On World Mission Sunday last, Archbishop Eamon Martin celebrated the Mass of Thanksgiving at Saint Mary’s Drumcar, Dunleer, Co Louth, Archdiocese of Armagh, on the occasion of Saint John of God’s leaving Drumcar after 76 years.

During his homily, Archbishop Martin said, “Today is Mission Sunday.  What an appropriate day on which to reflect on the story of Saint Mary’s Drumcar!  The work of all Saint John of God communities has, at its core, the imitation of Christ, who Himself reached out to the sick, the troubled, those with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.  And before His Ascension into heaven, Jesus commissioned His friends and followers to go out and do likewise. ‘You shall be my witnesses’, He told them.  Jesus sent them out, as a community of disciples, especially to look out for the poor and the sick, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to read and respond to the signs of the times.”

Archbishop martin continued, “The Saint John of God brothers came here to Drumcar in order to be witnesses to the loving, merciful and caring work of Jesus.  They were inspired by the Holy Spirit to form a praying community of care made up of many ‘companions for the journey’ who have assisted them in their work.  Now they are moving on.  But the work of mercy does not end.  The mission of our Lord Jesus continues until the end of time.  It is just that it is finding new ways to respond to the signs of our times.

“I thank God for leading Brother Killian Herbert and his companions here to Drumcar in 1946, to the former ancestral home of the McClintock family, where they found a whole neighbourhood and network ready to join with them in their mission of mercy.  For me, two particular words come to mind when I think of their mission here at Drumcar – the words ‘hospitality’ and ‘accompaniment’.

The Primate of All-Ireland said in conclusion, “As our health services become increasingly secularised, it would be a shame if we were to lose the spiritual motivation and inspiration that can add so much value to healthcare.  For generations the people of Ireland were almost entirely dependent and were very grateful for the provision of health services by Catholic religious congregations like the Saint John of God brothers.  Catholic healthcare places, at the centre, the life and inherent dignity and respect for each individual human person, created by God and made in the likeness of God.

“It seeks to build around it a community of caring companions who are motivated by the desire to serve, not to be served, and by a longing to provide hospitality, accompaniment and hope, inspired by the Gospel of Christ, to all; it looks out especially for the poor, the vulnerable, for those who might not have the resources or means to access healthcare services or who may otherwise be excluded or rejected by society; it aims to bring healing to the whole person by modelling the tender, one to one, attention and compassion of Christ which springs from a heart full of love and mercy. These were, and remain, the hallmarks of Catholic healthcare that is inspired by the Gospel, which I hope will never be completely lost from this country, as the Catholic religious congregations move away from the frontline provision of healthcare services.  I hope and pray that the lay-led Saint John of God Hospitaller Services will keep their ethos alive.”

ENDS