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Oglach Thomas McElwee 30/11/1957 – 8/8/1981 Died after 63 days on Hunger-Strike RIP

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Belfast Nga

Thomas Mc Ilwee died today 32 years ago, he was a young man of 23 years.

Thomas McElwee

Thomas McElwee, the fifth of twelve children, was born on November 30th, 1957, into the small, whitewashed home built by his father, along the Tamlaghtduff Road in the parish of Bellaghy.Jim and Alice McElwee married in 1950 and had twelve children, Kathleen, Mary, Bernadette, Annie, Enda, Thomas, Benedict, Joseph, Nora, Pauline, Majella and the youngest James.

Tom McElwee went to St Mary’s primary in Bellaghy, and then to Clady intermediate, three miles away.Thomas got on pretty well at school. From he was eleven Thomas had an intense interest in working with cars and all types of machinery.

As he grew older, his fascination for engines grew stronger. He got his driving licence as soon as he was old enough, and got his own car. He used to travel all over the place to watch stock-car racing.

Thomas joined Fianna Eireann when he was only 14, and subsequently joined the independent unit led by his cousin, Francis Hughes before it was recruited in its entirety, after a period of time, into the IRA.The following few years, before Thomas’ capture in October ‘76, were active ones in the South Derry area.

He had been arrested on a couple of occasions but on October 9th 1976, Kathleen answered the phone, to be told that both their brothers Thomas and Benedict were in the Wavery hospital in Ballymena following a premature bomb explosion in a car in the town, shortly beforehand.In the explosion, Thomas lost his right eye, while two other Bellaghy men were also injured: Colm Scullion losing several toes and Sean McPeake, losing a leg.Benedict McElwee, fortunately, suffered only from shock and superficial burns.

Following the explosion, several other republicans in the town were arrested, later to be charged. These included Dolores O’Neill, from Portglenone, Thomas’ girlfriend, and Ann Bateson, from Toomebridge, both of whom joined the protest in Armagh women’s jail.

Thomas was transferred from the Ballymena hospital to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for emergency surgery to save his remaining eye. It was three weeks, however, before he was able to see at all.One week before Christmas, he and Benedict were charged and sent to Crumlin Road jail.

At their subsequent trial in September 1977, having spent over eight months on remand in Crumlin Road, Thomas was convicted not only of possession of explosives but also for the killing of a woman who accidentally died in a bomb attack elsewhere in Ballymena that day and with which other republicans were also charged.That ‘murder’ conviction was, on appeal, reduced to 20 years for manslaughterand Thomas returned to the blanket protest he had joined immediately after his trial, in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

The McElwee family weren’t surprised last December when they discovered that both Thomas and Benedict had joined the thirty strong hunger-strike, as Sean McKenna neared death.

Thomas McElwee died at 11.30am on Saturday, August 8th. THOMAS McELWEE Aged 23 from South Derry. Commenced hunger-strike June 8th, died August 8th after 63 days.

Mary Queen of the Gael, intercede for the souls of all our Patriot Dead. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, in the mercy of God rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, comrades and friends of Patriot Dead at this time.

Mary Banríon na nGael, intercede do na anamacha na ár dtírghráthóirí léir Dead. Bealtaine a n-anamacha, agus an anamacha de na departed dílis, i an trócaire Dé chuid eile i síochána. Is iad ár smaointe agus paidreacha leis na teaghlaigh, chomrádaithe agus do chairde de Tírghrá ag

BRIEGE MEEHAN GIVEN SUSPENDED PRISON SENTENCE !

Ex-Shame Fein councillor admitted child cruelty.

A DEFIANT Bridge Meehan left court with a suspended jail term yesterday for shocking cruelty to her 10-year-old stepdaughter. The former Shame Fein councillor, who knocked the young child unconscious and forced her to sleep in a wet bed, was allowed to walk free on the basis of her age, guilty pleas and low risk to the public.

ABUSE: Above Left, former Sinn Fein councillor leaves Belfast Crown Court yesterday after she was given a suspended sentente for child cruelty and assault against her stepdaughter Mary. Above left, Martin Meehan. Above right, Kevin Meehan speaks outside Belfast Crown Court yesterday on behalf of his sister Mary.

ABUSE: Above Left, former Sinn Fein councillor leaves Belfast Crown Court yesterday after she was given a suspended sentente for child cruelty and assault against her stepdaughter Mary. Above left, Martin Meehan. Above right, Kevin Meehan speaks outside Belfast Crown Court yesterday on behalf of his sister Mary.

The 66-year-old had admitted a charge of cruelty and two assaults against Mary Meehan more than 30 years ago while her father, North Belfast IRA chief Martin Meehan, was in prison. The former Newtownabbey councillor originally also faced seven charges of sexually abusing her stepdaughter but they were not proceeded with and were “left on the books”. Belfast Crown Court heard that at the time of the offences between July 1979 and October the following year, an eight-month pregnant Meehan had been left to look after the IRA leader’s three children. Judge Gordon Kerr told Meehan that given her clear record, the “circumstances in which she found herself” and the time taken over the case, “considerable discounts” in her sentence were proper. Suspending the nine-month jail term for two years, the judge said : “The defendant is 66 years of age. The offences were over 30 years ago. There is no evidence she presents any danger to children or anyone else. “There is a low risk of her offending. I do not consider it necessary that she should serve these sentences immediately and think it is proper to suspend them.”

The judge had earlier said that while a remorseful Meehan had “expressed shame at her loss of control”, reports indicated that she “has no empathy or emotional concern” for Mary and the position she found her self in as a youngster, with one parent dead and the other missing. The prosecution proceeded on the basis of an agreed set of facts about her ill-treatment and neglect of Mary and the assaults on her. The first charge of assault related to an incident when Mary was tidying up, but apparently not quickly enough for Meehan, who hit her over the head with a bag containing a glass bottle and knocked her unconscious. Her wound later required stiches. The second assault referred to the youngster being hit by a brush or a shoe which had been thrown at her. The prosecution also told the court how Mary suffered from instances of bed wetting but that her stepmother “forced her to sleep on the wet sheets”. On  another ooccasion, after being accused of smoking by Meehan, the 10-year-old was forced to smoke cigarettes by way of punishment or deterrence. Mary was eventually rescued by social services who placed her into care in October 1980. A medical examination at the time revealed 20 bruises sustained while being looked after by Meehan.

The offences were committed while she was the girlfriend of Martin Meehan, who was on remand in prison on IRA kidnapping charges for which he was eventually jailed for 12 years. Mr Meehan, who died in 2007, was the first person to be convicted of membership of the Provisional IRA (PIRA). Bridge Meehan herself went on to be elected as Newtownabbey’s first Sinn Fein councillor in 2001, being reelected in 2005. She was suspended after the allegations of abuse first surfaced in February 2009. Karen Quinlivan QC, defending, said the offences were committed against a background of widespread disapproval of her relationship with Martin Meehan. This resentment came not only from his family but also her own. A remorseful Meehan, she said, had been left to care for three young children “quite abruptly” filling the shies of their mother who had died from cancer. Ms Quinlivan said while it was a serious matter, the level of physical abuse was “at the lower end of the scale” and Meehan had been widely criticised in the media and her own community. Outside the court, Kevin Meehan read a statement on behalf of his sister Mary, in which she said that the crimes of her former stepmother had finally caught up with her. She said BBridge Meehan had terrorised and brutalised her as a youngster and displayed nothing but callous disregard for what happened, rejecting any suggestion that she had shown any regreat. Meehan, the statement said, had ddemonized her through a tangled web of lies and deceit despite her crimes being exposed by her own guilty pleas. However, while Mary said that the court case could help to bring closure to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepmother, the 66-year-old had yet to offer her any apology. Meehan, for her part, would only tell reporters as she left the court : “No comment.”

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.

VICTIM: She shows total lack of remorse

THE VICTIM of Bridge Meehan last night expressed her disappointment at the sentence handed to the self-confessed child abuser – and her continuing refusal to apologise. Mary Meehan said her stepmother had shown a “total lack of remorse” for the harm inflicted on her, at a time when she was still grieving the loss of her mother from cancer.

Mary Meehan in tears outside Belfast Crown Court yesterday after her stepmother Bridge Meehan was sentenced for cruelty and assault against her when she was 10 years old.

The former Sinn Fein councillor, who once revelled in the notoriety gained from her marriage to the late Martin Meehan, barked “no comment” at reporters who asked yesterday if she would appoligise. She pushed the media out of her path and muttered expletives as she left the Laganside court complex. Neighbours in Addoyne who spoke to The Irish News back in 2010, when details of the case first came to light, described Mary prior to her mother’s death as happy, well cared-for child who could be seen with biws in her hair playing in the front garden of the family’s Northwick Drive home. However, after her mother’s death and imprisonment of her father, his new girlfriend Briege McLaughlin moved into the family home and took an immediate dislike to the little girl who so closely resembled her mother.

She had walked out on her husband to take up with newly widowed Martin Meehan and this resulted in her being shunned by many in the close-knit community of Ardoyne. Resentful of the affection in which the woman she replaced was held, she appeared to take her anger out on her namesake daughter. Neighbours reported hearing nightly screams from the little girl. Mary developed a stammer and was rarely seen out of her bedroom. On occasions she did attend Holy Cross Girls School she was dirty and unkempt. Social services received calls after she was seen on three seperate occasions with black eyes. Mary Meehan said despite her guilty plea, her late father’s widow has shown no remorse for her actions. “I only ever wanted Briege to admit what she had done to me after all these years,” she said. “She may have pleaded guilty but even then it seemed to be something she was doing to save herself from prison rather than to clear her conscience. “I was disappointed at the leniency of the sentence but more upset that she has never apoligised or even a shred of remorse. “I can only thank my family, friends and children who have supported me throughout this difficult process. “I just want to put it behind me now and move on with the rest of my life.”

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.

THE SENTENCING OF A FORMER SHAME FEIN COUNCILLOR WHO PLEADED GUILTY TO CHILD CRUELTY CHARGES HAS BEEN ADJOURNED U

Briege Meehan sentencing adjourned

Published Tuesday, 02 July 2013

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The sentencing of a former Sinn Féin councillor who pleaded guilty to child cruelty charges has been adjourned until Friday.

