10 Aug 2022

Fr Vincent Stapleton pens a letter to the first lady who fly sol across the Atlantic

Amelia Earhart was inspired and motivated to fly - you too can be inspired by life, Fr Vincent says.

Amelia Earhart is the subject of Fr Vincent Stapletons letter this week

Amelia Earhart is the subject of Fr Vincent Stapletons letter this week


Dear Amelia,
Warmest greetings to you from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, you were the first woman to cross the Atlantic in a plane. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when you caught sight of our ancient homeland on the edge of the cloud and horizon. And to see the looks on the faces of the poor Irish villagers, when they first heard the hum of your metal bird and the Vega 5 plane dipped below the cloud cover to land in the pastures of Derry. Were they familiar with the invention of the aeroplane or did it appear to them like a UFO or an angelic visitor descending from the heavens? Their jaws must have dropped on seeing a tough wiry woman with close cropped hair, jumping down from the Cockpit to make their acquaintance.

A local farm hand asked – “have you flown far?” “From America,” you replied. They would have seen many of their villagers emigrate to America during the famine years, in rickety coffin ships that took weeks to get there. You made the journey in 14 hours and 56 minutes.

I love the dialogue in the film Amelia where you asked – “Where is Paris, I was aiming for Paris.” And one of the farmers gestured to his left and said – “it’s over there somewhere.” Its not always easy to hit the target we aim for.

Fr Vincent Stapleton

From the first moment that you saw a plane fly overhead as a little child, your heart was smitten. You knew you were born to fly. Amelia, you are a perfect example of the power of motivation and the power of a dream. Nothing could keep your feet on the ground and the countless ‘NO’s’ that were thrown in your face over the years never daunted you.

In the gospel, Jesus said – never stop asking, never stop searching, never stop knocking. If someone won’t help you for friendships sake, persistence will be enough to make them open the door to you.

How important it is, that every human being allows their heart to be touched and moved by something … something beautiful, something powerful and true, something that can bring solace and joy to the world. To your experience with the plane, many can add other means of travel and exotic destinations they have reached.

For some people, it is their encounter with a piece of soul music that transports them temporarily to the mystical realm. For some it is sport and the thrill of the tackle or the clash of the ash. For many, it is the first electric eye contact that causes them to fall in love. Or a scientific discovery that peals back another layer of the mysterious creation.

Life without motivation is dull and monotonous. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that a motivated life will some how fall into our laps. We are responsible for following the clues and searching out the treasure. But we also have to know when to blow the whistle. So that an occupation, hobby or passion does not become an obsession.

There is only one God who should be worshipped. Everything else is a means to an end – a different way to do honour to his glory and to connect with those around us.

What a loss you were Amelia, to your husband and family, your friends and your country, when you went missing on the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

As you once relished the view from the clouds, may you now enjoy the vistas of heaven.

Borrisoleigh native, Fr Vincent Stapleton is a curate in Thurles parish and is currently Rector of St Joseph and St Brigid’s Church, Bóthar na Naomh.

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