Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland
It is an appeal to young men to look into their hearts and see where the Lord may be calling them in their lives, and perhaps to respond in a generous way if they feel that the Lord is calling them to follow him in the ministry of the diocesan priesthood at the service of the People of God in this archdiocese.
In the Archdiocese of Dublin, in a way which we have not seen for generations, lay men and women are today bringing their own charisms to unite them with the charisms of the ministerial priesthood, working together for the building up of the Church and Christ’s kingdom.
There is only one way to follow Jesus. You cannot put Jesus and his message aside when you get tired as with a book; you cannot turn down the volume as with your television. Following Jesus means following the same path that he trod, to be challenged in the depth of our being and activity by our encounter with him amid all the mystery and puzzlement that his message means for us.
A year of Evangelisation is not just a series of events and programmes from which you pick or choose at random. The Gospel reading reminds us that a Year of Evangelisation is realising in our times the Year of the Lord which Jesus announced. A Year of Evangelisation takes on meaning if we can say on each day of the year: “today the scripture is being fulfilled in your hearing”, through my ministry and through the ministry of the entire Church.
The Archdiocese of Dublin is facing challenges of a kind that it has not experienced for many years. The Report of the Commission on Child Sexual Abuse will shock us all. It is likely that thousands of children or young people across Ireland were abused by priests in the period under investigation and the horror of that abuse was not recognised for what it is. The report will make each of us and the entire Church in Dublin a humbler Church.
We have no time to waste. There is a dramatic and growing rift between the Church and our younger generations and the blame does not lie principally with young people. Our young people are generous and idealistic but such generosity and idealism does not seem to find a home in the Church. Where are we offering young people a home in our Church communities? Where are the focal points where we are helping young people to find an interpretation of their generosity, idealism and questioning in the light of the challenge and of the beauty of the message of Jesus Christ? Despite years of Catholic education for many young people the Church remains an alien place, rather than a place where they can encounter a personal God who is love?
We have no time to waste. The Ireland we live in is very different to the one of just a few years ago. Irish culture is changing. Our Church resources are changing. Business can be no longer be ‘business as usual’ in the Archdiocese of Dublin and the rate of change will be more rapid than many foresee.
Change can upset and unnerve us. Have courage! Jesus was troubled in the face of what he saw emerging in fulfilling the mission given him by the Father. He knew what abandonment felt like. But he continued on his path of self-giving love. Have courage! Never give in to cynicism or resignation.
The Archdiocese is facing challenges of a kind that it has not experienced for many years. But challenge is negative only for those who give up hope. At the opening of the Year of Evangelisation I hope to ordain two new priests for the Archdiocese and commission the first group of Lay Pastoral Workers who have been in formation over the past year. My message to them – and I hope that will be your message too, is: have courage, Dublin needs good, holy, motivated and enthusiastic priests, Dublin needs committed lay persons who take up responsibility for the life of the Church in Dublin at a unique moment.
People say to me that I became Archbishop at a particularly hard time. Yes, perhaps. But this is the time given to me. This is the time given to you as priests, religious or lay persons. Let us renew ourselves so that in this time the people of this diocese will realise through our ministry that “The scripture if being fulfilled in your hearing”.