Committing to Vulnerability

House of Brigid Dublin at Kylemore Abbey
House of Brigid Dublin at Kylemore Abbey

One of the best parts of working at the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason is the variability of the work we do. Not only are we developing projects, singing in two ensembles, and event planning, but we also have many opportunities to travel in our work. Since arriving in August, we have gone to Lourdes, France on pilgrimage with the Archdiocese of Dublin, Wexford and Our Lady’s Island to visit the Wexford House of Brigid community, and Kylemore Abbey to participate in liturgy at the Gothic Church.

I am a person who appreciates the chance to try new things, and I have certainly had my work cut out for me in that respect. Living in community, planning a retreat for secondary students, and even learning about sound engineering have all been exciting new adventures.

When I consider all of this newness and the time-consuming nature of the work I do, it has been particularly important for me to take time for myself to assess the spiritual and emotional side of my transition from student life in America to working in the Irish Catholic sphere. Fortunately, I have been highly encouraged to do so. As a member of Teach Bhríde, I am expected to enter into spiritual companionship during my time in Dublin. Simply put, spiritual companionship involves meeting with a trained Catholic individual who helps you explore your relationship with God and find where He is working in your life. These are deeply personal topics to discuss, and I will admit that the level of honesty and vulnerability required for such discussions strikes me as a bit daunting. Even a year ago I would not have felt comfortable in such a situation.

But funnily enough, an idea recently caught my attention and led me to realize how much spiritual companionship could add to my life. It was the Jesuit concept of seeking to “find God in all things.” As soon as I heard that phrase last winter, something clicked. Immediately I thought of my ongoing attempt to increase my trust in God and His plan, and I knew that the more time I spent deliberately searching for Him in both the mundane and extraordinary, the more I would find Him and the more I would trust Him.

House of Brigid Dublin in Lourdes, France
House of Brigid Dublin in Lourdes, France

Now that I am finally here in Ireland, after half a year of preparation, I find myself willing to be vulnerable in the way that spiritual companionship demands. I am increasingly excited by the opportunity to share with another person the ways I have witnessed God’s work, and I look forward to finding a deeper appreciation and gratitude for it.

~Caitlin

 

A Daring God

It’s a dirty trick: the Church’s putting the Magnificat at evening prayer. It’s an examination of conscience thinly disguised as praise. An examination of conscience that is more a birthing of God in the soul, a raising of the soul to the perception of the divine around me. It’s a dirty trick because the evening isn’t when I want to be making God bigger by shrinking the divine into my heart and being.

I want God to leave me alone, to come back in the morning with encouragement and summoning so I can get up and make the walk in the misty cold to the church to join in the Rosary, to let the hurried rhythms of men and women whose devotional prayer doesn’t quite

God dared with Curracloe Beach.
God dared with Curracloe Beach.

fit into the time allotted for it—a prayer that takes nearly as long as the daily Mass that follows—fill me with repeated words about God being with Mary and filling her with grace. The mist stings my face and opens my pores. Ireland at that time of day seems bent on impregnating the spirit with the that of God, the particularity of holiness. It’s God’s smallness-bigness. God’s with me personally, but so too you. So too everyone.

But in the evening, God’s smallness-bigness isn’t what I want to be thinking about. I want to curl up with Proust and let his wordiness drown out the pulsating silence at the core of myself. At the strike of five, for reasons that have escaped me, I still pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I see the little red book sitting there and I think, “It won’t hurt per se,” despite my knowing that prayer is often a slap in the face. The Irish have a tendency to refer to people without naming them as “himself” or “herself.” If I don’t pray, I feel God saying, in a joking way, “And where is himself tonight?” (God has an Irish accent, of course.) Himself, I should think, is trying to figure out why his right hand doesn’t play that one chord progression correctly in a hymn that’s looming over his life. The call to prayer interrupts my brooding. How dare it?

