UPCOMING EVENTS UNTIL THE REDEMPTORISTS DEPART NOV 30TH
Candle light Mass for the dead on 9th November at 8pm
FINAL FAREWLL HEALING MISSION – 14TH – 18TH NOVEMBER 10am & 8pm daily.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be no 8am Mass during the Healing Mission November 14th -18th inclusive.
Monday – Saturday 8am & 10am. The 10am Mass each day will be streamed.
Sunday 8am & 11am.
The Redemptorists have a strong presence across Ukraine. The Redemptorists are also actively engaged in emergency responses in Poland and Slovakia.
The Redemptorists are/have:
- Opened their houses, churches, and halls as shelter areas in Ukraine for fleeing and frightened families.
- Implementing wrap-around care programmes for families as they cross the borders from Ukraine.
- Supporting and assisting and hosting refugees as they cross the borders into Poland and Slovakia.
- Delivering tons of medical aid to five different hospitals.
- Opened a care centre for orphans fleeing Kharkiv.
- Preparing and delivering food to the elderly, disabled in their flats and to families stranded in basements in besieged cities.
- Established a tested corridor for delivering humanitarian assistance into Ukraine.
- Accompanying families and offering spiritual solace as family members go to war.
To support the Redemptorist Solidarity work with Ukraine:
Donate to: Redemptorist Solidarity Office, Scala, Castle Road, Blackrock, Cork, or online at: www.serve.ie
It is with immense regret and after lengthy consideration that we must announce a decision to bring our mission at Esker Monastery to a close. The Redemptorists first came to Esker in 1901 and since then have experienced and valued immense support from the people of the locality and beyond.
We appointed independent consultants to examine the future direction of the Esker Monastery in 2019, after a decision was taken at a Chapter of the Dublin Province ‘to investigate the pastoral, legal, planning, contractual and all other relevant issues with a view to deciding the future of the Esker site by the end of April 2021.
The final outcome of this consultation process was that we could no longer maintain a presence at Esker, leading to this most difficult announcement.
We have informed our staff of the decision and we take this opportunity to thank them and all who have gone before for their commitment to our mission, as well as their friendship and support over so many decades.
We have informed all those who have supported our ministry here at Esker of our decision in recent days and we thank them for contributing in various ways to making Esker such a special place.
We Redemptorists take such fond memories from Esker, of wonderful times in such a special place, but we regretfully must face the realities of the present day and plan accordingly for the future.
We plan to withdraw from Esker by the end of November 2022 and we will make final decisions on how we will dispose of the property in the coming months.
The 17th century
Esker has been a monastic settlement since the late seventeenth century when Dominican friars settled there following their ‘eviction’ from Athenry. The friars ran a hedge school at Brusk (500m from the present Redemptorist lands at Esker) up until the early 1690s. The school was attended by over 300 students from all parts of the country and they, and the friars, lived in huts in the woods. The school was closed in 1691. In 1698 all friars were banished from Ireland, but it appears that two of the Dominicans, on account of their advanced years, were exempted from the general exile.
The 18th century
The Dominican community in Ireland was bolstered by the return of three Dominican fathers from Spain in 1707 and, a few years later, from Louvain. The friars were able to rent a solitary spot in Esker, where they built a small cabin in a place now known as ‘The (Hazel)nut Field’. In 1715, an accidental fire having destroyed their dwelling, they moved to Esker na pay (of the cows), the site of the current Redemptorist Monastery, where they built a house.
The 19th century and Famine links
The links between Esker and the Irish famine of the 1840s are both direct and strong. The Rev. Dr. Peter Smyth OP became sub-Prior in Esker from 1824 and, two years later, he opened a ‘free school’, eventually attended by 600 poor children. He was Prior of Esker from 1843-53. He was largely responsible for a new church and convent at Esker on which work began about 1838.
The year 1847 was the worst year of the Great Famine. Father Smyth’s most ambitious school was the ‘College of St Dominick’ which opened in
1847 to teach both agriculture and letters and to generally provide advanced education for better-off Catholics. Fr. Smyth died at Esker on 6 June 1861.
The Arrival of the Redemptorists
The first Redemptorists to Ireland arrived in Limerick in 1851 in the direct aftermath of the Great Famine.
Fr. Patrick O’Donnell’s informative booklet, entitled ‘The Story of Esker’, describes the period from 1857 (the closure of St. Dominic’s College) to 1893 when the last Dominican, Fr. Eustace “left the convent of Esker and with him the last Dominican was removed from that monastic building”. The principal reason given in the text was that “Esker had been a heavy financial burden [to the Dominicans] for a number of years.” The Dominican Convent (as it was called) was given to Clonfert Diocese in August 1893.
In 1901, Clonfert Diocese sold Esker to the Redemptorists, and in 1901-03 the main house was demolished, and the new Monastery was built.
