Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A: 24.06.23
Our Lady & St. David’s Church, Naas, Mass @ 6pm
Diamond Jubilee: Fr. Eddie Moore PE
We gather on this the Vigil of the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. It’s the month when most of our priests celebrate their Ordination Anniversaries, with two-thirds of those anniversaries falling this month.
This evening, here in the beautiful Our Lady & St. David’s Church in Naas, we honour Fr. Eddie Moore. Yesterday by date – June 23rd – was Fr. Eddie’s date of ordination sixty years ago! I was sixteen days old when Fr. Eddie was ordained by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in Maynooth College Chapel! This evening, Fr. Eddie we all wish you every blessing on this the Diamond Jubilee of your Ordination.
Matthew’s gospel carries the instruction to the twelve, opening with the reassurance: “Do not be afraid”. Before we ever minister we must put aside our fears, for the Lord is ministering through us. Fears of being unable, of being unworthy, of being inadequate subside when we really realise He is the One who actually works through us, without him we are nothing and can achieve nothing.
I warmly welcome all Fr. Eddie’s family, especially his last remaining sibling, his sister Rita, and friends who gather with us this evening. And I include those who join us on the webcam.
Gathering as a community of faith, let us call to mind our sins and pray for God’s love and mercy …
On June 23rd Fr. Eddie Moore was ordained by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid in the splendid Pugin Chapel that is St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Prostrated alongside him that early morning on the sanctuary of Maynooth, were two other Kildare & Leighlin men Eddie Aughney and the late Tommy O’Malley. Just for context, a few days later President John F. Kennedy would arrive in Ireland for a four day visit, a visit that put Ireland in the lens of the world media and in many respects announce our entry onto the world stage.
This was the Ireland that these three men ordained from Maynooth and their six co-diocesans from other colleges and seminaries were entering. Five were ordained for Kildare & Leighlin that year in the Lateran Basilica in Rome: Sean Conlon and the very recently deceased Fr. Ger O’Byrne and their classmates the late Pat Ramsbottom, Paddy McDonald and Dick Hogan. A sixth was ordained from St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, Fr. Phil O’Shea. The Ireland of 1963 was a very different place to the Ireland of 2023.
The Prophet Jeremiah says it beautifully, despite being attacked from every side, he declares “But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero”. I have no doubt Fr. Eddie and the other eight men ordained for Kildare & Leighlin diocese that summer would also acknowledge that so often in their ministry they too were deeply consoled that the Lord was by their side.
Nine men ordained for the Diocese in that year 1963. There has never been a year like it since! I have no doubt such a year will never be seen in our lifetime. A year has just begun especially dedicated to the promotion and encouragement of vocations to the diocesan priesthood. The theme is “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” with the tag line ‘Take the Risk for Christ’.
Fr. Eddie took that risk in 1963; Fr. Liam in 1996; Fr. Alex in 2004; Fr. Robert in 2017; Fr. Michael in 1970 and Fr. Jackie in 1965. Taking a Risk for Christ is putting ourselves up front and out centre as the hands and feet of Christ working alongside wonderful lay people, for whom their faith remains very important to them.
At the moment across the diocese we are reflecting in the newly formed Pastoral Areas as how best together we might serve the Lord in a very different Ireland, a very different diocese. Within the Pastoral Areas are cluster groupings of parishes, for example Naas, Sallins and Two-Mile-House are joined with Kill. It’s important to work together, to work collaboratively. Long gone has to be the days when the life of a parish waxes or wanes with the personality of whoever the priest may be. It’s not about the priest, it’s about all of us, working together, co-responsible for our faith and the faith life of the community. It’s about all of us living out our baptismal calling.
When Priests are ordained, when Permanent Deacons are invited forward, when the names of Confirmation Candidates are called out, the only response all are invited to give is ‘Present’. A Diamond Jubilee is a celebration of sixty years of that presence, that response, in several parishes, in several appointments. For Fr. Eddie it is Kildare Town, Kill, Portlaoise, Kilcock, Allen and more recently enjoying a more relaxed schedule here in Naas.
In every appointment, a priests vocation is endorsed and affirmed by the privileged intimacy he enjoys with those he serves. An intimacy where boundaries are respected. An intimacy where trust is core. An intimacy where ministry is affirmed.
I absolutely accept that the culture today is not near as conducive or receptive to religious vocations as in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s. There are less going to Sunday Mass, the pandemic has done a huge disservice to public worship and for some it has simply slipped off their radar. I want to encourage you all, including those on webcam, back to Mass. There is nothing to equal the physical gathering, when we feel able to do so.
The decline in the interest of things spiritual accompanied by sickening reports and enquires where the abuse of the most precious was uncovered has rightly so angered many, including our very good priests. Religion is not at the centre of society, we have been relegated to the side-lines but the voice of Church is still important and must be heard today. We need priests. And we need them very much in Kildare & Leighlin.
My message today if you are a parent or grandparent, a friend or a sibling and a young man confides in you, encourage them. If you think someone would make a good priest one day, hold them in your prayers and gently invite them to consider the priesthood.
A brief story to conclude, in Fr. Eddie’s day you had to be a student of Knockbeg College to enter the seminary, so like many others in his day he would have to transfer after completing his Inter Cert with the Patricians in Tullow. When Eddie Aughney and himself, both students in the Patricians, Tullow applied for Knockbeg, they were told there were no vacancies! In fact they were ten days back when a message came to say there were two vacancies. The hand of God was with both of them from a young age. Eddie Aughney told me last evening, they were kind of disappointed when news filtered through of the two vacancies, such was the time they were enjoying in the Patricians, Tullow! I have no doubt neither of them regret the call they followed and the path they took. May the Lord bless you Fr. Eddie this Jubilee evening!