Thursday, May 29, 2008

Newbridge College class of 1983

Past pupils of the Newbridge College class of 1983 met some weeks ago in Dublin. As a result of the meeting a number of the year have been in email contact.

The class is scattered all over the world doing exciting and wonderful jobs. And leading varying lives.

Most of the year were taught by a number of Dominicans, including Canice Murphy, the late John O'Gorman and Michael Commane.

John died of a heart attack in the Dominican Priory in November 2002.

The following appreciation appeared in The Irish Times on November 11, 2002.

JOHN James O’Gorman was born in Blarney Street, Cork in 1945 and attended the North Monastery Christian Brothers School. He was one of their brilliant young men, obtaining a scholarship to UCC. But instead of going on to university he joined the Dominican Order in September 1962. He was professed the following year and ordained a priest in 1969.

John O’Gorman stood out as a shining light. Most of all he was a man of absolute integrity, but he was also endowed with brilliant intelligence. After priestly ordination he studied postgraduate theology in Rome and remained at the Irish Dominican community in San Clemente as bursar.

He spoke Italian like a Roman – or so said his neighbours on the Via Labicana. But he was not happy with Rome and the Roman scene. His first love was always science and mathematics. He began postgraduate work in maths while still in Rome. Father J.M. Heuston, a brother of John Heuston of 1916 fame, himself a fine mathematician, admitted that he had never before met someone with such mathematical talent. John came home to Ireland in 1976, moved to the Dominican Community at Newbridge and did his H.Dip at Maynooth. Without any formal degree in mathematics, he blazed a trail of brilliance through Newbridge College. Students seeming destined to produce average turned in spectacular performances.

By the time of his last year at the school, there were two streams in sixth year doing Higher Level Maths in the Leaving Cert. But John was also there for the not-so-clever. Anyone who sat at his feet in Newbridge will remember him as a brilliant and fair teacher. John was endowed with both a practical and speculative intelligence.

In the early 1980s he began to develop an interest in Computer Science and did a Ph.D, in computing at the University of Limerick. This led to a career in lecturing at the college, a job he greatly loved. He is the author of two books on computing and was in the process of publishing a third.

He was meticulous in everything he did. While mathematics and teaching were his first love there were other sides to this faithful son of St Dominick. He walked every by-road of Ireland, climbed to the top of every mountain and had a knowledge of roads, rivers and mountains that was simply breathtaking.

John also took his theology seriously, had a profound knowledge of the Bible, and was familiar with modern theological thinking. But he was never at home with his priesthood. In the mid-1980s he requested permission to resign from priesthood while remaining a Dominican. The Order granted his request.

Most of all John was a dear friend, someone who was always there to give the best of advice and help. He had absolutely no time for show or pretension and lived the simplest of lives. He never lost his Blarney Street accent. He carried his intelligence easily and never used it as a tool to lord it over anyone.

Above all, any signs of obfuscation annoyed him intensely. He had little time for people in authority who attempted to take short-cuts and he had no mercy for Dominican superiors whom he felt were not living up to their responsibility.He was a member of the provincial council of the Irish Dominicans and took his responsibility very seriously.

He was a true democrat, moulded by the constitutions of the Order, so when he felt superiors or communities were lack-lustre living out their calling to St Dominic, he had no hesitation in letting people know his views. He was in some ways a private man but was always there for his friends and he would go to any distance to help and support.

John was a physically fit man who could walk up to 20 miles a day. He took good care of himself. Yet he died in his room in the Dominican Community in Limerick on the evening of Sunday, November 3rd of a massive heart attack.

He is survived by his brother Andrew, sister-in-law Emer, niece Fiona, nephews Rory and Mark, and his Dominican brothers. I have lost a dear friend. May he rest in peace.

Memorial to homosexual victims of Nazism

This report appears in yesterday's Irish Times.
The world must never be allowed forget the barbarism of the Nazis, those associated with them and those who worked for and with them.

IG Farben, who supplied the gas for the concentration camps was later broken up into a number of companies including Hoechst, BASF and Bayer.

Mercedes Benz supplied Adolf Hitler with a top of the range vehicle on an annual basis.

Memorial unveiled to homosexual victims of Nazism
GERMANY: BERLIN MAYOR Klaus Wowereit unveiled a memorial in the German capital yesterday to the 50,000 gay German men prosecuted and the countless thousands persecuted and murdered by the Third Reich.

The memorial, by Berlin-based artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, appropriates a concrete slab from the adjacent Holocaust memorial and adds a twist: through a window one can see an endless film loop of two men kissing. A plaque recalls how "homosexuality was persecuted in Nazi Germany to a degree unprecedented in history. A kiss was enough to be prosecuted."
"This memorial is important from two points of view," said Mr Wowereit, who is openly gay. "To commemorate the victims, but also to make clear that even today, after we have achieved so much in terms of equal treatment, daily discrimination still exists."

Nazi ideology viewed homosexuality as "degenerate behaviour" and in 1935 expanded existing laws, making homosexual acts a felony. Tens of thousands of men were convicted of "lewdness" and sent to concentration camps.

Forced to wear a pink triangle, up to 15,000 men were murdered in gas chambers or by fellow prisoners. Others were castrated or subjected to medical experiments.

After the war, neither German state recognised homosexual men as Nazi victims. East Germany rescinded the Nazi amendments that made the persecution possible in 1950. Only in 1969 did West Germany follow, abolishing the laws entirely in 1994.

"It's a monstrous, shameful stain that there were 50,000 prosecutions under these laws in West Germany, as many as in the Nazi dictatorship," said Günter Dworek, spokesman of the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD). "Recognition is overdue for these people convicted in a democratic state under Nazi laws."

No survivors lived to witness yesterday's ceremony: the last man known to have worn the pink triangle, Pierre Seel, died three years ago. In 1941, as a 17-year-old prisoner in the Schirmeck-Vorbruck camp near Strasbourg, he was made to watch the execution of his 18-year-old boyfriend, Jo.

"There was military music and Wagner, I stood perhaps 10 metres from my boyfriend," he recalled later. "They had stripped him and put a metal pail on his head, then let the Alsatians loose. He was torn apart before our eyes. There was blood everywhere."

Polish politician calls priest 'Satan'

The story below appeared in Tuesday's Irish Times.
It is interesting how news about religious topics manage to get such coverage.

Polish politician in hot water after calling priest 'Satan'
POLAND: ONE OF Poland's most controversial politicians faces suspension from parliament after describing the head of the Radio Maryja station as "Satan personified".

Janusz Palikot, a member of the ruling Civic Platform (PO), knew his attack on Redemptorist priest Fr Tadeusz Rydzyk would cause controversy. For 16 years, Fr Rydzyk has made the airwaves his battleground against forces he says are working to undermine Poland - from freemasons and Jews to homosexuals and the EU.

Billed as "the Catholic voice in your home", the station has achieved international notoriety - and received two warnings from the Vatican - for broadcasting anti-Semitic views, Holocaust denial and hate speech.

Questions have been raised, too, about the station's finances with reports that Fr Rydzyk lost up to €26 million in listener donations on the stock market.

But when Mr Palikot accused the priest of "stealing money" and of "spreading hate", he attracted the wrath of powerful conservative Catholics in parliament.

He has now offered to rephrase his remarks to avoid a threatened three-month ban from his party. "I was, am, and hope to remain a proud member of Civic Platform," he said. "I would like to remain in the party and avoid being suspended."

Outside parliament, though, his remarks have provoked hilarity for their echo of Fr Rydzyk's regular contributions to his own radio station. "You have to stand up against this propaganda, the propaganda of Satan," the priest said in a recent broadcast about the mainstream media. "Why do I speak of Satan? Because so much lying and evil can only come from Satan."

No stranger to controversy, Mr Palikot was forced to apologise to President Lech Kaczynski after suggesting that his poor health, including a brief hospitalisation earlier this year, stemmed from "alcohol problems".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lisbon Treaty

How are you going to vote on the Lisbon Treaty? It has to be the question of the moment.

RTE Radio 1's Drivetime programme is giving a prize to anyone who can explain the Treaty in 50 words.

Garret Fitzgerald in his column in Saturday's Irish Times tells his readers that we will become the pariahs of the EU if we vote No.

Europe has been good for Ireland but many of the No people don't dispute that. Joe Higgins is campaigning for a No vote and he seems a good man. But there is wide 'fanatical' grouping, which is also campaigning for a No vote.

The three main political parties have joined forces to call for a Yes vote.

The development agencies seem to be favouring a Yes vote.

How much of our sovereignty will we be surrendering to the EU and is that a bad thing?

Some of the scare stories doing the rounds are just that and have no substance to them.

Have the Irish bishops issued any sort of position paper on the Treaty?

All helpful advice most welcome on this blog.

Parish 'clustering'

The article below appears in yesterday's Irish Times. Well worth a read.
Anything which helps rid parishes of clericalism has to be welcomed. But it is important that those who come forward to work in parishes will represent a broad church.

Somewhere some how there will be a 'cleric' 'deciding' how things should be. Maybe not!

The faith of the people is uplifting and transcends all the 'clerical nonsense'

Parishioners will have new opportunities to share in leadership

RITE AND REASON: The clustering of Catholic parishes as priest numbers fall is far more than a practical matter, writes Eugene Duffy

SEVERAL CATHOLIC parishes are facing the fact that they will be deprived of a resident priest over the next five to 10 years. At present, the only practical response is to "cluster" parishes, that is, to draw a number of adjacent parishes into a long-term and committed relationship of collaboration in order to plan and provide pastoral services for their respective communities.

Clustering involves the sharing of personnel, resources, programmes and facilities so that the needs of the constituent parishes can be addressed without straining the resources of individual parishes. The process strengthens rather than diminishes the individual parish.

It can liberate new gifts and energies in communities, thus building up rather than diminishing the local church.

We are not long removed from a situation where the local priest was not only the spiritual leader of the community but also the chairperson of several social and voluntary organisations in the locality.

The result often was that other potential leaders could not emerge and communities were unwittingly disempowered.

The absence of a priest in numerous local communities in the future will call forth new leadership roles and facilitate parishioners to assume responsibilities for the life and well-being of their communities in ways not possible in the past.

Indeed, it will ensure that aspects of the vision of church put forward by the Second Vatican Council will be implemented.

The conditions will be right for more people to become more conscious of their individual responsibilities for the mission and ministry of the church.

Among those in ordained ministry there will be a greater opportunity to be more collaborative in their approaches to ministry, no longer assuming that their own "territory" is an independent zone within which they are self-sufficient and in total control.

This will open up their ministry to a much more explicit collaborative approach more in line with the vision of Vatican II than many have practised up to now.

The mention of clustering can often appear threatening to parishes with strong local identities. This need not be the case. No parish has all the gifts and talents required to resource fully its local membership. Once parishes are grouped together they can better explore major pastoral issues; there is a bigger pool of gifts and talents to provide a response; costs of training and ministerial provision can be shared.

It has been a cause of much frustration for many people who have invested significantly in theological and pastoral formation that their expertise has not been tapped by their local parishes.

In the context of clustered parishes this situation can be more positively addressed: there is greater scope and freedom to avail of the wide variety of gifts that each community can offer.
Apart from the practical considerations pushing Irish dioceses into clustering arrangements, there are very sound theological reasons for doing so.

As individuals and communities we are called into relationship and mutuality, not isolation and independence. The God of the Christians is the Triune God, a God of love and relationality.

Indeed, our image of God is crucial to the way we image ourselves and our social relationships.
The Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff named the issue well when he said: "Sticking only with faith in one sole God, without thinking of the Blessed Trinity as the union of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is dangerous for society, for political life and for the church. It can lead to totalitarianism, authoritarianism, paternalism and machismo" (Holy Trinity, Perfect Community, 7).

Thus one can see that the clustering of parishes is far more than a mere practical arrangement. It is a reality that is profoundly theological, spiritual and pastoral, enabling us to live in deeper relationship and communion, mirroring something of the divine life that we are called to share.
These issues associated with the clustering of parishes were explored at a conference held at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, last week.
Rev Dr Eugene Duffy is a lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Irishman's Diary

Today's Irishman's Diary is written by Tom McCarthy, a member of the Irish Dominican province.

Well done Tom.

An Irishman's Diary
Thomas McCarthy
IT'S BLOWING a gale out there - no chance of a sailing to Ireland tonight! Not exactly sweet music to the ears of George Frederick Handel on an autumn day in 1741: he was all set for a visit to Dublin, on the invitation of the Duke of Devonshire, to present a series of charity concerts.

