A new residential community at Glencomeragh House near Kilsheelan training young Catholics to do youth ministry work in parishes and schools across the country was officially opened by the Papal Nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Charles Browne last Friday night.
The Rosminian Order handed over Glencomeragh House to the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore in September and the new Holy Family Mission based there enrolled its first ten students on October 23.
Nine of the students are Irish and one is from the United States. Holy Family Mission Director Maura Garrihy, one of the three co-founders of the Holy Family Mission, says the Mission is the first of its kind in the country.
She says Glencomeragh House will continue to offer religious retreats for young people families, individuals and groups as it did under the Rosminians but on a smaller scale.
She describes the Holy Family Mission as a place for young people aged between 18 and 30 to discover and deepen their knowledge of the Catholic faith.
"Through the training and formation they receive they will be able transmit the faith in parishes and schools across the country."
The spend a year at the Mission from October to July receiving academic and practical formation in the Catholic faith. Maura says most of their students are post-Leaving Certs and are treating the course as a gap year. Some are from northern Ireland and others are from Limerick, Waterford and Cork.
She has set up the Mission along with Fr Patrick Cahill, a native of Thurles and Parick Reynolds, who is originally from Scotland. They all have a broad range of experience in youth ministry and evangelisation. Maura, for example, previously worked as a Diocesan Youth Minister in Derry and Galway and was involved in providing retreats at schools around the country.
"Holy Family Mission is the first of its kind in Ireland and is a response to a deep desire in the young people we meet to know the beauty of what our faith is about. They (the young people) have seen and experienced how it helps them to live lives with purpose and they desire to share this with others,’’ she said.
At the official launch and blessing Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown described the Mission as a "source of light that God willing will spread throughout Ireland".
He said to be a follower of Jesus in this era meant taking big risks and not being satisfied with the status quo. There was so much darkness in the world today and a longing in young people's hearts for light, truth and love, he continued.
Archbishop Brown said there were a lot of bleak assessments of the Catholic Church in Ireland today but the Holy Family Mission was a "beautiful" example of the green shoots happening in the Church. It was something small, precious, new and fragile but had tremendous promise.
"Nothing is more important that the evangelising of young people. It's the most important thing for the Church," he declared.
Bishop of Waterford & Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan recounted how the Mission's three co-founders approached him in April with their idea for a place where young people could be formed in the Catholic faith.
The next day Fr Jimmy Browne of the Rosminian Order phoned him and offered Glencomeragh House to the Diocese. Cynics might say this was a coincidence but he believed it was the "hand of God" at work.
He said the greatest enemy to their faith was ignorance. People simply did not know the Catholic faith and they could see all around the results this ignorance of faith - a do it yourself Catholicism, where you choose a little bit of this or that.
"So a house like this is a place where people can learn and discover Jesus Christ and can experience the beauty of the faith which Jesus Christ as left us in his charge."
Bishop Cullinan added that the dumbing down of their faith was no longer an option because it hadn't worked. Now he believed God was calling them to take a risk and do something different.
For further information on the Holy Family Mission contact: Maura Garrihy, Mission Director of Holy Family Mission on 052 613 3181 or 0861693874, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.