“Towards an ever wider we”

Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, I expressed a concern and a hope that remain uppermost in my
thoughts: “Once this health crisis passes, our worst response would be to plunge even more
deeply into feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self-preservation. God willing,
after all this, we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those’, but only ‘us’” (No. 35).
For this reason, I have wished to devote the Message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and
Refugees to the theme, Towards An Ever Wider “We”, in order to indicate a clear horizon for our
common journey in this world.

The history of this we
That horizon is already present in God’s creative plan: “God created humankind in his image, in
the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God
said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:27-28). God created us male and female,
different yet complementary, in order to form a “we” destined to become ever more numerous in
the succession of generations. God created us in his image, in the image of his own triune being,
a communion in diversity.
When, in disobedience we turned away from God, he in his mercy wished to offer us a path of
reconciliation, not as individuals but as a people, a “we”, meant to embrace the entire human
family, without exception: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them” (Rev 21:3).
Salvation history thus has a “we” in its beginning and a “we” at its end, and at its centre the
mystery of Christ, who died and rose so “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). The present time,
however, shows that this “we” willed by God is broken and fragmented, wounded and disfigured.
This becomes all the more evident in moments of great crisis, as is the case with the current
pandemic. Our “we”, both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking
due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 11) and radical
individualism (cf. ibid., 105). And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily
become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential
The truth however is that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there
will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single “we”, encompassing all
of humanity. Thus I would like to use this World Day to address a twofold appeal, first to the
Catholic faithful and then all the men and women of our world, to advance together towards an
ever wider “we”.

A Church that is more and more “catholic”
For the members of the Catholic Church, this appeal entails a commitment to becoming ever
more faithful to our being “catholic”, as Saint Paul reminded the community in Ephesus: “There
is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one
faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:4-5).
Indeed the Church’s catholicity, her universality, must be embraced and expressed in every age,
according to the will and grace of the Lord who promised to be with us always, until the end of
the age (cf. Mt 28:20). The Holy Spirit enables us to embrace everyone, to build communion in
diversity, to unify differences without imposing a depersonalized uniformity. In encountering the
diversity of foreigners, migrants and refugees, and in the intercultural dialogue that can emerge
from this encounter, we have an opportunity to grow as Church and to enrich one another. All the
baptized, wherever they find themselves, are by right members of both their local ecclesial
community and the one Church, dwellers in one home and part of one family.
The Catholic faithful are called to work together, each in the midst of his or her own community,
to make the Church become ever more inclusive as she carries out the mission entrusted to the
Apostles by Jesus Christ: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has
come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received
without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:7-8).
In our day, the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to
heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytising, but
ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone. Among those dwelling in those existential
peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to
whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached. “The current influx
of migrants can be seen as a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim
Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith
in a spirit of charity and profound esteem for other religious communities. The encounter with
migrants and refugees of other denominations and religions represents a fertile ground for the
growth of open and enriching ecumenical and interreligious dialogue” (Address to the National
Directors of Pastoral Care for Migrants, 22 September 2017).

An ever more inclusive world
I also make this appeal to journey together towards an ever wider “we” to all men and women,
for the sake of renewing the human family, building together a future of justice and peace, and
ensuring that no one is left behind.
Our societies will have a “colourful” future, enriched by diversity and by cultural exchanges.
Consequently, we must even now learn to live together in harmony and peace. I am always
touched by the scene in the Acts of the Apostles when, on the day of the Church’s “baptism” at
Pentecost, immediately after the descent of the Holy Spirit, the people of Jerusalem hear the
proclamation of salvation: “We… Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia,
Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya
belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – in
our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power” (2:9-11).
This is the ideal of the new Jerusalem (cf. Is 60; Rev 21:3), where all peoples are united in peace
and harmony, celebrating the goodness of God and the wonders of creation. To achieve this ideal,
however, we must make every effort to break down the walls that separate us and, in
acknowledging our profound interconnection, build bridges that foster a culture of encounter.
Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves
be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform
borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider “we” can come
I invite all men and women in our world to make good use of the gifts that the Lord has entrusted
to us to preserve and make his creation even more beautiful. “A nobleman went to a distant
country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave
them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back’” (Lk 19:12-13).
The Lord will also demand of us an account of our work! In order to ensure the proper care of
our common home, we must become a “we” that is ever wider and more co-responsible, in the
profound conviction that whatever good is done in our world is done for present and future
generations. Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers
and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and
inclusive development. A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners,
between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose
care and benefits no one should be excluded.

