Bishop Denis Nulty said the response to the prayer initiative at the National Ploughing Championships far surpassed all his expectations.
The Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin organised a bid to find Ireland’s favourite prayer, and to source new “green prayers” that would address environmental concerns.
In the end the prayer that was named Ireland’s favourite prayer was the “Hail Mary”, which garnered 61 per cent of votes at the diocese’s stand at the agricultural show, followed by “Prayer to the Guardian Angel”, which won 39 per cent of the vote.
“The fact that both of the final prayers are so familiar and are ones that were learnt by all of us as children is interesting and points to the importance of the traditional prayers as a source of comfort and a place to which we turn when only a prayer will do,” said Bishop Nulty.
The bishop then announced the winner of the competition to find a new “green prayer”.
That accolade went to Siobhan Hayes from Ballacolla in Co Laois, who won a €100 One-for-All gift voucher for her composition, “Prayer in a Poem for the Ploughing”.
Second place went to Racheal Diyaolu from St Leo’s College, Carlow, for her composition, and third place went to a prayer composed jointly by four pupils from Skeoughvosteen NS in Co Kilkenny.
Bishop Nulty was especially pleased with the provenance of the second and third-placed entries. “The fact that both entries came from Catholic schools in our diocese is a great testament to the commitment of our parents, teachers and students to keeping the light of faith alive in our parish communities,” he said.
“I am happy to say that I will work with Messenger Publications in the coming year to produce a book of the environmental prayer/poems submitted for our competition.”
Having a stand at the National Ploughing Championship proved to be an excellent pastoral initiative, said Bishop Nulty.
“Thousands of people came to visit us, they drank endless cups of tea and coffee, spent time in our quiet prayer space and listened to the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh, recited so beautifully by Father Tom Lalor.
“Our visitors were also treated to great music, dancing and the two guest speakers, Davide Barbieri from Aid to the Church in Need and Fr Paul Lawler OP offered thought-provoking insight into the plight of persecuted Christians throughout the world.”
Over the three days of the ploughing championship, visitors to the Kildare and Leighlin stand took away 3,000 bags of blessed salt, 4,000 wrist bands, hundreds of Saint Brigid’s Crosses and thousands of prayer cards and magnets.
“Visitors were delighted to find this oasis in the midst of the busyness of the ploughing,” Bishop Nulty said.
Prayer in a poem for the ploughing
By Siobhan Hayes.
A garden bright, a lovely sight,
Care and time given to the earth,
Colour and beauty all around,
The glory of God, easily found.
Guide me when out and about,
That I may notice the sun coming from south,
That I may feel rain, fresh air, clay on my fingers,
That I may see the colour of a butterfly as it lingers.
Our earth is precious, life too,
Help me be mindful of what I do,
The wonder of creation around me every day,
Trust our Higher power come what may.
Let me dig deeper,
Toot for Christ my keeper,
In a changing and challenged world,
Bless the day that we have today.
Prayer for the ploughing
By Racheal Diyaolu
God our Father,
We thank you for this earth you have given us,
For the sun in the sky,
The rich soil in the ground,
and the rainfall from the heavens.
We ask you bless this year’s crops.
May the harvest be bountiful and pure,
Like the love you bestow on us each day.
We pray for our world to be healed,
And for comfort to those,
who are going through hard times caused by climate,
May they know peace.
By Sophie, Leah, Ciara and Seiofra from Skeoughvosteen NS, Co Kilkenny
Father in Heaven, help our earth as it is getting worse and worse.
When the bees go, the flowers won’t grow.
Help everyone to give a hand to make the world last, to make it like it was in the past.
I have a solution to stop pollution, to make it work have a rest on Sundays and get up on Mondays.
We will offend if the world comes to an end.