Opening School Liturgy, – 14 September

Opening School Liturgy, – 14 September

On Tuesday, 14 September at 11.15am, Archbishop Eamon will lead an online Opening School Liturgy from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.

Parents, Guardians, Grandparents and other family members are encouraged to participate by following the link below, as we pray for all the children who have returned to school for another academic year.

Northern Catholic Bishops webinar series to mark centenary of Partition and establishment of Northern Ireland 

“This webinar series is an opportunity for people of all traditions to engage with our shared history” – Archbishop Eamon Martin 

The Northern Catholic Bishops have announced that they will host an online webinar series of historical talks marking the centenary of Partition and the establishment of Northern Ireland.  These talks will be led by Dr Éamon Phoenix, political historian, columnist and broadcaster, who will be joined by a number of academic historians from the North and South over four Monday nights from 13 September to 4 October 2021. 

Welcoming the announcement of the webinar series, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said, “This webinar series is an opportunity for people of all traditions to engage with our shared history.  The presentations, expertly put together by Dr Éamon Phoenix, will allow for the story of the coming into being, and development, of Northern Ireland to be examined and analysed while critically assessing the role of the Churches, and others, in that respect.  On behalf of the Northern Bishops, I invite those with an interest in Church, society, politics and history to join us in helping to unravel further this complex and sometimes contentious story.”

“We are grateful for the funding we have received from the Northern Ireland Office and the National Lottery Heritage Fund which will enable the sharing of untold stories about important aspects of our history and to help bring the community together at this important moment.”

From next week, the programme of talks will be delivered online via Zoom over four Monday evenings from 7.00pm – 9.00pm, as follows: 

Monday 13 September 2021: ‘The path to partition and the creation of Northern Ireland 1900-1922’ with Dr Éamon Phoenix and Ann Donnelly of the Northern Ireland Screen drawing on the historical newsreels of the period. 

Monday 20 September 2021: ‘A difficult birth: political background and sectarian violence 1918-122’ with Dr Alan Parkinson, Jim McDermott and Dr Éamon Phoenix. 

Monday 27 September 2021: ‘The formative years: the Catholic Church, the nationalist minority and the Northern Ireland state 1921-25’ with Dr Mary Harris, Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick, Dr Sean Farren and Dr Éamon Phoenix. 

Monday 4 October 2021: ’The Catholic Church, Northern Nationalism and the Unionist State from the Boundary Commission to the Welfare State and the Troubles, c. 1925-75’ with Dr Mary Harris, Dr Russell Rees and Dr Éamon Phoenix. 

Each week’s webinar will include a question and answer session.  The aim is to facilitate a respectful, cross-community discussion on this key historical period, its legacy and consider its lessons for a society moving forward post-conflict.

Each of the webinars are free of charge but registration is required in advance by email to  The Zoom link will be sent out in advance of each webinar.


Mount St. Anne’s Retreat and Conference Centre, Co. Laois – Autumn Courses Online

All Courses are at 19.00-21.00 (Irish Time) on ZOOM

To book a place please email

Title: Laudato Si’ in our Contemporary World

October 6, 13, 20, 27     (Sean McDonagh)

This course will explore Laudato Si and the Challenges of Biodiversity and Climate Change.

€100 for full course

Women in the Bible: Our Mothers in Faith

October 7, 14, 21, 28  (Rosalie Moloney)

The diverse women of the Bible offer us inspiring examples of Faith in action. This course invites us to follow in the footsteps of some of these remarkable but very human characters: from Ruth and Naomi and the mothers of Genesis to the women of Jesus’ parables and the female leaders of the early Church.  

€100 for full course

Celtic Spirituality: What is it? Has it any significance for life today? 

November 3, 10, 17, 24   (Michael Drumm)

There is a lot of talk today about Celtic Spirituality. But the question arises – what exactly is it? Does such a spirituality exist? Is it anything more than romantic nostalgia for a dead past? Who were the Celts? Can we access their spiritual insights? During this course some characteristics of Celtic life will be identified which might legitimately form the foundations for a renewed Celtic spirituality today. 

€100 for full course 

Exploring the Synodal Pathway: The Ongoing Reception of Vatican II

November 4, 11, 18, 25  (Janet Forbes and Oonagh O’ Brien)

This course will explore the upcoming Synod as the continuation of the Second Vatican Council with a particular focus on the Spirituality of Synodality; the participation of all especially young people and the need for structures and resources to support the local church.

Janet Forbes and Oonagh O’ Brien featuring Sr Nathalie Becquart and Rafael Luciani.

€100 for full course


2021 marks the 6th anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment entitled Laudato Si’: On care for our Common Home. This anniversary was celebrated throughout the world and in Rome in May 2021.

