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Dear parishioners and friends,

This Sunday marks for us Advent Sunday, the first Sunday of the liturgical New Year. We begin again with hope in our hearts, watching and waiting for the birth of the Christ child and looking forward also to Christ’s second coming amongst us. It is of course a season of penitence, a four week season of preparation for the wondrous Christmas event. Like last year, I invite you to find a large star, and place it in a prominent front window, lit for all to see in the darkened hours of the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany seasons. It is a sign of watching, waiting, hope, cheerfulness, expectation and light and its presence in our homes reminds us of our Christian faith and witness – something we should never shroud in darkness.

It is becoming more obvious that this Christmas, like last Christmas, will be different from what we are used to. Whilst the closure of churches has not been mentioned, it is clear from last Monday’s guidelines from the Government relating to church worship, that we must prepare ourselves for a difficult few weeks ahead, and limit our expectations. Already one of our outside groups, who use the church for their annual Christmas celebrations, have cancelled, and church communities have been reminded once again of the importance of avoiding congregational singing. In light of these developments we will not have our traditional carol service this year and a slimmed down and carefully managed programme of events is the best we can hope for. Do not however be downbeat, Christmas has not been cancelled and as we discovered last year it is the little things and kindnesses that helped us get through the difficult days. This year will be similar and I hope and pray that our continued support and love for one another will help us through whatever lies ahead.

In connection with the revised Government guidelines I must appeal to our congregations in church to remember to stay at home if you are feeling unwell, to sanitize your hands before entering the church, to sanitize your hands before receiving communion (bring some pocket sized gel with you if you can) to wear a face covering at all services, to take your service booklet home after the service and to exit the church by the nearest exit to where you are sitting. Please remember not to gather to chat in the aisles after the service but wait until outside to greet one another. Please remember to come up for communion using the main centre aisle, leaving space for one another and to return to your seats using the side aisles. We are so lucky in Monkstown that we have such a large church but we still need to take care to leave space for one another in our comings and goings.

We now have our full schedule of weekly services back in place – 10:45 Eucharist on Wednesday, 09:00 Eucharist on Sunday and 10:45 service also on Sunday. (1st Sunday, the Eucharist, 2nd Sunday, traditional Matins, 3rd Sunday, Eucharist, 4th Sunday, Eucharist, and a Healing Service on the 5th Sunday.) The Eucharist in Carrick Manor is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of the month at 10:45. Sunday Club will meet on the 2nd Sunday of the month at 10:45. Baptisms usually take place at the Family Service on the 4th Sunday but we will have other baptisms taking place at other times as there are a number of children waiting to be baptized. Confirmation classes for 2021 will begin in the New Year with the young people being confirmed in June 2022. Parish organizations are also back up and running.

The Parish Office is also open and Liz is working in the office on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:00 to 1:00pm. She is working around the church on Wednesdays from 10:00 to 1pm. Her other hours are being worked around the parish and from home. She is contactable in the office on Tuesdays and Fridays between 10:00 and 1pm (01-214 7714) and at all other times by mobile (087 979 1072). Please do contact her if she can be of any help or assistance. Do remember to leave a phone message if the answering machines are on in the rectory or parish office. Someone will always return your call as soon as possible.

Throughout the past 18 months or so we have published a weekly letter and service for use by our parishioners in their homes. Prior to our live streaming (which will be a year old on Advent Sunday) we were publishing a service for use at home with reflections, poetry and news for all our parishioners. This was produced in both print and email form. When the live streaming began, we continued publishing a weekly letter, together with the order of service used in church on a Sunday morning. This booklet will be the last such booklet to be produced and I want to thank all who have sent us donations towards the cost of producing it, those who have sent us stamps and all who have contributed articles, news, photos and poems for it.

We will however continue to email out the Sunday 10:45 service sheet to everyone already receiving it, and to post a printed copy to anyone who wants to remain on the postal list. If you receive it by email, this will continue. For those of you who have been receiving it by post, if you wish to continue receiving it, please contact Liz in the office or by mobile to request it.

A number of parishioners have recently enquired whether we had a Parish Legacy Policy in place. In order to assist those who may be thinking of leaving a legacy in their will to the parish the Select Vestry has approved a Parish Legacy Policy and this is available in print format at the table by the door to take away. If you would like a copy of this sent to you by post please contact Liz who will send one on to you.

