A Sight to Behold
In the last few weeks, I witnessed at first hand the enduring spirit of goodness, as the local community in Loughrea, the Cathedral Parish, the Diocese of Clonfert and the Sisters of Mercy joined forces to prepare the former Mercy Convent to receive those fleeing the war in Ukraine. In just two days, through the tireless work of a recently formed coordinating committee, fifty rooms along with common rooms and play rooms had been fitted out with beds, cots, bed-linen, toiletries and toys entirely donated by the local community. Tradesmen and women turned up to help. Local businesses, Church groups, community groups, sporting organisations and schools played their part. It was a sight to behold. In these dark days, it would gladden your heart.
Standing on the Side of Goodness
Powerless to influence the horrendous events playing out in Ukraine, people decided to stand on the side of goodness and kindness and to pro-actively light a light rather than curse the darkness. I am conscious that this common effort for the good is being repeated up and down the Diocese of Clonfert and in many other dioceses and parishes throughout the country.
Core Message of Holy Week and Easter
As a Christian, I see in this outpouring of love a living example of the core message of Holy Week and Easter. As we contemplate the passion and innocent death of Jesus surely the suffering and crucifixion, not with nails but with bombs and bullets, of all those involved in this horrendous war comes to mind. As we hear proclaimed that the suffering and death of Jesus was not to be his end but that he was raised from the dead, transformed and transfigured surely our heavy hearts are lightened. For God’s last word is not death and mindless destruction. No matter how dark the days we live in are or what dark places we wander into in life there is always hope. For the Christian, love not hate, goodness not badness, life not death will conquer in the end. To quote the American author Kate McGahan: “The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.”
Twenty-First Century Beacons of Easter Hope
On that first Easter morning, it was the women who went to the tomb of Jesus who were the first to announce this message of hope to the world. They ran to the apostles to tell them: “He is not here! He is risen! He has gone before you to Galilee!” (Mt. 28) All those who are rallying to help our Ukrainian guests in their time of need and indeed all those who at any other time, to any other people and in any other way hold out a helping hand are twenty-first century beacons of that God-given Easter hope that we celebrate in these days.
Wishing you the joy and the hope of the risen Jesus this Easter and Always.
Beannachtaí na Cásca oraibh!
Bishop of Clonfert
Bishop Elect of Galway and Kilmacduagh
Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora