Youghalarra Celebration – Friday 15th of October 2022
50 anniversary (plus 2) of Renovation of Church
190 anniversary years Construction
Presentation of Bene Merenti Medal to Mr. John Joe Buckley
Celebration of 50 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 50th anniversary (plus two due to the global pandemic) of the renovation of this beautiful Church of the Holy Spirit and the 190th anniversary of the original building.
They say good things are best when they come in threes. To honour that the 3rd celebration of the evening is the presentation of a Bene Merenti Medal to Mr. John Joe Bukley for outstanding service here in the parish, dating back all the way, without a break to the time of the renovation in 1970.
Three significant and important land-marks and worthy celebrations.
By any standards 50 or 190 years is a serious reason to celebrate and shout out loud! From 1832 to 2022. 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 triple measure.
Personal Achievements in Church Context
In the world we live in we often mark the achievements of outstanding sports people – with the All Star or Hall of Fame awards. In the World of Acting we have the Oscars, the Emmies, Golden Globe. In the musical world we have all sorts of similar events, AIMS, Gradam TG4, Tony awards. In recent weeks at the Fleadh in Mullingar they had Gradam na Féile. We have various different people of the year or rehab awards. In the Bene Merenti Awards we honour from the religious point of view unsung heroes like John Joe who for over half a century has been a steady and constant servant in the parish here for over the past 50 years on Parish Council, Finance, Education, Eucharistic Minister and much more. Tonight with this Papal Award from Pope Francis he is no longer unsung, but we rightly and deservedly sing his praise.
It is indeed a great privilege for me today to present the Papal Award Bene Merenti, the Latin for Well Merited or well deserved.
Church of the Holy Spirit
I commend you here in Youghalarra on the way you keep the Church here a reflection on the pride you have in the place.
I love the fact that it is dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Most if not all the Churches in the diocese are devoted to Saints, so as far as I know this one is unique in being dedicated to the Holy Spirit.
When this Church as being constructed back in the post Catholic Emancipation days in Ireland it was in in advance of the First Vatican Council in the Universal Church. 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 renovated Church in 1970 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.
The Church of the Holy Spirit here has 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.
- Many at different times would come here during the day to light a candle or quietly to pray 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 Youghalarra.
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 Youghalarra 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 190 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 Eucharist we celebrate is about thanksgiving.
We give thanks for outstanding sacrifices, generosity, faith, courage, vision.
Builders, craftspeople, fundraisers, donors, local leaders along with workers who used their skill to produce and maintain this house of God.
Teachers, religious, parents and school staff who shared, celebrated and taught the faith.
We remember Clergy and laity who exercised ministry and various apostolates 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 this jubilee 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.
May the Holy Spirit be our guide and inspiration with the gifts and fruits. Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.