Bishop Tartaglia with Deacon Kevin Kelly

The annual White Mass (for healers and healing) took place in Lourdes Parish on 19 February 2012. While members of the medical and caring professions, as well as family carers, gathered, the St. Mungo Singers and Dr. Noel Donnelly provided music to create a reflective yet joyful atmosphere, including the uplifting Botor motet “Misericordias Domini” – a reminder, perhaps, that there can be joy in caring for others, as well as moments of difficulty and sadness.

The principal celebrant was Bishop Philip Tartaglia who expressed his pleasure at being back in the parish where he had served as a curate on his return from studies in Rome. In his homily, he welcomed everyone to the Mass and, referring to the Pope’s message for the World Day of the Sick which spoke of the spiritual closeness of the Church to the sick, at home or in hospital, highlighted the compassion for every human life which is a key part of the Gospel message.

Some of the healthcare staff after the Mass

The Gospel, which had just been sung so well by Deacon Kevin Kelly, was fitting indeed for the celebration, said the Bishop. It showed Christ’s spiritual and physical healing, the same healing which the Church is called on to undertake today. Carers, in the exercise of their knowledge and skills, are at one with the Church’s mission. Recognising that carers are challenged now not just by disease or illness or lack of funds, but by a secular mentality which denies the relationship between physical and spiritual healing, the Church offers its support to health workers. In conclusion, he thanked all carers for their actions and for manifesting the love of Christ.

The music of the Mass reflected the theme of healing, from the Penitential Rite (You were sent to heal the contrite of heart) through the beautiful psalm 68, the short hymn at the end of the Intercessions “Lord Jesus Christ, Lover of all”, the hymn during the Preparation of the Gifts – John Bell’s “We cannot measure how you heal” – to the Recessional Hymn which was Noel Donnelly’s hymn to St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer sufferers.

Members of the congregation enjoying the hospitality of Lourdes Parish

As the congregation made its way to the church hall to enjoy the hospitality of the Parish, the St. Mungo Singers sang Tchaikovsky’s “To Thee we call”, a fitting close to the Mass with its plea “Be Thou our Strength and Guide, O Lord”.