A fresh score of his latest oratorio was the precious item among his luggage, and he wondered what kind of performance it could expect to receive.

The cancelled sailing on the Irish Sea meant he would have to stay a couple of days more, at least, in Chester. Could he try out one or two numbers from the new oratorio, he wondered, with good sight-readers suggested by the organist of Chester Cathedral? Why, of course! But the story goes that the gentlemen had trouble finding their way accurately through the chorus And with His Stripes we are Healed.

One of the basses in particular, Janson by name, turned out not to be up to the mark. "You scoundrel!" Handel bellowed. "Didn't you tell me you could sing at sight?"

"Aye, and I can, Sir," came the pleading reply, "but not at first sight!"

What has changed, singers will ask? Like so many choral groups, the ladies and gentlemen of Tallaght Choral Society have more than a second and third look at material; and, yes, the result will be to the music director's satisfaction, eventually - as well as, hopefully, true to the composer's intent.

The 100-plus members of TCS come, not just from Tallaght, but from various Dublin and Wicklow locations that are within either Luas or easy driving distance of the Dominican Priory there. It is 40 years now since Donal Sweeney, a student for the priesthood, set up a church choir in the priory. It was a group destined to grow and take wing.

After Donal's ordination and transfer to Rome, Liam Fitzgerald, who had sung in the tenor line, became musical director, and just two years later he brought the choir to Trinity College to sing Messiah in the Examination Hall in November 1971.

As the fruitful years went on with Liam at the helm (he was conductor also of the Dublin Baroque Players), the choir sang Haydn's Creation, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Bruckner's Mass in F-minor, Brahms's Requiem, as well as the Seven Last words of Christ by Dubois and Mozart's Requiem.

In 1982, David Jones took over as musical director, and the choir learned further new repertoire, marking the tercentenary in 1985 of J.S. Bach's birth by singing his St John Passion at the National Concert Hall. It was under David's direction that the choir also sang Vivaldi's Gloria and gave a concert performance of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.

David left Ireland to take up a conducting fellowship in the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, and has recently been appointed conductor in residence at the Welsh College of Music and Drama.

The choir continued to grow in numbers and in musical maturity, and James Cavanagh and Gráinne Gormley had successive - and successful - spells in charge. Under Jimmy's 10-year leadership, the choir branched out into premières of works by Rhona Clarke and John Buckley. Mozart, Schubert and Haydn Masses were also regular features, as well as the Beethoven's Mass in C and the haunting Fauré Requiem. Tallaght also sang Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (with the Belfast Philharmonic) and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms. Jimmy is now director of the symphony orchestra at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Gráinne Gormley, who had been the first female conductor of the UCD Choral Society, came to Tallaght in 1996. She had an inspiring tenure, bringing her passionate expertise in encouraging the best use of the voice; each week many worshippers in Clarendon Street Church hear the ravishingly beautiful tone of her choir there.

This Thursday, May 29th, the choir will celebrate its 40 years of singing with a performance at the National Concert Hall of the Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cécile by the exuberant French master Charles Gounod. There are many moments in this sublime setting of the Mass where you hear the eloquent dramatist who produced the great opera Faust in 1859. When the orchestra's best efforts at imitating the heavenly harpists accompany the final words of the Creed - "We look for the resurrection of the body and life everlasting" - you appreciate what Gounod himself said about where the true action in music lay: in the theatre.

Many readers of this article will also be aware of another influence on Gounod's sacred music, notably his Ave Maria - Johann Sebastian Bach. It is fitting, then, that this week's concert will also feature Alan Smale, leader of the National Symphony Orchestra, in Bach's concerto for violin and oboe, with Ruby Ashley as the oboist. John Rutter's rhythmically exciting Magnificat completes the anniversary programme, which will be conducted by Mark Armstrong, Tallaght's music director since 2002.

By the way, when Handel finally did sail to Dublin back in 1741, where did he find hospitality while a guest of the Duke of Devonshire? All together now: Tallaght!

How not to do business

This may not be the appropriate venue for the following comment. Nevertheless it is a great example of how there is something systemically wrong with 'clericalism'.

Over the last number of weeks there has been a controversy running re Alive! newspaper.

In The Irish Times last week the contents of a letter from the Dominican provincial, Fr Pat Lucey, to Joe Costello TD appeared.

For most members of the province this was their first opportunity to see the letter. With modern communication technology it does not have to be like that. But so it was and after an initial annoyance, the daily routine settles back.

Or does it?

A number of Dominicans felt it was wrong of The Irish Times to print the contents of the letter. Another sign of how far removed people can be from the world of the now.

The provincial council meets in Dublin some days later and following that meeting the provincial writes a letter of information listing items of news.

Not a word in the letter about the Alive! controversy. So, was it discussed at the provincial council? It would seem most odd if the issue were not discussed and if it were discussed why were the 'foot soldiers' at least not told that the matter had been discussed.

It simply is not the way to do business.

An unhealthy attachment to a form of secrecy has done no favours for the church. And it seems that the hierarchical church is in no mood or position to try to change.

Problems on the railway

The Irish media has not covered itself in glory in its reporting of the current unofficial rail dispute at Kent Station in Cork.

Print and broadcast media have refused to examine or study the underlying reasons for the current dispute.

The Pat Kenny Show on Friday was the perfect example in how not to do a news story.

This unoffical dispute is about rostering and an ungoing difficulty there has been between locomotive drivers and Irish Rail. It has been rumbling on in the background for many months.

If anyone studies the current timetable they will see that there are ghost trains timetabled - trains from Cork to Millstreet - the trains don't run and never ran.

Anyone who has been trying to go by rail early on a Sunday morning from Tralee will have discovered that the timetabled train does not always run. And that goes for many trains.

Irish Rail did a deal with the drivers re overtime. Some weeks ago a driver in the south west took holidays. The result is there is no driver to drive his train.

Even in this current dispute Irish Rail could easily tell the public the trains that are running and the ones that are not running.

Out of Dublin the 07.00, 08.00 and 09.00 ex Heuston to Cork are running as are the 15.00, 16.00 and 17.00.

Out of Cork the 10.30, 11.30, 12.30, 18.30, 19.30 and 20.30 ex Kent are running.

All train terminate and begin at Mallow Station.

How come Irish Rail don't advertise the trains that are running?

The working class are of course always blamed but what is particularly upsetting is how the general public are misinformed and then they in turn blame the working class. Worker against worker. Marx had something to say about that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The end of Camelot

The Independent (UK) carries a piece on Senator Ted Kennedy today. It is in Extra and titled 'The End of Camelot'. The author is Rupert Cornwell.

To those who are old enough to remember the Camelot Years it is a great read.

The black bicycle

Strange how the little things can be so upsetting.
Last evening I locked my bicycle in Dublin's Camden Street with the intention of collecting it later in the evening.

Someone was kind enough to drive me home so the bike was left overnight on the street. When I went for it this morning it was gone. That moment of looking where I left it and staring into an empty space. It's a terrible feeling. Something to do with disbelief. Indeed, the disbelief is so strong that you go back again, just to check, maybe you got it wrong. But no, you don't. It's gone. Down on the ground is a lock belong to someone else. The thief must have had a feast last evening.

A bicycle is relatively unimportant in the scheme of things but I had it down to a fine art with positioning bicycles in strategic places, including Heuston and Newbridge rail stations. The mix of rail bus and bike is the perfect way for moving about in Ireland but especially in Dublin.

The fact that neither bus nor Luas goes directly into the complex at Tallaght Hospital must be another Irish transport joke.

The Luas stop is circa a ten-minute walk to the hospital and the bus stop is almost the same. What do elderly or infirm people do? Anyone care?

Is it that feeling of anger and marginalisation that prompted someone to steal my bicycle last evening?

The Gardaí responded quickly. Seemingly a 'professional' is on the prowl and 'feasting' himself or herself.

Just last week I put five new spokes in the back wheel of that bike. All for nothing now, at least not for me, but for the new 'owner'.

It's insured but honestly, that's no good. That bike had a personality, even if the brakes never worked. It could be spotted in any crowded bike rack, at least by me.

Would you steal a bicycle? Would you pay less for something if you thought you would get away with it? Is there a difference?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What The Tablet has to say

The following appears in The Tablet of May 3.

"The first Catholic state school in the country catering for three - to 16-year-olds opened this week. The £38-million St Matthew Academy in Blackheath was formally opened on Wednesday by Bishop Patrick Lynch.

The school will specialise in business and enterprise and is one of only six schools in England and Wales offering education throughout a child's career.

It was built on the site of St Joseph's Boys and Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School."

Can anyone imagine three-year-olds specialising in business and enterprise studies?

Freedom of expression!

The provincial of the Irish Dominicans is quoted in today's Irish Times as saying, "Freedom of expression and a deep respect for the rights of the individual are very much part of our Dominican tradition".

That is indeed a lovely sentiment but if someone is not 'in tune' with men who operate in the dark, or if someone asks for debate on sensitive issues, what happens?

The genesis of this blog is closely associated with this very issue. A detailed response and analysis is in preparation.

Page 10 of today's Irish Times

The article below appears in today's Irish Times and it is thanks to this blog that the issue has been so clearly aired and discussed.

But it would allow for greater transparency within the Irish Dominicans if there were a communication system whereby the members of the province would not have to learn about provincial news first in The Irish Times.


DISTRIBUTING CAMPAIGN literature on the Lisbon Treaty in the precincts of a church is "not appropriate", a spokesman for Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has said.

The archbishop's secretary, Msgr Paul Callan, was responding to a letter of complaint from Labour spokesman on Europe, Joe Costello TD, about the availability of material from anti-Lisbon groups Libertas and Cóir at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin.

Msgr Callan wrote: "I understand that the campaign literature you referred to and indeed other inappropriate material is consistently removed by staff at St Mary's Pro-Cathedral.

"Churches are not appropriate places for the distribution of literature of a purely electoral nature, either during referenda or election campaigns," he added.

Msgr Callan pointed out that the Catholic bishops would be issuing their own document on the Lisbon Treaty. A spokesman for the bishops told The Irish Times separately: "There will be a public statement on the matter in due course." Prior to the Nice Treaty referendum in 2002, the hierarchy expressed qualified approval for a Yes vote.

Mr Costello also wrote to Dominican Provincial Fr Pat Lucey OP to complain about the the free monthly newspaper Alive!, published at the Dominican priory in Tallaght.

Responding, Fr Lucey wrote that there were "many aspects of that publication with which many of us are unhappy". He added, however that "the paper is not published by the Irish Dominican province but rather by one individual Dominican" and the views expressed in it were not necessarily shared by other Irish Dominicans.

He continued: "I have written to Fr McKevitt, the paper's editor, advising him that as a religious paper Alive! should address political issues in a manner that is consonant with the Gospel and our Dominican tradition."

But he said that "freedom of expression and a deep respect for the rights of the individual are very much part of our Dominican tradition".

Fr McKevitt told RTÉ's Morning Ireland yesterday that the Lisbon document was "a very risky kind of a treaty" that was open to different interpretations.

He added that "it could lead to a tremendous undermining of our values". The treaty had been deliberately written in such a way that people cannot understand it, Fr McKevitt added.

Growing readership

Today there are four interesting comments on this blog. All four deserve discussion.
As was promised from the outset when comment moderation was introduced there has been no censorship.

This blog is most grateful to those who contribute and thanks all its many readers. Readership is increasing on a daily basis and of course the hopes and plans are that it will be the most widely read of all Irish Dominican publications within the next few weeks. And it is well on its way to reaching that objective.

Next month this blog will be one year old and yesterday it had its highest number of hits. Thank you to all our readers.

The reality that writers wish to remain anonymous is puzzling but maybe it complements in some way the genre of electronic communications.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dominick Street flats

Dublin City Council is to ask the Government fund its social housing budget following the collapse of plans to build thousands of units in partnership with one of the State's biggest builders.

Developer Bernard McNamara has pulled out of five public-private partnership schemes, worth a total of €900 million.

One of the abandoned schemes is the regeneration of the Dominick Street flats.

The badly built complex was knocked some months ago and is now a hoarding site.

This is in a parish 'managed' by the Irish Dominicans. Will there be a word from the Irish Dominicans about this housing plan collapse? Hardly.

Some months ago when the Stringfellow lap-dancing club was opened at the end of the street, Dominican habits were seen objecting. All fine and well.

Where will the habits be to object to this terrible social problem?

New Dominican website

The Dominican Order seems to have redesigned its website.

What has happened the Irish province and can anyone throw light on how to navigate on the site?

Interesting views

Two interesting articles in today's Irish Times.

The Rite and Reason column by Éamon Maher on page 15 and Quentin Fottrell's column on page 16.

So what's the reality? Aspects about both articles that carry great sense. A great juxtaposition about them too. But there is something contrived in the Right and Reason column.

The last paragraph in Fotrell's article rings true. And what does the word 'church' mean for Éamon Maher?

Newbridge College

The Newbridge College class of 1983 held a reunion in Dublin on Saturday.

John Collins organised it. From the Dominicans Jordan O'Brien attended.

Pictures of the evening are being emailed among the group.

Many of the group are involved in interesting and exciting work.

Well done gentlemen and from what I can remember the school had not yet gone co-ed. But that may not be correct.

Unfortunately because of other commitments I was unable to be present. But I was reminded by one of the class the viewings that we had of Rainer Werner Fassbinder films.

A great director and brilliant films.

And there is an irony about the showing of those films and the objections that some people made at the time. It's a funny old world indeed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fatima Home for sale

There must be nowhere in the world more beautiful than West Kerry when the sun shines. And it is shining today.

Fatima Home, a nursing home in Tralee under the care of the Dominican Sisters has gone on the market.

What a shame. My late father spent the last 18 months of his life in their care and it was another of the great blessings that he was afforded.

Fatima is a wonderful place and also a great resource. Any chance Irish Dominicans - men or women would take on the project. The Sisters who have been running the home are not members of an Irish congregation.

The Irish Dominicans have drawn up a draft manpower document. To this reader it is a baffling document which seems to say nothing. Surely before drawing up such a document a detailed study would be carried out on the current work being done by Irish Dominican men. Such a study has not been carried out.

The document is vague. And not meaning to be pedantic but 'presently' means in the immediate future and not 'at present' or 'now'.

What a project it would be for the Irish Dominican men to take on the challenge of keeping Fatima Home within the Order.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How can this be a Catholic newspaper?

The May issue of the free sheet Alive! claims that Faianna Fáil members 'target' Alive!.
The last paragraph of the article reads: "The paper aims to show how the Gospel is good news for all people, and to comment on issues from a Catholic perspective".

If the tone of Alive! magazine is in keeping with 'Catholic perspective' then this blogger wants out.

Every page of Alive! carries negative and nasty stories. There seems to be an underling theme with sexuality almost on every page of the free sheet.

The piece on the late Nuala O'Faolain must be at least inappropriate.

The advert against the Lisbon Treaty on page 6 tells us that Catholics must reject the Lisbon Treaty. According to the ad, the Lisbon Treaty does not protect the right of parents to educate their children.

The lead story and the editorial on page seven deal with matters of sex. And then back to sex on pages 12 and 13.

The piece about journalists being gagged, the media cover-up and the short story re RTE are nothing less than absurd.

Under miscellaneous a 'Lady seeks person to go to the Healing Casa in Brazil for travel and company. Miracle Dr. " Two telephone numbers are supplied.

Also in that column there is a simple one-liner, "No Godless EU Treaty.

And then there are plenty of 'lonely women' looking for 'company'.

Remember this free sheet carries on its front page that it is 'A Catholic Monthly Newspaper'.

Those in positions of authority within the catholic Church seem to have varying and different standards when it comes to censuring people and their activities.

'The changing face of faith'

This week The Irish Times is running a page on different faiths in Ireland. The series began yesterday with two pieces on the Catholic Church. There are interviews with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Archbishop Michael Neary.

In all the material one reads about the Catholic Church, it seems there is never a good discussion as to who is the church and why the perceived alienation.

There is also seldom a word said of the quality and standard of how priests celebrate the Sacraments and how 'preaching' impacts on the lives of people.

There is a wide gap between token involvement of the 'laity' (that horrible word) and actual real participation by 'laity' in the daily running of the church.

Getting back to issues of belief

The Catholic Church wants a future where lay faithful help free up priests to preach more, writes Patsy McGarry , Religious Affairs Correspondent

THE CATHOLIC Church in Dublin has become middle class and middle-aged, with weekly Mass attendance now at continental levels.

That is the view of the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, who is deeply concerned about worshipping patterns in Ireland, particularly in urban, working-class areas.

Recent surveys indicate about 44 per cent of self-proclaimed Catholics go to Mass weekly, but the archbishop believes the true figure is close to half this.

"The church in Dublin is middle-class," he says. While "the quality of community in poorer areas is tremendous", the church has for a long time failed to notice a decline in Mass attendances.
"A certain amount of social conformity and bad practice didn't lead people to an understanding of the faith they had, and which they have lost . . . The scandals, too, played a part. Some of the poorer parishes were badly hit. I don't think we can underestimate the real damage done to people's lives [ and the effect this had] on the ability to carry out our mission."

Priests in some urban working-class parishes in Dublin are reporting weekly Mass attendances of 3-5 per cent, while average figures for the capital are in the region of 20-25 per cent. This appears to replicate a pattern throughout urban Ireland.

Dr Martin, who returned to Dublin from a high-profile position in Rome, is struck by the relatively small number of young people who attend church services in Ireland. "I can go to parishes on a Sunday where I find no person in the congregations between the ages of 16 and 36," he says. "An age-filled church is not a good thing."

The issue is brought into sharper focus by an ageing clergy. It is estimated that the average age of priests serving in Dublin today is 63. The retirement age is 75, which means that, if current trends continue, as many as 50 per cent of all priests in the archdiocese will no longer be serving within a decade.

At present, 731 priests serve in the archdiocese, which has 200 parishes and extends over an area of 170km by 80km. With a Catholic population of 1.04 million, it is one of the largest archdioceses in either Britain or Ireland. It takes in all of Co Dublin, almost all of Co Wicklow, much of Co Kildare, as well as parishes in counties Carlow, Wexford and Laois.
The archbishop says this wide geographic spread allows him to respond to anyone suggesting that, as a Dubliner, he knows nothing of rural Ireland; "one half of the food we eat is grown in my diocese", he points out.

