Dear Chaplains and Catechists,
I am delighted to be writing to you for the first time since my appointment to wish you, your colleagues and families every blessing for the Christmas Season and for a very happy, safe and healthy New Year in 2022. As we progress slowly through a seemingly unending pandemic, I know that you and your colleagues in both Primary and Secondary schools see first hand every day the morale sapping effects on our young people. It must be difficult as teachers to maintain a sense of normality in the classroom and the recreation areas but I have no doubt that any resilience our young people are showing is very often down to your own commitment I thank you and your school communities for your generosity with your time and talents in keeping the school community positive in outlook. On behalf of the whole Christian Community in this Diocese of Ferns, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.
I am also very aware that you and your colleagues are in places where conversations take place about the efficacy of restrictions, mask wearing, vaccines etc and your positive contribution to these discussions carry great weight – much more than any public service announcement or press release. I believe that every encouragement you give to young people to value the community response to the current pandemic is of great value because of the standing you hold amongst them.
Pope Francis has called the whole worldwide church to a Synodal path in the coming years. In translation, this means to walk with and listen to people and their experience of life and church. This includes those who are comfortable within current church structures and those who are deeply uncomfortable and those who feel that church has little to offer them. We have begun this process here in the Diocese and already I have visited a few of the Second level schools and hope to visit the rest throughout the year as part of the Synodal process. The image from scripture that links most strongly to this synodal process is The Road to Emmaus passage, What is significant about this is that Christ opened the conversation with “What are you talking about?” This has to be our Diocesan question for the coming time and I am happy to be asking this question as I begin my ministry here in Wexford.
May you and your school communities experience 2022 as a turning point in all of your lives and may you continue to be safe and happy
+ Ger Nash
Bishop of Ferns
Message from Bishop Denis Brennan to Post Primary Schools September 2020
I hope this message finds you well.
The return to school this year is as surreal as was the early closedown. Like all sectors of society, you find yourself trying to operate in what is a much changed environment, a world where many of the old patterns and practices are suspended, and a work place where vigilance and repeated safety messages abound.
I write to you with a twofold purpose:
- To thank you for the accompaniment and reassurance that you afforded our young people since the beginning of the pandemic. A trying time for all, it certainly has had its impact on our young in terms of education, social interaction, lifestyle and indeed ‘ meaning of life ‘ as they struggle to adapt and understand.
- To extend to you a word of encouragement and wish you well as you return to the task as a front line and very necessary beacon, one charged with giving direction, hope, encouragement and purpose. The current climate makes this role all the more challenging as old assumptions are under pressure, questions abound in a climate of uncertainty and yet ‘ needs must ‘ as we try to negotiate our way together in a caring manner, through new and unchartered waters.
I’m mindful of words used some years ago by the late Saint John-Paul:
‘’ What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary, and without the love of Jesus, everything is useless.’’
It’s a stark quote, but one that is very clear in the direction in which it points us. All will work out in time but what do we hold onto as we journey there?
Pope John-Paul points in the direction of friendship with-and trust in- Jesus Christ, our sure hope and unchanging point of reference as so much about us remains fluid and uncertain.
As we being 2020, I wish you well as you live out your role as ‘ beacon ‘ in our schools and communities. Rest assured of the confidence of Jesus in you as you undertake not only a vital role among the young, but also a life giving and uplifting one in this new ‘ normal ‘- which hopefully will be less long lasting—than it is all too easy to fear.
With every good wish that you stay safe,
+ Denis Brennan.