Monday, February 27, 2017

February - Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Almighty and beneficent God! who didst impose upon our mother Eve, in punishment for her sin, that she should give birth to her children in pain:

I offer to Thee all the pains which I have thus suffered in atonement for my sins, and thank Thee, that I have safely brought a child into the world, whom I now offer to Thee, according to the example of the Mother of Thine only-begotten Son, for Thy holy service, whom I shall zealously endeavor to educate for Thy honor.

Give me but this grace through the intercession and merits of this most blessed Mother.

Bless me and my child, and grant, that we may here live in accordance with Thy divine will, and receive eternal salvation.

Through Christ, our Lord.


Bishops unhappy with speed of Vatican trials for alleged abusers

Image result for clerical sex abuseDelays in how the Vatican tackles cases of priests accused of abuse continue to be a concern for Irish bishops, a spokesman for the hierarchy has confirmed.

Addressing Australia’s royal commission into the institutional handling of abuse allegations earlier this month, Teresa Devlin, CEO of the Irish Church’s safeguarding board, said she believed that Ireland’s bishops may have asked for steps to be taken to address these delays and she knew “there is a keenness” on the part of the bishops “for this to be moved along much quicker”.

However, a spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference told The Irish Catholic that while “The lengths of penal trials have always been a concern for bishops and priests,” he had no information available on “particular representations to the CDF on this matter”.

Elphin’s Bishop Kevin Doran told The Irish Catholic that as far as he was aware, “no specific changes” had been sought from the CDF.


He said the subject was not highlighted during the Irish bishops’ January ad limina pilgrimage to Rome, although the difficulty was recognised in meetings there. 

“When in Rome in any of the conversations, there was an awareness on all sides that from the point of view of fairness to people, it’s best if things are not delayed,” he said, adding that, “Everybody’s aware it can take time get to the bottom of things in the case of abuse or alleged abuse.”

Emphasising that cases go to Rome when there is a question of what ecclesiastical discipline should be imposed on clergy convicted of or admitting to abuse, Dr Doran said, “In situations when something doesn’t come back as quickly as you’d like you’d ring up and ask.” 

Mrs Devlin had described the need for ad hoc personal contacts to expedite cases as “not reasonable”.

Thai Children’s Trust undergoes rebranding

Overseas children’s charity, Thai Children’s Trust Ireland, has unveiled its new name as part of ambitious new plans to protect more vulnerable children in Thailand.

Thai Children’s Trust was established in 1982 to support the work of Irish-American Redemptorist Priest, Fr Ray Brennan. 

It now supports an increasingly diverse range of partners, caring for over 4,000 children throughout Thailand. its new name, Safe Child Thailand, the charity plans to work with communities and families in Thailand, with an increased focus on keeping vulnerable families together.

“For many years we have been supporting children’s homes and helping children when families have found it too hard to care for them,” said Adele Kierans. 

“Whilst we will continue Fr Ray’s legacy of looking after these children, we will also try to support vulnerable families before it is too late.”

To find out more go to

Effort to save Cistercian College Roscrea will have to be self financing, meeting told

Image result for Cistercian College Roscrea coat of armsThe challenge of finding a viable and sustainable solution that could keep Cistercian College Roscrea open was the gauntlet thrown down to a packed meeting in the County Arms Birr last Wednesday night.

The Save CCR campaign meeting heard that the College had a running cost shortfall of €200,000 per annum, which would be worse next year.

The principal factors at play in the decision to close the college were its financial viability and the broader issues of the changing nature of Irish society and education.

It is also taking place against the backdrop of the consistent and sustained pattern of boarding school closures around the country, with only five now left in existence.

The number of first years enrolled at the College for next year is nine, whereas typically it would be 20. The College had capacity numbers for many years up to 2010.

In 2009-10 the trustees of the school – the monks of Mount St. Joseph Abbey – had started to subsidise the financial shortfall at the college. 

They sold a farm and put the cash back into the school.

The present day cost of running the College, excluding capital expenditure and investment, is €2.4m per annum.

A number of initiatives such as marketing campaigns, information evenings and website and prospectus revamps did not arrest the decline. 

