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Connacht Tribune

Papal visits are worlds apart for Bishop of Galway

Dara Bradley

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Bishop of Galway, Brendan Kelly remembers vividly the visit of Pope John Paul to Galway.

The Derrybrien native was eight years ordained in 1979, and a teacher at Coláiste Éinde in Salthill, and even though he was concelebrating the mass at Ballybrit, the 72-years-old recalled being almost a mile back from the altar.

“It was a long way away in the distance. I remember vaguely what was happening on the stage, but you couldn’t see it well. What I really remember is the walk to Ballybrit from Coláiste Éinde. I don’t know how many miles it was but people were outside their houses, and there was an incredible atmosphere of joy and fellowship and friendliness. I’ll never forget that,” he said.

The latest visit of a Pontiff to Ireland this week will be different. For one, Bishop Kelly will meet Pope Francis in person both in Knock and with all other Bishops after the papal mass at Phoenix Park, which closes the World Meeting of Families 2018.

Times have changed, too. “It’s a different time, a different place, we’ve had a lot of challenges in the meantime. A lot of struggle,” he said.

“That was the time of the Vatican Council, and when I became a priest we were sure we had a new Church, we were better than what came before us. That was a little bit of the idealism of youth and cockiness of youth. My experience of the priesthood is that every year the challenge has gotten greater, but I have liked it all the more for that.”

Bishop Kelly said World Meeting of Families, “is about marriage and the family as we see it, following the teaching of Jesus Christ and the long tradition of the Church.”

“It’s about strengthening families at a time when family is under pressure,” he said.

But not all families conform to Bishop Kelly’s and the Catholic Church’s narrow view of family.

“The Pope’s attitude, and I think it’s the correct one, is you accept families as they are, even if they disagree with you or if you don’t particularly agree,” he said.

“I would prefer to see a child have a father and a mother and I think this is what the Church would propose as the optimum atmosphere in which to bring up little boys and girls.”

Single parents and people in second relationships should be supported, he said. “It’s not our job to reject them,” said Bishop Kelly.

“How do we live with people who don’t live quite the way we’d like them to live or that we think would be the best way to live? There’s no family perfect anyway, that’s the reality, every family struggles. The integration of people, for example, in same sex relationships, this is a huge question.

“We absolutely believe that God loves every single person, that’s absolutely true and it’s fundamental to the question of faith. Every single person is loved as they are, by God, and is called by God as a human person to live a life of love in that self-giving sense.”

At times, in families, there can be breakage, he said, and the “the hurt can be so deep sometimes”.

“That’s what has come up with all the abuse thing arising again. A lot of people were hurt in the family of the Church, because that’s’ what the Church is, a family of families and that’s what it’s celebrating at the World Meeting of Families. But all these people that suffered within that family of the Church, this is very hard for them,” he said.

Asked what he would say to those people who suffered abuse at the hands of priests and the Church, Bishop Kelly said: “What I would say to them is, ‘I want to hear your story, I want to hear what you have to say, I want to walk with you. I’m sorry that I haven’t listened to you better.’ The Pope himself said there are three things that are so important in a family: ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’. The ‘I’m sorry’ is so hard to say sometimes.”

He added: “I can understand they (abuse survivors) want something concrete” and that the Pope “will say more” on the subject during his visit.

“I do think at the moment what they’re talking about particularly is ‘What do you do with Bishops who have covered up (abuse) and should there not be stricter rules and regulations with regard to that and what would happen to them. I think that’s a fair enough question. That we want to know, if a Bishop is found to have been wanting, what has the Church to say about that.

“A lot of Bishops have resigned over the years but people think that that might not be enough and the rules are somehow not strong enough. They’re also saying, ‘was the Vatican itself, were there people in the Vatican, officials, who didn’t help the whole business of revealing the cover-up or accepting what was going on. We tend to be defensive very quickly. But there can be no defence or defensiveness when it comes to the abuse of children, or the suffering of children, especially the sexual abuse. The sexual abuse leaves an incredible wound.”

Bishop Kelly said abuse is not just an issue for the Church and children have “suffered grievously within ordinary families.”

“One of the wonderful things that has happened in my experience over the years since I’ve been a priest is that all of this has emerged because it was hidden, there was a silence around it, incredible silence, and that silence supported the kind of silence that the abuser very often imposes on the child whom he or she abuses because they’re terrified to say it to anybody. So, if society or the Church is silent about it, too, then that affirms to the child that he or she can’t speak.”

Bishop Kelly said it was “very significant” Pope Francis was going to Knock “because he’s putting prayer at the heart of the World Meeting of Families and of his visit to Ireland.”

“He’s going specifically to a shrine of Our Lady. It’s an enormous amount of trouble and expense, if you like, for a very short visit, but it’s about the centrality of prayer and silence, because he’s going to pray in silence in Knock for the success of the World Meeting of Families and I think that’s very significant because he’s saying something to us about ‘stop, reflect, take time out, think about the deeper questions in life. Where am I coming from, where am I going, can I do better, how do I love?’”

Bishop Kelly said the Pope’s visit can bring hope. “I’d like people to have an experience of a moment of good news and affirmation then I think that changes us and fills us with hope because so many things take away your hope,” he added.

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Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

Read Kitty’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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