On Wednesday, 15th December, representing the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, the Dean of Cloyne, the Very Reverend Susan Green joined Bishop Fintan Gavin on Patrick Street in Cork for the annual ecumenical blessing of S.H.A.R.E. Crib.
S.H,A.R.E., which stands for Students Harness Aid for the Relief of the Elderly, was founded 51 years ago by students of the Presentation Brothers School in Cork but has now expanded to involve 22 schools in the metropolitan Cork area.
At the heart of the S.H.A.R.E. Christmas campaign, which runs this year until Christmas Eve, is each student’s 24 hour fast as well as, of course, the famous life size crib on Patrick Street. This student-led charity now has 140 supported independent living units in seven different locations. In addition there is a dementia outreach programme. One hundred and twenty-five daycare clients are also catered for.
St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Choir has recorded a selection of Christmas Carols which are to be played around Cork City in the run up to Christmas Day itself. The Cathedral is aware that many people will be missing out on their usual Christmas services and carol singing because of the ongoing restrictions, so for the second year running the singing will be brought to them. A lorry with a large LED screen has already started touring the city centre, and stopping at hospitals and nursing homes to ensure that those in need can hear the singing. This initiative is partly due to the stalwart efforts of the St Fin Barre’s Quarter Development Group and the generous support of Cork City Council through their Reimagine GLOW Christmas programme.
Director of Music Peter Stobart said:
This is the second year that we have recorded carols, because there was such appreciative feedback last year. The sound of a choir singing carols is a central part of Christmas for almost everyone, and we feel that this is a small way that we can make a difference at this time of year.
This has been a tough year. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all our lives. The scriptures tell us that after their visit to the new-born Saviour in Bethlehem, the wise men ‘went home by a different way’. The pandemic has also forced many of us to change our ways, to do things differently. Nobody has been unaffected.
As we celebrate Christmas, we are very conscious of many people and families whose lives and plans continue to be disrupted.
There have been times during the pandemic when public health requirements restricted our public worship; we were even forced to close church doors at times. However, even in those times, parishes tried to remain open in spirit to everyone. It’s thanks to the creative gifts and commitment of so many people that we remain connected to one another as a family of faith.
With all that’s changing, we need to focus on important values that we would never want to lose. Our Christian faith calls us to be a welcoming people and to reach out to the vulnerable. This faith challenges us to be fair and just in our sharing of the world’s resources. The frailty of our planet also cries out for shared action to hand on our “common home” to future generations.
Each time of crisis provides an opportunity which must be seized. These pandemic times bring us to the heart of the Gospel message: what we agree to do as a community is more authentic and lasting than our individual concerns. This is a time for unity and for shared concern for one another.
At Christmas, we pray that through Christ, we will all be united in shared goals:
to look out for and care for one another more;
to reach out to those who have less;
to support those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic;
and to be eternally grateful for the many blessings we have — today and always.
May the Lord of Light shine on you and on your loved ones this Christmas and in the New Year.
Bishop Paul Colton chose the West Cork village of Castletownshend as the setting for his 2021 Christmas Message to schools, young people and the young at heart. On a dismal December day, assisted by Mrs Susan Colton on the camera, he filmed outdoors on the pier before climbing the 52 steps (one for each Sunday of the year) to the Parish Church of Saint Barrahane. Indoors the Bishop spoke about the east window in the Church: the Nativity of the Lord – the Christmas story as told in stained glass by the famous Irish stained glass artist Harry Clarke.
Bishop Colton explained the background
It’s my experience (and it was my own too) that many students and young people love art and art classes. The Christmas story is so wonderfully told in so much art, and indeed, music too.
This was the second year I recorded and put together a video like this. Visits to schools and youth groups haven’t been possible during the pandemic, so first last year and, now again this year, I wanted to record a message for schools and young people. Hopefully there is something of interest also to everyone who has a look at it.
Even a short video like this takes many days to put together so I do want to thank everyone who advised me, made materials, especially photographs, available to me, and who supported this seasonal effort in every way.
You can view Bishop Colton’s Christmas Message to Schools, Young People and the Young at Heart by clicking the link
Bishop Colton expresses his thanks to the staff at the RCB Library (stained glass images with photographs taken by David Lawrence), Robbie Carroll (organist), Dennis Horgan (photographer – aerial photography), Anne Salter-Townshend (photographer – sunset photographs), Susan Colton (camera), Dr David Caron (Editor of ‘Gazetteer of Irish Stained Glass’) and, of course, the Reverend John Ardis (rector of Abbeystrewry Union of Parishes), the churchwardens and parishioners of Saint Barrahane’s Church, Castletownshend, County Cork.
All the images in the video are subject to copyright as follows: