Friday, June 1, 2012

Holy Cross' Secret in the Hills

It's not always that you travel through a foreign countryside and actually happen upon a relative. But such was the case for our last stop in the Republic of Ireland, when the Folk Choir visited the Fr. Patrick Peyton Memorial Centre. To my knowledge, this is the first time a Notre Dame choir has visited this hidden treasure, and it was well worth the winding roads of County Maigh Eo.

Attymass was the boyhood home of one of Holy Cross' most notable priests, Fr. Patrick Peyton, c.s.c. For many of you reading this travelogue, you may not be familiar with his name, or his legacy.

But you would be familiar with his greatest motto: "The family that prays together, stays together."

Fr. Peyton's message and his ardor for the rosary was a worldwide message, and this Irish priest's devotion spilled over to many continents. His legacy now continues, both through Holy Cross Family Ministries and through the Peyton Memorial Centre, where, in these quiet fields outside of Balliná, thousands of young men and women are shaped by Holy Cross spirituality every year.

The great joy for me was being welcomed and hosted by a former colleague in Campus Ministry, Fr. Steve Gibson, c.s.c. Steve and I worked together twenty years ago, when our offices were still nestled inside Badin Hall. His joy, his sense of hospitality, the ease with which he worked with young adults – all these things have only grown with the years, making this visit both a reunion and a blessing.

This evening was our last concert in Ireland, and the fact was not lost on our singers and instrumentalists. Priests from all over that northern diocese had shown up in force, along with hundreds of curious townspeople... What exactly was this gathering of young adults from an American university? We poured ourselves out for them, song after song, and the simple dwelling that was their parish church resounded with our harmonies (thank God for high ceilings and hard wooden pews!).

At the end of the night, it was almost like a diocesan receiving line: all the townspeople, the priests, even the bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Brendan Kelly, sought out the choir to wish them well and thank them for their witness. It was a fitting way to bid farewell to this marvelous nation, deep in the hills of Mayo, far away from anything but the Irish Sea to the north and the hills and mountains of Connemara to the south.

But Peyton proved something to us: no matter how far removed we are from the peoples of the world, if we have a message and the zeal to preach it, that message will be heard. It was proclaimed by a man from County Mayo generations ago, and the message has not lost any of its potency. And it was acclaimed again last night, by a bunch of college students in love with their God.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Attymass, County Mayo, Ireland


  1. Fr. Steve Gibson baptized my first son Joe (ND'10)at Fatima Retreat Center at ND in 1988. Joe's brother Jeff is singing with your choir now! What a unique coincidence!

  2. lovely,peaceful and prayerful place.a very welcoming athmosphereat all times,but particularly when my wife and i visited there last tues,16th.may.we were treated like v.i.p.s.thanks to fr gibson and all the staff!