Manor House Hotel
1 December 2013
Presentation to Mgr. Richard Mohan
Retiring Prior of Lough Derg
My dear friends,
We are very fortunate to have such a beautiful scenic place in Co. Fermanagh in which we could gather. We are very fortunate to have the comfort and elegance of the Manor House. We are very fortunate to have the warmth of good company. There is a time for feasting and a time for fasting.
If we finished our journey in comfort, it was austerity that drew us in this direction. It was the pull of a penitential place, a sacred space made so by those who lived long before us, those who are reputed to have made their way here to pray, to feel the presence of the Holy One and to strengthen their will through fasting and penance. They opened a trail, and a path always suggests that there is treasure to be found at the end of the line. We, due to the time of our birth and other circumstance, became the caretakers and the gold-diggers of the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century.
What really brought Mgr Mohan (or indeed myself) here? I never found the answer. It may have been as simple as a letter or nod or puff of Bishop Mulligan’s pipe. Once when
Mgr Mohan had emptied his considerable vocabulary in the dean’s office on an offending student, the young offender stated confidently – “That’s what I needed, Father! A good spiff”. I do believe the young fellow ended up in jail. If certain other students had their way Mgr Mohan and myself would have been given plenty of time for contemplation in neighbouring cells. Maybe Bishop Mulligan knew what he was doing, and that medication stronger than a good spiff was required.
Is ait an mac an saol. The folly of youth can become the wisdom of age. Our mistakes can save us from arrogance, and our need for divine assistance can move us to take off our boots and test skin and bone on stone. Most of us have done that and have been enriched by it. Many others of you have had a different involvement and have worked here. You may have enjoyed the camaraderie of youth and may have been fortunate enough to see God’s grace at work.
It was an exceptional mark of recognition for Lough Derg to be chosen by Pope Benedict XV1 as the place where his Legate, Cardinal Ouellet, and his Nuncio Archbishop Brown, would come to meet victims of clerical abuse and to listen and apologise to them in the Pope’s name. It was an appropriate honour for Lough Derg to host this event because the island stones covered centuries of tradition, prayer and healing. Many hands and feet had shaped this soil.
That is why we are gathered here. One of the gaffers has hung up his boots. It was no shame to them, they were well worn. Mgr Mohan had completed a substantial apprenticeship before his appointment as Prior. He had many wet days and humid evenings to reflect on pilgrims’ needs and on how the environment could be enhanced to better reflect God’s glory. During his reign, cleanliness and efficiency were enhanced. Bins were emptied, taps sparkled, and staff smiled.
Young people took over the basilica. Prayers were worked over, with bible and dictionary, until they became classics of their kind. Hymn sheets were gilded by young voices. Woman nudged unsuspecting men off traditional perches and made announcements with an authority which would not have been out of place in their own kitchen. Adoration took new forms and tough men wilted and swooned. Even bishops failed to revive some of them. The liturgy was transformed and the congregation sang while the concelebrants did what they were told.
Thank you for your photographic tour Mary; it is a worthy catalogue of work, progress and achievement. The mediation of God’s grace which the island dispenses has been greatly expanded outside the main pilgrimage season and an opportunity given to people to whom it was not previously accessible to set foot on the island. Counselling and discussion sessions left room for healing and for deepening our understanding of the faith. One could modestly say it was a period of exceptional growth and development.
Fr. McEneaney, this treasure from our past is now entrusted to your hands. We have every confidence in you. You will have the benefit of our help and the support of our prayers and we pray especially for your health and strength. It is my great pleasure now to stand aside while Trina will make a presentation to Mgr Mohan. Wherever he wandered on the island he always seemed to find his way back to St. Brigid’s Cross. Was it the World, the Flesh or the Devil? They say heaven for the climate and hell for the company. Mgr Mohan you don’t have to choose. Thanks to the wood carving of Ronan Lowery of Belleek you can have all three, and take your pick.
You have left behind you a legacy that anyone could be proud of. May God continue to bless your endeavours and may the next phase of your life be as fruitful as the last.
+Liam S. MacDaid
1 December 2013