LIMERICK should celebrate its connection with St John Henry Newman by redoubling its sense of missionary purpose and starting that at home.
That’s the view of Bishop Brendan Leahy, who led a pilgrimage of 30 Limerick people to Rome last weekend for Cardinal Newman’s canonisation last weekend.
He said that Limerick can feel special joy because of its relationship with the new saint who is famous for his writings, his charity and wisdom but, moreover, to acknowledge his deep Limerick links.
While St Newman came from England to Dublin to establish a Catholic University, what is less well known is that he visited Limerick twice, in 1852 and 1854, and lived for a time at William Monsell’s house in Tervoe, Clarina, and at the Bishop’s house which was then in Corbally.
St Newman wrote some of his famous work, The Idea of a University, while in Limerick and also delivered an address, itself a noted piece of literature, in St Michael’s Church, Denmark Street to raise funds for the orphanage at Mount Saint Vincent’s on O’Connell Avenue in Limerick city.
He also visited St Munchin’s College and preached at Laurel Hill Convent. The altar in Ballybrown church is one at which John Henry Newman celebrated Mass while staying at Clarina.
In accordance with a custom of the time of bestowing an honour on a dignitary, Bishop John Ryan nominated John Henry Newman Vicar General of the Diocese.
“We can rightly feel a special joy knowing we have a new saint who must surely have a soft spot for in Limerick and who hears our needs. Let us ask for his intercession as we move forward together in mission,” Bishop Leahy said.
“Pope Francis has nominated the month of October as an ‘Extraordinary Month of Mission’ and now we have extra reason in Limerick to respond to that because of the canonisation of St Newman.
“While we remember with gratitude the great work done by missionaries, we are invited to reflect on the part our own missionary hearts can play in communicating the Gospel to others. And how we do that is through our actions.
“Our mission must start with reaching out to others, to those on the margins of life. They are everywhere so our work is plenty,” he said.
“Here in Limerick, we are encouraged even more by our connection with St John Henry Newman to be missionaries. Our mission does not have to be to the ends of the earth; it can be down the street, across the road, next door. To someone who needs our help, who will be given hope by our presence.
“So, as we continue into this ‘Extraordinary Month of Mission’, lets take the example of Sir John Henry Newman and make our city and county a place where mission, where kindness, where neighbourliness, where generosity flourishes,” Bishop Leahy concluded.