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Jubilee year off to a great start

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin celebrates the St Francis Xavier Anniversary MassThe Jubilee Year celebrations for St Francis Xavier began last Saturday with an impressive and well-attended Mass in Gardiner Street. Pat Coyle describes the atmosphere and the highlights.


St Francis Xavier Church, Gardiner St. looked beautiful for the Jubilee Mass to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Saint on Saturday, 3rd November, his feast day. Hundreds of candles flickered all over the sanctuary, and, in keeping with the advent season, ferns replaced flowers. The music and singing was an integral part of the liturgy, with the hymn of the Louis Jesuits ‘Take, Lord, Receive’, based on the prayer of St. Ignatius, making for a powerful communion reflection. It was a cold and wet December morning, but that did not stop the hundreds of people who filled up the pews, joined in the singing (including the concluding doxology – there’s some lesson here!), and warmly clapped President Mary McAleese as Socius John Dunne presented her with a special medal to mark the occasion.

John also read out a warm greeting from the Provincial, John Dardis, who was in Loyola in Spain at a meeting of Jesuit Superiors from all over the world.

Many Jesuits and their friends from across the country were present and heard Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (the main celebrant) speak about Francis Xavier’s passion and love for the Gospel that inspired him to travel with few languages and even fewer comforts to far-flung countries.

We need people of such conviction and selflessness more than ever today, said the Archbishop. He also spoke warmly of the people of Kerala in Southern India, whom he had met, as the collection at the Mass was for the women’s refuge there. Gardiner St parish has developed an outreach to the area, and parish priest Donal Neary SJ was delighted with the 1038 euro generously donated by the congregation.

After the Mass there was coffee and tea for all, and many stayed behind for a chat and warm cuppa, including the President and the Archbishop!

The Jubilee Mass of prayerful, spirited celebration has set the tone well for the commemoration in the year ahead of our much beloved Saint.