Cardinal Brady's Homily at Dedication of St Malachy's' Edendork
RITE OF DEDICATION AND CEREMONY OF RE-OPENING
ST MALACHY'S CHURCH, EDENDORK
HOMILY BY CARDIMAL SÉAN BRADY
SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2015
This is indeed a day of great rejoicing – great rejoicing first and foremost for you, the faithful people of Edendork – as you see your beloved Church of St Malachy, brilliantly restored and now, dedicated once again, to the glory of God and re-opened for the worship of God. I most gladly thank and congratulate all who have played a part.
This is one of the fifteen oldest churches in the diocese. It was first opened in 1814. It is one of seven Churches built in this diocese in the decade between 1810 and 1820 – almost twenty years before the passing of the law which restored to Catholics, freedom of worship. Three of those churches were in Co Armagh; two in Co. Tyrone, and one each in Louth and in Derry. Three of them were named in honour of St Malachy, two in Tyrone, - Edendork and St Malachy’s Ballymacilroy and one in Armagh – St Malachy’s Carrickcruppin. And since St Malachy was an Armagh man, like Dean Curry and Father White, it shows that the co-operation between these two great sections of our diocese goes back a long way and is not confined to inter-marriage and the sports field.
In 1984, Cardinal O Fiaich presented a relic of St Malachy to this church. This relic will be placed in the altar today. This is to remind al of us that the altar is the building stone which, like a tomb, receives the relics of the saints. The altar represents Christ the corner stone – the true witness from whom everyone – saints included – draw life. At every Mass we honour the altar with a kiss, and sometimes with incense because it is the table on which the Eucharist is celebrated:
• The great banquet of Everlasting life
• The great memorial of Christ’s life-giving death.
Great is our rejoicing – for great is the mystery of our faith; in other words, great is the hidden treasure of our faith, and our hope and our charity.
The Church professes its faith when it recites the Apostles Creed. It celebrates that faith in the liturgy of the sacraments, especially in the sacrament of the most Blessed Eucharist – the Mass. It needs church, beautiful churches, in which to do this.
The Church lives that treasure of faith, hope and charity in the life of its members – following the example of Jesus Christ. Over the past two centuries this lovely Church has undergone various restorations.
The current project began one year ago in October 2014. It has entailed major renovation – replacement of services and general refurbishment. The marble sanctuary elements were retrieved from a derelict church in Belfast. They were donated to Edendork courtesy of the Mallon family, Dungannon, and we thank them for their magnificent generosity.
The Architects were McKeown and Shields of Coalisland and the main contractor, QMac Construction Ltd., Dungannon. I thank, most heartily, them and everybody involved in this princely enterprise. But the main praise and thanks must go to the generous and faithful people of the parish of Edendork and to Dean Curry and to the priests and Pastoral Council of Dungannon.
I am well aware that the re-opening and dedication of St Malachy’s Edendork completes a massive project undertaken ten years ago to upgrade all four churches and other properties in the parish.
Today I am very pleased to be here to thank you, the priests and people of Dungannon, and to pay tribute to your immense generosity. That generosity comes from your strong, vibrant faith, hope and charity. Of course, I am not forgetting the huge part you played in contributing to the renovations of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. For all of this I give heartfelt thanks – first of all to God for your faith, and to all of you, some of whom, like Mons McLarnon, Mons McEntegart, Mons Faul, have gone to their eternal reward – Solás na Bflaitheas oraibh go léir.
I know that over the past year, Sunday Masses have been celebrated in the pavilion of the local GAA club. Thank you, one and all. I hope your goodness and kindness may be rewarded with some silverware on the sideboard in the future. I am sure that it will be rewarded on the Altar of Heaven.
We build churches to have a place where we can come together to profess our faith in the Creed and celebrate it in liturgy. But to declare our faith in a meaningful way we need to know our faith. We need to know the person who is the centre of our faith – Jesus Christ. The better we know Jesus, the more eager we will be to enter into a vital personal relationship with the Living and True God. That relationship we call ‘prayer’.
For the past 201 years you, the people of Edendork, and your parents and grandparents and great grandparents, have gathered in this Church of St Malachy to pray as a community and to profess your faith in that same liturgy of the sacraments. Long may it continue to be so. I hope that our young people will grow in their appreciation of the efforts and sacrifices which others have made to make all of this available to them.
You have made huge efforts to know that faith. It has been handed down by those same parents – grandparents – great grandparents – in your homes and by teachers in your schools to the present time.
The result is that we have a people who not only believe and celebrate that faith – but a people who live that faith in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God..
One of the greatest experiences of my life was being at the Conclave which elected Pope Francis in the Vatican on Wednesday evening, 13 March 2013. You may remember that Pope Francis appeared on the central loggia of St Peter’s Basilica. He said: “the diocese of Rome has its bishop – now we begin this journey – bishop and people. It is a journey of brotherliness, love and trust between us”. Four times he mentioned the word ‘journey’. He ended by expressing the wish that this journey of the Church may be fruitful for the evangelising of this City of Rome which is so beautiful.
On the following day, Thursday 14 March – 24 hours after being elected – Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the same Sistine Chapel with all the Cardinals. In his homily the Pope came back to this idea of life being a journey. “We travel the Journey of Life in the presence of the Lord. We travel it in the light of the Lord”. We travel this journey as a community and, to do so, we need schools to learn our faith and understand the faith; we need churches in which to declare and profess our faith.
On that occasion Pope Francis said: “we need to build” – to build, I presume he meant churches and schools yes, but he also added that we need to build the ‘Living Stones’ – stones anointed with the Holy Spirit – to build the Church on the one and only cornerstone – the Risen Christ. “We can journey as far as we like. We can build so many things but, if we don’t profess our belief in Jesus Christ – things are not right”.
The gospel that day was the same as today. Peter confesses his faith in Jesus Christ – as the Son of the Living God – ‘Yes’ says Peter – ‘I am following you – you can count on me but please let us not talk of a cross. It does not come into it. I am going to follow you in other ways – but without the cross’.
The reply of Pope Francis is very clear. “When we live without the Cross, when we build without the Cross and when we say we believe in a Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are mere worldlings – but not disciples of the Lord”.
My hope and prayer is that the great generosity of the faithful of this parish, and especially of Edendork, will open our ears to hear the Word of God to make sure that the way we think is not man’s way but God’s way.
May we open our eyes to see that Jesus had to carry his cross to Calvary and die on it before rising to Eternal Life, and so maybe come to know who Jesus really is.
May all who come into this lovely St. Malachy’s Church go out more like Christ – the Son, to the glory of God, the Father AMEN.