A place for historical matters connected with Bruff, Bru na nDeise, Co. Limerick, Ireland
Saturday, 25 August 2007
CELEBRATION OF 150 YEARS OF THE FCJ SISTERS IN BRUFF
Wednesday 1 February 2006
It is nearly two centuries now since the young widow Marie Madeleine Victoire d’Houet distinctly heard a voice from the crucifix saying, “I thirst”. A long and complex road led from that moment to the foundation of houses of her congregation here in Limerick. By a happy coincidence, our patron saint, took the name, Ita, because it means ‘thirst’. It was an expression of her recognition that our thirst for God is the most fundamental thing in our lives. Intense thirst is the most excruciating need that we can experience. We speak about a burning thirst, a raging thirst.
Madame d’Houet, like St Ita, realised that her first response to the thirst of God’s Son would be that she should long for him; she was called to become the companion of Jesus – to try to live always in his presence and to try always to do his will.
She was inspired by recognising God’s thirst for us shown in the death of his Son; Saint Ita was inspired by the thought of our thirst for God. But the fact is that these two things go together. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says about prayer:
“Whether we realise it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him”.
Exactly the same can be said about religious life. Today we celebrate the feast of St Brigid who was one of the first to live the religious life in Ireland. Tomorrow, we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord, when we particularly reflect on the role of religious in the Church.
One can also say about education, about retreats and about missions about the whole of what Madame d’Houet undertook that they are about the encounter of God’s thirst with ours so that we may thirst for God.
Today we celebrate a hundred and fifty years during which her legacy has lived here in Bruff since the time Dean Cussen persuaded her to send some of her sisters here. And it is as important as ever that what those pioneers began should be continue to be filled with the awareness that it is founded on the meeting of God’s thirst with ours.
Religious life, lived in their own times by Ita and Marie Madeleine, is founded on that encounter. Pope John Paul said that religious, “live ‘for’ God and ‘from’ God”, that is why they can be signs and witnesses of God’s love which unites people to one another. As the number of religious declines it is more important than ever that we recognise that it is on this encounter of God’s thirst for us with our thirst for God that the educational tradition of this school is founded.
The young people of today, and all of us, live in a world which is noisier and busier than ever before. It may be easy to imagine that our lives are fuller than the lives of those who went before us – endless activity, information, travel, communications – always in contact through mobile phones and email. But the truth may be that our lives are actually emptier.
The thirst for God can become just a hidden, unexpressed pain – the fear that life is pointless, the guilt of seeing the starvation and pain of others while we sit in a comfortable armchair, the fear of natural disasters or terrorism, an awareness of the fragility of the affluence that we have come to depend on, a sense of loneliness, the question ‘is that all that there is to life?’. We risk not understanding ourselves because we do not open our minds to the realisation that our lives are a thirst for God.
Our thirst is no less than it ever was, but we may be afraid to look at it. Pope John Paul once said that we are afraid of being silent for fear of meeting ourselves and meeting the emptiness that asks about meaning. We badly need to learn that our thirst is thirst for a God who loves us, generously, mercifully, personally, as Pope Benedict put it in his first encyclical, “with all the passion of a true love”. That is why we can look at life with hope: God is love.
Pope Benedict said on the day of the solemn inauguration of his pontificate:
“We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”
That is the purpose of Catholic education, to lead people to an understanding of themselves and of their lives in the light of the most fundamental truth about us. We come to know our true selves when we understand that we are made by love and for love, that we live in the context of God’s longing for us which arouses our longing for God. That is the faith that gives unshakeable hope. Nothing can overcome the love of God that invites us and urges us on. God has, as the reading puts it, shown us his mercy and his boundless goodness. God’s loving presence saves us, not messengers or angels but the personal presence of God in our lives:
“I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord” ( Rom 8:38,39 ) .
Tonight we give thanks for all the ways in which that has been done here in Bruff for 150 years. No doubt there will be memories this evening of people who played very important parts in the history of the Faithful Companions of Jesus here in Bruff. Like St Paul, we should never cease to give thanks for all the graces that have been received here and the ways that so many people have been enriched, especially by their teachers. Tonight we pray in particular for all of those sisters, pupils, parents, teachers and all who were part of the life of the school, who have gone before us to meet our loving God.
It is right that we celebrate this occasion in the context of the Eucharist. Here we are in the presence of Jesus who, on the Cross, fully revealed, God’s thirst for us. Here we come to express our thirst for God, to become more fully aware of our longing and to be touched by the promise that we will one day be at home with God. We pray that, like Mary, we will be blessed because we believe that the promise made to us by the Lord will be fulfilled, and because we have tried to share that promise, and our thirst for its fulfilment, with others.
On this site find pictures and words connected with the history of Bruff. If you have any questions about the history of Bruff, or any stories or pictures you would like to share please get in touch with me. For more uptodate news about Bruff click here to visit BitsfromBruff Don't forget to check the blog archive to see previous posts This day in world history! click here
Lough Gur & District Historical Society was founded in 1984 and has a regular membership of 80 plus. It aims for ten events annually between lectures and field trips. Its major achievement is the publishing of thirteen historical journals. Number thirteen was launched in 2004 to celebrate 20 active years. Number 14 was launched this month.
Chairman : Tom Meany.
Secretary : Noel Dempsey.
Editor of Journal: Elizabeth Clifford
The 2006 Kilmallock Journal is now on sale in the town. The Journal contains a mix of articles dating from the 1800's up to the present day. Tributes is paid to the life and work of Mainchin Seoighe, a long time contributor to the Limerick Leader and author of over a dozen books who died this year. His great work of local interest is the Story of Kilmallock which is an invaluable source of information about the history of Kilmallock. The journal which costs €10 is on sale at the museum which is open between 11am and 3pm Monday to Friday and in the following shops O'Keeffe's, Londis on Sheare's Street, Maureen Feores on Sarsfield Street and Abbey Printers and Centra on Lord Edward Street.