As the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Fintan Monahan celebrates his first Christmas in the diocese, he has addressed a number of social issues
“The festive season of Christmas is a time to look back at the events and happenings of the year just gone by and reflect on what has been. We look back, savour and enjoy the good times while acknowledging the difficult times as well. This has been a most significant year for us as we remembered the events of 1916, the sacrifices of many for the freedom of our nation, one hundred years ago.
“Christmas is a time that we become aware of those less well-off, less fortunate than ourselves. It is a time when we do our best to reach out to others with care, with concern, with Christian love. We remember in a special way those suffering economically, the elderly, people living on their own, the bereaved, the homeless, refugees, victims of war and bloodshed, people that are suffering in any way. It has been an horrific time recently in places like Syria and in the locations of the recent terrorist attacks. Our hearts go out to all affected.
“Thoughts and prayers go also to the many people who have lost their lives as a result of tragedies on our roads, on our waterways, those who for whatever difficult circumstances in life and their own personal lives have taken their own lives and most of all their families who are left bereft and heartbroken. Unfortunately the number of road fatalities has risen again this year. We pray for vigilance, alertness, care and concern on our roads at all times.
“At this time of the year our emigrants are very much on our minds. We welcome home those who have returned to be with us for the holiday period and our thoughts go out to those who could not come home. I extend a special word of welcome to those who have come to join us from other countries and enrich our work-force and culture by settling in our midst.
“During my visits to the many rural areas of the diocese, I see the great concern many have about the decline of general rural services and the isolation this is causing. Several elderly people are feeling the pinch and with this an increased sense of loneliness and being abandoned. I appeal to all involved in the decision making and provision of rural services to bear this in mind even though it may not be financially profitable. The quality of life in country areas is so worth preserving and maintaining even if it comes at a cost. The work being done by district day care centres, and many community organisations (Men’s Shed being a typical example) and many other service providers are to be commended highly!
“As Christians, we are people of hope and people of joy. Pope Francis frequently returns again and again to the great hope our faith offers us in a world of indifference and empty materialism. No matter what happens we carry this hope with us because of the Christ-event, the coming of Jesus Christ in the incarnation and through the redemption won for us through the Cross and Resurrection.
“At this special time of the year, this time of profound religious significance I pray that the message of the Christ-Child would be reborn in our diocese, our land, in our homes, in our hearts and souls this Christmas season. Peace, joy, health, happiness, along with many blessings and graces to all for a joyful and fulfilling new year in 2017,” Bishop Monahan concluded