By Sarah Mac Donald - 19 January, 2016
“Our ministries continue to thrive despite difficulties like older age, lack of vocations."
As the pilgrimage of the Icon ‘Our Mother of Perpetual Help’ gets underway in Ireland, the Redemptorists are saying farewell to their centre in Marianella in Dublin after fifty years.
Speaking to CatholicIreland.net at the launch of the celebrations of 150 years of devotion to the Marian icon, Redemptorist provincial, Fr Dan Baragry CSsR, said the closure would be a “Tremendous change for the Redemptorists.”
“I’m very conscious as we’re closing that but we’re not closing down,” he said and underlined that it was “a new chapter” for the Redemptorists.
“Our ministries continue to thrive despite difficulties like older age, lack of vocations and I suppose the challenge for us is to keep all of that alive.”
The Redemptorist provincial said one sign of this commitment is the jubilee pilgrimage of the icon of ‘Mother of Perpetual Help’.
“It has been extraordinary how the cathedrals around the country have responded. There is a real devotion to Mary Mother of Perpetual Help in the country, and this is also a sign of our commitment to our ministries to the people – not just the pilgrimage but our novenas around the country which remain very well attended.”
He said that while church attendances might be dropping these novenas continue to draw people from all generations – young and old – and they continue to say something to them.
Asked what he believed the icon ‘Mary Mother of Perpetual Help’ can say to the people of Ireland in 2016 with the homeless crisis and in the wake of the flooding, he said it was “the compassion of Mary – the sense that Mary cares – and therefore God cares.”
“It is an image that speaks to us of God in a time of deep trouble in people’s lives. That sense of compassion, it reflects the care of God and that God is with us on the journey of life.”
“We’re celebrating this in the middle of the Year of Mercy and I think there is a connection – this icon speaks to us of the compassion and the mercy of God for people.”
Speaking about 2016 and the future of the Irish State and the Church in Ireland, Fr Baragry said “I think this is going to be a very challenging time for the Church. We are going to have to be a different Church in Ireland than it was in the last 100 years.”
Referring to the “huge failures of the Church” in the past, the Redemptorist leader said the Church needed to get back to what Pope Francis has called us to, “Jesus Christ, compassion and mercy”.
Admitting that he is very happy that the pilgrimage of the icon will take place in the Year of Mercy, he highlighted that the pilgrimage is not “simply devotional” but incorporates visits to social projects in each diocese it visits.
“That is symbolic – we have to be a caring Church,” he stated.
The jubilee pilgrimage will end in Clonard monastery in Belfast in May. Fr Baragry recalled the recent death of Fr Gerry Reynolds CSsR.
“I think Gerry’s work for reconciliation and peace and ecumenism is certainly a pointer to the way that we have to go – to work to create the kingdom of God in our midst and that kingdom has to be based on what I think the icon stands for – compassion, care and love.”