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vocations                       +Michael

Archbishop of Tuam


The Fourth Sunday of Easter, 3 May 2020


Sustaining Relationships

Recent weeks have been challenging for everyone.  As Church we have been endeavouring to maintain and sustain our relationship  with the Lord and with each other in ways which are in keeping with the health restrictions.  Thanks to modern technology and social media the celebration of Mass is live-streamed to homes and people are in contact with neighbours and friends.  Of course we miss the visits, the coming together whether for worship, work, sporting or social occasions.  The busyness that controlled our lives is not as dominant now.  We have more time to reflect and so to tune in to God and consider what God may be saying to us.

Interdependence and Responsibility

As the people of God graced with different gifts and entrusted with varied responsibilities, whether in marriage, single life, religious life or priesthood, the present situation affords an opportunity to pause and acknowledge our dependence on each other, our responsibility to support, encourage, challenge and pray for each other.  Next Sunday we will celebrate a day of prayer for vocations.  The different vocations which I mentioned do not compete with each other but rather collaborate with, affirm and challenge each other.  I have stated on a previous occasion that the priest is called to be a facilitator, enabling married couples, single persons and those in religious life to interpret God’s call for them, encouraging and supporting them in answering their call.

Our View of Priesthood Today

Having focused on and encouraged the baptismal vocation on various occasions in the past, I would like to focus on priesthood today.  Our view of the priest and our attitude towards priesthood will be influenced by priests we have known.  It may be the priest who officiated at your wedding, the one who baptised your children, was with you as a supportive presence when your world was shattered by bad news.  Recent years have been a difficult time for priests; all of us are affected by the scandals associated with some priests and bishops.  Having apologised for these on numerous occasions in the past we must never become complacent but endeavour to maintain the highest standards of integrity in ministry as we continue to keep victims in our thoughts and prayers.

Called, Chosen, Inspired

As priests we are privileged to find ourselves at the heart of God’s human family.  Why?  Not because of our personality, gifts or insights, but rather because we have been chosen by God, called by Him and responded to that call.  Therefore we represent and are a pointer to the God who is at the very heart of the human family.  This is something which we treasure and will always respect and is something for which we will always be grateful.  Speaking personally, while I appreciate and will always be grateful for the theological formation and years of study, I can say without hesitation that I have learned more from yourselves, the people of God with whom I work and pray.  As priests we never cease to admire and be grateful for the inspiration, example, courage, patience and perseverance of our people, sometimes expressed in the most difficult situations.  This is not to deny that at times we may be saddened and frustrated when our best efforts are misunderstood.

A Special Relationship

In our relationship with our people there is and must always be a special dimension.  This has impinged on us in a very particular way at this time when visiting your families is restricted for health reasons.  It is a source of great joy for us when you are happy and celebrate.  Likewise we are saddened when you suffer.  We endeavour, albeit at times very imperfectly, to be a reminder of the fact that the Lord continues to journey with you through the rough places and the greener pastures of life’s journey.  The God in whom you believe and I believe and try to serve is a God who is welcoming, understanding, sympathetic, encouraging and wants the best for all of us.

Bringing Our People to God in the Eucharist

In every Mass, as priests, we bring our people before the Lord asking him to hear your cry for help, respond to your needs, enabling you to utilise your gifts for the good of others in transforming our world.  At this time as we cope with Covid-19 people have experienced and expressed their appreciation of the generosity and support of the ministry of their priests albeit an “on-line” ministry.

Priesthood: Demanding Yet Rewarding

Priesthood is undoubtedly a demanding but also a very fulfilling  life.  Like any vocation it has its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows.  In our culture today people experience constant pressures – competitive climate, productivity in the workplace, educational demands, etc.  With so many situations clamouring for our time and attention it is understandable that God’s call could easily lose its urgency and may even go unheard.  I extend an invitation to young men to reflect on whether God may be calling them to follow him as a priest.  I encourage all the People of God to pray that the Lord will inspire young men to hear and answer his call.  Should someone known to you express interest in a vocation to the priesthood, I ask you to keep that person in your prayers and encourage him.  The priest is one who radiates joy, serves others, is a man of prayer and plays a very significant role in building up God’s kingdom.  Here in our Archdiocese we have been blessed by our priests who continue to respond generously and faithfully to the various challenges with which we all cope in a complex and rapidly changing culture.

An Enduring “Yes”

The priests I know and with whom I work are happy in their service of God and the people of God and each day we recomit ourselves to priesthood and to the service involved.  When storms blow we need deep roots.  On entering unchartered territory we need direction.  What provides us with the strength to cope in these situations are a loivng family, a supportive community and the hope which our faith in Jesus Christ generates.  With hope in our hearts we can face the future with courage.

Here in our Archdiocese of Tuam we look forward to the ordination of deacon Shane Costello and keep him and other studends in our prayers along with those who are studying for the permanent diaconate. The Ordination of a priest demonstrates how much faith is alive in a local Church.  It illustrates the hope-filled courage which gives a young man the strength and joy to entrust himself to the Lord’s service, conscious that the faith of the people of God will support him.

This Sunday the Gospel sets before us the one priest who was without fault, the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  He is the one who has called us, sustains and challenges us.  I ask you to pray for us your priests, that we will draw ever closer to him and be a more faithful reminder of Jesus Christ to yourselves.


