By Ann Marie Foley - 02 February, 2016
St Brigid is associated with the beatitude of mercy so Féile Bríde Week 2016 lends itself to the Year of Mercy.
This is according to Sr Mary Minehan, who was among the Brigidine Sisters and parishioners that welcomed the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Dr Denis Nulty, as he opened a door of Mercy in Kildare on the eve of St Brigid’s day.
“Our theme (of Féile Bríde 2016) is Weaving a New Vision: Caring for all creation but of course on Brigid’s day the beatitude is ‘Blessed are the merciful’ so it was an ideal day for opening the door in Kildare Church,” she said.
Sr Mary explained that on the bronze doors at St Brigid’s Church, artist Imogen Stuart has created open hands which are also very apt for the Year of Mercy.
The Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin plans to open several doors in this Year of Mercy. On Vatican Radio in January 2016 he said, “By opening a door, we are door-keepers, we have got to reach out as well as moving in.”
At that time he spoke of his aim to also link a saint and his or her story of faith with the faith of people today. He said he would open the door of the Church of St Brigid in Kildare town.
“We’re going to have a procession from St Brigid’s well, again linking the well, the Saint of the past with the door of the present and future church,” he told Vatican Radio.
On the eve of St Brigid’s day, the Bishop was present with around 200 people to start Féile Bríde which runs this year from Saturday 30 January to Sunday 7 February in Kildare town.
“We had over 30 this morning doing a workshop on the customs of St Brigid. We had a couple of hundred at the well last night, it was just fabulous,” Sr Mary Minehan told CatholicIreland.net on Monday.
There are several international guests present from places like Alaska, North Carolina in America, Italy, England, Germany, Norway, Spain and of course from Ireland and Kildare itself.
When asked what attracts people from abroad to celebrate St Brigid Sr Mary Minehan said, “Brigid is a woman for today, they are fascinated by her, and by the gospel values she lived.”
One of the highlights of the week is the annual Celtic Heritage lecture with Fr Donal Dorr on the theme Weaving a New Vision: caring for all creation which is topical in view of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical.
Practical examples of caring for all creation from schools and communities will be presented at the Afri conference on Saturday.
The Brigidines will speak of their new Solas Bríde centre and hermitages which opened in time for last year’s Féile celebrations.
“We have no fossil fuels here, no radiators and it (the centre) got a green building award in 2015. We have geothermal underground, solar panels and ice sticks – they are very new,” she said and explained that they heat on a type of ‘reverse refrigeration’ system.
When asked what St Brigid herself would think of such features Sr Mary Minehan said, “She’d be thrilled, because we are caring for the earth, for the planet, trying to do what we can.”
Many of the events are at Solas Bríde but also around the town of Kildare and range from the foods St Brigid might have cooked and eaten, to flower arranging and St Brigid Cross weaving, poetry readings, music and song.
It all culminates on Sunday 7 February with Mass at St Brigid’s Well.
For further details see: www.solasbhride.ie Ph: 045 522890 and www.afri.ie