Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán shares his reflections & experiences.

Hello and welcome!

Last week I had the joy of presiding at the Mass to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas in Galway, Ireland. 11034224_343259845871227_6612791604791553286_n

The reason I was asked to preside at the celebration was that 50 years ago this cathedral was built in Galway City with the help of Cardinal Cushing and the Irish of Boston.  Galway_04_1

In fact, Cardinal Cushing was named as the papal legate to preside at the dedication of this beautiful Cathedral. It was a magnificent celebration with many important Irish officials in attendance.

I celebrated the Jubilee Mass on Friday evening. The Cathedral was packed and there were many concelebrants. Bishop Martin Drennan was very welcoming, as was the pastor, Canon Peter Rabbitte, and the curate Father Martin Walsh.11899886_405720372958507_7439264802447770134_n

There were also quite a number of Boston priests with us for the Mass.11836857_405707359626475_1372130694193468211_n

With the famous Irish singing trio, “The Priests,” who put on a performance in honor of the Cathedral anniversary. You’ll notice that behind us is a portrait of Cardinal Cushing.08162015_2232_33

The Cathedral is the newest of any cathedral in Europe but is still very grand. The stonework is magnificent and the ceiling is California redwood.Galway_02_1Galway_03_1

One of the more interesting details that stood out to me was a mosaic of President Kennedy in the Resurrection Chapel. Galway_05_1

One of the important figures of Easter Rising, Patrick Pearse, is on one side, and John F. Kennedy is on the other.Galway_06_1

I was also amused by this stained-glass window. Galway_07_1

Obviously, it’s an image of the Holy Family but, if you look carefully, you see that Jesus is serving tea to St. Joseph. I thought that was very original! Also, you’ll notice that the Blessed Mother is knitting – presumably an Irish sweater!

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While we were in Galway, we had some time to see the city and the surrounding area.Galway_11_1

The River Corrib runs through the city and over the bridge you see the dome of the Cathedral. Galway_10_1Any anglers who read this blog may be interested to know that the river is full of salmon. So, they might consider a stop here on their next visit to Ireland.

While we were walking downtown I noticed this shop had the O’Malley crest on it. Galway_12_1

I also got a kick out of the sign that said “Reidy,” because my mother was a Reidy.Galway_18_1

This cross marks a cemetery for unbaptized babies right on the edge of the ocean. Those types of cemeteries were very common at one time.Galway_19_1

Also, as I was visiting a local bookstore, I saw these buttons with the Arabic letter N, for Nazarene, which is what they call the Christians in Arabic.08182015_1248_34

I was very pleased that people are beginning to identify with the Christians of the Middle East.

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Saturday morning we celebrated Mass in the crypt of the Cathedral with Father Rabbitte for Bishop Michael Browne, who oversaw the construction of the new Cathedral.08152015_1456_2108152015_1455_20

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In the afternoon we went out to Connemara, which is west of Galway. I thought it was interesting that when you are in Galway all the signs are bilingual, English and Irish, but as soon as you get into Connemara English signs are nowhere to be found.

I also thought it was very interesting that virtually everybody we met told us they have relatives in Boston. And not only that, but they can tell you what parish they are from and what neighborhood they live in. It was just incredible.

It made it very clear why they received so much support from the Irish in Boston for the building of the Cathedral.

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On Sunday morning, I celebrated Mass with the community of Poor Clares in Galway, which has been there since the 1600’s.08162015_1031_25

With the sisters. The sister in the very center, between the two novices, is Father George Carlson’s niece.

At the time of Cromwell, the sisters fled the middle of the country and came to Galway, where they were hidden with families until they were able to build this monastery.Galway_09_1

On the wall is a parchment, listing the sisters who have served in the monastery since the 1640s.08162015_1021_23

You will notice that many of the first sisters came from Spain. 08162015_1021_23 copy

I learned that, besides the sisters, there was another interesting historical connection between Galway and Spain: Christopher Columbus went to Mass in the oldest church in Galway, St. Nicholas Church, before heading to the New World. In the time of Cromwell, that church was confiscated by the Protestants. So, that’s why the Cathedral was given the name Our Lady Assumed into to Heaven and St. Nicholas, to preserve the name of the church.

This is the Chapel the Poor Clares. The tabernacle opens up and contains a monstrance visible from both sides. The sisters remain on the other side.08162015_0913_22

The superior of the sisters gave me the gift of this tile with the “IHS” monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus.08162015_1029_24

The Poor Clares and the Franciscan Friars in Galway have long promoted devotion to the Holy Name. It comes from the Franciscan saint, St. Bernardine of Siena. So, wherever you go in Galway, you see tiles like this with the IHS, indicating the Holy Name of Jesus, over the front door of houses.

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After the Mass with the sisters, we had brunch with a group of Boston pilgrims who were in Galway for the anniversary celebration and joined us for the Mass.GalwayBostonPilgrims

Then, around midday, we drove out to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, which is the Marian shrine in the part of Ireland near where my family is from. They were celebrating the novena, and Cardinal Dolan had just been there the day before leading a pilgrimage from New York.

08162015_1323_27The Chapel of the Apparitions at the Shrine

In this photo you can see one of the gardens around Knock, which are always very beautiful and well-kept.08162015_1321_26

This plaque explains the apparition of knock.08162015_1323_28

08162015_1341_29While we were visiting the shrine, we ran into Father Mark Storey, who happened to be in Knock at the same time we were.08162015_1345_30

With Father Bob Kickham, Father Kevin O’Leary and Father Storey

During our visit to the shrine, there was a Mass going on in the Basilica. The Basilica holds 4,000, and on that Sunday they had 4 or 5 Masses with the Basilica being full each time. In fact, the shrine gets over 1 million visitors per year, making it the most visited site in Ireland. 08162015_1438_32

At the shrine, there are ladies who serve tea and cake for all the pilgrims.08162015_1424_31

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That day was also Cemetery Sunday, when local parishes celebrate an outdoor Mass in their cemetery to remember the dead. All the cemeteries we passed were full of people.

In the U.S., we usually hold commemorations like this around All Souls Day, but in Ireland they do it in the summer when the weather is better.

In this particular cemetery, Father Brendan Darcy, who is in SMA Father from Boston, celebrated Mass for 3,000 people on that day. Galway_17_1

 

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán