I have been moved and impressed in the last 24 hours by two different people and their contribution to our life and our world.
Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Air force has spent the last five months in Space aboard the International Space Station where for a time he was in command. We all got to know him down here for his breath-taking photographs of Earth from the glass cupola aboard the ISS. Every day, we were treated to stunning pictures, night shots and day shots, from all across the world of different countries, sea, lakes, mountains, cities, deserts, glaciers, and the aurora borealis. These photos came to our computer screens and our smartphones via his Twitter and Facebook pages and we shared them generously. Evening News bulletins broadcast them across all networks and he had something for everyone. Here in Ireland, he showed us how pretty our countryside and our cities are and he even wished us all St. Patrick's Day in March with the message that he had family in Dublin.
As Astronauts and Cosmonauts before him, Colonel Hadfield showed us the beauty of our world from high up in space. Up there looking down, there are no borders, no wars, and there is no disease. From space it is possible to rise above the eye of the storm. Millions of people are so grateful to him for his insights into how precious and beautiful our planet is among the other planets orbiting the Sun. I say a prayer for people who play their part at the cutting edge of research, science, innovation, technology, medicine and surgery for the good of humankind.
Col. Hadfield is coming home tonight aboard the Soyuz and I'm sure later on, he'll be in demand for chat shows and media the world over. I know he'll be welcome in Ireland. Have a safe trip Sir. Blessings on all who look after the ISS 'up there' and 'down here.' God Speed...
Last night, we learned of the passing of an extraordinary young man from Kerry, Donal Walsh (16 years old) He was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and he battled the disease with great bravery and courage. His story came to national prominence because he spoke to us of the problem of suicide, especially of suicide in the young. He encouraged young people who may be struggling not to hold it in but to seek help. He said that there is help out there, and that people have a choice to live while he had no choice with his terminal illness.
For a young man who was dying, he lived for others and taught a very valuable lesson to us all about strength and selflessness. We heard the sad news that Donal died at his home in Kerry last evening. For someone who was, despite his illness, a powerful example of optimism for life, I pray that from the Kingdom of God, we will feel that power still. I pray for his family left behind. May he rest in peace.
(Video footage of Donal's story can be found on YouTube and linked to most of the Irish media organisations)