By Fr TOM McHUGH
A huge thank you to the nearly one thousand people who gathered to celebrate with me a Mass of Thanksgiving on the occasion of my Golden Jubilee of Ordination to the priesthood. The joy-filled and festive experience was for me superlative in every way.
Yes, indeed, a weekend of jubilation, praise and thanksgiving; a weekend of sharing wonderful food, drink and story telling. A weekend of drama, music, song and dance.
It all began with the outstanding school assembly led by Year 4 and Miss Caroline Hughes. It was so moving and evocative in its presentation that I was taken by surprise. It unlocked deep emotions. I was in floods of tears – tears of joy and gratitude.
They ended their presentation with a song, Walk Beside Me by Celtic Woman, the chorus of which I invite you to read and ponder. I believe it has deep significance for how we see ourselves as a community.
Don’t walk in front of me
I was not born to follow
Don’t walk behind me
We were all born to lead
Don’t walk without me
I might need you tomorrow
Walk right beside me
Be the real friend I need
For me, these words point to Jesus and the way he chooses to be with us. Yes, he is alongside us as friend on our own unique road to Emmaus and back to Jerusalem. The abiding promise of Jesus is to be with us, freeing us from fear and enabling us to take responsibility for the direction of our life and choosing to walk in the company of his friends.
The great joy and delight of this weekend especially with the Jubilee Mass, sharing of excellent food and the entertainment was that I had no part in the bold vision that shaped it or the brilliant organisation and collaboration that delivered it.
This was an outstanding example of a parish at its best, individuals and groups taking responsibility for their own particular area of competence and expertise. Each contributed generously of their time, treasure and talent in full measure and with great love.
I will forever treasure this day. It has been and continues to be my great privilege to walk with you as friend and companion in all the vicissitudes of life encountering the Risen Lord as we share this graced journey.
I thank you with all my heart.