The Parish Priest is Fr Gerard McGinnity who was a whistle blower over thirty years ago in regard to the behaviour of Michael Ledwith then President of the St Patrick’s College. He was a genuine scholar and had obtained a Doctorate in Classics from Trinity College Dublin on the subject of Ambrose of Milan. He was treated in a most despicable manner by his superiors and in the end after some time in Rome and in Armagh was placed in Knockbridge.
He had become a small fish in a big pond.
At this time of vulnerability he was brought under the influence of Christina Gallagher who made him her spiritual advisor so that
he became a big fish in a small pond.
He had a tendency to researching private revelation and chased these around the country. Gradually his clear thinking was reduced to such an extent due to the undue influence of Christina Gallagher that people thought he was suffering from a psychiatric illness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Influence does not imply a psychiatric condition.
Any way getting back to the story, we were not there to look at stain glass windows. No we came to gauge what was happening in the parish and pick up what the mood music was like. We arrived a bit late, but were happy to see that Fr McGinnity was there. We had been led to believe he was going to be there the day before for the blessing of the graves so our intelligence proved to be correct. Talking to parishioners afterwards it is clear no one really wants to talk and the issue of his involvement with a fake visionary is taboo there.
In the mass itself there was a sense of a lack of emotion and there was an ethereal, near Gnostic feel to his presence there. You did not sense the power of the gospel coming from him. Cardinal Brady identified a holiness with his person. I would suggest it had a depressive feel and loneliness attached to it. He now has to defend the indefensible and you feel he is waiting to be called for his execution not as a martyr, but as one who has been delinquent and has aided and abetted a fraud of a unprecedented nature which has affected a cohort of up to 20,000 Catholics. The parish then is light years from the reality of his non Eucharistic liturgical carry on in Achill. What must it be like for him every Saturday going to this unrecognised place and being able due to the neglect of the Diocese of Armagh in allowing him the right to keep going there? Has no one the ability to confront him?
Because of earlier visits we know how Fr McGinnity operates. He leaves his car at the back door of the Church even though his parochial house is a two minute walk from the Church, but he is like Saul the King of Israel waiting for someone to confront him.
Apparently, Fr McGinnity does not greet his parishioners at the front of the Church, but we each went to a different entrance in order to be able to talk to him. One of the people whose family member has been totally overwhelmed by her involvement with the House of Prayer brought her very young children to the sacristy to talk to Fr. McGinnity and was engaged with him for over 20 minutes. He was very condescending to her, but she had read a book by Kevin Symonds which questioned everything the priest was saying, and he was clearly basing his rationale for supporting the House of Prayer on a very flimsy foundation. When they appeared at the rear of the Church she introduced him to me. I reminded him that when I was a student at Maynooth he was the junior dean. I reminded him that at Christmas one year I was asked to be Santa for the Student Christmas Party. I brought some of the women students up to the dorm and he came out and said if we did not get moving he would call the Gardai. I said to him I had a lovely tricycle for him for his Christmas present but because he was so naughty would give it to a deserving child.
At that point I was going to suggest a public debate with him on the House of Prayer when a journalist took a photograph of us and he freaked and thought he had been set up. It really did not matter as it was clear he did not want to discuss any further.
So with reflection over the past month I would suggest that Kevin Symonds whose book addresses the issue of visionaries and how the Church should address their claims would be happy to engage in such a debate with Fr McGinnity. I would have thought that an Catholic newspaper like the Irish Catholic or the Theo in Trinity, or any of the University debating Societies could easily allow him to provide the public justification for supporting an unrecognised entity like the HofP and how he as a priest of the Armagh Archdiocese can justify his support for someone who clearly and resolutely refuses to submit to her her bishop, and also when requested by the same said bishop not to enter his diocese he blatantly and with forethought refuses to submit. “I will not serve.” Currently, the position in Armagh is unclear. We are waiting for their recommendation as the new Archbishop has only been there for a year. However, it is clear in correspondence I received from Cardinal Brady he saw his priest as living an exemplary life and that the Prayers of the HofP were not different from the Catholic Church.
We now await the response to our challenge to debate with Kevin Symonds.
Filed under: House of Prayer |