The only known letter that Matt Talbot ever wrote was to the Columban Missionaries. Matt was very ill at the time, in December 1924 and in a very poignant and moving letter he wrote: “Matt Talbot – have done no work for past 18 months. I have been sick and given over by priest and doctor. I don’t think I will work any more. There one pound from me and ten shillings from my sister.”
It was fitting therefore that the Matt Talbot Novena Mass for October, the month of the Missions, was animated by the Columban Missionaries. The Mass was held on Sunday 25th of October in Matt Talbot Shrine, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Sean McDermott Street. The Eucharist was led by Fr Vincent, a Columban Missionary from Fiji presently studying in Ireland, while Fr Richard Ebejer and Fr Cyril Odia concelbrated; a sizeable crowd gathered for the occasion.
The theme for the evening was “From Adversity to Hope, from Hope to Action”: seeking to highlight Matt Talbot’s own love for the missions, and how in the midst of his own struggles, the hope that sustained him encouraged him to reach out to others.
At the opening of the liturgy, a number of symbolic objects wee brought up representing different dimensions of Mission. A small Youth Choir from Ballymun Parish helped to animate the liturgy, assisted by Fr John Quinn who accompanied them on the guitar. A number of Vietnamese Salesian Missionaries sang at communion, after which a small video on the Missionary works of the Columbans was shown.
Venerable Matt Talbot, who died in 1925, was renowned for his holiness, having overcome a crippling alcohol addiction, through prayer, penance and works of charity. 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 to stay in recovery.
The occasion also marked the conclusion of the 90th Anniversary Year, during which the parish held a number of special activities to commemorate Matt Talbot and celebrate his legacy.
The Salesians of Don Bosco have been entrusted with the pastoral care of the Shrine and Parish 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.