He could point out other things, had he a will to do so. For instance, just one of the towns in the archdiocese - Bray, Co Wicklow - has a population of 27,041, making it almost equal to that of the entire Catholic population of the diocese of Achonry in the west of Ireland, which has 34,826 faithful. However, Bray has three parishes and churches, served by eight priests. Achonry has 23 parishes and 47 churches, served by 41 priests.

It is probably such figures that allow Archbishop Martin to maintain a seemingly sanguine disposition before what others would view as a major imminent personnel crisis for his archdiocese.

His bottom line is to have at least "one priest for every church in the archdiocese".
There are 238 churches in that archdiocese. Feasibly, with such aspirations, Archbishop Martin's "one church, one priest" policy could be achieved with less than a third of those priests currently serving in the archdiocese.

He does not like the word "clustering" when describing the combining of parishes for service by a lesser number of priests. He prefers the concept of "hub parishes/communities", around which communities would "work together for mission".

Theoretically, such hub parishes might be centred, for example, on Bray or Arklow in Co Wicklow, or Dún Laoghaire, Tallaght, Blanchardstown, or Balbriggan in Co Dublin. Each would have "identities as pastoral areas where one priest would have a strong co-ordinating role".

Each would also be "a transport/cultural hub, reflecting the type of interaction and mobility which belongs to and reflects the particular urban environment - an urban agglomeration with Balbriggan as a focal point, for example", he says.

The archbishop envisages a future where priests "will be freed up to preach the word of God and celebrate the sacraments". He estimates there are 20 types of ministry which could be undertaken by lay faithful. Most of this work would be voluntary, he adds, citing areas such as pastoral care, administration, and child protection.

While some believe attitudes towards the church have hardened since the clerical-abuse scandals, the archbishop says he has detected "no anti-clericalism" but rather "enormous goodwill towards priests" in Dublin. He has noticed this particularly at priests' funerals when, on occasion, such has been the grief and outpouring of affection, he has had to withdraw or he would himself be overwhelmed in public.

"But all professions need rejuvenation", which would not be possible where priesthood was concerned "if there is no pastoral outreach to young people". This represents "the biggest challenge - the rebuilding of contact with the younger generation, who are a great generation".
The primary objective is to help the young to be "open to the transcendent. To go beyond the self." Parishes "must become involved in core support faith groups for the young". In general, the archdiocese has to look "at a much more evangelical outreach".

Complementing the "huge efforts of teachers" where religious formation in schools is concerned, particularly when it comes to preparation for the sacraments at primary level, he continues: "I believe we have to work towards a situation where the parish is more involved in this."
This is particularly the case where through increased mobility, the relationship of parish, family, and school is no longer there. He knows of one school in Dublin, for instance, where 80 per cent of the children come from outside the parish.

Young people "have to feel they belong to the parish . . . it has to become a more vital part of religious education", especially so since few parents have training in religious education."Parishes must assume a greater role in faith formation, with schools as strong partners in that process," he adds.

As regards schools generally, he repeats his belief in the necessity for "a plurality of patronage" in the increasingly diverse Ireland of today. The Catholic Church in Ireland has to "stop thinking we have to provide everything".

But, he advises, "if we want plurality of patronage, the State must ensure plurality exists [ within a community] to ensure a level playing field". On the other hand, he warns, "If we get ghetto schools, it is because we already have ghettos."

A further challenge to the church is the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation, which is inquiring into how the archdiocese handled allegations of clerical child sex abuse between January 1975 and the end of April 2004. Dr Martin says it is carrying out its work "in a very business-like way and with no leaks".

He has given evidence to the commission and has supplied it with 66,580 documents, amounting to an estimated 100,000 pages. The commission is expected to produce its report in the autumn.
He believes this will help the archdiocese know what had happened and will "bring more clarity. I hope we can all learn from the analysis which comes out of [ the report]."

He believes the archdiocese "has worked very hard at trying to address the past". The child abuse issue "has created a real difficulty for the church's interaction with the young. Parents are still uneasy and priests are afraid".

Child-protection policies and structures have been put in place. "Good child-protection policies are good priest-protection policies, especially at local level. A lot of progress had been made, but it has not gone away and won't be by saying 'thank God it's all over'." The church should be, and should have been "a model protection environment for children", he adds.

As for himself, and rumours that he is in Dublin for a short time before returning to Rome, he points out that he is in his 60s and that neither of his parents saw out that decade of their lives. He summarises his life, giving the impression things simply "happened". He "drifted into Rome", "was sent to Geneva", and then to Dublin "in a difficult time" and "with very little information".
He knows his limits. "I am more intuitive than systematic. I have an idea I am not good at delegating. I enjoy the job some days. You inevitably encounter a huge amount of hurt, from victims, by church people, from among priests. You have to be able to live with that. And there are certain things I cannot share with anyone. There is no one I can talk to. In that sense, it can be difficult," he says.

The Catholic church by numbers
The Catholic Church is by far the largest Christian denomination in Ireland and also the largest Christian denomination in both jurisdictions on the island.

According to its own figures, there are 3,966,506 Catholics in its 26 dioceses on the island.Its largest diocese is Dublin, with 1,041,100 adherents. The next largest is Down and Connor (centred on Belfast), which has 312,056 Catholics.

The smallest Catholic diocese in Ireland is Clonfert, which includes east Galway as well as parishes in Offaly and Roscommon. It has 32,000 Catholics.

As with all Christian denominations and faith groups, there is a disparity between official figures of Catholic Church membership and that of the church itself. According to the 2006 census, there were 3,681,400 Catholics in the Republic, or 86.8 per cent of its total population.

The last census with a religion question in Northern Ireland was in 2001 and it found there were 737,472 Catholics there, accounting for 43.76 per cent of its population.

Therefore, the official figure for all Catholics in Ireland is 4,418,872, out of a total population of 5,925,067 (ie using a 2006 total population figure for the Republic of 4,239,800 and a 2001 total population figure for Northern Ireland of 1,685,267).

Turning crisis into opportunity

SEEKING A METAPHOR to help illustrate the current situation of the Catholic Church in Ireland, the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, reverts to what is familiar stomping ground for him: the Old Testament.

A former teacher of scripture at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, he speaks of "exile", or, more precisely, exile as experienced by God's chosen people.

They found themselves "uprooted", he says. "They experienced an eclipse of God, a feeling of being abandoned."