The expectation that numbers might increase as the country came out of recession did not materialise.

The meeting was told that any solution would have to be self financing, as there was no more funding available from the monks.

Significant funding would be required to meet shortfalls over the next few years.

At a meeting between Abbot Dom Richard Purcell and the Parents Association on Tuesday, the Abbot undertook to give consideration to any proposal that was viable and would sustain the school.

Ronnie Culliton, a past pupil who has sons in the school, challenged the attendance as to what kind of money would be available to any new project for the school. “What you would be willing to contribute. Let’s see what we can commit to,” he said.

He also asked who had the capacity and willingness to get involved in the battle to save the school.

He also asked the attendance to maximise the sales force and provide live market information. 

“Try and get one potential candidate for the school. We are not looking at a radical increase in numbers here.”

Future of Catholic boarding schools threatened

Image result for Cistercian College Roscrea
The future of the Catholic boarding school sector faces a serious threat in a changed Ireland, following the closure of Cistercian College Roscrea, which has been described as “a very sad death knell”.

The announcement of the closure of the college, at Mount St Joseph Abbey in Co. Offaly, means there are now just two Catholic schools offering all boarding for boys in Ireland. 

These are the Jesuit Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare and the Benedictine Glenstal Abbey in Murroe, Co. Limerick. 

Two other Catholic schools, Dublin’s Blackrock College and Rockwell College in Co. Tipperary, mix boarders with day pupils.

This is in stark contrast to the 1990s when there were over 30 Catholic schools offering boarding for boys – 20 being diocesan colleges. 

Dom Richard Purcell, Abbot of Mount St Joseph Abbey said the decision to close was “extremely difficult” but the school “is simply no longer financially viable”. 

“The school has witnessed a 45% drop in enrolment in the past 10 years with just nine 1st Year students enrolled for September 2017. Clearly this is unsustainable.”

Speaking to The Irish Catholic this week, Glenstal headmaster Fr William Fennelly lamented the loss of Roscrea as “a very sad death knell for what was a fine part of the Irish Catholic experience” and “once a lively part of the educational terrain” which has “literally evaporated”.

He said a range of pressures over the last number of years had adversely affected the boarding landscape in Ireland. 

“The sheer fall in numbers in religious life is one factor,” he said, explaining how costs had risen for educational institutions as paid lay staff replaced religious staff who did not normally work for a wage.

“Then there was the sexual abuse issue – which did not touch Roscrea – but which made parents far more wary.”


Added to these elements, Fr Fennelly said, were other developments, for example in “free secondary education and improvements in transport”, presenting alternatives to boarding. 

And, he added of an increasing secular society, “It is not clear in Ireland where it is going to stop”.

Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe, in whose diocese the Cistercian College had operated since 1905, said the loss of the school will be “deeply felt” after an “immense” contribution to “key facets of Irish life” for over a century.

Meanwhile, parents opposed to the loss of Roscrea are set to meet to explore how to save the college, which is still catering for 167 boarders.

London ‘actors’ church’ unveils new high altar

The church of Corpus Christi in Covent Garden, London, has unveiled a new high altar as part of a major restoration project.

When the church was opened in 1874, Cardinal Henry Manning, the Archbishop of Westminster, said it would be “specifically devoted to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.”

It was the first Catholic church to be named for Corpus Christi – the feast of Christ’s Body and Blood – since the Reformation. 

The church’s construction was intended as reparation for the offences against the Blessed Sacrament committed in England since the 16th century.

With the encouragement of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the parish priest Fr Alan Robinson has begun to renovate Corpus Christi, sometimes known as “the actors’ church’’ because of its historical relationship with London’s Theatreland. 

The narthex and Sacred Heart chapel have been restored, and earlier this month the high altar was unveiled.

The back wall is now covered with gold leaf to signify God’s majesty, and three carved angels sit over the tabernacle as a reminder that heaven and earth come together in the Mass.

Above the altar are 600 handcrafted and gilded stars.