Briege Meegan will be sentenced on Friday. (© UTV)

Opening the prosecution case, QC Frank O’Donoghue recounted how Briege Meehan, 65, carried out a number of acts of cruelty against stepdaughter Mary Meehan over a 15-month period.

Between 14 July 14 1979 and October the following year, he told the court Meehan hit the youngster on the head with a glass baby’s bottle, forced her to smoke numerous cigarettes as a punishment and also to sleep in her urine-soaked bed.

Last month before her trial began Meehan, from Elmfield Street and the widow of the IRA’s former north Belfast commander Martin Meehan, pleaded guilty to charges of assault and cruelty towards her stepdaughter Mary when she was ten years old.

She had also been charged with seven charges of sexually abusing her stepdaughter but those were “left on the books” after she pleaded guilty to charges on an amended indictment.

At the time of the offences, the court heard, Martin Meehan was either in custody or on the run leaving Briege Meehan, who was eight months pregnant at the time, to look after his three children.

Mr O’Donoghue said the first count of assault related to an incident when Mary was tidying up a unit but was not doing it quickly enough so her stepmother hit her over the head with a glass baby bottle, knocking her unconscious.

The lawyer recounted Mary’s statement in court where she described being “covered in blood” and “screaming” in panic.

Mr O’Donoghue said Mary was at one time caught smoking so by way of punishment or deterrence, Briege Meehan forced the child to smoke an unknown number of cigarettes, adding that that incident related to a count of child cruelty while another count accused her of injuring her either with a brush shaft or a shoe.

He told the court how Mary suffered from instances of bed wetting but that her stepmother “forced her to sleep on the wet sheets”.

The lawyer said the child was eventually rescued by Social Services and placed into care in October 1980 and a medical examination revealed 20 bruises sustained while in the care of Briege Meehan.

The offences were committed while Meehan, was the then girlfriend of Martin Meehan while he was on remand in prison on IRA kidnapping charges for which he was eventually jailed for 12 years.

Mr Meehan, who died in 2007, was also the first person to be convicted of membership of the Provisional IRA.

His second wife, Briege, elected as Newtownabbey‘s first Sinn Féin councillor in 2001 and again in 2005 was suspended from the post after the allegations of abuse first surfaced in February 2009.

Defence QC Karen Quinlivan argued that whilst it was a serious matter, the level of physical abuse was “at the lower end of the scale” for which Meehan had been widely criticised in the media and her own community.

She said that Meehan had “expressed remorse” for the way she treated her stepdaughter but added that the care of all three children came about “quite abruptly” when Martin Meehan senior was put into jail and she was left filling the shoes of their mother who had tragically died from cancer.

In addition, claimed the lawyer, there was widespread disapproval from all side of hers and Martin Meehan’s family over their relationship because she was married at the time.

Releasing Meehan on continuing bail, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said he would review all the papers in the case and pass sentence on Friday.

With many thanks to:

© UTV News

Novena to St Maximilian Kolbe for Irish POW…s, every month on the 10th *also for civilians being persecuted by the PSNI*

 Novena to St Maximilian Kolbe for Irish POWs, every month on the 10th *also for civilians being persecuted by the PSNI*

 
Today at 06:00 until 18 May at 18:00 in EDT
  •  
    wherever you are
  •  
    Saint Maximilian Kolbe, your life of love and labor for souls was sacrificed amid the horrors of a concentration camp and hastened to its end by an injection of a deadly drug. O Lord Jesus Christ, Who said, “greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life… for his friends,” through the intercession of Saint Maximilian Kolbe whose life illustrated such love, we beseech Thee to grant us our petitions.• Redeeming God, we lift up all those who are incarcerated, please protect them from abuse.
    • Let Your Perfect Justice cut through and aid them now.
    • Let them be charged so they can have a hearing & trial or let them be released.
    • Give them faith and love to sustain them in disappointment.
    • Strengthen their will and courage to face their everyday struggles.
    • Ever loving Jesus, may this cross of wrongful judgment be lifted from those to whom it does not belong, please help them to gain their freedom quickly and legally.
    ***We also pray special protection for Irish civilians who are undergoing persecution at the hands of the PSNI. Watch over them, especially their little ones who are not spared from vicious threats***St Maximilian gave up his life for a total stranger in the concentration camp and loved his persecutors, giving us an example of unselfish love for all men — a love that was inspired by true devotion to Mary.

    Grant, O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reserve to the love and service of our Heavenly Queen in order to better love and serve our fellow man in imitation of Thy humble servant, Saint Maximilian.
    Amen

POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Public event · By Sealbhaigh Ceiteach Childs

A Prayerful Heart – St. Bernadette Soubirous, 1844-1879

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 A Prayerful Heart

Let the crucifix be not only in my eyes and on my breast, but in my heart.
O Jesus! Release all my affections and draw them upwards. Let my crucified heart sink forever into yours and bury itself in the mysterious wound made by the entry of the lance.

