The Ploughing Championships 2022

This event took place this year between 20-22 September 2022.  Three of us went to build the stall on Sunday 18th and on the 20th we presented ourselves as SSpS Sisters.  The stall measured 3 metres by 3 metres.  The Divine Word Missionaries had a stall for the DWM Cards and were under the same roof.  Each day our Media Sister Gini George interviewed one of us for Facebook.  Those who took part were Srs Joan Quirke, Gini George, Ewa Pliszczak, Carmen Lee, Charles Quirke (Sr Joan’s brother) and Sr Julie Doran an OLA sister who supplied us with religious items and connected us to the Aid to the Church in Need.  Charles has stood by us every time we went to this exhibition.

This exhibition of the farming community and its championships takes place yearly and this year the world ploughing championships should have taken place in Russia and because of the war was transferred to Ireland.  The exhibition carries 1700 stalls.  This year because it was the first since the pandemic it had nearly 300,000 participants which was more than ever before.  Under our roof there were 113 stalls under the title of Education, Business and Retail.

Impressions of our time there – you could describe our stall as an invitation to meet God. We offered wrist bands for young people which was attracting them to us, prayer cards for children, farmers, teenagers, drivers, health and various others. We had medals – how surprised we are that young people want a medal. We were also given rosary beads from the Aid to the Church in Need. Fr Binoy, SVD, kept supplying us with their 2023 calendars which people love.  Endearing to us were the youth who wanted to take home things from our stall for their parents and grannies.  It was almost as if we were being taken back to their homes. One young man came to our stall wearing a wrist band from the last time in 2019 and told us he wears it all the time.  The message on it is Missionary Disciples. The message this year was Believe in Your Inner Beauty.  We found this to be more appropriate for girls rather than boys. Now we have to think of another suitable message.  We had a table for petitions and often people cried when sharing their stories. We promised daily prayer for one year for these intentions until the next time.  For the little children we had prayers and a mission rosary from an organisation of Children Helping Children from Missio Ireland.  Our stall was very busy meeting families, youths, school children and asking simple questions about the faith as we gave them something.  The stalls around us were mainly universities and colleges and fostering organisation and business and we made friends with those manning the stalls and we supported each other.  Vocation Promotion and Faithful Companions of Jesus were also under the same roof and we met often sharing our kitchen area with them.  It was a special chance to meet people from all works of life.

The more we broaden ourselves like this the more relaxed we are to speak to people.  We had a display of photos on the wall and when some young school girls saw them they asked ‘how can we volunteer as lay missionaries?’  We felt we needed to write a list for the next time with a link to our lay missionary organisations.  We were not collecting on our stall.  The contract was not to collect money so when someone wished to give us a donation we offered them our stamp collection literature given to us in Steyl when we went there for our Regional pilgrimage lately.

Some of the interesting comments from participants: Where are your hats?  Are you Catholic? If you are English, you must be protestant.

Sr. Carmen Lee SSpS

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