Welcome to my website!
Here, you will find details of my Career and Life, Books, and Media & Public Appearances. I also make available a collection of my journalistic writings. Just below, you will find a new Moral Matters Column (uploaded each Friday) and a selection of my Saturday Essays from the Irish Daily Mail. At the bottom of this page, I have selected a quote from my writings in the hope that it will help you kick off your day on a contemplative, thought-provoking, but always life-affirming note.
October 10, 2018
The gentlest of men whose silence helped us to hear God
He came into my life in the gentlest of ways. For that was the singular feature of Fr Eric Powell’s character: gentleness. He was always there if you wanted him but would never intrude if you didn’t. Unbeknownst to me, he was chaplain at the school where my wife teaches. It was there, at a Christmas carol service many years ago, that I first heard him speak. In his quiet English accent, this gracious man blessed us in a way that I have never forgotten. There was no fanfare, jokes or preamble of any kind. Fr Powell simply stood before the gathering and showed us what it is to be an icon of holiness. From that day to this, my admiration and esteem for him has never waned. Back home in England, Eric
Powell was educated by the Salvatorian Fathers. When he decided to join the priesthood, it was to them that he returned. Then, in the early 1980s, the Salvatorians took over the parish of Sallynoggin in Dublin, and Fr Powell found his true home. For 30 years, this mildest of men ministered to the people of Sallynoggin and Glenageary. Many priests came and went, but he always remained. He was a quiet yet enduring presence in that parish, a man whose sole ambition was to give God to those whom he served. Shortly after the carol service at my wife’s school, I witnessed Fr Powell saying Mass in his parish church. He radiated a spiritual calmness that seemed to pervade the entire congregation. It was an experience of deep prayerfulness so rare in our world. He was refined, reserved and
possessed exquisite manners. And yet I never met a man more humble or unassuming. His life was a wonderful example of why it is the meek who shall inherit the earth. …Read more
- Moral Matters has been running each week in the Irish Daily Mail since 2009. Columns from 2013 to the present are available simply by hitting the ‘Columns’ tab above.
March 17, 2018
Can Pope Francis heal his divided Church?
LAST Monday, former President Mary McAleese appeared on RTÉ’s Today With Seán O’Rourke programme. Having recently obtained global headlines with her searing denunciation of the Catholic Church as an ‘empire of misogyny’, Mrs McAleese used her appearance on the show to take aim at none other than Pope Francis. The Pontiff, she claimed, is ‘not a great strategist’, but is a ‘very spontaneous, almost scattergun person’. And, while these might be ‘disarming and lovely’ traits, we are, she believes, ‘beyond the point where that is enough’. It is not often you hear leading Catholic liberals so stridently criticise the current Pope. However, the former president wasn’t finished. While acknowledging that Francis is, indeed, a ‘reforming pope’, he nevertheless presides over ‘a male bastion of patronising platitudes’, to which he himself adds ‘his own quota’. While many were shocked by her criticisms of this popular Pope, Mary McAleese is, in fact, not alone in finding fault with Francis. Indeed, on both sides of the Catholic divide, the Pope has his detractors – people who believe, like Mrs McAleese, that he hasn’t gone far enough, and others who think his ‘reforms’ have gone much too far. As it happens, Mrs McAleese’s broadside against Francis coincided with the fifth anniversary of his election as Pope on March 13. What began as a pontificate of great promise has, however, become one that is often unpredictable, complex and, at times, bitterly controversial…Read More