Vols. Dominic and Mary McGlinchey Commemoration speech in full from Unrepentant Republican Collie Duffy.

A chairde, is mor an honor dom a bheith anseo inniu le beirt laochra a chuimhnú.

Eighteen years ago, on a bleak February night in the Irish Free State, another patriot son of Ireland lost his life. He was not the first, nor will he be the last Irish patriot to loose his life in the struggle toliberate Ireland from the clutches of English imperialists and Irish gombeens.

That man was Dominic Mc Glinchey, a son, a brother, a husband, a father, to many of us a friend and to all of us an inspiration and a comrade.

To say that Dominic’s life was the struggle for the liberation of Ireland is a gross under-statement. And what it meant to live in a police state where rights became privileges and freedom was temporary, was shown to him at the young age of seventeen when he was interned without trial. Thrown into the cages of Long Kesh in 1971 this was to be the first of many encounters that Dominic would have over the years with a corrupt and unjust legal system, designed not to administer the law in an even handed way, but to break the will of those who would have the audacity to stand-up and demand their rights. And Dominic was one of the first to stand-up not only for his own rights but also the rights of others, he did so in a proud and defiant way so that no-one could be in any doubt that no matter what the cost, he would be on the side of the oppressed and not the oppressor.

Indeed, Dominic’s commitment to standing-up for what he believed in was so great, that he soon became a figure of fear within the corridors of power and the then administrators of English rule in Ireland launched a campaign of repression and vindictiveness against him, reserved for anyone demonstrating the virtues of leadership that exposed the corrupt and artificial nature of this immoral and illegal state. Time after time he was harassed, arrested, vilified, imprisoned, attempts were made to take his life and attempts were made to defame his good name, laws were changed to imprison him and all of the principles of what are good and decent in any society were set to one side in an attempt to do what the English have never been able to do in Ireland, that is, to break the will of one Irish man who refuses to be broken.

That Dominic Mc Glinchey refused to ever bend the knee in the face of oppression and corruption, from wherever it came, is what made him an enigma to his enemies. However, for us, his friends, family and comrades, it is what made him the great liberator that he was. It was what gave him the responsibility of showing by example the passion and love for a (cause and a people) that he knew to his very core was just and right. In those days when Dominic was shuttled North and South more frequently than the Belfast to Dublin train, he demonstrated by his dignity and resolve that nothing in the arsenal of oppression could break the spirit of an Irish Republican determined to liberate his people.

Such determination and passionate commitment to a cause as noble as wanting to see your people live in peace and freedom would be met with the only response that oppressors and those who would settle short of freedom knew. Hence on that bleak February night another patriot son of Ireland lost his life. And while the loss of yet another hero of the struggle for Irish liberation was a blow to us all, Dominic left for all of us a legacy that even yet our enemies try to diminish, that legacy is, that it is right to stand-up for what you believe in, that it is right to expose corruption wherever it exists, that when met with institutionalized violence it is right to resist and that it is right for every Irishman and Irishwoman to speak out against the injustices and abuses of power that they see, from whatever quarter they see it. By his example he also gave us another important legacy and that was that the struggle for national liberation is not confined by the narrow parameters of a single organization or grouping. No, the right to engage in the cause to liberate your people and your country transcends organizational or party political boundaries, the cause of Irish freedom belongs to all of the people of Ireland and only when the will of that people is expressed without external interference, can Ireland begin the process of building the Republic that will be a fit and enduring testimony to the bravery of men and women like Dominic and Mary McGlinchey.

So while today is about remembering the dedication and selfless sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for Irish freedom, and pausing to think, how different it would have been if the injustices of military occupation had not been foisted upon us, let us also take the opportunity to celebrate the commitment of an Irish Republican hero and his contribution to the just and noble cause of setting his people free. Let us take the example laid down by Dominic, Mary and others, that only when we begin to look beyond sectional interests and narrow minded sectarianism, can we begin to see the bright horizons of a true Republic, that only when we allow the objectives of the struggle to determine our actions can we create the common purpose needed to complete that struggle, that only when personal interests are set to one side can we truly liberate and that all of our endeavors will be dedicated to ensuring that the next generation of Irishmen and Irishwomen do not have to face the hardships and choices that Dominic, Mary and their generation have had to face.

It would be remiss of me to leave this graveyard today without recognising those who in many ways are the unsung heroes of our struggle, they are the families of men and women like Dominic and Mary Mc Glinchey. Thank you for giving us a shinning example of a freedom fighter, thank you for giving us your son, brother, husband and father in struggle and thank you for giving us the opportunity here today to pay tribute to the legacy of an Irish patriot.

We also need to recognise and pay tribute to the commitment and sacrifice of women in struggle. Women like Mary McGlinchey who were to the fore of our struggle for national liberation. This struggle never was and never can be the sole preserve of men.

A Dhominic agus a Mháire …… thank you for the memories, thank you for the inspiration, thank you for the dedication and most of all thank you for being you. Go raibh mile maith agaibh, your loss will not be in vain.

Ar aghaidh linn le cheile. Tá sé suas linne uilig an streachailt seo a chríochnú. Tiochfaidh ar lá.

