Saint Joseph’s Church, Ennis, Co Clare
· “We remember today and pray for the deceased and pray especially for the many relatives and friends left behind. As priests are so aware of the profound suffering caused by, and the long-lasting effects of, road traffic accidents.”
· “Road safety awareness is the parable of the Good Samaritan in action within our communities today. I am thinking here of all road users: motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.”
November – a time of Remembrance
The month of November is a special time for remembering. Memory is one of the most precious things we have as human beings. Next Thursday on the feast of thanksgiving we remember and thank God for our many blessings. It is also a time, during this special month, Mí na Marbh, the month of the dead for remembering our deceased loved ones. On this special day we remember the many who have lost their lives as a result of fatal road traffic accidents. If you have been affected in this way – you are very much in our thoughts and prayers during this Mass and we are in solidarity with you.
Origin and history of Day of Remembrance
The Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims was first held in 1993 in England and since then in a number of countries around the world. Its purpose is to remember victims of fatal road traffic collisions. 20,103 people have been killed and 79,761 have been seriously injured on Irish roads since recording began in 1959. By any account this represents an horrific amount of carnage and a huge amount of suffering. We remember today and pray for the deceased and pray especially for the many relatives and friends left behind.
The day of remembrance was set up in order to give recognition to victims of road traffic crashes and the plight of their loved ones who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of their loss as a result of these events.
In 2005, the United Nations adopted a resolution which calls for governments to mark the third Sunday in November each year as World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Observation of this day provides an opportunity to draw the public’s attention to road traffic crashes, their consequences and costs, and the measures which can be taken to prevent them. The day also provides an opportunity to remind governments and society of their responsibility to make roads safer.
The effect of accidents on the bereaved
While road traffic deaths are counted in the year they occur, a family remains bereaved forever. The bereaved are not counted or included in road traffic injury data. Many others remain deeply affected by the loss of a friend, colleague, neighbour or member of the community. The effect on the emergency services, whose work involves facing the consequences of crashes on a daily basis, is also profound. Road traffic injuries leave behind shattered families and communities. As priests, and the same would be true for Gardaí and emergency service workers, we are so aware of the profound suffering caused by, and the long-lasting effects of, road traffic accidents. Special thanks to anyone that works in this capacity who offer help and support to those in need.
This year, again the Road Safety Authority have joined forces with members of An Garda Síochána, local county councils, emergency services, Churches and victim support groups to mark the day and remember those who have died on our roads at services being held across the country.
While in recent years fatalities on Irish roads have improved, generally, according to the Road Safety Authority statistics from last year, 2016 are as follows:
– There were 186 fatalities on Irish roads during that year. This represents 19 (+12%) more collisions and 24 (15%) more deaths compared to provisional Garda data for the same period in 2015.
– Of the 186 fatalities, there were 81 drivers killed, 38 passengers, 35 pedestrians, 22 motorcyclists and 10 pedal cyclists.
– The highest number of fatalities on our roads were among those aged 16-25 (40) and 66+ (44).
– 138 of those killed were male (74%).
– Almost 1 in 4 of the drivers and passengers killed were not wearing a seatbelt (23%).
– Thursday (32) and Sunday (37) were the most dangerous days on Irish roads in 2016.
– The highest number of fatalities in 2016 occurred between 4pm and 6pm (28) and 10pm and 12am (20).
– In 2016, Dublin (21) and Cork (21) had the highest record of road fatalities. Carlow had no road fatalities.
Statistics for 2017
The total number of road deaths, so far from the end of last month 2017, is 127. Road fatalities by county in the 5 counties of our dioceses are as follows Clare 3, Limerick 7, Offaly 2, Tipperary 7, Laois 1.
Spiritual and Moral dimension
Road safety awareness is the parable of the Good Samaritan in action within our communities today. I am thinking here of all road users: motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, and every one of us has a role in helping others even if we are not known to each other personally.
There are so many ways that we can ensure that our roads will be a better place: reducing speed, avoiding drink or drug driving, taking more care and courtesy on the roads, not using mobile phones, taking rest when tired, departing on time and many other ways.
After this Mass today in Saint Joseph’s in Ennis we will have a ‘Blessing of the Roads’ ceremony. During this Mass we pray for those who have lost their lives in tragic circumstances, and also to pray for the safety of all road users.
I firmly believe that prayer and reflection can change our driving behaviour, calm our aggression, and remind us to take care of our spiritual, moral and physical dimensions. In this context I recommend the following dedicated prayers for motorists which can be said before driving.
17th century paidir as Gaeilge
In ainm an Athar le bua,
In ainm an Mhic a d’fhulaing an phian,
In ainm an Spiorad Naoimh le neart,
Muire is a Mac linn inár dtriall. Áiméan!
A contemporary prayer in the English language
Holy Mother, hear our prayer,
Keep us in your loving care,
Whatever the perils of the way,
Let us not add to them this day.
So to our caution and attention,
We add a prayer for your protection,
To beg God’s blessing on this car,
To travel safely near and far.
· Bishop Fintan Monahan is the Bishop of Killaloe
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