Christmas Newsletter 2020

Christmas Message, In Memoriam, Remembrance Tree, First Holy Communion, Christmas Dues, Banogue & Croom Schools, Christmas Mass Arrangements, Message to Limerick Hurlers

The ‘Man who never was’ was a successful and true wartime film released in 1956. It centred around a man who was washed ashore on the coast of Spain in 1943. When the body was found by fishermen it was presumed that he was an English admiral because of a briefcase attached to his body. The briefcase found its way to the German authorities and the contents of the case led them to believe that the Allies were planning to attack Sardinia and Greece. But in fact the Allies carried out an unopposed mission in Sicily. The briefcase had been planted by the British on the unidentified dead body and he became known as the ‘Man who never was’. Likewise 2020 will be regarded by so many people in our world as the ‘Year that never was’. A virus that was a thousand times smaller than a grain of sand exposed how delicate life can be. The world was effectively closed down because of the pandemic. Worldwide travel was virtually non-existent. No one could have predicted that a virus could bring the world to a standstill and cause widespread death and infection. We move around at arm’s length and hide ourselves behind masks. Such an idea would have seemed preposterous last Christmas. But it has come to pass, not to mention the wholesale restrictions and disruption that have come about and are regarded as the new normal. As a result so many things about Christmas will not be the same this year. There will be less seated around the Christmas dinner table because of missing family members from abroad or much nearer home. The joyful family reunions at our airports will have to be put on hold while most of the world’s population will have missed out on so much in 2020.
But the important sad fact about the past year is that by Christmas up to 140,000 people will have contracted the Coronavirus in the island of Ireland and almost 3200 citizens will have died because of that illness. It has been a traumatic time for all those who have been bereaved this year. In many cases it was doctors and nurses who became the substitute family members for those taking their last breath. There was not a proper goodbye or the comfort and consolation of a traditional funeral. Christmas will be a harrowing time for all the bereaved and especially those who have mourned Covid victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time of year. But the Covid restrictions have claimed many other casualties. How many have become unemployed? How many businesses will close down or fold up altogether? How will the economy recover? We are all too well aware of the effects of the lockdowns in the ordinary day to day living of our citizens. Our schools were in lockdown for nearly six months. Teachers and parents had to adapt to a new type of schooling. Grandparents had to cocoon; in other words to withdraw from their ‘normal’ world. They felt lonely and alone; living and adjusting without the visits of grandchildren and missing the usual social interaction with their friends and neighbours. They were made to feel more vulnerable than they really were. Pope Francis wrote about it. He said that if you honour the old you will save the young. Residents in our nursing homes felt socially abandoned because of the necessary restrictions that saved many lives but brought about a high degree of mental stress. Christmas is the opportune time to once again pay tribute to all our front line workers who take risks that most of us did not have to take. We are inspired by their bravery and sense of duty. Our thanks is also due to all our essential workers in their different capacities and professions.
But as we look back we also think of the saving graces that the Pandemic has brought about. It has been a wake-up call that has brought us back to reality. The virus laid bare and exposed us to the fragility all around us. It brought into sharper focus the fragility of our planet that we see through melting glaciers, burning forests and now the current pandemic. The reality is that the world is now a hotter place than it ever was. We all see the need for a better environment that produces cleaner air, clean water, green spaces and a wholesome mental and physical health. Change is needed but we know that it is possible. During this Pandemic nature has come back into our lives. We have had more time to appreciate the glory and beauty of nature. Garden centres and hardware stores were never as popular as last Spring. There was never so much creativity in our gardens, lawns, homes and kitchens. We took greater care of our physical health and we felt that the natural world was a better place to live in.
We rediscovered the real values of life, the value of what we hold in common. We have seen the results of sacrificing personal freedom for the sake of others. Fear and division between peoples and nations have been put aside in favour of the common good, which is ultimately based on the values of Christmas to promote a kingdom of love, peace, justice and truth. We approach the Christmas of 2020 in a better frame of mind because of the expectation of a vaccine being rolled out in the near future. But we always need to celebrate the beauty and above all the gift of Christmas. We know that there are many layers to the Christmas celebrations that can easily overburden us. Some politicians have spoken about a meaningful Christmas. Others have spoken about saving Christmas. Others again in the past promoted the idea of doing away with Christmas altogether. Our recent experiences have shown that this is unthinkable. It all brings us back to the heart of what Christmas is all about. Christmas by its nature means that the world and its peoples have already been saved. “Christ our Saviour has come.” We celebrate the birthday of Jesus and that is a birthday worth celebrating. We celebrate love, peace and goodwill. That is the core message and invitation for all of us. The Pandemic crisis brings clarity to life. On September 11th, 20 years ago next September, we are all aware that the Twin Towers in New York were destroyed by two hijacked planes. On one of those planes many of the doomed passengers sent messages to family and friends. Virtually all messages spoke about love, affection and apology. People suddenly realised that their personal relationships mattered far more than any other occupations and interests. There are three things that last; faith, hope and love. These are what we celebrate at Christmastime and more so this year. Christ is God’s gift for us all. We are all together as one. We are all God’s children and God’s family. Because of that we are all linked together as one. That truth was never so evident as it was this past year. As the health slogan reminds us; ‘We are all in this together’.

So this Christmas let us celebrate other people as a gift to us. Let us also celebrate their presence whether they are at home or far away. Whether as children, teenagers, parents or grandparents. We all can play a part in creating a true Christmas atmosphere in promoting the goodwill and love that comes from God above. We celebrate the birthday of the Son of God, the source of that goodwill and love. May we all have that spirit of peace, hope and love this Christmastime that can guide us through the difficult months ahead.

In Memoriam

We think of those who have died in 2020, also parishioners who have died elsewhere.

Anna Moloney, Skagh Michael O’Brien, Church Road
Mary O’Rourke, Ballinahoun John Morrissey, Caherdavin
Stephen Cregan, Caherass Pat Mangan, Elm Park
Michael Downey, Church Road Michael Lucy, Church Road
Ellen Geaney, Ploughlands Teresa Daly, Toureen

Bridget Griffin, Limerick, late of Liskennett Tom Biggane, Ballyculleen
Ger Scully, Ballyphilip Mary Cagney, Morenane
Jack Scanlon, Adare, late of Banogue Liam Chawke, San Francisco, late of Dohora
Peggy O’Gorman, Limerick, late of Banogue Sr Margaret Hickey, Dublin, late of Banogue

May They Rest In Peace
We think of those who died because of the Coronavirus. We think of all the bereaved during 2020. It has been a traumatic year for them and again this Christmas when painful and sad circumstances are revisited. May they find healing and strength.

Remembrance Tree
One of the features of the Christmas decorations is the Remembrance tree in Croom Church. You are invited to write down the name of a family member(s) living abroad on one of the tags provided and place it on the tree. This Christmas more than ever our thoughts are with family members living abroad and who will not be home. Also they have been denied the opportunity of attending the special family occasions such as funerals and weddings. It will be an emotional and lonely time for all our emigrants and we stand in solidarity with them this Christmastime.
Prayer for Emigrants
Bless all those who have left our country and now live in other lands.
Give them a strong faith so that they will always put their trust in you and make you known by the example of their lives.
Console those who are lonely because they are separated from those they love.
Help all missionaries who are working far from home to make your love known.
Bless our people overseas who are sick or in prison.
We pray for foreigners living in our country that they may experience our hospitality.
Grant your eternal welcome to our emigrants who have died and to all the dead. Amen

First Holy Communion Ceremonies
The First Holy Communion Ceremonies were delayed this year because of Covid and took place in September. Our thanks to the principals, teachers and parents for their co-operation. Our congratulations to the children who received their First Holy Communion.

