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Homily of Bishop William Crean – Centenary of Imokilly  District Board 1924 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

3rd Sunday of Easter

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

Centenary of Imokilly  District Board 1924

My friends,

Viewing things through the lens of Christian faith these past Easter days are filled with hope and light. The extraordinary reality of the Risen Christ lifts our hearts and renews our spirit to step forward again on life’s journey.

This evening in the spirit of that Easter faith we have gathered above all in a spirit of gratitude for the blessings and accomplishments of the Imokilly/East Cork District Board. It first convened here in Cobh in 1924 with a limited number of clubs represented but thanks to the administrative skills of those who stepped up to the plate to-day 25 clubs are listed on the website. You know better than I the ebbs and flow of that growth over the years. But we all witnessed the impact and accomplishments of East Cork GAA Board over the decades. We can all name so many and acknowledge the outstanding achievements on the playing field not just at a local level but also represented the County with honour and pride.

This is the public face of the competitive activity of the Board but we know that in a sense is but the ‘tip of the iceberg’ because at the various age levels of involvement countless numbers of young people and their families have come to know and enjoy the social fabric that has grown around every active club. And surely this has been advanced greatly by the integration of girls and ladies in camogie and football.

One of the great strengths of the GAA has been its close association with the parish – it nurtured a strong sense of identity, belonging and faith. That parish identity will continue to flourish. However, the faith dimension has faded in the recent decade or so. This is naturally a concern for me, as bishop, but it is also of concern for those in GAA leadership. We are clear that the GAA is a non-sectarian organisation and individual belief is personal. The only issue I raise is the importance of the spiritual in the formation of the life of any young person. It’s important to make provision for that.

In that context, it is important to note the GAA is an amateur organisation – that apart from payment of legitimate expenses – the involvement is voluntary. This means that the GAA nationally and East Cork/Imokilly Board have a hierarchy of values of which the Euro is not the most important while necessary for development.

Tonight is a wonderful testament to that appreciation of the wholesome rich heritage of our club, those who lead them, along with all who participate and support at every level. We all have our part to play and together it becomes greater that the sum of its parts.

The Easter message of these days tells of people’s hearts being lifted and strengthened by Good News. So I pray with you and for you in all the various clubs – in thanksgiving for the generosity and achievements of these 100 years and pray for the blessing of continuing generosity of spirit that a new generation of leadership will carry on this essential work of embracing and forming our young people in sport, culture and spirit.

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