Mass Sunday May 3rd

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Fr Denis will celebrate Mass on Sunday May 3rd @ 10.30 am.  Mass will be offered for the intentions of everyone in the parish of Balla, Belcarra, Clogher, Manulla and Mayo Abbey.  Included in the Mass intentions will be all frontline staff and other people working to look after us all during this time.

Mass will be broadcast from Castlebar here at 10.30 am.

Fr Denis’s Masses from Castlebar

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Castlebar Church Webcam

Fr Denis has been invited by Fr Conal Eustace PP, Castlebar to concelebrate Mass on Holy Thursday, April 9th at 8 pm and to celebrate Mass on Easter Sunday, April 12th at 10.30 am.

Both Masses can be viewed live here

Fr Denis’ Christmas Message

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Christmas Message

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Christmas I would like to express my thanks to all in the parish for your support and kindness throughout the year. A particular word of thanks to all who are involved in parish committees and liturgical ministry.  Thanks to all who care for St. Cronan’s and St. Anne’s and their grounds. It is only because of your involvement that our parish can function. Long gone are the days when the priest can do it on his own.


I congratulate all who had joyful celebrations during the year. To those who have had a bereavement and to all who are sick or facing any particular challenge in life.


I assure you of a special place in our Christmas Masses. I also wish to remember our emigrants. Wherever you are this Christmas I am sure that your thoughts are with us here in Balla, Belcarra, Clogher and Manulla. I assure you that as we celebrate this special season you are remembered at ceremonies at both St. Cronan’s and St. Anne’s. I extend our good wishes to you in whatever part of the world you now reside.


Next year will be a very significant year in our parish. We will mark the centenary of St. Cronan’s on Sunday May 27th when Archbishop Neary will join us. Other events will also take place during the year. At the moment the church is undergoing renovations. While work was taking place on the main altar window it was noticed that water was engressing the gable wall. This would eventually undermine the building. We are currently working on that gable. The work consists of raking out every joint and repointing it. The coping stones on top have also had to be removed and new leading put in. It is very slow and costly work.


I take this opportunity to thank all those who are contributing a little extra in their Weekly Envelope and also those who have made specific donations. It is this generosity that is allowing the work to take place. All donations no matter how big or small are welcome. When that phase of the work is done we will have to put a plan in place for the remainder of the building.


In October we will celebrate the centenary of The Columban Fathers. On October 28th a celebration marking this great event will take place in St. Anne’s recognising the fact that one of the co-founders was Fr. John Blowick. This should be a very special celebration. We can take great pride in what Fr. John did in the true missionary spirit of the Gospel. So please God we have much to look forward to in 2018.


In the meantime, I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a happy and peaceful Christmas. May the Lord pour down abundant blessings on you all.

Fr Denis








Dates for Do This in Memory of Me 2017

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See more about the programme on our Do this in Memory of Me page on our web site.

Conservation & Restoration Works

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Conservation and Restoration Works

As you are aware we will mark the centenary of this church next year. As I mentioned to you some months ago conservation and restoration work needs to be carried out on the main window over the altar here and also the toilet facilities in the sacristy need to be seriously upgraded with some renovation also needing to be carried out on the sacristy itself. The fire alarm system has to be upgraded to comply fully with insurance demands on a listed building.

The Parish Finance Committee over the last few months have been working away on these projects under the guidance of Michael Horan of Axo Architects in Castlebar and in close consultation with Siobhan Sexton, Heritage Officer with Mayo County Council. Because the building is listed we have to adhere to the stipulations of the Heritage Officer.

Today I have a mixture of good and bad news. Three companies were asked to tender for the work on the window and the reports that they gave us were very varied- you could say totally opposed to each other. The good news is that the window does not have to be taken out. The conservation and restoration work can be done on site over a period of about seven weeks (depending on the weather) about three weeks inside and four weeks outside. We have also been able to secure a saving on the cost of the window works. It will now cost €45,000. Still a substantial sum of money but considerably less than we had feared. The work will start in the next 10 days or so.

As you can see in the newsletter we are now starting the tendering process for the essential works in the sacristy and toilets. For those of you not familiar with the sacristy there is only one very small toilet with very basic facilities and at the time of weddings and funerals you can have people queuing up out the yard or indeed coming over to my house to use toilets. The sacristy itself needs some decorating and electrical works carried out.

I had mentioned that work to you when I spoke a few months ago but unfortunately we have received some bad news about the building itself. When the company that will be carrying out the work on the window Aria Stained Glass from Galway were surveying the window they noticed that water was getting into the gable through cracks in the pointing. After consulting with the Heritage Officer we had the entire building investigated by a qualified person and we have been told that the same thing is happening all around the church and that the only remedy is to re-point the entire structure.

As the conservation and renovation work begins on the altar window we pray that all will go well with this phase of the work. It will take about three weeks internally and then the work will move outside. It is at this stage that work on the pointing of the gable will begin.

Knock Novena 2016

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The annual Novena has begun
and continues until the 22nd.

There are two sessions daily at 3pm and 8:30 pm.
The list of speakers and their themes is above.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available every day.