Popular RTE personality Mary Kennedy launched the book Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Story by John Scally at Milltown Park, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 on 7 November in aid of the homeless. The book is a collection of Christmas stories with a positive message about the season that will lift the spirits in our troubled times. The collection is a response to the current homeless crisis and is a fund-raising project for the Peter McVerry Trust.
Fr Peter spoke at the event. He said: “I hate Christmas time.” These were perhaps surprising words for the social activist to utter at the launch of a book for his Trust. He went on to speak about how he does not recognise Christmas any more because it has become so removed from the original meaning of Christmas. It was then he commented on the publication of John Scally’s work.
He said: “This book helps us to escape for a while from the madness of Christmas today to bring us back to the Christmas of 2,000 years ago. Simple stories, but with a depth of meaning; short stories, which will take only a few minutes to read, but a lifetime to assimilate; stories which capture the imagination and open our eyes beyond the tinsel and the turkey. In this book, we are invited to stand for a while and ponder the true meaning of Christmas. It should be compulsory reading for everyone before we rush off to do our Christmas shopping.”
In launching the book in front of a packed house Mary Kennedy commended Fr Peter for his lifelong commitment to the poorest of the poor and noted that this new book had a very noble cause at its heart, and was very timely given the current homeless crisis in Ireland. She said that the book had made her laugh many times but also raised very serious and important questions about the nature of Irish society.
She asked: “What is the real meaning of Christmas? Every year, priests, teachers and theologians struggle to answer this perennial question. These heartwarming and uplifting stories may give us the answer.”
Author John Scally, who is also Faith and Ethos Development Co-ordinator of Le Chéile Schools Trust, explained his motivation in writing the book – the sad reality that many thousands of people remain homeless this Christmas which he claimed was an Irish equivalent of the original Christmas story where there was no room in the inn. He added: “The moral challenge we face as regards homelessness is: will we light a candle or curse the darkness? To buy this book is to help Peter McVerry light a candle in the fight against homelessness.”
To add to the Jesuit connection the book is dedicated and includes a tribute to the late Jim Moran SJ. Members of Jim’s family attended as did a number of his former pupils including Irish rugby legend, Ollie Campbell.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Story, published by Ballpoint Press, is available from Easons bookshops nationwide.