The Magnificat tells about the creation God is continuously bringing about. Readers of this blog know well what it says. In my context here in Clonard in Wexford Town in the Diocese of Ferns in County Wexford in Leinster in the Republic of Ireland in Europe on Earth, God is creating deeply daily. There are relationships years old that flower into brightness amidst the weather’s near-constant grayness. And in that way the Irish do so well, those relationships have a sort of abhorring-a-vacuum tendency. They step in and ask the right questions, assuring that “Ah sure, you sang beautifully, hon.” Tea in

Sometimes people dare to create something beautiful: a landscape, a friendship.
Sometimes people dare to create something beautiful: a landscape, a friendship.

the morning after Mass is a sacrosanct time of companionship and love, the stuff of the sacred, coupled with off-color remarks about whatever and slagging, the stuff of the profane. Monsignor Denis Lennon, the parish priest here in Clonard, always says that “the sacred and the social should never be separated.” Communion is a meal of sacrificial love writ in earth-shaking terms and the tea that follows is a breaking of Digestive biscuits for the same reason: a faith that unites in trial needs some sweetness to fill its depths. So too does praying fill the mind with thoughts of the greater things, waking the heart from malaise. How dare it?

The poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama, who engaged me in a much-needed Facebook message chat at the beginning of my time here in Ireland, often speaks of a phrase about trust from West Kerry, “Mo sheasamh ort lá na choise tinne.” Which he translates as “You are the place where I stand on the day when my feet are sore.” Amidst the overwhelming nature of being in a country not my own, my feet are starting to find that they’re resting on the comfortable love of a community that Gets It. God sometimes seems a shaky foundation to rest one’s feet on. The divine feels slippery sometimes: elusive, distant, cold, or worse, busy.  God’s busy all right: busy not waiting for my ranting and raving to stop, rudely bursting in when I’ve reached pointless concern for minutiae. I’ve started to get the sneaking suspicion that it is not my prayer magnifying God at all, but God who is magnifying me. I don’t shrink God; God enlarges me. My human smallness is very, very small, but in the community I’ve entered in Wexford, the love is bigger than smallness, laying waste to whatever could get me down. How dare it?

So I’ll keep praying evening prayer every night, let it interrupt my brooding. Why? God dares and, thankfully, God magnifies.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I have had the good fortune to journey to Ireland three times in my life, all within the last two years. I first made my way to the Emerald Isle in September 2015 when I studied at Trinity College Dublin for a semester. My second trip was the following May with the Notre Dame Folk Choir on its Scotland/Ireland Tour. And now I find myself back in Dublin for Teach Bhríde to live my faith.

When I came to study at Trinity I was excited and uncertain. After all, I had fallen in love with Ireland before I’d ever stepped foot in it thanks to books I’d read, classes I’d taken, and the knowledge that at some point my family had lived there. Would it live up to the grandiose expectations I constructed in my head? I was nervous it wouldn’t. I need not have worried. My first experience with Ireland only cemented its place in my heart. I found a family when I came to Ireland, both in the literal and figurative sense: I tracked down relatives who still live in Donegal and I formed friendships with people who feel more like siblings. To a certain extent, I met and even exceeded my expectations. But still I craved more from my Irish experience. To put it simply, I never wanted to leave. But leave I did, though I knew I would return with Folk Choir.

When I came with the Folk Choir I was once again excited, but for a different reason. Here was my chance to introduce people I loved to a place I loved. There was no trepidation this time—only joy. I got to explore new parts of Ireland with my best friends and then I eagerly showed them the city where I spent three glorious months studying. Once again, my love for Ireland grew. I was content knowing that I returned to Ireland, though I still wished for more time in this magical place. This time, when I left I did not know if I would ever make it back. To my unending joy, I was given the opportunity to enter into ministry for two years in Ireland. Part of me could not believe that I was going back to the place that had so quickly become so important to me.

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When the plane touched down in Dublin Airport on August 23 I was filled with that same overwhelming feeling of excitement and joy I experienced when I first traveled to Dublin two years ago. Just like my journey with Folk Choir, though, it differed. This time I felt like I was home. And it is my home for the next two years as I work as a member of Teach Bhríde. It will continue to be my home long after I’ve left. Just as before, I’ve found a family of sorts in the people I work with and the people I’ve come to meet through this experience. Caitlin, Ben, Steve, Michele, Fr. Bill, Fr. Fergal, the choirs and staff at Newman Church, and the wonderful people at O’Connell House—I’ve known some people longer than others thanks to my time at Trinity and at Notre Dame and there are many people I’ve just met, but together they make up the fabric that will be my life in Dublin. Ireland has my heart and I’m excited to see where my newest journey takes me.

