St. Flannan’s Day Homily, St. Flannan’s College, December 18th, 2018
On a day like today we seek to return to some of the founding roots and ideals of our diocese in the person of our Patron, St. Flannan. It is good for any group or organisation to revisit the source or wellspring of inspiration to renew the energy of that original spirit. In Killaloe we have so many great saintly figures to draw us back to the many aspects of Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. I’m tempted to list the many saints of Tom Hogan’s coveted list of holy women and men of the diocese, but no doubt you already know them by heart yourself!
At this dark time of the year in the northern hemisphere we crave a glimpse of light to brigten up these gloomy Winter days.
The legend of Molua and Flannan help to remove the veil of seasonal and natural darkness on this special feast day. With that on mind – We recall the story of Flannan in suceeding St. Molua that one day, after Flannan had been baking continuously for thirty-six hours, a heavenly light shone through the fingers of his left hand. It lit up the darkness to enable him to continue with his task. Molua, on learning of this, decided to retire from his position and appointed Flannan as Abbot in his place.
Turning Point for Flannan
There is something special and interesting about that turning point, that moment of enlightenment that was a key pivotal moment and discernment in the life and vocation of Flannan and had huge significance for us in this venerable See.
Seeking inspiration from the Inspiration of Flannan
On a day like today on this Advent day we look to St. Flannan, our Patron and guide for inspiration and light as we prepare for Christmas that we are about to lead our people to celebrate.
Mid-Winter Longing for Light
Just 3 days from the shortest day of the year, we approach that turning point of darkness giving way to light and new life. The bible and liturgy of the hours tells us that we are creatures of light and creatures of the day, following the light of Christ. May the radiance of that light shine brightly for us this day as we celebrate the feast of our Patron and we long for the brighness of Spring and brighter days!
Searching for Light
So – Where do we go to experience that light, the light of Jesus, the inspiring light that made St. Flannan stand out?
It may seem obvious – as we prepare to celebrate the incarnation – the light of Advent is in the beautiful liturgical texts we engage with, the scriputural texts of the divine office we pray to sanctify our day, our own personal prayer and generous time in contemplation, our pastoral outreach to those to whom we minister, our care and friendship towards our fellow priests, our work life balance, our recreation, our rest and all that we do.
Examples of Prayerful Unity in Killaloe
I’m so encouraged to see so many groups of prayer and companionship in the diocese with the weekly meetings in response to our new team ministry, Together for Mission. Some are engaged in group support and supervision, nany in regular Lectio Divina, small groups of recreational interest like golf or cards or simply padres sharing holidays together. We gather for in-service, catch-up days, Chrism Mass, days like today and other events. It is good for us to come together and be inspired by each other in our mission as followers of St. Flannan and priests of Jesus Christ. Today as we celebrate the Feast of St. Flannan we gather in unity and enjoy the light of prayer and the company of each other.
Annunciation “Yes” on this feast day
In reflecting on some Advent reading from the spiritual writer John Saward, Redeemer in the Wombwe are informed that in the old Tridentine rite today, December the 18th, the feast of St. Flannan celebrates a Mass of the Annunciation, exactly one week before Christmas. In doing so it helps us to focus on the great “Yes” of Mary, the Yes of our Patron in faith, St. Flannan and on our own initial “Yes” to priesthood or being a committed follower of Jesus and we revisit and renew that on this special day!
Reflections – after 2 1/2 Years
At this stage – I’ve been almost 2 and 1/2 years in your midst and have enjoyed so much that is unique in the many characters and places of the diocese.
Fleadhs, drama festivals, concerts, games, athletic events, agricultural shows, family days, book launches, dinner dances, commemorative occasions are still very much, even in this increasingly secular society part and parcel of our involvement as Church.
So many events at diocesan and parish level have been so spiritually edifying over the past couple of years:
- World Meeting of Families preparations galore
- Trips to Lourdes and Knock
- Cluster Mass from the amazing views from Latteragh
- Televised Mass in the stunning location of Killone
- Following in the footsteps of St. Senan at Scattery
- Flannan’s well in Inagh
- Exploring the majestic cliffs at Kilkee
- Liturgical occasions in Mount St. Joseph’s
- Choir celebrations with Seinn, óg agus sean, Music Ministry together in Roscrea
- Spirituality days on Inis Cealtra
- Laudato Si day in Lorrha
- Youth Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick
- Pilgrim walk in the Burren
- Jubilee celebrations with priests and sisters
- Bene merenti celebrations with outstanding lay people
- Journeying on foot from Nenagh to the Phoenix Park
- Novena Masses in Drumellihy
- Triduum Masses in the Friary, Kilrush, Cloughleigh.
- Matt Talbot novenas in Tulla and Shannon.
Killaloe Clergy – a talented Group
In preparation for the recent in-service both Eamonn Fitzgibbon and John Hughes indicatated how much they like and are delighted to work with Killaloe clergy because of their honesty, integrity, diligence and willingness to engage.
We certainly don’t lack for a variety of interests and diverse expertise: Pilots, bikers, sea rescue men, radio presenters and producers, canon lawyers, liturgists, hurlers, coaches, writers, poets, teachers, historians, sociologists, social activists, musicians, cantors, actors, stand up comedians, mechanics, farmers, gourmet chefs, bakers, gardeners, administrators, vatican officials, army chaplains, nuncios, monks, abbots, affiliated friars… the list goes on and on!
What I have found is a group that are welcoming and open…
Hardworking and diligent…
Prayerful, Pastoral and practically minded.
I have no doubt but that if St. Flannan was around today, he would certainly find the Killaloe clergy a most interesting group to get to know!
There is a story of the Franciscan, the Dominican and the Jesuit who were celebrating Mass, but the light went out as they were about to start Mass.
- The Franciscan gave a homily on looking after the resources of creation.
- The Dominican gave a learned homily on the Jesus as the light of the world.
- The Jesuit, however went down into the basement, got a spare bulb and replaced it…
I get a sense that the Killaloe clergy would make good Jesuits!
Over the past few years we have been busy engaged in very practical and down to earth items to throw light on the situation:
Move to team ministry
Community led liturgies
Encouraging synodal approach to Church life
May the Lord continue to bless and enlighten that good work!
On this day we congratulate our Jubilarians:
Diamond: Willie Walsh, Pat Sexton, J.J. Rodgers
Ruby: Pat Malone, Tom Hogan.
Silver: Seamus Horgan.
We remember our deceased jubilarians
Diamond: Conor McNamara, Tom Burke, Tom Moloney, Cathal Jordan. Golden: Michael O’Grady, Michael McNamara. May God increase their glory in heaven.
The Adventure that is Killaloe
Almost every day is still after two and a half years new adventure for me in this new role as Bishop of the See of St. Flannan.
Variety and Interest of Killaloe Places
I’m still at the stage of wonder and excitement at exploring the intricacies of the new places I am privleged to explore for so many faith events at different times.
I still haven’t tired of the wonderful place names: Spanish Point, Mullagh, Quilty, Ogonneloe, Bodyke, Lisseycasey, Youghalara, Drumbiggle, Kildysart, Feakle, Scarriff, Drumcliffe, Bournea, Boston, Inch, Connolly, Coor, Cloughleigh, Quin, Burges, Paradise, Kilbaha, Loop Head.
The irish names of course and no less interesting, Sráid na Cathrach, Móinéar na gCloiginí, Cora Chaitlín, Aonach an Urmhumhan, Suí an Róin.
The beautiful meaning and depth of thought in the Irish names of the 15 Pastoral areas are so steeped in history and faith and tradition and rich heritage.
For yourselves that have lived with such names all your life – they are common place to you, but the novelty and richness of them has still not worn off on me and I regularly savour the novelty and richness of the many interesting places.
People and Places
Clergy and laity
Time and eternity
Religious and secular
Ancient and modern
Faith and prayer locations
Darkness of Mid-Winter , Longing for the light of Spring.
Today we unite in reflection and searchng for renewed light,
returning to the sources and origens,
Flannan, Jesus Christ …
Priests and people serving the people of Killaloe and ministering to each other.
Conclusion and Blessing
May God continue to give us the light and courage to be worthy embassadors to St. Flannan in our service and minstry, loving and living and in all that we do as we celebrate the feast of our Patron and enter into the celebration of the remainder of Advent and Christmas.