By Fr. Brendan Duggan
Last Sunday (20th Week in Ordinary Time) had readings about how important "welcoming" is in our lives. In the old days in Ireland, visitors were usually welcomed to a house with a cup of tea. Mind you there were some houses where you'd never get a cup of tea, but they were few and far between. The readings of Sunday are about generous welcoming. In the first reading “Wisdom”, in the guise of a lady, lays her table and invites the ordinary people to "Come eat my food and drink of the wine I have mixed.” The message is, "Sit down, you are welcome, take and eat.”
Not every meal we partake in is an exercise in hospitality. Meals can be used for commercial or political purposes. Some meals are tests of endurance. Food is meant to be a statement of friendship and hospitality: “You are welcome to our table and into our lives.”
It is in this spirit that Jesus invites us to his table in the Gospel. He offers us a special type of friendship in terms of intimacy. He says "I am the living bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Friendships are so necessary for each of us. We need other caring people in our lives. As the saying goes, "Walls may have ears but they don't answer us back.” Nothing enriches life like a good friendship and it is great to know that what Jesus is saying to us today is “I am here for you as your intimate and true permanent friend.”
The other side of the friendship coin is our being there for Jesus. Since he is our Lord and Savior, he is different from all our other friends, being there for him means active involvement in his mission. I am a Christian. I must live by his commandments, be a witness to him both in my family and community, to be a regular attendee at Sunday Mass and receive his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. At Sunday Mass we listen to his word, celebrate his death and resurrection, give thanks to him, be fed and encouraged by his body and blood, be an encouragement to other struggling worshippers and then keep the Mass going all week in the way we love and look after each other. It is nice to have Jesus as a friend.
A wonderful show
Last week I had the privilege to see the Broadway Blockbusters Show: "The Anthology: Ten Years in Review" at Flushing Town Hall. The show was wonderful with 40 talented singers and dancers under Director Andrew J. Koslosky (who also performed) and a great orchestra under Musical Director Patrick White. The show featured about ninety songs from many Broadway musicals and movies. As one lady remarked to me after the show, "This show was as good as Broadway, for a fraction of the cost." I was amazed at the talent on display. The singing was wonderful and honestly I would hate to pick out my favorites. I was delighted with the range of the songs. We went from Disney shows to "Mame" to "Wicked", "The Phantom of the Opera", “Les Miserables", "The Lion King" and "Mama Mia". The Choreography by Kevin Wallace was excellent. Of course I should also mention the excellent "Backup Team" of both costuming, ticket sales and security. All in all it was an excellent performance. Congrats to Andrew Koslosky, the cast and all involved in this wonderful production.
Last week I told you some stories about the Titanic disaster of April 14, 1912. I always remember my mother talking about the Titanic. She was born in Chicago at the turn of the 20th century and when her mother passed away, she and her sister were sent back to Ireland to be raised by her aunt in Kilmanahan, Co.Tipperary. She often remarked that if the Titanic had not sunk, they might well have become passengers on it for their trip back to Ireland. I am also reminded of an experience I had in the Bronx back in 1977, when I met a survivor of the Titanic. The lady told me she has been 65 years in New York and had never returned to Ireland. At the time she was probably 80 or so. I never noted her name but she lived on or about 183rd Street and from my research I believe her name was Hannah Riordan from Kingswilliamstown, Ballydesmond, Co. Cork. Hannah Riordan-Spollen died on Sept. 29th 1982 and was buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, NY. Her neighbor for many years in the Bronx was a Mr. Jim Hayes, from my own parish, Cappamore, Co. Limerick whom I used to visit.
The County Cork Association lists a total of 22 people who boarded in Queenstown (Cobh). One of these people who also survived was Ellen Natalia (Nellie) Shine from Newmarket, Co Cork the grandmother of Ms. Christine Quinn, Speaker, New York City Council. Another neighbor of Hannah Riordan, Nora O'Leary also died in New York on May 18, 1975.
A total of 14 Limerick people also boarded the Titanic in Cobh. Only two survived as far as my research shows. Patrick Lane (16) who was an uncle of my good friend died. I have noted that Mrs. Johanna "Hannah" O' Brien, from Pallasgreen survived for a short time. Her husband Thomas perished but she lived in New York and passed away on October 17th, 1918. Hannah's maiden name was Godfrey. She may have been a native of Cappamore where the family name Godfrey is well known.
Nora Agnes Keane (46) from Castleconnell survived as she was picked up by the Carpathia. She settled in Harrisburg. PA where she died on Dec. 22nd 1944. Her family is well known in the Castleconnell/Ahane area of Co. Limerick. Daniel Keane from St. Louis MO, who perished was probably a relative of Nora Keane. Most of the other Limerick passengers who perished were from West Limerick or from the City.
There are many other stories I could tell you about the Titanic, and perhaps I shall at a later date, but let us hope we will have no more of these preventable disasters.