07 November 2010

A Tribute

Speaking of Ireland, while visiting the brothers in Rochestown, I took the opportunity to visit the grave of Br Donal O’Mahony, who passed away on 14 August 2010. I lived and worked Donal when he was the Secretary of the Justice Peace and Ecology Office of the Order and I was the English-speaking Secretary, from 1988 to 1994. Donal was small of stature, but he had a big heart and his presence could fill a room. Anyone who ever met Donal was instantly his friend. In his life he met many famous people, but he showed as much respect and interest in ordinary people as he did to politicians and celebrities. Once he was seated next to a young Irish couple who were flying to Rome to be married, and by the time they exited the plane, Donal had agreed to witness the marriage and provide a honeymoon tour of the Eternal City.

All the major newspapers in Ireland carried an obituary of Donal in which they spoke of his work as a hostage negotiator, his efforts for the homeless that led to the establishment of Threshold and his passion for peace that led him to create the Damietta Initiative. While those initiatives are commendable, it was the quiet, unassuming way that he worked in the Order’s JPE Office that led me to admire him. He was the first Secretary of the JPE Office, and as for most pioneers, the trail was not always easy to blaze. Not everyone in the General Curia believed we needed a JPE Office so his work was not always appreciated. Once, he returned to Rome from official business somewhere in the world only to find that someone had removed half the furniture from his office “since he wasn’t using it.” A lesser person faced with such attitudes probably would have given up, but Donal bore it all with a smile. He preached peace not only with his lips, but by his very actions.

It is all too easy to say that one person cannot make a difference, but thanks to Donal the lives of thousands have been improved by the work of Threshold. In a day and age when it seems that the world seems to be locked in an inevitable clash of cultures, perhaps the Damietta Initiative will work a similar miracle. Rest in peace, Donal.

A Canticle of Creation

Ard Mhuire FriaryThe pastoral and fraternal visits conducted by the General Definitory are not exactly holiday excursions, but I cannot deny that I often find myself in interesting and beautiful places. The place I am currently visiting would fall into the latter category. For the last two days I have been visiting the brothers in Ard Mhuire Friary, County Donegal, Ireland. During a rare, sunny moment this morning I snapped the above photo of the friary from a short distance away. I was given the privilege of staying in the “Bishop’s Room”, which can been seen on the top left side of the friary in the photo. The second photograph is the view from my room on a less sunny moment. Although this would now be considered prime property, before the Capuchins acquired it from the Irish Land Commission in 1929 it had been on the market for nearly seven years. The friary was originally used as the province's theologate, but is now a retreat house. The brothers here are most hospitable, and would gladly welcome fellow Capuchins for a private retreat or just some time away.

View from my window in ArdsI was told that the mountain seen in the background of the photo is used by local residents to predict the weather. If the mountain is not visible, they say, it is raining. If it is visible, it is about to rain. It seems to be a very accurate indicator since the mountain was very visible in the bright sun this morning, but now, six hours later, the rain is so thick that the mountain is barely visible.