Nenagh Celebration – Saturday 8th of October 2022
125 of St. Mary of the Rosary Church
50 years of St. John the Baptist Church
Celebration of 150 Years
Fáilte chroíúil roimh ’chuile dhuine anseo inniu, idir chléir agus tuath. I welcome you all again to this joyful and happy celebration as we celebrate the 125th anniversary (plus one) of this beautiful Church, St. Mary of the Rosary and the 50th anniversary (plus two) of St. John the Baptist Church, Tyone. Two historic Churches. One celebration.
What a great celebration today as we mark not a silver, golden, diamond, platinum or even centennial jubilee but the Quasquicentennial jubilee of this Church and the Golden Jubliee of Tyone.
By any standards 50 or 125 years is a serious reason to celebrate and shout out loud! From 1896 to 2021. From 1970 to 2020. What a remarkable span of history and happenings and events, secular and sacred!
I echo the words of the spiritual writer Ronald Rolheiser: If we fail to celebrate what is worthwhile we will fail to cherish what is good and worth doing. This evening, we do exactly that, cherish and celebrate so much that is good in double measure.
St. Mary of the Rosary
I’m always so impressed when I enter this Church. What a magnificent liturgical space. Just yesterday we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, so it is no small coincidence that we gather so close to the feast day. The origins of the feast always capture my imagination every year. The great naval battle at Lepanto in the Mediterranean in the 1500’s. West versus East. European forces versus the Turks. Christian versus Muslin. The appeal by Pope Pius the 5th to the people of Rome to pray the rosary for victory and then in thanksgiving for success and survival – hence the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Irish Devotion to the Rosary
The devotion we Irish people have to the rosary is much celebrated. “The jewels of the Poor” as Sean O’Casey referred to the holy beads. The ritual of the telling the beads, pondering the great mysteries of the rosary is second nature to us. The essence of that is so magnificently captured in stain glass above the altar here in St. Mary’s. This has been a great draw of devotion for many generations of pilgrim people here in Nenagh.
When this Church as being constructed it was in the aftermath of the First Vatican Council. The theological and spiritual emphasis of the time was broadly speaking on Cult, Sacrifice, Priesthood, High Liturgy, Ornate Décor, Mystery, the transcendence of God, people being at a distance from the sanctuary, respecting the awesome, powerful, yet remote presence of the Divine.
In contrast to that, the Church of St. John the Baptist in Tyone was a product of post The Second Vatican Council, with the emphasis, (again broadly speaking) on: the Church as People of God, the immanence or closeness of God, proclamation of the word of God, the centrality of the Scriptures, Community gathered around and close to the priest, absence of altar rails, not as much of a distinction between or a barrier placed between pew and sanctuary.
Different emphasis. Different styles. Different times. The classical and the modern. Both representing heartfelt and authentic ways of bridging the gap between the human and the divine, in the Eucharist, in the Sacraments as we pray humbly to God.
Both Churches have treasured memories for so many here today.
- The place where so many have become sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ at the baptismal font.
- The Church where you have approached the altar to receive the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion and the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, sustaining you in life’s journey.
- At this very altar Bride and Groom came to promise love forever in the Sacrament of Marriage, praying that God would journey with them through their married life.
- As you were worn down by worry or by the burden of age or ill-health you come here stretching out your hands to a healing and compassionate Christ.
- You walked into this Church with broken hearts and with heads bowed in grief, you followed the funerals of your dear ones and placed them before God’s altar, clutching tenaciously to Christ’s promise of resurrection and new life.
- Single individuals, clergy and religious, fathers and mothers, grandparents and grandchildren would all at one time or another be seen in different corners of this Church praying quietly to the one who would give meaning, direction and hope to their lives.
- This indeed is a holy place because of the unnamed people who laid the stones to build this Church, because of the sacrifices men and women have made to maintain this dwelling place for God here in Nenagh.
Down the years this Church has seen the children of its baptismal font grow in grace, some to stay at home others to go abroad, some to continue the family name at home, others to carry the gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth. Today, sons and daughters of Nenagh baptised in this Church are making their contribution in cities across the world. They carry with them something of the faith in which they were nurtured here at home. As we celebrate this 125 and 50 years we remember them in a special way.
We are very much in the season of harvest thanksgiving in so many Churches in our land.
Today above all is a day for giving thanks…
The Gospel of the day, the story of the ten lepers is about thanksgiving.
The Eucharist we celebrate is about thanksgiving.
We give thanks for outstanding sacrifices, generosity, faith, courage, vision.
We thank God for the efforts of the many named in the publications on the two Churches about to be launched today.
We recall the early Christians of this area for millennia.
The Canons Regular of the St. Augustine in Tigh Eoin, the house of Eoin. The Holy dwelling place of the Lord under the patronage of John the Baptist.
The Franciscans of the Friary where we began our walking journey today.
The many who lived and worked in the Workhouse during challenging famine days.
All who made the presence of a hospital there possible.
The Sisters of Mercy who ministered in hospital and parish at Tyone.
The doctors and nurses who were agents of healing and care for so many.
Builders, craftspeople, fundraisers, donors, civil and community leaders along with workers who used their skill to produce and maintain these houses of God.
Teachers, religious, parents and school staff who shared, celebrated and taught the faith.
We remember also the Christian Brothers who have been a strong educational presence here for 160 years and leave vibrant school communities as they sadly prepare to depart,
We remember Clergy, other religious and laity who exercised ministry and who cared for the place for so long.
Music ministers, readers, sacristans, maintenance people, gardeners, decorators and so many who work in so many ways.
Thank to you to all. Ní neart go cur le chéile.
Congrats to all here present on this special joyful jubilee day. Comhgairdeachas agus go maire sibh bhur nuacht.
Mar fhocail scoir, As we celebrate these two great jublilees of the dwelling places of God in this community we give thanks with grateful hearts to God for all that has been done and for what is to come we anticipate with faith and hope.
We pray that in the spirit of the prayer of St. John the Baptist that we might decrease and He might increase.
And we commit ourselves to the care of His loving Mother.
Faoi bhrat na Maighdinne Muire go raibh muid ar fad!