Saturday, September 18, 2010


Somewhere in a city

Dear Ernie,
You are our best hope. Rumour has it that you have been successful in applying for asylum in a lovely country area by the sea, where a cow could be happy to graze.

We have been living with a heifer in a busy part of a big city and its really not working out.. First thing she did was put us in the washing machine without even checking if either of us had a voice! When we came out – dizzy and wet she stuck us in a dark cupboard to dry out (we hadn’t touched a drop – honest)

When we were let back out of the warm clothes shed, it should have been no surprise to learn that one of us (too embarrassing to say who) had developed a case of OCMD – obsessive, compulsive mooing disorder. Well you can imagine how that has gone down in a posh part of town.

We feel that we have no choice but to run and throw ourselves on the mercy of the truly compassionate people who took you in. They must be wonderful if you have been able to set up home with them as you didn’t have the best reputation in the pound.

We have taken the precaution of bringing a packet of Jersey Cream biscuits as a goodwill gesture and a treat for you and your friend Finch. C’mon we were good friends in the old days, help us out, please. We’d love to moo-ve in
Yours truly,
Hank and Marilynn Mary Moo

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Birr July 2010

So here we are, Me and the children, Jacq and her family. Its a Saturday night and I am back in Birr for the first time since Mum and Dad and the removal van pulled out nearly 8 years ago. It feels a little like being in a dream sequence. Some elements of the town have changed but not enough to make it feel different enough. It is odd to stand at the end of the drive of a house that was my family home for 30 years and not be going up to the familiar door and be able to walk right in and say "Hi" to Mum and Dad. (To be fair to the current incumbent, we were invited to look around but I just couldn't face it.)

To stand outside the church I was married in, the house I lived in, the school I was a pupil in between the ages of 6-12 and the pub I occasionally drank in during my late teenage years is odd and vaguely disturbing. I would not wish to turn the clock back to certain aspects of my adult life spent in Birr as a sole parent to my 2 wonderful kids when they were oh so young during weekends snatched from Dublin, but I benefitted so much from the backup of my loving parents. It is so odd being here without Mum and Dad. The last time I was here I was a proud daughter of a Rector. This time I am a priest but still the very very proud daughter of a priest.

Mum would love to have come so it was very sad to leave her in Greystones. The journey would have been too much for her. Taking loads of photos as promised to show her when I get home.

I know this is a little rambling but I needed to put something down and break back into blogging after the last entry. Still sadness surrounds us like a fog that comes and goes. Dad I miss you. Mum I love you. X

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rest In Peace

KEEGAN (Revd. Donald Leslie) (former Archdeacon of Killaloe & Clonfert) - April 15, 2010, in the excellent care of the staff of the Blackrock Clinic following a short illness; devoted and loving husband of Janet, wise and generous father of Andrew, Ruth (Elmes) and Jackie (Molloy), father-in-law of Catherine, Gary and the late Garry and Julian, proud grandfather to Jessica, Jonathan, Sam and Max, dear brother of Joan, Jack, Dorothy and David. Funeral Service on Monday, April 19 at 11.00 o'clock in St. Patrick's Church, Church Road, Greystones followed by private burial. Family flowers only. Donations, if desired, to Bishop's Appeal Fund, c/o Revd. D. Mungavin, The Rectory, Church Road, Greystones, Co. Wicklow."Death is not extinguishing the light but putting out the lampbecause the dawn has come".

Thursday, April 8, 2010


It has been a very up and down week and as a result I kept holding off about blogging as I thought it would be out of date as fast as I posted it. Dad has had a difficult week involving a lot of things going on and resulting in the need for 3 units of blood. He is quite settled this evening but was very weak at the start of the week. He was up and about with the physio today and is being encouraged to mobilise more.

Andrew and Jacq brought Mum up to visit him today and they enjoyed the opportunity to talk while the three of us had coffee downstairs.

