayer before every game.

(Irish Catholic, January 5, 2017)