Homily of Most Rev Martin Drennan, Bishop of Galway at Ceremony of Installation, Sunday 3rd July 2005

04 Jul 2005


7 JULY 2005



The following is the text of the homily given by Most Rev Martin Drennan,
Bishop of Galway, at his Ceremony of Installation in the Cathedral of
Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, Galway, on Sunday
3rd July 2005.

(Zech 9:9-10; Rm 8: 9,11-13; Mt 11:25-30)

Cardinal Basil Hume said, People come to our churches in search of God
and want to go away feeling changed by meeting him. We usually come with
restless hearts, coming from a busy world where we may have many commitments
– at home, in our places of work, in schools, and maybe in other places too.
There is another reason why we are restless and that is expressed in the second
reading from St. Paul. The Holy Spirit nudges us to grow, to become more authentic,
to live worthy of our dignity, to reach our full potential as Christians. It’s
a good sign when there’s a healthy tension between who we are and what we want
to be. A saloon in the Wild West in the USA in the last century had a slogan
on the wall which expresses this tension well, I ain’t what I’m gonna be, I
ain’t what I wanna be, I sure ain’t what I used to be. With our restlessness
to grow Jesus invites us to come to him and make space for his gift of rest.
That is his gift for us now and it will be his gift to us when we meet him
face to face.

Back in 1971 I made my first visit to Germany. The purpose of my journey was
to do supply work in a parish near Saarbrucken for a priest who is here with
us today. One of the things I remember from visiting Germany over the years
is how shops shut down at midday on Saturday and stay closed until Monday
morning. The trade unions insisted on the need for rest over the weekend, to
give families a fair chance to find balance between work and leisure. These
days most people have many commitments. They can feel pulled in many directions
by these responsibilities, they sometimes feel burdened, fragmented. Times of
holidays and rest allow them space to gather the fragments. Jesus says that
those who rest in him, who come to him will find wholeness. The heart that is
divided, tugged in many directions, has many masters. Where Jesus is master
there is no division. He gives us back our best selves. I once heard it said,
Our lives are crumby and we’d like to be a whole loaf, not just a whole loaf
but mother’s pride! If we find rest and wholeness in Jesus’ presence, we are
convinced that people’s lives are not complete without him then we will want
to give Jesus to them. Pope Benedict said recently, If we don’t give God to others
we give too little. When God gives us a gift he wants us to share it.

A man said to me lately, If you want to be a leader in today’s world you need
to spend time smoking your pipe. No, he wasn’t encouraging us to defy the
smoking ban! Rather, he was urging us to take time, to rest, slow down and
mull over things in some depth. Éist le fuaim na habhann’s geobhair breac.
(Pay attention to the sound of the river and a trout will come). Attention of
that kind needs stillness. Many in today’s world are scared of such silence.
That fear is understandable because silence leaves us vulnerable. In silence
we may discover that what we thought was dead and buried is only buried. It
needs to be faced if we are to find peace. Visitors to Glendalough in Co Wicklow,
a place I know well, are usually told some of the story of St. Kevin. They hear
how one day when Kevin was going up the valley a monster came up out of the lake
and blocked his path. Instead of fighting the monster Kevin set about
taming it. He succeeded and the tamed monster went with him on his journey.
We all have to face our monsters if we too are to travel on in peace. The monster
can be an event from the past, our temper, our accent, our fears. Jesus invites
us to face our monsters in his presence and with his help, so that those monsters
lose their power, are tamed and we find peace. Come to me……and I will
give you rest.

For the diocese this day is one of transition. Our first prayer is one of
heartfelt gratitude for the ministry of Bishop McLoughlin. I know he is
looking forward to a sos after getting through an enormous volume of work,
first as priest and later as bishop, in this diocese. At the bishops meetings
we’ll miss his wonderful sense of humour, his wise judgment, his
compassion, and his knack of getting on with it when business needed to be
done. The people of the diocese know him as a humble, very approachable pastor.
Priests tell me he was always available, interested in and supportive of their
ministry, especially in difficult times. Very much a man of the people, he
combines finely-honed administration skills with a unique pastoral sense,
mixing easily with young and not so young at Confirmations. Today we give
thanks to God for the gifts he have Bishop McLoughlin and for the dedication
that was so evident in the ways those gifts were put and continue to be put
at the service of the Church. Our prayer of deep gratitude for all of this
gives us energy for the mission that lies ahead. We wish him good health and
many years to enjoy a well deserved sos. While respecting his wishes, I do
hope he will continue to be active in whatever ways he feels appropriate. It
would be a shame to let your skills go rusty and talents buried.

You may have noticed that for my motto I chose the phrase comhoidhri le Criost,
co-heirs with Christ. We see ourselves in many ways, as Irish, as members of
the EU, proud of our local roots. But our deepest identity is as children of
God, as God’s family, as belonging together. How we see ourselves has a profound
effect on how we live. We have a major task before us to nurture that sense
of belonging to the Church. Here in Galway Pope John Paul challenged all of
us and especially young people to be what God wants us to be. In a few weeks
time a group of young people from this diocese will be in Cologne for World
Youth Day. To make the Church in Galway a place of real welcome for them,
indeed a spiritual home for all, a place of belonging and of faith formation,
this is one major task that lies before us. We are not alone in facing that
challenge, for the Lord is at work in the hearts of all his people doing what
we could never achieve by our efforts. So we go forward in confidence, knowing
that the power behind us is greater thank the task ahead. We take as our guide
words of Pope Benedict, Let us walk together, let us be united. Let us pray
for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry
one another. If we stay united then we will find the right path.

+Martin Drennan
3rd July 2005

Further information:

Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)