CARDINAL SEÁN BRADY
AT RECEPTION IN
IRISH COLLEGE, ROME
25 NOVEMBER 2007
I am grateful for the presence of government delegations from Ireland – north and south – led by the
· President of Ireland, Mrs Mary McAleese
· The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Shaun Woodward
· Minister Dermot Ahern and
· Minister Paul Goggins.
I am grateful for the presence of so many brother bishops, many of them my fellow students in Maynooth or in the Irish College, Rome.
I am deeply grateful to my many families:
v The Brady family,
v The family of my native parish, here in great numbers.
v The family of St. Patrick’s College, Cavan,
v St Patrick’s Maynooth,
v Irish College, Rome,
v The Armagh parish family,
v The Castletara parish family,
v The Ara Coeli, Armagh parish family,
v The Archdiocese of Armagh family,
v Representatives from the Irish Bishops Conference staff
v The wider Irish family in Rome and
v Friends in the USA.
Like so many other things, it is very hard to imagine this course of events years ago when Archbishop Clifford and I first arrived here as seminarians to continue our studies for the priesthood in 1960.
I have spent some twenty years of my life in this College and have wonderful memories of my time here. I owe so much to the ministry of men and women.
I was baptised by a Cootehill man;
Confirmed by an Armagh man;
Ordained priest by an Italian Cardinal;
Ordained bishop by an Antrim man;
Appointed bishop by a Polish Pope;
Nominated Cardinal by a German Pope;
Taught to pray by a Cavan woman;
Catechised by a Donegal woman;
Nursed and fed by several Italian women;
Aided in so many ways by so many efficient and generous secretaries.
I am very conscious today of St. Malachy, native of Armagh City, the City in which I live now, who came to this City of Rome twice, I think to ask for the Pallilum for Irish Archbishops as a sign of communion with the Bishop of Rome and a guarantee of Church unity.
Although I have spent twenty years of my life in this College, I also spent four years in the National Seminary in Ireland – St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and owe it, and its staff, a great debt.
I am thankful to God for all I have received and what have I that I have not received? This morning I got a beretta and a parish Church from the Holy Father. It is the last in a long line of God-given gifts
v Life from my parents,
v Upbringing from my native parish,
v Education from so many teachers,
v Baptism and so many sacraments from my mother, the Church and all the gracious communion which went with that.
I am thankful for the presence of so many brother bishops from Ireland. I think it is clear testimony to the bonds of friendship and solidarity that exist between us and that have been forged in the face of challenging adversity over the last twelve years.
It is almost forty-seven (47) years to the day since I first flew into Champino Airport one Friday night, courtesy of Aer Lingus, via Lourdes, to be greeted by a deep Breffini accent, with the words: “Would your name happen to be Brady?”
I am thankful for the presence of Cardinal Cormac-Murphy O’Connor and Cardinal Keith O’Brien. The O’Briens of Thomond and the O’Connors of Connacht were Princes in the Irish scene. I am pleased, but humbled, to be the third member of the Sacred College from Ireland in addition to Cardinal Cahal Daly and Cardinal Desmond Connell. It now numbers Cardinals Foley, O’Malley, Egan, McCarrick, Stafford and Cassidy as well as some other American Cardinals who have Irish blood in their veins – Rigali, Levada, Keeler, Law as well as Cardinal Pell of Australia.
It is fifty (50) years since I, and some other 94 others, went to St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth to being studies for the priesthood. I am glad to say that some twenty-five of that class are present here in Rome for these celebrations.
It is forty-seven (47) years since I came to the Irish College, Rome and I welcome here Mgr John Fitzpatrick from Dublin, Father Fintan Lyons from Glenstal; the Rt Hon Noel A Kinsella, President of the Senate of Canada from that class.
I also remember those who have died, that they may rest in peace. I think of Mgr Kevin Mullin and Mgr Cyril Mulligan, who both served in the Diplomatic Service to the Holy See. May they rest in peace.
I am very pleased with the Church assigned to me today by the Holy Father, St. Cyricus and Julitta, who were martyrs. The story is that Julitta, a widow of Iconium, took her three year old son, Cyricus, to Tarsus, the native city of St. Paul, to escape persecution. Here, however, she was recognised and accused, suffered with her child a series of tortures, which, however, rebounded in some way against the persecutors whom Cyricus attacked. Eventually, Julitta and her son were executed and their relics were saved by other Christians. Cyricus was supposed to have come from Antioch, a child martyr of immense popularity.
The connection with France was strong, partly because of some relics brought back from Antioch. Charlemagne, in a dream was saved from death by wild boar on a hunt, by the appearance of a child who promised to save him from death if he would give him clothes to cover him. The Bishop of Nevers interpreted this to mean that he wanted the Emperor to repair the roof of the Cathedral, dedicated to San Cyr. Hence Cyricus is represented in icon as the child riding on a wild boar. He was the patron saint of children and his feast day is 16 June.
I am happy that the Church is at the heart of classical Rome – within sight of the Forum and the Arch of Titus and the Mamertine Prison – reminding me of carefree days and times as a teacher of Latin and Roman Art and architecture. The most gratifying feature of this Church is that it contains the tombs of students of the Irish College – possibly contemporaries of my grand-uncle.
I am very happy to be an Irish man today but I am also thankful to be an Ulsterman, to be alive in this present time and to be an Ulsterman who has moved to the north at this most interesting of eras when, hopefully, after centuries of conflict, the inhabitants of that beautiful area are living together peacefully, prosperately and amicably. I have received messages of goodwill from all the main Churches, from the Loyal Orders and, in particular, from the Archbishop of Canterbury. This leads me to believe that there is now a wonderful opportunity for rapprochement – reconciliation – and end to alienation.
Today I give thanks to God for my family and for all the communities and families which have given me home in the various stages of my life. I spent twenty years of my life here in this College – the Irish College, Rome. Like a generous mother, it welcomed me in 1960 along with Archbishop Clifford, Mgr John Fitzpatrick, Noel Kinsella, Father Fintan Lyons, here present. It has given me board and lodgings and much more, down through the years. I am grateful for all of that.
Two weeks ago, Father Peter McVerry addressed the priests of our diocese. He told us that the passion of God is compassion, especially compassion for the poor and homeless children of the world. He challenged all of us to do something to ease their plight. I came to Rome with those words ringing in my ears and my eyes fell upon these words of Pope Benedict XVI:
“We follow Christ in the mission to be fishers of men. We must bring people out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation, and onto the land of life, into the light of God”.
“Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow your net to be b=torn, help us to be servants of unity!”
Pope Benedict spoke those words at the beginning of his ministry as Supreme Pastor on 24th April 2005. He invites all of us to bring people out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation.
Today many people feel alienated either from their families, from their faith, their fatherland. They feel disconnected and impoverished and unhappy. I think we should all try to play our part in bringing them out of that sea of alienation and onto the land of life and the light of God.
I have found the motto which I took when I became a bishop namely: To know Jesus Christ, to be challenging and inspiring. To know Jesus is to imitate Jesus. To imitate the Jesus who broke down barriers but also brought the healing love of Christ. Co-operation not competition and connectedness are the way forward. Connecting people to their families and to their communities and to their faith, to their homeland. It has to be a powerful way of healing and overcoming alienation. It will require forgiveness. It is the only healing way of dealing with the past that frees us up to live serenely in the present and to face the future confidently.