He is going to Portlaoise & Ballyfin. Today is his last service at St. Anne’s Church in Shandon. He will be missed by me, our eight year old and by Nelly, so we plan to attend the service this morning at 10.30.
The first time I heard Rev. Brian O’Rourke, he was really the side show. A few years back, we went to the Jazz Service that is celebrated on the Sunday of the Jazz Festival – we went for the Jazz, not the religion.
As I have rabbited-on before, I have been agnostic for many years. I have passed through the anti-organised religion phase.
I have explained my, very irregular, attendance at St Anne’s as giving up an hour for some contemplative time. Of this approx. 20 minutes is of religious readings and ceremony, which is probably the main reason for many to attend but not me.
There is about twenty minutes of songs which do start to balance the scales in my enjoyment of the hour.
The final twenty minutes are the sermon. Sometimes this is a repeat of the content of the readings and so disrupts the balance of my scales. This I relate to the Classroom-style where the message is repeated and repeated – similar to what I heard for years growing up and generally hear when attending religious services.
It may be my particular position in life – both in terms of age and also having to persevere through the Celtic Corpse with its stench effects still a daily issue – but the method of expressing concern for others and community, catholic with a small c, used in these sermons have found a listening and welcome ear.
As the Vision Statement says ‘Whoever you are and where ever you are on your journey in faith you are welcome in this place’, I have been back. We have enjoyed a few Jazz Services. I learned what IDAHO stands for at a celebration service. I have been welcomed.
We have attended a number of masses in the past year as our 8 year old is due to take First Communion in the Roman Catholic faith in May. For all bar 5 days of those eight years, Nelly had been a constant companion. Nelly is a soft-toy comforter. Nelly is close to threadbare after years of rubbing.
Nelly has accompanied our eight year old to the altar at Communion where a blessing is given. In the many churches, only one priest has blessed Nelly as well as the child. Only Brian O’Rourke had the willingness to take time out to connect with an eight year old and so positively influence the future decision-making process on what religious path may be taken.
It may not have been a factor in the selection process of the interviewing committee at the Portlaoise & Ballyfin Union, but their congregations may increase with some agnostics; some eight year olds; and even, a Nelly or two.
Ballyfin has gained at Cork’s expense.