Wishing you a very blessed advent.
Over the last few weeks I have run a number of
Parish missions with the team I am a part of
called St Patrick’s Community. We have been
to Tarbert in Kerry, Kilcommon in Tipperary,
Johnstown in Kilkenny, Kinnitty in Offaly,
Dun Laoghaire in Dublin and our final
mission before Christmas is in Attymass in Mayo.
People often ask me when I travel abroad what
The faith is like in Ireland. The only way I can
answer that is by saying that when we do these
missions the response of the Irish people is
phenomenal, with packed churches almost
everywhere we go. The great thing about a
mission is that it is an opportunity to invite
people who don’t normally come to church, and
I can see that God is working powerfully in
Ireland and bringing his healing and mercy
in a beautiful way.
About 12 years ago, just after I had first moved
here, I went to visit the Regina Coeli hostel for
the homeless in Dublin, which was set up by
Frank Duff the founder of the Legion of Mary
(who was an amazing man of God). As I was
being shown around the shelter I saw a picture
on the wall of Jesus and he was surrounded by
the poor, the sick and the lame and all manner
of men, women and children who were searching
for comfort and hope. As I looked at this picture
I knew that God was calling me to Ireland and
I began to speak in schools, parishes, and prisons
And that was the birth of St Patrick’s Community.
A few months after this I travelled to England
to run a youth retreat in Glastonbury. An old friend
of mine called Niall happened to be there. As we
were chatting he asked me why I was in Ireland,
when there was enough work to do in England. I
told him that I felt God wanted me there.
After this Niall went into the church and a man came
and sat down next to him and put his hand on his
shoulder and said “It must come from Ireland!” and
Niall said “What must come from Ireland?” and the
man replied “The re- evangelisation of Europe, it must
come from Ireland!” My friend was blown away by this
and a few months later he came to Ireland himself and
has been a part of the community for the last 11 years.
A couple of years later we were conducting a
healing service at a church in Donegal and the
people were crowding round Jesus in the Blessed
Sacrament. You could see the burdens they were
carrying but also the incredible faith they had in
the Lord. As I watched I was reminded of the
picture I seen at the Regina Coeli hostel and I
really felt that God was showing me this is why
he brought me here. From that point onwards
invitations to run missions in parishes began
to flood in.
One of the greatest joys of my life is being able to go into
secondary schools and tell the young people about the
incredible love and mercy of our God and the gift of being
able to share our lives with him, and of the plan he has
if we would only give him permission. Over the past
few weeks I have spoken to thousands of students and
to see their hunger for God and the light in their eyes is
still deeply moving for me. Literally hundreds email me
and ask questions on how they can come closer to God
and put him in the first place in their lives.
I recently spoke at a school mission in Coventry and
had the privilege to meet Barry and Margaret Mizen
whose son Jimmy was murdered in South East London
five years ago. They are an incredible witness how
someone can forgive. Margaret said not long after her
son died that she hoped the parents of Jimmy’s killer
would be left alone as it wasn’t their fault. She said
she didn’t feel anger because anger breeds anger,
and that is what killed their son and could destroy
their family too.
They now speak in schools and prisons spreading
the message of forgiveness and calling for an end to
the cycle of violence and anger which destroys so
many lives. Margaret said to me that a few days
after the murder of her son she was praying in the
church and felt God say to her the she didn’t need
to worry about her son because He was looking
after him in heaven. This has brought her much
comfort especially when she misses Jimmy the most.
Please keep them in your prayers because I know
they are doing immense good.
May your hearts be open to receiving Jesus in His
humility as he comes to us as a helpless baby. Have
a blessed and peaceful Christmas!