Pearse came to the Parish of St Laurence O’Toole’s as a young Deacon. His ordination took place in our parish. His parents, particularly his sister Anita were in attendance. It was a huge event in his family’s life and in the life of our community. The church was packed on that day.
When I asked why we were going to church on that day my mother told me that a new priest being ordained was a very special event. She told me that parishioners who attend this event would receive the first blessing of a new priest. The first blessing of a new priest, she informed me, gets you a seat closer to God. As a child I recall thinking “Right we’d better go so!” and I increased the speedily got ready by putting on my Sunday best. I realise now as an adult that this was a myth, however, I grew up in a very religious community. There were sodalities, processions for Corpus Christi and the month of May for our Lady.
The local convent was very important to our community. They provided emotional support to mothers in the area in the form of weekly evenings meetings when the children were in bed. These meetings were called; “The Christian Mothers”. There were also similar meetings for children and I’m delighted to tell you that I, along with other children in the parish were members of a group called “The Angels.” Everything, in our parish was focussed around the Church, including its location on the triangular piece of land facing the lift up bridge.
Fr Pearce recalls his time in Sheriff St with great fondness. His love of his parishioners and community is evident in every fibre of his being and even though he left us he has continued to stay connected to my family and others.
As we discussed the importance of the church and in particular the nuns who ran the “Penny Dinners” for the poor, he recalled seeing a nun crossing the road on Sheriff St with a mattress on her back. Her headdress and veil were on the side of her head as she dragged the mattress on her back. We agreed that this act of kindness was a really spiritual act.
Pearse was the chaplain for UCD for many years. He is currently the parish priest in City Quay and one of his friends told me recently that he takes enormous amounts of time writing his Sunday Homily for his parishioner’s.
I recently met his sister Anita at an event and she told me that she has such fond memories of the children’s choir that she ran with Sr Hilda Bluett. They sang at her wedding in St. Anthony’s in Clontarf. The children’s voices made it a very beautiful and meaningful ceremony as she set out on her journey in married life.