This comes at a somewhat bittersweet time, as we said goodbye to my Dad this morning at the end of his visit to Clonard. It has been a really great time while he’s been here – plenty of delightful conversations and short day-trips, but mostly an opportunity to share firsthand our day-to-day at the parish. My Dad loves to talk, and he’s had more than enough time to do that while visiting, whether at Clonard Church, or during our travels.
We had the chance to drive around a little bit, taking off toward County Cork and County Kerry last week to see some country. The fog prevented us from seeing some of the sights (Brandon Mountain and Mangerton Mountain were especially foggy, but we managed to hike at least halfway up), but overall it was a great 4 days on the road. We toured Rock of Cashel on our way to the Dingle Peninsula, the lakes of Killarney and Dunloe Gap, chased the sunset on the Beara Peninsula, and spent our last morning in the fog on Mizen Head (most southwesterly point in Ireland, but we had to take their word for it) while driving back to Wexford via Cork and Waterford. ‘Twas an experience I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, and I doubt that my Dad will either. We also had a chance this past weekend for another day trip – this time to Mount Leinster ( our hike was again defeated by the fog, but oh well 😉 ) and then to Curracloe Beach and the Raven Point.
Along with that short trip, we were quite busy with gatherings and work at the parish. Two Saturdays ago we hosted a gathering at the Teach for members of our vigil choir and Fr. Sean, with music and conversation about opportunities for growth and rebirth in the Irish Catholic Church lasting well into the early hours of the morning. This past Saturday we gathered again, this time at Fr. Sean’s house for much of the same. I’ve been getting a fair bit of work in on guitar accompaniment – now I just have to memorize more songs and work on providing accompaniment on the fly!
The Adult Faith Formation meetings finished up last night with another fair-size crowd and topics ranging from “The Problem of Pain” to disagreements with and misunderstandings of Church teaching. There was a very healthy response to continue providing some way of meeting and discussing faith, so we will brainstorm and plan to build off of this in the upcoming weeks. Along with that, we hosted an ND Emmaus-style gathering at the Teach this past Sunday for members of the World Youth Day group from the Diocese of Ferns, studying the readings from this upcoming Sunday’s Mass and discussing how we bring this to fruition in our daily lives. It’s exciting to gather in groups to talk about faith, as well as a great opportunity to share communally our own experiences, and we look forward to the prospect of meeting more, both through the Adult Faith Formation at the church, as well as in the Teach.
The big part of this weekend (other than Mass, which is obviously the biggest part of the weekend) was our first workshop on Sunday afternoon, titled, “And with our Spirits: Inviting the congregation into the new Missal through Music.” We looked at the changes to the Mass from a musician’s perspective, provided thoughts on choosing Mass settings as well as implementing them, and suggested songs with the themes of gathering and unity. Over 30 parish musicians from around the diocese attended, sang with us, and joined us afterward for a tea social.
We’re now moving into our first Class Masses with the primary schools. Jess and I have been working with a 5th Class at Scoil Mhuire who will come tomorrow to celebrate Mass, and Dan and Molly will welcome a 5th Class from Kennedy Park on Monday. The children and teachers from both schools have been great, both in their excitement and preparation to participate in Mass as lectors, cantors, and gift-bearers with our daily Mass crowd.
Along with my Dad, we’ve been hosting a visitor from ND on spring break – Katherine Jones! It’s been awesome to have visitors, and provides a really insightful perspective on how quickly we’ve managed to know Clonard as “home”. Welcoming visitors into the Teach, both from the States and Wexford, and sharing both our work and fun with them has made us realize that we ourselves aren’t simply visitors to Clonard, but a living, breathing part of a faith community, working alongside others to build up the Church.
On a personal note, I took my Dad along to the County Wexford Intermediate Cross Country Championships on Sunday afternoon to participate with the Menapians squad. We finished in 3rd place as a team, and I garnered a 3rd place individual finish over an 8km race. The course and weather was gorgeous – just a 1.5 km loop in a field right next to the sea, sparkling in the sunlight with clouds in the distance… my camera battery died, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I move on now to the Leinster province Intermediates in November, with the County Wexford Senior Championship following in December. Fun stuff!
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all this chilly, yet sunshiny day in Wexford. Have a beautiful day, and God Bless!