Sunday, June 3, 2012

Under the Cross of St. Andrew

As our coach driver, Simon, guided us through Belfast and into the port town of Larne, Northern Ireland, the dialect became more and more pronounced – and made us listen all the more attentively, so that we could understand the King's English! Our ferry took us serenely across the Irish Sea, past this magnificent formation sitting as a sentinel against this next coastline:

Now we are in Scotland, and under the blue and white banner of the Cross of St. Andrew. We have come back to visit a city that, four years ago, showed us extraordinary hospitality, a city that faces its own struggles by way of keeping the faith alive and passing it on to the next generation.

For those who may not know, Edinburgh is, by and large, not a place where Catholicism boasts a strong majority. The demographic told by some puts the Catholic population at less than ten percent, though that number may be higher when taking Polish immigrants into account (there are a striking number of Poles in Edinburgh – even the new parish priest at our host parish, St. Kentigern's, is from Poland).

We arrived very late on Thursday night, after a long day of crossing the northern parts of Ireland and Northern Ireland, making our way through Enniskillin and Belfast. And the very next day, the doors of Edinburgh's Catholic Cathedral were opened to us – the Folk choir gave their last concert of the tour in this fabulous house of prayer.

It was an emotional night for our seniors; they all stepped up to the plate with vocal solos of songs that had carried them through their four years at Notre Dame. And we were in distinguished company as well: Cardinal O'Brien graced the concert with his affable presence, as did a contingent of folks from the American consulate of Scotland.

There is deep appreciation for our repertoire in this pilgrimage! The combination of Irish tunes, Welsh texts, classic settings and songs from other countries has made for a great mosaic of expressions from around the globe, and the mix has served us well as we moved from one nation to another.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Edinburgh, Scotland

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