The huge number of people who flocked to Christmas Mass this year has inspired priests with the belief that the Christmas spirit of hope, peace and love will be present in people’s lives for the coming year.
Father Fr Kieran McAteer, P.P., Stranorlar said that many turned out to the four Masses that were held in the area over Christmas and despite the fact that the numbers are high annually at this time he hoped that the event would inspire people to listen to the message of the Gospel.
“We had the usual turn out at Christmas. It was nice to see and it is always good to have a good turn out. It does inspire hope that the spirit of Christmas would carry on into the year. We never needed the Gospel message more than we do today in this country. Christ wants to be relevant to the lives of the people,” he said.
A large number of people returned home for the Christmas period and priests from throughout the county were delighted to see them present with their family at Mass. “It was great to see so many at Mass during Christmas. During both the Christmas and Easter Mass, we experience a large turn out. It is a family occasion where we celebrate the meaning of the Christmas spirit. Many are struggling at this time and it is always good to be hopeful and the message of Christmas is indeed one of hope. It was a privilege to be able to provide a service to those people and it is important for them that in our roles as priests we are available to people night and day,” Father Brian Ó’Fearraigh, CC, Gaoth Dobhair said.
Meanwhile, the Christmas Mass on Aranmore island was an extra special occasion this year. A peace candle that was lit by a Palestinian and Israeli youth in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem was present during the Christmas celebration Mass by Father John Joe Duffy, C.C of the island. The candle was flown through Europe to England before it arrived on the picturesque island for the heavily attended Christmas Masses.
“It holds a light of peace and hope which are especially for this time of year when everyone is working hard to achieve peace and inspire hope in those who are facing difficult circumstances. During Mass this Christmas, I prayed for those who have left this country and could not come home for Christmas. I also prayed for the undocumented in America, it is a particularly difficult time for them and their families,” Father Duffy said.
He urged people to work together and help eachother during these difficult times. “During the fifteen years of the reign of the Celtic Tiger in this country we really did not do enough for eachother. In the last two years, we have witnessed more people volunteering to help on occasions and help eachother which is quiet remarkable,” he said.
Father Martin Doohan and Father Francis McAteer were also delighted to see the high number of people who turned up at Christmas Mass. Father Doohan who had three Masses in Dunfanaghy said that during these difficult times that people should remember that hope is extremely powerful and that faith, family and friends are of huge importance during this life.”