Looking back on 2018
The year has flown by and it seems to have been book-ended by storms and some ‘never-ending’ strains of ‘flu bugs! Thank God, we were safe in the terrible storms that heralded January 2018 and came again during the year. The wind was ‘mighty’ as we say in Mayo! We had no heating or hot water for a few days and lost some beautiful lime trees in the storms. We remain very much aware of the pressure on all who work the land and who serve in the emergency services. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those suffering from extreme weather of all kinds.
Pope Francis reminds us that: ‘The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, God’s boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God’ ‘Environmental problems are global but the solutions are local’’ We can all make a difference. This year we have cut down on all chemical cleaning agents. Vinegar, bread soda and lemon, in varying proportions, make excellent sink, counter top and even toilet cleaners. They are hygienic, non-toxic and they work so well!
The various storms of life – natural, political, and social, appear to over-whelm humanity at times. The less our world believes in God the darker everything seems to become. We could not believe that we would live to see abortion accepted in our Country. We thank all those who spent themselves in working and praying for a ‘No’ vote in a Referendum marked by one-sided media attention and bias. We cannot judge others, but:
“When society is willing to kill its own future citizens it has no future .”
Yet, Jesus, whose light can shine into any darkness, and who offers hope to the hopeless, also offers a future for the futureless and Mercy to all.
On Good Shepherd Sunday, (22nd. of April) we had the great joy of the First Profession of Sr. Elizabeth of the Good Shepherd (Gillan). Sister’s immediate family and Fr. Michael McGoldrick, ocd, Provincial, joined us for a beautiful Liturgy of the Eucharist and Profession Ceremony.
Take Lord, receive / All is yours now / You have given all to me /
Now I return it / give me only your love and your grace / that’s enough for me’
These words of John Foley’s hymn echo in our hearts and we give thanks for God’s call to Sr. Elizabeth and her generous response. It was a wonderful day in every way – Alleluia!
The Summer heatwave was a welcome change from the rain and damp in Knock! It brought picnics, lavender harvesting and homemade elderflower cordial which, diluted and chilled, proved a great thirst-quencher! Our herbalist is passing on her skills to the next generation. It was a sight to behold to see large, freshly cut, marigolds ‘brewing’ in the breakfast mugs of the very brave! Praise God for the beauty of creation and the gift of those who know how to use nature’s bounty!
Earlier in the year our web site had received a ’new look’ by the kindness and hard work
of Patrick McNamara and his team (especially Jack Crowley) at www.terrieragency.com
We could never sing their praises enough.
They took two of us under their expert care as we found our way around WordPress
and they were always only an email away when we made mistakes.
Thank you Patrick and Jack, you are the best!
The great event of the year was, of course, the visit of Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. This was a week-long event and some of our Sisters went up for a day to help with the Carmelite stand at the large venue in Dublin and were inspired by so many enthusiastic people ‘thirsting’ for ‘Good News’. A short video of Sr. Olivia and her mother, Frances, was shown (with other videos on various aspects of Family.) This video clip has been viewed many times on our website in the Vocation news section.
The World Meeting of Families brought many people from around the world together to share on what being a Christian Family means today and the workshops and testimonies inspired and nourished so many. The presence of Pope Francis was appreciated at both formal and informal events. The visit of Pope Francis was to be kept to Dublin. However, the ‘powers-that-be’ reckoned without our Fr. Richard Gibbons – parish priest and Administrator of Knock Shrine. He, and Archbishop Michael Neary, showed that the ‘West’s Awake’ in more ways than one!
We ourselves were overjoyed with the visit of Pope Francis to Knock. When the great day came we headed out at 6am, in the dark and rain, to go just a short walk to await him. He received a loving welcome from the large crowd. His silent prayer at the Apparition Chapel was very moving. Here, he prayed for all who have been hurt by abuse of any nature from the Church and for the faithful who feel betrayed by all the scandals. Our hearts are with all who are hurting and with Pope Francis, who leads us, and all who will listen, to be a poor and repentant people knowing our need for and our need to give Mercy.
Even being wet to the skin for hours could not dampen our spirits – we have memories to last a lifetime. Some of our joy at the visit of Pope Francis was caught by the T.V. cameras! What was the surprise of a brother of one of our sisters, (who happened to be in Dubai,) when he tuned in to check how Pope Francis’ visit in Ireland was going, only to see the beaming face of his own Carmelite sister being interviewed on television at that very moment! It was a great joy that the relics of a saintly family -Sts. Louis and Zèlie Martin and their famous daughter St. Therese were present at the closing Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Dublin.
We were blessed by the wisdom, spirituality, humanity and by no
means least, the good humour of many people through out the year.
However, ‘Data Protection’ has us so confused that we don’t think we
can name them unless we get their permission in writing!
– You know who you are and we thank you from our hearts.
The Lord seemed to choose 2018 to call many dear friends home to heaven. Just after the Easter Vigil ceremony we heard that John Aldridge, our musical mentor extraordinaire, had died. He had been music director at Knock Shrine for many years and gladly shared his gifts with us. We will miss him and his wife Marianne, who followed him home to the Lord within a few weeks – she had been ill for a long time.
We were devastated to hear of the sudden death of our beloved friend, and former curate, Fr. Patrick Burke – he was only 38 years old. Fr. Patrick was an exceptional friend and priest who showed kindness, compassion and a genuine care for all he met. Just weeks before his death he had joined in the joy we all shared at the ordination of Fr. Gerard Quirke, for the Tuam Diocese.
Fr. Kevin Scallan, (who founded the Intercession for Priests Movement and worked with Sr. Breege McKenna), also died around the same time. May they, our deceased Carmelite brothers and sisters, (especially our valued friend Fr. Jimmy McCaffery, O.C.D.) and all those we knew and loved rest in the peace of the Risen Lord.
We enjoy the beauty and freedom of our wild and boggy acres and our love and delight in nature is well known. This year we had a ‘Cow-gate’ alert! After the storms we had to move some fences back a little. The cattle found loopholes and made their merry way out into the paths. With our stalwart gardener absent it was up to the sister in charge of the grounds to ‘sort it out fast’! The said sister was with our visiting IT and machine expert, Stewart, when the S.O.S. arrived and, nothing daunted, (and his new pair of shoes ignored), they went on a mission – if only we could have filmed it! They ran through bog up to their ankles herding the very frisky cattle. After getting some of them back into the field others made a run for it. But, at last, two very wet and exhausted souls arrived back to base exhilarated by the adventure!
We were delighted to have a visit from Sr. Josephine of Haifa Carmel and Sr. Victoire of the Pater Noster Carmel In Jerusalem, who were staying in Roebuck Carmel, Dublin. They, like Sr. Teresita from Nazareth Carmel with us in Knock, had came to improve their English in order to teach it to their communities in the Holy Land. We had a real ‘United Nations.’ Sr. Josephine, originally from Mali, Africa, Sr. Victoire from Madagascar, and Sr. Teresita from Peru – have all left their native homes to serve Carmel in the Holy Land. We sang and danced, played the drum, prayed the Our Father in our native tongues for each other as well as in French, Hebrew and Arabic. We did not want it to end – a foretaste of heaven!