Following the weekend's nonstop football extravaganza in the Emerald Isle, Dublin Airport looked like the lobby of Legends Pub on the Notre Dame campus, except for the fact that it was stretched out over hours and days – an endless wave of ND t-shirts, sweatshirts, blue and green and gold emblems.
The Irish, and those who wished they were, had begun to depart, headed back to the States.
But I was not to be part of this early exodus, for there was one chapter left for me, my wife, and a few of my colleagues: a long-awaited visit by friends and benefactors to Teach Bhríde, the House of Brigid.
We are now into Year Four of this amazing witness and sharing between Campus Ministry at Notre Dame and the Diocese of Ferns in Southeastern Ireland.
Simply put, this was a chance for some of our wonderful supporters to gain a glimpse of the fruits of these first years of work.
Here is the roll call of our House of Brigid/Folk Choir graduates: Carolyn Pirtle, Martha Calcutt and Chris Labadie (Year One); Carolyn, Jessica Mannen, Patrick Duffey and Clarisa Ramos (Year Two); and Jessica, Kurt Nowak, Dan Masterton, and Molly Mattingly (Year Three). Their enthusiastic labors have spilled over into neighboring schools, shaped the repertoire of faith communities from Wexford to Galway, given consistent musical leadership to the liturgies of the Keough-Naughton ND program in Dublin, and been of steadfast help to their home diocese and the parishes of Ferns. And for two precious days, following all the football craziness, our benefactors had a chance to take in this legacy.
And now, three new members will join in this next year of witness. Nick Galasso, Emily Puscas, and Nicole Storey, all formidable musicians and teachers of the faith in their own right, will be led by House Director Molly Mattingly as they launch into the waters of spiritual and liturgical joy.
We parted from the members of Teach Bhríde late last night, families and clergy and friends and musicians all bidding farewell to one another.
The Irish, perhaps because they value friendship and hospitality to such a high degree, have a marvelous respect for gatherings and good-byes. A parting glass, if you will. And while we raised a few yesterday evening, it was not the wine that spilled over. Rather, what overflowed from the cups were words of love and common mission, of deep and abiding friendships, of souls that had been shaped and strengthened by the gospel.
And by way of farewell, let me share with you the eloquent words of Emily Ward, the Co-Director of Music at Our Lady's Island:
Teach Bhride has, perhaps without realising it, contributed so much to our music.... Our ‘musical landscape’ has been transformed and for this we thank you all. To follow the mustard seed parable, the Teach Bhride community sowed the musical seed and we now take on the responsibility to water and nurture it. . . and, young though this seed is, it is already bearing rich fruit.
Such parting words are full of hope. And gives us yet more reasons to continue bringing the gospel back to the land of our ancestors.
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