Some church members today feel uprooted, he says. They have experienced "a loss of structure, of that reliable world which gave meaning and coherence. They find themselves in a context where their most treasured and trusted symbols of faith have been trampled on".

They have also experienced exile in the moral sense, he argues. "Today, many Christians find themselves increasingly at odds with the dominant values of consumerist capitalism."

They, and their pastors, have to take account of the fact that they live in a society where faith is marginalised, and where "very often a caricature of faith is held up as faith itself". It is a context where people's catechetical knowledge is far outstripped by their academic development and this often means faith is something they believe they have outgrown.

He also cites a general disaffection among young people with institutions. Young people are "terrified of being alone or being considered 'a freak' . . . they come under enormous peer pressure", which makes them essentially "conservative, conformist", he says. A diocesan youth council is being set up in Tuam to inquire into such matters.

As for the church as a whole, he says Irish Catholics "needed help to let go of 'a home' which no longer existed; that is gone and will not return. They need to be encouraged and enabled to enter a new place they may sense as deeply alien."

Observing that in the Japanese language the same character represents both crisis and opportunity, he says "we cannot go on lamenting forever". It is "time to put pieces together in a new way. Jagged pieces can have a beauty, a symmetry of their own."

Exile enabled the Old Testament people to produce "the most brilliant literature and the most daring theology", he says. It was "a buoyant response to trouble and to challenge".
The greatest threat of the current situation is "the power of despair, which robs energy and generosity". There is also the danger of becoming preoccupied with the self, where it becomes impossible to get "outside, to think of the larger realities".

Identifying priorities for the church today, he says leaders - both lay and clerical - need "to build the human, in terms of small groups and communities".

In the Tuam archdiocese, one of the most rural in Ireland, the church still remains a focal point in the community. This, he says, is in a context where the rural-urban divide has become blurred.
Covering parts of counties Mayo, Galway and Roscommon, the archdiocese has 121,536 Catholics in 56 parishes. This includes six islands and the gaeltacht, with active pastoral councils in 80 per cent of parishes.

In September 2006, those councils held a diocesan assembly, which was attended by more than 5,000 people who were encouraged to take ownership of the church. An implementation body of 19 members was set up to carry out assembly recommendations. Just three members were appointed by the archbishop, reflecting a willingness of the hierarchy to hand over more decision-making power to the laity.

"The challenge was to let go and trust them," Archbishop Neary says, "to give them their head and let them get on with it." Fifty volunteers completed two months of training recently, and on March 5th they made presentations in every parish.

Reflecting on the recent change in worshipping patterns, and an ageing clergy, he says there may be fewer Masses said in the archdiocese in future - just five men are preparing to serve as priests in the archdiocese.

He finds it difficult to assess weekly Mass attendance figures but believes they are "fairly good . . . quite high in rural areas. But there's no cause for complacency".

As to the future, he recalls an episode from Clare Island recently which might well become a template for times to come. The priest was unable to get to the island to celebrate Mass, due to weather or some such circumstance, and so "someone from the community took responsibility for the readings, the prayers of the faithful, and distributed the Communion [ which had been consecrated during a previous Mass]".
It was a situation which "will become more common", he predicts.

He agrees there are concerns among some bishops about introducing a permanent diaconate, or clerical office, for the laity. This could be seen as "introducing another layer of clericalism which could impede involvement by the laity", he comments.

In general, though, he remains optimistic. "As we shed some of the useless accretions we have been burdened by over the years, it is likely a better understanding of faith will emerge."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

EU Commission finding

Schools and hospitals owned by religious bodies can fire or refuse to hire people if they believe they do not coincide with their ethos, the European Commission has confirmed.

The commission has accepted that it could be necessary to insist that a teacher or hospital professional should not undermine the religious ethos of the school or hospital or other institution employing them.

However neither the commission nor the Government has define what 'ethos' means legally or what amounts to 'undermining'.

The commission has yet to decide whether Ireland's discrimination/employment legislation is in line with what they agreed to implement at EU level on a number of areas.

End of war with Germany

What the BBC had to say on this day 63 years ago - May 8, 1945

1945: Rejoicing at end of war in Europe The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, has officially announced the end of the war with Germany.

In a message broadcast to the nation from the Cabinet room at Number 10, he said the ceasefire had been signed at 0241 yesterday at the American advance headquarters in Rheims.

Huge crowds, many dressed in red, white and blue, gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London and were cheered as the King, Queen and two Princesses came out onto the balcony.

Earlier tens of thousands of people had listened intently as the King's speech was relayed by loudspeaker to those who had gathered in Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.

Winston Churchill made a broadcast to the nation, and in his wonderful and dramatic way told us that war was over

In it he paid tribute to the men and women who had laid down their lives for victory as well as to all those who had "fought valiantly" on land, sea and in the air.

The act of unconditional surrender is to be ratified in Berlin today - but in the interest of saving lives the ceasefire came into effect yesterday.

In his speech, Mr Churchill said: "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued.

"We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance Britannia."

Even after dark, floods of people continued to converge on some of London's great monuments, floodlit specially for the occasion. There were fireworks, too, and effigies of Hitler burned on bonfires around the capital.

Later Mr Churchill was greeted by cheering crowds as he made his way to Whitehall and appeared on the flag-bedecked balcony of the Ministry of Health.

"God bless you all," he said over the loudspeaker, which was greeted with further cheering and waving from the crowd and a round of "For he's a jolly good fellow".

Food wastage

Four point four million apples, 1.6 million bananas, 600,000 eggs, 500,000 chickens, 440,000 ready meals, 1.3 million yogurt pots are thrown away each day by people in the UK.

Britain throws away £10 billion worth of food every year. The avarage UK family throws away £420 worth of food every year and a family with children throws away £610 food worth annually.

There are no comparable figure for Ireland but it may well be worse.

And while the people in the developed world throw away such vast quantities of food, 800 million people in the developing world will go to bed tonight without enough food in the bellies.

Have you ever noticed in hotels and restaurants the amount of food people leave on plates?

Our food wastage is an appalling scandal. And we in Ireland seem to be leaders in the scandal.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

No cover for first class passengers

This blog on a number of occasions has sung the praises of Berlin's new Main Rail Station.

Readers might like to know that the new Hauptbahnhof's design has some major snags.

