Bishop Ger Nash of Ferns yesterday celebrated the annual 1916 Commemoration Requiem Mass which took place in the Church of the Sacred Heart – the church for the Defence Forces – in Arbour Hill, Dublin. The church is adjacent to the burial ground of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising who coordinated a military response to end British rule and to achieve political self-determination for Ireland.
While delivering his homily Bishop Nash, who was appointed Bishop of Ferns by Pope Francis in June 2021, said, “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 aspect of the executions because of the documented witness of priests who ministered to the soldiers of the rising and to the leaders as they prepared for their executions.
“I name but one as representative of those attending priests and that is Father Aloysius Travers, Capuchin who has left testament 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 honor of Ireland.”
Bishop Nash continued, “The statues of pikemen in various places function as reminders of 1798, but what strikes me more, as I travel about, is seeing place names that resonated in song and story throughout my own school days – Boolavogue, Vinegar Hill, The Harrow, Geneva, and so on. All of them are reminders that we have inherited a love and a yearning for freedom. And there is no doubt that Father Murphy and the Rebels of Wexford were, in many ways, inspirers of the 1916 rebels whom we remember today.
“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. When people stand at the hinge point of a nation’s story as the 1916 leaders did, we easily forget they too had an ordinary beginning and a vision of life in their youth which did not encompass the circumstances that brought them to this place. They were the men like my elderly neighbors in Tulla, County Clare, but unlike them they were not allowed to grow old.
“And so, we gather here 106 years later to acknowledge their sacrifice, and, in the faith, we share with them, to celebrate the Eucharist for the repose of their souls.”
In concluding his homily Bishop Ger Nash said, “May those who began the good work in us be rewarded for their sacrifice and may they rest in the peace of the Risen Christ, who even in his appearances to His disciples carried the wounds of Good Friday, but only as a sign and a pointer to all of us that the Resurrection is the completion of human life, and it awaits all of us.
“Suaimneas siorai tabhair do na laochra croga, gaisciula sin a Thiarna,
“Saoranaigh agus Gaeil den chead scoth.
“Go Lonrai solas na bhflaitheas orthu.