Newsletter- Summer 2021

Posted on Posted in Weekly Bulletin

God in all things                                                               

by Maura Dee

“There is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things.” (Laudato Si, # 233)

Thanks to the efforts of our gardening volunteers and a generous donation of flowers from Dublin City Council, our planters at the front of the Church are looking very colourful. As well as a gesture to welcome parishioners back to Mass, the volunteers wanted the scheme to include pollinator-friendly plants to support urban biodiversity and edible plants to acknowledge the food nature provides. An olive tree was planted after the first Fr John Sullivan Mass with a prayer for peace and healing. One of the volunteers said “when I can’t find meaning in my life and am stressed, working in the garden helps me feel calm and find hope. I thank God for that”.

Comings and goings

Summer 2021 sees many goings and comings Fr. Gerry Clarke is finishing as Parish Priest at the end of July and Fr. Richard O’Dwyer steps into this role. But not immediately, as Fr. Richard will be recovering from a hospital procedure so the team is looking at possibilities to bridge the gap.  Fr. Gerry says: “Six really wonderful years at Gardiner Street leaves me sad to move on but very consoled with all the life and growth that has happened in the parish. COVID has been dreadful but we kept afloat and people have been loyal and very supportive. So, while I hate goodbyes I move north with a heart full of memories, people, celebration and prayer”.

Fr. Leszek has been called back to Poland for his final year’s training called “Tertianship”.  “Two years has been too short” he says, but he hands over the Polish ministry to an experienced colleague Fr. Krzysztof Mądel whom we welcome in the Autumn. The hope is that he’ll be allowed to bring his bicycle to Tertianship, a bicycle much seen on the Dublin hills these last two years.

And finally, after many good years at Gardiner Street Fr. Jake Martin returns full time to the US. He’s been celebrating the Gospel Mass online from Milwaukee and takes up a full time role teaching film at  Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Thank you Jake for all you’ve brought.

And thank you all.

Launching of the Ignatian Year. 2oth May 2021

The motto chosen for the Ignatian Year now beginning reads: To See All Things New in Christ. These powerful words have already been translated into many languages around the world. Hopefully they will become imprinted on our own hearts. They remind us that the aim of celebrating an Ignatian Year is to bring us closer to Christ rather than to Ignatius Loyola. This is important to bear in mind at a time when we will be hearing a lot about Ignatius himself – his personality, his life-story, his writings, and his legacy. But we will only speak about Ignatius, so that we may learn more about Christ.

Towards the end of his life, when Ignatius dictated what is often called his autobiography, he was responding to requests from fellow-Jesuits that he tell “how the Lord had guided him since the beginning of his conversion”. The story they were looking for was to be primarily about “the Lord” – Christ – rather than about Ignatius. Christ was to be at its centre — guiding, inspiring, urging Ignatius on. We could say that Christ is the main protagonist in the story.

Opening words of Fr. Leonard’s Homily delivered at the Mass to launch Ignatius 500 Thursday 20th May 2021. Fr. Leonard is Provincial of the Jesuits in Ireland.

+D. Farrell & Fr. L.Moloney

Archbishop Dermot Farrell asked some searching questions during his celebration of the Mass to launch “Ignatius 500”: a year to celebrate 500 years since the conversion of St Ignatius:

“It is difficult for me to ascertain my own needs, to cut through the self-delusions and blindness I harbour when it comes to myself.   Under these circumstances, to say to Jesus, “I want to see,” seems not only bold but brave.  Do I really want to be pulled out of a comfortable darkness into light?  Do I really want to see the world as it is, and myself as I am? You can only meet God when you are broken, not on equal terms.  God is in every situation and where He is there is joy, there is hope, there is light.”

The beginning            

Sr Jolanta Kafka, Claretian Missionary

An extract from Sr. Jolanta’s Prologue to “Walking with Ignatius”, Arturo Sosa in conversation with  Darío Menor (2021)

“I don’t know if you have ever had the chance to visit the magnificent church of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona. I have often been there retracing the steps of Father Claret, the founder of my congregation. Occasionally he preached there. But I also found another hidden treasure, one of several squirrelled away there. On the step of one of the last side chapels on the left, I found a small plaque. This was years ago, it was scarcely legible, but it said something along the lines of, “This is where St. Ignatius used to sit, begging for alms.” Father Ignatius, here? In this corner of the Church? Begging for alms.” I couldn’t quite get my head round this.  It certainly didn’t fit with the mental image I had of St Ignatius. But, yes, it was him alright. Ignatius had begged for alms to survive. to share among the poor, to fund his journey to Paris. This was during the pilgrim’s first phase of conversion, as he sought ways to serve God in his Church: an experience of being stripped from the inside out, amid the poverty he shared with the poor, amid his dreams of studies that would shed light on his faith.

