Homily of Bishop Fintan Monahan for RTÉ Television Mass for World Day of Remembrance for road traffic victims, Sunday, November 21st, 2021
November – a time of Remembrance
The month of November is a special time for remembering. Memory is one of the most precious things we have as human beings. November, Mí na Marbh, the month of the dead is a time for remembering our deceased loved ones.
Remembering those who have lost their lives on the Roads
On this special day we call to mind the many who have lost their lives as a result of fatal road traffic collisions. If you have been affected in this way – you are very much in our thoughts and prayers during this Mass and we are in solidarity with you. We also remember those have suffered serious injuries on the roads.
Origin and history of Day of Remembrance
The purpose of this occasion is to remember and pray for victims of fatal road traffic collisions and all affected. Between 20 and 30 thousand people have been killed and almost 100,000 have been seriously injured on Irish roads since recording began in 1959. By any account this represents an horrific amount of carnage and untold human suffering. We remember today and pray for the deceased and pray especially for the many relatives and friends left behind.
The day of remembrance was set up in order to give recognition to victims of road traffic crashes and the plight of their loved ones who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of their loss as a result of these events.
Observation of this day provides an opportunity to draw the public’s attention to road traffic crashes, their consequences and costs, and the measures which can be taken to prevent them. The day also provides an opportunity to remind those in charge and all of us of our responsibility to make roads safer.
Pandemic – Awareness of Preciousness of Life
For the past 19 months of the global pandemic we have become acutely aware of the precariousness and fragility of life and of our duty and responsibility to care for and look out for each other.
The effect on the bereaved
While road traffic deaths are counted in the year they occur, a family remains bereaved forever. The bereaved are not counted or included in road traffic injury data. Many others remain deeply affected by the loss of a friend, colleague, neighbour or member of the community. The effect on the emergency services, whose work involves facing the consequences of crashes on a daily basis, is also profound. Road traffic injuries leave behind shattered families and communities. As a priest and the same would be true for Gardaí, emergency service workers and medical personnel we would be so aware of the profound suffering caused and the long-lasting effects. Special thanks to anyone that works in this capacity who offer help and support to those in need.
This year, again the Road Safety Authority have joined forces with members of An Garda Síochána, local County Councils, Emergency Services, Churches and victim support groups to mark the day and remember those who have died on our roads at services being held across the country.
While in recent years fatalities on Irish roads have decreased, nevertheless – according to the Road Safety Authority 120 people have died in traffic collisions already this year. What a tragedy this is!
Spiritual and Moral dimension
Road safety awareness is the parable of the Good Samaritan in action within our communities today. I am thinking here of all road users: motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, and every one of us has a role in helping others even if we are not known to each other personally.
Making Travel Safer
There are many ways that we can ensure that our roads will be safer:
- reducing speed,
- avoiding drink or drug driving,
- taking more care and courtesy on the roads,
- not using mobile phones,
- taking rest when tired, departing on time
and many other ways.
Prayer, Awareness, Reflection
I firmly believe that greater awareness along with prayer and reflection can change our driving behaviour, calm our aggression, and remind us to take care of our spiritual, moral and physical dimensions. In this context I recommend the following ancient Irish prayer for embarking on a journey which can be said before driving.
17th century paidir as Gaeilge
In ainm an Athar le bua,
In ainm an Mhic a d’fhulaing an phian,
In ainm an Spiorad Naoimh le neart,
Muire is a Mac linn inár dtriall.
Go dtuga Dia slán abhaile thú agus tú ag taisteal ar an mbóthar!