In his homily for the first Sunday of Lent, Bishop Leahy highlighted the large-scale disruption to the “European dream” caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The Bishop of Limerick said, “When a dream is shattered, there is grief. Europe’s dream has been shattered with the war in the Ukraine. 75 years after the Second World War we had hoped the great dream of a Europe at peace had really taken hold. But that dream has been shattered.

“It’s a moment for all of us to take stock. Yes, we must dream and hope and believe in peace, but we also need to recognise peace is the fruit of our unity with one another. And we have to work at that. No relationship can ever be taken for granted.

“While watching the war on our social media and TVs, we’re seeing again how the powerful wage war, but the poor lose out. So many ordinary folk are facing questions of life and death. We can’t but feel our stomach churning at the sight of innocent young people on both sides whose lives are tragically cut short. And so many fleeing their native land. The ray of consolation at this time is, of course, the incredible outpouring of small and big gestures of solidarity and generous donations from around the world.”

Bishop Leahy emphasised the importance of prayer during the season of Lent, especially in light of the crisis in Ukraine. He said, “Lent is very much associated with giving and giving is good for us in every way. After all, we are created to give. It reflects what’s truly in our soul. Thankfully, in the face of horror, giving is still flourishing now.

“Limerick is a giving city and county and that’s very much reflected in the response to Ukraine. The wonderful response that has seen individuals such as Anna Mazeika, a young Polish woman, step forward courageously to commit to gathering a truck load of medical supplies from generous Limerick people for hospitals in Ukraine. There are many other examples and it keeps that light shining, a light of hope which will ultimately overcome darkness. Just as the Lenten experience.”

The commitment to Ukraine in terms of giving and prayer, the senior prelate said, must continue, “But there’s also a spiritual contribution we can make – we can check out our own personal commitment to building relationships that are genuine and true and just. Perhaps there is some relationship that has been damaged in recent times or one that needs a new effort on our part because things have grown stale. Lent is about beginning again. We don’t have to wait for others to be the first to reach out to us. We can take the initiative. The Ukraine crisis is about a breakdown in relationships. Let’s do our part to build good relationships.”

ENDS