Mary Cunningham shared her faith journey, which took off in earnest after the revelations of clerical child sex abuse hit Ireland. Until then she always picked the shortest mass on Sundays and did not get involved in the church. After the “Cardinal’s Secrets” program about Cardinal Connell she heard a priest from the altar denouncing the progam, the media, the journalists and the researchers in strident terms. Mary knew and respected one of the main researchers and she walked out of the church deciding: No listening any more to this preaching; just receive Holy Communion and make no donations!
She was fortunate to link up with a group of friends “The Pondering Pool” who met regularly and shared their ideas and thoughts by email. They became a great source of inspiration to her and remain so to this day. At a 3-day conference in Emmaus (Richard Rohr, Ruth Patterson & Mark Patrick Hederman) she was challenged to “Think outside the box”; but Mary turned the question around and asked, “ What about living inside the box?” It was Mark Patrick Hederman who replied that there comes a point time in each person’s life when they have the opportunity to move; they can get into direct contact with “HQ” without any intermediary….
Mary’s daughter married a Lutheran and Mary attended many services in St Finian’s church in Adelaide Road. Their “Do this in Memory of Me” at the Eucharist was an open invitation to ALL to receive and share around the altar. For a long time Mary did not venture into the Church of Ireland near her home in Clontarf, but when the Reverend Leslie Robinson was appointed there in 2013 she and Mary became good friends. At a Holy Thursday service where Leslie when preaching, Mary experienced a tingling sensation from head to toe, something which had never happened to her before. In July 2014 Mary formally joined the Church of Ireland.
Earlier this year Mary helped organize an Ecumenical Conference with Gabriel Daly and Gesa Thiessen in the Church of Ireland in Clontarf (to replace the discontinued Glenstal conference). They hope to continue this in future years.
Mary attended a special mass in her local catholic church to which Reverend Leslie Robinson was invited and with the altar full of catholic priests and bishops. A special “Naughty Seat” had been set up for Reverend Leslie Robinson, several steps below the altar level!!! Ecumenism??
Mary mentioned two other points that attract her in the Church of Ireland:
- Dissent is allowed. They have strong discussions about important issues.
- Each Parish has a say in choosing their pastor
Protestants? Sounds very Christian to me!
[Talk by Mary Cunningham to WAC on 11 September 2017]
PHOTO: Mary Cunningham & Phil Dunne