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New Bishop expresses solidarity with those hurt by difficult economic times

By Sarah Mac Donald - 22 July, 2013

The new Bishop of Kerry was formally ordained at St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney on Sunday at a ceremony attended by over 1,200 guests.
In his address to the congregation, Bishop Ray Browne remembered those who are “struggling” in our communities, including those grappling with unemployment or financial difficulties, or a recent tragedy, or some serious illness as well as those coping with depression or addiction. 
“Remember our young people who this year or in recent years have graduated from college. For so many of them a first job in their chosen career is just not available,” he said. 
Acknowledging that we are living “very difficult economic times”, he said it was by no means certain that good times would soon return. 
Paying tribute to community spirit and a willingness to help others, he asked, how many people in recent years have got through their problems relying on the kindness and practical help of others – family, extended family, neighbours and friends. 
“If we are to give a chance to those in need, will it mean that some who have plenty will make do with a little less? ‘Love one another’ is a down to earth call that can bear abundant fruit,” he suggested. 
The principal ordaining bishop at Sunday’s ceremony was Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. He was assisted by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown and Bishop William Murphy, Bishop of Kerry.  
The ordination was concelebrated by Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All Ireland. The Homily was preached by Fr Séamus O’Connell, Professor of Sacred Scripture at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
Referring to the Gospel narrative of Martha and Mary, Fr O’Connell said Martha’s fatigue is like the fatigue that characterises being part of the Church in Ireland in these days and years. 
“We often feel that things have passed the Church by, that the action is elsewhere, that people no longer remember or appreciate the huge work in education, the hospitals, the outreach, the service to emigrants, the heroic sacrifice of missionaries, in every corner of the globe, beautiful young women and men who literally gave everything for the sake of Christ—and who in the latter part of the 19th century and especially all through the 20th gave … and gave … and gave. That appears to have faded. All that appears to be left is the memory and the hurt from the betrayals and failures. And failures there have been. And betrayals.”
But he suggested that the faithful fool themselves if they think that the leaching of life from the Church is to be ascribed solely to the horrific betrayals, and failures and the inaction. 
“The real roots of the fatigue and of the lack of life in the Church in Ireland … and indeed in Europe, lie elsewhere. They lie at the heart of what is happening between Martha and the Lord,” he said and added that Martha has her limits! 
“Martha’s big and generous and strong heart has blinded her to another part of life. Her generosity has blinded her to the other, to the guest. There is the person who is to be met. Martha is so busy giving that she cannot receive her guest. She is so preoccupied with looking after her guests that she does not look at them. She looks through them. But the Lord asks not just be served, but to be attended to,” Professor O’Connell said. 
He added that without attending to the Lord, Martha’s serving makes little sense.
Referring to the words of Bishop Walter Kasper in his first pastoral letter to the parishes of the Diocese of Stuttgart some years ago, he noted that the Bishop had warned that, “without our own personal conversion, all the reforms — even the most necessary and well-intentioned — will fail and, without our own personal renewal, will end in empty activism.”
Professor O’Connell also suggested that finding a way of being Church is still new territory for the Church in Ireland. 
“There are some who would say that the Church in Europe is broken and needs to be fixed. It might be wiser to say that the Church in Ireland, as we know it, is leaving one place, and the Lord is bringing us to a new place; the second reading today,” he said. 
Meanwhile, in his reflection, Bishop Browne noted that the historical records concerning the patron of the diocese of Kerry, St Brendan, recorded that ‘In his journey to the country of Connaught, St Brendan was accompanied by a younger brother, Faithleach.’
“I have been parish priest of the Parish of St Faithleach for the past five years,” he told the packed cathedral. “St Faithleach is prominent there as his name is on the parish GAA club. Thus, almost fifteen hundred years after St Brendan, a priest from the parish of St Faithleach is chosen as Bishop of the diocese of St Brendan. With the eyes of faith can we see it in this a sign of the hand of God at work? It is a simple gesture that the Holy Water in the fonts in the Cathedral today is water from the parish well of St Faithleach on the shores of Lough Ree in County Roscommon,” he said. 
Discussing the Year of Faith and St Brendan, Bishop Browne said the boat of St Brendan points to all the missionaries who have gone forth from our parishes in the past century, and also to the way so many of our emigrants have enriched their local parish wherever they made their homes. 
The missionary call to spread the Good News of the Gospel is always there, he commented and added that there was a great need for tending “with courage and confidence the faith of the home shores.”
By Sarah Mac Donald 

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