Faith in the Face of Life’s Challenges

The Diocese of Kerry hosted a conversation on Faith in the face of life’s challenges in The Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney on Wednesday last January 8th. The panel included Ian O’Connell, Killarney, Elma Walsh, Tralee, Anne Alcock, Killarney and Fr. Donal O’Connor, Chaplain to the IT Tralee and they shared how faith has enabled them to face what life has thrown at them. Deirdre Walsh, Radio Kerry, chaired the conversation.

About 350 people listened attentively to the speakers as they presented the major challenges of their lives to date.  Author Anne Alcock talked about how her discovery of a cancerous lump impacted on her self- image as a healthy person. She presented vividly her physical and spiritual journey. She was living in Cork city at the time in a house on a slope which required her to climb the 20 steps to her house for every journey to the shop, to the doctors and to the hospital.  She was very much alone as her mother had just died and her other family members are spread over the world.  Anne grew to appreciate everything as Gift. Ann was inspirational in her delivery and those who want to read more on this subject can get her very fine book  – Cancer: A Circle of Seasons. It is a book of prayer, poetry and journal suggestions to help and support those dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Elma Walsh talked about the disappointment and the heartbreak of Donal her son’s illness and death. Fr Donal O Connor talked about the ongoing challenges in everyday life – the good days and the bad days. The fact that suffering comes in all shapes to each of us. He quoted Shakespear: O, how full of briers is this working-day world!

Fr Donal talked of two things that keep him going:

  1. ‘Faith’ is an active verb and to wrestle with God is human. Faith includes development and change.
  2. Jesus Christ was truly a human being, thus what we experience he experienced. We are not alone.

18 year old Ian O Connell told the story of his accident on his bicycle which has left him paralysed and his journey through rehab. He spoke with humour and talked of his good friends. They were evident on the night. He listed his recent trip to Lourdes as an unexpected highlight last year and he talked of his fervent prayers which he believes help him on this unexpected journey.

At the end of the night, the large crowd dispersed slowly chatting to others present about the inputs and the help and difference faith can make in coping with our ongoing struggles.