Bishop MacDaid: 150th Anniversary of St. Mary’s Church, Castleblayney

Posted on 25. Nov, 2011

Feast of Christ the King

150th Anniversary of St. Mary’s Church

Castleblayney

20 November 2011

Introduction 

My dear priests and people of the parish of Muckno I welcome you warmly to

St. Mary’s Church this morning.  We will celebrate together the Mass of the Feast of Christ the King which closes the liturgy of the Church’s Year of Worship.  We are doing so this year on a very special occasion for you because this year we celebrate 150 years of your Church’s life.  You have honoured this milestone very worthily over the past week with a Festival of Faith which afforded all ages among your people the opportunity of participation.  Next year we will celebrate as a nation the 50th International Eucharistic Congress with the main events based inDublin during the month of June.  This morning, the focus is on Castleblayney and the parish of Muckno.  As it has done for 150 years the doors of St. Mary’s opened this morning and invited the people of the parish to gather their families around the table of the Lord to commune with our source of life, God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  To prepare ourselves to do this more worthily let us ask pardon for our sins.

 Feast of Christ the King

150th Anniversary of St. Mary’s Church

Castleblayney

20 November 2011

 

Homily

Today we come to the end of the Church’s year of worship as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King.  In the gospel reading we have just listened to, we are instructed on the nature of God’s kingdom.  The standards by which we are to be judged teach us a lot about the values and the spirit of this kingdom.

There is a French film called Chocolat based on a book by Joanne Harris.  It is set in Catholic France in the 1950’s and tells the story of a young woman who moves into a small village and opens a chocolaterie (a chocolate shop).  The opening of the shop splits this very religious village into two camps – some approve of this fun loving young woman; others oppose her as one who leads others astray.  Some follow the discipline of Lent and seem full of misery while the young woman appears to have little belief but her warmth towards everyone changes people’s lives for the better.

We often exclude and condemn. Consciously or not, we tend to treat people differently.  Those we love, those we like, those we think of as “one of us” – on all of these people, we look favourably.  We are kind to them, care for them and help them in need.  The people with whom we have little in common, the ones we see as different, – these we tend to shun.  We note in today’s Gospel that those called “blessed” are astonished when the Son of Man praises them for the love they have shown him.  They did not realise that they had been showing love and care towards Jesus; that the blessed in God’s kingdom are those who show love and care towards all people, whoever they may be, whether they are one of us or not.

In the film Chocolat, at first the religious villagers exclude and condemn anyone like the young woman in the chocolate shop who does not appear to live by the rules.  In the end, even the village priest comes to understand that faith is not only a matter of respecting rules but also of living in a loving way.  In his Easter Day homily the priest says, ‘we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we didn’t do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude.  We’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create and who we include.”

Today’s feast of Christ the King invites us to celebrate a king who embraced humanity with compassion and love, neither rejecting nor excluding anyone.  As people of the body of Christ, we are called to selfless love in communion with one another.  If we are to be true followers of Jesus, he challenges us to love unconditionally, the lovable and the unlovable.  When we embrace our fellow human beings we embrace Christ himself, “in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.”  This is a distinguishing mark of the kingdom of God.

My dear people of the parish of Muckno, it is a great privilege for me to join you in celebrating the 150th anniversary of the dedication of St. Mary’s Church by Bishop Charles McNally in 1861.  Since then it has been a place of gathering, of prayer and of worship; a place where your people have been nourished at the table of the Eucharist.

It is a great joy for me to come to a parish of our diocese where the faith of the people shows such a strong pulse.  Under the aegis of the Parish Pastoral Team, supported by the 150 group, the Finance and Property Committee, the Liturgy Group and Choir, the School Management Team, the Communications Group, the Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Team and many others including the sacristain, you have organised and celebrated a Festival of Faith over the past week.  You began last week-end by suitably honouring Mary, the Patron of your Church.  Thanks to the painstaking work of Gary Carville, with assistance from Bishop Duffy, you had the privilege of welcoming the publication of the history of your parish, the story of your people’s journey.

You took time to reflect on the future, especially concerning the needs of the Church building and its adequacy and suitability in serving future generations.  You remembered your dead and celebrated the memories of your community in Music and Drama.  With the assistance and active encouragement of the six Parish Primary and twoSecondLevelSchools, in Friday evening’s Light Rally and in today’s Mass, you very properly gave the youth of your parish an opportunity to express their faith and make their contribution to the week’s festival.

My dear friends, if you feel happy about your week’s work and the high level of participation achieved you have every right to be. You have honoured your church and the people who have gone before you in the manner of your commemoration and celebration.  And what better way to close the week then to gather around the Eucharistic table and listen to the Word of God on the Feast of Christ the King, on this final Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year.

St. Mary’s Church has always been and will always be a special place in the life of your community.  The theme of your week’s celebration has been “On the Way, Many Generations, One Word.” The Word of God, proclaimed and reflected on in this Church, will nourish your minds and hearts.  Communion with Christ will help you build a loving community where all are accepted and cared for. Change is inevitable, is already happening and in no way disrespects the past and those who have gone before you.  There will in future be fewer priests and religious.  There is and will be a much higher ownership and involvement on the part of the lay faithful.  There is nothing to fear, there is a lot to be gained.  Under Mary’s watchful and caring eye we can leave it to the Lord himself, as long as we co-operate with him, to bless St. Mary’s Church and to look lovingly on this community.  In following the way of life he has shown us, we can look after each other in the manner in which he intended; and in building a community of love, we can be found worthy of sharing eternal life in God’s kingdom.

                   

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