|Here is a list and introductory note on the nine main "movements" or dynamic Catholic organisations that have emerged in Ireland since Vatican II. |
1. Alpha Ireland – a renewal movement for the unchurched and those who have lapsed – started in the Church of the Trinity (Anglican), Brompton and spread worldwide.Paddy Monaghan is the present leader in Ireland and has a good backing team;
2. Charismatic Renewal – started on a university campus in the late sixties in the USA and often described as "Pentecostal Catholics";
3. Communion and Liberation – professional people mostly with an intellectual and Italian flavour, founded by Mgr Luigi Giussani in Milan in the 1950s;
4. Focolare Movement - founded by Chiara Lubich, promoter of world unity and collaboration - a centre at Curryhills, Prosperous, Co Kildare;
5. L’Arche Group of Communities – inspired by Jean Vanier - a centre in Kilkenny;
6. Neo-Catechumenal Way – founded by Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez in Spain – in dynamic creativity with the institutional Church, but not seen much in Ireland;
7. Parish Cells Movement – like the Basic Christian Communities – Fr Michael Hurley, PP Leixlip - linked with Alpha;
8. Sant’Egidio Community - founded by Andrea Riccardi, promotes international peace and service of the poor - has a centre at St Paul’s Church, Arran Quay, Dublin;
9. Youth 2000 and Pure-in-Heart Group – for the twenty-somethings, associated with World Youth Day - Seán Ascough, Clarendon Street, Dublin.
1. Alpha Ireland
Alpha is a 10-week course which began in 1990 in a Church of England context in Brompton London as a renewal course for the unchurched and those who had lapsed. It became highly successful especially through the work of Nick Gumbel, a barrister become clergyman. He has developed a series of booklets and a DVD that is almost a DIY evangelisation kit but that needs a community. It has been approved by Catholic bishops worldwide and their website here advertises the courses. Paddy Monaghan is the Coordinator of Alpha Ireland and he has a board of very able people directing him.
The course explores the basic questions and truths of the Christian faith –Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? How does God guide us? What about the Church? It also uses a weekend away in the middle of the 10 weeks to talk about being filled with the Spirit. It is like a crash course in Christianity presenting the core of the Gospel, the ‘kerygma’, and it works best as part of an overall parish programme of evangelisation or catechesis. Alpha participants are encouraged to continue their spiritual journey afterwards through parish cell groups. See 7 below. below.
2. Charismatic Renewal
Baptism in the Spirit is seen as an intense spiritual experience akin to a spiritual rebirth. It can occur at any time within the prayer group culture but is usually prepared for through the Life in the Spirit Seminars. This is a seven-week series of prayer meetings with instruction how the Spirit enlivened the Apostolic community with the expectation that this power then can be similarly experienced in the here-and-now. The fifth week session is an opportunity for people to be prayed with to be "baptized in the Holy Spirit" - seen as a "fanning into flame" of the gifts and graces of baptism and confirmation. It enables a profound personal response to God's call to take Jesus as the Lord and Saviour of your life. The remaining two sessions are to stress continuity and give teaching on the charisms.
The charisms as St Paul lists them in 1 Cor 12:8-10 have a slightly exotic aura about some of them that may arouse scepticism. They are listed as: “wise speech, the utterance of knowledge (= becoming articulate about what you believe), faith, the gift of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy (the gift of speaking God’s message), discernment (the gift of distinguishing true spirits from false), speaking in tongues (or ecstatic utterances), and the ability to interprete the utterances.” But charisms, St Paul insists, are to build up the body of Christ, the Church. The list is not exhaustive; there are many other more mundane charisms, such as being a good listener, welcome and hospitality, a word at the right time (like Mary at Cana), organisation and planning, IT and financial expertise.
Some of the Charismatic Renewal culture – laying on of hands, expressive and spontaneous prayer, hymns, awareness of different gifts, etc - has been incorporated into mainstream Catholic practice. There are Charismatic Renewal prayer groups meeting in every diocese and an annual conference is held. The central office is at Emmanuel, 3 Pembroke Park, Ballsbridge Dublin 4. Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway is the liaison bishop.
The outstanding figure of the movement internationally is probably Charles Whitehead. For many years he was at the central office in Rome and now works with youth in the diocese of Northampton. He spoke recently in Dublin.
3. Communion and Liberation
It began in Italy in 1954 when Fr Luigi Giussani established a Christian presence with a group called Student Youth, in a high school in Milan and has the name since 1969. Its central belief is that the Christian event, God becoming human in Jesus, can be lived as a communion and is an genuine liberation for the human being. The organisation is present in about seventy countries throughout the world.
There is no type of membership card, but only the free participation of persons. The basic instrument for the formation of members is the School of Community, a weekly catechesis which strives to raise awareness of questions such as: Why The Church?
For the last three years their public face in Ireland has been the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday in the Phoenix Park led by the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Their members are mostly professional people, interested in issues of education, the Church and society. Many are Italian who have come to work in Ireland. www.clireland.com
The term Focolare Movement (focolare means "fireplace") was applied since its beginnings, by the people of Trent because of the "fire" of Gospel love, which animated Chiara Lubich and her first companions. She describes those beginnings:
Focalare arrived in Ireland in 1971 and now has nearly 500 people committed to its ideal of unity. Another 5,000 people from all around the country share in its spirituality through the Word of Life, a commentary for bringing the Gospel into everyday life.
