All Hallows College
Months before travel, plans were made. We knew exactly where to be and when as far as work was concerned. I started the search for a hotel in Dublin about a month before departure. I was surprised to find every hotel, with a reasonable rate, was booked full for our dates of travel.
I admit I freaked out at first thinking, “Where are we supposed to stay?! I have work to do!” After a prayer of surrender to God and a few hours of sleep, I had a little revelation. I wondered, could there be a Catholic retreat center in town that would have a room to rent? It didn’t take much searching to find All Hallows College in Dublin. A Catholic college which had converted their seminary housing into a retreat center. I sent an email to the school and was surprised to find there was space available.
The email response read, “No need for money to hold the room. I’ve got you down here in our diary.” How sweet is that?! Only 90€ per night and breakfast included!
I had offered to do anything I could for All Hallows as long as Roger and I were staying there, at no charge. You see, I had done some further research on the school and found out that the college and it’s property may have to go up for sale because of financial difficulties.
The campus of All Hallows is filled with history. The people there are incredibly gracious and filled with faith. At the invitation of All Hallows President, Fr. Patrick McDevitt, I sang for Liturgy there on a Friday. It was lovely. We assembled in a circle in the large altar area. The acoustics were magnificent and the presence of God evident.
Sadly, the school had gone up for sale the day before I sang. It was an awkward time which needed a little light and love through the power of God’s Spirit. Roger and I were there to show our support by being present. With prayer and song we did what we were there to do. Every other hotel of reasonable rate was booked because of a championship game happening in town. We stayed where God needed us to stay. So glad every other hotel was booked!
Where it all started...
For three years prior to our visit, I had been emailing back and forth with the Holy Family's Children’s Choir Director, Ann Baker. She had found my Mass of Simplicity through Oregon Catholic Press, my publisher’s website. Through the years and across the miles we had shared St. Patrick’s Day recipes and Christmas decorating traditions. We often spoke about the possibility of me visiting their parish one day. Thanks to generous sponsorship from here at home, that visit was made possible. On one condition, the donor said, “As long as you take Roger with you and promise to have some fun too.”
I met Ann and the choir at their church for a rehearsal. The girls in the choir played instruments too. They were as excited to meet me as I was to meet them. One of the best things I overheard said, about myself, was “I love her accent!” I had never heard that one before. Made me laugh.
Our rehearsal was really sweet. Charlie played guitar to help lead and did a fine job. We practiced their music and they practiced mine.
The following day, at the church, all went well. Father Paddy said the Mass. He is such a sweet and gentle man. Very patient with all of us. We escaped with the children of the parish for time together in the church hall, while the adults heard the homily and began the Eucharistic Prayer. During our children’s church time I shared the story of Madeline Judith and Could I Paint The Sky? We sang songs, and danced around. We had so much fun we were a little late getting back to Mass. Father Paddy didn’t seem to mind though. And the rest of the congregation seemed to enjoy our performance of My Heart’s On Fire at the end of Mass.
After a reception time which included tea and cookies, Roger and I set out for Ann and her husband Fred’s house for lunch. We took time first to pass by the site where then Pope John Paul II had said Mass on September 29, 1979. 1,250,000 people attended Mass that day. At that time, that was over one fourth of the population of Ireland.
The site stands as it was then. Only quiet now… except for the many people there to use the park, including the Fallow deer who inhabit the back side of the property. It was a pretty incredible site to see. And the fact that now Saint Pope John Paul II once stood there made it that much more special.