In more recent times, a statue of St Ignatius that expresses this inner emptying has been placed in the chapel. It speaks of his experience, of that internal need to make the self a passive space for God so as to find him, to follow him, to serve him in our brothers and sisters. If you ever have the chance to go, sit down next to that statue. Now see things from its perspective.”

Sister Jolanta is the President of the International Union of Superiors General

Sacred Heart Novena

by Christine Halloran

Saint Francis Xavier’s church was a sight to behold over this year’s 9-day Novena (3rd-11th June) to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  While the high altar and the Sacred Heart Shrine set aglow by the gentle light created from hundreds of flickering candles, the scent of fresh flowers permeated the air from the front steps of the church to the sacred church Sanctuary and it welcomed parishioners back to a church whose doors had been locked since late December of last year.  This year’s novena was a blended experience where a congregation of up to 85 people were warmly welcomed back into the church and were joined by an online congregation following the Novena via the parish webcam and Facebook.

In keeping with the Ignatius 500 celebration year the overall theme for this year’s novena was Conversion. In light of this each of the chosen preachers was asked to focus their homilies on one of the three-fold structures surrounding St. Ignatius’ conversion experience.  Therefore, Sr. Aileen Murphy RLR was asked to  talk about  the experience of Devastation (Pamplona), Fr. Gerry Clarke SJ explored the journey of Recuperation (Loyola) and Ms. Carol Barry tailored her homilies to the theme of Reorientation (Manresa).

Bloomsday at SFX


A reflective quorum of a dozen souls circled round an Actor on a high stool under the church portico to hear him read James Joyce’ Ulysses descriptive of Father Conmee SJ’s excursion from SFX  Church on the famous June 16th 1904. The spectacle of a low-key dramatic event drew sidelong glances of motorists slowing as they passed. The listeners gathered in closer & closer to catch the gentle & affectionate delivery of the thought processes of Father Conmee musing about the terrible waste of all the lost souls.  The steps of SFX with its classical stonework, handsome railings and gorgeous floral planters formed a perfect stage for our theatrical commemoration. It seemed amazing that all these years later, Jesuit personalities still dwell here, sally forth and muse like Father Conmee on faith and salvation. 

Inigo … tech entrepreneur          

by Callum Douglas

For the last few weeks Sixth Class at Gardiner St. Primary School have been learning about Iñigo of Loyola, the colourful young man who would go on to become St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus. We were impressed by his ambition and drive, and though his desire to be a famous and successful soldier doesn’t apply so much to our time, we came to see it as the 16th-Century equivalent of aspiring to be a pop star or tech entrepreneur. 

The fact that Iñigo underwent dangerous, painful surgery to make his leg look nicer made an impression too – he was brave and knew what he wanted, but what he wanted was perhaps poorly thought-through. He himself realised that his truest desires were quite different to those absorbing him so far in his life. Contrasting the lives of the saints with Romance tales of knights and ladies, which we paralleled with the lives of modern celebrities, as opposed to those of activists or frontline workers, led Iñigo to his famous self-realisation. We were glad to learn a little bit about the origin of the Jesuits and will remember the brave way Iñigo looked inwards during his own long isolation.

In-person gatherings back at ISP  

by Eddie Cosgrove SJ

The Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP), runs retreats and spiritual accompaniment gatherings for people in recovery from homelessness and addiction, building connection, community, and hope.

“It was wonderful to meet in person again, share our journeys with each other, and enjoy some pizza!”, reports Fr Eddie Cosgrove, now based at the Gardiner Street Jesuit Community.

“On this occasion it was the men’s group who met. Via the ISP Journey app, we used the Reflecting Our Light meditation as a way to help us encounter God’s love, hope and healing.”

ISP is run solely by volunteers. Please pray for this project as we begin again to reach out to hostels and prepare for overnight retreats and on-going spiritual accompaniment.

Church renovation                        

by Fr. R.O’Dwyer SJ

Dunwoody and Dobson, our building Contractors for the renovation work of the Church Roof, Walls, Windows and Guttering & Pipework are in the process of scaffolding the entire Church building.  When the scaffolding is place construction crews will be able to work safely and simultaneously on the roof, the walls and the windows. 

Dunwoody and Dobson have a great deal of experience and expertise in the restoration and renovation of older buildings and we have every confidence that they will carry out the work to the required high standard.

There is a lot of work to be done and it needs to be done with a great deal of care and attention to preserve and indeed enhance our beautiful church for all who worship here presently and for future generations.

The projected timeline for the restoration is 9 to 10 months so we hope the work will be completed by Easter 2022. 

The Best Catholics in the World            

by Fr. Gerry Clarke SJ

Derek Scally’s book “The Best Catholics in the World: The Irish, the Church and the End of a Special Relationship” is a tough but page-turning read for any Irish person. Every page of it is familiar to those who have lived the last twenty years in this country Scally argues that the dreadful story of abuse and neglect challenges the Irish people to gently embrace our Catholic past without moralistic finger-pointing.

