“This cathedral is an icon of hope: that the flame of hope ignited by Patrick on a nearby hill still burns; yes, reduced at times, even by self-inflicted wounds, but never extinguished”
The guest of honour and preacher today at the jubilee Mass in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, was Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. This celebration marked the 75th anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Meath.
Before the Mass Cardinal Dolan was joined on the cathedral grounds by his primary school teacher, Irish-born Sister Mary Bosco Daly, and some married couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries, to plant a birch tree to mark the special occasion.
Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath was the chief celebrant at the Mass, and along with Cardinal Dolan they were joined by His Excellency Archbishop Charles J Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland; Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, who as a priest previously served in Mullingar parish for ten year and by priests of the Diocese of Meath, and by religious. The music for the Mass was a unique collaboration of the Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Mr Gerard Lillis, and the Mullingar Choral Society, directed by Mr Fergus O’Carroll. The repertoire included Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, and pieces from Haydn’s Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo.
During his homily Cardinal Dolan attributed his vocation in large part to the religious formation he received from the Irish Mercy Sisters, saying:
“Not only was my own home archdiocese of Saint Louis blessed with your own Cardinal Glennon, but with a steady stream of priests whose names are still cheered back home, and, in a gift very, very providential and personal for me, when, in 1957 four Sisters of Mercy left the Convent of Saint Mary in Drogheda to take over Holy Infant Parish School in Ballwin, Missouri, where one of them, Sister Mary Bosco Daly, would teach a Timmy Dolan in second, fourth, and fifth grade. Sister, I’m glad you’re here today!”
Cardinal Dolan also referred to hope as the outstanding characteristic of the Church in Ireland:
“No surprise, this hope. Historians of Ireland as diverse as Woodhaus-Smith, Cahill, Foster, and O’Brien conclude that Ireland’s “harsh and dreadful” history . . . and, even its weather! . . . result in either a cynical despair, or a buoyant hope, and, even if grudgingly at times, they credit the faith of Ireland, fostered by the Church, with guaranteeing that a buoyant hope usually trumps a cynical despair.
“This cathedral, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is an icon to that hope: that the flame of hope ignited by Patrick on a nearby hill you call yours still burns; yes, reduced at times – maybe even today – to a flicker by “dungeon, fire, and sword,” or even self-inflicted wounds, but never extinguished, because it is a light of Christ, that not even the gates of hell can put out – although they sure keep trying!”
Following the Mass, more than 2,500 parishioners took part in a street party organised by parish volunteers. The festivities included music from the Mullingar Town Band, performances by the local Arts Centre, children’s games and guided tours of the cathedral.