Sunday 17th June saw all roads leading to Croke Park in Dublin for the Statio Orbis Mass which was the concluding ceremony of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress being held in Dublin from 10th to 17th June 2012. The Parish of Ardkeen was represented at the Mass by a number of parishioners, three of whom who joined the Parish of Drumbo and Carryduff for the day.
The coach left the car park of The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church just after 9am and made steady progress to Dublin with a short rest break at the Apple Green Services, Balbriggan. The traffic was heavy approaching Dublin and Croke Park with the footpaths also very busy as families and groups made their way on foot to Croker.
Our group made it safely into our seats on the upper tier of the Hogan Stand just before 1pm and in time for the ‘warm up’ which included rehearsals for the Mass pieces. Then the live transmission on RTE was introduced by Eileen Dunne and at 2pm we were live on air. The concert that followed included The Irish Tenors, our own ‘Priests’ from Down and Connor, Celine Byrne, Father Liam Lawton, Fuaimlaoi, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and over 100 singers, including the Palestrina Choir. The presentation also included footage on the big screens of the 1932 Eucharistic Congress and finished with Count John McCormack’s rendition of Panis Angelicus.
During this musical extravaganza, the President, Michael Higgins and the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, were welcomed to the stadium. They joined pilgrims from all the counties of Ireland and around the world and also included a very special group of ‘veterans’ from the 1932 Congress. It was a truly international gathering.
Time passed very quickly and soon the celebrants for the Mass were approaching the altar and the opening hymn was sung. A very moving liturgy was celebrated and during the distribution of communion, The Priests sang a number of hymns. After communion we sang ‘Soul of my Saviour’ which was the theme hymn for the 1932 Eucharistic Congress in Ireland and which made a fitting link to 80 years ago.
All too soon the Mass was coming to an end but not before a broadcast from Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict who announced that the next Eucharistic Congress would be in The Philippines in 2016. There was much rejoicing from the Philipinos present who did a dance around the central podium with their flags.
The Mass ended with the Apostolic Blessing given on behalf of The Pope by the Papal Legate, Cardinal Marc Ouellet and the celebrants left the altar to the stirring sound of The Battle Hymn of the Republic: Glory, Glory, Alleluia…….
Once the singing ended we sat down to have our tea in the stand before making our way back to the coach and our return journey to Carryduff and then Kircubbin. A great day was had by all and many memories of a celebration that we may not see again in our lifetime.