09Jul Séamus Ahearne: PPC … and Life is Beautiful

‘Hard times come again no more.’ (Stephen Foster)

We are blessed:

The River Tolka beckons me early each morning. The river wakes up and wants me to get up too. I wander down. I meet a few going to work and we greet. The usual walkers haven’t surfaced yet for their exercise. I was abandoned even by the ducks this morning. They usually stand on the stone (the sprinkler) at the centre of the pond, but not today. And I began to think. The park (and all the parks) belongs to us. The fresh air belongs to us. The river belongs to us. The sea belongs to us. The trees belong to us. The birds belong to us. The air. The rain. The sun. The rain. The clouds. The wind. The plants. The hills. The roads. The radio -for news and music. The Saor view TV. All of these belong only in the sense that we share the space and we can talk to one another. We have access. It is our home.

We are fellow citizens. We mind each other. We can only stand back in gratitude. It is Eucharist. It is appreciation. It is grace. It is Godly. There is so much everywhere that makes us rich and it is free. We turn on a computer and we can talk to the world. And the world can talk to us. We want information on anything; we do a search. So much is available to our fingers. Many people everywhere have made all of this available to us. We are blessed. And The National Gallery belongs to us also!

Jack Yeats and The National Gallery:

The National Gallery has acquired Jack B Yeat’s painting: Bachelor’s Walk – in memory. That painting was stolen from Dunsany Castle in 1990 and it took some 17 years to be recovered when it went on sale at Sotheby’s. The painting is a little vignette of the July 26th massacre 1914 by the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Mary Duffy, James Brennan, Patrick Quinn were killed. Their funerals went to the Pro-Cathedral and then onto Glasnevin. Those funerals stirred the emotions of many in Dublin and were huge. Sylvester Pidgeon died later. Many were injured including Luke Kelly (father of the Dubliner). The lead up to the shooting seems to be connected to the landing of guns by Erskine Childers at Howth. There is a big story around all of that and what it then led to.

Sport:

Roger Federer has a bagel in Wimbledon. (A new one for me). He has graced the tennis courts of the world for so long. His languid manner was like an exquisite dancer. England are in the Euro final. They can let go of 1966 now! I suspect Sterling’s penalty doesn’t compare to Maradona’s hand of God. Dublin beat Galway in hurling. Covid chaos reigns in South Africa and among the Lions. Stephen Cluxton keeps his own counsel. Will he? Won’t he? Tokyo is shut down as the Olympics are still scheduled to start. Mark Cavendish is almost there to equal Eddie Merckx for the Tour de France. Max Verstappen is doing to Lewis Hamilton what Lewis has done to all other drivers over the years.

The PPC:

We had our PPC meeting on Tuesday. We have already got back to our weekly Team Meetings. It is so good to be doing those ordinary things again. (Our PPC members who are fully vaccinated came). We shared on our experiences of that extended year. The honesty, clarity and openness of that sharing was heart-warming. Then everyone spoke on the generosity of people. How everyone looked out for each other. We heard too of the real and sad times of some parishioners, (workers in the hospitals) and heard much of the bereaved throughout the parish. We spoke of the goodness of people in the parish in paying in their monies and even the Summer Dues. They spoke too of the craving they had for the broadcast Services and how much it helped. They spoke of the pride on how things are done differently here and how many other communities had asked for zoom conferences to hear of life in this parish. They spoke of the efforts being made by Dermot Farrell and his team (Task Force for Hope) to elicit the views and the vision for a way forward in the diocese. They loved the idea of ‘starting a conversation’ in the homes. They were a little less hopeful that it would actually happen but the idea is great. They were totally inspired by Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen’s speech in Australia. Their mood darkened when it came to the issue of the proposed departure of the Augustinians from the Parish. Their line was that ‘no-one else would want you; but we still do.’ They asked serious questions.

Dead man walking:

We were queried on what we knew. All we could say is that it will happen in a year or so. And that we will now do some serious work with the local parishes and with the diocese. We said that the work of the Task Force too in the Diocese has to reshape the structure of the diocese (locally also) and how we approach a new way of being church in the aftermath of Covid. Much was asked too of how could/can Religious just abandon parishes. The Diocese can’t walk away. There was a very strange line thrown out as a semi-quote (from someone) that ‘dioceses don’t care if religious stay or go.’ This is balderdash but it has been used obviously by some religious as a get-out clause. The diocese always has to cover every parish which is almost impossible. But the debate is never a religious/diocesan thing. Religious bring something different as the Augustinians do and did here. The major issue is our common regard and responsibility for the local church. Being pastoral. The PPC see us as called to ministry. We were told that we don’t ‘exist’ to be Augustinians or to be Religious. We are in Church ministry. Religious can’t preen themselves in a stand-aside manner, and see themselves as an ornament for Community. How can Religious walk away? Clearly when they reassess what they are about; they see age and health as obstacles to doing all they are asked to do. They don’t have replacements but neither do the diocese! How do we understand?

Twelve angry men (and even more so women!):

Our PPC was appalled at how this has unfolded; the lack of consultation and communication and the flimsy nature of the reasons. They disputed that there was any notion of the Synodal way in the process. Their end line remains: ‘Where can you go? You are too old to go anywhere. We want you here. You can’t be left to die in a house where there is nothing for you to do and you can’t carry on without us!’ We were told that we should be part of the re-creation of the local church rather than refugees in a foreign land. Everyone knows that our days are numbered. But not yet. This is a critical time in our local church and in our diocese. We can help here. Elsewhere, we have passed our sell-by date. And then there was a major question: Does that also mean the Salesians will go? That was deeply felt.

Life is beautiful:

Roberto Benigni quoted from Dante’s Paradiso during his acceptance speech (Oscar 1999) for the film Life is Beautiful. That line was: The love that moves the sun and all the other stars (L’amore che move il sole e l’altre stelle.) This little gem he found apt. He had spoken with Robert Hollander, a specialist in Dante. (Hallender died recently). (London Times). Whatever about anything else – could/should the theme of Life is Beautiful be the mission statement for any renewal in our Church?

Indi is busy:

She hasn’t time to talk this week.

Seamus Ahearne osa

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