Parish administrator Alex Dimminger said: “The way the sanctuary opens up into the heavens reminds us that we do not come to God alone. When we approach the altar, we join ourselves to the countless angels, saints, thrones and dominions who praise and glorify God on high.”
The next stage of the restoration involves renovating the nave, floors and pews, as well as updating the heating and lighting systems. 

The parish is accepting donations.

It also hopes to strengthen its identity as a centre of Eucharistic devotion. Fr Robinson has launched a Sodality (association) of the Blessed Sacrament. 

On the first Thursday of each month, a Mass will be celebrated with a choir and a different guest preacher on the Blessed Sacrament. 

Mass will be followed by Adoration and Benediction.

Cardinal Nichols praises Pope’s ‘patience and reserve’ over dubia

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has expressed his support for Pope Francis in the wake of questions raised by four cardinals about parts of Amoris Laetitia.

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales made his remarks in an interview with The Irish Catholic newspaper while on a visit to Belfast last week.

Asked if he shared any of the concerns that had been expressed by Cardinal Raymond Burke and three other cardinals, Cardinal Nichols said: “For me it is very simple. Pope Francis is the Pope. He is who God has given us and, therefore, we follow his lead.”

Asked how he would respond if the four cardinals published a “formal correction”, Cardinal Nichols said: “The Pope is the one who has been chosen under the influence of the Holy Spirit to lead the Church and we will follow his lead. I am not going to say anything more than that because I think the Pope’s patience and reserve about this whole matter is exactly what we should observe.”

Questioned whether he thought that Amoris Laetitia had changed any of the Church’s teaching, Cardinal Nichols said: “There is no question of that. There is no question. The issues raised by Amoris Laetitia are not core doctrinal issues, these are about how do we live, in very traditional terms actually.

“Everything in Amoris Laetitia is drawn from the tradition of the Church: how do we live the mercy of God and how do we enable people who feel judged, feel excluded, feel as if they have no place, to begin to explore that [the mercy of God].”

Two weeks ago, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican’s doctrinal chief, said the Church’s traditional teaching in Communion for the remarried could not be changed. This teaching, reiterated by Pope St John Paul II, is that the divorced and remarried cannot take Communion, except possibly when they try to live “in complete continence” .

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth tweeted last week: “Council of Priests yesterday: whom do we obey, the bishop or the Pope? I’d say both! But there’s a growing problem: let’s pray for the Church.”

In his interview Cardinal Nichols also expressed scepticism about the idea of women deacons. Last August Pope Francis set up a commission to study the role of women deacons in the early Church.

The cardinal said: “I personally value both the celibacy of the priesthood and the fact that it is restricted, as I would believe is the wish of the Lord, to men. I also find it difficult to separate diaconate out of the one sacrament of Holy Orders.”

He stressed his support for women in leadership roles in the Church, saying: “The vast majority of Catholic schools in England and Wales are led by women, as are so many organisations in the English Catholic Church.”

“What I would fear, frankly, is that the leadership of women in the Church would simply be channelled into the order of deacon. And I think across the Church the leadership of women should be broader and more varied than that.” 

When asked if he saw a danger in the Prime Minister “cosying up” to the US President Trump, the cardinal said: “I don’t think the responsible meeting of political leaders to put on a new footing the … special relationship between America and Britain should ever be described as cosying up.”

He said: “Prime Minister May is a very serious politician, a very dedicated politician and I’m quite sure she knows exactly what she is doing.”

The papal almoner goes on a shopping spree in earthquake-hit central Italy

Pope Francis’s chief alms-giver is on a shopping spree in quake-struck central Italy, buying up prosciutto, cheese and local produce from struggling local businesses and donating the bounty to Roman soup kitchens.

The Vatican said the expedition by Mgr Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, was a concrete gesture of Francis’s belief that “when you can’t earn a living you lose your dignity.”

The Vatican released photos of Mgr Krajewski visiting local prosciutto makers and buying up rounds of cheese and other typical produce. 

The region is known for its lentils.

Central Italy has been rocked by a series of powerful earthquakes that have driven thousands of people from their homes and devastated the local economy. 

Italian farm association Coldiretti has estimated damage to the agricultural sector alone of at least 52 million euros ($55 million).