Apr 26, 2016

The 1916 commemorations call Church and GAA to reenergise sense of community

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has urged that, in honouring the 1916 Rising, that Church and GAA rediscover their links in promoting a sense of community across the country.

Celebrating a Commemorative Mass of Limerick GAA at St. John’s Cathedral on Sunday to mark the Rising, Bishop Leahy said that the anniversary should be used to put new impetus back into the long-standing relationship between the GAA and the Church in support of community.

“I cannot but recall today the connections that have existed in the past hundred years between church/community and the sports county/club. With the decline in the number of clergy, perhaps inadvertently church community building and sport community building have become distant,” he said.

“That is regrettable when we think of many priests and religious who contributed so much to the development of sport – it’s enough to think of Archbishop Croke, the Capuchin Edwin Fitzgibbon, after whom the famous cup for third-level hurling is named and was, of course, won by Mary Immaculate College this year.

“Their impact on local playing fields dovetailed so smoothly with building up parishes and schools.  Community building is so central to the life of the Church and I know that GAA is very much at the heart of every community also.

“Indeed, many communities, especially in rural Ireland, are really in need of support and it would be wonderful if the Church and the GAA, present in every single parish in the country, could work even more closely than they already are to reenergise that sense of community,” he said.

Referring to the close relationship between the GAA and the Church, he said, “I’m always delighted when I hear a young sports person on radio or television refer very naturally in an interview to the fact that on their way to a match or other sporting event, they went to Mass or said a prayer or that the team had Mass that morning. It’s a little symbol of the healthy link that exists in the life of one who prays and plays.

“We need to discover the link, precisely at a time when young people can come under tremendous pressure, especially if a ritual and community contact with the living God is absent from their normal routine. Some of us learned in school about Mens sana in corpore sano. A healthy mind in a healthy body.

“Mind means not just the head but also ‘soul’. We need to explore together, in honouring the ideals of the 1916 Rising, how we can best promote our community belonging in all its aspects, linking our sport community-building with the faith community-building.

“I am grateful to all young people who give witness to their faith while also being fully engaged in sport. They become leaders for others. I would invite them to dialogue with their local church on how best to integrate the community-building of the Church and the community-building of sport.”

With regard to Limerick’s involvement in the Rising, he recalled the involvement of the Daly family - Edward Daly and his sister Kathleen Clarke who married Thomas Clarke – who lived in O’Curry Street within the confines of St Michael’s parish. Seán Heuston lived on O’Connell Avenue for a number of years from the age of 15. Con Colbert was born in Castlemahon and the family later moved to Athea.