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Reality NOVEMBER 2016

Informing, Inspiring, Challenging Today’s Catholic

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IN THIS ANNIVERSARY ISSUE FEATURES �� FROM RECORD TO REALITY As we celebrate eighty years of our magazine, the editor looks back on its chequered history By Fr Brendan McConvery CSsR

�� CAESAR CHAVEZ The son of an emigrant family, Chavez brought to emigrant farm workers a vision of justice and non violent protest By Mike Daley

free inside


Sample page s from the fir st issue of the R edemptorist Record from 1936

�� A JOURNALIST AT VATICAN II A young Irish journalist who reported the Second Vatican Council recalls those revolutionary days fifty years ago By Dr John Horgan



The resignation of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis marked the beginning of one priest’s work in the Vatican media office By Fr Thomas Rosica CSB



An important person is missing from the story of the Prodigal Son, the mother. Here is an imaginary letter that she wrote him while he was abroad By Fr George Wadding CSsR




Irish local radio has a distinctive coverage of religious news that gives priority to the local listenership By Brenda Drumm


�� PREACHING THE GOSPEL EVER ANEW By reaching into places not often associated with religion, social media can become an effective tool for evangelisation By Matthew Howard










On December 9, the Redemptorist Church of St Gerard on the Antrim Road, Belfast, will celebrate its diamond jubilee. In 1951 a Victorian villa, Ben Eaden, came on the market when its owner, Major William Adeley, died. Originally part of the Belfast Castle estate, it was situated on a superb woodland site of thirty-three acres on the side of Cave Hill, overlooking Belfast Lough. The Redemptorists were anxious to acquire a site in this part of the city to build a retreat house as a replacement for Mount St Clement’s in Ardglass Co Down. This was the first Redemptorist retreat house in Ireland. In the few years since its inception in 1947, it had proved phenomenally successful, but the old castle was in need of repairs and


St Gerard's Church, Belfast


a site closer to the city was needed. In the political and social world of Belfast in the 1950s, any attempt by a religious order to acquire property usually met with stiff opposition. With the help of a local solicitor, the property was purchased for £14,000. The Adeley family left for England on September 29, 1951, and the Redemptorists moved in the same day. The largest ground floor room of the former mansion was fitted up as a temporary chapel, and it was canonically erected in September 1953 as a Redemptorist community under the patronage of St Gerard. The site, on a steep hillside, was not ideal for building, and concrete piles had to be sunk, some as deep as forty feet. The church of St

Gerard was dedicated on December 9, 1956. The architect was J. J. Brennan of Belfast. The upper Antrim Road was a comfortable middle-class area with few Catholics, but by the 1960s, the Catholic population was growing. In 1969, the Redemptorists agreed to take parochial responsibility for a new area carved out from the existing parishes. It was the first time the Irish Redemptorists had taken responsibility for running a parish. The first parish priest was Fr Thomas McKinley, with Fr Patrick McGowan as curate. The present parish priest is Fr Gerry Cassidy and Fr Pat McLaughlin is curate. A retreat house was eventually built on the upper part of the site in 1960. It was closed in 2007.



Fr Gerry Reynolds C.Ss.R.



The late Fr Gerard Reynolds CSsR was honoured by a commemorative lecture on the theme of “Reconciliation and Forgiveness” held in the Belfast Synagogue on 14 November. In addition to members of the synagogue community and members of the Council for Christians and Jews, the attendance included the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston and many friends of Fr Reynolds. One of Fr Reynold’s last public acts was to host a meeting of the Council and its friends in Clonard Monastery last November shortly before he died to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Nostra Aetate, the declaration of Vatican II on non-Christian religions. The theme of reconciliation was addressed by Rabbi David Singer, rabbi of the Belfast synagogue, Dr Noel Traynor, Bishop of Down and Connor and the Rev Ken Newell, a long time friend and colleague of Fr Reynolds in the ministry of peace and reconciliation. At the end of the meeting, Fr Peter Burns, who represented the Clonard Community, was presented with a glass plaque in honour of Fr Reynolds by Canon Ivan McElhinney, cochair of the Belfast Council.


The cause for the beatification of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement, who died in 2008 at the age of 88, has been introduced. Bishop Raffaello Martinelli of Frascati, Italy, launched the process in September. Frascati is where the international headquarters of the Focolare is located and it is also Chiara’s burial place. Focolare, from the Italian word meaning “hearth,” is the movement Chiara founded in Trent, Northern Italy, during the Second World War with the aim of promoting unity. Since then, it has been active in ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue, and currently claims 100,000 members in 182 countries. It is the only movement in the Catholic Church whose statutes require its president to be a woman. Pope St. John Paul II invited her as an observer to several meetings of the Synod of Bishops. On her death in 2008, Benedict XVI described her as the “founder of a large spiritual family that embraces multiple domains of evangelization.” Born in Trent in 1920, her given name was Silvia but her admiration of St. Clare of Assisi led her to

adopt the name Chiara, which is the Italian form of Clare. In 1943, she made private vows with the approval of her confessor and began forming a circle of friends who read the Gospels together. The Focolare began their ecumenical dialogue in 1961, forming ties with Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and others. Her successor, Maria Voce, said a large cache of documents, letters, and videos has been turned over to the diocese for a tribunal that will study her cause.


Chiara Lubich

TEENAGE EUTHANASIA IN BELGIUM A terminally ill 17-year-old has become the first minor to be helped to die in Belgium since all age restrictions on requests for euthanasia were removed two years ago. According to the head of the federal euthanasia commission, the teenager was "suffering unbearable physical pain". Belgium is the first country to legally permit minors of any age to choose euthanasia: its neighbour, Holland, forbids the euthanasia of children under twelve. Under the law, a child must be terminally ill, face “unbearable physical suffering” and make repeated requests to die before euthanasia can be carried out. The procedure also requires a psychological

evaluation of the patient’s mental state; suffering stemming from psychiatric problems is excluded and the parents of those under 18 must also give their consent. The head the euthanasia commission, Wim Distelmans, said the teenager was "nearly 18" and that doctors used "palliative sedation", which involves putting patients into an induced coma, as part of the process. The number of patients choosing to be euthanised in Belgium has risen more than eight-fold since the procedure was legalised. Over 2,000 cases were reported last year, according to the federal committee.

continued on page 6





Earlier this year, the religious denominations of Luxembourg and the government agreed to a number of measures that will profoundly alter the traditional relationship between faith communities and the State in the Grand Duchy. Almost 75% of the population describe themselves as Christian, with 25% as atheist or agnostic. Traditionally the majority, Catholics now number about 68%: the number of nonCatholic Christians has been considerably augmented by the presence of many European Community offices in the capital. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and of public worship. According to article 106 of the Constitution, “The salaries and pensions of ministers of religion shall be borne by the State and regulated by the law.” In order to qualify for state funding, a religious group must establish an official and stable representative body with which the Government can interact. The following Churches benefitted from the arrangement - the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek, Russian, Romanian, and Serbian Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Church, the Reformed Protestant Church, the Protestant Church of Luxembourg and the Jewish congregation. A new funding plan will severely limit state subsidies, especially to

Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig, a young priest with Czech roots serving in Germany and Austria, was arrested by the Nazis on April 21, 1941 for preaching against the Third Reich from his pulpit, particularly against their treatment of the Jewish people. He encouraged his congregation to be faithful to God and to resist the lies of the Nazi regime. He was sent to what has been called the “largest monastery in the world,” the concentration camp of Dachau near Munich. It housed some 2,700 clergy, roughly 95 percent of whom were Catholic priests. The priests were strictly segregated from the other prisoners. A young deacon who was seriously ill, was secretly ordained during one Sunday Mass so that he could celebrate Mass before he died. Fr Unzeitig was just 30 years old, and two years ordained, when he was sent to Dachau. Born in what is now the Czech Republic in 1911, he entered the seminary of Mariannhill Mission Society at the age of eighteen. While imprisoned at the camp, he studied Russian in order to be able to help the influx of prisoners from Eastern Europe, and had a reputation at the camp as a holy man. Treatment of the priests and ministers at Dachau was harsh. When a wave of typhoid fever swept through the camp in 1945, Unzeitig and 19 other priests volunteered to care for the sick and dying, an almost-certain death sentence. He and his companions spent their days caring for the sick, praying with them and offering the last rites. On March 2, 1945, Unzeitig succumbed to typhoid fever along with all but two of the other priest volunteers. Dachau was liberated by American soldiers a few weeks later, on April 29. On January 21, Pope Francis officially acknowledged Fr. Unzeitig as a martyr, killed in hatred of the faith, which opened the path for his beatification.

Luxembourg, Old Town


the Catholic Church, but for the first time they will be extended to the Muslim community. Ministers of religion were paid a salary by the state equivalent to that of teachers. This will continue to be paid to those already in place, but those entering church service from this summer will lose their state salary. The Catholic Church's parish church buildings will be turned over to a public fund which may rationalise their use where congregations are in decline and assign them to other public uses. Catholic religious education in the public schools will be replaced with an “ethics and morals course,” which will include units on world religions. Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich has said that the Church is now forced to show how it can preach the gospel as a significantlypoorer  institution. His principal regret was the abolition of religious instruction in state schools: in his view, parents had a right to determine what values their children should be taught in school and that right had been  taken away from them by the state. He suggested that Luxembourg had moved closer to the French model of laïcité, partly because its politicians were heavily influenced by France.



Continuing to give example to the Church at large, Pope Francis visited the the accident and emergency department and the neonatal unit of Rome’s San Giovanni Hospital. After putting on a mask and gown and completing the other health and safety procedures, the Pope stopped beside the incubators of twelve new born babies, five of whom are suffering from severe complications, including one set of twins. In each cot, he left a special holy year medal. Before going on to meet with staff and families at the nursery on the floor above, the Holy Father offered words of comfort and support to all of the parents. Later in the afternoon he visited some 30 terminally ill patients at the Villa Speranza Hospice, in the north of Rome. The visit was a great surprise to everyone, espcially patients and relatives. “With this “Friday of Mercy”, the Holy Father wanted to give a strong sign of the importance of life, from its first instant to its natural end,” the Vatican press office said. “The acceptance of life and the guarantee of human dignity at all times of development is a lesson repeatedly stressed by Pope Francis, who, with this dual visit, has given a concrete and tangible sign of the importance of caring for the weakest and most vulnerable in order to show mercy in our lives.”

WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE On September 20, Pope Francis took part in the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi. The theme of the day was “Thirst for peace: religions and cultures in dialogue.” Participants included Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, Aphrem II, Syro-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Segni and Rabbi David Rosen of Israel. The dignitaries were joined at lunch in the refectory of the Franciscan monastery by twelve refugees from countries at war, currently in the care of the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome. In the afternoon, an ecumenical prayer service was held in the basilica, during which all the countries at war were named and a candle lit for each one. The Holy Father read a meditation in which he quoted Christ’s words on the cross, “I thirst. “Jesus’ words challenge us,” he said, “They seek a place in our heart and a response that involves our whole life. In his words, we can hear the voice of the suffering, the hidden cry of the little innocent ones to whom the light of this world is denied, the sorrowful plea of the poor and those most in need of peace. The victims of war, which sullies people with hate and the earth with arms, plead for peace; our brothers and sisters, who live under the threat of bombs and are forced to leave their homes into the unknown, stripped of everything, plead for peace. They are all brothers and sisters of the Crucified One, the little ones of His Kingdom, the wounded and parched members of His body. They thirst. But they are frequently given, like Jesus, the bitter vinegar of rejection. Who listens to them? Who bothers responding to them? Far too often they encounter the deafening silence of indifference, the selfishness of those annoyed at being pestered, the coldness of those who silence their cry for help with the same ease with which television channels are changed.”

