By Sarah Mac Donald - 11 November, 2013
In his homily at a Mass for the deceased priests of the archdiocese of Dublin at the weekend, the Archbishop said that despite the many criticisms of the Church, there are very few figures in today’s Ireland for whom people show such deep appreciation as they do towards their priest.
Speaking at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral, he said the reason for this was because there are very few callings “which privilege a person to enter so deeply into the souls of others as does the ministry of the priest.”
He noted that a priest’s interest in people’s lives “is not out of curiosity or out of cold professionalism, but rather out of a desire to witness to the love, the care and the healing power of Jesus.”
Giving thanks for the deceased priests’ “good lives” and for “the many graces that God worked” through them, the Archbishop added, “We celebrate the memory of priests who lived their lives, day after day, seeking to be authentic followers of Jesus Christ, through their ministry and witness within the Church and through the holiness of their lives.”
Despite the failings of its members and of its leaders, these priests loved the Church that they served, Dr Martin said.
He also expressed his appreciation and admiration for the dedication and affection which the families of the deceased priests showed them, especially over the final months of their lives.
“This care was not just the fruit of family obligation, but a true ecclesial service for which the Church must express thanks, as our gratitude goes out also to housekeepers, personal friends and fellow priests – who stood by these our deceased brothers in their last moments.”
He also paid tribute to the Spiritan Fathers, four of whom were among the priests being remembered, along with one Dominican and one Marist priest.
“As a diocesan community we owe a great debt to these Religious Communities who work with us and among us and I hope that I am correct in saying that these priests found real satisfaction, after many years ministering elsewhere in the world, to be part of the living Church in this diocese.”
The communion of the saints in heaven constitutes the fulfilment of all togetherness, the Archbishop said.