June 2013 issue
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One year on, Navan Parish looks back at IEC 2012
Father Declan Hurley, Adm., Navan
One year on, I look back at the Eucharistic Congress with a mixture of joy and pride, but also with some regret.
It is with joy and pride that I recall the great efforts made by many parishioners of Navan to make the Congress an important moment in the life of our Parish. The Parish Council gave itself the motto, Bringing Navan to the Congress, and the Congress to Navan – and the members certainly worked hard to achieve that. One of the many events and activities organised in preparation for the Congress was an exhibition of memorabilia from the 1932 Congress. Included in the exhibition was a video recording of some elderly parishioners who had attended in 1932. They spoke with such joy! And I remarked to myself that we would have to ensure that in 80 years time there would be people to speak with the same joy of the 2012 Congress. The opportunity to ensure that was presented to us when we were asked to host the Austrian Youth Choir KISI-KIDS. They teamed up with our children’s choir and a wonderful exchange – indeed, a wonderful communion – took place.
Many parishioners travelled to the RDS and Croke Park on the buses organised daily by the Parish Council. Our ‘Booking Office’ facilitated parishioners in negotiating the complex registration process. Many parishioners also acted as volunteers in Dublin or played roles in the liturgies or spoke at workshops. There was pride too on seeing the Congress flag flying outside the two GAA grounds in the town.
Feelings of regret arise in me when I think of the majority of parishioners who did not experience the joy and uplift of the Congress, and for whom the Congress seemed to just pass by. What a lost opportunity to experience again a forgotten joy! For sure, we can blame the media again, but was there not a deeper malaise evident in our communities and among the clergy? Regret too at the lack of any follow-up to help parish communities to build on the experience of what was a wonderful week in June 2012.
As Secretary of the Parish Council I was asked to give a daily report each evening at a prayer service held in our Parish Church. This was part of our efforts ‘to bring the Congress to Navan’ so that parishioners who were unable to attend the Congress in Dublin could reflect on the theme of each day of the Congress.
The first evening service was on Monday and by 4pm I still had a blank page until the phone calls started coming from parishioners attending the Congress that day. So I was able to put together a report of the day’s events based on what had been reported to me. Father Declan then told me that there would be a French TV crew filming the event and that they also wanted to interview me for their report on what the Congress meant for our Parish. After the pressure of that first day the rest of the week went smoothly with constant phone calls from the RDS. It was wonderful to hear the enthusiasm and excitement from those attending the Congress and to be able to relay that joy to fellow parishioners in Navan.
Many parishioners commented that coming to St Mary’s each evening helped them to feel part of the Congress.
Saint Mary’s Parish, Navan, was asked to host the Austrian youth choir KISI KIDS and our St Oliver’s Children’s choir was invited to join with them to perform Paul – Called By God, a musical about the life of St Paul, at the Eucharistic Congress. This involved a week of rehearsals prior to the performance. During this time the children learned so much from the older KISI kids; how spiritual they were, how giving and patient they were with the younger children and their wonderful enthusiasm and love of the Lord.
One year on, we now include many of the songs the choir learned from the KISI KIDS. We realise that our choir practices are not just about singing but also a time for praising God. We start our sessions with a short prayer, asking God to bless all of us and we try to make it a spiritual time as well as a joyful time. The children certainly know about St Paul and become more attentive when the Sunday reading is from one of Paul’s letters.
Our group of thirty children has been consolidated through this experience of being directly involved in the Congress. They are already excited about the next Congress!
On 12 June 2012 I went to the Eucharistic Congress as part of a youth group from Navan Parish. I decided to go because I wanted to find out more about my faith and develop a greater understanding of what it means to me. I went with an open mind and was curious to meet other believers and see what it was like.
The KISI KIDS were very enjoyable and I loved how they told the story of St Paul through song. The talks on family and relationships were interesting and the atmosphere around the RDS was very welcoming. I never believed that I could have so much fun and enjoyment in learning about my own religion. The Youth Space showed me how my love of music could be the same as my natural love and hope in God. The rock band and gospel choir were brilliant and the Mass was very spiritual.
Before, I had no idea of the impact the Congress would have on me. It strengthened and enforced my belief in God and helped me understand the importance of my faith to me. I will never forget my fond memories of the Eucharistic Congress.
Some comments from Navan parishioners:
‘it showed the vitality of our Church and gave hope’
‘a great privilege to be part of such an international event’
‘a celebration of unity of hearts and spirit that we will never forget’
‘it dispelled the gloom and lack of hope that had begun to settle on the Church’
‘“so proud of the volunteers!’
‘the theme – Communion with Christ and with one another – was so much in evidence!’
‘for other young people like me, there is hope to be found in the worldwide Catholic faith’
‘I was there in 1932 and am so thankful to have been able to go again in 2012’
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