The Reopening of the Mater Hospital Chapel
Tuesday, 27 June 2017, 7pm
It gives me great pleasure, both personally and on behalf of the Diocese of Down and Connor, to congratulate the Mater Hospital on the joyous occasion of the reopening of its Chapel. The Chapel has, from the Hospital’s foundation, been a privileged place of encounter with Our Lord. Generations of patients, families and staff have cherished it as an oasis of prayer and calm where healing is experienced.
I wish to commend the skill and craftsmanship of all who have participated in the restoration and renewal of the Chapel. The fruits of their labour evidence reverence for the past, sensitivity to the present and vision for the future. I extend heartfelt gratitude to the charitable donors, past and current, whose generous benefactions made possible the project. The result is one which gives glory to God and edifies the souls of all who pray and worship within its hallowed walls.
Since the Mater was founded by my predecessor, Bishop Dorrian, in 1883, the Diocese has assisted the Hospital to grow into a world class centre of teaching and healthcare excellence. The Diocese, through its trusteeship of the Hospital, remains steadfast in its support of this noble cause. It is encouraging to see major investment by the Young Philanthropists Trust in the Hospital’s infrastructure and facilities, most recently the Education Suite and Library. I am confident that the Mater is well-placed to respond effectively to present need, and to offer a distinctive and vital contribution to the ongoing conversation about the future of healthcare provision in Belfast and Northern Ireland.
This occasion also affords me a welcome opportunity to record thanks to the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. Their inestimable contribution to the life and work of the Hospital is both praiseworthy and has the capacity to inspire a renewal of much-needed social responsibility. The witness and legacy of the Sisters makes clear that, as we navigate societal change and the challenges this presents, motives of self-interest will not be sufficient, nor will market forces sustain us. Something of the gratuity, of the self-gift, of the self-sacrifice that lies at the heart of Christian life is essential.
Earlier this year, I met with Pope Francis as part of the Irish Bishops’ Ad Limina Apostolorum visit to Rome. During the course of that visit, I was given the opportunity to submit an account of the various pastoral initiatives supported by the Diocese. Not least among them was the Mater Hospital. Not long after, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Pope Francis delivered this message:
I encourage all of you, the sick, the suffering, physicians, nurses, family members and volunteers, to see in Mary, Health of the Infirm, the sure sign of God’s love for every human being and a model of surrender to his will.
On this auspicious occasion, I make our Holy Father’s words my own. I once again entrust the Mater family to the gentle care of the Hospital’s patroness, Mary, Mother of the Sick, and I invoke her motherly protection upon you and your loved ones.
Yours in Christ,
Most Rev Noel Treanor
Bishop of Down and Connor