It was on 29th December that youths from all over Ireland and much farther afield, (one new member originating from as far as India!), gathered for the Comhaltas Chríost Rí Christmas outing. Events started with Holy Mass at 11 o’clock in St. John’s Church, Dún Laoghaire. As Fr. Ockerse pointed out this is the most important part of our outings, our lives being centred round this greatest of Sacrifices.
We then did some happy reuniting (and introducing!) over ‘Ireland meets Italy Pasta Carbonara’ before notebooks and pens came out as we settled down for the next conference on the Beatitudes. Our chaplain taught us that through the principles of self denial found in the first two beatitudes we find the third: “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted”. Mourning arises from difficulty, suffering, conflict and though it is our fault, due to sin, it is good for us both on a human level, as it has the power to form our character; and on a supernatural level, as it can bring the soul to a greater knowledge of God if we accept our sufferings and bring our trials to Him.
After a quick practice of all the best known Christmas carols, we walked to Aclare Nursing Home in the hopes of sharing some cheer with the residents, where the practised playing of our pianist president made our recital very festive.
After a well deserved cup ‘o tae the team-work skills of the attendants came into play; transforming the parish hall into the ballroom of the SS Libertania – the setting of our Murder Mystery for 2018 – and the members of Comhaltas Chríost Rí vanished as there emerged characters of a wide range of nationalities. “Intense” was a word used repeatedly to describe preparations by some who had never before witnessed the enthusiasm and creativity of our group! The ships crew and passengers were treated to a delicious traditional Christmas dinner (the turkey having been reared, slaughtered and cooked by the 1st officer)-before the lights went out! A scream in the dark! And with the return of illumination brains began to burn as by using Character Abilities and Common Sense each tried to figure out who had murdered Captain Bayard. As the minutes ticked by the mystery only seemed to become more mysterious as people were given seemingly conflicting information; supposedly innocent characters turned-out to be secret agents, smugglers, spies; participants were tied up, knocked unconscious and even killed as each actor found their friends and foes: providing more mysteries to be solved! After three hours of exhilarating flurry and confusion the triumphant amateur detective Aggie Marbles aka Catherine McKeown was the only one to succeed in accusing the all too helpful cabin stewardess, Bríghíd Walsh, of the murder.
On behalf of all present I’d like to give a huge thank-you to Bernadette for organising a great evening!
After spending the night in various accommodations, Sunday morning dawned bright and fresh. We gathered again at the Church for choir practice, during which we mastered the intricate three voice Kyriale composed by Charles Byrne, and then joined the Choir of St. John’s in singing the Sunday Mass in the Octave of Christmas.
Following a picnic style lunch, we gathered around the heater to discuss Chapter 11 of Theology and Sanity, before heading into the brightness and warmth of the outdoors and making our way (eventually!) to the RDS were we got our skates on! Though some mastered skating in a few strokes and some (or one!) hit the ice rather more often – I won’t give names here for fear of embarrassing myself! – a fantastic hour was spent by all who ventured onto the ice!
Before we split up to go our different directions, we had a look ahead at some of the bigger activities and works of apostolate we will undertake in the coming year before kneeling for Fr. Ockerse’s blessing.
As 2018 draws to a close and 2019 begins we pray that we may continue ever more faithfully in the fight for our ideal: that Christ may reign as King in our homes, our hearts and our country. Ad multos annos Comhaltas Chríost Rí!
Written by Mairéad Sherry