PO PE ’S PRIVAT E VISIT TO EARTHQUAK E TOWN On the Feast of St Francis (October 4), his name day, Pope Francis made an unannounced visit to the town of Amatrice, struck by a violent earthquake on August 24 last. He had told journalists on the return flight from his visit to the Caucuses that he intended to make this visit alone, ‘as a priest, as a bishop, as pope” but had not specified a date. Accompanied by the local bishop, he visited the school and then the “red zone” of the area that has been closed off for safety reasons. After blessing the people, he said, “Let’s move forward; there is always a future. There are many loved ones who have left us, who fell here under the rubble. Let us pray to Our Lady for them; let us do it together. Always look ahead. Courage, and help each other. One walks better together, alone we go nowhere. Forward! Thank you.” He then visited several other towns and villages that had been devastated by the earthquake.





Lorcán Úa Tuathail, anglicised Laurence O’Toole, stepped on to the pages of Irish history at a moment of great promise. Under the leadership of St Celsus, the Coarb of Patrick in Armagh, and his immediate successor, St Malachy, the Irish church disentangled itself from secular control, established a hierarchical system throughout the whole country, and began the process of renewing religious life and spirituality. By the middle of the 12th century it was ‘hats off to the Irish’, a sentiment endorsed even by the great St Bernard of Clairvaux! Laurence O’Toole was born of Kildare parents about 1128. At the age of ten he was forcibly handed over as hostage to Dermot MacMurrough, king of Leinster. Some time later in a hostage-exchange agreement, he was released into the care of the bishop of Glendalough. On reaching the age of twelve Laurence was free to return home, but opted instead to join the monastic community. Tradition describes him as tall and slim, enthusiastic about his studies, and blessed with all-round goodness. When the incumbent abbot of Glendalough passed to his eternal reward, Laurence, then aged twenty-five, was elected to succeed him. Not long afterwards, he was sought for the bishopric of Glendalough, but declined on the plea of not being of canonical age. However when the see of Dublin became vacant in the early 1160s, refusal was scarcely an option. In 1162 there was such a rare display of unanimity among Norse and Irish, clergy and laity, high king and provincial king in choosing Laurence for the see of Dublin that he bowed to their wishes. As archbishop, Laurence is credited with organising the clergy of Christ Church cathedral into a community of the reformed Aroasian Canons, he himself also becoming a member. He ran a very hospitable household, while his personal life was marked by abstemiousness and physical penance. The bright hopes thrown up by his election were shortly to be dashed by the Norman Invasion in 1169, and the sinister machinations of King Henry II of England. Added to the archbishop’s immediate concerns with advancing the reform in his diocese, the ongoing process of converting the Dublin Norse, and the feeding of the poor, he was now called upon to broker a peace between the Normans and the citizens of Dublin. While thus engaged with Richard de Clare (Strongbow) the city was attacked by Milo De Cogan and his fellow hotheads, leaving the archbishop to minister to the dying and bury the dead. Laurence then urged Rory O’Connor, the high king, together with other kings and chieftains to lay aside their squabbles, and unite against the common enemy. Even with the best will in the world these proved no match for the mail-clad Norman knights, and in 1175 Rory resigned the high kingship in favour of becoming king of Connaught as a subject of Henry II. The archbishop was unswerving in his loyalty to King Rory, and tried to secure stability and peace for the country. More than once he went abroad on such peace missions. When Laurence went to England accompanied by the archbishop of Tuam and the abbot of Clonfert to negotiate a treaty on behalf of O’Connor, the delegation was snubbed and badly treated. It was on that occasion it seems, that Laurence was assaulted while celebrating Mass and felled to the ground by a blow of a cudgel. The archbishop’s counterpart in Canterbury, Thomas a Becket, had been murdered in similar circumstances in 1170. Indeed one may wonder whether this incident also hastened the death of the archbishop of Dublin. Nevertheless, Laurence accompanied by five other Irish bishops attended the Third Lateran Council in 1179, and he secured from the pope the spiritual independence of the Irish Church. The following year, he pursued Henry II in the hope of reconciling Rory O’Connor to the Norman king. On reaching the monastery of St Victor at Eu in Normandy the archbishop was dying. An envoy sent to find the king returned with an assurance that Henry agreed to peace talks with Rory O’Connor. At Eu on November 14th 1180 Laurence, Lorcán Úa Tuathail died and was canonised some forty five years later. John J. Ó Riordáin, CSsR REALITY NOVEMBER 2016

Reality Volume 81. No. 9 November 2016 A Redemptorist Publication ISSN 0034-0960 Published by The Irish Redemptorists, Unit A6, Santry Business Park, Swords Road, Dublin 09 X651 Tel: 00353 (0)1 4922488 Web: Email: (With permission of C.Ss.R.)

Editor Brendan McConvery CSsR Design & Layout David Mc Namara CSsR General Manager Paul Copeland Sales & Marketing Claire Carmichael Administration & Accounts Michelle McKeon Printed by Nicholson & Bass, Belfast Photo Credits Catholic News Service, Shutterstock, REALITY SUBSCRIPTIONS Through a promoter (Ireland only) €18 or £15 Annual Subscription by post: Ireland €22 or £18 UK £25 Europe €35 Rest of the world €45 Please send all payments to: Redemptorist Communications, Unit A6, Santry Business Park, Swords Road, Dublin D09 X651 ADVERTISING Whilst we take every care to ensure the accuracy and validity of adverts placed in Reality, the information contained in adverts does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Redemptorist Communications. You are therefore advised to verify the accuracy and validity of any information contained in adverts before entering into any commitment based upon them. When you have finished with this magazine, please pass it on or recycle it. Thank you.

REDEMPTORIST COMMUNICATIONS Unit A6, Santry Business Park, Swords Road, Dublin D09 X651 Tel: 00353 (0)1 4922488 Email: Web:

Redemptorist Communications is a ministry of the Irish Redemptorist Province in which lay people and Redemptorists collaborate to communicate the Gospel message – to inform, inspire and challenge through pastoral publications and other media

REFLECTIONS The more loss we feel, the more grateful we should be for whatever it was we had to lose. It means that we had something worth grieving for. The ones I'm sorry for are the ones that go through life not knowing what grief is. FRANK O’CONNOR

The splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness. ST THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style. MAYA ANGELOU

If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice. SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it, they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down, they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it, they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point, it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair. GK CHESTERTON

We absolutely believed in Heaven and Hell, Purgatory, and even Limbo. I mean, they were actually closer to us than Australia or Canada, they were real places. JOHN MCGAHERN

Celibacy is not just a matter of not having sex. It is a way of admiring a person for their humanity, maybe even for their beauty. TIMOTHY RADCLIFFE OP

The first effect of realising that one is made of nothing is a kind of panic-stricken insecurity. One looks round for some more stable thing to clutch, and in this matter none of the beings of our experience are any more stable than we, for at the origin of them all is the same truth: all are made of nothing. FRANK SHEED

All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. JRR TOLKIEN

Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. PAUL TILLICH

A bugler sounded the Last Post. Heartbreak made audible.

Those who come close to people in pain naturally draw near to God, because God is always by the side of his children who are in pain.

Not only is there no need of an intermediary through whom God wants you to speak to him, but he finds his delight in having you treat with him personally and in all confidence.


Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.





Faith is an island in the setting sun, But proof is the bottom line for everyone.


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Nicholson Bass, printers of Reality magazine, would like to congratulate Redemptorist Communications on reaching their 80th year Anniversary issue of the Reality publication. C









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OMNISYS I.T. CONSULTING & SOLUTIONS would like to congratulate Reality Magazine in reaching it's 80th anniversary




is quite a privilege to be asked to write a guest editorial for the 80th Anniversary of the publication of the Redemptorist Record/ Reality magazine. Over these 80 years, this publication has gone through a number of transformations, as you can see by looking at the extracts from the first number distributed with this one. At the same time, it has remained true to its purpose and inspiration: in the tradition of St. Alphonsus Liguori and the Redemptorists, to continue the evangelising mission of the Redeemer through the apostolate of the pen, especially in a ‘popular’ way. The mission of Reality magazine is to communicate the Word in such a way that we can truly discern the voice of God speaking through the Son in today’s world. In 1732, when St. Alphonsus Liguori gathered his companions for the foundation of a new religious institute dedicated to preaching the Gospel to the poor and abandoned, he had little idea of becoming a popular writer. Most of the people to whom he was sent were illiterate, with very little education, living in isolated villages and hamlets in southern Italy. He understood his mission essentially as preaching – speaking the Gospel in words that everyone could understand. From the beginning, St. Alphonsus instructed his followers to avoid any show of oratory. They were to proclaim the gospel in “simplicity of life and language”. The heart of their vocation was communicating the Good News to others in a way that would make a difference, calling them to conversion and to change their lives. One of his first companions, Blessed Gennaro Sarnelli, shared Alphonsus’ vision of proclamation and communication. He too was a lawyer and came from a privileged background but he dedicated his life to the message of the Redeemer especially in service to the abandoned and the poor. He soon

realised, however, that he was not called to the countryside, but that in the great cities such as Naples, there were many abandoned poor with no one caring for them. Sarnelli realised that he could reach many more people much more effectively through pamphlets and books, as well as direct preaching. He wrote many short, simple pamphlets on prayer, the Christian life, and spirituality. Through his work with the poor, he understood that the social issues of his day – poverty, prostitution, abandoned mothers and children, many illnesses – were linked to injustice and that he needed to address these issues from a Christian perspective in his writings. Soon, he realized that some of the educated and well-to-do would benefit from good books to read and ponder. While he continued to write and publish shorter, more popular pamphlets, he also began work on larger and more theological volumes addressing the more significant religious, cultural and justice issues of his day from a Christian faith perspective. Aware of the effectiveness of Sarnelli’s writing apostolate, Alphonsus soon followed his example. His first works were short devotional pamphlets to assist the prayer of ordinary people. Soon, he began to treat theological issues in larger, more serious volumes like his Moral Theology. However, he also addressed social and religious issues in open letters to both religious and civil authorities. The author of over 100 publications, he realized that the apostolate of the pen was a very effective way of proclaiming the Gospel to many. In the early 19th century in Vienna, St. Clement Hofbauer broadened the circle to include many lay men and women as he encouraged newspapers, journals, and the first popular magazines as part of the Redemptorist apostolate. They were not just pious writers.

They wrote about current events like the impact of Napoleon and then the Vienna Congress on the lives of ordinary people. They were frequently involved in some controversial subjects from the perspective of Christian faith! By the late 19th century and through the 20th century, popular Redemptorist magazines and pamphlets were published in dozens of countries in Europe and the Americas. It was during this period that the Irish Redemptorists began the Redemptorist Record which became Reality. Faithful to the Redemptorist publishing tradition, it has treated a broad range of religious, spiritual, cultural, historical, political and current issues from its very beginning. This broad perspective on ‘Mission’ is evident from its very first issue – and I think that St. Alphonsus would be proud to see that it continues. Certainly there have been controversies, even a few strong critiques from ecclesiastical and political authorities! With strong editorial leadership, the Record/ Reality has tried to remain true to its initial and fundamental purpose – to be an instrument carrying out the Redemptorist mission of evangelization as we follow the Redeemer who continues to bring Good News to the poor. As we celebrate eighty years of publication, we not only celebrate all that has been accomplished during its history, but we pray that Reality will continue to embody these values, and so communicate effectively today and into the future the Good News of plentiful redemption for all.

Fr Michael Brehl CSsR Superior General of the Redemptorist Congregation





May, 1936, Aer Lingus launched its first passenger service between Dublin and Bristol using a six-seater plane. In the same month, Eamonn De Valera, as Taoiseach of the Free State, abolished Seanad Eireann. Earlier in the year, the Chief Inspector of the Royal Ulster Constabulary had been given permission to ban contentious parades. On the sporting front, Limerick won the All Ireland hurling final, and Belfast Celtic won the Irish League. A coup in Spain in July ignited what proved to be a Civil War, and the following month, Adolf Hitler opened the Olympic Games in Berlin. By the end of the year, Britain was on the edge of a constitutional crisis which led to the abdication of King Edward VIII on 10 December. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern


Times was the outstanding film of the year, and BBC began regular television broadcasts in November. In that same month, the first number of a non-pretentious quarterly magazine, Redemptorist Record, appeared from Clonard Monastery in Belfast.

