Cathedral in Sligo to host vigil for atonement for healing and suffering

23 Feb 2012

Cathedral in Sligo to host vigil for atonement for healing and suffering

Vigil inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland

To coincide with Lent 2012, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo, is organising a 24 hour Vigil of Atonement and Healing beginning tomorrow Friday 24 February at 8.00am.  This 24 hour vigil will take place in collaboration with the town parishes of St Anne’s and St Joseph’s.  The purpose of the vigil is to pray forgiveness for the suffering caused by clerical child abuse.  An invitation to join the vigil has been extended to all who wish to pray healing for those who have suffered, but in particular to the people of Sligo and to the faithful of the Diocese of Elphin (see details below).

Giving his blessing to this prayerful initiative, Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin, said: “I warmly welcome this important liturgical event.  In 2011, on the first anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict’s Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Bishops of Ireland published a pastoral response to the Holy Father’s Pastoral Letter.  Our pastoral response, called Towards Healing and Renewal, contained a number of key commitments to help address the needs of survivors and amongst which was the need to pray intensively for all those affected by abuse.  I wish to commend the priests of the Cathedral and all who will assist them for undertaking the organisation of this timely pastoral event here in Sligo, and I pray for its success.”

Father Tom Hever said: “We are fortunate that our very own Sister Marianne O’Connor, Director General of the Conference of Religious of Ireland, has agreed address us as our keynote speaker.  Sister Marianne’s reflection and witness will no doubt prove to be immensely interesting and the highpoint of our vigil.  I would also like to thank the members of the coordinating committee for all their time and planning efforts invested during the preparation of what will no doubt turn out to be a very significant liturgical event in the life of our local faith community.”

On the 19 March 2010 Pope Benedict XVI published his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland in response to the gravely sinful and criminal revelations of child sexual abuse by some clergy and religious.   Pope Benedict’s inspiring and helpful Pastoral Letter was a tangible response to the shock and disgust felt by both religious and civil society in Ireland, and abroad, arising from the revelations of abuse in the Ferns, Ryan and Murphy Reports and the subsequent failures of those in authority to deal appropriately with the allegations and with the civil authorities.  The Holy Father’s Pastoral Letter also greatly assists us in the ongoing renewal of the Church in Ireland.

The writing of such a Pastoral Letter is a very rare occurrence in the history of the Universal Church and it underlines the gravity with which the Church as a whole views the abuse of young people and more especially the seriousness with which the Holy Father himself regards these abhorrent actions.  Within that very well written Pastoral Letter Pope Benedict expressed his profound regret to those who suffered abuse at the hands of clergy and religious; he apologised to them and their families and assured them that the Church would continue to work actively to put in place guidelines and procedures that would ensure such abuse would not happen again;  he also called on the whole Church in Ireland to actively work to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.

The Pastoral Letter was reflected upon, analysed and discussed at diocesan level and parish level throughout Ireland.  In the Diocese of Elphin this reflection and discussion was led by the Diocesan Pastoral Council and which met with representatives of all the Parish Pastoral Councils throughout the diocese.  The views and suggestions of all who attended were noted, collated and passed onto the Irish Bishops’ Conference in Maynooth.  They were discussed again at every Parish Pastoral Council and by the clergy of the diocese.  There were a number of suggestions regarding how the Church could best respond to the Holy Father’s Pastoral Letter, the main one being to hold a Day of Atonement, Reparation, Reconciliation and Healing in the Diocese.

At a meeting of the Council of Priests it was agreed to hold such a Day of Atonement on 24 February, the First Friday after Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian season of prayer, penance and sacrifice, as given to us by the example of the life of Jesus Christ.  On Friday parishes throughout the diocese will hold services in their churches to mark the day.

As a Church, we must be ever vigilant to focus our priorities on the needs of survivors of abuse. The Church, as the one family of God, has been deeply saddened and ashamed when one of our members betrayed their sacred trust and did such harm on the innocent.  Naturally the Church wishes to apologise, ask for forgiveness and seek healing from those hurt by the actions of any offending Church members.  It is hoped that this is what this 24 hour vigil will help the family of God to achieve here in Sligo.   In seeking forgiveness the first one that must be turned to is God.  In addition, the forgiveness and healing of the survivors and what they have endured, as well as that of their families, must be foremost in our prayers.

Finally, prayers will be offered so that perpetrators of abuse will seek forgiveness and be healed.  There is much to pray for.  “In order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenseless children”  (Benedict XVII)

The people of Sligo are invited to come to the Cathedral over this 24 hour period this weekend, starting Friday, and participate in the vigil even if it is only in a small way and to pray for the above intentions.

“Acknowledging the weakness of the past is an act of honesty and courage…. It opens a new tomorrow for everyone”

Details for Day of Atonement – Friday 24 February 2012

8.00 am                           Mass
8.30 am.                          Procession of Eucharist from the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
8.40 – 10.00 am.                  Morning Prayer of Church / Silent Adoration
10.00 am.                         Rosary by Cathedral Rosary Group
10.30 am.                         Mass by our Bishop
11.20 am.                         Adoration resumes
12.00 noon                        Angelus
12.00 n – 1.00 pm.               Guided Holy Hour– St. Joseph’s Parish
1.00 – 2.00 pm.                   Silent Adoration
2.00 – 3.00 pm.                   Guided Holy Hour – Ursuline Community
3.00 – 4.00 pm                    Guided Holy Hour – Divine Mercy Prayers
4.00 – 5.00 pm                    Guided Holy Hour – Holy Cross Friary
5.00 – 6.00 pm.                   Guided Holy Hour- Blessed Sacrament Chapel Prayer Group / Presentation of Mary Sisters
6.00 – 7.00 pm                    Silent Time
7.00 – 8.00 pm.                   Guided Holy Hour – Legion of Mary Prayers
8.00 pm.                          Sung Evening Prayer – Cathedral Choir
8.30 pm.                          Speaker – Sr Marianne O’ Connor
9.00 – 10.00 p                    Guided Holy Hour with Stations of the Cross – St. Anne’s Parish
10.00 – 10.50 pm.                 Guided Holy Hour – Pastoral Council
10.50 – 11.00 pm.                 Night Prayer
11.00 – 12.00 am.                 Guided Holy Hour – Youth Ministry Team
12.00 – 1.00 pm.                  Guided Holy Hour – Families of Nazareth
1.00 – 2.00 am.                   Silent Adoration
2.00 – 3.00 am.                   Silent Adoration
3.00 – 4.00 am.                   Guided Holy Hour – I Thirst Prayer Group
4.00 – 5.00 am.                   Rosary with Procession
5.00 – 6.00 am.                   Guided Holy Hour – Missionaries of Charity
6.00 – 7.00 am.                   Guided Holy Hour – Presentation of Mary Sisters
7.00 am.                          Morning Prayer
8.00 am.                          Closing Mass – Bishop + Procession back to B. S. Chapel

Notes to Editors

•    Bishop Christopher Jones is Bishop of Elphin and the diocese includes portions of Counties Roscommon, Sligo, Westmeath and Galway.  There are 60 priests in the diocese, 70,500 Catholics in 37 parishes, and 90 churches.  The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo, and has been open for public worship since 1874.  The Patrons of the diocese are Saint Asicus and the Immaculate Conception.

Further information:
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444