The Irish Times Germany correspondent brings the perspective of post-War Germany to recent Irish history and argues against isolating the church as guilty without facing the part society played.

Meanwhile, the regular training offered by Garry Kehoe of   Diocesan Safeguarding offers “Good News” for volunteers, priests and everyone involved in parish. There are policies and procedures which ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults in all our pastoral activities. A sample of these: All parish clergy, staff and volunteers will:

Treat all people with justice and respect

Encourage everyone to contribute to parish life

Listen to and respect the views of others

Respect people’s personal boundaries

Encourage people to speak openly about anything that may be worrying them

Operate in accordance with the diocesan safeguarding policy

Cooperate with our fellow workers.

Cruinniú na nÓg                                      

by Cathy McEvoy

Gardiner Street Gospel Choir, along with the GSGC Junior Choir and other young singers from all over Ireland, are creating a special Virtual Choir for Cruinniú na nÓg on June 12th. Cruinniú na nÓg is a day of creativity for young people, taking place throughout the country, all in the online world this year. Cathy and Michael, the leaders of the two choirs, have prepared a series of tutorial videos to enable the young singers at home to learn the super energetic song “Best Day of my Life” by American Authors, all thanks to the generous support of Dublin City Council and Creative Ireland,

At the time of the time of writing, the young participants – and the ‘young at heart’ members of Gardiner Street Gospel Choir’s adult wing! – are busy recording their own home videos to be knitted together by Chris Kelly, GSGC’s talented video magician, who will turn them all into an amazing Virtual Choir, performing ‘together’, separately.  Watch out for publication on GSGC’s YouTube channel on June 12th.

A Polish field hospital!                  

by Fr. Leszek Wilczak SJ

The Polish community of the Gardiner Street parish returned to its usual functioning after pandemic break.

Pope Francis’s vision of the Church as a field hospital has never been more accurate than today.

Although our first meeting was mostly full of happiness and gratitude, we’ve also felt the absence of those who decided to leave Ireland or even leave the Church. But as in a field hospital there is no time to dwell in the past. We need to act and help to heal the wounds of those who decided to stay. It’s wonderful to see how they are still dedicated and enthusiastic, ready to contribute and get involved.

New ideas were born, old ones have been resurrected. Every Tuesday the Legion of Mary meets to pray and help people in different kinds of need. In Ballymun parish a new group came to life and have already organized two worship evenings.

Still facing pandemic difficulties, we are trying to remember Pope Francis logic and hopefully ease his worries about Church at least a little.

Parish Study Group: From Sacks to Barton

by Sonia Obregon

Gardiner Street Book Club began in summer 2018 and has not stopped since. Not even the pandemic prevented our book-clubbers gathering for spiritual and faith related readings. On the contrary, level five restrictions and Zoom were an opportunity to welcome people who, otherwise, couldn’t have joined us.

After several months on Rabbi Sack’s book “Morality” we started something completely different; John Barton’s book: “A History of the Bible”.  From November 2020 to April 2021 clubbers from all over Ireland, such as Belfast and Athlone, met every Wednesday to discuss each of the 24 chapters of this challenging and thought-provoking book. The author joined us for the last meeting, thus closing with a flourish.

Reading Barton in depth was certainly a challenge for many of us in the group; not only because of the abundance of information it contains and because it deals with technical aspects of biblical studies that were completely new to us, but especially because it addresses many common preconceptions about the Bible we have as lay readers. However, with the help of other more knowledgeable members of the group, we overcame these challenges.

For me Barton’s book was an opportunity to find answers to many questions I had as a layperson reading the Bible.  Learning more deeply about its history and its use helped me appreciate it more and, certainly, grow in faith.

Spirituality in Springtime              

by Christine Halloran

Following our Autumn Series of Coffee Mornings, the parish team decided to offer another series of workshops to the now well-established online parish community!  The series entitled Springtime Spirituality, ran over four Saturday mornings in February. 

Each Saturday morning saw up to 40 participants on Zoom, with tea or coffee in hand, they sat back in the comfort of their own homes and listened while speakers offered emotional, psychological, and spiritual nourishment during the on-going difficult months of “lockdown”. Through the mediums of PowerPoint, meditation, music, poetry, prayer, and group sharing, participants were guided through carefully chosen topics to help in what were very challenging days and months.  Brendan McManus SJ offered tips for mental health and resilience during a time of crisis.  Michelle Russell offered a means of support in worrying times through exploration of the Serenity Prayer while Christine Halloran invited participants to view the Coronavirus pandemic through a new lens, that of personal crisis.  Feminist theologian and lecturer, Grainne Doherty, facilitated the final session in which she explored (in light of the Coronavirus pandemic) the scripture passage “when the doors were locked, Jesus came and said, ‘Peace be with you’” (Jn 20:19).

