Fr Noel Connolly SSC and Lana Turvey Collins. Photo: Plenary Council 2020
Now that we are moving into a new "normal", we are beginning to discover what “living with COVID-19” feels like in our day-to-day lives and throughout society. I have found it interesting to observe the various ways individuals, families and organisations have adapted to cope.
Of course, some have not been able to adapt, some have not survived and some have struggled deeply to cope. The poorest of the poor in our communities and those who’ve survived wars and trauma to arrive on our shores, those suffering family violence, poverty, hunger, loneliness or despair – those who Jesus named "the little ones" – are the ones who we must not lose sight of, nor turn away from. The little ones are who our Baptism calls us to be with, to accompany and to invite into our hearts.
As you may be aware, on June 6 our very dear friend and colleague Fr Noel Connolly SSC passed away. Fr Noel frequently reminded us that building God’s Kingdom meant being uncomfortable and encountering the whole world around us; Pope Francis put it as having "the smell of the sheep".
The longer journey toward the assemblies of the fifth Plenary Council to be held in Australia gives each of us time to hear the voice of the little ones, to ensure that the vulnerable, those who have "small" voices in our communities, are heard. And indeed it gives us time to be still, to truly receive the grace and impact of discernment as we continue to listen to the quiet whisper of the Spirit, guiding us with her wisdom.
Personally, no words can explain the love and admiration I have for Noel. He was my mentor, teacher, friend and guide. His friendship and his wisdom has shaped who I have become. I see the world through God's loving missionary eyes because of what Noel taught me by his own words and deeds. He concelebrated our wedding, blessed our first home and enriched our family journey beyond words.
I will be forever grateful to have been on the road to Emmaus with him. On the Plenary Council journey, he made our hearts burn within us and I know his spirit lives on in all of us. His membership and contribution on the facilitation team cannot be overestimated and he is deeply missed.
Goodbye our dear friend -- for now. May you be held in the palm of God's hand and truly experience the fullness of the Kingdom which you helped so many to glimpse here on earth.
Lana Turvey Collins is the Plenary Council Facilitator.
- Source: Plenary Post Edition 25 [used with permission]
- Read more from the current Columban eBulletin
Watch In loving memory of Fr Noel Connolly SSC: