Fr. Brian Holmes, a Cork man and a Redemptorist, celebrates 50 years of priesthood this Sunday, May 3rd, 2020. Brian works in our Redemptorist Mission in Mozambique, begun in 2011. Asked by the parish priest in Curaheen in Cork to give a brief summary of his life as a Redemptorist priest, Fr. Brian wrote the following.
“Count seven times seven years and on the fiftieth year you must sound loud
the horn to proclaim that the land be freed, debts be pardoned and slaves set free.” Leviticus 25
On May 3, 1970, I was ordained in the Redemptorist Church in Limerick, by the missionary Bishop of Gambia, Africa, Michael Joseph Maloney, C.S.Sp. The following day I celebrated my First Eucharist in the Mercy Hospital Chapel, where my father was laid up in his final illness. Soon after the death of my father, I returned to Brazil, where I had finished my studies, and spent the next forty years in the north and northeast of that country. The last ten in Furancungo, Mozambique.
My first few years of ministry were in the newly created State of Tocantins, in the Amazon Basin, where I spent three months of the year on the back of a mule, visiting the remote communities in the back-lands, and enjoyed every bit of it, once I got used to the mule’s jolting trot and his hard saddle.
Next ten years in Tauá, in the heart of the drought ridden semi-desert of Ceará, where with a wonderful team of laity we journeyed with over a hundred rural communities, suffering from terrible injustice and the constant threat of drought. During five of those years we had no rain, so life was tough, and death from hunger, thirst, sickness and injustice, a constant threat.
Then ten more years living in the shanty towns of the state capital, Fortaleza living close to the poorest of the poor, and standing with them in their struggles for work, dignity, education for their kids and health-care for all.
Then back to the to the State of Tocantins, for another ten years, where the insatiable greed of the powerful for land to grow soya beans, caused havoc in the lives of the poor, evicted from their family held plots for generations, by the advance of huge industrial farming methods.
Then for my sins, six years as Vice-Provincial, coordinating the group of 50 Brazilian and Irish Redemptorists in three different states in the Vice-Province of Fortaleza.
Finally the last few years here in Mozambique, in the Diocese of Tete, in the mountain parish of Furancungo. Here we were and are welcomed by the Chewa people, who were evangelized by the Jesuits 50 years ago, and despite the wars and the expulsion of the Jesuits, they clung to their faith, and in little communities gathered every Sunday to pray, and read the Word, and each generation handed on the faith to the next, hoping and praying for the arrival of a missionary community, to quench their thirst for the sacraments and full ecclesial life.
Next Sunday, May 3rd, I hope to go to the local Furancungo Radio, with a small team, to celebrate Mass live, transmitted to the villages scattered over the mountains and valleys here, as we have been doing since our churches are closed to protect all from the coronavirus. I will remember all the people who have supported me over the last fifty years, especially all of you in the parish of the Church of the Real Presence, the parish where my mother and father, on retirement, went to live in and helped to build our beautiful church many years ago. I thank you for your constant support to me personally and to our missionary work in Brazil and Mozambique, over the last fifty years. God bless and protect you all in this difficult time.
This too shall pass.
You can contact Fr. Brian, through us here in Esker, by emailing email@example.com or through ‘Comments’ on this website. We will forward messages to him. Thanks.