For just the second time in 36 years I didn’t turn up for Mass on Sunday. Instead of being vested and ready for the Family Mass I was instead hobbling into a Swiftcare clinic. An arthritic flare up in my knee caused intense pain and made it impossible to stand at the altar. Many thanks to Fr Brian for coming back for a second Mass and making sure that the needs of the people gathered were met. Now with crutches, brace, meds, ice and adhering to the instruction of rest and elevation I’m making good progress.

This episode comes during my own little Advent within Advent! Just as we all spend 4 weeks waiting for the birth of Jesus and count down the time as we light a weekly candle on the wreath so now I begin a 4 week count down for surgery. During the last few months I’ve been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer which gladly has been caught early and is very treatable. To quote the consultant, “it’s neither life limiting or life shortening but you will have a difficult couple of months.” From January to March I will have to take a period of medical leave. Frs Paddy, Donie, Fergus and Brian are really supportive and will try to ensure that all the usual activity of the parishes will carry on as usual and without interruption.

I am very grateful to the Archbishop for granting me the time to have the surgery and get well and I know that parishioners and parish staff will support me with prayers and practical help. I look forward to all that Advent holds and that Christmas will bring and hope that by the Spring my brush with cancer will be behind me and that life and ministry will carry on as before.