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~Kelly

Finding God in Dehydration

“Finding God in Dehydration” is, admittedly, an extremely cliché title and the rest of the post, you’ll find, follows suit. The thing is, that’s what my life has felt like for the past few weeks. Coming to Wexford for House of Brigid, I thought I knew fairly well what I was getting myself into because I knew the country from studying abroad in Maynooth, Ireland for six months. Maynooth is very different from Wexford and going to college there was very different than living in community and working for a parish. I thought I was going to feel immediately at home coming back to Ireland. Sure, I had some fears —all of us did— but I did not think that I would struggle to adjust.

After a week or so, I realized that I was getting sick. I was really dehydrated which led to a lot of other issues. Without getting into detail, I had to miss working at the church for a few days to try and figure out what was wrong with me. For some reason, I still decided not to drink a lot of water (because it tastes bad in Wexford). 

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Accurate representation of me this week (dehydrated)

It culminated this weekend when the parish team started getting fairly concerned and asked repeatedly if I needed to see a doctor. As the stubborn person that I am, not willing to spend money on a doctor when I knew that I was just dehydrated, I declined. I at least wanted to wait until Monday to see if it got better and I could go to the closer doctor in Clonard. I figured that it would all be fine eventually.

I thought each night that I would be fine the next morning. Each morning, I apologized that I could not go to work or had to miss part of the day because I was still sick. I missed the parish and the routine that I had set for myself. It was the little things, like saying hi to people on the way in, and the big things, like the often-chaotic tea ladies.

*Before I forget, I have made a twitter account to document the hilarious things that the Tea Ladies say each morning. In case you don’t know who these fantastic women are, they’re the group of older women that meet for tea after 10 AM mass. They’re hysterical, hold nothing back, and are the backbone of the parish. You won’t regret it. @WexTeaLadies Alright, now I can go on.*

Being sick culminated on Monday when things got really bad and the debate was whether to go to the hospital or to the doctor. Sister Mary, Knower of All Things and also a nurse, took me to the doctor and by the end of the day on Monday I was sort of back to normal. The rest of this week has been a whole lot of drinking tap water, finding purified water, and learning what I can eat again.

This whole experience taught me many things, which make me glad to have gone through it (sort of). It was a wake up call about the importance of taking care of myself. More importantly, it showed me the support system that I have here in Clonard. For almost a whole week, one of the priests or Sister Mary would send me a text or try to find out from one of the community members how I was feeling. My fellow community members constantly asked if they could help in any way and were there to hear about often-unnecessary details that I told them. Besides the system I have here, I was able to clearly recognize how my support system from home would work out. Although waiting for everyone to wake up in America is really hard, I realized my support system there had never left. I was still talking to people about as often as I would if I were home. I may have missed two Notre Dame Band, oh wait I meant football, weekends, but that means I only have five more weekends to feel like I’m missing out.

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Also an accurate description of my week, trying to walk to see the #greatviews but getting poured and then retreating (Thanks, Sara for catching me at my most glamorous moments)

All of these things I would have figured out at some point, but I think I needed to be made aware of them in a fairly harsh fashion. As I sit in my bed still recovering days later, thinking about all of the healthy food I will be eating along with the water I will continuously be drinking, I suffer from a mild stomach-ache and a knowledge that I am where I need to be.

~Maureen

Our Father

When I was a little boy, let’s say five years old, I was walking out after mass at North American Martyrs Church in Lincoln, Nebraska when I reached up to grab my dad’s hand with the hope of being led through the crowd. I grabbed the hand next to me only to look up and realize that the man whose hand I was holding was not my father and my father was nowhere to be seen. I was filled with a sudden dread. Not only was I without my father but here I was holding the hand of a complete stranger. I had become a lost child, a unique state in which my entire being was united towards a singular desire: to find my dad.

