Tuesday, 23 July 2013

FATHER DES WILSON - A MODEL FOR PRIESTS?

FATHER DES WILSON - A MODEL FOR PRIESTS?


FATHER DES WILSON - BELFAST





RECENTLY POPE FRANCIS HAS BEEN SPEAKING TO PRIESTS AND SEMINARIANS ABOUT WHAT KIND OF PRIESTS THEY SHOULD BE AND WHAT KIND OF LIFESTYLE THEY SHOULD HAVE.


IT STRIKES ME THAT HER IN NORTHERN IRELAND WE HAVE A PRIEST WHO IS A MODEL FOR PRIESTS TO EMULATE - FATHER DES WILSON.

I HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF KNOWING FATHER DES FOR 35 YEARS SINCE COMING TO THE DIOCESE OF DOWN AND CONNOR. 

I CANNOT DESCRIBE MYSELF AS ONE OF FATHER DES' CLOSEST FRIENDS. I WOULD NOT HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE CLOSE FRIEND OF THIS MAN. BUT HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR ME AND HAS NEVER BEEN AFRAID TO BE SEEN WITH ME IN PRIVATE OR IN PUBLIC.

DES AND I HAVE TWO VERY DIFFERENT "MISSIONS" IN LIFE.  MY MISSION IS TO BE A KIND OF A MINI CHURCH REFORMER / CRITIC - EXPRESSING ITSELF IN A DAILY MINISTRY TO "OUTSIDERS" - THE DIVORCED; THE GAY COMMUNITY; PRISONERS AND EVEN OCCASIONALLY TO MODERN DAY "LEPERS" LIKE PAEDOPHILES.

DES' MISSION HAS BEEN VERY DIFFERENT. HIS MISSION IS ABOUT FACILITATING AND BUILDING UP COMMUNITY - IN A PLACE WHERE COMMUNITY WAS VERY DIFFICULT THING TO CREATE OR MAINTAIN. HIS OTHER GREAT PASSION HAS BEEN EDUCATION - ESPECIALLY ADULT EDUCATION AND ON GOING EDUCATION.

I SUPPOSE DES IS ALSO MORE "POLITICAL" THAN I AM. BUT HIS POLITICS IS LIKE A LIBERATION THEOLOGY. HE IS INVOLVED IN POLITICS SO THAT INJUSTICE CAN BE CHALLENGED AND THE SO CALLED "UNDER-CLASS" ENABLED

DES IS NOT REALLY FIRED BY THE ISSUE OF CHURCH REFORM. I THINK THAT A PART OF HIM FEELS THAT THE CHURCH HE AND I BOTH COME FROM IS IRREFORMABLE? I ALSO FEEL THAT HE IS MORE INTERESTED IN ORDINARY STRUGGLING PEOPLE ON A DAILY BASIS RATHER THAN ON STRUCTURES.

BUT HIS "GIVING" IS ASTOUNDING. I REMEMBER WHEN I FIRST CAME TO BELFAST I CALLED TO SEE HIM IN HIS BALLYMURPHY HOUSING EXECUTIVE HOME. I HAD BEEN INVITED FOR LUNCH. THE KITCHEN WAS PACKED. LUNCH WAS MASHED POTATO AND BEANS. AFTER LUNCH WE WENT TO THE SITTING ROOM FOR A CHAT. WE HAD TO LEAVE THERE BECAUSE THE SITTING ROOM WAS NEEDED FOR A CLASS. WE THEN WENT TO DES' TINY BEDROOM AND SAT ON HIS BED. SOONE WE HAD TO LEAVE THERE BECAUSE THE BEDROOM AND VIDEO PLAYED WAS NEEDED FOR ANOTHER CLASS. WE FINISHED OUR CHAT SITTING ON THE WALL OUTSIDE THE HOUSE.


I MARVELLED AT DES' CAPACITY TO SHARE HIS LIFE SO TOTALLY. NOT EVEN HIS BO BEDROOM WAS PRIVATE.

I WOULD NOT HAVE THAT GENEROUSITY IN ME. A PRIEST WHO DOES IS SO VERY SPECIAL.

AND DES HAS SUCH A CAPACITY FOR CHARITY. A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO HE AND I WERE TALKING ABOUT BISHOP NOEL TREANOR. I WAS BEING MU USUAL CRITICAL SELF. DES SPOKE KINDLY ABOUT NOEL - QUITE A REPRIMAND FOR ME.

DES WOULD BE EMBARRASSED IF HE KNEW I WAS WRITING THIS BLOG. IT WOULD BE BETTER IF HE DIDN'T READ IT.

I COULD NOT BE THE SELF-SACRIFICING PRIEST IS. GOD FORGIVE ME - I DON'T KNOW IF I EVEN WANT TO BE.  

Bishop Pat Buckley 23.7.2013.


9 comments:

  1. When I think of Des, I think;

    1. He was called by God. He did not lose sight of the of the community base of priestly ministry – it is the community who calls to service of the community.

    2. He was someone who was not plucked out of the community and isolated for six years of training.
    He came as a leader in the community – he had the ability to form relationships, the ability to dialogue, communication skills…..

    3. He was not parachuted in from outside the community – the ‘Rent a priest system’.
    His theology, his shared spirituality was incarnational. He allowed it to grow in the soil of the appropriate culture, national and local.

    4. He is a priest who sees himself as NOT ‘in charge’. The community is in charge of its own life and must be allowed the scope to develop the mechanisms for living and growing that life. Too many of our priests are burdened by a terrible feeling of ‘being responsible’.

    5. He is a priest who sees himself NOT as being manager of a parish estate.
    His sector of activity is prayer and the spiritual growth of the community members, the local priest included, as we all live our lives as members of the kingdom of God.

    6. He is qualified but he sees the realms of dogmatic theology, history or canon law in there MINOR context. He reflects on the requirements of a more ‘pastoral’ theology: Certainly communication skills and homiletics, educational qualifications……A profound grounding in sacred scripture for the breaking of the word of God at the community Eucharist – how we so often suffer in the pews! He spares the people!

    7. He is not a petrol pump attendant – a priest whose role is simply to say Mass and administer the sacraments then go back inside!
    He is a priest chosen out of the community, he was never part-time and he always gave opportunity to share in all of the varied aspects of the life of the community.

    8. He is not the ‘priestly celibate’.
    He never psychologically cut himself off from so much of the community’s life and relationships.

    9. He is a priest who is representative of the community.

    10. He was an obedient priest, never a ‘yes person’, hidebound and inflexible under law and episcopal command. The gospel is a gospel of freedom for service. He is man of courage, prepared to act according to his conscience. He has the ability to speak out and dialogue, both with the community and with the institution.

    11. He is not ‘know it all’ priest. He is a lifelong learner, able to join with his community as, like the householder in Matthew 13, they find ‘things old and things new’ in the storehouse of the kingdom of God.

    12. He was never an individual who wore the symbols of superiority and isolation. His dress and lifestyle is that of the community.

    13. He is not liturgical purist for whom rubrics are more important than content. He is flexibile, experimental and learned on his feet -the way to grow together.

    14. He is not a priest whose vision is limited to what we have always done! Imagination is demanded, thinking outside the box, so that with a sense of history we can grasp the living, changing reality of our community tradition. He has the vision demanded to step boldly into the future.

    15. He does not see himself as ‘alter Christus’.
    This arrogance elevates other priest above the People of God, the Body of Christ. The priest merely presides at the altar as representative of the community whose celebration it is.

    Respectfully - A Fellow Brother Priest.

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  2. You have described Des and his priesthood more eloquently than I could ever hop to.

    That is why I think he is a model for priests. His gifts and qualities inspire me- but my own weakness and selfishness does not allow me to be either the man or the priest he is.

    Pat

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    Replies
    1. Mr Buckley, you are writing all of this crap from yourself to yourself - dead obvious!

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    2. Normally I would not publish a comment like yours above.

      But I just wanted everyone to see the kind of sad and unintelligent people that are out there - hiding behind "anonymous" labels.

      I challenge you to identify yourself.

      For the record: All the comments on this Blog are submitted by others.

      (Most Reverend) Patrick Buckley

      Delete
    3. I am confused Pat, if you are publishing this stuff yourself and the above comment is criticisng this 'paranoid dilusion', or perhaps just wishful thinking on his part - ergo he does not exist either, you are criticising yourself! Please help - a confused anonymous reader and contributor.

      Please be assured Pat, I am not you and my family can confirm this as a fact!

      I do not care who he is personally, but I think he is typical of a lot of 'non-thinking' Catholics. Nothing to say about the depravitiy within their Church. It is easy to look outside oneself and blame others, but it takes courage to look inside, be critical and change. He sounds like one of the cowards looking outside but blind to the smell of filth on the inside. Open your windows and take a look inside friend! Or perhaps you are voiceless and powerless to change the inside, you are a typical neutered Catholic. Light will soon be put on your shadows my friend!

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  3. What can I say. The light of Christ can not be quenched even in the light of adversity. Loooking back on my ministry in sligo I was far from perfect. I certainly do not consider myself to have been as mature as I consider myself to becoming now. Alcohol also played a negative role. Still I believe I did in my own small way achieve some measure of good in the midst of human weakness

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  4. Sean,

    Another inspiring comment. I am touched by the thought you express that the LIGHT OF CHRIST cannot be quenched in diversity - on even by our human weakness. When I think of my own weakness I am reassured by God using BALAM'S ASS :-)

    When I go to Sligo to celebrate weddings people still talk about you and ask about you. A mark was left behind :-)

    Pat

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  5. Thank you Pat. This comment means a great deal to me. My love & prayers to all in Sligo.

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  6. Having just found this page and the postings. I remember Father Wilson from my time at St. Malachy's and the saying that you always recall a top teacher bears true here. This man was an inspiration to me. Being a young man with an English accent, albeit Irish, was in the 50's a trial. Especially in West Belfast but Wee Dessie as I fondly remember him gave me confidence, not only in Latin but my outlook on life. I can certainly understand the respect he got in Ballymurphy.

    ReplyDelete