The dream begins
The prophet Joel predicted that the messianic future would be a time of dreams and visions
inspired by the Spirit: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall
prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).
We are called to dream together, fearlessly, as a single human family, as companions on the same
journey, as sons and daughters of the same earth that is our common home, sisters and brothers
all (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 8).

Holy, beloved Father,
your Son Jesus taught us
that there is great rejoicing in heaven
whenever someone lost is found,
whenever someone excluded, rejected or discarded
is gathered into our “we”,
which thus becomes ever wider.
We ask you to grant the followers of Jesus,
and all people of good will,
the grace to do your will on earth.
Bless each act of welcome and outreach
that draws those in exile
into the “we” of community and of the Church,
so that our earth may truly become
what you yourself created it to be:
the common home of all our brothers and sisters. Amen.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 3 May 2021, Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

An Invitation from Bishop Denis to Reflect and Respond
On Sunday, August 29, when preaching on the Gospel of the day in The Capuchin Friday in Kilkenny Bishop Denis issued an invitation to parish teams, liturgy groups, Parish Pastoral Councils and to all the people of the Diocese: to reflect and share with him their thoughts and ideas on how people can be encouraged and welcomed back to regular Sunday worship.
In this short resource, we are sharing that Gospel passage and the homily, together with some guiding steps and questions that might support a local conversation in the parish.

A Pathway for Local Reflection and Conversations
1. Take a moment to still yourself and welcome God in your midst. Ask God to open your heart and your mind to hear God’s wisdom and prompting, as you share and listen to one another in this time together.
2. Read the Gospel passage and the homily preached by Bishop Denis.
3. Read a second time, underlining key sentences.
4. Share among those gathered the key sentences people have chosen and tease out together the practical implications of what God is calling you to do in what is being highlighted. What are you saying? What does/might this look like in your parish?
5. In light of this sharing, can you name what you are inviting people back to when you speak of returning to regular worship?
6. Are there concrete steps the parish can begin to take to make the Sunday celebration more attractive and welcoming for those already coming and those still to return?
7. Are there concrete steps the parish can take to continue to support families - as a domestic church - while drawing them closer to the life of the parish community?
8. From your conversation, what thoughts/ideas/suggestions would you like to share with Bishop Denis and with the people, religious and priests of the Diocese who will reflect on these responses.
Responses can be forwarded by post to
Most Reverend Denis Nulty, Apostolic Administrator, Ossory, Diocesan Office, James’ Street, Kilkenny
or email to:

Take possession of the Land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you

(The title of this resource is a line from Sunday’s First Reading from Deuteronomy 4:1 - we are, in responding to this invitation from Bishop Denis being invited to, in a real manner, take possession of the land the Lord has given us)
Eucharist by Fr Marko Rupnik

Gospel Reading Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
You put aside the commandment of God, to cling to human traditions
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture:
This people honours me only with lip-service,
while their hearts are far from me.
The worship they offer me is worthless,
the doctrines they teach are only human regulations.
You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.’ He called the people to him again and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

Homily of Bishop Denis Nulty
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
29.08.21, 12 noon: Capuchin Friary, Kilkenny

