Well, now that our social schedule is slowly overtaking our working schedule, we’ve had a great many gatherings of friends which will likely be the tune of the last month or so in Wexford. LAST MONTH OR SO?! Tell me it’s not true! Most of the time when someone asks if I’m ready to leave I say, “Hey! Don’t send us away yet! We’ve another month to go!” as I pretend to cry and hold on dramatically to a post, or stationary item, or one of the sacristans. And while this is just a dramatic interpretation, it probably won’t be far from the truth of parting. It truly is a lovely lovely place!
Monday evening, Nick and I headed to The Ferrycarrig Hotel (the 2nd day in a row…don’t mind it) for a beautiful bite to eat along with Fr. Martin and Fr. James and the parent leader coordinators of the YSBMW Confirmation programme. It was beautifully delicious and also just beautiful to look at. A+ for presentation, let me tell ya. I couldn’t believe that it was approaching 10pm and the sun was still blazing away low in the sky. When the sun does decide to make an appearance, he stays around long into the night. Kinda the same for the Son, eh? Except he’s always around. 😉
I like to call this week “Class Mass-ive” week, purely due to the number of classroom meetings, church rehearsals, and class masses themselves that we had. We welcomed Nicole back on Tuesday and threw ourselves right into preparation for several class masses which occurred on Wednesday and Friday. The 5th class students have been working so hard preparing for the many sacraments of the Spring that we stuck with a couple of the songs which they already knew and used the same songs for both masses. At our first mass on Wednesday, we celebrated God’s Kingdom and the light that He brings to us all by bringing a candle to our sacred space and listening to readings of that theme. Today we celebrated the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by visiting the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just kidding…but wouldn’t it be great if we could do that? At our class mass rehearsal, we didn’t practice with the actual items we were bringing up, as some were needed for class and such. They’d agreed, however, to bring along one of their Titanic projects to showcase their hard work and to remember their country’s history. We set up a little sacred space with a cloth and space for a candle, a statue of Jesus, a Bible, and a Titanic project that I presumed to be about the size of a small boat replica. Alas, when the project was brought forward, my eyes widened at the size of it. Floating down the centre aisle was a huge cardboard backing with blue-painted aluminum foil water and a mammoth ship crashing through the cardboard backing. It was impressive, mind you, but its sheer size was no match for the smaller-sized Jesus, candle, and Bible already occupying the table. They managed to share the space fairly well after some rearranging, but looking at the sacred space set-up from a distance, it probably appeared that Jesus was aboard the Titanic, reading the Bible by candlelight. Which, who knows, maybe He was? Anyhow, the kids all did a fabulous job, reading clearly, singing exultantly, and praying ardently. It’s such a blessing to be able to work with them toward the joyous celebration that is the Mass.
On Thursday, I had a day off, so I went down to visit another member of the Passion Play, Sean Banfield, who played Pontius Pilate as seen in the photos below. I cycled up to the house and knocked on the door as I peered in through the window. Symphonic music was swirling through the open window, and he was up on the landing spinning from sink to stove whilst humming along with the instruments. I laughed, because the image was so telling of the joyful person he is. I learned all kinds of new things about him, like the fact that he moved to Wexford for the Opera and Drama scene. He also owns seven cats, but feeds fifteen, built and kept up a B&B in Donegal, Western Ireland for 12 years, enjoys woodworking, cooking, classical music, and reading about Japan. (And other places, for that matter.) He also bought a beautiful grand piano many years back, but can only play by ear, so it doesn’t get as much use as he’d like. Well, we definitely made it useful during my visit, that’s for durn sure! Oh! And he’s 81. In fact, he just auditioned for a play in which the auditionees needed to range from 20-80 years of age. Right before receiving the part, he said, “you ought to know now, but I’m not actually under 80. I’m 81 last week. But age wouldn’t stop me. The stage calls to me.” He’s made many sacrifices in his lifetime for the sake of Theatre. For example, when living in Montana, he took the one daily bus into the town centre for a rehearsal…which occurred eight hours after the bus’s arrival. He wandered around in the cold until rehearsals and then waited several more hours for a bus home. He did that for three plays. And though he’s up with the sun, he’s also asleep with the sun, early in the evening. This didn’t stop him from attending Passion play rehearsals long into the night and throwing his every ounce of energy into a dramatic Pontius Pilate interpretation. It’s wonderful to see such enthusiasm for Theatre – and religious Theatre at that!
Before I left he grabbed my arm and, after insisting that I finish the chocolate torte on the table (which we managed to consume in its entirety), he said, “you all, Maggie (he has a little trouble with names), Nick, Nicole Kidman (how he remembers Nicole’s name), and Madame Director (maybe he only says that because he doesn’t always remember my name?), no Irish person could do what you’re all doing. Nothing like your ministry or like the play has ever happened in a little church like that. We need your witness to begin rebuilding the faith. I’m 81…but you’re not.” Of course, this is my memory of what he said…he said it in a much more “Sean-like” manner, but I think it was his way of thanking all of us for our presence and the way we touched his life. Either that or we were both too tripped up on chocolate cake and tea to be thinking straight. But I’m pretty sure that the Passion play experience stood out amidst the other edgy, modern plays in which he’s taken part. It was the only one he’d done with a religious focus. And while the theatrical world would crush it for not being bold or risqué or contemporary enough, I would think, “well gee, what’s bolder, more thought-provoking or more inspiring than the life and witness of Jesus Christ? Try to find a play that incorporates as much laughter, faith, sadness, anger, and deep-seeded joy as that! So I walked through his path of apple, plum, and pear trees and thanked God for another blossoming friendship, founded in faith and strengthened by multiple servings of chocolate cake. We are so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to share in a faith community that has extended far beyond the walls of Clonard church.
And as usual, voici les photos: