The Salesians of St John Bosco have been entrusted with the pastoral care of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Sean McDermott Street in inner city Dublin for over twenty years. Though in the heart of the city, it is very much a ministry to the marginalized and those effected by social problems and addiction. It would be very much to the heart of Don Bosco and Pope Francis himself.
The large beautiful Church hosts also the mortal remains of Venerable Matt Talbot, a Dubliner who died in 1925, and was renowned for his holiness, having overcome a crippling alcohol addiction, through prayer and penance. He has been a heroic inspiration to many people in Ireland and abroad battling addiction. His shrine attracts quite a number of pilgrims who come seeking spiritual strength to be able overcome their addiction. As a pastoral initiative, the parish is holding a number of special activities to mark the 90th Anniversary of Matt Talbot’s death, and a Matt Talbot year was announced to celebrate his legacy.
The year was launched with the celebration of a special Novena Mass on Sunday 25th of January 2015. The Mass was very well attended, with over 200 people coming from all over Dublin, and beyond. Fr Brian Lawless, Vice-Postulator of the Canonization of Matt Talbot, presided over the Mass, assisted by Fr Richard Ebejer S.D.B., Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church. At the end of Mass, Fr Brian blessed an Exhibition illustrating the life of Matt Talbot at the entrance of the Church, and officially opened a new Shrine Office. Objects belonging to Matt where also on display and his relic was then venerated after Mass.
In a recent article that appeared in the Irish Catholic, Fr Brian Lawless reported that a possible miracle involving a healing in the womb, has been presented to Rome. If verified by the Vatican, it would mean that Matt Talbot would be declared ‘Blessed’ by Pope Francis, a major step on the road to sainthood. “We have a good feeling about it,” said Fr Lawless. “Hopefully, in the near future, we will have word about the outcome of these inquiries.”
“Matt Talbot is very highly regarded, particularly in the US. With all the difficulties and problems people are facing as result of addictions, now is the time that people need a patron and Matt is the obvious choice,” Fr Lawless said.
In an interview with the Irish Catholic, Fr Richard said, “We want to present Matt Talbot as a role model for young people. Many think of him as an old man but his conversion was at 28 years of age. He can speak to today’s young people.” Fr Richard continued saying “St John Bosco used to say that no matter how wayward a young person may be, there is always a spark of goodness that needs to be tapped on. Matt Talbot is a living proof of how right Don Bosco was! Indeed, Matt has a powerful message for today’s youth, for today’s families and for today’s society.” Maybe it is fortunate that this coincides with the Bi-centenary year of Don Bosco.
Matt Talbot was born in a socially deprived area of Dublin in 1856 and, like many people at the time, he turned to alcohol at an early age.
He was considered a “hopeless alcoholic” by the age of 13. However, at the age of 28 he renounced alcohol and found strength in prayer. He soon became renowned for his piety, works of charity and mortification of the flesh.
In 1931, the Archdiocese of Dublin began investigating whether or not Matt Talbot should be considered for sainthood. His case was forwarded to the Vatican in 1947 and in 1972 his remains were removed from Glasnevin Cemetery and brought to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Sean McDermott Street.
Three years later, Pope Paul VI recognised his ‘heroic virtue’ and declared him ‘Venerable’ an important step in the process to becoming a saint.
A special Novena Mass is held on the last Sunday of every month at 3.00pm; the next one will be 22nd February – all are welcome to attend.