Novena to St Maximilian Kolbe for Irish POWs…, every month on the 10th *also for civilians being persecuted by the PSNI

Novena to St Maximilian Kolbe for Irish POWs, every month on the 10th *also for civilians being persecuted by the PSNI*

 
10 April at 06:00 until 18 April at 18:00 in EDT
  •  
    wherever you are
  •  
    Saint Maximilian Kolbe, your life of love and labor for souls was sacrificed amid the horrors of a concentration camp and hastened to its end by an injection of a deadly drug. O Lord Jesus Christ, Who said, “greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life… for his friends,” through the intercession of Saint Maximilian Kolbe whose life illustrated such love, we beseech Thee to grant us our petitions.• Redeeming God, we lift up all those who are incarcerated, please protect them from abuse.
    • Let Your Perfect Justice cut through and aid them now.
    • Let them be charged so they can have a hearing & trial or let them be released.
    • Give them faith and love to sustain them in disappointment.
    • Strengthen their will and courage to face their everyday struggles.
    • Ever loving Jesus, may this cross of wrongful judgment be lifted from those to whom it does not belong, please help them to gain their freedom quickly and legally.
    ***We also pray special protection for Irish civilians who are undergoing persecution at the hands of the PSNI. Watch over them, especially their little ones who are not spared from vicious threats***St Maximilian gave up his life for a total stranger in the concentration camp and loved his persecutors, giving us an example of unselfish love for all men — a love that was inspired by true devotion to Mary.Grant, O Lord Jesus, that we too may give ourselves entirely without reserve to the love and service of our Heavenly Queen in order to better love and serve our fellow man in imitation of Thy humble servant, Saint Maximilian.
    Amen

POSTED ON BEHALF OF :  Public event · By Sealbhaigh Ceiteach Childs

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI FOR THE TWENTY-SEVENTH WORLD YOUTH DAY- 2012.

 

Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4)

 

Dear young friends,

I am happy to address you once more on the occasion of the 27th World Youth Day. The memory of our meeting in Madrid last August remains close to my heart. It was a time of extraordinary grace when God showered his blessings on the young people gathered from all over the world. I give thanks to God for all the fruits which that event bore, fruits which will surely multiply for young people and their communities in the future. Now we are looking forward to our next meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, whose theme will be: “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt28:19).

Pope Benedictus XVI

Pope Benedictus XVI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 This year’s World Youth Day theme comes from Saint Paul’s exhortation in his Letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (4:4). Joy is at the heart of Christian experience. At each World Youth Day we experience immense joy, the joy of communion, the joy of being Christian, the joy of faith. This is one of the marks of these gatherings. We can see the great attraction that joy exercises. In a world of sorrow and anxiety, joy is an important witness to the beauty and reliability of the Christian faith.

 

The Church’s vocation is to bring joy to the world, a joy that is authentic and enduring, the joy proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born (cf. Lk 2:10). Not only did God speak, not only did he accomplish great signs throughout the history of humankind, but he drew so near to us that he became one of us and lived our life completely. In these difficult times, so many young people all around you need to hear that the Christian message is a message of joy and hope! I would like to reflect with you on this joy and on how to find it, so that you can experience it more deeply and bring it to everyone you meet.

 

 

1. Our hearts are made for joy

 

A yearning for joy lurks within the heart of every man and woman. Far more than immediate and fleeting feelings of satisfaction, our hearts seek a perfect, full and lasting joy capable of giving “flavour” to our existence. This is particularly true for you, because youth is a time of continuous discovery of life, of the world, of others and of ourselves. It is a time of openness to the future and of great longing for happiness, friendship, sharing and truth, a time when we are moved by high ideals and make great plans.

 

Each day is filled with countless simple joys which are the Lord’s gift: the joy of living, the joy of seeing nature’s beauty, the joy of a job well done, the joy of helping others, the joy of sincere and pure love. If we look carefully, we can see many other reasons to rejoice. There are the happy times in family life, shared friendship, the discovery of our talents, our successes, the compliments we receive from others, the ability to express ourselves and to know that we are understood, and the feeling of being of help to others. There is also the excitement of learning new things, seeing new and broader horizons open up through our travels and encounters, and realizing the possibilities we have for charting our future. We might also mention the experience of reading a great work of literature, of admiring a masterpiece of art, of listening to or playing music, or of watching a film. All these things can bring us real joy.

 

Yet each day we also face any number of difficulties. Deep down we also worry about the future; we begin to wonder if the full and lasting joy for which we long might be an illusion and an escape from reality. Many young people ask themselves: is perfect joy really possible? The quest for joy can follow various paths, and some of these turn out to be mistaken, if not dangerous. How can we distinguish things that give real and lasting joy from immediate and illusory pleasures? How can we find true joy in life, a joy that endures and does not forsake us at moments of difficulty?

