Priest tells congregation: “We need a prophet, a vision that we can put into action, so that fear and violence will not be tolerated.”
WE all need to “stretch ourselves” to help end violence in society, mass-goers were told in Tullamore tonight.
As residents gathered for weekly mass, parish priest Fr Joe Gallagher reflected on how there has been a “call to action” since the murder of local teacher Ashling Murphy.
“The shock, the horror, the grief. Really it's beyond words for any of us. We are here this evening as people of faith, we pray together, we come to support one another and to remember Ashling's family,” he told churchgoers at Mass in the Church of the Assumption.
The 23-year-old was killed last Wednesday afternoon on the bank of the Grand Canal after going there to exercise following a day's teaching at nearby Durrow National School.
“We remember Ashling who was so violently taken from us in a place we thought was safe. She was only going for a run,” said Fr Gallagher.
“And we remember her broken hearted family. We cannot even begin to understand their pain and we want to reach out to them and carry them through this awful time.
“And her pupils in First Class, the little ones she loved, and they adored her. And so many of her friends and young people who are coming face to face with the horror of violence and loss. Life can be so cruel, and we don't know why.”
Fr Gallagher spoke of the prophet who wished to lift his people out of darkness into the light and referred to violence in present-day Ireland.
“There is so much violence in our society, so much violence against women and children, violence against our older people. It is shocking and so many people are living in fear, sometimes the fear of being in their own homes. And we are capable of so much more, of being so much better.
“We need a prophet, a vision that we can put into action, so that fear and violence will not be tolerated.”
The parish priest's homily continued: “There is talk of this being a watershed moment. We certainly need to change. We need to imagine a more peaceful and harmonious place where we can live and work and exercise in safety.”
He said he was also struck by the line “blessed are the peacemakers” in the beatitudes.
“This is not a platitude, this is a call to action. Peace and peaceful society just does not happen. We have to be makers of peace and we have to continually work at it. And it is the work of a lifetime and it is an essential part of living our Christian faith.
“Now is a time for us to be prophetic, to stretch ourselves and work and commit ourselves to a peaceful brighter future. God knows the sheer goodness that is in us and our faith is the strength and the light that will empower us and lead us forward.”
Prayers were offered for Ashling and her family, her pupils in Durrow School, and her colleagues in sport and music and the congregation joined in a special prayer where victims of violence were remembered and that genuine efforts be made as citizens, governments and churches to create a society where all people need no fear as they live in their homes and walk in their cities, towns and countryside.