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Homily of Bishop Denis, Easter Sunday 2022 & 150th Anniversary of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Allen

Easter Sunday Mass:                                                                          17.04.22

The Church of the Holy Trinity, Allen @ 10.30am


It’s Easter Sunday morning! We find ourselves alongside Mary Magdala, Simon Peter and the disciple Jesus loved at the tomb. Unlike other resurrection texts, there is a clear recognition that this was exactly how it should be.

While Mary of Magdala struggles to understand what was unfolding, Peter and John, the beloved one, quickly realised the import of Jesus’s earlier words around resurrection. What they saw brought back into memory exactly what He had said.

As we gather on this Easter morning, we do so also to say thanks for 150 years of worship here in this church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, where the first Mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday 1872.

I thank Fr. Willie, Fr. Brian, Ronan Ashe and the 150th Anniversary Committee for their kind invitation to join you today. As is done at every celebration of Mass over the past 150 years, we begin  by calling to mind our sins and praying for God’s love and mercy …


John’s gospel has four mentions of cloths in this morning’s brief resurrection text. We are told the other disciple “bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground[1]. Simon Peter, following close behind “saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself[2].

During Holy Week and across the Easter Triduum days there is a lot of talk about cloths – we had the cloths that were matted together to welcome the Messiah riding His colt into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. And then that moment in the Upper Room as he tenderly pat dried each foot with a cloth. There was that moment Veronica approached Jesus with her towel to wipe the gravel and grit, the phlegm and sweat off the face of Jesus.  

The pandemic taught us how we missed the tangible, the touch, the tender moments with one another, particularly family and friends. Only last evening on the walk back from the Easter Vigil practice I met a granny who introduced me to her grandson, the first time she has seen him in two years.

We are all there at the tomb with Mary of Magdala, John and Peter this Easter day. We might be forgiven for thinking that our gospel is a little flat for an Easter morning. It seems to present just half the story – an empty tomb. The emphasis is on the Lord’s absence, while we are bursting this morning with His Easter presence.  John’s gospel is not an account of an athletic race. If it was, John, the beloved one, would have entered the tomb. Why did he not go in? He stepped back, knowing that Peter needed to be the first to enter the empty tomb. Yet it is John who we are told is the first to believe “he saw and he believed[3].

I often think prudence is a most important trait in a personality. John, the beloved one, had it in abundance. It’s someone knowing their place, sometimes stepping back, letting others take the limelight. Prudence is seeing around the corner, not just what’s in front of us. It’s our call this Easter to be prudent, to bring out the best in the other.

The Church of the Holy Trinity here in Allen is visible for miles. It’s steeple seems to invite us to prayer or at least cause us to pause to ponder. Worship in these parts goes back to the time of St. Patrick with one of the oldest Christian graveyards in Ireland in the parish here at Crosspatrick. The diocesan historian Comerford reminds us that the build cost for this church amounted to £4,000. Huge credit goes to Fr. Eddie Moore and those around him, who through a generous legacy, were enabled to renovate this church in 2003.

A Church is much greater than the building even one as fine as this one of dressed limestone. If we had all the parish registers that listed baptisms, confirmations, marriages and funerals since Easter Sunday 1872, they wouldn’t tell a fraction of the story! It is the quiet moments of visits to light a candle; it is the gathering for Anniversary Masses; it is the First Confessions and First Holy Communions; it is the moments of encounter where the church gives perhaps an identity to a club, to an area, to a townland. Teach an Phobail indeed – the house of the people – your house, your Church!

We are in the early stages of a synodal journey in our diocese, in the Universal Church. The purpose of the Synod is not to produce documents, but “to plant dreams … to allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope[4]. We cannot do Synod and kind of get it done, we have to become synodal in everything we do. The synodal journey is a new way of being Church, of journeying together. We have just come through a ‘listening Lent’. I hope your voice was heard, but don’t panic, there will be more opportunities. Every synodal journey is building on the work of the past. Here in Allen parish that work, that legacy, includes this Church and what it represents for you the people. This church dedicated to the Holy Trinity was built on the shoulders of other churches here before in areas such as Kilmeague, Feighcullen, Pollardstown and Rathbride to mention but a few, even as far back as Ballyteague where Mass was celebrated in penal times.  

The late Cardinal Basil Hume reminded us “the great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake[5]. This Church is a living testament to that statement.

[1] Jn.20:5

[2] Jn.20:6-7

[3] Jn.20:8

[4] Synodal Preparatory Document, par. 32

[5] Cardinal Basil Hume, (1923-1999), Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster