A service to recognise the thousands of ordinary, local people who are ‘angels of mercy’, bringing love, joy, compassion and hope to others, was held at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Armagh on Saturday.
Two representatives - Sister Consilio of Cuan Mhuire which cares for people with addictions, and Éamonn Meehan of aid charity Trócaire, received Saint Patrick medals on the public’s behalf.
Archbishop Eamon Martin said a key theme of Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy had been his call to ‘be merciful’. He said that having asked for examples of this, he had been “overwhelmed by the stories and examples of goodness, kindness and mercy”.
“I’ve heard about groups in the parishes of this diocese and beyond who provide food banks, soup kitchens and other help for the homeless and those who are struggling with financial hardship and worries; I learned about those who work with adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities and special needs.
“There are so many people in our homes and nursing facilities who give time to the elderly, women and men with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia - I’ve heard mention of addiction services to those who struggle with alcohol, drugs, gambling or other addictions; people have shared stories with me about carers, nurses and doctors whose daily work is not just a job or profession, but an act of love and compassion - a work of mercy.”
Archbishop Martin added, “Several people spoke about how they and their families have been supported at moments of tragedy or sudden bereavement; others mentioned the counselling and helpline services that are available to those who are struggling mentally, even to the point of considering taking their own lives...
“Among all the examples of the works of mercy I’ve been given, it was heartening to notice people mentioning their family members.”
He was joined in the entrance procession by members of various religious congregations.