12 Apr 2014
Bishop Brendan's Letter for Easter
5th Sunday of Lent 2014
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As we approach Easter I want to send you my best wishes for this important season in the Christian calendar. It is also a chance for me to thank you again for the wonderful and kind welcome you have given me since I was ordained bishop in St. John’s Cathedral exactly one year ago this month. Yes, time does fly!
I want to let you know that this year, with Limerick in the midst of a wonderful and deserved celebration of its designation as the first National City of Culture, RTÉ will, in recognition of this, be broadcasting the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, April 19th from St. John’s Cathedral beginning at 11.00pm. As this night is the high point of the Christian year, the Diocese is very pleased that Limerick has been chosen as the venue for this beautiful celebration of Christ’s resurrection. This is the first time since 2004 that Limerick has been selected for this.
The eyes of the nation, as such, will be upon us and we are keen that this celebration would be representative of the entire diocese so I would ask that some members of the faithful from each parish would attend.
It will also be the first occasion when a new Mass setting composed especially for the Diocese by the Glenstal monk, Fr. Columba McCann OSB, will be performed.
The Good Friday liturgy will also be broadcast live on RTE from the Cathedral on April 18th at 3.00 pm. One element of that liturgy is the “Garment of Suffering”. In order that each parish in the Diocese be represented during this liturgy, parishes were invited to gather squares of cloth as a symbol of our own suffering, the suffering of someone close to us, or someone we know. This garment will be prayerfully presented during the liturgy and draped around the cross to symbolise how our sufferings are united to the sufferings of Christ.
On Wednesday of Holy Week the Chrism Mass, when we bless the oils that will be used throughout the diocese for the celebration of the sacraments this year, will be celebrated in St. Joseph’s Church at 7.30 pm. Everyone is also welcome to this ceremony. St. Ambrose commented that every Christian should try and get to the Chrism Mass at least once in their life. It is always a special experience of Diocese.
For this past year we have all been enjoying the words and deeds of Pope Francis. He is such an inspiration to us all. In his wonderful Letter on the Joy of the Gospel that has already sold over 11.000 copies in Ireland, making it a best seller, the Pope encourages us all “to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization” marked by the joy of the Gospel. He writes “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.”
Time and again throughout this year, Pope Francis has invited us to return to and rediscover the sacrament of Reconciliation. To that end, I have asked that, as well as the normal local arrangements, there will be confession available on April 19th from 10.00 am until 17.00 pm in each of the following churches: St. John’s Cathedral, The Augustinians, The Redemptorists, Newcastle West, Kilmallock.
This year’s Easter Week will also be blessed by the celebration of the canonisation of both Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II on April 27th, Divine Mercy Sunday.
Many of you will remember fondly Pope John Paul II’s visit to Limerick on October 1st 1979. On that occasion he was conferred with the Freedom of Limerick City. It is right, therefore, that we should mark the canonisation of this freeman of Limerick.
The Polish Community, which has a lovely shrine dedicated to him in St. Michael’s Church, will be celebrating Mass in that Church at 12.30 on April 27th. I will also be celebrating Mass to mark the canonisation of both great Popes in St. John’s Cathedral at 4.45 pm on Sunday 27th. You are warmly invited to attend either event.
There is a lot of other news that I would like to share with you but I don’t want this letter to go on too long. I recommend to you to go onto the Limerick Diocese’s website www.limerickdiocese.org - and sign up for the weekly Diocesan e-newsletter. It brings you up to date on all that is happening.
We have entered a new age also of communication through Social Media. Used properly, this is a wonderful tool for us to share good news about different aspects of the life of the Church. In that regard, I am delighted to tell you that our diocese is joining that new age this week with the launch of our dedicated Facebook page which will see us engaging with one another across this new medium with regular posts and updates and even a weekly blog by yours truly that I hope you will bring us all closer.
Once again, best wishes for Easter. I ask for your prayers and assure you of mine. I greet especially the young people of the diocese. Many of us were greatly heartened recently by a wonderful concert of liturgical music that young people from across the Diocese put on recently in the University of Limerick Concert Hall. I also congratulate young people of the diocese who are launching an on-line magazine called “YoLo” (acronym for a phrase that young people often say: you only live once!).
Let’s remember, above all, the New Commandment that Jesus gave us as especially “his”, the night before he died: “Love one another as I have loved you”. By this all will know we are his disciples, missionary disciples of the Risen Jesus.
With kind regards,
† Brendan Leahy
Bishop of Limerick