St Louis Convent Chapel,

Monday 21 October 2019

A Dhaoine Uaisle, Dear Friends in Christ,

I am honoured and privileged to be here today and I thank you for the kind invitation.

I congratulate you on the new school extension and I pray that it brings many blessings on all in the years ahead, adding to the tremendous legacy which the school already has.

In 1988 I visited Fr Vincent Connolly, one of the priests of our diocese who was on mission in Kitui in Kenya. One day he had to go to the bank and I went with him into the local town. He went into the bank while I stayed in the pickup. I noticed young children gathering, pointing at this strange-coloured man. Never before was I so conscious of my skin colour. I’m a bit self-conscious today too. It’s that I’m a man in the presence of so many ladies, and many young enough to be my grandchildren. But I pray that you will not hold that against me!

Believe it or not, I too went to secondary school and was once a teenager. In preparation for today I have been asking myself:

-who was Larry Duffy the teenager?

– what was going on in his life?

– who and what was imparted to him then?

In no order of priority let me reflect on some of the things that were important.

Friends: The first consideration is friends. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend. I was blessed to have a true friend right through primary and secondary school. We spent so much time together playing football, listening to music and wasting time together.

A true friend is someone you can trust, enjoy, depend on to be with you when you need a shoulder to cry on. To be without a friend is a lonely place.

So, while everyone can’t be your best friend, it is important that we include all.

Never forget, never this another who appreciates and values your friendship – Jesus Christ. “I call you friends”, he says (cf John 15:15). Just think of that as you ponder on the crucifix; here is a friend who died for me, for us.

Dreams and ambition: Dreams and ambitions were another feature of my teenage years. In my dreams I would play soccer for Ireland. I would win an All-Ireland with Monaghan. One thing I was determined to do was to make my mark on the world.

Pope Francis was asked once what he sees in a young person. He said:

I see someone who is searching for her or his own path, who wants to fly on two feet, who faces the world and looks at the horizons with eyes full of the future, …full of hope …as well as illusion. (Christus Vivit no. 139)

He then went on to say:

Make the most of these years of your youth. Don’t observe life from the balcony. Don’t confuse happiness with an armchair. Whatever you do, do not become the sorry sight of an abandoned vehicle. Don’t be a parked car but dream freely and make good decisions. Young people, each of us is unique and special. Do not arrive at your worth by the clothes you wear, the phone you use. You are special – follow your dreams. (Christus Vivit, no. 143)

Restlessness: Another feature of my teenage years was restlessness. I cried leaving primary school. I didn’t enjoy or like secondary school; I wasn’t particularly happy there. I studied hard but struggled with some subjects.

Those were also the years when I changed from boyhood to manhood. At home I wanted greater freedom, which wasn’t always granted.

For many, teenage years can be quite a struggle. These are the years of much change and growth. For some there is much stress and worry.


At first sight the Gospel today is about a boat journey. But it is really about life’s journey and at a time when we are in danger of going down. The Gospel invites us to welcome Jesus in the boat, to allow Jesus be our companion and to talk to him. Bring Jesus your dreams and struggles, asking him to guide and strengthen you. I recall going home from school on my bicycle and calling into the church in Magheracloone, not for too long but for quiet moments of reflection, moments where I brought my dreams and struggles to my friend Jesus. I enjoyed the quiet and the peace.

I was blessed as a young man to have a strong faith. I admired Jesus Christ. I liked where he had time for the sick and the poor and how he confronted the proud. In my moments, I found Jesus as my friend, he was a friend I valued. It is that friendship that has led me to where I am today.

May life to good to you all. Live it to the full and always cherish it.

May God bless you always!