In my homily at Mass last Sunday I told a story about my niece’s three-year-old son, whose name is Ciaran Gerard. When I was at home last year he wanted to tell me what he wanted to be when he grew up. Of course, I was naturally curious as to what was going on in his little mind. He told me that he first wanted to become a doctor and then become a hairdresser. I just had to laugh at this, and then asked him why he would want to become a hairdresser after becoming a doctor. He told me that he would then make lots of money. Obviously, he is a Scottish child! I am sure that all of our families have similar stories to tell about their children. They provide us all with happy memories.

Today, as we celebrate Kick Off Sunday, our minds turn to our children and young people who this year will be involved in our catechetical programmes. My prayer for each of them is that it will be a time of blessing in their lives; a time when they continue to grow in their understanding and love of God.

I would like, in anticipation, to offer a word of thanks to the parents of their children for their commitment to ensuring the presence of their children at Holy Mass each Sunday, and also to their attendance at catechism classes. It is important to remember, as has been stressed before, that the role of parents is of primary importance in teaching, by their example of hope, faith and love within the family, of the presence of God amongst us. This includes the obligation not simply to make sure that the children attend Mass each Sunday, but that the parents attend Mass too. It also includes an obligation to be loving parents, and to ensure that they pray with their children each day. Such a good example will inspire our children and young people, and help them to grow in their understanding that our faith is real gift that needs to be treasured.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of our catechists in the parish; from those teaching baptism classes to those who teach catechism each week and to our Life Teen leaders. I am continually inspired by their commitment and the hard work that they do in the service of the Lord. Our whole parish owes them a huge debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they make in order that our children and young people come to the full knowledge and understanding of their faith.  Today, as they are commissioned to continue to serve as catechists throughout this year, let us each keep them in prayer, that God may bless them for all that they do on our behalf.

I would like too to inform you that all of our catechists and Redemptorist community members, and all those involved with our children and young people, received police clearance last week. This is a sign to everyone that our parish should be a warm, safe and welcoming place for all our children.

Kick Off Sunday is one of the significant days in the life of our parish. May we celebrate it today with great joy and gratitude. And may each of us be inspired to live our daily lives as faithful witnesses to the love of God in the world.

I would just like to end with some news regarding our Redemptorist community. Fr Scott is presently on holiday at home in Kwa Zulu Natal. We wish him restful days. Fr Sean Lunney remains in good spirits despite some health issues. Fr Duncan Blackie had a severe stroke a few months ago. He is now living in Nazareth House in Cape Town. I am sure that we would all like to keep him in our prayers. If any of you would like to visit him, may I suggest that you call Nazareth House first, to ensure that he is able to have visitors on the day that you would like to visit. Otherwise, all is well. We are happy to have our two postulants back with us. And we look forward to Br Richard’s return from the UK at the beginning of February. Our Redemptorist community have greatly missed him.

Fr Gerard, CSsR

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