The letter of St. James is a powerful bridging text to our gospel from St. Mark this Sunday. You can have all the ritual and regulation you like, but if the orphan and the widow are neglected, forget it! And I think it works both ways – being aware of the orphan and the widow with no reference to our baptismal calling is very much a sense of being good, being thoughtful, being kind – but it develops no further than that. Faith nourished out of our baptismal responsibility pushes us beyond ourselves. Ritual offers us an opportunity to meet our God. Regulations give us a framework to avail of that opportunity. Too many miss both ritual and regulation and in doing so suggest: “sure I’m doing no one any harm!” But how much good am I really doing them?
The word hypocrite is used to describe the Pharisees in Mark’s text . Hypocrite comes from the greek verb “to act”, to play our part in one of the great Greek drama’s. Another word I like is ‘pretender’. As Freddie Mercury of the rock group Queen might sing “Oh, Yes, I’m the great pretender” – we all are, if the truth be known, pretenders! We may look something, we may act someway … but what are we really like inside? The human being is capable of such great love and equally such great aggression, none of us are immune to either. What we are witnessing in recent days and hours in Kabul is a stark reminder of the potential of evil that lies beneath the surface, too many surfaces.
History reminds us the Capuchins came here to the marble city in 1643 after their house in Mullingar had been burned down. After ordination in 1988 I was privileged to spend my first ten years as a priest in Mullingar. The Capuchin presence long gone by then. It was Francis Nugent, a Walshestown man, a native of Mullingar parish, who was the one to petition the Pope of the day (Pope Paul V) to sanction a Capuchin foundation in Ireland. One of the earliest foundations was my native village of Slane in County Meath established by Francis himself in 1631, Mullingar was founded in 1633, Kilkenny ten years later.
Time passes but memories linger. I am also privileged to have a Capuchin presence in Carlow, established in the relatively recent past of 1977 in a former building that once housed a bank. Bishop Patrick Lennon, one of my predecessors, who invited the Capuchins to Carlow reminded all at the opening ceremony, that in effect the ceremony was the conversion of what once was a “temple of Mammon into a temple of God” ! Wherever the Capuchins minister both orphan and widow are assured of a welcome.
The Capuchins have through the centuries bravely taken possession of the land that they have been given by the Lord to establish their presence. We are invited in a very real way to take possession of the land the Lord has given us. I think the pandemic has resulted in all of us losing a little of the grip on
what is sacred in our lives. I certainly have concerns that there are some who have yet to make the return to public worship
simply because Mass has slipped off their rador. When a prudent decision was made at the beginning of this pandemic to remove
the Sunday obligation, it gave permission in some ways for these people to stop attending and other attractions became the focus
of their weekend. There is no anger there, no walking away, just slipping out of habit and when it happens, it’s hard to reintroduce
a practice, simply put it’s hard to start again. The solution is not in my opinion to reintroduce the obligation.
That would be a missed opportunity. It’s a return to understanding our baptismal calling and the responsibility that comes out of that
calling. Teaching people, reminding people, reeducating people why Sunday is so special that they will want to go to Mass rather
than feel compelled to attend Mass is key. A Sunday without giving God time is a Sunday less well spent, is a Sunday yet again
where we have failed to take possession of the land, the space, the holy ground God is offering us. During the depths of the
pandemic when we had no public worship, there was much talk about Eucharistic starvation, as if the Eucharist was a prize to be
possessed rather than a missionary mandate to go out from Mass and heal the sick, bandgage the wounded, welcome the stranger,
including the orphan and widow. We have met the Lord in our little domestic churches; we choose to come to church on Sunday,
in the awarness that we can meet Him at home, but in church we meet with and are supported by the gathering of a faithfilled people.
In receiving Eucharist we become His body – we become what we receive. When there are some people missing, that body is incomplete.
I invite all our parishes to reflect in the month of September on how the parish can be supported to be more welcoming to those
who are slower to return to regular worship – our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, our grandchidren, our friends. I
invite you to write to me or email me your thoughts, your ideas. Blessings and thanks to all of you who have returned and to the
many who continue to tune in on our webcams. And blessings on the Capuchin presence here in Kilkenny since 1643.


Bishop Denis Nulty's pastoral letter on Good Shepherd Sunday



Pastoral Reflection: Remembrance of the Dead by Bishop Dermot Farrell