Australia followed, before he returned to Ireland to take on the ministry of parish mission and retreat preaching, the main work of Irish Redemptorists at that time. The editor spelled out the reasons for the new magazine. Firstly, it was to continue

THE REDEMPTORIST RECORD The current issue of Reality includes a selection of articles from that first edition. The first editor was Fr Thomas A. Murphy, a native of Brosna, Co Kerry. After ordination, he had spent some years teaching in the Redemptorist College in Limerick. In 1916, he was sent to the Filipino mission, which had been founded a decade previously. A spell in

the Redemptorist commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel: “to make the Redeemer’s teaching better known among all men – the only teaching that will save the

... To make the Redeemer’s teaching better known among all men – the only teaching that will save the world


to Reality

s 0 5 9 1 13

An advert for the Redemptorist College in Limerick circa 1948

world.” This was especially important when “anarchical doctrines were being spread broadcast through Europe.” The editor had his eyes on Soviet Communism and Fascism. Another reason was to advertise the work of the Redemptorist mission in the Philippines, and to gain financial support for it. The idea of fund-raising through a magazine was probably prompted by the success of the Far East, the first edition of which appeared in 1920, two years after the foundation of the “Maynooth Mission to China.” It would be the first of many Irish ‘mission magazines.’ Few survived but the Far East is still going strong at almost 100. It was hoped “to publish from time to time articles by Catholic actionists in which they will describe their endeavours, their methods,

1960s 14

A sample of the early advertising in the 'Record.'

their disappointments their successes.” Fr Murphy was a close friend of Frank Duff, who had founded the Legion of Mary in Dublin in 1921. It had met with a cool reception from the bishops, so it is no surprise to find in that first edition an article by Frank Duff on ‘true devotion’ to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the bed-rock of the Legion’s spirituality. CONTRIBUTORS AND FUNDING In addition to contributions from his Redemptorist brethren, Fr Murphy recruited a base of talented lay contributors. They included the Kerry-born Alice Curtayne (1898-1983), biographer of Irish saints and historical figures. Aodh de Blacam (18901951) was active in Republican politics and REALITY NOVEMBER 2016



EDITORS 1936-1946 Thomas A Murphy Founder and editor 1946-1953 John Gorey 1953-1959 LG O Carroll 1959-1962 Thomas Ring 1962-1968 Michael O'Connor 1968 (Mar.-Jul.) Anthony Seeldrayers 1968-1970 Frederick M Jones 1970-1975 Brian Boyle 1975-1994 Kevin Donlon 1994-2014 Gerry Moloney Other Redemptorists who formed part of the Reality team, either on the editorial side or in the vital work of promotion. included Frs Gerard Reynolds, Eamonn Gowing, Anthony Mulvey, Raphael Gallagher & John Goode

a founder member of Fianna Fail which he left later to join Clann na Poblachta and later became editor of the Catholic Standard. Cathal O’Byrne (1867-1957), a Belfast nationalist writer, is best known for his song, A Jug of Punch and his history of Belfast, As I Roved Out. Clerical contributors included Mgr Arthur Ryan, professor of philosophy at Queen’s University, Belfast and Fr Myles Ronan, a priest of the Dublin archdiocese and prolific historian. Despite the restrictions on paper imposed by World War II, the magazine continued to appear every three months. What is striking is the range of material covered. Irish historical material and the lives of saints or notable converts appear frequently but

there were also comments on the political world of the day, like the analysis of the rise of Germany’s military power in 1940. Stories of developments in the church are common. An article on Dorothy Day and her Houses

Several pages of small ads in each number helped pay the bills. Most came from businesses with Redemptorist associations. From Dundalk, for example, we find James Corry, provision merchant or McArdles

The Devil at Dances, was an attack on the culture of the Irish dance-hall of the 1950s, earning the Record a reputation for stringent line on sexual matters of Hospitality / Catholic Worker Movement appeared in 1940. A short piece on Worker Priests clearly approved of them, but a few years later, the worker priest movement was condemned by Rome.

‘Dundalk Ales and Stout.’ From Limerick, Cannocks claimed to be ‘clerical tailoring specialists and general drapers’, while Osbourne’s hair restorer claimed to restore hair to its original colour and was available


BROTHERS ON RECORD Redemptorist Brothers played a hidden part in the success of Redemptorist Record / Reality from its foundation. Brother Michael Bradley. A native of Draperstown, Co Derry, he had joined the Irish Volunteers in 1916. The following year, he was arrested and sentenced to nine months in Belfast jail. He went on hunger strike in 1917, and was released in December. He entered the Redemptorists as a brother postulant in 1920. Despite the near fatal outcome of his hunger-strike, he lived until he was 93. He spent many years as publications manager of the newly founded Redemptorist Record and as assistant bursar at Clonard.  


Brother Matthias (Eddie Corish) was born in Wexford in 1923. He was professed as a Redemptorist brother in 1954, and shortly after that took over from Brother Michael Bradley. He wrote some articles for the Record on the vocation of the Redemptorist brother. He began studies for the priesthood in 1965, and was ordained in 1970. After ordination, he went to work in South Africa, where he died in 1992. Brother Edmund [Seamus] Campion was probably the best known of the brothers who worked in Record / Reality. In many respects, he was better known than the editor. While the earlier brothers had stayed in the office, Seamus spent four or five days each week ‘on the road’ contacting promoters or visiting schools and convents. His phenomenal memory for complex family relationships of people he had met made him a very welcome visitor and storyteller.


Brother Nicholas Healy, a native of Kilkenny and professed as a Redemptorist in 1950. He had worked in most of the Irish Redemptorist houses. In Limerick he was a manager of a number of very enthusiastic and successful young soccer clubs. He replaced Brother Seamus Campion in Reality promotion work in 1983. Both Brothers Nicholas and Edmund are still hale and hearty, and living in Mount St Alphonsus, Limerick.

2000s from Liston’s Medical Hall. Belfast was represented by its two main “Catholic” bakers Bernard Hughes and JB Kennedy and McKenna and McGinley “mineral waters.” The School of Domestic Economy in Clifden claimed to be ‘ideally situated amidst the heathery mountains and Atlantic breezes’ and catered especially for farmers’ daughters. Each issue acknowledged offerings received for the formation of priests and foreign missions, especially for the work of the leprosarium in Cebu. NEW EDITORS Having served ten years as editor, Fr Murphy was succeeded by Fr John Gorey in 1946. Editing the magazine was considered something to be REALITY NOVEMBER 2016

done in addition to other work, and Fr Gorey had just then taken on the administration of the Redemptorists’ first Irish Retreat House in Ardglass, Co Down. It was close enough to Belfast to enable him to combine the two tasks. He served seven years until he was succeeded by Fr Liam G O Carroll. Although Fr Gorey had written a booklet called My I Keep Company? it was published by the Catholic Truth Society. Fr O’Carroll republished several series of articles he had originally written for the Record under the pen-name of Bill Gerard. The first of them, The Devil at Dances, was an attack on the culture of the Irish dance-hall of the 1950s. Others, like Mary, Modes and Modesty followed, earning the Record a reputation for stringent line on sexual matters.

By the end of the 1950s, Irish society was beginning to change, and the Second Vatican Council made it clear that the Church could not stand aloof from “the joys and the sorrows, the hopes and the fears of men and women of today.” Younger Redemptorists were taking over the Record. First of them was Fr Tom Ring who decided to publish monthly and relocated the offices in the converted stables of the Redemptorists’ Dublin house of Marianella. Earlier editors had worked alone with the assistance of a brother as bursar and manager of subscriptions. The editorial team was expanded to include a number of young men in tune with the changes in Church and society. They introduced a monthly question and answer section and a youth page. The changes of

Vatican II produced no end of articles and the editorials became more outspoken. AN EDITORIAL AND A NAME CHANGE The editorial of April, 1966 just as the country was preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising was particularly controversial. Entitled ‘May we ask…’, it consisted of a series of questions beginning with that phrase. It took up a claim of George Colley, Minister for Education, that he would revolutionise the teaching of Irish and asked “does the Minister for Education really believe that he has a mandate from the people of Ireland to deprive their children of a fluency and facility in English so that it may be replaced by fluency in Irish?” A second set of questions was addressed to the Church, and by implication, to archdiocese of Dublin concerning the use of Irish in the Mass. Behind this promotion of Irish, the editor saw the hand of “extremist minority groups.” Several Redemptorists got involved in the debate both in public and through private

letters to the provincial. One claimed to have had a phone call from President de Valera expressing his displeasure at the editorial. Groups of teachers, and clergy protested to the provincial and the debate reigned in the correspondence columns of the daily papers for some weeks. In the June editorial, Fr Michael O’Connor, the editor, made it clear that the editorials were opinions of the editor and not of the Redemptorists. He also announced the change of name. From the October number, the magazine would be known as Reality. EIGHTY NOT OUT In the fifty years since then, Reality has continued its mission. It has gone through a succession of editors, all of whom left their mark on it. Under Fr Gerard Moloney, it burgeoned into a small publishing house, Redemptorist Communications, which in addition to the monthly magazine, produces a range of pastoral books, sometimes in cooperation with its UK counterpart, Redemptorist Publications, several

sets of weekly missalettes, as well as other printed resources for the Redemptorist apostolates in Ireland. Apart from regular contributions from their brethren, two Redemptorist priests work in RedComs – the present editor and our designer, Fr David McNamara. We are blessed to have a dedicated lay staff, Michelle McKeon, Claire Carmichael and Paul Copeland. At the moment, we are between bases. With the closure of Marianella and while awaiting the building of new offices in Dundalk, we do our best in temporary accommodation in a North Dublin business park. We do our best to live up to our mission statement, which is not so very different from that of Fr Tom Murphy eighty years ago: “Redemptorist Communications is a ministry of the Irish Redemptorist Province in which lay people and Redemptorists collaborate to communicate the Gospel message – to inform, inspire and challenge through pastoral publications and other media.” Fr Brendan McConvery C.Ss.R. is editor of Reality




of my great struggles as a teacher of social justice is to increase awareness of suffering in the world. In so many ways—culturally, educationally, economically, and socially—people are able to insulate themselves from the pain of both neighbors near and strangers far. Believe it or not, however, one of the places that we encounter the grief and anguish of the world is through the food we eat. We often just focus on what we’re eating though and avoid, perhaps most importantly, who picked the food on our table. SWEAT SHOPS OF THE SOIL In 1960 a television documentary was broadcast which brought this often invisible reality to light. The title of the program was Harvest of Shame. In it, the legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow looked at the life of migrant farm workers. The producer


“hoped that the pictures of how these people live and work would shock the consciousness of the nation.” The program’s most jarring words were captured when a farmer said, “We used to own our slaves. Now we just rent them.” The average life span of farm-workers then was around 49 years. It is little wonder when one considers the deplorable conditions they lived and worked under which some refer to, still today, as “sweatshops of the soil”: unjust wages; substandard housing; hunger and malnutrition; child labour; sexual harassment; exposure to pesticides; lack of drinking water and toilet facilities; and limited opportunities for education. A CHILD OF THE DEPRESSION Into this context, Cesar Chavez was born on March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona. His family were farmers. Unfortunately, during the height of the Great Depression, they lost their farm. At

the age of ten, Chavez’s family moved to California to begin a life of migrant labor. In the intervening years, due to seasonal travel, Chavez went to dozens of schools before dropping out of school in the eighth grade to work full time. From 1946-1948, in the aftermath of World War II, Chavez joined the Navy. He returned home to San Jose, California, married and settled in a Mexican barrio ironically called Sal Si Puedes (“Get Out If You Can”). The person who helped Chavez get out was Fr. Donald McDonnell. As Chavez once said “my education started when I met Father Donald McDonnell.” Through him, Chavez became aware of the Catholic social justice tradition, the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi, and the person and nonviolence of Gandhi. Chavez left the fields in 1952 to work for the Community Service Organisation (CSO) as an advocate for Latino civil rights. He would eventually become its national director in 1958. In

when Chavez and the UFW joined Filipino migrants who, after years of poor pay and unsafe working conditions, went on strike against grape growers in Delano. The strike lasted five years. To draw popular support for their cause, the UFW organised a national boycott of grapes. Chavez led a pilgrimage to the state capital of Sacramento in 1966 under the patronage of Our Lady of

