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 Post subject: Priest to miners' descendants
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 3:52 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:12 pm
Posts: 85
Location: Harrisburg, PA (or in the coal fields)
Priest to miners' descendants: 'You understand the sacrifice'
BY JOHN E. USALIS (STAFF WRITER jusalis@republicanherald.com)
Published: September 8, 2009

Karns stressed sacrifices at the Mass on Monday.


David McKeown/Special Photos The Rev. David Karns, pastor of St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church, Port Carbon, prays during the fourth annual Labor Day Mass at the Castle Green Grotto near Heckscherville.

GREENBURY - The hard work of Irish coal miners was compared to the making of a bell in Korea more than a thousand years ago at Monday's Labor Day Mass at the Castle Green Grotto near Heckscherville.

The fourth annual outdoor Mass at the grotto, once the site of Greenbury Chapel, remembered "all who came" to the chapel as well as the local miners who sacrificed to support their families and communities. The Mass drew more than 100 people.

While the chapel building is gone, people visit the landscaped site for quiet times and prayer near a shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary or a Celtic cross with lumps of coal embedded in it, in memory of the Rev. Patrick O'Connor, a defender of coal miners rights in the second half of the 19th century.

Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians John F. Kennedy Div. 2 marched to the grotto, led by Hutten Moyer, Orwigsburg, a Hawk Mountain Highlander, on the bagpipes.

The Rev. David Karns, pastor of St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church, Port Carbon, celebrated the Mass for the second year. During his homily, Karns related a story of King Hyegong, ruler of a Buddhist city-state in Korea in 771 A.D., who wanted to realize the dream of his late father to have a large bell forged for the Buddhist temple.

According to the story, the forger said to properly make the bell, a young maiden needed to be sacrificed. A maiden was brought back forcefully to the forge. The young girl kept crying for her mother before she was thrown into the molten bronze for the Sacred Bell of King Songdok, and some people say that when the bell is rung, the girl's cries can still be heard.

Karns said the sacrifice of the young girl was felt by the family for generations every time the bell was sounded, and just as only the family could truly understand that personal sacrifice, it is the same for those of Irish descent whose relatives suffered while working in the coal industry.

"I am somewhat a student of history, and as I researched this area and what the Irish in Pennsylvania did and how they had to go about, it is truly an inspiration in itself," said Karns. "Many of you sitting right here right now understand the sacrifices that were made and the pain that was felt. Many of you know the stories about the breaker children, the stories of the many young men who died in the mines, the stories of the old dying from black lung. Many of you understand the sacrifice, and many of you still feel the pain."

Karns said it is up to the families of those miners to keep those memories alive and pass them down so they are not forgotten.

"They made people rich - the coal barons, the railroad barons, the industrialists in Philadelphia. But when you see what was built from those Irish coal miners, it is truly a legacy that should never be forgotten," he said.

Bill Beadle was the lay reader and Paul T. Kennedy served as cantor. Joseph "Hap" Anthony assisted Karns as altar server.

Lucy Campion Nettles concluded the Mass with a stirring rendition of "Our Lady of Knock." Robert Mulhall, a grotto caretaker, thanked everyone after Mass and invited them for coffee and cake.


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