St. Patrick’s Day is the day when millions of people, even those without a drop of Irish blood, become honorary Irish for the day. The day itself has become traditionally associated with parades and the wearing of the green. Globally the 17th March is pencilled in as a day for everyone to celebrate the impact that our ancestors have made on both the religious and social development of our world.
Following St. Patrick’s footsteps the early monks brought the light of Christian faith to a Europe of that time that had fallen into the darkness of pagan worship. Even to this day Irish missionaries, both religious and lay, are to be found in every corner of the world, bringing dignity, hope and love to people who are suffering and poor.
The early ideas I had of St. Patrick was that in his youth he had a hard time as a slave in Ireland but that after his return as a missionary he found success came very easy. Later on in life I read documents called his “Confession” and “Letters to Coroticus” and I realised that his life as a missionary here in Ireland was anything but an easy one, despite all his success. Patrick had to cope with many disappointments and setbacks and would certainly not have achieved so much if he did not have great faith in God and had not turned to him for help in all his difficulties.
We all know about the first big crisis in Patrick’s life when, at the age of sixteen, he was snatched from his secure home to a life of slavery in Ireland and yet when he looked back on this time he saw it as a blessing. From being a lukewarm Christian he turned to God for help and, as he himself wrote, “I used to get up for prayer before daylight”. He escaped after 6 years, eventually making his way home and was later ordained a priest hoping one day to return to Ireland.
When he did return he met with great success, but at a price. In his old age some people, envious of his success, began to gossip about him. Others, who were his helpers, were more educated than he was and looked down on him as they felt that he was not qualified to lead them.
The experience of St. Patrick shows us that the path to God is never smooth, even for a great saint. When troubles and disappointments came, and he had more than his fair share of them, St. Patrick put his trust in God, reached out to him in prayer, and gave an example from which we can all learn.
Availing of the opportunity on St. Patrick’s Day as we celebrate our national identity, which should be much more than effigies, symbols, music and pageantry, it is an invitation to reflect on our spiritual values which is the hallmark of what we pride in ourselves as Christians.
Tuam Mother & Baby Home
In the past week our nation has been shocked by the story of what happened in the mother and baby home in Tuam. At Masses last weekend in Shannon, we issued the following statement to acknowledge and offer support. The first generation of Shannon parishioners are people who have come from all over the country and from different parts of the world. There are parishioners and family members who have sadly had the experience of living in a mother and baby home or in residential care. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with all who are suffering pain at this time.
Statement from the Priests of the Parish
The news in the past week of the extent of the numbers of children buried in the Mother and Baby home in Tuam has sent shockwaves throughout the country and through our own Parish. It has brought memories alive for many people that cause both pain and sadness. Regardless of the time lapse, the revelations are a matter of great public concern.
What is happening is very difficult for us to read and comprehend, but is another step necessary on the path to truth. We have nothing to fear from the truth because, as Jesus himself assures us, the truth always sets us free.
We ask you to remember at this time the pain of so many individuals and families. Our prayer is for those who are in pain because of what was done to them, and all who are affected by and upset by the news of these deaths. May Mary, God’s mother, who witnessed the death of her only child on the cross be our comfort and consolation at this time.