WHAT DO WE WANT THE CHURCH TO DO? In 1968, following one of his fasts, Chavez gave voice to the role he saw the church playing in the lives of Latinos: “Finally, in a nutshell, what do we want the Church to do? We don’t ask for more cathedrals. We don’t ask for bigger churches or fine gifts. We ask for its presence with us, beside us, as Christ among us. We ask the Church to sacrifice with the people for social change, for justice, and for love of brother. We don’t ask for words. We ask for deeds. We don’t ask for paternalism. We ask for servant-hood.” Because of his servant-hood, Chavez himself became a symbol of the dignity owed migrant workers. Over the years, due to his and the UFW’s efforts, higher wages and better working conditions in the fields were secured often accompanied by the slogan, Si se puedes (“Yes, it can be done”). Chavez died in 1993 at the age of 66.

the way out. King was up against Jim Crow, which was an anachronism and on the way out. Chavez was up against the employers of America—and they get stronger every day.” The question remains, then, especially in light of the United Farm Worker’s demise as an influential union: what is Cesar Chavez’s enduring legacy? During a TED Talk, Jose Calderon, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California, responded to this question. He is an immigrant who came to America with his parents in 1957. They were farm-workers who toiled their whole lives in the fields. From humble beginnings, Calderon made his way to college. Upon graduation, inspired by the example of Chavez, Calderon took a bus from Colorado to the UFW headquarters in Delano, CA. The evening he arrived, he found Chavez speaking to a group of people. As Calderon remembers it, Cesar said, “You know the only thing in life for sure is death. And between now and when you die, the question is how are you going to use your life? You could easily throw it away on drugs, or individualism, or materialism; thinking that material things are going to bring you joy.” “But,” he said, “I can assure you that if you use your life in service to community, to empower others, when you get old, whatever you decide to be…when you look back on your life, I know that you will say it was very meaningful.” For Calderon it was “a transformative moment.” He stayed with the union for several years, but when he left, Chavez’ call to “service to community” stayed with him. It continues to present itself to us today. How are we going beyond our own interests in service to community? Will we allow the example of Chavez to transform our lives?

CHAVEZ’S LEGACY As with most social justice activists, Chavez’ person is easier to accept in death than it was in life. Today there are parks, streets, and schools named after him. But the size and influence of the UFW isn’t what it used to be. The labour lawyer and author Thomas Geoghegan writes that Chavez “may have failed, whereas Gandhi and King did not. But Gandhi was up against the British Empire, which was an anachronism and on

Mike Daley is a teacher and writer from Cincinnati, OH where he lives with his wife June, and their three children. He is a frequent contributor to Reality. His latest book is Vatican II: Fifty Personal Stories (Orbis).

We ask [the Church] for its presence with us, beside us, as Christ among us Guadalupe. To make sure the union practiced nonviolence during their protests, Chavez went on fasts.

light of the racism and discrimination experienced by so many Latinos, Chavez and CSO held voter registrations and citizenship classes, organised house meetings, filed lawsuits on behalf of workers, and promoted legislative change. THE FARM WORKERS UNION A few years later in 1962, Chavez did the unthinkable. He left the security of his job as a community organiser and moved to Delano, CA, to found with Dolores Huerta what would become the United Farm Workers (UFW). Chavez was driven by one goal: “to overthrow a farm labour system in this nation that treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings. Farm workers are not agricultural implements; they are not beasts of burden to be used and discarded.” La Lucha (the Struggle) for dignity became la Causa (the Cause) for justice. Things came to a head on September 8, 1965,


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I 20

was mooching around the newsroom in the Irish Times one day late in August 1965, trying to pretend I was busy, when the editor, Douglas Gageby, button-holed me. He asked me if I’d be ready to go to Rome in about ten days time to report the final session of the Vatican Council. To say that I was surprised is putting it mildly. I had joined the Irish Times two years earlier, and, to be honest, the earlier sessions of the Council had passed, not quite without notice, but without much of a fanfare, not only for me but for most of the Irish public. I was the newspaper’s education correspondent – the first ever

specialist journalist to be appointed in this area – and, even though I had been working on the Catholic Herald in London for some fifteen months before that, my knowledge of my own church, and my acquaintance with any of the topics being discussed by the Council, was, to say the very least, sketchy. OVER THE ALPS Almost before I had drawn breath, I found myself on an Aer Lingus flight to Rome, looking down at the snow-covered Alps, and hearing my companion, Seán Mac Réamoinn, insisting that I consume a beverage he always ordered on these auspicious occasions: a glass of brandy mixed into a snipe of champagne. Not even this, it turned out, prepared me adequately for the overpowering cocktail of

Nothing prepared me adequately for the overpowering cocktail of personal, cultural and theological experiences that was waiting at ground level


personal, cultural and theological experiences that was waiting at ground level. The Council had, since its inception, been treated by the secular Irish media, almost without exception, only as a succession of great setpieces. Irish journalists went to Rome for the opening and closing sessions in each year, and sent the usual purple prose passages home. In between, we read the dispatches of the international news agencies, with their cops-and-robbers stories of the battles between “liberals” and “conservatives”, with mild interest, but not much understanding or involvement. Mac Réamoinn himself was the exception, and an honourable exception, to this general rule. He had been in Rome for at least part of almost all the earlier sessions, and made a number of pioneering radio programmes. Now he was joined by myself, and by Louis MacRedmond for the Irish Independent. The

Irish Press followed later, represented initially by an Irish free-lance journalist, Desmond O’Grady. Those three months of the final session of the Council were a whirlwind. While it was possible by now for journalists to get a permit to enter the basilica while the morning debates were in progress, news gathering took place elsewhere. The venues included the daily press conference in the Vatican Press Office, which handed out the official summaries of the speeches, and where, one day Pope Paul VI (himself the son of a journalist) gave a press conference, and actually took question from the floor. There were also the briefings and conferences organised in all sorts of places and by all sorts of people – religious orders, individual bishops and cardinals, lay organisations, book publishers, and of course the usual assortment of cranks and axe-grinders. A STEEP LEARNING CURVE? Journalism was changing in the mid-sixties, and religious reporting even more so. The sayings of the great and the good were, of course, still chronicled, but no longer with the sort of deference that had traditionally been accorded to them. The religion correspondents from other countries were, perhaps, more accustomed to dealing with disagreements between bishops than were Irish journalists, but we picked it up as we went along. There were no disagreements to report among the Irish bishops – not that we knew of, anyway, as they lived a more or less cloistered existence in the Irish College,

21 Pope Paul VI greets the faithful during the closure of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 8, 1965

and they did not interact much with us, nor we with them. In retrospect, this was probably not a good idea, and we reporters were, I am sure, as much to blame as they were. It wasn’t really a breakdown in communication, because there was no communication there to start with. But there was so much else going on (and so many other Irish bishops, particularly missionary ones, some of whom could both

offer useful insights into the proceedings in St Peter’s, and could even, on occasion, be jovially indiscreet) that we hardly noticed. One of the key information exchange points, for journalists from all over the world, was IDOC. This was a multi-lingual information and documentation centre established originally (if I remember correctly) by the Dutch bishops in first-floor offices looking down into that jewel of Roman streetscapes,

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The loyalty of this ‘loyal opposition’ was misunderstood by its critics, who tended to view it with varying degrees of suspicion, or even as a malign conspiracy. And the members of this loyal opposition, for their own part, probably underestimated the cost of the changes now being contemplated for those whose pastoral concerns led them into over-protectiveness at best, or to a blinkered defence of unaccountable authority at worst. Most of us, somehow, muddled through, as did most of the bishops. There was never any likelihood of schism, but something indefinable had been released

Bishops leave St. Peter's Basilica after a meeting of the Council in1962


the Piazza Navona. Master-minded by a charismatic Dutch theologian, Leo Alting von Gesau, who became a life-long friend to me and many other searchers after enlightenment. It hosted frequent sessions at which experts in almost every branch of theology, church discipline or church history being discussed at the Council explored the intricacies of what was going on. It was, in effect, a permanent seminar at which one learned, practically by osmosis, at the feet of many masters.

was more complex. IDOC, and the journalists and theologians who were nourished by it as part of the Conciliar ferment, represented, rather, a sometimes critical, but always loyal, offspring of the

There were no disagreements to report among the Irish bishops – not that we knew of, anyway, as they lived a more or less cloistered existence in the Irish College, and they did not interact much with us, nor we with them THE LOYAL OPPOSITION In the eyes of some this was, perhaps, the devil’s work: always questioning, sometimes combative, apparently seriously threatening to undermine the magisterium. The reality REALITY NOVEMBER 2016

A Bishop speaks with two lay women during a meeting of the Second Vatican Council

aggiornamento. This was undoubtedly a paradox which was difficult to accept for those who, clerical or lay, had been schooled in unquestioning obedience, and were familiar only with a static and never-changing church. How could an institution like the Catholic church give birth to, let alone live with, the concept of a loyal opposition?

Seán Mac Réamoinn

Piazza Navona

that could not readily be put back into the bottle.

he had been engaged in verbal swordplay over a gin fizz in a bar on the Via della Conciliazione was, in fact, a Dutch missionary bishop;  The tears that welled up, unbidden, on seeing the tomb of John XXIII in the crypt of St. Peter’s;  Evening mass in English on most working days in the unlikely but hospitable haven of the chapel in the Jesuit Curia, attended by the most heterodox collection of journalists, clergy, visiting firemen (and women) and daylight atheists you could ever possibly imagine;  Weekend expeditions to Ostia and Fregene to swim from deserted beaches in temperatures that made Ireland seem Arctic by comparison;  The rich seam of ecumenical experience with observers, clergy and laity, from all continents and confessions; Long, loquacious dinners into the soft, autumnal Roman nights; and Seeing, on a visit into St. Peter’s on one of the last sitting days of the Council, a line of bishops, their black robes

A young Australian priest proposed that we should constitute ourselves a conclave, and proceed to the election of our first lay Pope. Seán Mac Réamoinn was elected, by acclamation. MEMORIES More than half a century later, some memories still happily survive the merciless annihilation by anno domini. Everyone will have his or her own. Mine include:  Paul VI in his white cassock, illuminated by the rays of a setting sun like something out of a painting by Rembrandt, as he spoke to a multitude of enthusiastic travelling people in their encampment at Pomezia, outside Rome; Helping a tipsy archbishop (for the avoidance of doubt, not an Irish one) into a taxi;  The shock on the face of a pugnacious Irish lay theologian when he was informed that the soft-spoken gentleman in a lounge suit with whom

slashed with scarlet cummerbunds, all kneeling in a row, waiting for confession. On the last night of the council, December 8th, 1965, we had a party (naturally). I’m sure there were many other similar events taking place that evening, but ours has always seemed somewhat special. There were about 90 of us, from almost 20 different nationalities - journalists, hangers-on, theologians, and a sprinkling of bishops – and we took over Da Marcello, a small restaurant in the back streets behind the via della Conciliazione which had been a frequent lunch venue over the previous three months. Reminiscences were exchanged, songs were sung, tears were shed. At the end of the evening a young Australian priest got onto a table and commanded silence. He proposed, he said, that we should constitute ourselves a conclave, and proceed to the election of our first lay Pope. Seán Mac Réamoinn was elected, by acclamation. Rome in the autumn of 1965 changed my life. But would it change anyone else’s? That’s another story.

The tomb of St Pope John XXIII

Dr John Horgan was a journalist at the Second Vatican Council. He later served as a Labour TD and member of the European Parliament before becoming Professor of Journalism at DCU and Ireland’s first Press Ombudsman.





