Posted on 17. May, 2011 in Carousel
The Irish College ordination class of 1986 recently returned to the College to celebrate their silver jubilee. They gathered for a day of recollection on Wednesday 11 May 2011 and reflected on their twenty-five years of priesthood and that evening celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving with the College community. After Mass the College hosted a celebratory meal. Sixteen Irish College students were ordained to the priesthood in 1986 making it one of the largest classes in the history of the College. The members of the class are:
Martin Delaney (Ossory)
Michael Drumm (Elphin)
Tony Fitzsimons (Down & Connor)
Paul Fleming (Down & Connor)
John Foster (Down & Connor)
Francis Gleeson (Ferns)
Leo Harrison (Elphin)
David Ivey (Taiwan)
Brian Lawless (Dublin)
Andy Leahy (Kildare & Leighlin)
Brendán Leahy (Dublin)
Eamonn McCamley (Armagh)
Bryan McCanny (Derry)
Eugene O’Hagan (Down & Connor)
Emilio Palassa (Trani)
Patrick Walsh (Cork & Ross)
The homily at the Mass of Thanksgiving was delivered by Fr Brendán Leahy.
Readings of the Day: Acts 8:1-8 and Jn 6:35-40
Earlier today, we spent some “quality time” together under the excellent guidance of Fr. Billly Swan reflecting on the Rite of Ordination, sharing our experiences and praying. It has been a gift to do that. I’d like to read a few sentences indicative of what we shared together:
- Every day I break the bread of life for and with God’s people. And every day I become more aware of the brokenness of life. And I give thanks.
- These 25 years have been challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. I have every reason to be thankful – now for the next 25!
- From the Gospel today – 25 years of trying to do His will and not our own.
- The reality of knowing He must grow and I must decrease. Total gratitude.
- I’m grateful for his unfailing love. Often I’ve thought it’s what I do that counts but I’ve discovered more and more that in all situations God is working on me, loving me, surrounding me with a chorus of love – through the mystery of the Cross, through the support of brother priests and the wider community.
- Through all the stumbling and falling the wonder is that I am still loved intensely by the Lord – and that has made all the difference.
As you can see the theme of gratitude is very much to the fore – even in the face of some very real difficulties and experiences of limit and brokenness. And here this evening at this Eucharist – itself The great act of thanksgiving, we want to thank God for what has been a real divine adventure of trying to live like Jesus, day by day, doing the will of the Father. In the Gospel we hear Jesus say: “I have come…not to do my own will but to do the will of the one who sent me”.
The first Reading from the Acts of the Apostles provides a glimpse of what the divine adventure of discovering God’s way was like for the First Christians. They had to discern it in the unfolding of circumstances and trials that the early Christians could probably hardly have imagined. Some had to stay put, some had to move around. Disaster struck in one place; new possibilities opened in others. Life was success and failure, bitterness and joy, devotion and preaching. But they were faithful to seeking the will of God, putting God and not themselves in the first place: “How tremendous your deeds… Come and see the works of God….Let our joy be in him”. Putting God in the first place and not even priesthood – itself an immense gift – is what ultimately matters. And God is Love. The words of John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars come to mind:
Apart from the good God… nothing is stable, nothing, nothing! If it is life, it passes; if it is fortune, it crumbles; if it is health, it is destroyed; if it is reputation, it is severely tarnished. We pass like the wind… Everything goes quickly, everything is blown away.
Oh, God, my God! How much are to be pitied those who place their affection in all kinds of things!… They place it there because they love themselves too much; but they do not love with a rational love; they love with love for themselves and for the world, seeking themselves, seeking creatures more than God. They are never satisfied therefore, they are never peaceful; they are always worried, always tormented, always overwhelmed…
With gratitude to God for his work, we now set the compass again and for whatever time God grants us to believe even more in Jesus Christ and his Risen presence. But, of course, we know that also means following even more closely the One who laid down his life. There is a beautiful painting in the dining room that was said perhaps to be in some way linked to the artistic influence of the famous artists of Guido Reno. Perhaps. It used to hang here in the chapel and it was always a source of inspiration. The Crucified Christ is shrouded in darkness but he is radiant in light. That’s the mystery of the Cross – He is the true Priest who has filled every void, given light to every darkness, who has conquered every battle within us and around us, who has brought peace where there is doubt, and brought courage when there is temptation.
And so, with thanksgiving also for your generous kindness and accompaniment in prayer today in this beautifully adorned chapel, as we receive the bread of life we renew our commitment to nourish ourselves always on the will of God, moment by moment, whatever comes our way; work for greater fraternity among priests and appreciation of the great love and support of the whole community. In doing so, we also re-commit ourselves, like the Beloved Disciple, to take Mary more deeply in our home.
I was struck by the words on the posters that are up for the beatification of Pope John Paul II: ‘Damosè da fa; semo romani!’ ‘Let’s get to work; we’re Romans!’ Well at least, by association with the Irish College to whom we are grateful.
But whatever direction we go, we remember that our work is first and foremost to let God work as we strive to do his will. And so, in the spirit of this evening’s Gospel, we can make our own the great prayer of Charles de Foucauld directed to God the Father:
- Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.