First Christmas in Killaloe
With great delight and happiness on my first Christmas season as new bishop of the Diocese of Killaloe, I have the privilege to offer a seasonal greeting and blessing.
A Time to look back
The festive season of Christmas is a time to look back at the events and happenings of the year just gone by and reflect on what has been. We look back, savour and enjoy the good times while acknowledging the difficult times as well. This has been a most significant year for us as we remembered the events of 1916, the sacrifices of many for the freedom of our nation, one hundred years ago.
A Time to look out for others
Christmas is a time that we become aware of those less well-off, less fortunate than ourselves. It is a time when we do our best to reach out to others with care, with concern, with Christian love. We remember in a special way those suffering economically, the elderly, people living on their own, the bereaved, the homeless, refugees, victims of war and bloodshed, people that are suffering in any way. It has been an horrific time recently in places like Syria and in the locations of the recent terrorist attacks. Our hearts go out to all affected.
Losses through Tragedies
Thoughts and prayers go also to the many people who have lost their lives as a result of tragedies on our roads, on our waterways, those who for whatever difficult circumstances in life and their own personal lives have taken their own lives and most of all their families who are left bereft and heartbroken. Unfortunately the number of road fatalities has risen again this year. We pray for vigilance, alertness, care and concern on our roads at all times.
Emigrants and Immigrants
At this time of the year our emigrants are very much on our minds. We welcome home those who have returned to be with us for the holiday period and our thoughts go out to those who could not come home. I extend a special word of welcome to those who have come to join us from other countries and enrich our work-force and culture by settling in our midst.
Concern for Rural areas and care of the Elderly
During my visits to the many rural areas of the diocese, I see the great concern many have about the decline of general rural services and the isolation this is causing. Several elderly people are feeling the pinch and with this an increased sense of loneliness and being abandoned. I appeal to all involved in the decision making and provision of rural services to bear this in mind even though it may not be financially profitable. The quality of life in country areas is so worth preserving and maintaining even if it comes at a cost. The work being done by district day care centres, and many community organisations (Men’s Shed being a typical example) and many other service providers are to be commended highly!
A time to look to the future with Hope and Joy
As Christians, we are people of hope and people of joy. Pope Francis frequently returns again and again to the great hope our faith offers us in a world of indifference and empty materialism. No matter what happens we carry this hope with us because of the Christ-event, the coming of Jesus Christ in the incarnation and through the redemption won for us through the Cross and Resurrection.
At this special time of the year, this time of profound religious significance I pray that the message of the Christ-Child would be reborn in our diocese, our land, in our homes, in our hearts and souls this Christmas season. Peace, joy, health, happiness, along with many blessings and graces to all for a joyful and fulfilling new year in 2017.
+ Fintan Monahan
Bishop of Killaloe
Bishop Fintan Monahan is Bishop of Killaloe.
Watch a video version of this message in English https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6EwiXnSiOg and in the Irish language https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCdmYvURO3g&t=2s.
See www.catholicbishops.ie for more messages and reflections for Christmas 2016.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444