Pope John Paul II sends anniversary message to IrishTuesday, September 21st, 2004
On Sunday last, Pope John Paul II sent a message to the Irish to mark the 25th anniversary of his visit to the country. In it he spoke of his pleasure to learn that the Irish bishops were organising commemorations of his visit, and recalled with joy, his various meetings with the Irish people and the welcome he had recieved.
During that visit, the pope had reminded the people of Ireland of how their fidelity to Christ and the Church had enabled them in the past to endure moments of great difficulty and indeed to share their faith with people throughout the world.
The Pope had encouraged the Irish to commit themselves to the saving message of the Gospel and become a leaven within society, knowing that 'Christ has the answers to your questions and the key to history; he has the power to uplift hearts' (John Paul II, Homily at the Mass for the youth of Ireland, Galway September 30, 1979).
"On this twenty-fifth anniversary, the Holy Father joins the Bishops of Ireland, the clergy, religious and lay faithful in prayer for renewed vigour and a fresh dedication to the faith," said the message, which added that the Pope was praying especially that, through the intercession of Saint Patrick, the people of Ireland would set an example to others of Christian life in the new Millennium. He ended entrusting the Church in Ireland to Mary, Mother of God, and giving his blessing as a "pledge of peace and joy in Jesus Christ."
The message was read at the first of the official commemorations of the Papal visit in 1979 - a Mass in Clonmacnoise celebrated by the Catholic Primate, Dr. Seán Brady.
During the Mass, Dr. Brady lamented the fact that in Ireland life had become cheap. "Violence is very common, whether on our roads or in the markets, people have become competitors and commodities," he said, calling attention once again to the increasing number of attacks on people with disabilities.
The Mass, attended by 5,000 people was proceeded by a pilgrim walk along the Esker Riada, following the 1500 year old pilgrim way. Also in attendance were the papal nuncio, Archbishop Lazarotto, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, Bishop Colm O'Reilly of ARdagh and Clonmacnoise, Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, Bishop JOhn Kirby of Clonfert and Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick.
The Mass was the first major national event celebrating the Pope's visit to Ireland from 29th of September to 1st of October 1979. The second national event will be a Mass in the HOly Trinity Church, Cork on Sunday 3rd of October which will be the start of a 'Mission Alive' week.
Celebrations will take place in 26 diocesan cathedrals on 29th September, while on 30th September, there will be a sung Evening Prayer in St. Patrick's College Maynooth.
The Pope's homilies from 1979 will be available on the Catholic Communications website, www.catholiccommunications.ie from 27th September. His talks are also available in a new book published by Veritas, 'The pope in Ireland: addresses and homilies'.
Source: Irish Times / Catholic Communications Office / Independent Newspapers / Veritas