Ardlea 50th Anniversary

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Homily notes of notes of Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin

Saint John Vianney, Ardlea, 15 November 2019

”I have good reason to remember 1969, the year in which this Church was opened and dedicated to Saint John Vianney.  It was the year that I was ordained priest.

I remember how in 1969 Dublin was a verydifferent place.  This area of Artane was a new and rapidly growing suburb, almost on the outer boundaries of the city.  Today Ardlea is totally incorporated into the heart of a city that reaches outeven into country Meath.  Yet even from its earliestdays, I have seen letters in our Diocesan Archives where the priests were writing to the Archbishop looking for another Curate, the pace of growth was so great.

From its earliest days, this Church played an important part in the life and the growth of the area. There is a sense in which the members of that first Church community in Ardlea did so much to turn a group of housing estates into a real community.    We remember those early residents with special gratitude.

Today the community has changed but the Church is still not just a physical landmark but a place where community is built and where faith is built and transmitted.  

All three readings in today’s Mass speak about buildings.  We have to remember however that when the liturgy proposes a text about a Church building or a Temple, it immediately directs our attention away from bricks and mortar to something deeper in our understanding of the Church.    

There is a sense in which the life of a parish is like the description in our first reading of a place from which water flows, irrigating its surroundingsand fostering the growth of luscious fruit.  It says that the fruit will be good to eat because the water flows from the sanctuary.

Our world, our culture and our city need the rich waters of the message of Jesus.  Believers face many challenges.  We must never allow ourselves to be trapped in pessimism or cynicism. The message of Jesus Christ brings nourishment and healing intosociety.  The believing community cannot keep its faith just for itself, but must be a beacon of light and reconciliation and caring in the culture in which it lives.

Our second Reading reminds us that to succeed a parish community must constantly be aware that the only one foundation of the building is Jesus Christ.  It reminds us that, “The Temple is sacred”, but immediately adds, “However you are the temple”.

The work of a parish is always one of building up the Church, not however a Church of externals, but a Church focussed on our belief in the Jesus who alone brings hope and inspires us to be witnesses to the God of love.   Amid the myriad of activities that occur within a parish, the message and the person of Jesus must remain the central focal point.

Every parish today has to face the challenge of bringing that message of Jesus Christ into the hearts of our young people, not as a rulebook or some sort of vague goodness.  We have to help young people to realise that Jesus is the one who enriches and enhances our talents and abilities and leads us into a deeper and more fulfilling life.

Our Gospel reading is set in the Temple of Jerusalem. The reading is at the same time the story of an event and a metaphor.  The story is about how Jesus cleansed the Temple from all those things that distracted from the real reason for its existence.  The metaphor is that this story is also a call that our faith and our Church must be constantly cleansed form distractions and distortions.

The Church at any moment can become a secular market place of vague and superficial things that become called spirituality. The story of Jesus cleansing the temple is a call to us to allow the strength of Jesus to open our hearts fully and trustfully to the Lord above all else.

This Church is dedicated to Saint John Vianney, patron of priestly ministry.  A parish dedicated to Saint John Vianney must become a powerhouse of prayer for vocations and of support for priests.  We need new priests.  We need to pray for vocations.  We need to overcome the reticence that has rightly or wrongly subtly slipped into some of our hearts about the need for priests.

At this Jubilee celebration, we give thanks to theLord for the life of the many priests who have ministered in this parish over the years.  I think of the diocesan priests who ministered in the early years and the Sacred Heart priests who continue this work in our time.  I think of the religious sisters and brothers, the teachers in our Catholic schools, the many lay men and women who have contributed in such a variety of ways to animate parish life.  I think of the care that has been shown to the poor, the sick, those living alone. I think of parents and grandparents.

 I think also of those who have reason to feel hurt or wounded within the life of the parish and ask the Lord to bring them healing and renew their faith that had been damaged.

Your patron was a remarkable Saint who lived a life of poverty and isolation but continued withoutany showmanship to touch hearts in the very depth of their being.  I myself have a special bond of affection with Saint John Vianney in that when I was asked to come to Dublin as Archbishop and had my doubts Iwent to the Shrine of Saint John Vianney to seek guidance.

What is a parish?  It is all those things that I mentioned, a place where community is formed, a place of prayer, a place of education of the youngand care for the sick and the troubled. Above all, however, it is the place where the sacraments are celebrated and the Eucharist becomes the visible guarantee of the continuing presence of Christ in his Church and in our lives. ”

May these Jubilee celebrations be an occasion all of for us to learn from the good things of the past and an encouragement to deepen our faith life in the years to come.