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Letter from Fr. Burke



Dear Parishioners,
As I take my leave of Drumshanbo, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for making my time here so happy, memorable and blessed. It has been an honour and a privilege to have served in your parish for twenty one years. I arrived here on my birthday, 31st August 1994, when Charlie had won the Eurovision and Leitrim were kingpins in Connacht. During that summer a priest colleague, who had served here in the past, assured me that I was coming to work among ‘the loveliest people in the world’. Twenty one years later I can honestly say, that, not only was his statement true, but, it was, if anything, an understatement.  During that time I have experienced your extraordinary support, encouragement, friendship, loyalty, kindness and generosity from the youngest children to the most senior citizens.

 I remember with fondness the unrivalled spirit in our school communities, manifested so powerfully on all the great sacramental celebrations. I have been enormously impressed and encouraged by the enlightened manner in which Parish Pastoral Councils and our Finance Committee took ownership of all aspects of parish life.  I have been deeply impressed and edified by all who ministered so willingly and reverently in our beautiful parish Church, and in the convent next door. I think, especially, of our magnificent music ministry which enhanced so many liturgical moments. I will cherish those memories for ever. Never let the music die in Drumshanbo! I have been moved and uplifted by the sterling faith of the throngs who gathered to worship on happy days and sad days. I have been enriched, too, by the vibrant social and sporting life of the parish; the friendships forged through the festivals, the summer schools, the games, the trips abroad. Golden memories; happy days! I express my sincere thanks to the Sisters of Mercy, Joseph, Mary, Helen, not forgetting Clare and Alphonsus (RIP), whose contribution to this parish has been immense. I was blessed beyond words to have been able to avail of their unstinting support, advice and expertise. It was a special grace and blessing to have served the Poor Clare sisters in their unique ‘Powerhouse of Prayer’, which has provided a haven of peace and tranquillity for multitudes for over 150 years. I wish Mother Angela and the community every blessing on the road ahead. 

I am conscious at this time, too, of the need to ask for  forgiveness, or at least understanding, for any hurt I may have caused to anyone by what I said or didn’t say; by what I did or didn’t do during my years here. The French have a saying that ‘to leave is to die a little’. I’m experiencing the truth of those words at this challenging time. Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation, but, in every ending there is a new beginning. The torch is now passed to Fr. Frankie Murray, a close personal friend, and a man of great gentleness, caring and creativity. I wish him peace, joy and fulfilment as he leads the parish forward.                                                                                 
In conclusion, may I make my own the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians:

‘I thank my God for you every time I think of you;  and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy.

Le gach dea-ghui,
Peter Burke.