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February 11

2013 did not only shift the plates of the earth for the Church, but marked a seismic shift in my own life. Early that morning in Rome, Benedict XVI resigned and caught the world and the Church off guard. Several days later, I joined the staff of the Holy See Press Office at the request of its director, Fr. Federico

a Papal funeral, and the surprise election of the first pope from the Americas, not just any pope, but a Jesuit pope! One of the most poignant moments of my Roman sojourn took place on February 28, the last day of Benedict’s pontificate. His departure from the Apostolic Palace and the Vatican captured the heart and mind of the world. Vatican Television Centre brought these

Our work in Catholic communications must be focused outward, and not only be concerned with preaching to our own, safe galleries Lombardi, SJ, to be part of an adventure that included a papal resignation, the Sede Vacante or interregnum, a conclave taking place without the atmosphere of

historic moments to the world. Benedict’s touching farewell from his co-workers on that crisp, Italian afternoon, the brief helicopter flight to Castel Gandolfo, his final words as

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Pope, reminding us that he would become “a pilgrim” in this final stage of his life, touched us deeply. There were no dry eyes in Rome that night. The whole departure reminded me of that emotional moment in the Acts of the Apostles (chapter 20) when Paul took leave of the elders at Ephesus. THE SEDE VACANTE AND CONCLAVE OF 2013 Once the Pontificate ended, our work in the Holy See Press Office multiplied in spades! Over 6000 journalists descended upon Rome, and they were hungry for

information. Together with Fr. Lombardi and Msgr. Gil Tamayo from Spain, we led the daily press briefings for hundreds of accredited journalists from every corner of the globe. Fr. Lombardi is a quintessential communicator, and with his wise creative foresight, the Vatican engaged in a strategy of lavishly spreading the banquet table of information for this papal transition before the television cameras of the world. I was initially assigned the English language media requests, and worked 18hour days with television, print and radio media from every corner of

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the globe. I lost count after doing 165 television and radio interviews with every possible network you can imagine… in English, then French, Spanish, Italian, and German. The majority of those interviews were not for Catholic television networks or Catholic media entities but for secular, mainstream media the world over. When the College of Cardinals entered into the conclave on Tuesday, March 12, the excitement and sense of expectation were palpable. Fr. Lombardi invited me to the Sistine chapel for the majestic procession, solemn ritual, prayer and oath taking of the cardinals. When we entered, several things moved me in that hallowed space. As a young boy, I watched movies on TV about everything that happened in that chapel. Yet that day, watching Cardinals processing slowly up the specially constructed ramp, I realised that this was not a movie or a political election campaign, but a deeply moving, spiritual experience. Chills went up my spine as I heard the Sistine Choir chanting the Litany of the Saints and the Veni Creator. I looked at the solemn faces of those Cardinals, and saw not just men in scarlet robes, but also their countries – and I imagined their flocks back home praying for them. I heard their voices resound in the chapel as each Cardinal placed his hand on the Book of the Gospel and pronounced the oath, standing before Michelangelo’s stunning wall of redemption and under the story of creation on the Sistine chapel ceiling. The words “Extra Omnes” had a direct impact on me, since I was one of the last people to be ushered out of the Sistine Chapel before the voting began. Once again the cameras of CTV brought these moments to the entire world. REALITY NOVEMBER 2016

“BROTHERS AND SISTERS, GOOD EVENING!” I will never forget the experience of that cold, rainy Wednesday evening of March 13, 2013, when the white smoke appeared. With the “Habemus Papam,” came the name of a stranger, an outsider, who instantly won over the crowd

hell. It is a story about real people, real things and seismic changes that happened to them.  People who staked their lives, and continue to do so, not on fables and fantasies, but on what they came to understand as the truth, the bedrock for shepherds named Angelo Roncalli, Giovanni Battista Montini, Albino Luciani,

Francis is a different Pope who acts and lives in a way that make people want to get closer to Christ, to the Church and to him in the Piazza and the entire world with the words, “Fratelli e Sorelle, buona sera!” (Brothers and sisters, good evening!) Who would believe a pontificate beginning with those simple, common words? Never in my wild imaginings did I expect a Pope to be called Francis! Nor could I comprehend the scene of over one hundred thousand cheering people suddenly become still and silent as Papa Franceso bowed, and asked them to pray for him and pray over him. It was the most moving moment I have ever experienced at a Vatican event. For four solid weeks during Lent 2013, the Vatican provided for the world extraordinary moments of education, catechesis, history, evangelisation and beauty. This reality we call Catholicism has weathered many storms, and withstood the fury of the gates of

Karol Wojtyla, Joseph Ratzinger and Jorge Mario Bergoglio – the popes of my lifetime, whose lives and names were radically changed in the Sistine Chapel. It is that same truth that we tried to serve those unforgettable Lenten days as we told the world an ancient, incredible story that continues to excite and entice humanity.  During that Papal transition, I frequently received comments from well-meaning Catholics around the world offering their “sympathy” to me for having to deal with the “secular media!” I still receive such comments each time I must speak with journalists from mainstream media when I must respond to the burning questions of the day. I am puzzled by those comments because I have always understood my role as one that not only deals with “the Catholic household” but

especially with the world. Our work in Catholic communications must be focused outward, and not only be concerned with preaching to our own, safe galleries. Handled with wisdom, intelligence, creativity and patience, Catholic communications can truly be the greatest portal to the Gospel and the Church in the 21st century. What face of the Church are we presenting to the world? Or is it the case that we are often afraid of the world? BIBLICAL PARABLE FOR CHURCH COMMUNICATION One biblical story which has inspired and energised me in my media work these past years is the parable of the sower – a remarkable study in contrasts. It is very appropriate for the work we strive to do in Catholic media and communications. To Jesus’ Galilean listeners who were close to the earth, the image of sowing seeds was a very familiar one. Let’s consider Matthew’s version of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23). Matthew incorporates almost of Mark's version of the parable but adds his own perspective. There is a striking line in Matthew’s explanation of this parable. Puzzled by Jesus' story, the disciples ask him to explain it, and he begins, "the field is the world and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom” (v.38). God works in the world, not simply in the church. The world is a mixed reality, both good and bad, but the community cannot insulate itself from the weeds. Complete deliverance from evil comes only in the end time when, in the words of the parable, the just will shine "like the sun"; in the meantime, the community's place is precisely in the world, in the

midst of the weeds and the wheat. Matthew's Gospel reminds us that the field in which our God-given destiny unfolds is the world and not simply the church; the Spirit is alive in the world, and there in the mix of weeds and wheat. Time and again the biblical drama shows that what we might call secular events, even tragic, wrenching and destructive ones, move history forward and provide the setting for God's revelation. The field is the world, and this strange array of peoples on the peripheries and outside the perimeter of biblical Israel breaks into the Gospel arena and becomes a vital part of Jesus' mission. This is what happens when the seed falls unpredictably in the world and not just in the church.

GRATITUDE TO POPE FRANCIS I am grateful to God for what Pope Francis has been able to do for the Church and the world for nearly four years of his Petrine Ministry. Francis is a different Pope who acts and lives in a way that make people want to get closer to Christ, to the Church and to him. He has understood very well – more than most of us – that the message of the Gospel and the story of the Church must be proclaimed from the housetops to the ends of the earth, and not just within the safe confines of the Catholic household. The Pope has chosen many new, unconventional means to communicate and to teach – sometimes to the consternation of some!

Pope Francis opens doors to a faith that offers attractive, compelling answers to questions deep in the hearts of all men and women. He is also helping us to ask real questions about things that matter. There is something incredibly appealing here not only to Catholics, but to Christians… in fact to all men and women of good will. Francis’ words are addressed to an ecumenical and interfaith audience. Francis stands for something much greater than division, rancour,

labelling and meanness of spirit that have dominated politics in many of our lands and have inevitably infected the Church. The Bishop of Rome speaks with authority and integrity because he has lived the church's social teaching in his own ministry. He walks his talk and walks the walk. Therein lies the key to a successful communicator, who when he or she speaks, is listened to, heeded and even emulated because of such crystal clear coherence of word and action.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, lecturer in Sacred Scripture, is the founding CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network in Canada since 2003. He served for 6 years as Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications at the Vatican and was English language media attaché at the Synods of Bishops in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Since the Papal Transition in 2013 serves as English language media attaché for the Holy See Press Office in addition to his leadership of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Canada

New Title from Denis McBride JOURNEYING WITH JONAH –THE STRUGGLE TO FIND YOURSELF By Fr Denis McBride CSsR In this new book Fr Denis has chosen to explore the character of Jonah – a somewhat unlikely hero. The prophet Jonah is a sympathetic partner, albeit a curious one, to help us review our lives. Although a believer in God, Jonah struggles to come to terms with the awful strangeness of God’s choices, particularly God’s mercy; he grapples to find his true self and purpose in life; he tries to flee from the presence of God; he is angry when he finds that God is not angry but all-merciful. Jonah is offered to us as an unusual teacher – awkward, reluctant, disobedient, opinionated, fearful, flighty: the prophet who remains stubborn to the end. But his story celebrates the beauty of the indiscriminate mercy of God, a message for our time.“ There is one constant in the book of Jonah: Jonah’s belief that God’s indiscriminate mercy extended to the pagans of Nineveh is not only inappropriate but incomprehensible: Jonah is scandalised by God’s mercy. Our minor prophet has to learn as we all do, that mercy is indivisible: we cannot plead for mercy for ourselves and then deny it to others.”


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CAN THERE BE A FORM OF ‘HEALTHY SELFISHNESS’ OR MUST WE ALWAYS LET OUR OWN NEEDS TAKE SECOND PLACE? The challenging teaching of psychologist Anthony de Mello S.J. suggests that “charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism.” He said that worst kind of charity is when you are doing good so that you don’t get a bad feeling. We all know dutiful people who are charitable towards others, but one can sense that they are emotionally cold. If it is true that perception is reality, one might assume that dutiful people, who seem to lack any sense of joy or satisfaction in their charitable actions, are lacking in altruism. If de Mello is correct, it’s possible that many of the good deeds we do may be done to avoid a bad feeling. I know I sometimes say “yes” when I want to say “no” because it’s the easy option. Rather than be judged as selfish, I deny my own needs and do what is demanded of me. Some psychologists believe that about 80% of the decisions we make are based on fear, not on desire. It’s interesting to think of the difference it would make to the lives of many over-burdened women if they became aware of how unexamined beliefs and hidden fears inhibit them from the self-care they know they need, but deny themselves because they don’t want to be selfish. I’m making an educated guess that, in many families, people feel coerced into giving financial help because they are afraid of being called selfish or uncaring if they refuse. A typical scenario is that someone regularly borrows money and frequently doesn’t

pay it back. The giver resents being asked for a loan and would like to refuse but feels obliged to give because a parent, who may be living on a small pension, will be pressurised if s/he declines. In some family situations there comes a point when the right thing to do is opt out of giving help and support for the wrong reasons. Anthony de Mello S.J. said there are two types of selfishness. The first type is selfcenteredness when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself. The second is when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others. There is a lack of mutual respect in a relationship where one person feels guilty if they fail to meet the expectations of another. In healthy relationships, there is a process of giving and taking. In an unhealthy relationship, one person has a sense s/he gives and the other person takes. When someone continues giving without getting something

back, it is more likely that they are being taken advantage of than that they are virtuous. Some people are very good at meeting their own need to feel wanted by inviting others to depend on them. They are so focused on “helping out and offering support” that they encourage people to have expectations that build dependency. Almost all of us have unfinished situations with family members and a lot of unexpressed feelings about issues that generate ill will. It’s foolish, if not irresponsible, to act as if everything is okay if inside you are seething with resentment and anger at the demands being made. It is not selfish to make your needs as important as the needs of others. There is a lack of wisdom in living up to the expectations of others. Too often kind people neglect their own health. They are so busy caring

for everyone else that they make their own needs unimportant. For many women the fear of being selfish inhibits them from the self-care they need but fail to give themselves. Some people are brilliant at creating guilt when others don’t meet their expectations. Masters of manipulation, they accuse you of being selfish when in reality they are the selfish ones, setting out to burden you with guilty feelings if you don’t give them what they want. If you say “yes” when you want to say “no” and then feel resentful it’s possible that you are caught up in a painful situation of your own making. In a healthy relationship there is no guilty if you decline to give help or support. Spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant says that what we do for our own well-being is going to be good for everyone else. Family members may be upset when a person minimises their support. They may challenge and criticise you and have you ask yourself if you are being selfish. Good. Healthy selfishness is when you are aware of the joy and love you get from your charitable deeds, what de Mello calls “enlightened self-interest”. You give something, you get something, everyone benefits.