Fast forward 17 years and I’ve been spending the last two weeks exploring Dublin, Ireland. Kelly Koerwer, Caitlin Delatte, and I are the House of Brigid fellows for the 2017-2018 year and are two weeks into our ten month stay. In that time we have walked around many areas of Dublin, from tourist central Temple Bar to the streets surrounding our neighborhood Dolphin’s Barn. We have hiked trails along the coastline in Howth, partaken in the fantastic dining and night-life of Dublin, and begun work at the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason. It has been a whirlwind of action, each day presenting new excitements and new challenges. We had to learn how to do our jobs,  learn how to get to work each morning, learn where to get groceries, and learn about each other.

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It was in the midst of this that I began to feel something familiar: I felt lost. Despite being surrounded by great people doing great work in a great city, I didn’t feel great. I missed my family and friends and began to have doubts about why I was in Ireland at all. Much like my five year old self I reached out to find a hand to hold. Luckily, I found plenty of helping hands. There was Father Bill Dailey, C.S.C who made us feel welcome from the start in the finest of fashions. There were Steve and Michele Warner who have spent hours before and after our arrival to include us and make us feel at home. There was Father Fergal, the pastor at the neighboring Dolphin’s Barn Church, who has done more things for our house than we could ever repay him for. But much like the old man whose kind face did nothing to calm my childhood fear, these incredibly kind people couldn’t eliminate my feeling of being lost.

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I didn’t realize what was really going on until we were all at the 1:05pm daily mass and Father Bill read the opening antiphon. It was the opening lines from Psalm 27, the biblical passage most dear to me: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge, of whom shall I be afraid?” At that very moment I realized something important. I had been a lost child. I was not a lost adult who needed to pull up Google Maps so as to find my way. No, I was a lost child who needed to find my Father. When I was five years old, my dad was never actually far away. He found me in my panic, scooped me up, and all was well. Now that I am 22, I am not afraid to admit that without God the Father I had fell into a sort of panic. I had forgotten that he was never actually far away. Eventually, He saw me in my panic and spoke to me in words I could recognize as His. He scooped me up and all was well. When the ‘Our Father’ came in the mass, I spoke it as if I was embracing Him, consumed by nothing other than the joy of being in His arms. I am sure as the rest of this year moves forward there will come times when I will lose myself again, forget God’s presence, and forget God’s love. But I know that I am His child and He is my Father. He will never let me be lost for long.

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The Little Things that Last

Greetings from Wexford, Ireland! The ninth year of House of Brigid is officially in motion, and what an excellent year it will be! Over the course of the past couple weeks, the seven of us have prepared for and started settling in our respective homes in Dublin and Wexford. During our orientation, we were guided by the fabulous Marianne in very helpful seminars that led us into deeper conversation and prayer about our upcoming adventure! I particularly loved our Meyers-Briggs Personality Workshop! We had the honor of dining with the wonderful John & Ann Calcutt and Chuck Lamphier, who are great support systems for us! We even had the chance to collectively go outside and admire the solar eclipse (not directly, of course).  As I look back at our time together before our plane departed, I can say with certainty that this year will be one like no other. There is so much talent, eagerness to serve, flexibility, openness, and hope within the hearts of this new Teach Bhride fellowship.

As a former Teach House Bhride Director once relayed to me, “coming back, even after living in Ireland for a year, actually feels like coming home.” These words resonated with me when I first heard them, and they certainly echoed in my head, bright and early on August 23rd, as our Wexford bus hit the sweet town. A year is a long time to live in a city, but time really does fly. But instead of some romanticized, epic feeling when reuniting with the Irish streets, I was filled with a sense of normalcy, of familiarity, which comforted me and brought back so many memories. It was like I never left. A second year in Ireland will not only be a great gift to me, but a chance to not let this precious time go by –  to savor and enjoy the little moments! I’m not always one for habit or routine, but strangely enough, I found myself deeply missing this home that I had here in Wexford, so falling back into that lovely Irish rhythm is really something to celebrate.

