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St Brigid still challenges

By Ann Marie Foley - 31 January, 2018

St Brigid’s Well

St Brigid’s message is as challenging today as ever according to the Brigidine Sisters as Féile Bríde 2018 begins in Kildare with its theme: Brigid Flame of Justic and Peace.

Sr Mary Minehan, Brigidnes, Solas Bhride Centre, said that St Brigid’s message is one of peace and justice and this means: “more sharing of what we have, the resources we have for sharing; more sharing and caring for one another; reaching out, to the homeless and the less privileged,” she told Catholicireland.net.

She added that we need to be conscious of others and said: “Respect, that is very important – respecting the dignity of each person. All that is Brigid’s message, it is very challenging.”

The Solas Bhride Centre and hermitages are busy during the Féile week with visitors, including many from abroad staying, and on the open afternoon when locals look around or attend activities ranging from reflective to more hands on like the St Brigid’s Cross weaving.

Weaving St Brigid’s crosses

On the eve of St Brigid, on 31st January the annual pilgrimage to St Brigid’s Well takes place and the outdoor ritual includes quiet reflection, song and prayer facilitated by Solas Bhride team.

“During our pilgrimage we will be blessed with water from St. Brigid’s well, mindfully weave a St Brigid’s cross, walk in pilgrimage by candlelight and reflect on some of the legends of St. Brigid and how they can speak to us today,” the organisers of Féile Bríde state.

One of those legends or traditions is that on this night, Brigid visits the land passing through each town, village, home and outhouse, spreading her blessings and healings over people, animals and the earth.

Brigid’s feastday on 1st February marks the beginning of Spring in the Celtic Calendar and all things St Brigid, are celebrated in Kildare at Féile Bríde which runs from 31st January to 11th February 2018. Lectures, tours or walks around St Brigid’s places, Eucharist at the Holy Well, and many more events run throughout the week. The celebrations conclude with a concert on the night of 11th featuring: Paul Lenihan, Tenor; Mary O’Donnell, Harpist and Ann Cullen, Piano/Fiddle.

On Saturday 3rd February the Afri Justice and Peace Conference: Light out of Darkness runs all day at Solas Bhríde, Kildare Town. Speakers at this year’s conference include Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle who will share their experiences of life after death row in USA and Ireland respectively.

“Life has given me many challenges, which I choose to take as opportunities to learn and grow. This is my choice. I learned this on death row. I chose life, health, forgiveness, and love. That choice saved me from bitterness and hatred that would have destroyed me from within,” said Sunny Jacobs. “We must choose the world we want and work towards making it happen every day in our own lives,” she said.

She survived death when it was discovered she was wrongfully convicted of murder. Her husband was executed, she lost other family members and she spent many years awaiting her own execution.  She and Peter Pringle, the last person to have been on death row in Ireland, have devoted themselves to promoting healing, peace and reconciliation.

Together they have established The Sunny Centre in Connemara, Co Galway – a sanctuary for those who suffer injustice, especially people, like themselves, who are wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit and have spent time under sentence of death.

Other speakers include the academic and activist Peador Kirby, who plays a leading role in the Cloughjordon Eco-Village;  UCC Professor Emeritus and life-long peace activist John Magure; Honny Van Geel of La Via Compesino, which promotes the rights of peasant communities around the world, and who describes herself as ‘rooted in farming’; and Rose Hogan who has a life-long commitment to agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture.

For further details of the week’s events see: http://solasbhride.ie/feile-bride-2018/category/feile-bride-2018

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