All first class passengers are not under cover when they step off the train in Berlin. German Rail (DB) ran out of money for the magnificent roof in that section.

So it's best to travel second class - you will not be caught in the rain disembarking.

Online technology

An article in today's Guardian about the future of newspapers and how fears that ambition won't be backed by investment. The article also talks of how sales are falling and more readers are going online.

It is baffling how so many organisations continue to refuse to see the importance of online technology.

It offers extraordinary possibilities and a well-prepared and exciting website could and would attract a large readership.

The running cost of such a website is relatively inexpensive.

When it comes to serious communications, the church is simply not at the races.

Most church publications with the exception of The Tablet appear tardy and predictable.

The Jesuits have to be complimented on the work and creativity they employ on their websites.

Tony Benn campaigns for a No vote

Tony Benn was in Dublin yesterday, lecturing on why we should vote No in the referendum in June.

He argues that the Lisbon Treaty is a move away from democracy.

Tony Benn is a man of great wisdom and integrity.

He points out that the new President and Foreign Affairs spokespersons will not be elected. But those positions will be appointed by elected persons.

Surely democracy is at the heart of the European Union.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

An important date in Europe

Tomorrow is an important date in Europe.

It is the anniversary of the signing of the German Surrender - May 7, 1945.

In Rheims, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender for all German forces to the Allies.

The next day, General Wilhelm Keitel and other German commanders travelled to Berlin, and shortly before midnight signed a similar document, explicitly surrendering to Soviet forces, in the presence of General Georgi Zhukov - the patron patriot of this blog.

The signing ceremony took place in a villa in Karlshorst in the eastern suburbs of Berlin.

The Karlshorst building has been preserved exactly as it was at the signing ceremony.

Until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the GDR the Soviet Army maintained a presence at the building. The NVA (The National People's Army of the GDR) also kept a ceremonial guard in Karlshorst.

Today it is a place which is frequently visited by soldiers of the Bundeswehr.

It continues to be a monument and reminder to the evils that were done by the nazis and the sacrifices made by soldiers of the Soviet Army.

The villa in Karlshorst is now a German - Russian museum. More information about it under

Lisbon Treaty

Next month Ireland will be voting on the Lisbon Treaty, sometimes referred to as the Reform Treaty.

On a number of occasions I have sat down to read material on the Treaty and I have also glanced at newspaper articles on the issue.

Through my job as a press officer with Concern I have attended meetings, which discussed the Treaty.

But not for a moment would I say that I am in anyway well informed about the Treaty.

So, have I got my mind made up as to what way I am going to vote? Yes, I think I have.

Some people may be familiar with the Alive! newspaper. It is a right wing newspaper, which is edited by Fr Brian McKevitt. Brian is an Irish Dominican based in Tallaght, but the newspaper is not a publication of the Dominican Order.

Over the last few months it has run a virulent campaign against the Lisbon Treaty – it is forever opposing the EU and the institutions of the Union.

On the back page of the April edition it ran a half page advert, asking people to vote no and suggesting that if you vote no you would be voting for ‘God’.

The advertisement was signed by a priest, whom I believe is, based in Wexford.

It is an appalling ad. I had my mind made up well before reading that ad but having seen it I was convinced as never before that I would be voting yes in June.

I certainly would not want in any way whatsoever to be associated with the ad or the Alive! newspaper.The ad is really close to blasphemy and that the Irish bishops have not come out and objected to it baffles me.

When Dublin Labour TD Joe Costello complained about Alive! being available in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral he was told by a spokeswoman for the archdiocese that, “None of these publications while they use the church premises, necessarily represents the views of the priest of the parish, the diocese or the archbishop."

The spokeswoman went on to say that “several Catholic inspired publications are available in churches throughout the diocese and contain their own independent views on a variety of issues.

“Their distribution is at the discretion of the individual parishes and priests have been alerted to the necessity of being vigilant during a political campaign.”

That priests have been alerted is good to hear. But the question must be asked if Alive! were a left leaning newspaper how long would it last inside the door of any church?

Then there have been a number of scaremongering letters in the newspapers warning us that if we vote yes we will be obliged to introduce abortion.

Of course there is no link between the Lisbon Treaty and abortion legislation.

I belong to the first generation of Europeans in a long time, who have not had to go to war to fight for Kaiser or King.

People older than I all across Europe know all about the blood that has been spilt as far as the Volga in obscene wars.

The European Economic Community (EEC) or Common Market as it was originally called was set up primarily to make sure that we would never again tolerate war in Europe.

And it has succeeded not only in keeping us from killing one another but instead it is a great vehicle for bringing us closer together.

Just take the degree of participation and exchange that exists among third level students. Most students spend one or two semesters studying in another EU State. Erasmus scholarships mean that our young people get great opportunities in seeing for themselves what life is like in another EU State.

Surely the priming pump of the Celtic Tiger has been the European Union. Back in the early days of the then Region Technical Colleges (RTCs), now Institutes of Technology, for every Irish Pound the Irish Government invested in them, Europe matched it with another Irish Pound.

Of course it is not a perfect institution, it constantly needs reform, but Europe offers us amazing and extraordinary challenges.

And the idea that any organisation should have the temerity to tell me that by voting yes I am going against the wishes of God is really, in my believe, fraudulent.

I for one would much prefer to part of an open and stimulating Europe than the bigotry and fear that is portrayed in publications such as Alive!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Berlin anniversary

Tomorrow, May 2, is the anniversary of the surrender of Berlin.
Helmut Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defence Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov

On the same day the officers commanding the two armies north of Berlin, General Kurt von Tippelskirch, commander of the German Twenty First Army, and General Hasso von Manteuffel, commander of the Third Panzer Army, surrendered to the Western Allies.

Names are important

Calling on all those who misspell the name of the Minister for Education. The woman's name is Mary Hanafin.

A fundamental for anyone who puts pen to paper is to spell a person's name correctly. Attributing a name to a person is important. Getting it wrong is either sloppy or insulting.

And that reminds one of how in the past when someone joined a religious order they were given a new name. It is a practice that still prevails in some cases.

What an insult to give someone a name other than the name their parents gave them. And then the practice of women in religious orders and congregations been given men's names.

No doubt there are theologians who will try to justify the practice.

Featured Post

No comment from bishop

The editorial in the current issue of Kerry's Eye.