WORLD DAY OF PRAYER HOSTED AT SACRED HEART PARISH, KILLINARDEN 6 MARCH 2015.
A good crowd gathered in Sacred Heart Church, Killinarden on the occasion of the Annual World Day of Prayer 2015, the theme of which was ‘Do you know what I have done to you?’ This year the Prayer Service was prepared by the Christian Women of the BAHAMAS and the booklet provided for the occasion provided information about the country and the life in the BAHAMAS. Though many think of Bahamas as a beautiful tourist spot and a place for holiday, that is not the full picture.
The Bahamas consist of 700 islands of which only 30 are inhabited. In reality, life is far removed from the Paradise image that is portrayed on the tourist brochures and on the advertisements. While the tourism is the major industry, the local population sees little of the benefits. The hotels are developed by the Chinese people and workers from China are imported to work there. However, the Bahamian people are very spiritual people and are committed to their churches.
The three themes among Bahamian women are
1. Stand up for Jesus
2. Stand up for Rights
3. Stand up for Self
The information given in the booklet provides the focus for the prayer and reflects the life of poverty and its implications experienced by many of the inhabitants. The following are some of the issues experienced by the people of the Bahamas.
- Racism is rife and the shade of one’s skin colour determines ones position in society: white, light brown, black
- Poverty is widespread •
- Unemployment is high the implication of which is young people have to emigrate
- Emigrants are mainly men so women look after the children
- Immigration adds to the problem of poverty
- Domestic violence is common throughout the islands and structures are not in place to empower people of their rights
- Education is free but standard is State schools are low. Few girls finish schooling.
- Child slavery is common
There are many related problems experienced by the people in the Bahamas due to the poverty that exists there. Breast cancer is prevalent. Storms brought on by Global Warming are causing sea levels to rise resulting in flooding and has consequences for agricultural land. Pollution is caused by waste and litter; sand dunes are broken down by buildings and pathways and the ecosystem is destroyed.
The lighthouse is a prominent feature in the Bahamas as it is a country where the area of water is larger than land. This image of the lighthouse is a reminder to the people that the light of God always guides us to safe harbours. This is a sign of hope for the many sailors and fishermen who travel the seas amid the 700 islands.
And what of the Prayer Service in Killinarden?
The prayer booklet was prepared by the women of the Bahamas. Sister Kathleen McErlean and her team from the neighbouring Christian Churches in the Tallaght area organised themselves to prepare the prayer space and to involve as many people as possible to read and participate in the service. The prayer space was most attractive and colourful and was much enhanced by the footprints that led from the back of the Church to the space itself. The choir was present and the singing was lively and those in attendance joined in with great voice and enthusiasm.
The service included:-
• A Welcome
• A Call to Worship
• A Prayer of Praise
• A Bible Reading
• A Prayer of Confession
• A Ritual of Washing of the Feet
• A Prayer of Intercession
• A Prayer of Thanksgiving.
One could sense the solidarity that the people of Killinarden felt with the people of the Bahamas by the participation and the prayers that were read with feeling and love throughout the service. The ritual of the washing of the feet was probably the most poignant moment of the entire service. The format included a woman representing Christ and six volunteers who offered to have their feet washed. Each person who had her feet washed represented Poverty, Domestic Violence, Migrants, Teenage Mothers, HIV/Aids, Cancer.
The group organised six reversible placards. On side one of each of the placards was written Poverty, Domestic Violence, Migrants, Teenage Mothers, HIV/AIDS and Cancer. On side two of each placard was written Provision, Security, Acceptance, Understanding, Inclusion and Healing respectively. As the women had their feet washed, individuals held the placards and displayed them during the ritual. Each issue was named and prayed over and the woman representing Christ after each foot washing said;
• She represented Poverty….She has received Provision….
• She represented Domestic Violence…. She has received Security
• She represented Migrants… She has received Acceptance • She represented Teenage Mothers…. She has received Understanding
• She represented HIV/AIDS…….. She has received Inclusion
• She represented Cancer….. She has received Healing Throughout the ritual, Bible verses were interspersed, encouraging people to put their trust in God and to lean on Him for support.
In conclusion, Sister Anne O’ Neill thanked all those in attendance and all those who contributed in so many ways to organise the service. It was her hope and the hope of the organisers that each one would return to his/her own parish and share what they had received in the local parishes. Sister Anne then invited everyone to the Resource Centre for hospitality. This was an opportunity to meet people from the different Churches and build on ecumenical relations. The mandate was to ‘stand in solidarity’ and ‘together to bring a brand new day.’ Let us pray for the people of the Bahamas that they may live with hope in the knowledge that God will supply a dignified and just life for all through the love and care of the people of Killinarden and beyond through the power of the Holy Spirit.