Fifth Sunday of the Year
Induction of Fr. Frank McManus,
7 February 2015
St. Joseph’s Ederney 6.15pm.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Mary was the mother of four children. She was also running two small businesses. She served on several local committees. She was a generous person who liked helping others, always on the go. By the time she got home in the evening she was usually too tired for anything but sleep. She liked to see herself as a successful and fulfilled woman. Eventually the whole effort took its toll. She had a breakdown and her world collapsed around her. It took her a long time to pull herself from the pit of depression which followed.
She wanted to be successful in life. In the process, she somehow lost herself. It’s easy for us to lose ourselves in our jobs, and maybe especially in what are called good jobs in which we provide a service for others. The mistake we often make is that we fail to take care of ourselves. Listening again to the gospel passage of today’s Mass, the sentences are packed with action – healing the sick, casting out devils, dealing with impatient companions and travelling about. Then we are told “Early in the morning, Jesus got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place to pray”. Was it that he could not live a life of feverish activity and self-giving, without standing back from time to time to seek strength in solitude and prayer? Is this the secret of successful ministry? It cannot be all output and no input. Mother Teresa put it simply “if you want a lamp to keep burning you must keep on putting oil into it. We can become like tall trees with shallow roots and there trees are very vulnerable when the storm strikes.
We need breathing space, a chance to recover lost energy, physical, mental and spiritual. Prayer is basically conversation and conversation can help us to think and reflect on things. It helps us establish strong and intimate relationships with God and with one another. Generous people are often more likely to fall into the activity trap than the selfish. Helder Camara, the modern Brazilin bishop and martyr cautioned us that our reluctance to leave work and activities for a lonely place may be due to fear. We may not want to look at ourselves too closely because we may not like what we see.
Merely to reflect whatever in grief or joy on the passage of time, on the transition of our lives and undertakings, is a kind of purification, and a test as well. In quiet and stillness, our projects can cease to enslave us and we can better see what is truly worthwhile. In stillness, we can grow like corn in the night. The French writer, Albert Camus, tells us, “The essential thing is not to lose oneself.” Certain kinds of work can dry up our minds and hearts and suck the life out of the human being. We need to seek out God from time to time and put before him our lives and struggles. This kind of conversation is life-giving and life-enriching. Lech Walesa, the Polish leader, says “I go to church every Sunday. We need these moments of stopping and paying attention to ourselves.”
Once a man was riding a galloping horse. As the horse and rider thundered past, an old farmer standing at a gate called out, “where are you going?” “Don’t ask me, ask the horse”, the man yelled as he passed by. We don’t want to end up like that, out of control. It is not a good way to live to have some power get into us which drives us along in such a way that we do not know if we are coming or going. If we reach this point, too much activities in our life may have become a disease. We may need healing.
For the last seven years you, the people of Cúl Máine, have had the relaxed ministry of Fr. Brendan Gallagher to save you from this disease. After short spells in St. Macartan’s College and St. Michael’s College, and after working as a curate in Clones and in Enniskillen, Fr. Gallagher came here as your Parish Priest until last September when he requested sabbatical leave to spend some time in prayer and reflection. It was a happy marriage. He was very happy to be here and in turn was much loved by the people of this parish. His gentleness and kindness and his many other fine qualities were greatly appreciated. He gave you a generous service and it would be wrong of me to leave here and not to acknowledge this on your behalf and on my own. When I met him recently, I was delighted to find him feeling renewed and refreshed and able to say that he had benefitted greatly from his time apart. I know you will join me in sending him our very best wishes.
I have come among you this evening, to bring you a new voice and a new face. Fr. Frank McManus is a Fermanagh man and proud to be so. He began his ministry in Monaghan town after ordination in 1986. He then went to the parish of Errigal Truagh in North Monaghan and, after a sabbatical in 2002/2003, he served in the Parish of Magh Ene (Bundoran), residing in what is referred to as the Rock in Ballyshannon. After eleven years of service he left the Atlantic waves behind as he made his way eastwards and up the Erne waterway.
I know he is very happy to be here and considers himself fortunate to have the privilege of serving such a friendly and welcoming group of parishioners. I know he will serve you well; he is conscientious and takes his responsibilities seriously. He will take an interest in your children, will work for the enrichment of their lives, will take an interest in all things traditional and has been known to kick a football and use a slioter with some dexterity. The custom of co-operation between this parish and Pettigo will continue and is necessary by way of support to Lough Derg. I know you will look after Fr. McManus without spoiling him. In times of scarcity, like the present, you would be foolish not to look after your priest and not to encourage the young to give serious thought to taking up where the likes of the late Fr. Tom Breen left off. We need more priests. But for the moment, I am glad to leave a happy and contented native son of Fermanagh to minister to you before God. May God himself give him health and energy in his work and may he be the channel to you of many of God’s graces. I invite Fr. Frank now to come forward and formally accept this new appointment.
+Liam S. MacDaid
Bishop of Clogher
7 February 2015