Baby shoes placed at altar during Cork Mass

Baby shoes placed at altar during Cork Mass

A church in Cork was filled with applause and tears on Sunday after baby shoes were placed on the altar to commemorate the victims and survivors of clerical abuse.

Canon David Herlihy said he proposed the commemoration ceremony that took place in St Mary’s Parish Church in Youghal after members of the Standing4Women movement had tied children’s shoes to the church railings early last week in solidarity with all those who had been affected by the scandals.

“Just before Mass started I invited people to go out and to untie the shoes, anyone who wished to do so. There was great backing in the parish,” he said, adding that there was a “very big turnout of survivors”.

Standing4Women representative Kirsty Murphy thanked Fr Herlihy for his empathy and called for more support and outreach to victims of abuse as well as “the proper dignified burial” of babies who had died in mother-and-baby homes.

“It made a massive impression on people”, Fr Herlihy told The Irish Catholic, and “there were tears of people who were not involved at all but who just felt for people. It was an amazing experience,” he said.

Fr Herlihy pointed out that “we can’t undo the past but have to deal with the present”, and that the ceremony with the baby shoes might signify baby steps in the right direction to further healing.