Letter from June ~ All-Ireland President
Hello to all our members and friends,
This month we are resuming the lovely and meaningful reflections prepared by those on our Mothers’ Union All Ireland Trustee Board so I will keep my opening piece (relatively) short.
I love autumn with its rich colours and crisp mornings and have recently walked in the grounds of several National Trust properties, close to my home, where the leaves are beginning to turn colour. So beautiful - especially with the sun shining through the trees - and I find such walks calming and quite therapeutic. We are so fortunate in Ireland to have so many wonderful landscapes on our doorstep and although we often complain about our weather (yes, the rain this week was somewhat excessive!) we are blessed with balanced seasons which provide the rhythm to our lives.
So, as we move into autumn - and the image of last night’s glorious “harvest moon” will remain with me for a very long time - we must count our blessings. Some may say that this is difficult in these unprecedented times, especially as we seem to be moving unto another “spike” of Covid-19, but we will get through this - on a personal level, on a national level, even worldwide. What we thought was normal may never fully return, but we who have faith in Our Lord will hold strong to that faith and know that we will come through this pandemic. We will be stronger and will have taken a different perspective on our everyday lives. I know I certainly am appreciating more the kindness of others and the quality of any permitted, limited contact with friends and family.
My Mothers’ Union focus during the last month has been on money (nothing new there!), gender-based violence (working with the newly formed central Community of Interest progressing our work and advocacy in this area) and promoting ways to keep dioceses and branches engaged with members who cannot currently meet together. Each Diocesan President will be considering what connections they will be able to make in their own area and I do hope and pray that all our members will feel supported by their leaders. If there is any way that you, as a member, think we could improve the ways we maintain connections with you, please do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
During September we said farewell to Jane Grindle who has been our Administrator based in the office in St Michan’s for many years. She decided that it was an appropriate time to progress her career beyond MU but we will all miss her and her calm, efficient way of dealing with everything which crossed her path. However, we are not losing her from Mothers’ Union as she will still be a diocesan member in the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough I am certain that you will all join with me and the AI Trustees in wishing Jane and her family God’s richest blessings for the future.
Another person who is leaving our circle of work colleagues is Karen Bushby who, since joining the C of I Gazette, has been a great advocate for Mothers’ Union. She initiated the MU page in the magazine each month and it has been a great privilege for me to liaise with her as she too sought to promote a very positive image MU throughout Ireland. Thank you, Karen. Her successor, Emma Blain, is actually a Mothers’ union member and she has assured me that our monthly page in The Gazette will continue.
Finally, can I just congratulate the winners, Olive Thorpe and Valerie Reilly, and all those members whose poems were commended in our recent poetry competition. What talent we have hiding in our branches! All 19 poems will be placed on our website over the coming weeks so please do read and enjoy them - many different and moving thoughts about life in lockdown. There will be another competition announced shortly so please watch this space!
Below is the reflection prepared by Hazel Speares, Diocesan President of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. Psalm 23 has always been one of my favourites and Hazel’s words have certainly given me a different perspective on it. Please appreciate her words and be thankful that we are in our Father’s hands, this day and always.
With love and every blessing
Reflection by Hazel Speares - Diocesan President
Many of us turn to the Psalms in times of trouble, pain, sorrow and grief. I have really enjoyed listening to the many wonderful online reflections based on the Psalms from bishops and clergy during the past number of months. The best known one of course is Psalm 23. This psalm encourages us to praise God even when we feel down, to replace despair with hope and fear with faith. It reminds us that we have much to be thankful for. (Look around you at the beauty of nature and creation during this harvest season!). Even as we walk through the unfamiliar valley of this global pandemic, Psalm 23 assures us of God’s guidance, protection and great hope as He works His purposes out in our lives. A friend gave me the following reflection many years ago and I still love it! It says so much about our loving heavenly Father.
“The Lord is my Shepherd – That’s relationship!
I shall not want – That’s supply!
He maketh me lie down in green pasture – That’s rest!
He leadeth me beside still waters – That’s refreshment!
He restoreth my soul – That’s healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness – That’s guidance!
For His name’s sake – That’s purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – That’s testing!
I will fear no evil –That’s protection!
For Thou art with me – That’s faithfulness!
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me - That’s discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies – That’s hope!
Thou anointest my head with oil – That’s consecration!
My cup runneth over – That’s abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life –That’s blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord! – That’s security!
Forever – That’s eternity!”
Friends, may you be blessed by trusting God’s Word and putting your faith in Him. Fill your hearts with thankfulness and know God’s love and protection each day.
The Diocese covers a large geographical area, taking in Counties Cavan, Longford, Leitrim, most of County Roscommon and much of County Sligo in the Republic and some parishes in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.
Mothers' Union has 315 members in 18 branches across the Diocese. Whilst membership in some of our branches is quite small, we must never forget that we are part of a worldwide Christian organisation with over 4.1 million members in 83 countries throughout the world, and that we are united with them in prayer and worship. We share the same Aims and Objectives as we work to support marriage and Christian family life, and to help those who have not been so fortunate in life.
Our diocesan link is with the Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross.
Thank you for visiting our website. We hope you find it interesting and informative - please read on to find out more about what we get up to here in Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh and perhaps you will want to join in what we do.
If you know someone whom you would like to nominate click on the link below to find out more....
Our16 Days and Global Day
Highly Commended in All Ireland Poetry Competition
Survivors of Lockdown - Vi Breen, Swanlinbar MU
The Ups and Downs of COVID 19 - Margaret Sides, Edgeworthstown MU
The Irish Hospice Foundation Bereavement Support Line is a national freephone service
1800 80 70 77
It is available from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Friday.
A Prayer In The Time Of Coronavirus
Almighty and all loving God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
We pray to you through Christ the Healer for those who suffer from the Coronavirus Covid19 virus
in Ireland and across the world.
We pray too for all who reach out
to those who mourn the loss of each and every person who has died as a result of contacting the disease.
Give wisdom to policymakers, skill to healthcare professionals and researchers, comfort to everyone in distress, and a sense of calm to us all in these days of uncertainty and distress.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who showed compassion to the outcast,
acceptance to the rejected,
and love to those to whom no love was shown. Amen.
Archbishop Michael Jackson Dublin and Glendalough