Hundreds of marchers join in annual St. Oliver's Procession
THE ANNUAL St. Oliver's Procession on Sunday was one of the most successful in years, with hundreds joining the colourful crowds as they walked for the first time from one side of the town to the other.
The marchers gathered at Holy Family Church in Ballsgrove at 2.30 p.m., where Fr. David Bradley had erected a banner, flags and bunting, and made their way through the town to the Mass at St. Peter's Church, West Street.
The relics were accompanied by the Knights of Columbanus and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre as well as members of other Orders and local Catholic organisations.
'It was a very special occasion, and well attended, possibly the best in many years,' said Michael Mulroy from the Knights of Columbanus.
'I'm sure it was a combination of the Parishioners joining us from the far side of the river, and also the beautiful weather, but to see all scouts, the councillors, the Cardinal, Bishop, and Papal Nuncio, plus all the other walkers making their way down Ballsgrove hill was a spectacular sight.'
Guests of honour were Cardinal Sean Brady, Bishop Michael Smith of Meath and His Excellency Archbishop Charles J Brown, Apostolic Nuncio in Ireland.
In his homily at the annual Mass, he paid tribute to Ireland's 'long and radiant history of men and women of conscience', who preferred to suffer rather than deny what their conscience tells them is right.
'Oliver Plunkett may have been the last in the line of the Catholic martyrs at Tyburn, but he was certainly not the last in the line of courageous Irish women and men who have chosen to follow their consciences in the face of pressure and opposition,' he told the congregation.
'Saint Oliver Plunkett is revered and remembered as a patron of peace and reconciliation: peace that is the fruit of truth and reconciliation that is the fruit of Christian love.
'His boast, his only boast, was in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May his memory be eternal.'
The 2013 procession commemorated the 93rd anniversary of the beatification of St Oliver by Pope Benedict XV on 23 May 1920, and the 38th anniversary of his canonisation by Pope Paul VI on 12 October 1975.