It is very hard to know how things will go from here as they keep on changing. All we can do is say that for tonight he is settled and Mum is better for seeing him.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


It has been a rollercoaster of a week. Dad had a gastroscopy yesterday and a stent was successfully inserted which means that he can eat and drink again. It has been a very tiring week for him and he hopes to get a good night sleep tonight to help him build up his strength. If all goes according to plan he should be home again midweek. Mum is settling into Greystones Nursing Home. We don't really know what the week ahead holds but I will update if there is news.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dad's Superb Ordination Sermon

25/3/10 Ruth’s Ordination
On this very special day for Ruth, her family and her friends, I would like to thank you Archbishop John for allowing me the honour of playing a small part in this Service.
I have known the ordinand for more years than I care to remember but here I have to be very careful about my choice of words. You see the word PRIDE keeps coming into my mind and as pride is such a sinful word I have to avoid it. So I’ll use another word instead and say. “Ruth your family, your friends and especially your parents have the highest admiration for your many achievements. Life has not been easy for you have had so many difficult experiences to cope with. But in all these events you have risen to the challenges and overcome them. Your courage, your faith, your determination not to be dragged down by bitterness, has been such an inspiration to us all
You had a long struggle when you felt called to seek ordination and like many others in similar situations you yielded to that compelling call eventually. It was quite a change to swap your nurses uniform for an undergraduate’s gown.

But you were well up to the challenge and passed all your exams with flying colours. Since your ordination to the diaconate, it seems you have been so fulfilled in your ministry here in this group of parishes and I know Ian and all the parishioners have appreciated that ministry.
Your life’s experiences, good and bad have given depth and spiritual insights to your pastoral work in the parish and your preaching from the pulpit.
And from a purely personal point it is a source of great consolation to me that as in retirement my own ministry draws to a close, you will be there in the years to come to continue bearing the light of Christ in your Ministry.
Tonight my thoughts are centered on the theme of the Good Shepherd and especially on one particular phrase in those Declarations which the Bishop will read shortly. What it says in effect is that those who are called to the Priesthood “Must set the Good Shepherd always before them as the pattern of their calling.” The example of Jesus is so important for all of us. But that said, to speak of shepherds and sheep mightn’t mean a lot to some folks nowadays, especially in city areas.
I remember an incident when Ruth’s Great grandmother in Dublin was confined to bed, very weak and close to death. Her daughter, Ruth’s granny who was caring for her, asked the Rector to call and Minister to her. The old lady seemed asleep for most of his visit but perked up just in time to hear his closing words as he read to her the 23rd Psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want - -” After he left, Great granny seemed more settled. Trying to think of something useful to say, Ruth’s granny said how she herself loved Psalm 23. “What did you think of the Rector’s few words”, she asked. Great Granny’s reply was typically frank. “Didn’t think much of them myself but I suppose they would have been all very nice to hear if you happened to be a sheep.”
Lets face it, many city folk are woefully ignorant about life in the country. Soon after I began my ministry I met up with a colleague who like me was brought up in Dublin and found himself rector of a country parish. Well sez he, are you getting used to it? Yes sez I, I’m learning. Well, tell me this sez he, do you know the difference between hay and straw?

