Father Aidan Troy, the priest who was based in North Belfast during the 2001 Holy Cross protests, will lead a Retreat at Long Tower Parish in Derry next week.
The Passionist Father, who now ministers in Paris, will be based at the parish for four nights for a mission entitled ‘Renewal Through the Sacraments.’
Beginning on Sunday, April 7, the Retreat talks will focus on Baptism and Reconciliation, with a final talk on the Eucharist on Wednesday April 10.
Following the traditional Derry Retreat format, Mass will also be celebrated at 6.30 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Wednesday, April 10, at the 10 a.m. Mass, the Sacrament of the Sick will be administered.
Speaking ahead of next week, Father Troy, who regularly returns home to Ireland, revealed how as a young priest he was once part of a Retreat team who visited St Eugene’s Cathedral.
“I still recall the great closing ceremonies, “ he said, adding: “Pastoral Coordinator Emmet Thompson invited me to Long Tower for a Retreat in Lent 2018, but I was unable to accept. After Easter last year, he invited me for Lent 2019 - with that amount of notice, I could hardly refuse!
“I am looking forward to visiting Derry at such an important time in the Church’s year.”
Living in Paris since he was transferred there in 2008, the Wicklow born priest is now based at the English speaking St Joseph’s Church, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Father Aidan’s face became known globally as a true symbol of courage during the Holy Cross protests in 2001, when schoolgirls in Belfast faced sectarian abuse from protestors who tried to block their path to school. He went on to write the book ‘Holy Cross – A Personal Experience.’
“The seven years at Holy Cross have had a great effect on my life, both personally and in ministry,” he said. “I would not have missed them for anything and I thank God for giving me the privilege to serve there in both difficult and many pleasant times. Holy Cross taught me that there is no substitute to talking and listening if conflict is to be resolved. The attacks in Paris in 2015 and the present Gilets Jaunes protests remind me of what I learnt there.”
Father Troy encouraged people from the Diocese to set aside some time next week to attend the Retreat in preparation for Easter, even if they have not attended Church recently.
He said: “Everyone will be blessed in a different way by the prayer, Sacraments and reflections of the retreat. For some, it may be a time to seek peace of conscience with God or to pray for some family member or other intention. The power of people coming together to pray and to share, is greater than my own solitary efforts.
“We live in times of great challenge in the Church and in Politics. The length of time a person may have been away from the Sacraments does not weaken one bit the warmth of God’s welcome whenever we come back to Him. Like the Gospel of the Prodigal Son - he is always looking to see if we are on our way back to Him.”
Father Aidan Mullan, Administer at Long Tower said: “On behalf of the Long Tower Parish and the Diocese I warmly welcome Father Aidan Troy to Derry next week.
“Our theme this year is Renewal Through the Sacraments, focusing on the healing power of the Church’s sacraments.
“During the time our parish community will have time to reflect on how we can reinvigorate our baptismal promises this Lent.”