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2nd February 2012

Greetings from Rusape ! Many thanks for birthday greetings

It was good talking to the folks in Ballinlig on Sunday even if the weather report was gloomy – rain with a forecast of snow and frost. However, the agricultural news was good. When I checked the thermometer in the corner of the quadrangle after the phone call it was 28C. I had watched Djokovic and Nadal slog out the Australian Tennis Open earlier in the day and arrived in Mutare as Djokovic lay prostrate on the court having won at 5.00pm. The Irish Times described the game as an epic. The game lasted almost six hours. Both players were exhausted and had to sit during the speeches leading up to the presentations. A worthy final in the Rod Laver arena.

We had a liturgical marathon on Saturday in Mutare. Six deacons were ordained at the Cathedral, five for the Diocese and one Spiritan/Holy Ghost. The procession began at 10.20am and the Mass concluded at 1.20pm. Even though the Cathedral has good ventilation, a very high ceiling and plenty of windows and doors, it was very hot in the sanctuary. At one stage I just had to get up and walk around for some minutes. It was followed by a simple lunch of chicken/beef and rice or sadza. There were stalls or assembly points in the grounds, where the food was distributed to the entire congregation of about six hundred. I was on my way back to Rusape by 2.40pm with my parishioners, in time to see the final part of the Liverpool v Man. United soccer game, which resulted in a Liverpool win. That was followed by a good brisk half hour walk and a cold shower, which refreshed the body. My daily exercise, morning and evening, is well in place. I feel the better for it.

Sunday began well with a full church at St. Joseph’s. The weather could not have been better. The people were in celebratory mood. As it was the fifth Sunday of the month we had no outstations. I was able to watch the tennis game without interruption, enjoy the skill, stamina and good behaviour of two champs. What a contrast with the attitude and bad manners of Conners and McEnroe some decades ago, when they questioned every decision by the umpires. Electronic equipment has made life easier for the referee.

Weather was beautiful on Monday. A rusty performance on the first nine was followed by some good holes on the second nine. A tasty evening meal of beef at the Priory with a few glasses of South African Nederburg 2010 was a good way to celebrate my 73rd birthday.

It was refreshing to read that the Fleadh(Irish music and dancing) is to be held in Derry this year. A sign of growing political maturity on all sides.

I recently received a message from Marie Healy (Maxwell), whose mother, Alice Reilly(Maxwell) was a first cousin of mine. Her brother, Paddy, was a Columban missionary priest, and was killed by the Communists in 1950. She sent a copy of a letter from the Columbans in Dalgan Park together with an attachment from the Diocese of Chunchon, Korea, where Fr. Paddy ministered and is laid to rest. The attachment has about nine questions re: his family, formation years in seminary etc, which I will answer in due course to the best of my recollection. Obviously, the Diocese is beginning the process of beatification of the Korean martyrs, of which there were many during the Communist regime of the late 40’s and early 50’s.

Love and best wishes.