Farmer’s son turned prelate ploughs ahead with prayer search

Farmer’s son turned prelate, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin, along with members of the diocesan ploughing steering group, recently gathered on the site of the National Ploughing Championships at Ballintrane, near Fenagh, Co. Carlow, to launch the Kildare and Leighlin diocesan stand.

Bishop Nulty who was reared on a dairy farm at Bryanstown, Slane, Co. Meath, where his brothers still farm, said he was delighted to welcome the ploughing championships back to the diocese. He said he was looking forward to hosting the diocesan stand – Block 3; Row 18; Stand 399 – from September 17 to 19.

The theme for this year’s stand is ‘Digging Deeper – Rooting for Christ’ a continuation of the diocesan campaign exploring new ways to help people understand and deepen their faith.

As part of the initiative Bishop Nulty has already launched a search for Ireland’s favourite prayer and has also invited people all over the country to get creative and to write a new prayer for the environment.

Speaking at the launch, the prelate said it was fitting that the diocesan stand was being launched on August 15, the feast of the assumption, a holy day when people all over Ireland visited holy wells and other pilgrimage sites.

“I expect that many of the prayers prayed today will be submitted in our search for Ireland’s favourite prayer,” he said.

“The ploughing championships takes place during the annual season of creation, which the Catholic church marks from September 1 to October 4. We are all constantly being called to take better care of our common home, the earth, and no group is closer to the earth than those who will attend the ploughing championships.

“To highlight our close connection with God’s created world, I am also inviting people to write a new prayer – no more than 100 words – focusing on the environment and our care and concern for it.”

All faiths

Bishop Nulty is extending his ‘prayer at the ploughing’ challenge to people of all ages and all faiths. He said he is hopeful that many pupils in schools all over the country will take up the challenge to write their own ‘green prayer’ while also submitting their favourite traditional prayer.

People can submit their favourite prayer and their new ‘green prayer’ by sending them to: [email protected]. The closing date for entries is September 10.

Visitors to the stand will be invited to vote for their favourite traditional prayer from those shortlisted. The winner of the ‘green prayer’ for the environment will be selected by a guest judge and a €100 ‘One for All’ voucher will be presented to its author.

Bishop Nulty went on to talk about the joy of meeting the many people who come to the diocesan stand over the three days. Blessing the salt that will be distributed at the stand this year, the prelate said:

One of the most popular gifts that the diocese has ever offered was the packs of blessed salt that were first brought to the event at Ratheniska. The salt was sprinkled on the land, on gardens and window boxes and over sick animals.

“We know that our visitors appreciate our other gifts, wristbands and prayer cards. They enjoy our various wall displays, the chance to sit, have a cup of tea and a chat. Many people also value the opportunity to spend a little quiet time in prayer.”

Commenting on the importance of the National Ploughing Championships event for the diocese, Bishop Nulty said: “Being present at the ploughing championships whenever it is based in the diocese, is always an exciting time for us.

“I thank the National Ploughing Association managing director, Anna May McHugh, who is always so supportive of our participation. I thank Eamonn Tracey, our world ploughing champion who is with us here today and wish him well and God speed as he travels to Minnesota for this year’s event,” said the prelate.

“The whole diocesan team is looking forward to a busy few days in Fenagh in September. In the meantime, I hope that many people will take up my challenge to tell me about their favourite prayer or to pen their own ‘green prayer’.”

For more on the ‘prayer at the ploughing’ initiative see: