Although the day was cloudy and overcast the green glory of May could not be hidden on Wednesday May 16th, the day we welcomed the International Eucharistic Congress Bell to Magheramore.
Well wrapped up in the unseasonal cold, we went to the front gate where at 3.00 p.m. the precious bell was handed over to us. Four sisters carried it while four more brought the accompanying icons.
Down the lovely avenue we followed them, the rhododendrons, red and white, purple and pink, a welcoming presence. Bluebells, primroses were in abundance under the magnificent beech and ash and chestnut trees, all in various hues of green and copper.
The bell was rung and echoed through the grounds.
This is the bell the Pope blessed some months back. It has travelled through Ireland, visiting the parishes and reminding us all of the central mystery of our faith, the Eucharist.
Our welcome included a simple, heartfelt liturgy in our chapel, followed later with a holy hour. The bell and the icons had centre place and we all took time to look and to ring and to pray. A number of parishioners joined us in welcoming the bell, taking turns to carry it down the avenue and praying with us as we sang our gratitude to the Lord.
After three hours the bell was once again taken in a special van to its next destination, one of the nearby parishes. So the journey continues until the Congress opens.
Next month the Congress, the 50th Eucharistic Congress, will open in Dublin and will be a blessing on all of us. Many, of course, will not be able to go to the capital, but having seen and heard and rung the bell, we all feel part of the celebration.