GOD WALKS WITH YOUNG PEOPLE AS THEY LIVE THEIR DREAMS, FRIENDSHIPS AND CHOICES TODAY.
At a recent Mass celebrated with the students and staff of St Macartan’s College, Monaghan, Bishop Larry Duffy, the new Bishop of Clogher, spoke of his memories as a teenager and what life meant to him. From his reflections on that part of his life, he says that three elements come to mind: dreams, relationships and choices. However, faith in the presence of God on everyone’s journey and the place of family were a huge support to him in all of those elements.
Reflecting on his teenage years, Bishop Duffy said that ‘those were years of dreams, friendship and choices.’
In terms of dreams, ‘it wasn’t a question of me winning one Sam Maguire – it was “how many?”. I was also going to win many caps on the Irish soccer team. I dreamed of being a teacher – maybe even a priest. For sure, whatever my choice, I was going to make a difference, and I was going to do it my way.’
With regard to relationships, he recalled that ‘friends were very important to me; we spent so much time together at football or music. All friendships are beautiful gifts. Realising the gifts that friends bring can be difficult sometimes, especially if they make decisions you don’t agree with.’ ‘But’, he added, ‘God is in the midst of all of those gifts’.
These were years too when choices had to be made – ‘choices about friends, drink, subjects to be studied at school and choices about my overall direction in life. It was a time when I had to start taking responsibility for my life.’
Bishop Duffy reflected that the support he received from his parents and his faith were central to the decisions, decisions that would transform dreams and choices into the reality of life. He said that those were years of some ‘difficulty with parents because I wanted more freedom than they were happy with, but I know they loved me and wanted the best for me.’
With regard to faith, he was very clear: ‘My faith was a great support. I was very taken by Jesus Christ; I admired how he cared for the weakest, the poor, the sick, sinners and the excluded. I admired how he stood by his friends, even when they let him down. His act of dying for us – for you and me – impressed me. Probably, all of this led to my priesthood.
Bishop Duffy concluded by impressing on the students that in all of life, we are never alone; that our believe in God, which we profess at Mass each Sunday, is a profession of our belief and trust in the solidarity of God – ‘God walks with me, and all my family and friends. May God be close to you on your journey and may you be supported by those dear to you.’