 

 

2. God is the source of true joy

 

Whatever brings us true joy, whether the small joys of each day or the greatest joys in life, has its source in God, even if this does not seem immediately obvious. This is because God is a communion of eternal love, he is infinite joy that does not remain closed in on itself, but expands to embrace all whom God loves and who love him. God created us in his image out of love, in order to shower his love upon us and to fill us with his presence and grace. God wants us to share in his own divine and eternal joy, and he helps us to see that the deepest meaning and value of our lives lie in being accepted, welcomed and loved by him. Whereas we sometimes find it hard to accept others, God offers us an unconditional acceptance which enables us to say: “I am loved; I have a place in the world and in history; I am personally loved by God. If God accepts me and loves me and I am sure of this, then I know clearly and with certainty that it is a good thing that I am alive”.

 

God’s infinite love for each of us is fully seen in Jesus Christ. The joy we are searching for is to be found in him. We see in the Gospel how the events at the beginning of Jesus’ life are marked by joy. When the Archangel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that she is to be the mother of the Saviour, his first word is “Rejoice!” (Lk 1:28). When Jesus is born, the angel of the Lord says to the shepherds: “Behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a Saviour has been born for you, who is Messiah and Lord” (Lk 2:10-11). When the Magi came in search of the child, “they were overjoyed at seeing the star” (Mt 2:10). The cause of all this joy is the closeness of God who became one of us. This is what Saint Paul means when he writes to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5). Our first reason for joy is the closeness of the Lord, who welcomes me and loves me.

 

An encounter with Jesus always gives rise to immense inner joy. We can see this in many of the Gospel stories. We recall when Jesus visited Zacchaeus, a dishonest tax collector and public sinner, he said to him: “Today I must stay at your house”. Then, Saint Luke tells us, Zacchaeus “received him with joy” (Lk 19:5-6). This is the joy of meeting the Lord. It is the joy of feeling God’s love, a love that can transform our whole life and bring salvation. Zacchaeus decides to change his life and to give half of his possessions to the poor.

 

At the hour of Jesus’ passion, this love can be seen in all its power. At the end of his earthly life, while at supper with his friends, Jesus said: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love… I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:9,11). Jesus wants to lead his disciples and each one of us into the fullness of joy that he shares with the Father, so that the Father’s love for him might abide in us (cf. Jn 17:26). Christian joy consists in being open to God’s love and belonging to him.

 

The Gospels recount that Mary Magdalene and other women went to visit the tomb where Jesus had been laid after his death. An angel told them the astonishing news of Jesus’ resurrection. Then, the Evangelist tells us, they ran from the sepulchre, “fearful yet overjoyed” to share the good news with the disciples. Jesus met them on the way and said: “Peace!” (Mt 28:8-9). They were being offered the joy of salvation. Christ is the One who lives and who overcame evil, sin and death. He is present among us as the Risen One and he will remain with us until the end of the world (cf. Mt 28:20). Evil does not have the last word in our lives; rather, faith in Christ the Saviour tells us that God’s love is victorious.

 

This deep joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit who makes us God’s sons and daughters, capable of experiencing and savouring his goodness, and calling him “Abba”, Father (cf. Rm8:15). Joy is the sign of God’s presence and action within us.

The detail of a medieval icon featuring Archan...

The detail of a medieval icon featuring Archangel Gabriel. Mestia Museum, Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 3. Preserving Christian joy in our hearts

 

At this point we wonder: “How do we receive and maintain this gift of deep, spiritual joy?”

 

One of the Psalms tells us: “Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire” (Ps 37:4). Jesus told us that “the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Mt 13:44). The discovery and preservation of spiritual joy is the fruit of an encounter with the Lord. Jesus asks us to follow him and to stake our whole life on him. Dear young people, do not be afraid to risk your lives by making space for Jesus Christ and his Gospel. This is the way to find inner peace and true happiness. It is the way to live fully as children of God, created in his image and likeness.

 

Seek joy in the Lord: for joy is the fruit of faith. It is being aware of his presence and friendship every day: “the Lord is near!” (Phil 4:5). It is putting our trust in God, and growing in his knowledge and love. Shortly we shall begin the “Year of Faith”, and this will help and encourage us. Dear friends, learn to see how God is working in your lives and discover him hidden within the events of daily life. Believe that he is always faithful to the covenant which he made with you on the day of your Baptism. Know that God will never abandon you. Turn your eyes to him often. He gave his life for you on the cross because he loves you. Contemplation of this great love brings a hope and joy to our hearts that nothing can destroy. Christians can never be sad, for they have met Christ, who gave his life for them.

 

To seek the Lord and find him in our lives also means accepting his word, which is joy for our hearts. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote: “When I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart” (Jer 15:16). Learn to read and meditate on the sacred Scriptures. There you will find an answer to your deepest questions about truth. God’s word reveals the wonders that he has accomplished throughout human history, it fills us with joy, and it leads us to praise and adoration: “Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us kneel before the Lord who made us” (Ps 95:1,6).

