First Holy Communion Day in the parish here - this and next Sunday, to cater for the two primary schools. In the visits to the children I have been introducing them to various aspects of the Eucharist and who the Eucharist is - not easy when the official catechetical programme is so bad. Luckily I have two good teachers who have been preparing the children well.
Among those we discussed was Little Nellie of Holy God, known throughout the world for her precocious faith and love of the Eucharist. She died at the age of four renowned for her sanctity. The children were fascinated by the story of her life and her love of Jesus. Since our talk they have asked me about her a number of times.
Little Nellie, more formally Ellen Organ, was a marvellous child. Fr Owen Gorman and myself devoted a programme to her in our first series of Forgotten Heritage. She was a wonderful example of how develop a relationship with the Lord through the Eucharist. Despite huge devotion to her, first in Ireland, and now throughout the world (thanks to Tan Books' little biography), a Cause has not been opened for her and may not.
It has been said that after her death the Pope, St Pius X, was asked if a Cause could be opened, but he said that she was an angel in heaven and so seemed to dismiss the idea of a Cause. I do not think this quite correct - Pius did initiate a preliminary investigation, but died before he could do anything further. Since then nothing has happened. One of the obstacles was her age - could the Church proclaim a four year old as a Saint? Well, we now have a number of Causes for children, including a seven year old, the Venerable Antonietta Meo. I think the time is ripe for a Cause to be opened for this four year old.
A Cause for Nellie would bring many blessings to Ireland. First of all her Eucharistic faith would inspire many in an age when Adoration is growing as a spiritual exercise among the faithful. Given that Dublin is hosting next year's Eucharistic Congress this would be a most appropriate time to open a Cause. The glorification of Nellie could serve to bring healing to the Church in Ireland. Nellie was in a orphanage and her experience was positive. That would bring out the other side of what happened in these care homes. As an intercessor and an orphan raised to the altars, she could also serve as a model of healing for those who were abused.
All that said, it seems the Church in Ireland is not really that keen to pursue Causes - we have very few and those Causes are not moving. Our martyrs, for example, who need only a decree of martyrdom to achieve beatification, seem to be languishing. If no one is pushing them and not popping in to the Congregation every now and again, Rome will process those Causes where interest is being shown. If Rome thinks there is no interest, they won't speed up, after all they have enough work to do: many other countries are producing Saints and they are interested.
So, pray for Nellie's glorification. She has much to teach us we need only stop and listen and realise what great blessings this holy child could bring to the Church through her beatification and canonisation. A priest once said to me, "When a Cause for Little Nellie is opened, then we will know that the Church in Ireland is beginning to reform". Good point there.