 

Some things that I loved last year and look forward to this year include, but are not limited to:

-Walking: Having a car in the US is a great privilege that I severely missed in Ireland last year, but for some reason, Wexford makes me want to walk. I love wandering in this town.

-The stained-glass window in the day chapel: Walking into that chapel and sitting in the front pews as the colors rest on you…it’s one of the best things.

-Main street: The four of us walking around the town and looking at the many shops, seeing people you know occasionally on the streets, getting a coffee, reading in the Book Centre…. Etc. The life on that little street can be so energizing!wexford main street

-Hydrangea flowers everywhere! I remember thinking to myself last year, “Is it coincidence that my favorite flower happens to be in almost every Irish persons’ front garden?” Upon arrival this year, I was surprised to see that four new hydrangea plants were nestled in our backyard. 😊

-Tea Time! The pace and insanity of this group remains the same. Experiencing this ritual for a second time has already filled me with such great joy. Not only do I look forward to this time, but I love seeing the way my new three community members interpret, react, and engage in this very lively and entertaining dynamic.

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My Teach Bhride fellows are simply fantastic! I feel honored to be with them as we grow and learn from each other, and each one of them has so much to give. Even within our first week at Clonard Church, I can tell the parishioners are already impressed with their friendliness and candor. Most of our time has been spent organizing our new office space; what was once Sr. Mary’s office is now Teach Bhride’s. We still have a lot to set into place and prepare for as our schools will be starting within the next couple days. While I truly admire my new teammates, I cannot help but also miss my previous three community members greatly. (Alex, Megan and Madeline, come visit?!) I look to the past and the future with so much gratitude. I’m grateful not only for what I’ve learned, but for the chance to learn more and more! Please keep our communities, both in Wexford and Dublin, in your prayers as we continue our mission, while serving and learning on the go!

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-Bernadette

 

 

Slán Go Fóill!

It’s Biz here with one last post from House of Brigid Dublin this year!

Emma and Geoff have both left the house and so it’s me going solo for the next few weeks in Harolds Cross. The past few weeks have been filled with teary goodbyes to them and to our lovely little home and community here in Dublin.

I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to goodbyes so I’ve shed quite a lot of tears watching each of us leave one by one. And the fact that I have to say goodbye myself in just a few weeks breaks my heart.

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My family here in Ireland

But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s not a “goodbye.” It’s a “see you later.” It’s a “goodbye for now,” which translates into one of my favorite Irish phrases I’ve learned this year, “Slán go fóill!” I love it because it reminds me that even though these goodbyes are painful and sad, it’s only a goodbye for the time being. I’ll always have the friendships and relationships from this year in Ireland. And I’ll always be able to call Harolds Cross my home. I know I’ll be back to visit soon enough and who knows, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to live in Ireland again!

I just wanted to take a moment to thank each one of you who has prayed for and supported us this year both in the States and in Ireland.  It’s been such a spectacular year full of laughs, adventures, prayer, and growth. I’m so grateful that I was given this amazing opportunity to make a home here in Ireland. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Know that you will be in my prayers always.

Slán agus beannacht,

Biz

jIsajAt
Words of wisdom from my favorite childhood bear

Hope in a Broken World

“Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see.”

-Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

Yeah, the Easter Holiday was pretty magical (Assisi, Italy).
The Easter Holiday was pretty magical (Assisi, Italy).

Time has been flying by here in Wexford. In the last month we’ve returned from Easter holidays, coordinated 4 retreats for our Confirmation students, 2 First Confession services, 2 Confirmation liturgies, 3 First Communion liturgies, participated in a week-long parish pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, and sadly had to say goodbye to Megan as she returned to the US to begin her graduate studies in education. Around the corner is the celebration of Fr. Denis’ 50th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood as well as a live-to-TV nationally broadcast Mass with the Clonard Folk Choir on RTÉ.

Phew.

It’s often hard for these moments not to blur together in my mind. There’s so much going on, you move from one event to the other wondering where the time has gone, and then the opportunity to dwell and reflect upon these experiences passes. But then a group of 50 eight-year-olds in tiny suit jackets and dresses sing-shouts a song about the Last Supper as they receive the Body of Christ for the first time:

Before His death, Jesus surrendered Himself, pouring out His life for all, giving hope to a broken world.”

