People who devoted their lives wholly to service of God and the church have taken something of a hammering in Irish society in recent decades. This in of the reasons they have almost become invisible. So we may think they have disappeared.
However, there are 116 houses, convents, monasteries, friaries, priories in the Diocese of Cork and Ross. And it is true to say that the average of the occupants must be high. Almost all are retirement age or over.
This past Sunday, Bishop Fintan Gavin was addressing the first ever gathering of the members of religious orders who are based in the diocese. Over 200 religious sisters, brothers and priests answered the bishop’s invitation to a prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Anne, Cork, on Sunday to coincide with the worldwide Day for Consecrated Life.
The result was a lovely liturgy which was prayerful and supportive.
Committing one’s whole life to the things of God is a radical challenge in a culture that finds life-long commitment so difficult, Bishop Fintan told the gathered religious.
“In these times when many people don’t seem to know the value of faith, religious are called to witness to the presence of God whose love is revealed and encountered in Jesus Christ,” Bishop Gavin said. “Religious are and must be men and women of prayer, who can lead others into prayer.”
Bishop Gavin blessed candles at the special prayer service and each community was invited to bring one back to their homes.
The singing at the Cathedral was led by the Choir of Presentation Secondary School, Ballyphehane, and the bishop asked religious to witness their faith especially to young people today.
“Young people today need religious who by their detachment from power, wealth and pleasure attract young people to the unique joy and fulfilment which come from knowing Jesus Christ.”
Here are some images from the event – taken by Brian Lougheed.