AS PARISH PRIESTOF KILMORE
HOMILY GIVEN BY
CARDINAL SEÁN BRADY
SATURDAY 17 OCTOBER 2009
The ceremony which follows has three parts. But first let me tell you something about your new Parish Priest. Perhaps he has told you already. If so, the repetition will do no harm. I used to have a teacher who said: ‘Repetition is the Mother of Wisdom’.
Father Tone is a Belfast man – with family roots in South Armagh. He comes from a great family of teachers. So there is a lot of wisdom floating around here this evening. He, himself, was once a teacher. In fact, he still is – an excellent one -as you will soon find out when you hear him preaching. Father Toner studied for the priesthood in the Irish College, Rome. There we met for the first time – I suppose about 20 years ago. After ordination Father Toner did post-graduate studies in Canon Law. He has worked, and continues to work, in the Armagh Regional Marriage Tribunal. The Marriage Tribunal studies the marriages of people who apply to have their marriage declared null and void for some reason or other. This is very painstaking and important work.
Because of his work in the Tribunal, the first part of this evening’s ceremony called an Interrogation will cause no problems to the new Parish Priest. In it you will hear him declare his determination and firm resolution to carry out all his duties faithfully and religiously. Of course, he will be depending on your help to do that.
Then in the second part he will make a Profession of Faith. He will swear an Oath of Fidelity to the Church – the Body of Christ.
Then, finally, I will hand him the keys of this beautiful Church of St. Patrick as a sign of the new powers which he now possesses.
So, the new Parish Priest comes here on Mission Sunday to continue the mission entrusted by Christ to His Body, the Church.
I know that you will give him the usual warm Kilmore welcome because in his preaching and teaching he will bring the light of Christ. Hr will bring that light to all in Stonebridge and Mullavilly because he comes to introduce the light of hope and dispel the darkness of despair.
I know he will reach out, in a special way, to those who are sick or suffering, to the poor, to the marginalised. That is the way Christ reached out to so many during his life time. Father Toner will celebrate Mass here and hear Confessions. He will do so in memory of the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ – so that all of you may have the possibility of being set free from your sins and of gaining eternal life.
My dearest wish for all of you, and for your new Parish Priest, is that together you will deepen your own friendship with Jesus Christ. That can come about through all the activities already mentioned. My hope is that as a result, all of you will become more active missionaries at heart.
The fact is that in the History of the Church, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality. If our faith is really alive, we will want to spread it – to share it with others. On the other hand, a lessening of the urge to spread faith in the healing love of Jesus Christ is a sign – a warning sign – a sign of a crisis of faith. Of course nowadays we do not have to look far for potential mission fields. We don’t have to search long in order to find people whose faith in Christ seems to be growing cold which needs to be rekindled. Pope Benedict said three years ago said ‘If we bring people only knowledge, tools, technical ability, and not the Gospel rekindled, we bring them too little’.
We are now witnessing the full circle of mission. Irish missionaries reached out, nourishing many vocations. They found that young churches in mission lands, for example, in Nigeria. Today we have two priests from Nigeria, ministering in our diocese – one in Ardee and one in Dundalk.
The gift you give on Mission Sunday enables the formation of native priests and sisters, brothers and lay catechetics. There are also three African Nigerian novices, I think, in the Cistercian monastery in Collon in County Louth which is in this diocese.
How can we reach out? The first is by supporting missionaries by prayer. Many missionaries will tell you of the strength they get from an unknown source, in times of sickness, persecution and civil war or natural disaster. I want you to pray, in a special way, for the wellbeing and release of Father Sinnott, the Columban missionary who was taken prisoner. I would also ask you to pray also for the release of the two GOAL workers, one of whom is Irish, who were taken prisoner more than three months ago.
Reaching Out is to offer up your personal suffering of mind and body for missionaries. St Therese of Lisieux, whose relics were brought here to this diocese some years ago, became the patroness of the missions, even though she never spent a day on the missions, because she offered up each painful step to support someone in difficulty.
Every member of the Church can, and should be, involved. Each one of us, according to our own abilities, can help to bring the light of Christ and his Gospel to those yet to know of His love. They might be living next door to us or living in our own homes.
‘Mission’ means going beyond the border. It means approaching others with the Good News of Christ and inviting them to believe. We can reach out by giving financial help, which most of the young churches badly need. Of course the fact is that our own faith is strengthened when it is shared with others. Some give to the missions by going as missionaries but some can also reach out to the missions by giving and having their own faith strengthened in the process.
The Holy Father has a message for today. Today, Pope Benedict encourages each one of us to have a deeper awareness of Christ’s command: Go, make disciples of all peoples.
He says, ‘The Church exists to bring Christ the savour of the world to all nations. We ask only to put ourselves at the service of all, especially of the sick. The work of announcing the Good News about Jesus as the Saviour of the world is the essential task of the Church. Preach the Gospel by all means – use words if necessary. I ask all Catholics to pray that the Holy Spirit will in the passion of the church for the mission of spreading the Kingdom of God – that is, will enkindle a face in the heart of each one of us to make Christ known’.
I am delighted to be here this evening in St. Patrick’s Church, Stonebridge, for the induction of Father Michael Toner as Parish Priest of Kilmore.
I welcome Father Michael and all his family and friends who have joined us for this happy occasion.
‘Induction’ is a strange word. Introduction might be a more familiar one. They mean the same thing roughly. Today the new Parish Priest begins, officially, his duties as Pastor of this parish. ‘Pastor’ means shepherd. In the time of Jesus, the shepherd led the flock to find grass and water – in other words – nourishment and he protected them from wild animals and other dangers. In turn, the flock provided food and clothing – wool – for the community
The Parish Priest nourishes the faith of his people with the Word of God. He does so by preaching the Gospel and explaining the meaning of the faith. It is a vital task. It is a task he shares with teachers and the parents of the parish. With you he will celebrate the Mass and the other sacraments. He will do so for the glory of God and in order that you may grow in holiness. That is the one growth that really counts.
The Parish Priest takes responsibility for your spiritual welfare. He will pray for you every day and offer Mass for you and guide you as best he can.
Father Toner begins his work here on this Mission Sunday. The theme this year is: Reach Out. This Sunday we celebrate the fact that almost 2,000 Irish missionaries are reaching out to the people of the world. They reach out to offer spiritual guidance – guidance that will lead them to eternal happiness and much needed care. Last year the people of Ireland gave over 2.5 million Euros to the Mission Sunday collection. I thank you for your contributions to what this diocese paid – which amounted to 116.5 thousand.
So today in this Mass we give thanks for a new Parish Priest who comes to continue his mission, his ministry among you. He is sent to a generous people who rejoice that the Holy Spirit has been poured upon them.
To prepare ourselves……………