Carmel Wynne is a Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and Cross-Professional Supervisor based in Dublin. For more information go to


The Mother of the Prodigal Son In this series, Fr George Wadding invites us to take an imaginative look at some familiar Gospel stories, imagining how the characters might have told their story if were they alive today. Using the imagination can be a powerful way of entering into reflective contemplative prayer. Find a quiet corner, read the article slowly a few times, think about it and pray as the spirit leads you. You can also read the story in Luke 15. There's one important person missing in the story of the Prodigal Son, the mother. Here is an imaginary letter that she wrote to her youngest boy - we'll call him Benjamin - while he was abroad...


Dearest Son, Since you didn't answer my other letters I don't know if you ever even received them. It doesn't matter. Maybe you'll get this one and, anyhow, I prefer to write than to sit and watch your dad pine away. The house is like a morgue since you left us. We thought you'd be back in a few days or weeks at the most. But as the days dragged into months and the months into years our hearts sank lower and lower. We worried about you. You were always a dreamer. Faraway places always seemed more exciting. Though it broke his heart your dad felt he had no choice but to let you choose your own way of life. Everybody said he was a fool to give you so much rope to hang yourself with. Your Dad was once young himself. He knows the world. He was afraid that you would be surrounded by fair-weather friends as long as your money lasted and then what would become of you! You were never a worker like your older brother Jacob. Your cousin David had us worried sick earlier in the year. He said he heard it from a friend of a friend who said he came across you minding pigs for a gentile farmer. He said you did not look well. Oh, Benjamin, that's REALITY NOVEMBER 2016

no way to live. If you get this letter please let us know how you are. WHISPERING YOUR NAME And now, about ourselves... When you took your freedom and left home you took our freedom with you. Your brother Jacob was very cross and more or less said "good riddance". Your father just lives in hope. A day doesn't go by but he climbs Rachel's Hill and looks across the valley in the hope of catching sight of you. Sometimes while he sleeps I hear him whispering your name. You know that every single year since you left he has set aside a young calf and fattened it in case you should return. It's a sort of joke with the neighbours: who'll get to buy last year's Benjamin's calf? Your Dad is one of the best men who ever lived. He is incapable of malice or resentment. If you came back to us it would make him the happiest person in the world. There would not be a single word of reproach. I know. I see the way he treats Jacob. Jacob, as you know, can be very moody and sullen. In one sense we are blessed with him. He's a great worker, utterly reliable, a home bird. But there's another side to him

which frightens me. He can be cruel and vindictive. He deeply resents your dad pining over you and says hurtful things about you, like, "O let Benjamin stew in his own juice", or "he deserves all he gets". How can we make him understand that we love him as much as we love you. He thinks that dad loves him less because he loves you so much. THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR BROTHER You know, Jacob acts at times like a hired servant. You feel he is faithful and hard-working for what's in it for himself. He's mercenary. He has no joy in him. He won't go out and celebrate with his friends. A waste of money, he says. All he ever does is to quote the Holy Book about this, that, and the other thing. Can't you just imagine what he said when he heard you were minding unclean animals - and for a gentile, at that! Tell me, how can someone remain so close to his father and actually live under his father's roof for so many years and still not know him. It hurts your dad a lot but he keeps it to himself. That's where you were different, Benjamin. You knew your dad through and through. You could

wind him round your little finger. When Jacob did something wrong - like the day he forgot to tie up the donkey and it fell into the quarry - he would avoid dad for days on end, even though he knew that dad never raised his hand to either of you or said a nasty word to you. But when you did something wrong, as you often did, - like when you burned down the small barn - you came straight to dad and said you were sorry. And what did he say? As he always said: "Good man. Off you go now and don't let it happen again!" That's my hope now, - that you haven't forgotten how much your father loves you, how easily he forgives. Please come home, Benjamin. You will set us all free again and we'll have such a party that will keep the neighbours talking for years. I must finish now. The light is fading. Dad left to look out for you on Rachel's Hill about an hour ago. He'll be back soon for his supper. As I write there is a bit of a commotion outside. I hear the servants shouting that Benjamin is coming down the hill with his father. I can't believe it. I'm all confused. Here I am writing to you and they say you are already here. Thank God! Thank God! (The letter ends here abruptly.)....

prayer corner


C H U RC H & M E D I A





grew up on the border so we had access to the Irish radio stations, to the ones from across the border in Northern Ireland and to quite a few of the radio stations broadcasting from London and regionally in other parts of the UK. As a young teenager my main interest on radio was the weekly chart show on RTÉ Radio 2 with Larry Gogan on Sunday morning after Mass, and the chart show on BBC Radio on a Sunday evening. In those days, it was all about trying to capture the latest songs and the number ones on my blank tape with as little of the DJ’s voice as possible. My radio dial was also tuned in those days to RTÉ Radio 2 night time radio - to the Gerry Ryan Show followed by the Mark Cagney Show. I also listened to a wide variety of local radio stations and pirate stations, as they were called in those days.


I wasn’t immune to the radio talk shows playing on mainstream stations in our kitchen at home in Monaghan and Cavan, and in my grandmother’s kitchen in Longford. It was usually Gaybo on the radio and I would be regularly shushed mid-conversation while my grandmother or my Mum listened to the outcome of a particular interview or phone call into Gay Byrne. My parents also loved Terry Wogan too and in the seventies and early eighties he would regularly grace our transistor when the reception allowed it! FAITH ON THE AIRWAVES When I started working in the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth in November 2000, I was immediately more focused on and interested in what was happening with religion and faith on the airwaves. It was something that was, and still

is, a talking point for those interested in how the Catholic Church and faith are portrayed on the airwaves. In 2005, as part of my work with the Irish Churches Council for Television and Radio Affairs (ICCTRA), I conducted a survey of religion programming on local radio. It was the first survey of its kind to look at what was happening with faith and religion on local commercial and community radio stations. What it showed just over ten years ago was that there was a significant commitment to religious programming on local radio in the Republic of Ireland. My research back then had a response rate of 70% from 46 radio stations contacted in January 2005. The main findings from the research were that:  57% of the stations that responded had at least one religious radio programme

The Church needs to continually find ways of using the broadcast media in proclaiming its perennial message of peace and reconciliation and local radio is invaluable to us in doing this


per week, ranging in length from half an hour to one hour in duration; 15% of respondents said they had no religious programming; but many local radio stations featured a reflective Thought for the Day  slot during mainstream programmes;  50% of respondents said that they produced additional religious programmes/ features for Christmas, Lent and Easter each year, including the broadcasting of religious services.

36% of respondents said they would welcome more support from the various Church groups in their locality in the production of religious programming. Commenting on the survey at the time, the then Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill said: “The survey on religious broadcasting gives us an insight  into an area of broadcast programming that is uniquely important in the role it plays in Irish society. It is important that broadcasters

are acknowledged for the effort they put into maintaining the quality of  religious programmes, and that they should be encouraged to continue  exploring this aspect of content creatively as it is capable of contributing positively to social dialogue – often having an impact far bigger than the time allocated to such programming might suggest.” The then Chairman of the Communications Commission of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Joseph Duffy said, “The continued on page 35


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continued from page 33 considered the flagship ones on local radio at that time, are sadly no more. But, I am also aware of some new programmes on community radio stations around the country so perhaps these changes balance each other out!

commitment shown by local radio stations to religious programming is not surprising when you consider the place of religion in the private and public lives of people in Ireland today. The Church needs to continually find ways of  using the broadcast media in proclaiming its perennial message of peace and reconciliation and local radio is invaluable to us in doing this.” TEN YEARS ON? My 2005 research showed that there were 26 hours of religious programming per week on the 30 local radio stations which responded to the survey. While a  number of radio stations didn’t reply to this ICCTRA survey, it was clear from their programming schedules that some of them broadcast religious radio programmes as part of their overall schedule. One of my conclusions back then was that there was a need for greater cooperation between local radio stations and Church representatives. So ten years later where are we? I would love to be able to report the results of an updated survey to be able to illustrate how the landscape has changed, but there is no such updated survey. I am aware that some of the religion programmes that would have been

GOD TALK ON LOCAL RADIO Since October 2010 I have been the producer, researcher, technician and presenter of a religion programme on local radio called Religion Matters. It is the weekly religion, reflection and social issues programme on KFM Radio in Kildare. It airs for one hour on Sunday mornings at 8am. It runs right throughout the year, with a break for three weeks in August for annual leave. I know from the emails and letters I receive that people are listening for all sorts of reasons and from all walks of life but mostly they are listening because they are seeking out a little bit of religion on the radio! There are currently some excellent examples of religion programmes on local radio. These are often put together with very few resources, are broadcast in non-prime time, some might say ‘graveyard’ or ‘breaking dawn’ slots, but they are still followed by a huge number of loyal listeners. Nowadays too, with internet radio and radio player apps, local radio has become national and international with people tuning in across the net, right across the world. You really never know who is listening and from where. With podcasting there is also the ability to make programmes last for longer than their air time. There is a loyalty to local radio stations that remains steadfast and is borne out each time we see the JNLR listenership figures. As a Church we ignore the benefits and the potential of religion programming on local radio at our peril! Brenda Drumm is Communications Officer for the Irish Bishops Conference and presents a weekly religious affairs programme on KFM Radio

ADIO! R E H T N GOD O Religious Programmes on Local Radio Why not check out some of the religion and faith programmes on local radio and support them by listening, by making yourself available for interview or by offering ideas:

Station: Midlands Radio Programme: Heartlands Presenters:Fr Shane Crombie/ Rev William Hayes Time: Sundays 8-9am

Station: Mid West Radio Programme:Faith Alive Presenters:Fr Brendan Hoban/ Monica Morley Time: Sundays 9-10am

Station: Shannonside Northern Sound Programme: Side by Side Presenters: Frs Joe McGrath/Eamon O'Connor Time: Sundays 10-11am

Station: South East Radio Programme: Simply Divine Presenter: Maria Colfer Time: Saturdays 10.04-10.30am Programme: Request Programme Presenter: Cecil Riddall (Methodist Preacher) Time: Sundays 9-10am Programme: Sunday Celebration The celebration can be either Mass coming live from a parish or occasionally in the studio, or a liturgy by Church of Ireland, Methodist, or Presbyterian.

Time: Sundays 10-10.40am Programme: Sunday Reflection Time: Sundays 8.30-9.00pm Programme: Music Box Time: Mondays 8.04-8.30pm Programme: Faith Matters Time: Mondays 8.30-9.00pm The Christian Media Trust broadcasts 3.5 hours per week. Programmes go out on Saturday and Sunday mornings, Sunday and Monday nights.

Station: Radio Kerry Programme: Horizons Presenter: Mary Fagan Time: Sundays 9-10am


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a younger Catholic I have witnessed a strange phenomenon that has admittedly being going on for some years: very few younger people are attending church services. Yet among them there are many still searching for the transcendence and peace found in the living gospel. In a world of social media it is hoped that the Church's use of that same media, at least in a modest way, might address this contradiction. To do so the Church is being challenged to reach out to those associated with parish life,

as well as those looking for accompaniment outside the church walls. It is in this space that social media can be most effective as a tool for evangelisation. Its reach extends to places not always associated with religion. Social media can help people to be aware of God’s presence at the railway station, at the sports pitch and even at the pub. It is a platform that allows people to introduce others to faith while extending a welcoming hand to those who have drifted away from the Church as we know it.

PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL WHERE THEY ARE AT Social media generate a platform where the gospel message can reach people where they are, not where it is presumed they should be. This is not just a matter of changing efficiencies. It is a matter of participating in the Trinity. Since we do not know of any God except the One who has been revealed as in relationship with human beings, we know God’s modus operandi is to meet people where they are. God delights in doing that.


not understood by a generation who has no familiar piety and no conscious theological understanding. The truth is, it can be quite alienating to the listener to be exposed to certain kinds of religious language. To the ears of the young, and the not so young, it is so often just irritating religious noise. The challenge for social media is not to be preachy or patronising, but conversational and engaging. The Church's search for a fresh and transforming religious language is unlikely to be found without the participation of all humanity and might not the meeting place for that be social media. “Communication, wherever and however it takes place, has opened up broader horizons for many people. This is a gift of God which involves a great responsibility. I like to refer to this power of communication as ‘closeness’.” Pope Francis More often than not, religious symbols and icons do not easily translate into the digital world with anywhere near the same impact they do in the real world. It is impossible to replicate the serene monastic presence felt by attending a retreat by simply adding photos


So should we. It is the privilege of being an apostle. "The dialogue, which God the Father initiated and established with us through Christ in the Holy Spirit, is a very real one, even though it is difficult to express in words. We must examine it closely if we want to understand the relationship which we, the Church, should establish and foster with the human race." Blessed Paul VI Virtual relationships are here to stay. Yes, we can critique them. We can lament the decline of face to face interaction, but we cannot ignore them. When people enter into virtual friendship with us, there is a greater likelihood that they will be invested in our mission and become much more likely to share our media features. To many REALITY NOVEMBER 2016

Religious language for many, if not most people, has become a barrier to the spreading of the gospel message the idea of a virtual friendship may feel cold and anonymous: however it is important to understand that there are people on the other side of the computer screen looking for accompaniment on their Christian journey. THE LANGUAGE BARRIER For Catholic social media to be effective, it is imperative that Catholic development teams face up to a further challenge that is predicated in irrelevant religious language. Religious language for many, if not most people, has become a barrier to the spreading of the gospel message. It is often

of a hermitage or an icon. Evangelising social media needs to deliberately choose visuals that speak to the content of modern culture while carrying the gospel message. Catholic social media should look to find: Language and images big enough to acknowledge contemporary life; Language and images broad enough to carry the inclusive message of the Gospel. A suitable means through which to speak this new language

GROWING UP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA As Communications Officer for the Redemptorist Province of Oceania, I have spent the last seven years helping to make sure that the Redemptorists are pulling their weight in digital mode proclamation of the Gospel. Over this time I have attended, and lectured, at several workshops and conferences on the benefits of social media as a tool for evangelisation In 2015 I attended a Catholic conference which discussed the possibility of creating a “Nu media award”. I found the discussion quite baffling. Why? There is no such thing as “nu media”. Social media has been in use for over a decade in both the private and public sector. That means anyone under twenty years of age, roughly a quarter of the population, can't remember a world without social media. This discussion on new media at the conference was indicative of how many in the Church still do not have a grasp of digital proclamation. They sometimes see it as an optional extra, for they do not understand its impact and the breadth of that impact. Others see it as an emerging technology to be

approached with apprehension or even to be ignored. Such outlooks are no longer viable if the Church would like to have a voice in the public sphere. It is now practically impossible for any product or idea to remain relevant just by producing decent content and using traditional marketing. This is due to the fact that the people who are using the media no longer see themselves simply as consumers, but rather as autonomous media 'centres', equipped with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts. Catholic media must facilitate information sharing where everyone may participate and user centred design so as to be relevant in a world where Facebook adds 500,000 new users every day. “The Gospel lives in conversation with culture, and if the Church holds back from the culture, the Gospel itself falls silent. Therefore, we must be fearless in crossing the threshold of the communication and information revolution now taking place.” St. John Paul II

If contemporary users are not given the chance to share the digital message or engage in the digital debate, they will intuitively know they are dealing with a closed system and disengage from the content. Historically, major media outlets have had a monopoly on production, editorial control and transmission. Now, people are free to produce, share and choose their media outlets. This is a great opportunity for the Church in preaching the gospel anew. The Church no longer has to engage secular editorial staff, rather it is challenged to engage directly with an audience. A VACUUM? The new mode of media production highlights the dangers of not entering this new arena of ideas. When the Church hesitates or refuses to engage in social media a vacuum is created where many dangerous and rather pernicious ideas can be spread unchecked in the name of the Catholic faith. The Church needs to be in this space and Catholics need to take it seriously.

continued on page 41


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continued from page 39

They [church people] sometimes see [social media] as an optional extra, for they do not understand its impact and the breadth of that impact

The digital landscape does not allow for captive audiences. Our multimedia features and social media can be disengaged with at any point by visitors who are able to choose from hundreds of thousands of websites and mobile apps. This is why it is imperative that the content of what the Church is offering be presented in accordance with modern professional digital publishing standards. This will require ongoing training for those who will be overseeing the various forms of social/ digital media. Adhering to professional standards in content management needs to be coupled with an understanding of contemporary media’s place in today's world. The training

for digital success is as much a sociological, philosophical and theological issue as it is a technical one. “It is not technology that determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal,” Pope Francis In any form of publication, content is key. However, content is forever hard to obtain. Thankfully social media not only facilitates, but encourages people to share good content ethically. It is in this space Church has a real opportunity to unite on behalf of the Gospel.

Cooperation is not only possible, it is essential for a successful digital communications strategy. If we need any guidance on how to go beyond the walls of the Church and dialogue with our surrounding culture, we need look no further than the leadership of Pope Francis. From the beginning of his pontificate Pope Francis has urged the faithful to move beyond the walls of Church and has been leading from the front. In many ways the Church has not yet caught up with him. Digital proclamation is one very real way in which the Church can support Pope Frances’ reforms, his opening of the Church to all, his making the Gospel available to all. There is tremendous opportunity in using social, mobile and web based technology as tools for evangelisation for those willing to accept the challenge. Together Christians can help provide a new space where people can find healthy ways of relating to God, to self, to each other and the world.

Matthew Howard is Communications Officer of the Redemptorist Province of Oceania







low going into September’s UN Summit on Refugees and Migration, and for once world leaders did not fail to deliver. The outcome of the Summit was a non-binding agreement by governments to commit themselves to principles to which they had previously agreed. Joseph Heller could not have written the script. THE NEW YORK DECLARATION If the Summit had any useful purpose it was for governments around the world to hear the criticism levelled by UN Secretary


General Ban Ki Moon, as well as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, at those who have proven content to sit on their hands in the hope that by doing nothing the global refugee crisis will somehow right itself. In reality, inaction has resulted in a surge of xenophobia and intolerance in Europe or, as the High Commissioner aptly put it, the “banalisation of bigotry.” The New York Declaration, the outcome of the Summit, contains what are described as ‘bold’ commitments to address the issues we face now and to prepare the world for future challenges. Bluntly speaking, the Declaration

contains old commitments dressed up as new ones, and even at that there is no accountability to ensure that governments will actually follow through. So was it all just a waste of time? Well, not necessarily. Governments may not be forced to act on the New York Declaration, but they can choose to do so. As co-facilitator of the process, Ireland has an opportunity to provide global leadership by making good on these commitments. Many governments are content to do the bare minimum - or less but Ireland can rise above this approach by holding ourselves to account for what was agreed in New York. WHAT CAN IRELAND DO? Our response to the refugee crisis has been extremely slow. Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald acknowledged as much, and pledged to speed up the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Ireland. That is welcome, but we also need to push our European colleagues to do likewise. Ireland must become a strong voice within the EU towards a migration and

refugee policy that has rights and protection needs at its heart, instead of one that is focused on closing borders, building fences and denying the rights of vulnerable people.   We also need to ensure that Ireland’s domestic policies reflect our global ambitions and recognise that the risks to refugees are not just in their home country, or in transit, but after they arrive in the country that is sheltering them. Ireland has a national action plan to ‘support the relief, recovery and rehabilitation of women on the island of Ireland affected by conflict’. While there is progress in this area, Ireland’s record is clouded by the existence of direct provision services that do little to protect the rights of refugees and migrants. The Irish Government has been consistent in support to countries rescuing, receiving and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants. This is another commitment where we have solid progress. The Naval Service is doing an outstanding job in search and rescue, an emotionally challenging response

that underpins the need for safe passage for refugees and migrants. Ireland is a strong and consistent contributor to humanitarian appeals for Lebanon, Jordan and other countries that host hundreds of thousands of refugees. We need to maintain that support, facing the reality that until conflicts are resolved in Syria, Somalia, South Sudan and a plethora of other countries, refugees have no other choice but to remain refugees. IRELAND OF THE WELCOMES? Hosting refugees is a matter of providing a safe space, a welcoming environment and an opportunity to feel comfortable and secure in a new environment. Ireland has plenty of experience of this, both as hosts and as diaspora across the world. We must do a great deal more to promote the welcome about which we so happily boast. The Government should speak publicly about the positive contributions migrants make to economic and social development in their

Unaware of the surrounding trauma, a girl from Afghanistan poses for the camera in a refugee camp in Serbia

host countries. The dangerous narrative of ‘us and them’ that has gripped much of Europe must be combated by presenting facts and reason. Ireland was central to the formulation of the New York Declaration. By the time the 2018 Intergovernmental Conference on International Migration comes round, we should be able to say that we went far beyond the commitments of the Declaration; far beyond the bare minimum. We should aim to be a global leader in compassion and tolerance. Now that is a commitment worth talking about.

Éamonn Meehan is Executive Director of Trócaire. For further information, please visit

An Afghan grandmother and grandchild at a day centre for refugees, Belgrade






Congratulations to Redemptorist Communications on your 80th birthday. It has been a privilege for me to be associated with Reality Magazine. In late 2000, the then editor, Fr. Gerry Moloney, asked me to write twelve articles for the coming year, to which I happily agreed. At the end of the year, having reminded him that I had completed the task, he asked me would I write just a few more. Sixteen years later, “a few more” has become 184 to date! A press, which can freely express political and religious views even when critical of State or Church, is essential to the development of a just society. Authoritarian governments cannot tolerate a media which seeks to make them accountable for their actions; recognising the threat to their power which a free press poses, they must control the flow of information to the public. After the attempted coup in Turkey this year, one of the first acts of President Recep Ergodan was to use anti-terrorism legislation to shut down the opposition media, and to harass, intimidate and prosecute journalists who were critical of his government. According to Amnesty International, 131 media outlets and publishing houses were shut down, including 3 news agencies, 16 TV channels, 23 radio stations, 45 newspapers, 15 journals and 29 publishing houses. At least 89 arrest warrants have been issued for journalists who are critical of the regime. REALITY NOVEMBER 2016

HOW FREE IS OUR PRESS? Even democratic governments, like Ireland, despite publicly declaring their support for a free media, will try to suppress media criticism of their policies or performance, or the exposure of corruption or incompetence in their ranks. Governments, including Ireland and the UK, have often used “national security” as an excuse to withhold information with a view to suppressing criticism. For most of the 20th century, the Irish government was not accountable to its citizens in any meaningful way. Planning corruption, tapping of journalists’ telephones, unfair or illegal political favouritism, were all uncovered by the persistent probing of the media, despite strenuous efforts by politicians to prevent the truth coming out. Three recent Taoisigh, Albert Reynolds, Charlie Haughey and Bertie Ahern were forced to resign

because of media exposure of wrongdoing. In Ireland, in the early 90s, when the Beef Tribunal sought to investigate allegations surfacing in the media that major food companies were given preferential treatment by the Fianna Fail government in return for donations to that party, ministers refused to answer questions on the grounds of cabinet confidentiality. This prevented the Beef Tribunal from publicly naming those responsible for the widespread tax evasion which was uncovered. The outrage that followed led to the Freedom of Information Act 1997 (brought in by the Rainbow Coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left), which obliged government departments and a range of public bodies to make the information they held available to citizens. Access to cabinet papers was to be made available to the public after five years.

AN EXPENSIVE FREEDOM? However, in 2003, when Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrat came to power, they amended the 1997 act in order to deter people from seeking information. A charge of €15, plus €21 per hour for the work involved in retrieving information, pushed the average cost per request up to a prohibitive €200. The number of requests made under the Freedom of Information Act dropped by 50% in the following year. They also extended cabinet confidentiality from five years to ten years, thus ensuring that, by the time the public become aware of any possible wrongdoing in cabinet, it would be too late to do anything about it. The Catholic Church, too, has a long and sad history of stifling criticism, suppressing discussion and silencing those who dare to challenge it. “Freedom of speech”, demanded by the Church when it refers to freedom for the Church to openly express its views, is often not tolerated within the Church. Much of the corruption, incompetence and wrongdoing in the Catholic Church and some charities in Ireland would never have come to light without a free media that refused to be silenced. The ability to seek and share information, without interference, is essential in building a just society. The people of Ireland owe their journalists and media, Reality included, a great debt of gratitude.

