On Sunday 28 January, the Salesians of Don Bosco in Ireland celebrated 25 years of presence in the Parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Archdiocese of Dublin. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, joined with Father Michael Casey SDB to celebrate Mass marking the anniversary in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Sean Mc Dermott Street, Dublin.
In his homily Archbishop Martin said, ‘Father Michael Casey, in his opening words, set out well what we are celebrating here this morning. We celebrate twenty-five years of Salesian presence of care and service in this Parish. Father Michael very generously immediately mentioned the other partners who have played important roles in parish life over these years: the Daughters of Charity, the Columban Missionary Sisters, the Romanian community, as well as many others: the Schools, the health services, those fighting addiction, the Day Centre for the elderly, the Pastoral Council and other Church structures.’
He continued, ‘Can I add the names of three others who have been constantly present invisibly animating the spiritual and the human development of this community of faith and its place within a wider and diverse community?
‘The first is Don Bosco, the founder of the Salesians. He was a great Saint of the people. He worked within communities and especially with young people. Anywhere in the world where you find a Salesian community you find a presence among young people that is practical, caring, and forward-looking. I have visited Salesian schools in the poorest parts of the world and the Salesian presence is always one that provides practical help for young people, no matter what their belief.
‘The Spirit of Don Bosco is one that sets out to enable every young person to reach his or her full God-given potential as individuals and to build up a community that surrounds and helps young people. For Don Bosco, young people were never just passive objects of his attention. The aim of Don Bosco was always that of making young people, as Father Michael noted, “good citizens and good Christians”.’
He added, ‘So many families here in this parish can thank God that even in hard times, and in the face of many negative forces, they have seen their children grow up to become good citizens and good Christians and good parents, people of whom this parish can be proud.’
Archbishop Martin went on to say, ‘The second figure is Matt Talbot. Matt Talbot belongs here. He is a true Dubliner who faced the challenges of Dublin in difficult times, especially the challenge of the exploitation of workers and the damage that was done by drink and addiction. Matt was a worker, a very simple man who was able in the midst of poverty and disadvantage to be truly a man of God, a mystic, and a man of prayer. He lived a saintly life not by running way from his place of hard work and his difficult social environment. He stayed here and found holiness here. Over the years, he has touched hearts and he has answered the hidden prayers of many a parent or of individuals in heart breaking situations of addiction. His presence here is truly a blessing.
‘The third figure is Our Lady of Lourdes, patron of this parish … Mary is the model of a strong woman who sought out God’s will and stood by her Son Jesus when his unfailing love was responded to with rejection and when his goodness was responded to with shameful violence. Mary is the one who reminds us of how the presence of goodness will eventually overcome the arrogance of the violent. Still today, the prayer of Mary reminds all of us that those who feel that they are mighty will one day fall from their thrones and their power. Mary is the model of courage and life; those who espouse violence think that they are strong but are in the end only despicable exploiters of others.
He continued, ‘The future of this parish and its people will be shaped not by the drug barons but by the goodness and the determination of good honest and courageous citizens, young and old, women and men, who care not for their own wealth and power, but for the safe and happy future of our younger generations.’
Archbishop Martin concluded his homily saying, ‘Jesus’ call to conversion is constant and must be kept constantly alive in our lives. Being a follower of Jesus is not like signing up to a membership of a club where once we pay our contribution we still belong whether we are active or not.
‘The newness of Jesus’ teaching will always be challenging. It may mean that we have to change our ways and our ways of thinking so that what we do and what our Church does and teaches reflects only that authority of Jesus and not our own way of thinking. May the Lord bless this parish and especially its young people.’
The Salesians of Don Bosco are a religious congregation of brothers and priests, founded in 1859 by Saint John Bosco. The Salesians have been in Ireland since 1919, and have been working closely with the Sean McDermott Street Parish since 1993 where they are committed to being a supportive, gentle and spiritual presence for the people of this inner city area. The feast of Saint John Bosco was celebrated on Wednesday 31 January.