There are many ways to get involved with the Catholic Church in Ireland and in your own parish. Many of them will have been established for a long time and welcome new members, others are newly formed, taking baby steps and would really benefit if young Catholics volunteered to help out and join their cause. Below are just some of the groups and organisations that I can think of. I am sure there are plenty more out there and I encourage everyone to leave comments about any groups that I have not mentioned.
First off don’t be a Sunday Only Catholic. Try to get to get your church a couple of times a week, get to know your priest and the other parishioners and if possible put your name forward to help out at masses, being a minister of the word or Eucharistic minister.
Choirs: Singing always enhances the liturgy. If you have a good voice or play a musical instrument, pluck up the courage to join the choir in your church. If there isn’t one try start one up.
Prayer Meetings: There are plenty of prayer meetings run by Youth 2000 that take place pretty much all over the country. You can find one near you by logging onto www.youth2000.ie . Prayer meetings basically consist of an hour before the Eucharist praying the rosary, singing hymns and some time in quite adoration.
Dead Theologian Society: DTS is brand new to Ireland. Founded in America by Eddie Cotter, it has become very popular there with the society spreading all over the USA, Africa and now Ireland. The goal of DTS is basically to inspire the youth of today with the lives of the saints so that they become the saints of the future. Some DTS meetings are starting up in Ireland but they are in the very early stages so maybe you would like to check out the website www.deadtheologiansociety.com . From there you can chat to your parish priest about setting one up in your parish and fill out an application form.
Youth 2000: Apart from prayer meetings. Youth 2000 runs retreats and festivals all over Ireland. Their biggest event is the summer festival in Clonmacnois, but retreats are held all year around. Youth 2000 is the place to be if you really want to meet young Catholics and form lasting friendships. Every retreat they run is donation only with accommodation and meals provided. At these retreats you will have the chance to listen to some great speakers and testimonies, take part in praise and worship sessions, adoration, daily mass, rosary and workshops.
IEC 2012: The International Eucharistic Congress takes place in Ireland this year and if you really want to take an active role in the church this is the place to do so. The Congress normally takes place every four years and its main objectives are to promote awareness of the central role of the Eucharist in daily life and in the mission of the catholic church, help improve our understanding of the liturgy and to draw our attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist. You can be guaranteed that this is going to be a massive event with thousands of people attending. IEC are looking for volunteers to help with the preparations and there are many different ways you can get involved. More information can be found at www.iec2012.ie
Women of Grace: This is another brand new movement being introduced to Ireland. Unfortunately for the guys this is strictly women only. It too was founded in America by Johnette Benkovic of EWTN fame. Its mission is to encourage and affirm woman in their dignity as daughters of God and in their authentic femininity. It has already been successfully run in Knock and is now being brought to the rest of Ireland. It takes place over a number of weeks and costs 30 euro because you get some books. I got to meet Johnette at a conference in Knock run by Human Life International and she is fantastic so I would really recommend this course. To find a woman of grace course near you contact www.womanofgrace.com.
Scripture Groups: These groups are fantastic if you really want to get to know your bible better but have difficulty reading it and understanding the message. Some groups tend to just prepare that Sundays Gospel so that you can get the most from the Mass but others have different methods, they may take a book from the bible and read it through over a certain period discussing it as they go. If it’s a really nice scripture group they may also have tea and biscuits afterwards. Scripture groups are usually run by your parish so definitely check it out with your local priest.
Start a religious book club. I haven’t heard of one of these yet but I think it’s definitely a novel idea. Book clubs have always been very successful so I don’t see why a religious one shouldn’t be.
Get involved in a good cause such as St. Vincent De Pual, Trocaire and Youth Defence. These are just some of the great causes out there that always need new members and volunteers. St. Vincent De Paul and Trocaire have been around for years and are pretty well known but defiantly log onto their websites for more information. Youth Defence mission is to keep abortion out of Ireland. They have many events taking place all year around such as street sessions where you promote peoples awareness of abortion and get them to sign petitions to keep Ireland abortion free. They also run a big rally for life every year.
So there you have at least ten ways of getting involved either with your local church or with a Catholic organisation. If you have any more information about the groups I mentioned above that I didn’t put in please write a comment or if you have any more ideas.
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