2017 January

Our weekend began with Holy Mass for the Epiphany upon our arrival to Dublin. After a quick supper we set off on our brisk walk to the DART to make our way to the National Concert Hall. Here we would meet a large group of people awaiting to experience the same expectations as ourselves, the spectacular and moving performance of Handel's Messiah. Some noted how one the female singers was almost moved to tears by the words. Fr. Griego led all those in attendance to stand for the Hallelujah chorus, which was even more so an all round powerful piece.

Eventually some time later we arrived at a hostel somewhere presumably in the countryside of Dublin. The area was quiet on arrival, but little did we know what awaited us in our close surroundings until we'd see the hostel in daylight hours on Sunday morning. After just a little over a few hours sleep, we mustered upon the strength to arise and face the rest of the weekend with half a proper night's sleep. We went to Mass first thing Saturday morning and this was then followed by breakfast. Next on the agenda was a conference by Fr. Griego, continuing to examine the topic that we have been studying at the last few gatherings: Catholic social principles. After briefly looking at ecclesiastical society, the conference focussed on  civil society and how we should strive to have zeal in carrying out apostolate in our communities, thus preparing us for our next activity.

 This involved self-denial as we took to the streets, calling at neighbouring homes to promote devotion to the Holy Rosary on this the Centenary year of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. We also made known to the local community the mass times that are available at St. John the Evangelist church. The reactions from the people, both young and old, was rather a mixed one. It was particularly sad to hear the deeply rooted negative memories that the middle aged and old aged people had of the Rosary. I think this surprised most of us, and even all the more surprising was the open reception from the younger generation.

Following this insightful attempt of evangelising, we headed back to base for our lunch before we journeyed once again off to the DART station, to exchange the city scene for a quieter one as we took the breathtaking scenic route around the cliff from Greystones to Bray. The delay we experienced on this trip was for no other reason than that of  foot traffic taking the same narrow paths as ourselves, a more lengthy walk than anticipated, and train delays, all of which would mean that the much awaited game of rounders had to be postponed for yet again - another outing. Something which some people believe is becoming somewhat a tradition for the Comhaltas Chríost Rí.

Upon our arrival in Bray, our tired legs were more than happy to have finally reached our destination. We awarded ourselves with some seaside gelato while others really went out and went for the 'gelato with the shot of coffee poured over' experience. Our arrival back to Dublin was noted to be much quicker on the return journey, only to be pointed out to us that we had after all walked a good bit of the distance back to Dublin.

Following the Rosary, Fr. Griego gave a conference on courtship, the aim of which is the Catholic family, the cornerstone of Catholic society. Fr Griego in his conference spoke of how in serving our future spouse we will be serving God and pointed out the qualities necessary to find in a Catholic spouse. Not only did we learn from Father but he was also surprised to learn that Irish girls don't find frogs very appealing - at all.

We then jumped straight into the murder mystery dinner preparations. The hall was decorated with an assortment of items including costumes to fit the scene of a typical western saloon, and it sure looked it. After a lot of accusing, a few murders, arguing and feuding over land, family secrets and blackmail we ended the night and returned once again to the place we only saw during night hours.

So when Sunday morning arrived we eventually seen what was lurking in the darkness beyond the hostel. In daylight hours we could finally see that we were boxed in, on all sides by tall, vast mountains. It was like being in Bray all over again. We arrived to St. John's with ample time for choir practice before the Holy Mass. In his homily, Fr. Griego spoke of the Catholic family, the model of which is the Holy Family. Not long after mass we got in our cars and headed south no maybe west, anyway we found an ice skating rink and well the rest is history. That hour spent skating was memorable and for others a new experience with as many falls and bumps as there were minutes spent on the rink. Comhaltas Chríost Rí was well represented by a multitude of skaters at different experiential levels from first time skaters, to 'I-haven't-done-this-in-a-long-time-but-look-at-me-I-know-how-this-is-done' skater, who by the end knew the marshal very well due to the amount of times he fell over. When we eventually made it back we tucked into a lovely hot dinner that was for me the end of an fantastic and eventful weekend.

Written by Fiona