'As Christians we can Achieve Much More Collectively'

Posted On August, 30 - 2018  'As Christians we can Achieve Much More Collectively' Image
Photo Credit: Maxwell Photography

As the alarm rang at 5am last Sunday morning, I could hear the sound of heavy rain on the window pane, the like of which we have not experienced for several months during our long, dry summer.

Undeterred, we made our way to our bus collection point following the line of red brake lights from other coaches.  We were joined by security officers and choir members on the 6am bus to the Phoenix Park which made swift progress on wet but deserted familiar city roads.

The reason for the early start was to set up a “Communion Chapel” on the Papal Mass site.  We collected our instructions from the Liturgy tent and made our way across a drenched 15 acres to our designated location. 

The organisers decided to create 14 sub-chapels that would assist with the distribution of Holy Communion to the large crowd.  This would be accomplished with the help of Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers.

On arrival, we were met by an enthusiastic group of volunteers who did great work helping us with the set-up as hosts and chalices were prepared for the Mass that we celebrated at 8.00am.  It was a truly wonderful moment to be present at Mass in the Papal Mass site before most people arrived and to be able to pray for a blessed and safe day for all. 

There was a great atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual support among the team in our chapel as excitement slowly built towards Pope Francis’ arrival at 2.30pm.  It was very memorable to watch Pope Francis begin his journey in the Popemobile from the large video screens and then, a few minutes later, to see him approach with our own eyes.  I will always remember the sense of elation among the crowd as he finally came into sight.  Mobile phones were held high in the air to capture the moment and people moved forward with enthusiasm and joy.  It was, in another way, a serene and peaceful moment as we witnessed history in the making. 

The Mass will be remembered for the beautiful music especially Ephrem Feeley’s wonderful World Meeting of Families 2018 hymn, A Joy For All The Earth which was sung with great gusto and delight by the crowd around us.

Pope Francis departed from his text during the Penitential Rite of the Mass to address the abuse crisis.  His remarks were handwritten and translated by his interpreter, Msgr. Mark Miles.

Photo Credit: Maxwell Photography

Pope Francis spoke as follows:

Yesterday I met with eight persons who are survivors of the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience and sexual abuse. In reflecting on what they told me, I wish to implore the Lord’s mercy for these crimes and to ask forgiveness for them.

  1. We ask forgiveness for the cases of abuse in Ireland, the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience and sexual abuse on the part of representatives of the Church. In a special way, we ask forgiveness for all those abuses that took place in different kinds of institutions directed by men and women religious and other members of the Church. We also ask forgiveness for cases in which many minors were exploited for their labour.
  2. We ask forgiveness for all those times when, as a Church, we did not offer to the survivors of any type of abuse compassion and the pursuit of justice and truth by concrete actions. We ask forgiveness.
  3. We ask forgiveness for some members of the hierarchy who took no responsibility for these painful situations and kept silent. We ask forgiveness.
  4. We ask forgiveness those children who were taken away from their mothers and for all those times when so many single mothers who tried to find their children that had been taken away, or those children who tried to find their mothers, were told that this was a mortal sin. It is not a mortal sin; it is the fourth commandment! We ask forgiveness.

May the Lord preserve and increase this sense of shame and repentance, and grant us the strength to ensure that it never happens again and that justice is done. Amen.”

It was a wonderful honour to play a small role at this historic Mass, celebrated by Pope Francis.  Our small Communion Chapel was very busy and our contribution would not have been possible at all without the generous help of so many volunteers. 

I was reminded of Pope Francis’ description of the Church as a “field hospital” where were should reach out to those in need in our communities.  The experience of volunteering in the Communion Chapel at the Papal Mass reminding me, above all, of the importance of bringing the gift of the Gospel to those in need wherever we may find them and of how, as Christians, we can achieve much more collectively than on our own when we are working towards a common purpose. 

Gerard Reilly
Volunteer Blogger
28 August 2018

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