Homeward Bound

Friday,still in Castlederg but heading home this evening.  It’s been an amazing few days.  I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to share the faith journey with so many people.  I don’t think I have words to describe how uplifting it has been to witness the faith of this parish since Sunday evening.  People came in their hundreds each time we gathered – three times a day, to celebrate Mass and spend time in prayer.

We covered much ground – a lot of it you, regular visitors, have covered with me in the past but there’s always something new that comes into the narrative.  I have been so touched by the kindness and receptivity of all that i met here over these days.  It’s so reassuring to my own life, as priest, to realise my ministry can enter the lives of so many people and have a meaning and a home there.  Needless to say, I sense this in my own parish too and the gratitude I feel for all with whom I live in Kilmovee and its surrounds, is no less real or meaningful.  There seems to be a real sense of belonging here that I haven’t encountered for such a prolonged period,  It quite likely is rooted in history but it is certainly lived in the present.

Each morning at 6.30am Mass I was renewed in my admiration for young families that sat as one in church.  Very many teenagers, in school uniforms of varying colours and crests were as one in their “Amen” to to faith and prayer.  Equally so, all gathered.

Last night we had a Penance Service with around nine priests attending.  It was humbling to see so many avail of this moment of Reconciliation and comforting that people waited on, as community, until the service was over and we could all leave, together, as a renewed people.  I believe it was the Sacrament at its best – a community supporting the individuals within.  I truly hope God’s Mercy was witnessed.

This morning we celebrated the Sacrament of the Sick.  The church was full, the prayer was intense and the desire for healing palpable.  Thank God for this and so much more that happened this week.

I had the chance to visit the local primary school yesterday, St Patrick’s and to meet all the children in two assemblies – one for the junior classes and a second with the seniors.  I really enjoyed seeing them.  I thought how similar children are everywhere and we should be doing all in our power to help them enjoy life.  At the end of the second assembly the children sang for me – “From A Distance” – it’s been a while since I heard that song but it sounded sweet!

Anyway, will leave it there for now … might add a bit over the weekend.  For now, a few images from the days and the place