The Messenger Day of Joy: A Day of Prayer, Reflection and Enlightenment took place on Saturday, 15 June 2019 at Gonzaga College SJ in Ranelagh, Dublin. It was the fifth anniversary of the annual event that gathers promoters and readers of the Sacred Heart Messenger magazine from around Ireland. One hundred and fifty participants attended the day consisting of plenty of conversations with tea and scones, a keynote speech by Fr Alan Hilliard on the gift of wisdom, workshops on a diverse range of topics, blessings with the Blessed Fr John Sullivan cross, and more.
Donal Neary SJ, editor of the Messenger, welcomed everyone to the annual event. He said: “We appreciate all you do to support the Messenger magazine through your prayers and your efforts to distribute it. This spreads the message of the love of God in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.
“Feedback from readers is so important to us and we know and appreciate how strongly you feel about the Messenger – you can come and talk to us, and share with us your views, both positive and negative, and any suggestions as to how we can continue to improve the Messenger. We are also very grateful for donations for the magazine, The Sacred Heart Fund and the Assam (Jesuits in North-East India) Mission fund and the St Joseph’s Penny Dinners.”
Participants had ample opportunity to give feedback to the Messenger team throughout the day. It was also a chance to deepen their devotion to the Sacred Heart. As Fr Donal said: “The Sacred Heart devotion is devotion to the humanity of Christ so that our human response in our daily life is in tune with the heart of Christ.”
Fr Alan Hilliard delivered a captivating speech entitled My Grandfather’s Hat: Cherishing the Gift of Wisdom, as was evident from the lively audience interaction. He spoke from personal experience on the wisdom of his grandfather who often passed on gems of wisdom to his family and community. As head of chaplaincy services in TUI, Bolton Street, Dublin, Fr Alan described how he shares wisdom from the Catholic tradition with students.
Fr Alan joked that he reveals the religious source of the wisdom when the students, who are mostly non-practicing Catholics, acknowledge that it helps them in their lives. He invited the audience to share their own wisdom sayings that they had learned from their elders, many of which were considered witty and authentically Irish. He pointed out that wise people don’t have the need to feel important and that they humbly share their wisdom with their communities.
Workshop presenters included Sr Jo O’Donovan on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Gavin T. Murphy on living a balanced life, Jim Deeds and Brendan McManus SJ on finding God in the mess, Siobhán Murphy on everyday Ignatian spirituality and Charlie Davy SJ on guided prayer. The workshops were presented in the morning and afternoon so that participants got a chance to attend their favourite topics.
Fr Barney McGuckian SJ gave the blessings with the Blessed Fr John Sullivan cross in the chapel during free periods, and this service proved popular once again.
Mass, which took place at the end of the day, was a joyous occasion with songs and expressions of gratitude for the work being done by the Messenger in its 131st year of publication. Irish Jesuit Provincial Leonard Moloney, who was the main celebrant, said that he had been looking forward to the event for the whole week due to the strong faith of the promoters and readers. He delighted in the fact that there was no need to explain God, for everyone in attendance was united in the love of Jesus.
A particular thanks to the Messenger team and staff of Gonzaga College who made the participants feel so welcome, and to all who helped to plan and organise the event.