Wherever we are this Christmas time, whether or not joy comes early, we need to remember that Christmas is more than party going, and gift giving and receiving. It is Jesus coming to make his home in our hearts and warming our lives by his presence.

Fr Tom Ryan, Parish Priest for the Shannon community.

Fr Tom Ryan, Parish Priest for the Shannon community.

Many people will be without a home this Christmas, others will be at home but separated from family members by death, divorce, or some other unhappy circumstances; some will spend Christmas in hospital or prison, others will find themselves a continent away.

I am very conscious of the number of people who died in Shannon last Christmas. It began on December 23rd with a sudden death and continued on Christmas Eve with two more sudden deaths and another death on Christmas morning and on St. Stephen’s morning and continued right through Christmas week. On one particular day after Christmas, I officiated at three funerals.

Any special occasion or “first” can be difficult to cope with when you are bereaved; a first birthday or anniversary, Mother’s/ Father’s Day, each can bring their own challenges, but there is something about Christmas that tends to make us emotional.

Most of us have strong memories of childhood Christmases, both good and bad, and we recall them each year as Christmas draws near.

The first Christmas without a significant person in your life may bring many challenges. Few people get through Christmas without some sadness, even if they have not been bereaved.  For many people, it is a bitter-sweet time when they are reminded of other losses in their lives such as absent family members, a relationship that didn’t work out, or a longed-for child that never happened.

These disappointments seem to hurt more at Christmas time, particularly when it seems from the outside that everyone else is having a wonderful time.

Whatever your particular circumstances are this Christmas, remember that you are grieving and that you need to pace yourself and be gentle with yourself.

Remember 25th December is only one day and you can get through it. Remember that when the song of the angels has settled and the star in the sky has gone, when the Kings and wise men are at home again, when the shepherds are back with their flock, the real work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to rebuild, to bring peace to people.  Jesus came to touch lives, to break bread, to forgive sins, to wash feet, to calm seas, to walk on water, to give new life and to care for everyone.

Happy Christmas to you.

Christmas in Shannon

Saturday 23rd December

Confessions in both Churches 12noon – 1 pm. Confessions in SS John & Paul Church after 6.30pm Vigil Mass.

Sunday 24th Christmas Eve

Mass Times 9 am & 11 am at Mary Immaculate Church. 10am & 12.15pm in SS John & Paul Church. Children’s Christmas Mass with Shannon Gospel Choir, celebrant Bishop Fintan, in Mary Immaculate Church at 6 pm. Christmas Eve Mass in both churches at 10 pm.

Monday 25th, Christmas Day

Christmas Day Mass Times: 8.30am, 10am (Children’s Mass) & 12.15pm in SS John & Paul Church.9am & 11am in Mary Immaculate Church

Tuesday 26th December to Friday 5th January

Weekday Mass Times: 12 noon in Mary Immaculate Church. 7.00pm in SS John & Paul Church

Sunday 31st December

Feast of the Holy Family. Preparation for World Meeting of Families 2018 at all Masses. Praying out the Old, Welcoming in the New in Mary Immaculate Church from 11.30pm to 12.15am.

Friday 5th January

Vigil Mass at 6.30pm in SS John & Paul Church

Saturday 6th January

Masses on Saturday morning 9 am & 12.15pm SS John & Paul Church; 11 am Mary Immaculate Church.

Sunday 7th January

Mass of All Nations in SS John & Paul Church 10 am. Blessing of Babies in SS John & Paul Church at 3 pm.