The December / January combined edition of Monkstown Voice should be available by the last Sunday in November. If you would like to contribute towards the costs of producing the magazine you may do so by putting your donation in a sealed envelope, addressed to the treasurer, and clearly marked ‘Monkstown Voice’. Cheques should be made payable to ‘Monkstown Parish Church’. Your donation envelope may be placed in one of the collection baskets at the door. Our sincere thanks to those who have already sent in contributions.

Bishops’ Appeal envelopes are available at the back of the church and please feel free to place your donation in an envelope and leave it in any of the collection baskets. We hope to exceed our 2020 giving to the appeal. Please note that the 2021 appeal will close after the services on Christmas Day in order that the final amount can be submitted to the dioceses by 31 December.

We continue our prayers in the parish for all who are unwell and the recently bereaved. We remember also those who are in hospital currently and those who are recovering at home from serious illness. Our hearts go out to all who are in need of our continued prayers and support and we pray that you may have a real sense of the love that surrounds you.

Thank you for your continued generosity which is helping to keep the parish on a sound financial footing. Offertory envelopes and donations may be left in the baskets at the doors of the church or dropped through my letterbox for Olwen our treasurer. We greatly appreciate your continued support and kindness.

Please continue to take good care of yourselves and contact us if we can be of any help or support. Roy


Kevin Dalton – A Tribute by Leo Cullen

It’s my deep privilege to have been asked by Jenny and Tara and Sally Anne to read a family tribute. Thank you. I know you are in a state of numbness today, heartbroken, lost. We are all in deepest sympathy. Kevin was my friend – that is my connection. And those of you who were his friends will know what that was like. So you can imagine Kevin saying, with one of his favourite phrases: ‘Now what’s this fellow going to say about me, for he’s deeply offensive you know!’

‘That could never be’ is the title of Kevin’s remarkable story – the victory of courage and spirit over adversity. That could never be – but it has. And it is: Kevin, fondly known far and wide as the Rev Kev, has died. And it’s like an oak tree has been felled in Monkstown.

Yesterday evening, in the fading light, I was walking back home along Monkstown Road. I was coming by 62, The Rectory, his old house, and my mind took to remembrances and snatches of Kevin in that house with his family and my own family calling there. A man was passing me in the semi- dark and I sort of recognised him as local and said, ‘Did you hear Kevin died. Kevin, that was all I needed to say. He stopped. ‘I didn’t,’ when did it happen?’ ‘In the early hours this morning.’ I said. ‘I suppose it’s because I was passing the house I told you.’ ‘Ah fair play,’ the man said, ‘fair play to Kevin.’

Fair play, I thought. That was it. It was what distinguished him. Fair play for everybody, don’t kick a dog when he’s down. He had tremendous compassion for the down-trodden, for the hard up, the elderly. I’ve seen queues of people outside the back of the church at Christmastime, standing in waiting for a little help. I’ve seen Kevin take off in his car – always a big boot in Kevin’s cars – and beseech the wholesalers and retailers on the high street and the low street – for he knew the all – And come home loaded with washing powder and biscuits and hams and plum puddings and crackers and then would put the ladies of the parish to make up hampers and then be off on the road again, with some of the young lads – my own sons included, distributing them. And he’d pass the lads a few bob too. And it was an astonishment to work out how Kevin ever knew what pocket the money was coming from – his own funds or the funds of the parish. Yes, it was always Fair Play with the Rev Kev, except of course when he was playing you in a game of poker.

And his cars, he couldn’t go the roads unless he got a few bashes. And for a man who was probably the most ecumenical of any I’ve known, he’d point the bashes out to you: ‘Look at that, Roman Catholics did that, they’re very dangerous drivers.’ As were the pigeons that roosted in the belfry of Monkstown parish church and caused droppings havoc up there. He’d point at the spire of St Patrick’s across the road. ‘Roman Catholic pigeons, he’d say, they are a terrible sadness to me. They refuse to go back to where they came from.’ Why would they?. To Kevin’s church everybody was welcome – He was the one who brought the three churches together, opened the roads, knocked down the barriers, for the Village Day 1989; invited Ooh ah Paul McGrath, who’d spent his childhood at Glensilva Orphanage nearby.