This year, as in previous years, the Season of Creation will be celebrated from 1st September – 4th October. It is an opportunity to give thanks to God for the gift of creation, to explore the rich content of Laudato Si’ and decide on what actions should be taken locally to care for our common home.

The theme for the Season of Creation this year is “A Home for All?: Restoring Our Common Home”.

We are pleased to bring to your attention Liturgical Resources for use during the Season of Creation which will be celebrated from 1st September – 4th October 2021.

These resources are now available for downloading on the website of the Irish Episcopal Conference and our own diocese at

The resources are made up as follows:

  1. An Introduction to the Season of Creation, and Earth Day Prayer Service and a Prayer Service for Wednesday 1st September 2021. This could serve as a Prayer Service in the parish, or as a resource for an ecumenical gathering with other churches, or at the opening of the school year, or during the weekday Mass.
  2. Resources for the Sundays between 1st September and 4th October 2021, covering a Penitential Service, Notes for a homily, Prayers of the Faithful, a post-Communion Reflection, and the Dismissal at the end of Mass.
  3. An outline of practical actions that parishioners might take during the Season of Creation which includes a ritual for tree planting.
  1. A Season of Creation Leaflet for parishes containing information on biodiversity initiatives and other activities.

In addition to the Resources, you will also find, later in August, Podcasts on the website of the Irish Episcopal Conference relating to the Season of Creation.

After the Season of Creation there will be a meeting in October of world leaders in China for a UN Biodiversity Conference (known as COP 15) and another UN meeting on Climate Change in November of world leaders in Scotland on (known as COP 26).

In preparation for these UN meetings there will be a petition known as the Healthy Planet, Healthy People Petition available at for dioceses, parishes, and individuals to sign. It is envisaged that this petition with signatures will be presented by Pope Francis to the Presidents of these upcoming UN conferences.

The Season of Creation, of course, should be celebrated in a way that adheres to the Government Guidelines concerning the Covid-19 crisis during 1September – 4 October 2021.

Finally, you may wish to know that these Resources have been prepared by the Laudato Si’ Working Group of the Council for Catechetics.  We hope you will find them helpful and, of course, you should feel free to adapt them to suit the local circumstances of your parish and schools.

A prayer for our earth from Laudato Si’ 
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

A Christian prayer in union with creation
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand; they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.

You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother, you became part of this earth, and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!

Holy Spirit, by your light
You guide this world towards the Father’s love and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love, teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe, for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.

God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.

O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!

Meadow Meaning – A Reflection by Brother Richard Hendrick OFM Cap 

the blades of grass
the flowers
you dare to call
the light fast lives
of tiny buzzing
hear the call of Divine
and give them
selves totally to
grow towards the
And what of

Forest Faith – a reflection by Brother Richard Hendrick Ofm Cap 

When the edges of my mind fray,
and the golden sacred thread
seems pulled, gathered, caught
upon the briar of my broken being,
and my hearthome holds too much
behind its ancient doors
so there is no breathing space at all,
I take myself to the woods.
For there I become not young,
but small again and feel the rising
ocean tides of sap lull me at last
into the deep greening rest of soul
only the old tall ones know
the sky touchers, earth drinkers
we call in our dull infant speech, simply Trees.
So I place my foot upon the winding path
and dew the way with tears and sometimes even blood,
until their windleaf song sounds soul deep, and slows and halts me long enough
to feel their verdant canopy of calm,
and I greet them then,
as the keepers of the way they are;
the blessed Beech and noble Holly,
the Oak and Ash and Thorn,
grey brown brothers and sisters
of the branching dance of being.
Their familiar oldness a reminder
of my passing place
in all this; they leaflean down
to teach me once again the way of prayer
as being and being as prayer,
allowing the holy breath to play along my spine as within their trunked tallness
while standing through the shifting seasons
they grow slowly, imperceptibly, always,
until flower and fruiting follow in their turn,
then the seeming fall, asleep asunder for awhile,
as my life now flutters, cast upon the winds
lost in wildness, a wintered leaf, dry and brittle,
but here in their stately shadows
daring to read the scripture of their state,
and hear their prophecy proclaimed in stillness; that old roots dig deep and deeper still, that branches bend so not to break and that there is a joy in storms when yielded to.
So for a while I breathe the sylvan air
and greet the great and green,
these guardians of natural grace,
and then when I have walked long enough to become reminded, rewilded and rehomed in heart, I bow in thanks
and leave the woods to plant their sainted seeds throughout my world and life;
to feel a forest grow within
and make the faith feathered one
a home.

Pope Francis on Caring for Our Common Home 

“We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.” “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”   “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years.”   “We are not God. The Earth was here before us and was given to us.”   “The idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology … is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry at every limit.”   “Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.   Click here for resources on the Care of Creation from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

The following resources are offered for use in dioceses, parishes and in the home, during the Season of Creation 2021: 

  1. Sunday Liturgy Notes for the Season of Creation 2021 – This resource includes homily notes for each Sunday, prayers of the faithful, music suggestions, reflections and mass parts which highlight the call to restore God’s creation.
  2. A weekday Prayer Service for the Season of Creation 2021 – This ecumenical resource could be used to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Creation on 1 September in an ecumenical setting, or as a resource that could be used for the celebration of the Eucharist in parishes, or at any other time between 1st September and 4th October, feast of Saint, Francis of Assisi. We have prepared it for a formal church setting or for use out-of-doors.  
  3. An Earth Day Prayer Service – This beautiful service was compiled by Balally Parish, Dublin to celebrate Earth Day in 2021 but could be adapted and used as part of any Season of Creation event. It includes a reflection by Father Dermot Lane. 
  4. Practical Actions for Parishes 2021
  5. Tree Planting Resource for the Season of Creation 2021 – Restore Our Common Home this year by engaging your parish or diocese in Tree Planting initiatives. Thanks to ‘Easy Treesie’ we have all the tips you need and prayers for tree planting. 
  6. Season of Creation Brochure Digital – A colourful resourcewith many practical tips and reflections on how to Restore Our Common Home. From the JPIC committee in the Diocese of Kerry and the Laudato Si’ Working Group. Season Of Creation Brochure for printing
  7. Acts of Love for the Season of Creation 2021 – PowerPoint with practical suggestions for each day of the Season. With many thanks to the Care for Creation team at Bonnybrook Parish Dublin for sharing this resource with us. 
  8. Season of Creation Prayer 2021 – A Video Reflection which can be used for meetings, prayers, on social media or in parishes with PowerPoint accessibility. (see below for video) 


Blake captures a widespread feeling of transcendence that the mystic senses when he wrote in his poetry

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

Joseph Plunkett wrote

I See His Blood  Upon The Rose

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice-and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

Rainbows are sacred natural happenings but seem like mountains to be thin places where God seems very close and the veil between our world and Heaven is thin or removed. There we get glimmers of His beauty and constant care and presence. ( Declan )

Skies touched by sunsets can be awesome too. I thought this sky was really awesome. Life itself can be awesome. New Life especially so.

We are all touched by the blessing of being touched by the hand and fingers of a newly born baby. the life and power in their grip though tiny always amazes. Be open to touching the Sacred in what comes you way each day.


Let us give thanks for the world around us.
Thanks for all the creatures, stones and plants
Let us learn their lessons and seek their truths,
So that their path might be ours,
And we might live in harmony, a better life.

May the Earth continue to live,
May the heavens above continue to live,
May the rains continue to dampen the land,
May the wet forests continue to grow,
Then the flowers shall bloom
And we people shall live again.

(Hawaiian indigenous prayer)


Another Summer draws to a close and we get prepared to return for a new Academic Year under a new kind of normality. I wish you God’s Blessings as you prepare to take up the task of leading our School Communities as they seek a way forward. I am attaching some resources that may help you in preparing and will add to these in the coming weeks.



Easter Hope – joint statement by the Archbishops of Armagh

One of the words which we associate most strongly with Easter is “hope”.  It is a word that has become a bit debased in the way we use it nowadays.  “I hope so” very often means “I would like to think this or that might happen, but I doubt if it will”. Nothing could be further from the victorious and positive nature of our Easter hope.

Easter falls at a season of the year that is full of hopefulness. Longer evenings, Spring flowers, birdsong, and the sap rising in the trees.  The whole creation (at least in the Northern hemisphere) is bursting with hope and the promise of new life. And the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead brings that hope to a new level of reality. Far from the resurrection being simply a metaphor that religious people use for natural renewal, as some believe, it is the yearly renewal of the Earth in Spring which is an anticipation of the resurrection; a sign pointing to something greater than itself.  A shadow in search of a substance.  Transience moving towards permanence.

That is how the creator God has imprinted something of Himself into the fabric of the world.  He has made if full of intimations of eternity, for instance in beauty and in music which are where many of us find the strongest suggestions of intense joy and infinity.  These created things won’t fulfil our yearning for eternal fellowship with God, but they will arouse it, and prepare us to find it unexpectedly, in the servant life and death of Jesus Christ.

Even today there are other signs all around us, not this time in nature or in music, but in the human lives which our eyes have been opened to value, often for the first time.

It has been a tough year since last Easter, and many people, Christians and others, have found ways of making the best of a bad job by helping one another in ways that we haven’t been used to doing before. We’ve also found ways to show our appreciation and admiration for people who we don’t usually think about.  They aren’t sports people, or billionaires or even politicians.  They are nurses and delivery drivers and people toiling in cavernous warehouses and food factories for very low wages.  People who serve the fundamental needs of God’s world.  And, in its own way their hidden service is a shadow of the resurrection life; the life of heaven, God’s place.  Our sure and certain hope.

  • Archbishop Eamon Martin is Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Archbishop John McDowell is Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh


Pope Francis has been encouraging us to remember the role and witness of St Joseph during this year. On 19 March 2021, Pope Francis will launch a year dedicated to the family which will conclude on 26 June 2022 on the occasion of the Tenth World Meeting of Families in Rome. This date also marks five years since the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) on the beauty and joy of love in the family.

Attached is a resource prepared by the Council for Marriage and the Family of the Irish Bishops’ Conference which offers a page per day guide to the Week of Prayer (13-19 March) and which can be easily followed in school and home.

Each day has a theme reflecting on family life through the lens of Saint Joseph. At its centre is the prayer from Pope Francis which he wrote for the Year of Saint Joseph and some inspiring reflections from The Joy of Love.

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christ became man. Blessed Joseph, to us too,show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage, and defend us from every evil.



LENT 2021

Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent are approaching. This will provide renewed opportunities for reflection and conversion. Sadly with Covid lockdown, this will have to be family-based and subject to the usual safety restrictions we have in place now.

Trocaire have some great resources in place already. You can download some from their selction here.

Development Education Resources 2021 are available to download here. Resources are available for Early childhood, Primary, Post Primary and Youth. These resources will help you explore the themes of conflict and peace with students and young people through the lens of SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Learn about the Sustainable Development goals, South Sudan and Trócaire’s work through interactive lesson plans, photos, videos and our latest Development education board game “Pathways to peace”.   Please feel free to share the resources with anyone else you think might find them useful.  

Also of interest might be our Parish Resources which this year include a Lectio Divina workshop for parishes, stations of the cross and an exploration of the Gospels for children. The Parish Resources can be found in the link below.


“Here are my hands, hold them. Please don’t leave South Sudan alone. We need your prayers. We need your support. We need your love.” Fr. James Oyet Latansio, South Sudan Council of Churches.

Trócaire’s Lenten campaign for 2021 tells the stories of two families in South Sudan whose lives have been impacted by conflict. Awut and Ajak are shining examples of resilience, friendship and solidarity. This Lent we hear not only about the enormous challenges they have faced, but also about how they support each other through these challenges.  
Due to the ongoing challenges of Covid-19, Trócaire has developed a variety of resources for use in your parish and that will support you in raising awareness about the Lent 2021 campaign: 

1. Resources 
The below resources focus on the stories and voices of families and communities with whom Trócaire works, and looks at how our faith calls us to act for justice. We also hear from one of Trócaire’s partners, the South Sudan Council of Churches, and learn about the role that the Christian churches are playing in working for peace in South Sudan. We encourage you to use these resources during Mass, at your Parish Council meeting, Liturgy Group or with any other active parish group. All resources are available on the Trócaire website. The below are available in English and Irish: 

You will also find the following resources on the website that you can use during mass to inform your congregation about the Lent campaign: 

To provide ongoing support to you throughout Lent, you will also receive a short email from Trócaire on three occasions during Lent, containing prayers and reflections which can be used during Mass. 
3. Box distribution 
You will also have received information recently about your Trócaire boxes. We want to support you as much as possible during the ongoing challenges of Covid-19. We have compiled some simple ideas about ways in which your parishioners could collect their boxes, mindful of safety and well-being being of the utmost importance as well as compliance with current government guidelines. 
4. UK Aid Match
This year, the Lent campaign is part of UK Aid Match, meaning public donations* given between 17 February 2021 and 16 May 2021 will be doubled by the UK government, up to £2m. Furthermore, if a donor signs up for a monthly gift, or increases their monthly gift, before the 16th of May 2021, up to three of their instalments will be matched! We will be able to support thousands of people in South Sudan to grow enough food to feed their families. Don’t’ forget that donations will only be matched up until the 16th May.
5. Lent online workshops 
Finally, we want to make you aware of a series of online workshops that Trócaire will be delivering during Lent. These workshops are open to all, and you can find out more and sign up here.

Some other resources:


Encountering Jesus with St Benedict – On-line Retreat from Glenstal Abbey … a series of Lenten Talks which will be webcast from the Abbey will take place from Glenstal Abbey on Saturdays at 2.00pm, beginning on February 20. Details below