The sudden death of All Hallows
A family member has died. That was the grief here in our parish yesterday. People couldn’t believe it was happening. The phones kept ringing. The sadness was profound. All Hallows was a home; a family; an oasis of hope; a holy place and a symbol of confidence.
Our weekly Parish meeting on Wednesday discussed the Graduation for Pathways’ candidates on Monday (26th May). Three of our parishioners had completed their two years Course. Three more were moving into second year. Three others were hoping to begin the Course.
Our involvement in All Hallows has been mainly with the Pathways course. We have had students there each year, for most years. Most of our people who have attended this course didn’t have much schooling and had never received a certificate. This was a most exciting place for them. They couldn’t believe how they were accepted and respected and listened to. Their Graduation Certificates were treasured.
Our parishioners went into All Hallows in a very nervous state. They concluded their Courses delighted with themselves. What was the greatest gift they got from their time there? It was confidence. Their life experience was validated. What happened in our Parish? They came back here and simply grew. They could share faith. They could talk. They found their voices. They were able to face the world and knew that their reflections on life were important. In fact, their spontaneity and honesty was unleashed which outshone the carefulness of the so called educated! Our parish thrived with their freedom and excitement. Our people found their voices. That surely is our Mission Statement as Parishes.
All Hallows was a gentle place. It was a warm and friendly place. It shared a faith which was Good News. It respected people. It saw education as much broader than qualifications. It created degrees out of experience. It was an exciting place. There was an independence of thought which conflicted with the rigidity of many Church establishments.
Today is a day for mourning. The loss to the Church is huge. The loss to our parish is traumatic. The loss in terms of personal growth (for so many) is incalculable. The Church in Ireland; the Church in Dublin will become less hospitable (less warm and open) at the death of such a homely place. We cannot afford the loss of someone so dear. Can something else be done? I was concerned about the sale of Jackie Kennedy’s letters – I felt it was wrong but I now understand the reason a little better.
As a final thought, a very good friend, Oliver Maloney, who chaired the Board (until two years ago), died two months ago. He loved All Hallows. He loved the ambition of All Hallows. He loved how creative All Hallows was in drawing out the best in people. He loved the opportunities it gave people. He recalled the chances he got in life and wanted others to receive the same chances. He would be very sad today.
Seamus Ahearne osa