Earlier today, we gathered in the old Dominican Abbey at Urlaur in the parish of Kilmovee. It’s the traditional day for the Urlaur Pattern. The weather, though uncertain, did not keep people away. We had Mass at 12.30, concelebrated by Fr John Maloney, myself and two priests from the parish – ministering in England and Scotland – Frs Dominic Towey and JT Cribben. It was lovely to have them there. Great too, that so many people braved the elements and stood beneath and unsure sky but on very Holy Ground as we shared the Eucharist together. I was telling the people that when I was in New York and Boston recently, the question I was frequently asked was “how is the church doing in Ireland?” It was a sincere question, posed quite often by priests I met, wondering if things are as bad as they are led to believe. I tried to tell them that at “ground level” the Faith seems solid and alive and that the goodness of people is evident everywhere. Urlaur represented that today.
We had taken the reading about Jeremiah going to the Potter’s House, having been sent there by the Lord, and how he noticed that when things went wrong for the potter and the clay in his hands did not take the shape intended, he started again. I wondered if there was something of that in our church too. Maybe time to re-shape things a little, without losing sight of the original plan and intention and being mindful of the clay in our hands and the soil beneath our feet.
I told them that the Irish Missionaries were the ones who had first focused attention on the need for individual confession and penance and that the church celebrates today (August 4th) the Feastday of the Curé D’Ars who was so closely linked with the celebration of this sacrament. I mentioned too a recent initiative in the Archdiocese of Boston called “The Light is On”, which during the season of Lent, saw the light on in every church in the Archdiocese one evening each week to welcome people home to the celebration of God’s forgiveness. I’m told that 40,000 or more people availed of that invitation. I wondered could we do something like that in our parish in the coming year – between this Pattern and the next – to focus and rebuild on what is a very solid foundation, evident in so many people being there today.
As I write these lines, the evening festivities continue in Urlaur. Hopefully I will see them later in the day. For now, the Pattern happened again, as it has done for many years. Well done to all involved.
Took a few photos to capture a bit of the atmosphere in the Abbey and at Urlaur Lake where a few swimmers and kayakers made the most of the day:)