Golden Jubilee Words of Welcome from Sr. Rose Gallagher.

On behalf of the sisters here in Magheramore it is my privilege to welcome you all…especially our Golden Jubilarians:

Maureen, Bernadette, Angela and Patricia and may the blessings of this day reach out to our other Sisters who also celebrate their Golden Jubilees this year:

Gerardine in Korea, Ursula and our dear Miriam…God stole a march on all of us by inviting Miriam

to celebrate her Golden Jubilee in Heaven.

So Heaven is very close to us today, helping us bear Miriam’s loss and, at the same time rejoice with her in her new-found glory.

A warm welcome to you, the families and friends of our Jubilarians and to our own sisters who travelled to be with us today.

Missioned in far flung lands…privileged to be counted among the poor…these Sisters, through their presence, stirred up hope, lifted burdens and restored dignity to God’s own little ones abandoned on the margins and deemed of little worth.

This gold too has been tested by fire….proving ultimately, that God’s grace is ever ours and is sufficient in time of need.

For all that God has done in and through these our sisters, we give thanks today through the Eucharist…giving thanks also for you, their families, who made it all possible.

Gratitude to Fr. Enda Lloyd,who will lead us now in our Liturgy …together with concelebrants: Fr. John Hickey, our Resident Chaplain and Fr. Jackie, Sr. Angela’s brother.

Thanks too, to Sr. Redempta who is our homilist.

As we enter into the celebration of the Mass, let us remember those peoples across the globe who have enriched our lives as missionaries and who continue to struggle for dignified lives.

And finally, being a day of joyful celebration, we invite you all to join in the singing with full voice thanking God for the great, great blessings of this day.

Golden Jubilee Homily August 24h 2019 Magheramore 

We are gathered around the altar this morning, rejoicing with our sisters on the Golden Jubilee of the commitment they made 50 years ago when they vowed to follow the Lord as Columban missionaries. With us here are Angela from Chile, Maureen from Hong Kong, Bernadette from the Philippines, Patricia from Hong Kong. And their companions who cannot be here but are celebrating elsewhere, we also hold in our heart.. Ursula and Gerardine from Korea. 

Here too with us is Miriam who, exactly one week ago, responded to that final call when the Lord came and took her home to celebrate in heaven.

With gratitude we honour the vigour of your vocation, your hearing and responding to a call heard in the bright days of your youth, echoed in your inmost heart throughout the decades and still sounding today, deeply and persistently in the turmoil of these times.  You have been, and still are now, true to that striking directive of our Constitutions –  to live radically, being willing to leave all things for the sake of Christ and be available for the proclamation of the Kingdom to those to whom you are sent.

I am reminded of a comment by the late Columban Fr Dan Fitzgerald who in the nineteen forties was sent to Hanyang in China to be with Bishop Galvin.

He loved to tell anecdotes of the bishop who, recalling the arrival of the first Columbans in China used to say, “It was a mad thing to do!”  We could echo his words here today but the truth is that this ‘madness’ is a grace, a call, given to you and will not be swept away. Like Abraham, like Columban, like our founding sisters gone ahead, you were willing to give up everything for the sake of an unknown future. You set out on a journey, not knowing the road you would travel and, as the poet said, “It made all the difference.”

We bring you with joy before the Lord in this Eucharist. We give huge and endless thanks for the on-going grace that brought you through the hills and valleys of life. For the infinite sweep of God’s great love all your days. For your deep faith; for your courage and your love.  The imprint of your footsteps, the echo of your voices still sounds in the hearts of those you loved and served down the years, here or overseas in Chile, in Hong Kong, in Korea, in China, in the Philippines. Your ministries for the Kingdom included reaching out to prisoners, teaching young and old, healing, welcoming people with AIDS, people lost in the confusion of the culture, people searching for God, people suffering silently and without hope.  We know that your perseverance over the years, especially in the difficult, fallow times of darkness, pain and suffering, is not an individual achievement but rather a witness to the Lord’s call and his constant presence each and every day. And for this, you and we are grateful.

The gospel we just heard, the great announcement of Jesus, can be read in your lives. There was silence in the synagogue on that Sabbath morning when Jesus unrolled the scroll. All eyes were fixed on him. “He has sent me to bring good news to the poor…The text is being fulfilled even as you listen.”  A statement of fact. A statement of faith. A statement that continues to pulsate in your lives today. As missionary disciples we are all called not only to bring the good news but to be the good news to others. And this is revealed only by the love we have for one another. Because then, as St John points out in the first reading, “God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.”

This great love of YHWH was shown to the people of Israel by the gift of Jubilee, celebrated every 50 years at the sound of the trumpet. We hold on to that wonderful and historic meaning and bring it into the now. Jubilee was to be a time of forgiveness; all debts were to be written off; people were to be reconciled; the land was to given rest; people were to return to their ancestral homes. Today’s Jubilee calls you to a homecoming of your heart, to your true self so you experience the joy of a faithful servant. What a gift it is to you, and indeed to all of us, that in the final card from her hospital bed, written a few days before she left us, Miriam wrote to her companions here present of “the joy of 50 years of faithful service and deep relationship with God.” And, she closed, in words whose profound and prophetic message neither she nor we could have imagined: “I will be with you.” And she is.

So, you look back over the way you have come. Embracing the journey with love and deep gratitude, seeing with clear eyes how, as the psalm says, “the Lord guided me on the right path, true to his name.” And you look forward with great hope, allowing the essential Spirit joy overflow in your outreach to others at home or abroad; singing a new song; telling the old story in original words; radiating the astonishing reality of the Kingdom every single day. When we come to our true selves, knowing that we are the beloved of God, we can be sure that, as Catherine of Siena says, “If you are who you are meant to be you will set the world on fire.” 

  So we wish you, dear sisters, on this your Jubilee day, to fire ahead, to be the fire that Jesus longed for. May you be that living text of today’s gospel, so filled with joy that all who meet you will meet the Lord Jesus.

Redempta Twomey

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