The 80th anniversary of the Redemptorist publication, Reality magazine, was a proud moment.
Marking the event on last Wednesday night,
Redemptorist Provincial, Fr Dan Baragry CSsR, said that any 80th
birthday was worth celebrating, but to have survived this length and in
the climate in which we live was nothing short of a miracle.
Fr Baragry was addressing around 60 people associated with the
popular religious publication – former editors, current staff,
contributors and volunteer distributors.
The magazine’s 80 years of circulation was a sign of its “resilience
and strength” and this in large part was due, he said, to the fact that
“from its beginning Reality’s purpose was never to promote just the
Redemptorists. At its core it was about something more significant and
profound – about seeking to promote the word of God and to make the
Gospel relevant in the life of ordinary Christians.”
This it did with some success, said Fr Baragry, presenting “the
issues of human living in (hopefully) prophetic ways. This is the reason
it has survived changing times and situations in the Church and in
Looking back in gratitude and forward in hope, Fr Baragry singled out
former editor, Fr Gerry Moloney, who has been ill for some time, for
particular mention. “Without his huge dedication to the magazine we
would not have survived,” he said.
“My prayer is that Reality will continue to be a source of hope and light for many years to come,” he concluded.
Nationwide presenter Mary Kennedy told her own faith story to the
audience, describing her childhood growing up in Clondalkin where she
attended the Presentation Convent school. While they were sent home with
other religious publications, they were never given Reality. “I think
it was too controversial and challenging. It wasn’t safe!” she said.
Describing herself as an ‘à la carte Catholic’, she told of how she
had grown up in a traditional Catholic family where they recited the
family rosary after dinner each night, and her mother would put out the
best china when she heard the parish priest was visiting the street. As
he approached, her mother would be “reversing out of the sitting room
The relationship with the priest was “respectful but
artificial”. At times, notably during an early confession, she had been
hurt by the insensitivity of certain priests. “That was the Catholicism I
grew up with.”
But now, to her surprise, she said, she was “back”. “I love the
rosary. It is like a mantra for me – it soothes me”, and she loves the
Eucharist. “I love going to Mass. It is calming and I feel a connection
with the people around me, the priest and with Jesus.” But she said
there were things about the Church she could not accept like compulsory
celibacy for priests and the “problem with the position of women in the
“I can’t understand why women don’t have a more meaningful part to play,” she said.
Ms Kennedy said the magazine is true to its ethos to “inform, inspire
and challenge”. She said “I look forward to the next stage [of its
history] where maybe those issues can continue to be questioned and
challenged and I think it would make for a wonderfully modern,
inclusive, loving, compassionate and just Church.”
Current editor, Fr Brendan McConvery CSsR, traced a brief history of
the publication, which began its life as the Redemptorist Record through
its several editors, staff and promoters. He reminded those present of
memorable pamphlets like ‘The Devil at Dances’.
He recalled how editor
Fr Michael O’Connor had brought in lay advisors like Maeve Binchy and
how distributors like Seamas Campion (who was present) “wandered through
Ireland in a car selling Reality and talking to promoters”.
For this he
was paid £8.00.
“If no one offered him a bed, he would sleep in the
car. That’s dedication.”