‘I have come that they may have life’ (Jn 10:10)- Part II

Newly consecrated bishop, Francis Duffy
(St.Mary's Church, Athlone)
Picture: Irish Independent

Last Sunday, 6th of October 2013, was a day of great celebration in Athlone for the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois and the neighbouring Diocese of Elphin as the Episcopal Ordination of Francis Duffy took place at St Mary’s Church, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. The church has been serving as the Pro-Cathedral for the Diocese since the destruction of St. Mel’s Cathedral by fire in 2009.
Continuing on from the previous blog, the newly consecrated Bishop, underlined strongly the value of life.

Here is what he said:
“The Episcopal motto I chose is from Saint John’s Gospel: ‘I have come that they may have life’.  I chose it because each human life is so important.  In thinking of life we inevitably think of those who matter to us.  Ordinary daily life, around the kitchen table, at work, at recreation, with all its joys, pressures and possibilities, is where our faith and on-going relationship with Jesus Christ can bring the glow of hope that can transform our actions and our living.  Today happens to be ‘Day for Life’ with the theme ‘Care for Life: It’s Worth It’.  This is a pastoral letter to the faithful of Ireland from our bishops.  It holds up the vision that no person should ever be marginalised or set aside.  When I think of life I think of the great ability we can have to lift hearts and especially the hearts of those who are in dark places, maybe facing difficult choices or feeling abandoned, alone or of little worth or struggling financially, as many are.  I think of those whose passion for life and whose sensitivity to others conveys the message that life is worth living, the message of Jesus Christ.

Yes, as Bishop Francis recalled, his episcopal consecration happily coincided with the Day for Life  which celebrated annually by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland and England and Wales. It is a day dedicated to celebrating the dignity of life from conception to natural death. This year will focus on the theme: Caring for Life.The message for this year begins with the words of Pope Benedict taken from a homily in 2005 on the Feast of Raymond Nonnatus, the patron saint of expectant mothers and midwives, when His Holiness spoke simply and beautifully about what promoting a culture of life really means:
“Jesus teaches us to care for life because it is the image of God, who is absolute life. We cannot announce anything else but life, and from the beginning to the end. All of us must care for life, cherish life, with tenderness, warmth……..to give life is to open (our) hearts for others…… Caring for life from the beginning to the end. What a simple thing, what a beautiful thing….So, go forth and don’t be discouraged. Care for life. It’s worth it!”

Pope Francis even sent a special message to Catholics across Ireland and Britain ahead of the Catholic Church’s annual Day for Life. He emphasised the need to care for life from conception to natural end.  The 2013 Day for Life message focuses on care for unborn children and their mothers; care for people who are elderly and care for those who are suicidal and their families.  One of its key aims is to build an environment of compassion and care that nurtures and sustains life, even in the most challenging of human events and personal circumstances.In his message, Pope Francis says that all life has inestimable value “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” You can listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Bishop Brendan Leahy on Vatican Radio here.