If this past month has shown me anything, it’s that God continues to provide the same hope to this broken world that He gave to it in the sacrifice of His Son. We live in both turbulent times –  matters of social injustice, terrorism, and unrest – and divisive times – differing views on politics, religion, and social standards. As Christians who live in the promise of Christ’s return and the glorious peace of the Kingdom, it can be hard to hold onto the hope of Jesus’ death and resurrection in light of the darkness our world experiences today.

How does Teach Bhride - Wexford escape the world for a little bit? By hiking in the Pyrenees, of course.
How does Teach Bhride – Wexford escape the world for a little bit? By hiking in the Pyrenees, of course.

But take those 50 students from Kennedy Park at their First Communion, for example. Their sing-shouting was but one example of the wide-eyed curiosity and joy that these children showed Madeline and I all year-long in the classroom and in the church. They were SO excited to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. That’s hope in a broken world.

Rewind a few weeks from there to 4 days worth of Confirmation retreats by the seashore at Ballyvaloo. Prior to these days, we had only been with these students in a classroom setting. For the first time, we got to witness them share in small group discussions, and meditate in prayerful silence. And these boys and girls are twelve years old. That’s hope in a broken world.

Then on their Confirmation day, I sat at the piano as out of the corner of my eye I saw the bishop seal each of them with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. All the while, a choir of 50 students who in January didn’t want to open their mouths were singing “Send Us Your Spirit” and “Lead Me, Lord” with such strength you’d think they wanted to be in a church choir every day. That’s hope in a broken world.

And then there’s Lourdes. My God, Lourdes… I don’t even know where to start. For those who have been there, you know what I mean. For those who haven’t, there is just something about the place. In this little French town nestled in the foothills of the towering Pyrenees is a peace and presence that puts your heart and mind at rest. Sitting by the grotto, maybe with a rosary in hand, as the river Gave de Pau calmly rushes by with a beautiful teal water from the mountains: that’s hope in a broken world.

The Grotto underneath the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception along the Gave de Pau.
The Grotto underneath the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception along the Gave de Pau.

Waiting in line at the baths, the infirmed are brought by wheelchair and even by stretcher from great distances across the globe to be cleansed in the waters of the grotto spring. They come in hope of healing, but also with an understanding of what Our Lady said to St. Bernadette: “I cannot promise you happiness in this life; only in the next.” Yet they persevere. That’s hope in a broken world.

Then every night hundreds to thousands of people gather at the Sanctuary as the sun sets. Following a statue of a Mary, all carry lit candles and recite the rosary in procession around the grounds. Each “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” are said in a myriad of languages, representing the (small ‘c’) catholicity of the crowd that has assembled that night. Then in-between each decade, a hymn is sung. Often it is “Immaculate Mary” (known as “The Bells of the Angelus” in Ireland). Just like the rosary, the verses are sung in a diverse array of languages. But then comes the chorus. United in full heart and voice, a powerful “Ave! Ave! Ave Maria!” erupts throughout the Sanctuary as all elevate their candles into the sky. That’s hope in a broken world.

The nightly Marian Procession at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The nightly Marian Procession at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Days can slip by so quickly just like this past month has shown me. It took the innocent childlike joy of a group of eight-year-olds to snap me out of a daze and pay attention to the world around me. Yes, our world can be dark and troubling. And yes, our lives and experiences can get tiring. But I’ve learned that if I don’t “stop to smell the roses,” I will never be able to recognize the hope in our broken world – the hope and promise of Easter joy, peace, and glory.

Peace,

Alex

How Can I Keep From Singing?

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How can I keep from singing?

Each Saturday around 7:40pm, I look down at Geoff Burdell’s hands.

As we sing the closing hymn, I dart my eyes from Fr. Gerry’s exit to Geoff’s hands. All while harmonizing, we communicate with a fist signaling the end is near or holding up the final verse number. This week, when I signaled a fist, Geoff held up a 3. We went for that final verse.

