Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First Class Relic IEC1932

This is a First Class Relic. A large metal logo from the 1932 Eucharistic Congress, permanently and prominently on display on a Dublin Street. So where is it?

A clue. It is directly outside a church in the north city centre.

A church whose donation box is set in concrete and boasts security every bit as strong as your local ATM.

You got it. Or did you? Berkeley Road church just around the corner from the Mater Hospital.

This view from the Blessington Street Basin. So you can contemplate physical sustenance via the public water supply and divine sustenance via the church. What more could you ask for on a fine day? And it wasn't even on the Dublin Pilgrim Walk for this year's Congress.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Autobiography of a Stamp

Photo: © P Neil Ralley

I read a very powerful piece about moral courage, and the lack of it, by Dermot Bolger in yesterday's Irish Times.

He mentioned Fr. Kenneth McCabe:
"The young Jesuit, Kenneth McCabe, got a truthful report about Irish industrial schools to Donogh O’Malley in 1967. The minister was sufficiently shocked to establish a committee that abolished these lucrative sweatshops, but at the last minute McCabe was excluded from the committee. Tainted as a whistleblower, he resigned from the Jesuits and went to work as a priest with deprived London children."
The name rang a bell but it took me a while to place it.

When I was editing the Shanganagh Valley News in 1958, Fr. McCabe had contributed a short story called "Autobiography of a Stamp, or, Converted by the Jesuits" as a vehicle for appealing for used postage stamps for the Missions.

I bet at that stage he had little idea how his career was to pan out ten years later. I checked out the priest list in the Diocese of Westminster and he is listed there as retired and in a Jesuit nursing home in Milltown.

Until today, I had no idea he had run into trouble for following his conscience. This upset me enormously. I'm not sure why. I never met Fr. Kenneth. I had only corresponded with him by letter. But he was nonetheless part of my growing up and he belonged to a more innocent era, as the story of the stamp so strikingly illustrates. So perhaps my upset was at a loss of innocence, a nostalgia for a time when things seemed simpler, and fixed, and true for all time.

Mind you, my upset is slowly turning into a cold anger at how he was treated. From what I read in the Ryan Report he was one of four people proposed for the Committee of Inquiry, and came recommended by Declan Costello TD, but his name got "dropped" somewhere between the Government Memorandum and the final Cabinet decision. It is not clear what role the Jesuit order played in all of this but his resignation from the Order, if such, would not reflect well on them. On the other hand, he seems to be in some way under their care today.

This post is just a small contribution to making sure he, and his bravery, are not forgotten.

Of course I don't have as many readers as the Irish Times, but, never mind.

Update - 9/2/2013

In the third comment below, Fr. Kevin O'Higgins has informed me that "Fr. Kenneth McCabe died peacefully a few days ago (Wednesday, Feb 6) in Cherryfield nursing unit, at Milltown Park". He says Fr. Ken was "a genuinely great man" and I totally agree. May he rest in peace.

Fr. Kevin himself is no slouch, as his bio on the jesuit missions website shows. He says Fr. Daniel Berrigan inspired him to join the Jesuits, and as I was reading the bio I was also thinking of Fr. Roy Bourgeois who seems to have shared some of the same experiences as Fr. Kevin on the missions.

Thank you Fr. Kevin, for informing me of Fr. Ken's death, and may the force be with you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Extreme Unction

This is part of a poster I saw in my bus today.

In an apparent teaser for the grand finale of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC2012) in Croke Park on 17 June next, the poster advertises a religious gathering in Croke Park on 20 May at which there will be a free bottle of Psalm oil for everyone in the audience.

The organisers are the United Church of the Kingdom of God, which boasts 500 members in Ireland. The Psalm oil seems to be their version of Holy Water and the poster claims that the oil has successfully treated alcoholism and even silenced unwanted voices (a useful Curial adjunct in these troublesome times).

The scriptural basis for using this oil is Psalm 23 - [The Lord is my Shepherd ... You prepare a table before me/ in the presence of my enemies./ You anoint my head with oil;/ my cup overflows. ...]

So the Eucharistic Congress's grand finale, Statio Orbis (loosely translated as "Stop the World, I want to get off"), will need to look to its laurels.

The full UCKG poster is reproduced below. Clicking on the image will show a larger version.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blog off

This is a podcast of Marian Finucane's interview with
Fr. Brian Darcy on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday 29 April 2012.

If you have listened to it and do not feel:
  • a great sadness, and
  • a great anger, and
  • a fear for the future
then go read someone else's blog.