A SOUTH American priest, named after Joseph and the Virgin Mary, working as a curate in the city has brought a message of hope with him.
Fr Jose Maria Recondo from Buenos Aires wants the people of St Canice’s parish and the Diocese of Ossory to know that God has a place for everyone and that the true spirit of Christmas is alive. Having witnessed first hand the huge recession and extraordinary inflation in Argentina, he said that the Irish people would, like his own countrymen and women, come through whatever happens with the Euro, the Dollar and Sterling. “We have to know that he, Emmanuel, will always be with us and that we can and should rely on him in our time of need,” Fr Jose Maria said.
Looking at the crib in the church he said it was fitting that there were no doors, no gates in the stable where Jesus was born and that it was metaphor for modern life, that the church was a place where everyone should feel comfortable. While life wasn’t always joyous there was a message of hope in the scripture at a very special time of the year for all Christians.
He said the nativity also showed us how our God likes to be present among us and to bring us his salvation in a subtle and humble way. The challenge is to learn to discover his presence among us in our daily life like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi were able to see God’s presence in Bethlehem,” he said.
“And when we seek God, we must know that, often, he comes to us through unexpected ways and in ways different to what we imagined. We need to learn to recognise his quietly veiled way of arriving and bringing us his salvation,” he added.
Fr Jose Maria’s arrival is a blessing for the diocese suffering from a lack of priests. He fills the huge void left in St Canice’s by the promotion of Fr Martin Delaney to parish priest in Mooncoin.
He will say Mass on Christmas Day along with parish priest, Fr Jim Murphy and hopes that the congregation will forgive him if he mispronounces any words. He has already proved a big hit in the confessional and on sick rounds.
The Spanish speaking holy man asked people, even those who are doubters, to open their hearts to God and to feel his warmth. “We must know that he lives in our hearts and is with us no matter what,” Fr Jose Maria said. The popular priest will remain in Kilkenny until Easter when he will return to his native country and await what job his bishop gives him. He has spent the last six years in Rome where he was director of the Argentinean college there and its church where 15 priests live.
On Christmas day, Fr Jose Maria will go to the home place of his parish priest, Fr Jim Murphy, at Poulgour, where he will be a welcome guest of Fr Jim’s family. There will definitely be a few ballads sung to mark the coming of Christ and the arrival of Fr Jose Maria.