Ballintubber on the summer solstice married together a very old Irish celtic spirituality to a young and modern claim to catholicism. In organising such an event we hoped to bring young people of the Tuam diocese into a realm of faith and practice that meant something; that was spiritual, personal and refreshing.
The liturgy took place on a starry night in the midst of Ballintubber Abbey – where Christain roots date back to St. Patrick himself. People arrived from all over our diocese to celebrate together. As we stood around in the subtly lit venue, drums began beating. The natural ampitheretre was a perfect setting for our outdoor liturgy. The drums finished in an amazing cresendo which allowed all present to fully appreciate the celebaration : ‘Our Church, Our Turn’.
The Liturgy was led by Fr. Séan Cunningham, and was complimented by the Ballinrobe Folk Choir. The liturgy itself focused upon youth, a sense of belonging to our Church and the community aspect of our faith. And while the liturgy followed all the rigor of a usual celebration, the outdoor setting, the movement between the crowd, the participation of all in selecting their bread before the consecretion meant it was a very different type of ceremony, personal and communal. The lighting of the bonfire, and the procession which followed brought forth the very celtic nature of the night. Light is a symbol which carries much signifance and meaning for us all, each participant carried a candle in the procession and brought this candle away as a momento of the celebration. The ceremony closed in a prayerful silence.
Following from the liturgical celebration, Fr. Tod Nolan thanked all involved in the ceremony and so we moved to the second part of the evenings festivities, the Barbeque. At this point we all gathered round the bonfire eating freashly cooked burgers, chatting, introducing ourselves, asking how we had heard of the event etc. There was an energy present that evening in Ballintubber that you do not often experience in a faith experience, it was positive, youthful, grounded in laughter and fun. The Ballintubber Bonfire Liturgy was we believe a true success, young people celebrated a liturgy together it was spiritual, personal and refreshing.