Thursday, September 29, 2016

Go Irish: From Home at ND to Home in Dublin

At long last, the surreal waiting has come to an end.  Tuesday afternoon, Michele and I boarded Aer Lingus Flight #122 from ORD to DUB, along with five insanely packed suitcases and a Martin guitar.

And we lifted off for Ireland.

These past few months have been such a roller coaster: convinced of a new direction, understanding in your heart what's meant to take place.  And yet the mind still hasn't quite caught up with all the realities yet.

We bid good-bye to Notre Dame over a beautiful fall weekend, surrounded by friends.  Reality set in when we watched the Irish crumble to Duke, but this was a small pittance by way of what we carried in our emotional backpacks. We attended the 11:45 Mass, heard the Folk Choir singing one last time from the pews, and broke bread with supportive friends.

Now, at 550mph, we were being transported to a new culture, a new home, new pastoral realities, new music.

We had incredible tail winds, which put us into Dublin an hour earlier than our expected 5:15AM arrival. Deep in the night, the jet banked over Dublin harbour, bringing the lights of the city into view.  Down, down, into the dark – and then we landed.

Home.  A new home.

At 6:45AM, true to his word and in the emerging dawn, Pat O'Kelly met us in front of our new home, the "mews" of University Church. He gave us the keys, brought us into the kitchen, showed us the basket of provisions he'd brought in for us. ("It would be a sin if you came to us and found an empty fridge," said he.)

Up all night, the new home still filled with contractors and construction folk, Michele and I took to the streets of Dublin to purchase things for our new digs.  We walked through St. Stephen's Green, the stunning city park that is now our front yard.  We discovered new stores, bought plates and cutlery, and got back in time for the 1:05 daily mass at University Church.

There is a large black wooden gate that faces St. Stephen's Green, and when doors are opened up, it brings you to our courtyard.  That gate has a small silver plaque on it that says:


To my knowledge, we're the first lay people to ever live in this Presbytery.  For that matter, I wonder if we're the first lay people to ever live in a Catholic Presbytery in Ireland.

Those tail winds that brought us to Ireland are the winds of change.  Some things are now beginning to change for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Here is a picture that I took this morning of the nave of Newman's University Church, 87 Saint Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.  Having left our home at Notre Dame, my place of work for the last 35 years, this is now my new home, my new place of prayer, and my new vineyard.  This week I'll be meeting with parish musicians, choristers, and sacristans.  The labours will soon begin.

"Go Irish!"  The phrase means something else to me now – something far more serious than a rallying cry at a football game.  This is no game.  


  1. Thank you for the photo of the church, Steve--I cannot wait for you and Michelle to fill it with music. Prayers for you always!

  2. "I wonder if we're the first lay people to ever live in a Catholic Presbytery in Ireland."

    Ahh, don't think so. Live-in "housekeepers" have a long-standing traditional role. You will soon enough learn that Fr Ted was at least 50% documentary!