By Ann Marie Foley - 17 September, 2014
The ‘public square’ of the farming community, the Ploughing Championship, will benefit from a packed programme of events at the Kildare and Leighlin diocesan stand.
Bishop Denis Nulty has issued a warm invitation for all to visit the stand during the Ploughing Championship.
The annual gathering in Laois runs from 23-25 September and features all aspects of rural life including spiritual and social.
Kildare and Leighlin diocese has indicated that it is availing of the Ploughing Championship to do as Pope Francis suggested and “be in the public square”.
“Last year I enjoyed the Ploughing Championship in Rathneska in the parish of Portlaoise. It was one of my first ventures as bishop. I met thousands of people over the three days,” Bishop Nulty said.
“This year’s theme is Act justly,” the bishop explained. He said the theme will be reflected on wristbands in a variety of colours which will be given out free and are particularly popular with young people.
In line with the theme, Trócaire will join Kildare and Leighlin’s stand this year. There will be a short talk each day at a set time with speakers including Fr Peter McVerry SJ, (Peter McVerry Trust), Eamonn Meehan, Director of Trócaire, and Sr Rita Minehan from APT (Action to Prevent Trafficking).
“APT members are mainly men and women religious. I will be talking about what we do to raise awareness, and the lobbying we are involved in,” Sr Rita, who is from the nearby Brigidine community in Kildare town, said.
Currently APT and similar organisations are lobbying for laws similar to those in Holland where the person who pays is also criminalised.
She told CatholicIreland.net that she hopes to raise more awareness of trafficking and how often innocent people are tricked and trafficked for sexually exploitation.
“I work with these women, I sit with them” she said. “People are surprised when I tell them what is happening – even horrified,” she explained.
“It (trafficking) is a growing trade and a huge business globally. It is happening in villages and towns all over Ireland.”
The talks begin at 3pm and conclude with a few moments of quiet prayer. There will also be prayer at 12 noon each day.
Conscious that the farming community continues to experience financial hardship, and that farming families are grieving after losing loved ones to farm accidents, the K&L diocesan team also wants to offer a space where people can experience God’s healing presence and find support and comfort in a time of need.
The Catholic tradition of blessed salt has been neglected but will be re-introduced to farming and parish communities at the ploughing event.
Visitors can receive a gift of salt blessed by Bishop Denis and this salt can be sprinkled on the land, or animal feed of animals and elsewhere to invoke God’s blessing and protection.
Donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted for St Clare’s Hospitality – Food Kitchen and this action for justice will be repeated in all the 56 parishes of the diocese from September 20-28 as communities collect food items to feed those who are hungry in Kildare and Leighlin.
The Diocesan launch of the Irish Bishops’ Pastoral Letter ‘The Cry of the Earth’ on the challenges of climate change will also take place.
There will also be music from Fr Liam Lawton, the Spirit of Kandle Youth Choir and a very special traditional music event on Wednesday at 2.30pm.
Vocations Ireland will also be present at the event on its own stand.
Visit: Kildare and Leighlin Stand 372 Row 25 National Ploughing Championships, Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois
Vocations Ireland: Unit 1, Stand 52, Row 29, Block1