GOD’S WORD THIS MONTH HE IS GOD, NOT OF THE DEAD BUT OF THE LIVING Jesus’ opponents in the debate in today’s Gospel are members of the 32ND SUNDAY IN Sadducee party. Although ORDINARY TIME often mentioned along with the Pharisees, there were very important differences between the two. The Sadducees, or Zadokites, were a priestly party who took their name from Zadok, high priest under David. By the time of Jesus, they had become a priestly aristocracy – wealthy, conservative, power conscious and identified with the temple. Unlike the Pharisees, they had never accepted the ‘new books’ of the scriptures, the Prophets and the Wisdom writings. It was from these writings that the Pharisees drew support for their faith in the resurrection and the after-life. It is around this doctrine that the debate with Jesus turns. The questioner uses a familiar debating technique that tries to expose the weakness of an argument by drawing it out



to its most absurd conclusions. The starting point is an accepted point of Jewish law, (e.g. Deuteronomy 25:5-6), according to which if a man died childless, one of his brother was obliged to marry his widow in order to ensure the survival of the dead man’s name through his children. The questioner presents a case: a man dies childless and his six brothers marry the widow in turn, but each dies without children. It is highly unlikely ever to have happened like that, but it has the feel of a ‘just suppose’ kind of argument. Its purpose is to expose the fallacy of the Pharisee’s teaching on the afterlife which Jesus shared but they did not: if there is a resurrection which of the brothers will be considered as the woman’s husband? There are two prongs to Jesus’ rebuttal. First, marriage is about ensuring continuity of family name and property in the present age but the age to come is a totally different order. To have passed into eternal life is to share to some degree the nature of the angels (also rejected by the Sadducees, but not by

the Pharisees or Jesus). The second prong is a proof that suggests Moses himself, the hero of the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection of the dead. When God appeared to him in the burning bush, he called himself ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ Why would the God of the living identify himself with people who were long dead? Since the ancestors of Israel believed in this God, they had already passed over into the life of resurrection. This rather complex legal and theological argument might not appeal much to today’s reader. During these November days, our thoughts will turn to the dead members of our families. At the centre of our faith is belief in the resurrection that has begun with the resurrection of Jesus but will only be complete when every Christian passes into eternal life. Today’s Readings 2 Macc 7:1-2,9-14: Ps 16: 2 Thess 2:163:5; Luke 20:27-38

God’s Word continues on page 46


GOD’S WORD THIS MONTH WHAT SIGN WILL THERE BE THAT THIS IS ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE? Today’s Gospel opens with th e dis cip l e s ’ 33RD SUNDAY IN wonder at the beauty of ORDINARY TIME the temple. For countryfolk like them, it would have been truly a breathtaking piece of architecture. Work had been going on for more than twenty years by the time Jesus and his disciples reached the city and would continue for another twenty. No expense had been spared, as Herod hoped it would be one of the new wonders of the world. Jesus takes a different view: not one of the huge and carefully worked stones will be left standing: everything will be destroyed. Other prophets, particularly Jeremiah, had predicted the destruction of temples when they had become too allied with the forces of political expedience. Jesus’ prophecy of the temple’s destruction would be fulfilled with

the dreadful carnage and ruin forty years later when the Romans would level Jerusalem to the ground, leaving but the stumps of two of Herod’s towers to remind travellers what a great city had once stood there. This prompts the disciples to ask another question: what signs will precede the end of the temple? What follows is less a timetable for the end of Jerusalem than advice to Christians how to live in the end times. For some Christians, it had been taken as a wakeup call that the last days were at hand. Luke does not wish to encourage that excitable kind of thinking. They must not follow any one falsely claiming to be the messiah, and not indulge in speculating whether any particular disaster heralds the end of the world. There will be wars and revolutions, earthquakes, famines, plagues or even strange signs in the heavens certainly, but the end times will not come quite so soon. The Church should brace itself for a time of persecution. Because it is out of step

with the political ambitions of worldly rulers, the Church and its members will face persecution, and will be called on to bear witness. It will know betrayal, even from family members and close friends. Its witness to the truth will make it highly unpopular. The final words of the discourse are intended to be consoling. God will take account of every witness given to the truth, none of it will be forgotten, for even the hairs of the believer’s head are numbered. Endurance and patience will be the hall-mark virtues of Christians under persecution.

LORD, REMEMBER ME WHEN NOVEMBER YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM The liturgical year closes today with a powerful SOLEMNITY OF statement that Jesus is the CHRIST THE KING one who brings salvation to no-hopers. In the Midnight Mass of Christmas, we were invited to rejoice with the shepherds, a marginal and despised class, that a saviour or royal benefactor had been born for them. We close it on this feast of the Kingship with yet another view of the same royal benefactor who bestows the Kingdom gift on someone who has little claim on it. Today’s Gospel invites us to look with love and attention at two moments in Luke’s account of the death of Jesus. There are three groups of people in the story. At a distance are the ordinary folk, including probably the sorrowing women who accompanied him on the way to Calvary: they take no

part in the mockery. Near the Cross with its title proclaiming him King of the Jews, Jesus’ opponents are gathered. They form two groups, the religious leaders and the soldiers of the execution squad. The religious leaders mock him for the blasphemy of his claim to be God’s Messiah and Chosen One. The soldiers are less religiously motivated but they will have some sport with the dying criminal, toasting him mockingly in cheap wine. As non-Jews, the kingship mockingly proclaimed by the sign on the Cross is testimony that he is a poor deluded mad man whose claims to kingship have led him to a painful and humiliating form of death. Our third group is closer still. It is made up of the three executed men on their crosses, Jesus and the two criminals alongside him. The first takes up the taunts of those gathered beneath: “if you are the Christ, then save yourself and us as well.” His companion behaves differently. He is the last of those many people who throughout the Gospel

story, have come to Jesus in the hope of finding pardon and salvation. He admits that he is a sinner who has received a just reward for his deeds and asks for little, just to be remembered when Jesus finally enters his Kingdom. In a final act of kingly benefaction, Jesus grants this outcast a share in paradise. For the final time, Luke uses his great salvation word ‘today’ – today you will be with me in paradise. In the midst of the misery and humiliation of the Cross, Jesus is every inch a king. He has pardoned his executioners, he bestows the gift of the kingdom on someone has done little to merit it until that moment, and in the act of dying, he calmly entrusts himself into the hands of God.






Today’s Readings Mal 3:19-20: Ps 97: 2Thess 3:7-12 Luke 21:5-19

Today’s Readings 2 Sam5:1-3: Ps121: Col 1:12-20 Luke 23:35-43


STAY AWAKE, YOU DO NOT KNOW THE DAY WHEN YOUR MASTER IS COMING Today we begin a new liturgical year and a new Gospel, that of Matthew. Today’s reading is taken from the final long teaching on the Mount of FIRST SUNDAY OF Olives overlooking Jerusalem (Matthew 24ADVENT 25). Within a few days, Jesus will be arrested and led to the cross. To prepare his disciples for the confusion and loss of confidence that will follow his arrest, he reassures them that death is not the end. Even though he will die, he will rise again, but he will leave them again until he returns in glory as the victorious Son of Man. Many of the first disciples believed that he would return in a matter of weeks, or at the most a few years, after the Resurrection. The destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its temple in 70AD seemed to announce the end of the religion of Israel. Would this be the time when the Son of Man would return? St Matthew addresses this question in the fifth and last great sermon of his Gospel from which today’s reading is a short extract. He begins with the example of Noah building the ark. Noah had been warned that a time of crisis was coming. Noah was ordered to build the ark to rescue animals and human beings, so that a new world could begin when the waters dried up. Everyone else went on with the normal business of life, suspecting nothing until they were swept away by the flood. The coming of the Son of Man will be a similar time of crisis. The short saying about the two men working in the fields and the two women going about the task of grinding corn is difficult. Like the people in Noah’s day, they do not expect a moment of crisis. They are ill-prepared for it. One will be taken, another left. The short parable about the thief is more straightforward. No one leaves a house unguarded if there is reason to suspect that there is a burglar in the locality. Burglars however never send word of their intentions ahead of them, so it is essential to keep watch. It is unlikely then that the coming of the Son of Man will be announced by dramatic signs, but those who follow the way of Jesus will be prepared for his coming. The message of Advent is ‘stand ready.’ ‘Standing ready’ means cultivating an attitude of attentiveness – attentiveness to the planet, attentiveness to other people, attentiveness to God. The key prayer of Advent is a single word, Maranatha, in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. It means, ‘Come, our Lord.’ It if has survived in its original language, it must be indeed very old. It is a prayer of confidence and hope. We might make it our prayer in this Advent time.



SOLUTIONS CROSSWORD No. 7 ACROSS: Across: 1. Esther, 5. Salami, 10. Rhubarb, 11. Corinth, 12. Lope, 13. Mimed, 15. John, 17. Sad, 19. Corona, 21. Abused, 22. On earth, 23. Abduct, 25. Modest, 28. Shy, 30. Toga, 31. Sties, 32 Star, 35. Obscure, 36. Loiters, 37. Psalms, 38. Wicked. DOWN: 2. Scupper, 3. Hoax, 4. Rabbis, 5. Sacred, 6. Lore, 7. Mongols, 8. Frolic, 9. Whined, 14. Malachi, 16. Enoch, 18. Abhor, 20. Ant, 21. ATM, 23. Action, 24. Digests, 26. Extreme, 27. Thrush, 28. Steers, 29. Yellow, 33. Hull, 34. Zinc.

Winner of Crossword No. 7 Anne O’Callaghan, Ashe Rd, Nenagh, Co Tipperary

ACROSS 1. Absolute chaos. (6) 5. Type of unbleached cotton cloth. (6) 10. Shine unsteadily. (7) 11. Devotions over nine separate days. (7) 12. Ladies' fingers! (4) 13. Just the man for the herb. (5) 15. German composer of the Brandenburg Concertos. (4) 17. Something that fails to work properly. (3) 19. Where a storm is sometimes found. (6) 21. Spain and Portugal together. (6) 22. A.k.a. Golgotha. (7) 23. Black pool city in Ireland. (6) 25. Break free from confinement. (6) 28. The time immediately before the first woman. (3) 30. Very light brown in colour. (4) 31. Level area surrounded by seating, in which sports are held. (5) 32. He lost his birthright to Jacob in the Book of Genesis. (4) 35. Erector set for children. (7) 36. Perpendicular, vertical. (7) 37. Standing, relative social standing. (6) 38. Strikingly unusual and foreign. (6)

DOWN 2. frican country, capital Asmara. (7) 3. The Evangelist Apostle. (4) 4. Countless or extremely great in number. (6) 5. Truthful and straightforward, frank. (6) 6. Molten earth. (4) 7. Half man, half horse. (7) 8. A serious attempt to do something. (6) 9. Common respiratory condition. (6) 14. Continue to live. (7) 16. Clearly expressed, easily understood. (5) 18. A seemingly bottomless chasm. (5) 20. Cooking container to separate out gold from gravel. (3) 21. Openly displayed anger. (3) 23. Thoughts, images and sensations experienced during sleep. (6) 24. Type of European beetroot soup. (7) 26. Hardwood spear chiefly used by southern African peoples. (7) 27. Breaks out suddenly and dramatically. (6) 28. Mistakes. (6) 29. Make certain that something will occur. (6) 33. Basic monetary unit of Thailand. (4) 34. A group of three people or things. (4)

Entry Form for Crossword No.9, November 2016 Name:

Today’s Readings

Address: Telephone:

Is 2:1-5: Ps 121: Rom 13:11-14: Matthew 24:37-44 All entries must reach us by November 30, 2016 One €35 prize is offered for the first correct solutions opened. The Editor’s decision on all matters concerning this competition will be final. Do not include correspondence on any other subject with your entry which should be addressed to: Reality Crossword No. 9, Redemptorist Communications, Unit A6, Santry Business Park, Swords Road, Dublin 09 X651



Reality November 2016