Members can be found in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Cavan, Kilkenny, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Belfast and many other places. They include young people, families, priests, sisters, members of different churches and non-believers. It has a centre at Curryhills, Prosperous, Co Kildare. www.focolare.ie
Chiara Lubich is a highly influential figure internationally. She spoke to the Synods of Bishops in 1985 and 1987 on lay spirituality. On the eve of Pentecost 1998, in St Peter's Square, she along with Andrea Riccardi (Sant'Egidio), Jean Vanier (l'Arche), Kiko Arguello (Neo-Catechumenate) presented her experience on the occasion of the First Meeting of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities with Pope John Paul II, who recognised in them a hope for the Church and for humanity.
She has also been a promoter of collaboration between the movements in the Catholic Church and with movements from other churches and other religions.
5. L’Arche group of communities
It was a Dominican priest Père Thomas Philippe who helped Jean Vanier 'begin something' with people with learning disabilities, about 40 years ago in France. Jean, originally an officer in the Royal Navy, had become an academic in Canada, but he felt increasingly called to a different life. He met two men called Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux who were living in a large institution near Paris - the only home they'd known for many years. Jean invited them to come and make a home with him in Trosly. He knew he could not help everyone, but that by helping a few, together they might be a sign to others.
Today there are 114 communities of L'Arche in 28 countries responding to the needs of people with developmental disabilities to find a creative place in society. The name refers to the ark of Noah, the Old Testament symbol of a place of safety and refuge for those who are at risk.
The belief is in the value of a shared life, a simple lifestyle and the spirit of the Gospels. The communities of L'Arche seek to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalised of the the world and with all those who struggle for justice. Originally founded in a Roman Catholic environment, the communities today are ecumenical and interfaith in their focus.
6. Neo-Catechumenal Way
Carmen Hernandez, a chemistry graduate with an interest in liturgy and inspired by the renewal of Vatican II, met Kiko Argüello in this setting. With Kiko’s artistic temperament and previous experience as a catechist in the Cursillos movement, they made a synthesis which became the neo-catechumenal way. It is a process of evangelisation of Catholic adults who have lost interest in the faith.
The poor of the slum responded to the seed which Kiko and Carmen sowed among them and formed a vibrant community which soon came to the notice of the Archbishop of Madrid. Their method was to apply to those who had been baptised and lapsed the spiritual and ascetical programme used for adult cathecumens in the process of preparation for baptism. They also developed distinctive liturgical variations in the Mass designed to build up the strength of the individuals and the community in their faith.
Many bishops have not liked their being different, but are also nervous that the Way may become a sect. They have seemed, until recently, to have been in a fairly constant creative tension with the Vatican offices.
On June 13, 2008, however, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, published a decree containing the definitive approval of their statutes and handed the decree of approval and a final draft of the statutes to Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, initiators of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, and to the Italian priest Fr. Mario Pezzi.
The process of approval was prolonged because it involved the areas of responsibility of five separate Vatican dicasteries: the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Congregation for Catholic Education, all of which gave careful examination to the statutes, alongside the Pontifical Council for the Laity which co-ordinated and concluded the process. This now gives the Way 'formal legal recognition'.
At present, I can find no evidence that the Way exists in Ireland.
Have a look at: http://www.camminoneocatecumenale.it/en/index.asp
7. Parish Cells Movement
The aim is bring faith into the events of life and find its implications for the home, neighbourhood, work, recreation and parish. It gives a grounding in faith, the language to talk about it and a way to share spirituality without feeling ashamed of it..
The movement has much in common with the basic Christian communities that changed the life of the Church in South America from an array of largely superstitious practices to committed social Christian communities.
Michael Hurley, parish priest of Leixlip, introduced the movement to Ireland in 1990. He is the author of Transforming Your Parish, published by Columba Press 1998.
8. Sant'Egidio Community
The community has as its centre the Roman Church of Sant'Egidio in Trastevere, from which it takes its name. Here it maintains a continuous presence of prayer and welcome for the poor and for pilgrims. The different communities spread throughout the world share the St Egidio spirituality and principles:
In Dublin a small group of up to 30 young women and men meets in St Paul’s Church, Smithfield, Arran Quay, Dublin 7 after the 8 pm Mass on Sunday evening and at 8.30 pm on Wednesday.
9. Youth 2000 & Pure-in-heart
Emphasis is on celebration of the Mass and adoration of the Eucharist; then on active evangelisation and the organisation of retreats and spiritual events for young people. It is young people who are at the heart of the initiative, and they offer what they have received to others of their generation.
Youth 2000 are happy with the official teaching of the Church. They draw on the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and what the Pope says. Mary and the Rosary are prominent. They promote the new Luminous Mysteries - Jesus’ Baptism, Cana, Proclamation of the Kingdom, Transfiguration and Institution of the Eucharist as a charter for living.
The seem able to bring traditional forms of worship alive to young people in a way they can relate to. Its prayer festivals resound with live music, with a dedicated music ministry and contemporary Christian songs. Their style is down-to-earth, liturgically sound and highly participative – its services are not performances – everyone’s involved.
It encourages young people to take time out time in prayer and rediscover the power of the sacrament of Reconciliation (or Confession) and the value of penance (in the form of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
It has been described as a ‘Hymn Gym’, where young people get a spiritual work-out. Often people turn up to events a bit spiritually adrift but find that they come back re-energised for the faith. Often this leads on to participation in parish life and in issues of social justice.
In early 2000 Sean Ascough took on some leadership responsibilities. In 2004 it set up its first national office in Clarendon Street in Dublin. See http://www.youth2000.ie/
An offshoot of Youth2000 Ireland is the Pure in Heart Community dedicated to promoting the true beauty of human sexuality and encouraging a responsible attitude to sex amongst the youth. Its aim is to educate, inspire and empower young people to enjoy a healthy lifestyle by living the virtue of chastity. How? by speaking on dating, relationships, and sexuality.
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