On Easter Monday, Bishop Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns appealed to the people of Ireland not to be afraid to acknowledge the influential role faith played in the lives of the 1916 leaders. Bishop Brennan was speaking at a 1916 Commemoration Mass in Saint Aidan’s Cathedral in Enniscorthy.
He said: “In looking at the 1916 leaders and their motivation let us not be afraid to acknowledge the influential role faith played in their lives. As Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has observed recently ‘’each of the leading figures had a personal story of faith which accompanied them on their journey.’’
He said “Religion, despite sometimes falling spectacularly short of its ideals, gives expression to the side of our human nature which calls us to look above and beyond, the side which challenges us to be more than we think we can be.”
Bishop Brennan went on to say that “Easter Week 1916 set the Irish people on a new path. As we remember the people of 1916, we are changed in the remembering, in that sense they are still touching us, still inspiring us,” he commented.
“Not everything that has happened since has been glorious, not all the high hopes that fueled the Rising have been realised, but because of that unexpected, and initially unpromising, rendezvous with destiny, we have been able to chart our own distinctive course as a free people.”
“The men and women of 1916 are gone from us physically and separated from us in time, but their memory remains, their love of country, their love of freedom, and their willingness to risk everything for what they believed in. 1916 has been transformational, it has changed our country, it has changed us. As we remember the people of 1916 we are changed in the remembering, in that sense they are still touching us, still inspiring us.”
During his homily Bishop Brennan also remembered “all those who lost their lives on that fateful Easter week, the men, women, and children who died on the streets of Dublin, the equivalent number of Irishmen who died that week on the Western Front, the British soldiers and R.I.C. who perished in the Rising, many of whom were Irish.”
He said: “All of them were caught up in events which had been set in motion many years before and which converged in bloody culmination on the streets of Dublin and the trenches of the Western Front in April 1916.”
Bishop Brennan concluded his homily by focusing on Ireland 2016 saying: “A century later and the journey goes on, we are still writing our story, still trying to make real the promise and the dream of 1916. We owe it to the legacy of 1916 to do it in the spirit of the Proclamation itself which states its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation……cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.”
Read the full text of Bishop Brennan’s homily here.