27th Sunday of the Year 2013 INSTALLATION OF NEW RECTOR OF POLISH CHAPLAINCY
Homily Notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin
Saint Audeons Church, High Street, October 2013
“We are coming towards the conclusion of the Year of Faith. During this year we have tried to reflect more deeply on what faith is and what the content of our faith is. We have tried to look at our own faith and, to recall the words of the first reading, to understand what it means “to live by faithfulness”.
I think that many of us were a little surprised when Pope Francis was asked at the beginning of an interview he gave to an Italian Jesuit magazine “who he was?”, that he replied simply: “I am a sinner” He through again and came to the same conclusion: “I do not know what might be the most fitting description…. I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”
All of us are sinners, our faith is weak, we can easily fall away from our faith. We need conversion and we need to pray always that our faith will remain strong. The problem is that all too often we think that faith is something we generate ourselves. Jesus reminds us that faith is different. Faith comes through the strong action of God who reaches out to us in various ways.
God initiates the dialogue. God comes to our aid when our faith is weak. When our faith is strong, as the Gospel reading reminds us, we can do extraordinary things. That does not mean that we are therefore extraordinary people. When we become self centred our faith becomes weak and even empty. What is important is that we can place even that tiny scrap of faith – as insignificant as a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds – into the hands of Jesus and he will bring our faith to its fulfilment and change our lives.
Faith is not the about ideas. It is about a relationship, a relationship of trust with Jesus Christ who loves us. . We show our faith by the way we try to live as Jesus lived, to live a life of love. It is then that our life finds its value in him and we realise that it is not our merits that are important but the action of God’s grace which works within us when we open ourselves to that action.
I am very pleased to be here today to install Father Stanislaw Hajkowski as Rector of the Dublin Chaplaincy to the Polish Community. I greet the Superior General of the Society of Christ and the local Provincial and the other priests present here. I greet His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland and his Consular Staff. I greet Mrs Danuta Walesa who we are honoured to have here with us today.
In particular I greet the outgoing Rector, Father Jarek, who has done extraordinary work over the past years in establishing the Polish Chaplaincy, first provisionally in Halston Street and now here in Saint Audeon’s in High Street. He has worked also in various dioceses across Ireland. His pioneering work has been vital in providing spiritual support to so many members of the Polish community and I am personally most grateful to him and appreciative of his work. Father Stanislaw received a healthy heritage as he begins his mission.
We reflect on our faith. The Polish people have been great witnesses and apostles of their faith both in their homeland and in the many countries across the world where they have settled. Here in Ireland the Polish community has greatly enriched our country, our culture and our Church. We have seen the growth and the deepening of a sort of natural affinity between Irish people and Polish people.
We have seen and benefitted from the culture of hard work that Polish workers have brought with them. We have witnessed also their faith. Each Easter Sunday over the past years I have celebrated the Easter morning Mass here in Saint Audeon’s and I have witnessed the bonds of faith and tradition which are so important to Polish people.
It is not easy however to maintain strong faith in a different cultural environment. It is not easy to keep a strong faith in a secularised culture and both Ireland and Poland have witnessed rapid secularisation in recent years. We need to strengthen our faith, to fan the flame of faith that is in us, as our second reading notes, so that even the smallest spark our faith that is in us can come to life and glow and become filled with a spirit which is not one of timidity. Faith is not just a list of moral norms, it is a manner of life through which we respond generously to the goodness that God shows.
In Ireland today we celebrate the Day for Life. As believers, we wish to build a culture of life where each one of us can flourish in our talents and where the life of each of us is fostered and protected. That culture of life must reach out to those who are lonely and far from home. I am pleased that this Church has become a place of welcome and care for Polish men and women especially those who may be troubled and friendless.
The culture of life affirms the inherent value of life at all of its stages. It seeks to build an environment of compassion and care that nurtures and sustains life, even in the midst of the most challenging of human events and personal circumstances.
The Year of Faith is an opportunity for each of us to renew our commitment as Christians to building up the culture of life and leading others to Christ by the quality of love and care we show to others in His name. My prayer is that Father Stanislaw, his team of co-workers will be a beacon of care and support for the Polish community in the years to come, and that he will be a gentle shepherd, who will minister, leading his flock in faith, hope and love. ENDS