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Homily of Bishop Crean – Priests Assembly – Killarney – 10th November 2021

Priests Assembly

Dromhall Hotel, Killarney

10th November 2021 – Feast of St. Leo the Great

Pope and Doctor of the Church

Homily of Bishop Wm. Crean

Begin Again

My friends,

When Listowel Writers Week presented Brendan Kennelly, the poet who died recently, with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 in his acceptance address he recited his poem “Begin” – recited as only Brendan Kennelly could, with his crisp, clear pronunciation and well-chosen emphasis.

Allow me to quote some verses which can speak eloquently to our context as we seek to emerge from the trauma of Covid to a world with a new awareness of its fragility and a church struggling to navigate a safe path through its current turbulence.

“Every beginning is a promise

Born in light and dying in dark

determination and exaltation of Springtime

flowering the way to work”.

“Though we live in a world that dreams of ending

that always seems about to give in

Something that will not acknowledge conclusion

insists that we forever begin”.

You will notice that there is no reference to God in the poem yet it has hope and faith running through every line especially its concluding line

“Something that will not acknowledge conclusion

insists that we forever begin”

You will hardly find a finer articulation of the nature of hope

“Something that will not acknowledge conclusion

insists that we forever begin”

One of the blessings of Covid has been the recovery/rediscovery of hope in people’s lives.

It is good for us to be here – with one another in faith, hope and love.

Covid was/is an enormous shock because so much we have taken for granted has been threatened.

Huge adjustments have been made and will be required into the future.

As a presbyterate in Cloyne I commend you for your generosity of spirit and adaptability in managing the pastoral adjustments that these last 18 months demanded of you. Your pastoral sensitivity especially ‘round funerals has been exemplary and I know is greatly appreciated. Equally, your work with school management was so important in facilitating the celebration of 1st Penance, 1st Communion and Confirmation. Successful as these adjustments have been does allow us to abdicate from the responsibility of challenging our families about the integrity of their faith in these celebrations. That is for another day and another context.

My friends, Pope Francis in his first year in office, when addressing a new group of bishops, in his typical three-point structure suggested the three constituent elements of the ministry of bishop and I suggest of priesthood also

1. Accept and receive the flock entrusted to you and do so with magnanimity

2. Walk with and amongst them

3. Remain with them

Might I suggest that the invitation to be a more synodal church is a formal and structured way to enable communities of faith to accept and receive one another to walk consciously with one another and to remain with one another in bonds of mutual love. – Relationship

All the talk ‘round synod and synodality is not without the risk of confusion and bafflement. That risk is compounded by the twin track synodal process that is currently in progress. We will have other moments to engage with the process in the diocese which will be facilitated by

Martha Kent of Mitchelstown, V.P. Pres. Sec. Sch.

Jennifer Buckley, Cobh, Catechist Coláiste Mhuire

Brian Williams, Deacon, Macroom

Leonard Cleary, Deacon, Charleville,

Fr. Jim Moore has kindly agreed to be Co-ordinator

“Pope Francis has invited many bishops and others from around the globe to Rome in October 2023 for a synod, an important meeting to look at the future of the Roman Catholic Church. He has made it clear that the best path that local churches can take in preparing for this meeting is to find creative ways of listening to the experience of church members – clergy and laypeople, men and women, old and young those fiercely attached to the Church and those alienated from it. At present dioceses worldwide are drawing up ambitious plans to enable this to happen. What will be the result? Only the Holy Spirit knows!

What the Pope has recognised in this way of proceeding is the importance of allowing people to tell their story, to explain what the world looks like from their own particular perspective, and to be heard to do so, by each other and by those in power. This, it is hoped, will have a result very different from the kind of meeting where a few explain to the many what has already been decided, even when the intention is to gauge the response to such explanations. The outcome may well be messier, less clear-cut, than might otherwise have been the case. But Christian belief is that God speaks through all people, and so it is important that all people be heard”. (Editorial THE WAY Autumn 2021)

1. Accept and receive with magnanimity

2. Walk with and among

3. Remain

Accepting this invitation to enter this conversation leaves us with some fundamental questions

1. Who do we need to talk to?

2. How we structure our conversations?

3. If we remain limited to our P.P.C’s, will we be talking to ourselves?

4. Given our concern about schools, sacraments and religious education should we be talking to Boards of Management, principals and teachers and parents.

5. Where will the leadership of our faith communities / parishes for the future come from?

6. Do we understand the nature of discernment from decision making?

7. How do we reframe our own mindset to enable this to happen?

Allow me a final observation on that issue of our mindset, our attitude to the challenge that faces us.

The Reality is that there is a certain ‘apocalypse syndrome’ in the air which tends to generate anxiety – apocalyptic anxiety – which does not fit well with “Be not afraid”.

In terms of the diocese, we see that change and adjustments will be called for – how we do so offer us an opportunity to model being synodal in our decision making and our planning for the future leadership of our parishes. Round the time Patrick began his mission here Pope Leo the Great was wrestling with the global issues of the 5th century.

Francis, his successor as Bishop of Rome, is engaged in a similar task. It is truly remarkable that in a secular age the voice of the Gospel is being heard and lived to the ends of the earth. Let us keep our vision lifted above the horizon of our corner of the globe to be aware and conscious of the diverse tapestry that providence is weaving through us all.

Therein is hope

“Something that will not acknowledge conclusion

insists that we forever begin”

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