The Teach Bhríde V community has continued to dive into various ministries and parish activities, as a busy week brought many exciting firsts for our time at Clonard. Many choirs had their first rehearsals of the fall this past week, and there were also two special events that reminded us of the wonderful love and unity that faith and ministry can foster in a community. After this week, I think all four of us would agree that an impressive flurry of events to kick off this year have revealed to us the tremendous power and reach of Christ’s love in Clonard and across Ireland.
This past Tuesday, the parish hosted an event called “Stepping Out to Secondary School” that honored and showed support to children that were beginning their first year of secondary school, similar to the beginning of what is known as middle school in the United States. The ceremony featured reflections on the steps of personal and academic development the students had taken to this point in their lives, as well as God’s call for each one of us to share his gifts with the world and spread God’s good will. Many members of the parish and its staff contributed to preparing this great event, and we were able to further develop relationships with many members of the parish community on the night. It was wonderful to see the parish come together to offer support to the youth community during such an important time in their lives.
The next night again saw us in full action at the parish as the Children’s Liturgy Group, Youth Choir, and Vigil Choir each had their first rehearsals of the year. Mary and I had a wonderful time singing with the young children in the Children’s Liturgy Group, and Cameron joined us as well this week to check out what the choir was like. Cameron also offered to accompany the group on piano in a couple weeks for their performance at Mass, as the group’s regular pianist will be out of town. We’re certainly very grateful to have Cameron’s great piano talents with us! After Children’s Liturgy Group, Joy and Mary each rehearsed the Youth Choir (for older students in secondary school) and Vigil Choir, respectively. The rehearsals ended with prayers that reflected on and gave thanks for the blessings we have received to share our faith through music. As Joy told the Youth Choir, to sing is to pray, and we are looking forward to deepening our faith life through the collective reflection and prayer that every opportunity to sing provides us.
Our week wrapped up with a Friday trip to Dublin with Father John Paul Sheridan for September’s Alliance for Catholic Education Ireland Advocate Gathering Mass. Father J.P. very kindly provided us a lift to Dublin, and we arrived in the late afternoon at the O’Connell House, Notre Dame’s study abroad headquarters in Dublin. Friends of the ACE program from all over Ireland attended the Mass, and it was great to see a few current Notre Dame students studying abroad in Dublin there as well. The Mass was concluded with a powerful reflection from a recent graduate of Ireland’s ACE program on a school principal she worked with who embodied the model of faith, kindness, and humility that Christ calls us to follow. She concluded her reflection with a challenge to all of us to think about what makes us passionate about our work, our life, and our faith. After a terrific dinner, we had a fulfilling open discussion among the attendees of the Mass about what it is that brings passion to our life and faith. The major theme that emerged from our discussion was the importance of the people that touch our lives. This was a great reminder with which to conclude the week, as the empowering and gratifying community spirit that was embodied at the ACE Mass as well as the Stepping Out ceremony and choir rehearsals earlier in the week was made possible by the many tremendous people we have been blessed to meet throughout our early weeks here in Ireland. We are looking forward to meeting many more wonderful people and growing in community in the weeks to come!