 

The liturgy is a special place where the Church expresses the joy which she receives from the Lord and transmits it to the world. Each Sunday at Mass the Christian community celebrates the central mystery of salvation, which is the death and resurrection of Christ. This is a very important moment for all the Lord’s disciples because his sacrifice of love is made present. Sunday is the day when we meet the risen Christ, listen to his word, and are nourished by his body and blood. As we hear in one of the Psalms: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad” (Ps118:24). At the Easter Vigil, the Church sings the Exultet, a hymn of joy for the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death: “Sing, choirs of angels! … Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendour … Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!” Christian joy is born of this awareness of being loved by God who became man, gave his life for us and overcame evil and death. It means living a life of love for him. As Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, a young Carmelite, wrote: “Jesus, my joy is loving you” (P 45, 21 January 1897).

Gabriel the Archangel, Russian icon from first...

Gabriel the Archangel, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 4. The joy of love

 

Dear friends, joy is intimately linked to love. They are inseparable gifts of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:23). Love gives rise to joy, and joy is a form of love. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta drew on Jesus’ words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) when she said: “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls; God loves a cheerful giver. Whoever gives with joy gives more”. As the Servant of God Paul VI wrote: “In God himself, all is joy because all is giving” (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete in Domino, 9 May 1975).

 

In every area of your life, you should know that to love means to be steadfast, reliable and faithful to commitments. This applies most of all to friendship. Our friends expect us to be sincere, loyal and faithful because true love perseveres even in times of difficulty. The same thing can be said about your work and studies and the services you carry out. Fidelity and perseverance in doing good brings joy, even if not always immediately.

 

If we are to experience the joy of love, we must also be generous. We cannot be content to give the minimum. We need to be fully committed in life and to pay particular attention to those in need. The world needs men and women who are competent and generous, willing to be at the service of the common good. Make every effort to study conscientiously, to develop your talents and to put them at the service of others even now. Find ways to help make society more just and humane wherever you happen to be. May your entire life be guided by a spirit of service and not by the pursuit of power, material success and money.

 

Speaking of generosity, I would like to mention one particular joy. It is the joy we feel when we respond to the vocation to give our whole life to the Lord. Dear young people, do not be afraid if Christ is calling you to the religious, monastic or missionary life or to the priesthood. Be assured that he fills with joy all those who respond to his invitation to leave everything to be with him and to devote themselves with undivided heart to the service of others. In the same way, God gives great joy to men and women who give themselves totally to one another in marriage in order to build a family and to be signs of Christ’s love for the Church.

 

Let me remind you of a third element that will lead you to the joy of love. It is allowing fraternal love to grow in your lives and in those of your communities. There is a close bond between communion and joy. It is not by chance that Saint Paul’s exhortation: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4) is written in the plural, addressing the community as a whole, rather than its individual members. Only when we are together in the communion of fellowship do we experience this joy. In the Acts of the Apostles, the first Christian community is described in these words: “Breaking bread in their homes, they ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart” (Acts2:46). I ask you to make every effort to help our Christian communities to be special places of sharing, attention and concern for one another.

Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagi...

Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 5. The joy of conversion

 

Dear friends, experiencing real joy also means recognizing the temptations that lead us away from it. Our present-day culture often pressures us to seek immediate goals, achievements and pleasures. It fosters fickleness more than perseverance, hard work and fidelity to commitments. The messages it sends push a consumerist mentality and promise false happiness. Experience teaches us that possessions do not ensure happiness. How many people are surrounded by material possessions yet their lives are filled with despair, sadness and emptiness! To have lasting joy we need to live in love and truth. We need to live in God.

 

God wants us to be happy. That is why he gave us specific directions for the journey of life: the commandments. If we observe them, we will find the path to life and happiness. At first glance, they might seem to be a list of prohibitions and an obstacle to our freedom. But if we study them more closely, we see in the light of Christ’s message that the commandments are a set of essential and valuable rules leading to a happy life in accordance with God’s plan. How often, on the other hand, do we see that choosing to build our lives apart from God and his will brings disappointment, sadness and a sense of failure. The experience of sin, which is the refusal to follow God and an affront to his friendship, brings gloom into our hearts.

 

At times the path of the Christian life is not easy, and being faithful to the Lord’s love presents obstacles; occasionally we fall. Yet God in his mercy never abandons us; he always offers us the possibility of returning to him, being reconciled with him and experiencing the joy of his love which forgives and welcomes us back.

 

Dear young people, have frequent recourse to the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation! It is the sacrament of joy rediscovered. Ask the Holy Spirit for the light needed to acknowledge your sinfulness and to ask for God’s forgiveness. Celebrate this sacrament regularly, with serenity and trust. The Lord will always open his arms to you. He will purify you and bring you into his joy: for there is joy in heaven even for one sinner who repents (cf. Lk 15:7).

 

 

6. Joy at times of trial

 

In the end, though, we might still wonder in our hearts whether it is really possible to live joyfully amid all life’s trials, especially those which are most tragic and mysterious. We wonder whether following the Lord and putting our trust in him will always bring happiness.

 

We can find an answer in some of the experiences of young people like yourselves who have found in Christ the light that can give strength and hope even in difficult situations. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925) experienced many trials during his short life, including a romantic experience that left him deeply hurt. In the midst of this situation he wrote to his sister: “You ask me if I am happy. How could I not be? As long as faith gives me strength, I am happy. A Catholic could not be other than happy… The goal for which we were created involves a path which has its thorns, but it is not a sad path. It is joy, even when it involves pain” (Letter to his sister Luciana, Turin, 14 February 1925). When Blessed John Paul II presented Blessed Pier Giorgio as a model for young people, he described him as “a young person with infectious joy, the joy that overcame many difficulties in his life” (Address to Young People, Turin, 13 April 1980).

