“Priests find it hard to communicate with young people about religious matters: Diarmuid Martin at Dalgan

Monday, 9th July, 2018 11:37am

“Priests find it hard to communicate with young people about religious matters: Diarmuid Martin at Dalgan

1.7.2018 MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF ST COLUMBA CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS (1918-2018) Today (1.7.18) The Missionary Society of St Columba continued their centenary celebrations with mass celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and a Family and Mission day in the grounds of Dalgan Park for families readers a

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin paid tribute to 100 years of Columban mission at an open air Mass  at Dalgan Park, Navan, attended by over 800 Columban priests, Sisters, lay missionaries, family and friends.
Dr Martin, who is president of the World Meeting of Families, said the crisis of the Irish Church is more than a lack of vocations. “The bigger crisis is that of the growing alienation between young people and the Church and indeed the growing distance between young people and the relevance of the teaching of Jesus Christ.”
He told the hundreds of Columban supporters gathered in the grounds of Dalgan Park that: “Numbers attending Mass are down right across Ireland and that people are struck when they go to Mass in a parish at which there is a substantial presence of young people or young families.”
“Priests,” he acknowledged, “find it hard to communicate with young people about religious matters. The same is true of Christian parents who day after day struggle in seeking to transmit something of their own sense of faith and prayer to their children. Yet they are truly proud of the great sense of idealism and goodness, of justice and care of their children.”
“We have to learn the lesson that renewal in the Church comes when the Church rises above being locked within its own cares and rediscovers its call to reach out and be missionary.”
Dr Martin said he was “very happy” that Sunday’s celebration of Columban ‘Family and Mission’ should be inserted into the preparation of the World Meeting of Families that will be celebrated in Dublin in less than two months’ time and will see Pope Francis visit Ireland.  
“Perhaps it would be better to say that this Mission Day celebration is inserted into a new drive to restore confidence in the family as a way to transmit the faith,” he said of Sunday’s celebration in Dalgan.
He told the Columbans that Irish Catholics have “a special affection” for them and he highlighted one witness to that affection was Matt Talbot, whose only extant handwritten note concerns a small donation to the Columbans from ‘a poor man Matthew Talbot’. “That affection for the Columbans is still alive and well and is clearly visible here today,” Dr Martin said.  
While Columbans can be found in many parts of the world, such as China, Korea, Burma and the Philippines as well as in other parts of Asia, in Latin America and in Europe, Archbishop Martin also recalled the contribution of the Columbans closer to home through the coordination of the Irish emigrant chaplaincy in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s as well as the work of Columban priests and Sisters in the parish of Balcurris in Ballymun.
“Travel the world and wherever you find Columbans and there will be two words that will inevitably emerge: mission and the poor. The Columban tradition has been one that embraces a unified mission of preaching the name of Jesus, caring for the poor and addressing the root causes of poverty and damage to God’s creation,” he said.  
Of the foundation of the Missionary Society of St Columban on 29 June 1918, one hundred years ago almost to the day, he said the Bishops of Ireland had approved that day the idea of setting-up a missionary society of Irish diocesan priests - the Maynooth Mission to China, as it was originally named.
The context for the foundation of the new missionary society was unstable. The Ireland of 1918 was a difficult and uncertain time. “Our insecurity today about Brexit fades into the shade with the uncertainty and insecurity that existed in Ireland in June 1918. It was only two years after 1916. The horror of First World War had not yet ended. Ireland was divided. Negotiations regarding future independence were underway but still uncertain. The possibility for the first time of a border on the island of Ireland lurked on the horizon. Economically, Ireland was at its poorest, both in urban and rural communities.”
“It is remarkable that at that moment a group of priests in Maynooth would have come up with such a far-seeing sense of what mission means. We have to learn the lesson that renewal in the Church comes when the Church rises above being locked within its own cares and rediscovers its call to reach out and be missionary,” Archbishop Martin said.
After Mass, participants learnt about the story of Columban mission through exhibitions, arts, crafts and videos.

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