The 20th century
When Esker was acquired by the Redemptorists in 1901. Its main apostolate was as to act as a centre for Parish Mission in the West of Ireland and as a house of Formation. The Redemptorist students left Esker in 1940 for Cluain Mhuire, the newly built house of studies in Galway and Esker was designated as the Novitiate for the Irish Province, In 1949, an extension was built to what is now the Retreat House to facilitate the growing numbers entering the Congregation. In 1970 the Esker novitiate was closed and the building converted for use as a Retreat Centre which was in regular use until recently.
A major initiative was taken at Esker in the early 1990s in relation to the unused farm buildings. As recounted in a book by Fr Brendan Mc Convery C.Ss.R., “Esker converted some buildings in its disused farmyard into a ‘Youth village’ with accommodation for school groups during term time and for other groups of young people including those from abroad, during the summer holidays”. This development of Youth Village 2000 was a fruitful enterprise, and led to the development of a very successful Youth Ministry led by a specialist team. The covid pandemic impacted seriously on the Retreat and youth ministries in Esker.
When you cannot actually receive Holy Communion, you can make a prayer of Spiritual Communion: you can express the longing that is in you to be united completely with Christ. We can say a prayer of Spiritual Communion, such as this one by St. Alphonsus, founder of the Redemptorists: it’s in his ‘Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament’:
AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION: From Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, by St. Alphonsus Liguori:
My Jesus, I believe that you are truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to possess you within my soul. Since I am unable now to receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as being already there, and unite myself wholly to you: never permit me to be separated from you.
A Íosa, creidim go bhfuil tú I láthair go fíor san Naoimh Shacramint. Gráim thú ós cionne chuile nidh faoin spéir, agus is mian liom go mbeifeá agam istigh I m’anam. Cé nach féidir liom thú a ghlacadh anois go sacraimintiúil, ar a laighead tar chugam go spioradálta isteach i mo chroí. Fáiltím romhat mar go bhfuilir ann cheanna féin, agus aontaím mé féin leat go h-iomlán. Ná lig dom go brách a bheith scartha Uait. AMEN.
There is a beautiful song on YouTube, ‘There is a longing in my heart, O Lord…’. Listen to it here, and watch the words on screen.
A song that many young people love, ‘All of me loves all of you’ by John Legend, is his own composition to his bride for his wedding day, some few years ago. So many of the words can speak of the Eucharist, as well – words of self-giving, and of mutual love. I often use it with young people, after Holy Communion. ‘I give my all to you, you give your all to me…’ ’All of me loves all of you, all of you loves all of me.’ John Legend produced and played the lead part in ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’, the show, about two years ago.
Wherever you are, and however you are, you can always walk in the presence of the Lord Jesus. He is the Vine, and we are the Branches… and we are all ‘one person in Christ’! He is within. At any time of day or night, you can go into the room of your heart, close the door, and be with your heavenly Father in that place. God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.
Séamus Devitt C.Ss.R.
Regarding Pre-Marriage Dates for 2021: Le cúnamh Dé, we hope to host weekends for couples preparing for Marriage, during the year. Due to the current uncertainty, no dates are being published for the moment.
Enquiries: feel free to phone the Secretary in Esker 091 844007 (currently between 10.30am and 1pm) or email us to email@example.com.
Thanks for your understanding.
The Esker Team
St. Gerard’s Feast day is October 16th. St. Gerard is so much part of Esker and of the Esker story. Countless couples have come for the blessing of St. Gerard’s relic, for over one hundred years. Names of Redemptorists like Fr. Tom Creagh, Fr. Sean Foley, and others, are associated with the blessing of the saint’s relic. So many come back to give thanks for the birth of a baby, when they had practically given up hope of conceiving.
We give thanks for St. Gerard’s work, still: he is Patron of Mothers and of expectant Mothers – he is patron of families. Join us for these three evenings of reflection and prayer, in his honour.
St Gerard Majella, pray for us all, at this time.
In preparation for the Feast of St. Gerard Majella (Oct.16), there will be a Triduum or three days of prayer, on-line, at 8pm daily, Monday Oct. 12 to Wednesday Oct. 14th. Join us. Tell your friends, locally and on social media. Bígí linn! Be with us.
St. Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva in the late 1500′s, was a man of great compassion and gentleness of spirit. Amongst his writings, we find this prayer that has helped many people over the ages: it may help you in this anxious time: copy it for yourself.
“Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then. Put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”
St. Francis de Sales
(Copy for yourself or others)
Pope Leo XIII composed this prayer in the 1890′s, as he foresaw great attacks upon the Church and the Christian faith. Pope Francis, in September of 2018, invited Catholics to pray this prayer during the month of October of that year, along with the Rosary: he rightly sensed a great attack upon the Church, both from within with the scandals and sins of Church members, and from without from foes opposed to Christ and Christianity, across the world. Christ and his message are being hounded today, like never before, worldwide. St. Michael (Micha-El) is a messenger of God (‘El’): Michael’s name means ‘Who like God?’, ‘Quis ut Deus?’. God is in charge. God conquers the Evil One. We pray for courage and bravery, today.
PRAYER TO ST. MICHAEL:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. .