Christmas Message 2018

 

Dear Friends.
Happy Christmas. Where has another year gone? I take this chance to wish you and your family every blessing at Christmas and throughout 2019.

2018 was a historic year especially with the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland. His message was simple and clear, to cherish the gift of family in all its shapes and sizes. Huge crowds turned out to greet him, and once again his simplicity shone through. We had the pleasure of him spending the night in our Parish, (in the Papal Nunciature) which was the second time a Pope has been ‘an honorary parishioner’. Let’s hope that the seeds of faith Pope Francis planted may bear fruit in the years ahead.

It was also a disappointing year for those of us who are Pro Life. The size of the Yes Vote surprised many, and is yet another sign that Ireland is becoming increasingly more Secular, and in many ways a Country that is easily influenced by modern media, and sadly the innocent child in the womb now has no rights or protection in the Constitution up to the first 12 weeks of life. Across the world other countries are rowing back on their Abortion Legislation and here we are introducing permissive Laws! At the end of our lives each of us will be examined by the Lord on the measure of our love and compassion especially for those who were truly in need. We should never forget that.

2018 also saw the large Church in Finglas West celebrate its final Mass. The Church became too expensive to maintain and will be knocked down over the coming years. A much smaller one will be bulit surrounded by Social Housing. The decision to close the larger Church is but the beginning of what lies in the future for many other parishes. So we can never become complacent.

Our Parish is holding its own in many ways. The recent Mass Census showed us that approximately 700 people come to our Weekend Masses, we have about 40 or so at our Daily Mass. We have lost some wonderful parishioners over the year, and we continue to feel their loss. The Sacraments were celebrated throughout the year as usual. We spend a lot of time working in the local schools, and we have great schools. We also had other parish celebrations with those marking significant Wedding Anniversaries, and of course our Annual Mass for all those who died in the last year.

We are so lucky here because of the generous contribution of all those who give of their time and talents. There are too many to mention, but rest assured we are so grateful and would be lost without you all. Everyone who visits our parish comments on the warm welcome they receive, and the lovely bright and open hospitality.

Our Church Building is in fairly good condition, though there are many jobs put on the long finger. Looking after such a building is like painting a harbour bridge, when you come to the end of one side, it’s time to start again on the other. We rely totally on the support of our Family Offering Collection. It is the only money collected that remains in the parish. At present just over 500 families support this collection, we need many more to make ends meet. It costs over €20,000 to light and heat the building, Insurance is over €12,000, the list goes on and on. As faithful parishioners go from us one by one there are not being replaced, and this obviously impacts on the day to day running of the parish and what work if any we can address. If it was not for the sale of lands around the Church some years ago we would not be able to survive financially. As I said above we cannot he compacent about our Church or Parish. Today is indeed called ‘the Present’ for a reason.

At Christmas we celebrate the greatest story every told, too fantastic to be false. God became small and in humility allowed Himself to be born of Mary in poverty and simplicity. There can be no true Christmas without a remembrance of that birth in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. Already at His birth some set out to destroy Him, many did not even notice the happenings on that Bethlehem Night. Christmas is a feast of the family, a feast of the heart, and an invitation to look again at the child lying in the Manger and to learn from Him. He now has no body on earth, but ours, no hands, no feet, but ours. He needs us to be his witnesses, and He needs us to be brave in standing up for the faith he brought to the earth. Like the Magi we need to be changed by our celebration of Christmas, we need to be moved by the manner of His appearing on earth. On behalf of Fr John Joe, Sr Philomena, Kevin, our Parish Cluster Pastoral Worker, and the Parish Pastoral Council, we wish you and yours a holy Christmas and a peaceful and happy 2019.
Fr Michael

Loving Father, help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.
"Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.
"Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
"Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
"May the Christmas morning make us happy to be your children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen!"
~ Robert Louis Stevenson


Fr Michael O’Grady