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Jubilee Celebrations - Welcome and Homily
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The Mass of Thanksgiving
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A warm welcome to our church in Laurencetown named after the saints of our diocese, Patrick and Colman. Thank you for coming to share in this great grace, you who have done so much for me. Simon Cowell has awarded me A Golden Buzzer.

Céad mile failte to Archbishop Eamon Martin and Bishop John McAreavey, joined with my colleagues in the diocese.

Welcome to my family members, parishioners and friends.

Since Tullylish parish is very much a global parish through social media and webcam throughout the world. From Newry I have my sister Nancy and brother Colum who cannot join me physically because of infirmity.

Hello or Hi to my sister Maire’s and family in Vancouver, Canada.

Also my cousin Freda in New York, whose home is full of my nieces Bernadette and Catrina and families from Warrenpoint and Newry anxiously awaiting the big event in Madison Square Garden, tomorrow evening. Come on Katie Taylor.

A special birthday wish to my sister-in-law Marion who has travelled from London to Abu Dhabi to visit her son Tom and family. 84 years young today.

Welcome to all the Tullylish diaspora who are joining us at home and abroad.



"The trouble with jubilees is how family and friends use the occasion to tell us how old we are and the more charitable people who tell me you haven’t changed a bit. Time for them to get to Specsavers I think.

I972 – a time of great hardship in the country. People asked for work and were given a place in a dole queue. We saw people ask for a home and were given the possibility to emigrate. Time of the early Troubles – Bloody Sunday in Derry, in Newry a famous Civil Rights march.

1972 – Pope Paul the sixth, was in Rome, Jack Lynch was Taoiseach, Ted Heath was in Number 10 and Richard Nixon was in the White House with the beginning of the Watergate scandal.

It was a different time: dishes in those days were for washing, not receiving tv programmes from satellites. Fast food was what you ate during Lent. Time sharing meant Catholic Action, not Spanish holiday homes.

The Church I was trained for in Rome was confident, powerful and widely respected. The wind was at our backs, the environment was supportive, and the culture was mostly benevolent. Now it’s a new era, the carnival is over, Pope Francis tells us. Through a process of Synodality we are to move from maintenance to mission. We are to develop a missionary mindset and prayerful outlook. “I am with you always” was not an empty promise.

My father was a Keady man.

There’s a song that Tommy Makem, a Keady man, used to sing called “the Parting Glass”. It’s about a man who at the end of his days “sits beside the road and weeps for all the songs he didn’t sing and the promises he didn’t keep”.

Life is about songs and promises, those we sing and don’t sing, those we keep and don’t keep. And out of the songs and promises of life we quarry our own unique existence in this world. Today, after 50 years, I thank God for the songs and promises that have gone to make up my life in serving the Lord and the people of God.

They say the search for the Holy Grail is not in the finding but in the journey. Thank you for being part of that journey - you have done so much for me, as I shared your joys and sorrows, your dreams and journeys. I thank you my family, parishioners, colleagues and friends who have supported me with example and encouragement down through the years. You have always had my back. I have had enough success to keep me dreaming so that the power of Christ can shine through me as his priest. I hope I have had enough failure to keep me humble.

50 years ago, I offered my life to God. It was a laying down of my life for God, taking for granted, or on faith, the words of Our Lord that you can have no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. To lay down one’s life whether in married, religious, single or priestly life is to discover that there is more joy in the service of one another or many others, than in the pursuit of one’s own way. In this way you become another Christ.

I would be the last person to say that life has been all a bed of roses. Sharing a house with Fr Frank Kearney in Westacres, Craigavon, in the new parish of Moyraverty 50 years ago, we also shared the housing estate with the British army who searched our cars going in and out of the estate at all times of the day and night when we got sick calls to Craigavon Hospital. Night shift on the hospital duty was never easy. Frank summed it up well when, on returning to the house after a couple of call outs in the middle of the night, he shouted in at me : “God, Powell, money wouldn’t pay you”, or words to that effect.

Joy is the by- product of suffering and sacrifice. We all have to tread our stony paths. As one writer said “ if God sends us on stony paths, he also provides us with strong shoes”. This evening with the psalmist I can pray:

“ It is you, O lord, who at my hope, my trust, O Lord, since my youth.

On you I have leaned from my birth,

from my mother’s womb you have been my help.

My hope has always been in you.”

Thank you and please pray for me.






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