BISHOP of Limerick Brendan Leahy has appealed for peace at home and around the world this Easter.
As Limerick prepares to broadcast Easter services to the nation this weekend, Bishop Leahy said the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East was of grave concern.
“In recent weeks I have met two people here in Limerick who are living in Syria and have just returned for a short break. They both pleaded with me to remember Syria. What’s going on there is really horrible - over 100,000 killed and many displaced. It’s the country where the Risen Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus. Until recently, it was a model country of peaceful co-existence. So this Easter let’s remember Syria,” he said.
And peace initiatives closer to home must also be fully supported, said the bishop.
“One of the first words the Risen Jesus said to the disciples was ‘Peace I give you’. He wants to give this gift so let’s pray for it. And, of course, after the wonderful visit of President Higgins to the United Kingdom, let’s pray that the newly planted peace of recent years in Northern Ireland may sink deep roots in the hearts and minds of everyone there.
“In this year, when Limerick is designated the national city of culture, this Easter, let’s take a new look at the Christian message of hope that has shaped so much of our culture. Because of Easter, negativity, limits, setbacks are never the end of the story for Christians. There’s always room for positive thinking, encouragement, giving it another go, precisely because at the heart of the Easter story is the message that death has been overcome, cynicism has not won out, new life is possible.
“It is important we let the Christian hope of Easter shine more on the way we look at life, the way we adjudicate situations, the approach we bring to renewing Limerick city and county.
And there was evidence this spring of such renewal in Limerick, Bishop Leahy continued.
“Since I came to Limerick last year, I have been privileged to witness many signs of new energy, new commitment and new levels of co-operation towards renewing the face of the city and county. All of us are called to do our part by believing we can contribute. And we can do so even by the way we speak with one another and to others about Limerick.
“The Easter message encourages positive thinking in our civic and social initiatives. While needing always to name and shame what is not right, let’s remember to be Easter people whose characteristic is positive thinking. In that way we can encourage each other, see what’s positive in others, make room for others who are different to us and appreciate others’ gifts as gifts not just for them but also for all of us.”
Meanwhile Bishop Leahy and the Diocese are making final preparations for RTÉ broadcasts of services live from St John’s cathedral on Good Friday and Easter Saturday.
The broadcasts will begin with the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 2.55pm. This service will include the presentation of the ‘Garment of Suffering’ - a patchwork quilt made up of squares of cloth from parishes across Limerick, carrying a symbol of suffering from each of them.
Holy Saturday vigil mass will also be broadcast live from St John’s from 11pm.
Both services will be simulcast on RTE One television, RTE Radio One longwave 252 and online.
Digital media is something the Diocese was acutely aware of, Bishop Leahy said, and the Diocese is also using the Easter celebrations to launch its own Facebookpage.
“We have entered a new age of communication through social media. We have a diocese of 60 parishes and 170,000 Catholics and we need to communicate with them from more than the pulpit. Social media is a wonderful platform for us to share the good news, perhaps even reach many that we are not connecting with now,” said Bishop Leahy.