Blog 1 from Ireland: Dia is Muire Dhuit!
B L O G
God, I have made it to Ireland! I have already had quite a ride since bouncing over from the European continent to the Emerald Island; although there have not been any leprechaun sightings since my stay here so far. I’m hopeful that turning over a few stones around the Ring of Kerry might produce some. This adventure – finding the heart and soul of the Irish people – has been a fantastic experience so far and has lent so many wonderful experiences of being able to stay and share the faith with so many wonderful people.
God is good, all the time. I am here in Fr. Paddy’s kitchen in Muine Bheag (aka Bagnelstown, Ireland for the non-Gaelic speakers) after having ridden down by car to Kildare, and then getting thrown onto a train this afternoon. Last night I was in Kildare, having arrived with the much adored Dominican Vocations Director, Fr. Gerard who was able to help me bring down my bike and baggage to the hometown of the Saint Brigidine Sisters. Saint Brigid is the Patroness of Ireland and is a great Saint for our times. With her youth and her ‘environmental’ connection to the earth, pretty much even the hippies dig her. Anyway, in Kildare, which is about an hour south of Dublin City Center and the first stop for this bike trip around Ireland, I was able to meet a parish priest who plays around in film and communications with iCatholic.TV.
The media savvy Fr. Bill and I were able to meet for Dinner in Kildare to talk about the mission that is –one-billion-stories— so for those of you that don’t know by now, …we’re kind of a big deal. Arrogance and sarcasm aside, it was a really great time meeting Fr. Bill because both of us were able to share some time discussing the faith (over my first Irish Bulmers Cider I might add) and just getting excited about the mission ahead. Fr. Bill even turned the roles around and brought out his fancy camera equipment and interviewed me for iCatholic.TV.
Later that night I would leave to stay with the actual parish priest of Kildare who couldn’t meet us for dinner but would be helping me out with a bed and shower as well as a few hearty meals to go along with it all. Fr. Adrian was especially hospitable when he offered Mass for the community of religious brothers I had been staying with the previous summer. A half-an-hour before Mass, I had learned that a fire had broken out the night before at the Saint Malo Retreat Center in Allenspark, CO. Sitting now as a crispy roasted Marsh-Malo, the Saint Malo Retreat Center which was once visited by Blessed John Paul II, will hopefully not be the only thing that becomes ignited; in looking ahead there is a real sense of longing that once again the fire and the heart of Catholicism in Ireland will be found. I took Fr. Adrian’s blessing and prayer intention for my own safe journey ahead.
These past two weeks have been special thanks to the culmination of so many warm families, friends, strangers, lay and religious people. The Universality of our religion comes to life when you place your trust that God will provide.
Three nights after arriving in Santiago de Compostella, Spain, I purchased a ticket to leave from Madrid for Dublin, Ireland. It was a decision that was influenced by two factors (1) My travel visa for the Schengen Area of Continental Europe was soon running out and (2) who doesn’t want to see a Leprechaun? The fact that everything was able to come together so quickly and for the most part quite smoothly has been thanks to the persistence and work ethic that ‘tee’ Seth James DeMoor has put in to make this possible. I could not have done this without the spiritual and logistical heavyweight champion that he is. Seth, the Godfather of media based story sharing in the Catholic world and true friend.
The culmination of all of the loving faces I have met and have helped me along the way (Marie from Toulouse, France I still keep you in my prayers, thank you for all you’ve done!) and for so many others people that I want to thank for the warm hospitality and friendship! The Shepard family, Anna and Sam and their four, soon to be five beautiful children that took me in after getting two flats outside their village. For Sarah and Leonie who took me out to the quaint little coffee shop for soup and cake and for an amazing story in Bosnia throughout the years (sorry I made you share a cake Leonie, next time we’ll both get whole ones). John and Jason with youth2000, the Roche family just outside of Enniscorthy, who are so amazing at making rashers and mash and going everywhere to be able to show me the city, take me to the next town, put up with my indecisiveness with taking or leaving the bike… So helpful too was John in Tramore, and his family who let me in. So many more people too that I haven’t put down on paper as well. For those of you out there in reader/listener-land that have helped me, thank you! You are all in my prayers.
In the body of Christ, we all have different roles. Having approached this with as much of a missionary perspective as possible, I can’t help but feel so much love from everyone I’ve been able to meet and share our faith with. Coming to Ireland with 86 euro and hoping to be able to last at least a month was a bit nerve racking; not knowing if I would even be able to last a week on my own resources and then finding so many open hands to lift me up has truly been a blessing. Just wanted to let you know, things are going well… I know I haven’t been able to post a blog in a bit so thought I would finally make a definitive point to do it. Through my time around Spanish, French, English, and now Irish, I have come to the realization that we still have a universal common language – love. Love is the flame in the heart of the mystical body of Christ. As Saint Paul shows in 1 Corinthians, One love drove the members of the church to action. It has driven missionaries and martyrs to action. Christ has no body on earth except for ours, so we need to make up the hands and feet and voice of Christ. Love is what gives life meaning. And without love, you don’t have anything.