I did, as it happened but you’d be surprised at how many city people don’t know one from the other. Ask around for yourself if you don’t believe me. And that credibility gap between urban and rural life seems to be growing. Even in rural Ireland, there’s a widening gap between past and present, between father and son. Sheep farming methods have changed a lot too in these past 50 years. The sheep have changed. The shepherds have changed and the relationship between them is so different now compared to that of a generation ago, never mind 1st Century Palestine.
In today’s Church too the traditional roles of priest and people, shepherd and sheep also need to be reassessed. We can no longer rely on a 19th Century model in a 21st Century Church.
Canon Maureen Ryan, an Auxiliary Priest in Tuam, in an article I read recently deals with this need for new thinking and new strategies for mission and ministry. First she reminds us of that old familiar nursery rhyme. “Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep and doesn’t know where to find them. Leave them alone and they will come home dragging their tails behind them”.
Then she continues as follows “These days, Bo Peep’s strategy is no longer an option. We can no longer wait for the sheep to come home to us. They won’t be dragging their tails behind them either. These contemporary lost sheep have had their tails docked while they were still lambs - it’s more efficient, more hygienic. Today’s sheep have changed in other ways also. If you visit the National Gallery and look at the Pastoral Paintings over the past 400 years you’ll see how much all the farm animals have changed. They’re still recognizable as sheep or cows or pigs but they are very different. So it is in today’s church. Our sheep have changed and we shepherds have to adjust too. Today’s sheep are not the same as they were in New Testament times, or in the early church or in Reformation times. There might be the odd animal sanctuary here and there given over to the propagation and maintenance of rare breeds, the Church of Ireland might even be one of them, but most breeds have evolved. They’re still hungry but their nutritional needs have changed. It’s no good expecting sheep to thrive if they can’t digest the food offered by the shepherds.
It’s no use leaving the food out in places where the flocks no longer graze, or putting the same old food in modern packages. It might look contemporary but they still won’t assemble meekly for weekly nourishment. What we have to do today is to learn new shepherding skills - go where they are - find out what they hunger for - become familiar with those new pastures where they look for significance in their lives”.
End of quote. Canon Ryan’s wake up call to the church of today needs to be heeded. The people to whom we minister may be like lost sheep to us but they themselves don’t feel lost. They feel liberated, with minds of their own. Maybe they used to respond to the shepherd’s or the rector’s voice but these days so often the voice of the church is drowned out by a host of conflicting distractions. All sorts of messages bombard them, from the T.V., the Internet, the media, the advertisers. A plethora of “would be” shepherds, false shepherds and wolves in sheep’s clothing all clamouring for attention.
You remember Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep about the shepherd going out to seek the one lost sheep and leaving the 99 safely in the fold.
Well nowadays it seems that the parable has been reversed in that we shepherd priests find ourselves seeking the 99 lost sheep while only one remains safely in the fold. And what we’ve found really hard to grasp is the rapid pace of all these changes.
Shortly after I came to Birr, I was asked by the Bishop to represent the Diocese at a “Partners in Mission” Conference. Each Diocese was asked to outline their Home Mission policy. When it came to my turn I proudly informed all present that we in the Diocese of Killaloe and Clonfert had no such policy. We don’t really need one, I explained. There just don’t seem to be any lost sheep in our area. Everyone on our patch seems to be already affiliated to one church or the other, you see. We don’t go for sheep stealing so this leaves us with no-one outside the churches to evangelise. How naive I was then and how dramatically things have changed in the past 30 years.
But does all this mean that the need for priests “to set the Good Shepherd always before them as the pattern of their calling” is no longer relevant? Certainly not!
These days Ruth, the calling of a priest is a tough assignment but I have every confidence in your ability to cope with whatever challenges the church of today faces. Because although the sheep may change and the shepherding methods will have to change, despite all that, some things remain constant. And what still shines through in the example of the Good Shepherd remains as relevant as ever. So, can I just finish Ruth with some guidelines as you embark on your priestly Ministry, endeavouring to follow the Good Shepherd.
We are still called to sacrificial love for those in our care and to put their needs before our own. Some people by their very nature are easy to love. Others may stretch our patience and our tolerance to the very limit. Always treasure the all embracing love of Jesus for all his sheep, lost and found, as your example.
Like the Good Shepherd we need to know our sheep and to try to understand their needs. Getting to know people is a time consuming process. But its only as we get to know them and they us, that a foundation can be built for a trusting relationship between priest and people.

As my first Bishop used to put it, just to change the analogy “If you want to teach Johnny fishing, you must know fishing but you also must know Johnny. ”The Good Shepherd knows each of his sheep by name. So the key factor in our ministry is the personal relationship between shepherd and sheep. It needs to be on a one-to-one basis. One by one they are brought for Baptism. One by one brought to the Bishop for Confirmation. One by one we are called to minister to their needs. One by one they are laid to rest.
And finally, our Ministry should be firmly grounded in our own journey of faith. For it is from the well of our own personal experience of the Good Shepherd’s love, that we can best draw our strength. Its back to that Bishop’s analogy about teaching Johnny fishing. As well as knowing Johnny you have to know fishing. In other words, if you seek to nurture people in the Christian Faith, you have nurture your own faith in Christ, to return time and time again to him for strength and sustenance. And so Ruth, may God bless you in your future Ministry and may you always set the Good Shepherd before you as the pattern of your calling.

Good Friday

It has been a difficult time since my last post. Dad will remain in hospital over the weekend and into next week. His difficulty eating has become a real problem and this means that he needs hospital support. They are trying to make him more comfortable but thank God he is not in pain. He was very tired yesterday.

As a result of his continuing stay in Blackrock we have taken the difficult decision to place Mum into the care of Greystones Nursing Home. Although she would liked to have remained at home, she would have had to spend time alone in the house if we were in Blackrock and we felt that she needed secure care and have reluctantly made the "responsible" decision. Jacq and I will bring her there later today. Needless to say we are all distraught by the relatively sudden turn of events and ask for your continued prayers.

I hope to be at Dad's computer over the next couple of days and plan to post his wonderful sermon on this blog for those who were not able to hear him preach last week.