 

Closer to us in time is Chiara Badano (1971-1990), who was recently beatified. She experienced how pain could be transfigured by love and mysteriously steeped in joy. At the age of eighteen, while suffering greatly from cancer, Chiara prayed to the Holy Spirit and interceded for the young people of the movement to which she belonged. As well as praying for her own cure, she asked God to enlighten all those young people by his Spirit and to give them wisdom and light. “It was really a moment of God’s presence. I was suffering physically, but my soul was singing” (Letter to Chiara Lubich, Sassello, 20 December 1989). The key to her peace and joy was her complete trust in the Lord and the acceptance of her illness as a mysterious expression of his will for her sake and that of everyone. She often said: “Jesus, if you desire it, then I desire it too”.

 

These are just two testimonies taken from any number of others which show that authentic Christians are never despairing or sad, not even when faced with difficult trials. They show that Christian joy is not a flight from reality, but a supernatural power that helps us to deal with the challenges of daily life. We know that the crucified and risen Christ is here with us and that he is a faithful friend always. When we share in his sufferings, we also share in his glory. With him and in him, suffering is transformed into love. And there we find joy (cf. Col1:24).

Virgin Mary and Jesus, old Persian miniature. ...

Virgin Mary and Jesus, old Persian miniature. In Islam, they are called Maryam and Isa. NOTE: See discussion page before using (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

7. Witnesses of joy

 

Dear friends, to conclude I would encourage you to be missionaries of joy. We cannot be happy if others are not. Joy has to be shared. Go and tell other young people about your joy at finding the precious treasure which is Jesus himself. We cannot keep the joy of faith to ourselves. If we are to keep it, we must give it away. Saint John said: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; we are writing this so that our joy may be complete” (1 Jn 1:3-4).

 

Christianity is sometimes depicted as a way of life that stifles our freedom and goes against our desires for happiness and joy. But this is far from the truth. Christians are men and women who are truly happy because they know that they are not alone. They know that God is always holding them in his hands. It is up to you, young followers of Christ, to show the world that faith brings happiness and a joy which is true, full and enduring. If the way Christians live at times appears dull and boring, you should be the first to show the joyful and happy side of faith. The Gospel is the “good news” that God loves us and that each of us is important to him. Show the world that this is true!

 

Be enthusiastic witnesses of the new evangelization! Go to those who are suffering and those who are searching, and give them the joy that Jesus wants to bestow. Bring it to your families, your schools and universities, and your workplaces and your friends, wherever you live. You will see how it is contagious. You will receive a hundredfold: the joy of salvation for yourselves, and the joy of seeing God’s mercy at work in the hearts of others. And when you go to meet the Lord on that last day, you will hear him say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Come, share your master’s joy” (Mt 25:21).

 

May the Blessed Virgin Mary accompany you on this journey. She welcomed the Lord within herself and proclaimed this in a song of praise and joy, the Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:46-47). Mary responded fully to God’s love by devoting her life to him in humble and complete service. She is invoked as “Cause of our Joy” because she gave us Jesus. May she lead you to that joy which no one will ever be able to take away from you!

 

From the Vatican, 15 March 2012

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

 

DIRECT LINK : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/youth/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20120315_youth_en.html

 

 

© Copyright 2012 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

Dominic & Mary McGlinchey Commemoration

Dominic & Mary McGlinchey Commemoration

Saturday, 7 April 2012
  • 18:00
  • Deer Park Road Bellaghy Co. Derry
  • The Dominic and Mary McGlinchey Memorial Committee is organising a commemorative parade and wreath laying ceremony on Saturday 7th April 2012.  This year is of particular poignancy as it is 25 years since the murder of Mary. The parade will start from Deerpark Road, Bell…aghy at 6:00p.m. A family headstone is to be unveiled with wreaths being laid on behalf of the family, friends and comrades of Dominic and Mary. A friend of the family will then speak on the reasons for gathering, commemorating the past and working towards future unity. The attendance of your organisation is welcomed and banners are encouraged on the parade. It is respectfully asked that banners are not displayed within the grounds of the cemetery. IRISH NIGHT TO FOLLOW IN BELLAGHY GAA CLUB COMMENCING AT 9:00PM MUSIC SUPPLIED BY FLIGHT OF THE EARLS TICKETS £5 FLUTE BANDS TAKING PART IN THE COMMEMORATION AND ATTENDING THE IRISH NIGHT WILL BE;   PARKHEAD REPUBLICAN FLUTE BAND GLASGOW   ÉIRE ÓG REPUBLICAN FLUTE BAND GLASGOW PHOENIX REPUBLICAN FLUTE BAND KEVIN LYNCH‘S REPUBLICAN  FLUTE BAND DUNGIVEN PORTADOWN REPUBLICAN FLUTE BAND
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