Settling In

It’s staggering to think that Teach Bhríde Season VI has been in Ireland for over a month now! Angie and Sarah in Dublin and the four of us in Wexford have all been hard at work immersing ourselves in our assigned parishes and schools, learning through various trials by fire and from the wisdom of those Teach Bhríders who came before us. Down here in Wexford, we have officially had our first few weekend Masses with the Vigil Choir, Family Liturgy Group, and the Folk Group, bi-weekly choir rehearsals (even when the electricity goes out, which happened last Wednesday!), parish pilgrimages to Our Lady’s Island and the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Confirmation parent information sessions, parish council meetings, and opening of the year Masses for primary schools Kennedy Park and Scoil Mhuire. The stalwart foundations of our little community have been evening prayer (with weekly Skype-ins from Angie and Sarah in Dublin), family meals, and daily Mass. Our various idiosyncrasies are starting to manifest themselves as we grow more comfortable as a community, and we are coming to discover more about one other and our new home with each passing day.

I marvel every day at the workings of Clonard parish, its vibrant community life, and the deep bonds of friendship among its parishioners. Reflecting over the past month, I picture grandparents with their grandchildren in tow at daily Mass, the Day Chapel full during Eucharistic Adoration, the Main Church packed with an entire primary school for Mass, and a bus loaded with chattering parishioners on pilgrimage to Knock. I can just smell the sumptuous Friday lunches hosted by Fr. Denis, the glorious meals at Cistín Eile, and the briny sea air down by the quays. As I train for the upcoming Dublin Marathon, I get to see Ireland’s famous rolling green hills shrouded in mist each morning, breathtaking sunrises, sprawling farmlands, and the sun sparkling on the waters of the River Slaney. Through my longer training runs, I find myself in the thick of the Irish countryside, my legs pricked with occasional nettle stings and my heart almost unbearably full of joy and wonder at the grandeur of God and the incredible fortune of my new life in Ireland.

When I think of this last month, I hear a haunting, mournful tune on the timber flute for a Requiem Mass in the Main Church, raucous laughter at morning tea with “The Tea Ladies,” exuberant singing and instrument playing during party music sessions, the soft rustle of rosary beads before daily Mass. I see glorious sunlight streaming through the stained glass Annunciation window in the Day Chapel, and the growing familiarity of the faces that surround us each day. These small yet magnificent moments of everyday sanctity are beginning to coalesce into a more complete picture of our lives here in Ireland, and have caused my heart to swell more than I thought was possible.

There is so much to be grateful for already, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings–especially the upcoming combined Teach Bhríde Commissioning/Clonard’s 40th Anniversary Mass on October 18th! Papal nuncio to Ireland and fellow Notre Dame graduate Archbishop Charles Brown will be celebrating with us, so we are eagerly preparing all of the parish’s choirs for this sure-to-be-spectacular liturgy. Please keep us in your prayers, as you remain in ours!

Here are some pictures from the last month, all taken during my marathon training runs:

Misty mornings in the countryside
Misty mornings in the countryside
Sunrise on the quay
Sunrise on the quay
The Raven, a park with forest and beach walking paths
The Raven, a park with forest and beach walking paths
Running in the Irish countryside
Tranquil pond in the countryside
Sunrise over the ocean
Sunrise over the ocean