Croom: Lukas Grismanauskas, Matas Grismanauskas, Kayla Shinners, Leah Moloney, Lacie Mulcahy, Siún Galvin, Maggie Naughton, Isabelle Lawlor, Noah Ingle, Padraic Noonan, Jackson Moloney, Feidhlim Hughes, Aiden O’Brien, Lexi Higgiston Stanford, Ryan Twomey, Ella O’Dea, John Shanahan, James Quain, Finn John Daly, Matthew O’Reilly, Eoghan O’Brien, Bobby Hayes, Lilly Reynolds, Cadhla Reidy, Alex Kaszuba, Kayden Scott Buston, Callum Moloney.

Banogue: Ryan O’Connor, Kyle Morrissey, Martin O’Driscoll, Jayden Healy, Emilia Fox O’Connor, Bobbi Roche, Katie Sheahan.

Christmas Dues
The Christmas Dues Collection will be taken up at all Masses this Christmas. Collection boxes are placed inside the doors of our churches. There are extra envelopes at the back of the churches. We thank all those who contribute to the offertory collections for the upkeep of both Banogue and Croom Churches. On the Croom parish website there is an opportunity to donate if you so wish and this would be greatly appreciated. To use this feature, press the ‘Donate’ button at the top of the website and input the amount you would like to donate. Click the ‘Donate’ or ‘Donate with a Card’ button underneath the amount of money, then input your card/PayPal details. The amount you selected will then be transferred to your church through the website. We thank all our volunteers who are actively involved in the work and activities of the church in Banogue and Croom and also acknowledge the contribution of so many in the different groups and organisations in both parishes.

Schools in Banogue and Croom
Both Banogue and Croom parishes continue to grow and develop. This is reflected in the growth of Banogue and Croom Primary Schools. Banogue Creche and After School Services continue to expand and increase. The new state of the art secondary school in Coláiste Chiaran will be opening its doors for new students in the New Year. Also the Department of Education has approved an extension to St Mary’s Primary School, Croom and hopefully this will be constructed as quickly as possible.

Christmas Arrangements
As you are all aware we have to abide by the guidelines for the celebration of Christmas Masses in regard to the numbers attending. Many parishes are putting on additional Masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that those wishing to attend can do so in a safe and orderly way. There are restrictions in regards to choirs and community singing but otherwise there can be a memorable celebration and experience of Christmas Mass. Christmas Carols will be played over the sound system. The Masses will be streamed live by accessing and scrolling down to the Croom and Banogue Churches Webcam. In particular this Christmas we want to link up with family members abroad. They can access the Masses here in Croom and Banogue over the Christmas period so that we can have a sense of solidarity with them as family and parish community. The following are the times of the Christmas Masses.
Banogue – Christmas Eve 24th December – 2pm, 4pm, 6pm.
Banogue – Christmas Day – 9am, 11am.
Croom – Christmas Eve 24th December – 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm.
Croom – Christmas Day – 9.30am, 11.30am.

Numbers will necessarily be limited at these Masses due to social distancing. In Croom and Banogue with three different sections in the churches and with different entrances it should be possible to accommodate up to 140 people in Croom. In Banogue the numbers will be limited to 80 people maximum.
During the Christmas season there will be an opportunity to visit the Crib. Again we stress the need for social distancing at all times.

First Holy Communion: Croom – Saturday May 8th 2021, 11.00 am
Banogue, Saturday May 15th 2021, 11.00 am.

The date for the Confirmation will hopefully be available early in January.

Limerick Hurlers
We congratulate the Limerick hurlers as the new
All – Ireland hurling champions.
Their victory will be a treasured early
Christmas present for all Limerick people everywhere.
Luimneach Abú!


We wish all the parishioners of Banogue and Croom at home and abroad a happy and peaceful Christmas

Rev. Eamonn O’Brien Canon Willie Fitzmaurice

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