2009 represents the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Franciscan Order. In Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath, the Irish Franciscans have had a presence at the Franciscan Abbey since the 13th century.
To celebrate the 800th anniversary, various events are being planned throughout the year. The first of these special events is to coincide with the Festival of the Feast of St Anthony which runs from June 4 to 13, the actual feast day. During this time a number of eminent figures will be speaking at the Abbey on a range of topics during the evening Mass at 8pm. The list of speakers includes:
Thursday June 4: John Lonergan, governor, Mountjoy Prison. Mr Lonergan has displayed a very enlightened approach to prison and rehabilitation and has always shown great concern not only about the prisoners but also their families.
Friday June 5: John O’Shea, head of GOAL. Mr O’Shea’s leadership of GOAL, an Irish charitable organisation which has done so much for poverty and those in need, has given it worldwide recognition.
Saturday June 6: Anointing of the Sick at 7pm Mass.
Sunday June 7: Anointing of the Sick at 11:30am Mass
Monday June 8: Ruth Illingworth, historian and lecturer. Ms Illingworth is a Mullingar-based historian, writer/broadcaster, and lecturer in Maynooth University.
Tuesday June 9: Fr Joe McMahon OFM, historian and Franciscan
Secretary of the Franciscan Province in Ireland. Fr McMahon is well grounded in Franciscan and Irish history.
Wednesday June 10: Alice Leahy, cofounder, TRUST. Ms Leahy is director of TRUST which she co-founded in 1975. TRUST is a non-judgemental, befriending, social and health service for people who are homeless.
Thursday June 11: Tomi Reichental, survivor, Bergen-Belsen. Mr Richental is one of the few remaining witnesses to the horrors of Belsen. He was nine years old when he entered that concentration camp. He has lectured all over Ireland, particularly in secondary schools.
Friday June 12: Fr Hugh O’Donnell SBD. Author of Ecology & the Eucharist, Fr Hugh O’Donnell is concerned with ecological issues and the proper use of the resources of this planet.
Saturday June 13: Feast of St Anthony. Blessing of Children and Lilies
The 10-day celebration of the Feast of St Anthony is always a very well-attended event at the Franciscan Abbey at Multyfarnham, attracting a large number of people not only from Westmeath but also Longford, Cavan, Meath, and surrounding areas. This year promises to be very special with the distinguished speakers who will share their thoughts and views.
The congregation will be requested to enter the Abbey by the side entrance off the Coole Road and there will be parking stewards in attendance on each evening.
Light refreshments will be served each evening (except Sat/Sun ), giving an opportunity for the congregation to mix and mingle and perhaps talk to the invited speakers.