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By Sean O'Leary

In today’s readings, we are invited to reflect upon different kinds of journey, the journey of a whole nation and the journey of Jesus Christ. In the first reading, despite the people’s failings, God’s mercy remains to bring an entire people back from exile in Babylon. This is a powerful reminder of God’s unwavering love and forgiveness even when we stray.

In the second reading, we hear that grace comes from God, who is rich in mercy and great in loving. When describing God and grace, St. Paul wants us to know deeply that we are created in Christ Jesus to continue his good works. God works through all of us, here and now, as the body of Christ.

The good news of the Gospels lifts our hearts towards heaven in the name of the Son of God, who brings an unquenchable light into the world. When we do what is true, we come to the light so that all can see that our deeds are done in God.

Just as today’s readings describe, the Diocese of Ferns is also on a journey through which we strive to answer Jesus’ call to see things differently and walk in the light that lifts us up, just as the Son of God was lifted up, to save our human race. Whatever darkness we have encountered, the light of God’s eternal love is greater, so that we may have life and have it to the full.

It is well known that our priests who faithfully preach the Gospel are declining in numbers. There are many reasons for this, and it is all too easy to give way to speculation and despair. But one of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves today is: What is God asking of us now?

This is the central question that inspired our pastoral plan ‘Our Future Church’. In this plan, the good people of our Diocese have expressed their hopes for a brighter future - hopes for loving God and neighbour, for living our faith, for gathering together, for teamwork, for families and young people, for lay leadership, for learning together, for reaching out to the vulnerable, for mission, and for vocations to lay and ordained ministry.

This plan will help children and families prepare for the Sacraments; support families and loved ones in times of illness and bereavement; encourage prayer in our communities; and help sustain parishes.

All of this requires funding for training so that lay people can grow in confidence to bring the light of Christ into the world. This will help families and children to hear more about the value of faith in preparation for the Sacraments and their lives in a rapidly changing world. It will also create opportunities for both young and old to explore the deeper meaning of a relationship with God.

Through our friends and families, each one of us has experienced the dark times that come with illness and bereavement. Our plan will also work towards providing much-needed support and pastoral accompaniment during such difficult times so that all can experience the love of God during the different stages of life’s journey.

During Lent, we are invited to embrace the truth of who Christ is, and all that he has included us in. We are asked to renew our commitment to walk in the light that has been graciously given to us.

Today, we are inviting you to contribute to vital fundraising for ‘Our Future Church’ so that we can continue to inspire faith and build hope in our parish communities. There are envelopes for donations within the church and you can also give online at - Please join us in this crucial mission to sustain parish life and build ‘Our Future Church’.

May we recognise God’s presence in our lives and respond with gratitude and hope. Thank you.


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