When Finn, the youngest of our three children, was born, we’d barely heard of Kevin. We were lapsed, Carole from her church and I from mine. My church was as Kevin mischievously put it, ‘the one holy catholic and apostolic church,’ or to use his less laudatory term: ‘The Vatican Mission.’ No, we weren’t ‘gospel greedy’, to use another beguiling phrase of his. But we asked Kevin would he baptise Finn. He did, and as well as that recruited my older boys to Sunday School and put us to work: Carole revived the Boys Brigade, I took them for soccer and high jinks. The Knox Hall was bedlam. Kevin would come in, stand at the end of the hall, smile at the children, then no matter what we’d be up to, he’d shrug and leave us to it. It’s a sign of him that one of the hymns today should be the Boys Brigade Song .

Kevin did an immense amount of good for an immense amount of people. This was remarkable. Because he never had the security of parents, not two parents, not one parent. Nobody to help form his character as he grew up. And yet for all that, he did brilliantly. He was born in Dublin in 1932. His single mother had no choice but to place him, at two years of age, in a Home. This was one of the Miss Carr’s homes. His Catholic mother showed great presence of mind, he always said, she wanted only for his betterment and thought he’d have fairer prospects in the Protestant embrace. He was very grateful to her for that. Always thankful for small mercies. He was fond of Miss Carr. He was loyal to a great many people in his growing years; he always recognised a good turn. Yet he was one of the unlucky ones to never have been adopted by foster parents, as most of those out of Miss Carr Homes had been. At ten years of age, he was sent to the Havergel Boys Home in Limerick. It was Dickensian, tea and bread, meagre. He was beaten. And yet he could be so touching, reminiscing on any good points; the archdeacon’s wife taught choruses and hymns on the piano. Kevin remembered her ‘daintily’ play ‘Heavenly Sunshine’ and ‘There is a Happy Land Far Far Away.’ Another one he recalled was ‘The chho choo chorus.’ It’s doubtful theology may not meet with clerical approval nowadays but Kevin loved to recite it:

We’re going up to heaven on the happy day express,
The letters on the engine are J E S U S,
the guard cries ‘All for Heaven?
We gladly answer ‘Yes!’

From such beginnings he went to Dublin, trudged the streets for work, followed his dream: stayed at the ‘Harding Hostel for Young Men’ where he met his lifelong friend to this day, Golding Kidd; Golding it was who taught him how to waltz – I’d say patience was required for that job, Golding! He embarked then on long studies to qualify for Trinity College, having to repeat Latin exams six times. Entered Trinity in 1961. In 1966 was ordained. Post graduate studies at Berkeley California. Ministries in Stillorgan (Stillorgan Youth Club kept in touch to the end), Drumcondra and North Strand parish (not gospel greedy, he said), then Monkstown. And all that despite the fact that when asked as a young lad by one of his benefactors what he was going to be when he grew up and replied that he was going to be ordained, he was told, ‘Kevin, that could never be’ which became the title of his outstanding, critically acclaimed memoir; written with the help of his great friend Paddy Semple.

Oh Kevin so loved his family, Jenny and the girls. They will be lost without his bustling life, his adoration of every single thing they did. And that also included Des and Luke and his grandchildren Daniel and Ella Rose and Lily. And it was a sadness that when his sister Mary was located by Tara some months ago he was no longer able to enjoy her – he’d never known he had a younger sister. We sympathise with you too, Mary. It’s fitting that now Kevin and his family travel on to St Brigid’s in Stillorgan, where he was curate and married Jenny.

We’ll miss him, despite the doubtful qualities of his compliments. Even when I used visit him in his care home – and Jenny, who was so wonderful and visited twice, three times every single day and saw to all his needs, would want me to thank Fern Dean for the care and attention they showed throughout his tenure – even then he’d compliment me with doubtful praise: ‘Did anybody ever tell you that you had lovely hair. It’s a great sadness to me that you have so little of it.’ Or: ‘You that knows everything, can you tell me why you’re so deeply offensive?’

And then at the end of those hospital visits, when I or his friends Golding Kidd or Des Sinnamon, or whoever was visiting, would say:

‘I have to go now Kevin. Goodbye’
He’d say. ‘Why? Don’t go.’
‘I have to go, Kevin.’
‘Don’t go. ‘It’s a sadness to me.’

Goodbye Kevin. It’s a sadness to all of us