Have you ever stared a silent, closed-mouth person in the face whilst encouraging them to sing? It’s an awkward, uncomfortable experience for me. So, when Geoff held up that 3, my stomach twisted. Fr. Gerry had left, the congregation wanted to leave, but I was staring at them, encouraging them to pray with us in song for one more verse.

How can I keep from singing?

During college, when I sang the hymn, “How Can I Keep from Singing?”, the thought of not singing in Mass baffled me. Prayer through music brought me joy as it provided a proper expression of the gratitude I felt. It provided a melody to physically manifest the ebbs and flows of life. How could you keep from singing?! In the reality of living among a new community, within a new congregation, and in a new country, this question has been marinating in my mind all year.

We are kept from singing because it lengthens an already “chore” of an experience. We don’t like to sing. We don’t want to sing. We want to go home. We want to have brunch. We want to watch whatever sporting event has already started. We don’t know how to sing or the music is too difficult to follow. Whatever the reason, a once rhetorical question now has many answers.

“Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing. It sounds and echoes in my soul. How can I keep from singing?”

During the Gospel this weekend, if you attend one, two, or four Masses like the Dublin House of Brigid members, you walked on the road to Emmaus. In one of my favorite passages, Catholics are called to ask themselves: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Recognition of joy can start within. Who nurtures your heart? Where do you go to find peace and solace? What makes you laugh and cry with happiness? When does your heart burn within you?

Whether it comes through music or movies, it is a gift to feel joy. As a woman of faith, I am called to understand God as the source of this joy, this love, this burning heart. Much like the two on the road to Emmaus, however, I can alter my vision, and be kept from seeing God. I am kept from singing. In a world of violence, mercilessness, and impatience, it is easier to end the song early. In a world that gives us plenty of reason to doubt our voices, our faith challenges us to sing, to proclaim that death does not have the final word.
When faced with the option, always sing verse 3. How can we keep from singing?

Introducing the Community for Teach Bhride IX

Hey everyone! Bernadette here, updating you on next year’s House of Brigid members! Back in February, I was lucky enough to join Sr. Mary Rowesome, Fr. Barry Larkin and Fr. Bill Dailey back at Notre Dame for the interviews of Teach Bhride candidates. We had an outstanding group of applicants which made the process of discernment so difficult. After some finalizing, we can now announce our group for Teach Bhride IX!

Wexford Community

Jim Corcoran

James Corcoran is a native of Philadelphia, PA. In May, he will be graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Theology. While at Notre Dame, he has been a member of the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir and currently serves as its president. He has been a blogger and copy editor for the Church Life Journal in the McGrath Institute for Church Life. He is also a composer, primarily of liturgical music. Next year, he will serve in Wexford! After his year in Ireland, he will attend Yale Divinity School to receive an MDiv. He is so excited to serve the people of Ireland, to learn about them and their spirituality and grow in his faith. He is also incredibly eager to try rissoles and chips—a Wexford delicacy—which seems like a bit of the heavenly banquet fallen to earth. 

jim

Maureen Daday

Maureen Daday will be graduating from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN with a degree in music with a focus in violin. She is the youngest of six children from an Irish-Catholic family from outside Chicago. Throughout college, her main activity was being part of the marching band at Notre Dame, where she played the marching French horn. She studied abroad in Maynooth, Co. Kildare and is extremely excited at the chance to be back in Ireland!

maureen

Sara Fecko

Sara Fecko grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in a faith-filled family where a love of music ran rampant. Both music and faith have been highly influential in Sara’s life since then, especially during her time at Loyola University Chicago. Sara is studying Music, Chemistry, and Catholic Studies, and will be graduating in May after performing in her senior vocal recital. Sara has been involved in a myriad of musical activities at Loyola including academic choirs, a praise and worship band, and cantoring in Madonna della Strada Chapel. She enjoys spending her free time singing with her quirky, food-loving, all-female a cappella group as well as working on her photography skills. In addition to being a music theory nerd, she loves traveling, spending time with her family, and meeting new people. While studying abroad in Rome, Sara recently learned how to make homemade pasta and can’t wait to share this new-found gift with others! Sara is thrilled to be able to immerse herself in a new culture and explore her faith in a new context by working with Teach Bhríde in Wexford.

sara

Bernadette Smith

Bernadette Smith will be returning to Wexford for a second year as House Director. In 2016, she graduated from Northern Arizona University located in Flagstaff, AZ with a BA in music and a minor in english. She grew up as the oldest and only girl in a very musical and loving family, which shaped her deep love for music and the Catholic faith. She was involved in a variety of musical experiences thus far in her career. She was a violinist in Northern Arizona University’s Symphony, as well as in The Verde Valley Sinfonietta. She served as the Director of Music for the NAU on-campus Newman Center for four years, where she developed her leadership and musical skills in the realm of ministry. She also played violin and vihuela in a Mariachi band! To this day, she loves playing music with friends and/or her younger brothers, whether for masses, weddings, or coffee shops! She is tremendously grateful for the chance to return to Irish life, knowing that God will do something beautiful as she continues to grow through liturgy and faith.

bernadette

 

Dublin

Caitlin DeLatte

Caitlin DeLatte will graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park in May 2017 with degrees in Music and Community Health and a specialization in Health Risk Behavior. She feels truly honored to have this opportunity to serve in Dublin, and looks forward to spiritually fulfilling work and community life with Teach Bhríde. Caitlin grew up in a musical household, with jazz influences from her parents’ New Orleans roots and a personal love of folk music. She has many fond memories of  singing improvised multi-part harmonies from the pews with her family during Mass and playing trumpet at home with her father and brothers. She is very grateful to her parents for instilling in her a love of travel and music, and for encouraging her musical adventures including tours to Austria, Germany, and Italy with the Peabody Children’s Chorus. During her time at the University of Maryland, Caitlin served on the Catholic Student Center Leadership Team with the Women’s Ministry and took part in interfaith committee, community service, and music ministry activities. She looks forward to bringing the lessons she learned from these experiences with her, and is thankful for the chance to grow in faith with the Teach Bhríde community.

caitlin

Kelly Koerwer

Kelly Koerwer will graduate the University of Notre Dame this May with a B.A. in the Program of Liberal Studies and Medieval Studies. She grew up in New Jersey on “The Shore” with her parents, her two brothers, and her sister. She was raised in a faith-filled and musical household where she was encouraged to use music to supplement her faith. Throughout her life she has sung in a variety of liturgical choirs, including the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir. At Notre Dame Kelly lived in Badin Hall and was highly involved as a member of the Liturgical Commission, planning the music for her dorm’s weekly masses. Kelly is absolutely thrilled to continue her Irish journey with House of Brigid. She first visited Ireland in the fall of 2015 when she studied at Trinity College Dublin for a semester and returned last spring for the Folk Choir’s Scotland and Ireland Tour. Kelly looks forward to spending the next two years serving the Catholic Church in a country she has quickly come to love.

kelly

Ben Swanson

Ben Swanson will graduate this coming May from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a theology minor. He studied music and vocal performance for most of his college career but was unable to finish the major. He grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and is blessed to have been raised by a loving mother and father with his six siblings. Ben fell in love with music singing hymns at mass and has pursued music and singing ever since. He was a member of the St. Teresa’s boys choir from a very young age, sang in choir all four years of high school, and has been a member of the Notre Dame Glee Club each year at Notre Dame. Ben loves singing, writing music, his Catholic faith, his friends and family, and Dr. Pepper. Ben is beyond grateful for the chance to bring his love of music to Ireland to serve the people there and spread the joy of God’s gospel.

ben

 

 

What a fantastic group! It’s obvious that in this upcoming year, House of Brigid will be truly blessed with great talent and eager hearts of service. We are immensely thankful that these individuals have pledged themselves to this program and will be contributing their many gifts to the Irish communities. What a promising year we have ahead of us!

As our current year continues and draws to an end soon, we will keep you updated on our latest events and adventures! Be sure to pray for each of the members of Teach Bhride VIII as we near the end of this beautiful time in Ireland.

 

In Christ,

-Bernadette

Catholic young adults serving the Church in Ireland