25 July – Feast of St Anne – St Joseph’s Convent, Middletown


I visited your website to find there your Mission Statement when my eyes caught the phrase that you commit yourselves to:

“Standing in solidarity with the poor and marginalised”

And I said to myself:  ‘That is exactly what the Community in St. Joseph’s Convent, Middletown have been doing all these years – long before anyone thought of writing Mission Statement.

I am sure there is a seann focal which says that “you wont’ miss the shelter until the tree falls”.  

I think that society is only now beginning to appreciate how much your care for the poor and marginalised has meant – now that there are no longer religious around to do the sort of work which you have been doing, so faithfully and so generously, over all these years.  

So we gather here this evening to say thanks to God for the vision of the Founders of the Institute of St Louis – Joseph Louis Colmar – Marie Madeleine Louise Humann and Louise Marie Eugene Bautain – and thanks to those who responded to that radical call to conversion and to the needs of their time.  We thank God for the prayer life of this House and for the actions done to transfer and change urgent structures.
I note that the three people mentioned, lived through one of the most troubled periods of French history.  All shared one ideal – to call the society of their day back to the truths and practice of the Christian faith.

We too are living through troubled times in the history of this island and in the history of the Church on this island.  I think of the death of your beloved Sisters in the bomb on the Killylea Road.  As in France, the faith of many has been undermined by influential writers and broadcastes.

The three stalwarts saw the need for a solid Christian formation in tune with the spirit of the times. So they devoted their lives to restoring the Church.  The scene sounds remarkably familiar – the needs of today remarkably similar.  I am sure that there are many Louis Bautains out there.  They too are searching for the truth.  They are also searching for a Louise Humann to come along and guide them back to the Church as an instrument and herald of truth among people – there to be formed into a spiritual direction.

I believe that the crying need of our young people is for spiritual direction of the kind given by Louise Humann who, herself, had been formed by Louis Colmar.

I am convinced that the great need of our time is for this kind of evangelisation.  The Holy Father has set up an Institute of Evangelisation to promote the announcing of the Good News in ways that are appropriate to the people of our time.

Last year a sprightly grandmother call Catherine Wiley founded the Association of Catholic Grandmothers –but these grandmothers will need help and training if they are to be effective.

I ask the help of your prayers for the Church in Ireland that we may know how to announce again the Good News (Mount Melleray – Malachy).

There was a programme  on television last night, perhaps some of you saw it where there was a lot of talk of change and reform and renewal.   I thought Ray Kinsella made the best point – the real change that is needed is a change in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

We all need to put on the mind of Christ in order to have the same mindset as Jesus, that is, his values so that we all have his attitude towards things like truth and justice.  That can only come from our study and prayer and the stories of his life so that we will behave as he behaved.  That is how the Church will be transformed and become, in fact, the Body of Christ.  

Some weeks ago we launched our Aim for the Diocese of Armagh: to be the Body of Christ so that, with the help of the Spirit of Christ, we bring his compassionate love to others.  

Today is the Feast of Ss Anne and Joachim.  We think of our parents – and our grandparents and deceased aunts and uncles and ancestors and deceased Sisters.  They were the ancestors who gave us all they had and made us what we are.  We recall, with joy, the sacrifices they made for love of us – the efforts they made to give us good example.  I wonder, at what point did they realise the wonders that their child Mary was and how did they cope?

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