Monday, 7 December 2015




I was very pleasantly surprised to receive a Christmas Card this morning from Bishop Noel Treanor. It is the first time I have received a Christmas Card from the Bishop of Down and Connor since 1984 - 31 years ago.

It was also signed by Tony Farquhar - the auxiliary bishop. He has never before sent me a Christmas card 

The front of the card is taken from a stained glass window in St Malachy's college - the window of Saint Joseph - which was created by Richard King of the famous Harry Clarke Studion.

The inside of my card was, as I say, signed by both bishops:

The back of the card is also very interesting and inclusive. It shows the coat of arms of Down and Connor and the symbol of the 2016 YEAR OF MERCY that has been declared by Pope Francis:

There is a very interesting and very true quote on the back from one of the Vatican 11 documents Nostra Aetate (1965).

The quote says:

"We cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people in other than a brotherly fashion, for all are created in God's image. Man's relation to God the Father and man's relation to his fellow-men are so dependent on each other that the Scripture says: "he who does not love, does not know God" (1 John 4:8)

I am very grateful to Noel and Tony for this gesture of reaching out to me at Christmas and indeed in the Year of Mercy. It proves that these two Christian pastors are not only taking the Year of Mercy seriously. They are also taking Christ's command to love seriously. This is the only future for our Church - when its pastors and people live by the Gospel.

I am totally open to responding in the same spirit in which they have approached me.

Please God there will be fruits of this gesture in the Year of Mercy.



  1. Och, now, wasn't that nice!

  2. Where God is concerned, never say never.

  3. I'm sure you had a smile when you opened your Christmas card.

    Isolating people is a deeply unchristian thing to do even though it may with many parts of the RCC be regarded as normal.

    Priest of Down and Connor.

  4. I agree. Jesus never isolated anyone. He did give people the freedom not to walk with him. But he never "suspended" or "excommunicated" anyone.

    As Christians we should seek to invite and persuade - never to impose or punish when people do not respond to our invites.

  5. Dear Pat,
    I commend our diocesan Bishops for taking this small step at reconciliation. May I suggest that you might in turn send them fraternal Christmas Greetings.
    You might even be invited to break bread (or a mince pie) at the Lisbreen kitchen table.

    Down & Connor Priest.

    1. I will, of course,send fraternal greetings.

      I will go anywhere, anytime, to meet anyone.

      Our differences can be solved in 20 minutes over a cuppa.

  6. With the retrial of Bishop Tony perhaps next years card will be signed by Noel and Timothy !!

    1. Says Timothy hoping against hope!!

  7. Pat you have received this small, yet most significant, gesture with openness and generosity. I do hope this not a hoax rather like the cruel invitation to the diocesan conference. If it is bona fide, and I truly hope it, is may be a beginning of a reconciliation worthy of its name where the things of the past can be left there and a new future will dawn for you and your particular talents, abilities and gifts. You have so much to offer.

    1. Thank you for your kind words.

      For 30 years now I have said that I am totally open to reconciliation and prepared to make the sacrifices I would have to make to play my full part.

      Noel, through a third party, knows that this is my position.

      We await in openness and sincerity.

  8. CHRISTMAS GREETINGS PRAYERS AND BLESSINGS TO YOU PAT, ALL AT THE ORATORY & PEOPLE OF GOODWILL EVERYWHERE-BLOGGERS TOO.lots of work & financial challenges in our lives this year. I am returning to study & morning & evening prayer from the psalter. I hope 2016 is kind to us all