Hello Gardiner Street Community ..      

by Jake Martin SJ

I’m missing you all very much and am looking forward to returning to Dublin (and SFX) on July 15, God willing!  I will be back for a couple of months to complete and submit my doctoral dissertation at Trinity and then I will return to the States sometime in the Autumn.  Depending on conditions, I might return to Dublin in the Winter to defend my dissertation.  However, I will need to be back in the U.S. by January, as I will begin my position as Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.  If you don’t know where Omaha is, don’t worry, neither did I!  Basically, if you look at a map of the USA it’s almost exactly in the middle.  I’m excited to begin this new phase of my Jesuit life, but will miss you all dearly, though I hope that I will be able to visit often.  Anyways, I’m very much looking forward to seeing you all soon!  All my best, Jake.

Holy Week Film Festival                              

by Aidan Seery

One of the ways in which St. Ignatius suggests that we pray is what is called ‘the application of the senses’. We use our senses to see people in scenes in scripture, to hear what they say, to touch them, to smell the surroundings, and to be truly present. Ignatius trusts our human senses to bring us closer to the Lord! For me, The Holy Week Film Festival this year, led by Fr. Jake Martin SJ, follows in this Ignatian tradition of seeing and hearing, this time in order to connect more closely with the scenes and events of this great Week.

We had a short festival of three  films of different times and genres, but each drew us into an aspect of the enormous humanity but also divine presence of the story of suffering, dying, and rising to new life. My lasting impression is of the ways in which each of the main characters of these films found new life, new loving, new creativity, and new service to others in their own ‘resurrections’. Jake did a wonderful job guiding the conversation, gathering diverse and often critical views and forging a little, temporary, community of engaged film viewers who listened to one another, laughed a lot together, and I think thoroughly enjoyed the great range of views expressed.

If we can keep our guide, I look forward to the next Festival and hope that we can expand our little group and develop this creative way enriching our gospel lives.

Mixed feelings about the year                   

by Callum Douglas

The Faber Tapirs had mixed feelings about this year and the time spent away from school: 

Staying at home was nice because we got to sleep in, but it is definitely easier to learn in school. Home was more relaxing because there are so many rules at school, which can be stressful, but getting to see our friends makes a big difference. Sometimes school can feel repetitive, whereas at home you could work in your own way, although the teachers often didn’t know if you did work…

And the prospect of moving schools brought up similarly varied emotions:

We expect secondary to be scary and hard, but are also excited about being closer to adulthood. It feels weird to be finishing so soon, but we’re mostly ready to be done and to move to secondary.

Everything will be different – we look forward to there being more people and making new friends, as well as new subjects and learning more with computers or iPads, since typing is easier than writing. But we’ll miss all the games here, the little jobs, the garden, and especially our friends.

Ignatius 500 on the beach


“Until the age of twenty-six he was a man given up to the vanities of the world, and his chief delight used to be in the exercise of arms, with a great and vain desire to gain honour.” These are the words Ignatius dictated as he drew towards the end of his life in Rome. His early companions were keen to understand his personal story because they felt it held the secret of the Jesuit charism and every Jesuit and Ignatian vocation. One of these companions pestered him to dictate his story, and this became what is called his “Reminiscences” or “Autobiography”.

Gonçalves da Câmara describes Ignatius’s style: “The way which Father has of narrating is that which is his wont in all matters, that is, with such great clarity that it seems he makes everything that happened present to the person.”

The full (short) text is available in St Ignatius of Loyola: Personal Writings in Penguin Classics and makes fascinating reading, even for the beach, this summer. Ignatius 500 is a year to celebrate and explore this story and see how it resonates for us.

Other reads: A Convert’s Story by Patrick Corkery SJ and Alone and on Foot by Brian Grogan SJ

Safeguarding: a time of renewal              

by Sonia Obregon

More than three years have passed since Gardiner Street Parish staff and volunteers re-committed to ensure that everyone is safe in our Church. Following the Diocesan policies, it is time to renew Garda Vetting and training of our Parish Team and, above all, to reiterate our commitment to safeguarding and protection of children and vulnerable adults.

Over the last six months we have been working on the Garda vetting of those who required it (those who were vetted in 2017 and 2018) and our Safeguarding representatives refreshed their training by participating in online training sessions with Garry Kehoe.

Here’s a reminder of some basic concepts: It is generally recognised that there are four categories of child abuse: (1) Neglect, (2) emotional abuse, (3) physical abuse and (4) sexual abuse. When looking at the abuse of vulnerable adults there are three additional categories of abuse to be considered: Financial abuse, discriminatory abuse and institutional abuse.

All concerns, suspicions or allegations of abuse towards children or vulnerable adults within a church setting must be reported. Remember: “Never Do Nothing”

To learn more visit