Bishop Monahan: the 1916 Leaders “were the grain of wheat which produced a great harvest”

8 May, 2024 | Bishops, Church, News, World

108 years following the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland, Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe was the chief celebrant for the Mass offered for the repose of the souls of those who died during this historic event.  This annual 1916 State Commemoration Requiem Mass takes place on the first Wednesday on/after 3rd May of each year at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Dublin’s Arbour Hill – the church for the Irish Defence Forces – which is adjacent to the site of burial of the executed leaders of 1916.

During the Mass Bishop Monahan said, “we gather today to commemorate the Leaders of 1916 who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives when they were executed in the Easter Rising of 1916.  May the light of that sun of the resurrection shine brightly on them here in the east of our land.

 “As a Church we bask in these Eastertide weeks of 2024 celebrating our Faith in the Resurrection.  On Sunday last, the 6th Sunday of Easter we heard the words of Jesus in the Gospel that there can be no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  The same Easter liturgical Ceremonies were also the spiritual backdrop to the events of the 1916 Easter Rising and the subsequent executions of its leaders.  Easter in Ireland is forever imbued with the memory of 1916.

“I recall the parish priest of the place where I went to school, An Cheathrú Rua, Co na Gaillimhe.   Every year during Easter week he became animated in commemorative prayer for the sacrifice of the 1916 leaders.

 “While serving on the staff for many years in Saint Jarlath’s College, Tuam, an annual historical tour of Dublin was one of the ‘rites of passage’ of post Junior Certificate students.  Central to that, at the beginning of the day was an historical tour of Kilmainham jail.  The story and visceral reality of the execution in the Stone Breakers Yard of the Laochra 1916 captivated even the most skeptical and seemingly disinterested adolescent heart.

“We pray for a share in the Resurrection for the leaders of 1916 – Resurrection: the ultimate rising to eternal life.

“I draw attention to the faith profiles of the rising leaders, courtesy of the documented faith stories in the treasure of a publication The End of all things earthly – Faith Profiles of the 1916 Leaders.

“The testimony of one of the attending priests, that of Father Aloysius Travers, a Capuchin priest, informs us that the leaders went to their deaths confident in the promise of their faith and the knowledge that they were: Dying for the glory of God and the honour of Ireland.  In the words of today’s Gospel, they were the grain of wheat which produced a great harvest.  Their place in history has in ways removed them from the ranks of ordinary people.”

Bishop Monahan’s homily is available in full here


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