On Sunday, April 24th, we were blessed to have our 10.00am Mass in the Sacred Heart Church on the Western Road, Cork, concelebrated by MSC Superior General Fr Absalón Alvarado, along with MSCs Fr John Fitzgerald (Director of the MSC Missions Office) and Fr John Finn. The Sacred Heart Church was filled with local mission friends and parishioners, while over 700 people tuned in to pray with us via our live stream on the morning of the Mass.
Fr Absalón, who is originally from Guatemala, is currently on a three-week visit to the Irish Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, where he is travelling around Ireland and England, meeting MSC members and witnessing various projects and ministries that are currently underway around the Province.
Bringing his vast experience and a great sense of understanding to Sunday’s celebration, Fr Absalón invited all present, in person and online, to reflect “on a culture of encounter, on a culture of mission”. Emphasising the value of togetherness and unity, a particularly important point in the wake of the enforced isolation and separation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Fr Absalón noted, “Once we are far from the community, from the family, we start feeling that our faith is weak, and sometimes we lose our hope as well.”
Following from this, our Superior General encouraged us all “to be workers of peace, justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation,” especially at a time such as now, when the world is racked by war and violence. “In a general atmosphere of tension and exclusion, it is urgent that the Church, the community of disciples today, be a promoter of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation, starting from ourselves, our families, our communities, our Church, and it can spread through all the world,” he said.
“You have made life possible.”
Fr Absalón placed particular emphasis on his gratitude, and the gratitude of MSCs all over the world, to our mission friends and benefactors here in the Irish Province.
“Each of you, who are watching us on the live stream of this Mass, each of you who is present here in the church, have shared and collaborated for many years in the development of this culture of mission around the world,” he said. “I am a missionary from Latin America; I am originally from Guatemala, in Central America. Through my service at the moment, as a Superior General, as a leader of the Congregation, I have had the opportunity to visit many projects throughout the world, where you, and the Mission Office of Ireland, have made life possible. All of you have made it possible.”
“As you know, we are a missionary Congregation, present in 50 countries on five continents. Each one of you, with your financial contributions and your prayers, makes it possible for the Risen One to be hope and life for so many suffering people in the world, in different parts of the world. Please, do not feel alone. You are part of this great family, of this great network of mission, of the MSC mission through our world. On behalf of the entire MSC Congregation, I thank God for the life of each of you, and I thank you all, parishioners, friends, and benefactors, as well as the people who work and have worked in the Mission Office next door [to the church] here; thank you very much for your generosity and support. I pray to the risen Lord that God may multiply abundant blessings in your lives and in your families.”
“May we continue to build together hope for today’s world.”
Our Superior General also gave his thanks for our missionary communities of MSC members across the Irish Province, who have worked and continue to work at home and abroad in our shared mission of making the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved everywhere. “I thank God for those who are here in this community of Cork,” Fr Absalón reflected. “They are living missionary witnesses who have spent their lives for the good of so many human beings, in Ireland, in England, in South Africa, in Texas, in Russia, and in Venezuela. Thank you very much, my confreres, for your ministry, for your testimony of missionary life.”
“So, brothers and sisters, let us ask as well to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, that we may all continue to go and build the project of life that the Risen One invites us to realise in this uncertain world, full of wars and injustices, that we face today. May we continue to build together hope for today’s world, convinced that the Risen One walks the path with us.”
As he concluded his sermon, Fr Absalón reiterated his appreciation to the friends and benefactors that make our work possible. “I say it again – thank you for your generosity. We have been praying for all of you, for all the people that have been following us through the internet, and for those here in the church. Let’s continue praying for our mission. We pray for you, and you pray for us, for all the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart throughout the world. Thank you so much for being with us, for being part of our history, for being part of our lives. You are the reason for us to be MSC, you give sense to our consecration as Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. Thank you so much for that.”
It was our privilege to have Fr Absalón lead us and join us in prayer here in the Sacred Heart Church in Cork, and we wish him well as he continues on his journey around the Irish Province in the coming days and weeks.