The annual Meath Diocesan celebration in honour of Saint Oliver Plunkett was held at his birthplace in Loughcrew, Co Meath on Sunday 26 June. At the event, Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, commissioned the young pilgrims of the diocese participating in World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland from 26 – 30 July.
Father Mark English, Kingscourt Parish delivered the homily at the Mass, saying, “In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy it is wonderful for us to gather here in Loughcrew for this annual celebration and to contemplate the example of one who, like the ‘Good Shepherd,’ ultimately laid down his life for the flock that belongs to God the Father.”
Father English continued, “Last October marked the 40th anniversary of the canonisation of our beloved Saint. That same week of the twelfth of October in 1975 … there was a group from Poland with their archbishop, Cardinal Wojtyla, who on managing to get visas out of the Communists to visit Rome, were made guest of the Irish and given tickets so as to attend the canonisation and encounter Blessed Pope Paul VI.”
“Next month, it is a group of young people, with Bishop Michael from our diocese, who will be guests in Poland, along with millions more young people from around the globe gathered to encounter Pope Francis. We will be hosted in Krakow, the city, the home of Cardinal Wojtyla, now Saint Pope John Paul II, whom many of you can recall saying when amongst us in 1979, Young people of Ireland, I love you!”
Later in his homily, Father English said, “So many young Irish, many contemporaries of our own pilgrims preparing for World Youth Day, know the anxiety of emigration: the leaving, the uncertainty. Many of course have faced here in the Ireland of recent times an economic persecution, yet do they look to God? In new and unfamiliar countries the Irish pub, the GAA club, provide a kind of home from home, a familiar place to gather, but so too the Church can provide a sense of home from home.”
Father English concluded, saying, “As we must leave from here to continue our pilgrimage in life, these young people need our prayers and encouragement as they face not only the journey to join with Pope Francis in Krakow but the bigger journey of what paths to take in life and how to keep alive a burning passion for Christ, his people and his Church as Saint Oliver once did.
“At the scaffold at Tyburn, Saint Oliver concluded his last public discourse with the following words which we might use ourselves before God, as we strive in this Jubilee Year of Mercy to be Merciful like the Father in all our endeavours along the great pilgrimage of life from birth to death.”
I would if I were able to clear myself of high crimes committed against the Divine Majesty’s commandments, often transgressed by me, for which, I am sorry from the bottom of my heart; and if I should or could live a thousand years, I have a firm resolution, and a strong purpose, by your grace, My God, never to offend you; I beseech your Divine Majesty, by the merits of Christ, and by the intercession of his Blessed Mother, and all the holy Angles and Saints, to forgive me my sins, and to grant my soul eternal rest. Miserere mei Deus. – Saint Oliver Plunlett
World Youth Day 2016 will take place in Krakow, Poland, from 26-30 July. This year’s theme is ‘Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5:7). For more information see www.krakow2016.com/en/.