Homily of Bishop Denis Nulty for the celebration of the Aifreann na Clainne Mass (of the family)

15 Jul 2018

  • 11.00am Mass broadcast from the RTÉ studios in Donnybrook, Dublin, on RTÉ One Television, on RTÉ Longwave Radio 252 and on digital RTÉ Radio 1 Extra

 Music accompaniment and background

Mr Tom Conroy, a composer who lives in Portarlington in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, composed the music for this Aifreann na Clainne Mass.  It will be sung by four choirs, three from the diocese: Saint Michael’s Folk Choir, Portarlington; the Clonaslee Church Choir;  the Clonaghadoo Church Choir; and a choir from the Archdiocese of Dublin: In Cantorum Choir, from Athy.  The conductor is Ms Eileen Doyle from In Cantorum, Athy.

Tom was inspired by the World Meeting of Families, which takes place next in Ireland next month, to compose the new Mass setting.  The name was suggested by Sister Roísín Gannon, Presentation Newfoundland (formerly Mount Saint Anne’s).  Essentially  it is a family of choirs performing a new Mass setting.  Previous Mass settings composed by Tom are the Brittas Mass (2013) and Saint Michael’s Celebration (2016).  In Tom’s own words: “the theme is that all the singers are joined together as a ‘Family of Choirs’ by their love of music and of sharing their faith through music”.

Introduction to the Mass

Take nothing for the journey” … where have we heard that message before?  Now, the instruction is: not only to take nothing but remove your belt; take off your shoes and get rid of that bottle of water!  It is the 2018 problem – we surround ourselves with too much clutter, we bring too much baggage, we carry too much excess.

We gather to pray on this fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, thirty-seven days away from the simultaneous opening of the 9th World Meeting of Families in every one of our dioceses.  It is great to gather to celebrate what family means to us all, as we offer this new Mass, especially composed to celebrate the World Meeting.  Our Mass is called Aifreann na Clainne – Mass of the Family.

I welcome you warmly as you and your family join us here in the RTÉ studio with our own clutter, our own baggage, our own excess.  Let us begin by calling to mind our sins and asking the Lord for his love, for his understanding but most of all for his mercy …


The comment, “nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothinghas its origin in a line taken from Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan.  You can almost see an essay title staring up at you from an exam page!

 In forty-one days-time Pope Francis arrives for the World Meeting of Families.  On the first day that the tickets went online, those for Knock were completely gone in just over four hours!  By midnight of that first day that tickets became available 353,874 had booked tickets for the Mass in the Phoenix Park.  This World Meeting, centred here in Dublin, before it ever starts, has already exceeded all records.  There is no cost, but deep value to the tickets associated with the Knock event and the Phoenix Park Mass.

The price of everything, the value of nothing!  Take nothing with you for the journey Jesus instructs His disciples – nothing suggests the disciples would become dependent on the goodwill and generosity of others, not the empty suitcase synonymous with a pre-Christmas or New Year shopping spree in New York!  The disciples were invited to bring nothing!  Think of that for a moment … nothing, allow ourselves to become totally dependent on those around us … no mobile, no hairbrush, no bottle of water, no Wi-Fi – take nothing, depend totally on providence, put yourself completely in God’s hands.

It is the middle of the Ordination Season and while a priestly ordination no longer might make front-page news, it remains a significant milestone in a young man’s life and in the local parish’s story.  Our first reading this Sunday morning from the prophet Amos brings me back to the celebration of my own First Mass thirty years ago.  I chose then the call of Amos so vividly described “I was a shepherd and looked after sycamores: but it was the Lord who took me from herding the flock”.  Like Amos, often the journey we set out on is not always of our own choosing. It brings us to different places, different people, different experiences, because it is following God’s call, not our own; it is hearing His voice, not our own.

Some priests today find the going out in pairs a bit challenging, there are fewer priests to team up with, it is so often much more convenient to do things alone, to plough a solitary furrow in a field, and very much to live on one’s own.  Loneliness can be buried in the pursuit of the material and that is a challenge for the priesthood of 2018.  The pursuit of the material is miles away from gospel values; companionship is sacrificed at the altar of personal comfort.

Aifreann na Clainne is exactly what it says on the tin, a Mass to celebrate family, a Mass to welcome Pope Francis and our visiting delegations in just over a month’s time.  Mark seems to saying to us in this morning’s text “if you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district”.  He is asking us in our vocation call, to be present, to be as we said at the school roll call in every class all those years back – ‘Anseo’ rather than ‘As Lathair!’  Imagine if all who come to the World Meeting next month, all who attend the Papal events around that global gathering of faith, were truly present to our Church, to our faith communities, what a vibrant Sunday celebration we would have in each and every parish!

I pray that you as family, as chlann, as pobal will be truly present for the World Meeting, and that you as parish will be enlivened by what you experience.  Alongside our ticket may we all be truly present.  Amen.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Katie Crosby 00353 (0) 86 862 3298

  • Bishop Denis Nulty is Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin