“Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping and mourning”
As they approach the 25th Anniversary of the Church of the Assumption in Tullamore the priests of the parish led a 24 hour vigil of prayer and fasting taking their theme from the prophet Joel, “Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping and mourning” (Joel 2:12).
The following is a letter of the priests of the parish explaining their motivation:
Why did we do this fast and vigil? We could not celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Church of the Assumption in Tullamore without acknowledging the pain, disappointment, hurt and anger of so many of our people over the sexual abuse of children in the Church and the way in which it was dealt.
So before we thank God for the gifts he has given to our parish, we, the priests of Tullamore, proposed to lead a 24 hour fast, to do penance and ask God and the people’s forgiveness. This was held at the same time as an all night prayer vigil in the church from 8pm on 25 August to 8pm on 26 August.
There is no way we can mend the lives of people who have suffered so much; all we can do is ask God’s mercy and forgiveness and the forgiveness of the good people who make up the Church – and do our best, with the help of God, to make sure such never happens again.
We thank the many people who have shown interest in our act of Penance through 24 hours of fasting and prayer. We thank all who sent messages of support and assured us that they were joining us in prayer during this time. Our purpose was to pray for healing in the community of faith that is Tullamore Parish through 24 hours of fasting and prayer. We did not offer our action as a solution to the many complex issues involved in bringing closure to this sad episode in the life of our Church. All we could offer is our intent to do our best to bring the people of our Parish together in their abhorrence of all that has gone wrong, and hope that we can move forward together in faith to a greater realisation of the need for vigilance, for true respect for all children, and firm implementation of good practice in all aspects of safeguarding children in our Parish.
We are truly heartened and encouraged by the number of people in the Parish who have joined us in our Penance throughout the 24 hours. Their enthusiastic support for our penance is a sign that many in the Church are anxious to share in any acts of repentance and are very supportive of such actions. We emphasise that our act of Penance was not intended as a judgement on the actions or on the failures of others. Rather, it was an intended as a plea to all that we work together to build up the Body of Christ, his Church.
This notice was placed on the doors of the Church during the 24hrs:
Prayer and Fast by the priests of the Parish of Tullamore, to publically acknowledge the hurt and anger that has effected many people in our parish over the past few years.
As followers of Jesus Christ, the priests of this parish undertake this fast and period of prayer in acknowledgment of the hurt and pain that has been suffered by many victims of clerical child abuse in Ireland, and the anger that has arisen from cover-up and the failure to properly cherish, respect, and love those who have suffered. We recognise that in our Church all have suffered as a result of the failure to make a true response to the suffering of so many. We hope that this fast will help to bring healing and reconciliation to the lives of all who have been affected by the scandal of child abuse in any way. We pray that recognising hurt and anger will lead to reconciliation within the Church, and that reconciliation will bring new hope to all of us, as we strive to move forward as true disciples of Jesus Christ.
Msgr Sean Heaney PP
Fr Shane Crombie CC
Fr Patrick Donnelly CC
Fr Florin Bejenaru, Diocese Bucharest.
Fr Seamus O Connor SSC
Fr Kevin Flemming SSC