An open letter as a year closes

St Joseph’s Church, Urlaur – Christmas 2017

Dear 2017,

In a few short hours, you will be replaced by 2018.  All over the world, as midnight finds its hour in a variety of time-zones, people will embrace, kiss and wish each other well.  Others will be at home alone and just remember other days.  Some will be in bed, asleep and unaware that the ticking has been done and that you have closed down.  Thought I’d like to share a few words with you before you leave.

Like every other year, you’ve brought your share of joys and sorrows to the lives of people at home and away. In fairness, it’s not as if you brought either – you just happened to be there but, there you were.  Headstones will have your number engraved beneath the names of loved ones.  Still others will have you at the latter end of a dash 19**-2017, book ending you as the final moment on a life’s journey.  Alongside that, millions of babies – tomorrow’s men and women – will have you included on birth and baptismal certificates, numbering you – quite literally – as their starting point.  Yes, you’ve witnessed a lot of comings and goings since January.

I don’t remember much, month by month of what happened this year but there are things I’m thankful for – like solid friendships, support, good humour, health and happiness – Faith too.  These combine to make me feel something approaching secure and at peace in myself.  Friendship is especially important to me and I’d like to think I kept in contact with people throughout the year.  Certainly I know I’m thankful this New Year’s Eve to all who have kept in contact with me.  It’s likely of course that there are people I did not speak to or visit during the past twelve months but I’m certain that those who matter to me – even those with whom I might have lost contact – have been part of my thoughts and prayers.  I count good friends among my greatest blessing and the corner stone of my life.

As for people that I’ve not been in touch with or with whom I’ve lost contact -there’s a regret around that for sure.  Maybe I could have said or done more to make this a year of re-connection.  Yes 2017, I’m sorry about that for sure.  You might ask your successor to help me not have similar regrets in twelve months’ time.

I was happy to have two booklets published this year and to begin contributing a fairly regular column to The Irish Catholic and Messenger publications.  I enjoy words and trying to shape a few ideas and all of these have helped me towards that end.  It was good, I hope not in an opinionated way, to see my words and thoughts on paper that I didn’t produce or on a website that I hadn’t logged into.  There was something very life giving to me, in seeing my words matter enough to be shared.  Most of the words are about what matters to me and motivates me so maybe I’m doing some service as well, to God’s will and purpose.  I’d like to think that much of what I say, finds it roots in God’s word and a desire to do the right thing by God.

Once again I had the chance to spend some time in Rockville Centre during your months and that has been a joy to me and for me for twenty years now.  I was happy to meet again people who have become part of my life during those years.  I always feel lucky to be able to make that connection.

In the parish, I was again lucky to have so many good people who share the way with me.  I’d like to think, as the hours draw to a close, that I did my best (or as close to it as possible) in being with people during the year. We shared, like everyone else, good days and bad, happy occasions and sad but the key word is “shared”.  I feel happy that a lot of good was done in the parish during the months of 2017.  Of course the moving of my co-worker, Fr John, to a new parish brought its own level of changes and loss but, for him, you were a year of new promise and opportunity.  The people rallied around that change and have been so supportive.  Certainly they have made life easier for me and adjustment more manageable.  For this and more, I am thankful.

Again family has been a constant in my life during the year and I was happy to recall again the days around my ordination – thirty years ago – and to remember alongside them, the support and love of my parents, brothers and their families.  Mixed with this, needless to say, a sense of loss for those who have died and others with whom I don’t have contact as often or as fully as I would wish.  All things considered though, 2017 was kind to my family and for that too, I’m thankful.

This blog has been a companion too and you, who read it regularly or occasionally and tell me you enjoy it, give me great hope and encouragement.  Sometimes, even to sit and look at a blank screen, hoping to fill it with something that might make a difference, is enough incentive to keep going.  I hope that the words you’ve met here, the songs you’ve heard or the video clips you’ve viewed, have – in some small but meaningful way – helped you journey through the year.

There was a lot of sadness in our world during your months.  Again, not of your making, but forever linked with you now when history is recalled.  The level of cruelty that exists in the world is frightening and innocence found in innocent people counts for little when attacks show no concern for the well-being of people or the protection of life. News headlines and broadcasts reminded us, all too often, that cruelty is rampant.  It was sad to see so much destruction of life during the months of this year.  Once again, since it is the only reasonable response to this, we all hope and pray for a more peaceful future.

So, as the time closes in now, I’ve decided not to send out endless texts or WhatsApps!  I’ve decided to be thankful for the goodness of people, the Love and protection of God and the desire for peace that binds us as one.

Thanks 2017.  You did your best.  The rest was down to us!

Happy New Year.



  1. Dear Fr.Vincent, I wish you a very Happy Healthy New Year. I thank you for your blogs, twitter, pictures and songs. If I don’t say it all the time I enjoy all of them and the connection to you and Ireland. May 2018 bring Peace and kindness to the World.

  2. Happy new year fr vincent… we do enjoy your words!

  3. Hello Fr Vincent.
    Wishing you a Happy NewYear and good Health to continue with the good work you do.
    Your blog is always of great interest and I read with enthusiasm as the content is always inspiring. Keep it going. God Bless you.

  4. Thank you Fr Vincent for your very profund thoughts during the year.I must say the prayer for those lost when the members of the coastguard were lost has remained with me all year.Your message for all of us in your blog today as the year draws to a close is a necessary reminder look out for others and re-connect with those we perhaps we neglected in 2017
    With all good wishes for 2018 and it be grace- filled for you and those you meet. Enjoyed your Advent reflections.Mile buiochas
    Marian Maloney

  5. What a lovey read this evening as I’m sitting in looking out at the snow ! Happy New Year to you and keep blogging ! Eithne x

  6. Fr Vincent,
    Thank you for your thoughtful words throughout 2017 but especially during those darkest days of October.
    I look forward to the brightening light of 2018. From all the Griffins of Crenane.

  7. Jeanie and Corky Korves

    Thank you, Father Vincent, for your blog and your recent excellent book, “Let Advent Be Advent”. We continue to be especially blessed by and share your faith-filled insights, stories, humor, and singing – more often, just being together in our kitchen or yours. We are particularly thankful to have shared so many happy, blessed, and uplifting sacramental celebrations – more often in joyful times but also in a few sad times – over the past 20 years. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you strong. All our love, Jeanie and Corky Korves, Annandale VA USA.

  8. Lovely letter. Like every year it was a mixed bag for sure but the end of the year is a good time to stand back and be grateful for all we have. Here’s hoping 2018 will be filled with lots of laughter, love, peace and happiness and will bring good health to us all.

  9. Fr Vincent Thank you for your blog during the year. You remind us of times gone by and so many good people who are no longer with us. We too wish you happiness and good health during 2018. x x

  10. Fr. V. ,…..Your words, as always, encompass all………….Good Thoughts….Poignant Memories….Prayers…and Blessings…Thank you………..Wishing you Health & Happiness throughout 2018 & beyond…

    God Bless………….Kitty & Roger

  11. Vincent excellent as usual. Really enjoy u stories songs hope 2018 will bring many blessings to all of us Eileen Scanlon Toolan

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