The Servant Brothers and Priests in Ireland are now legal residents! Our first few months of apostolate with the High Schools in Ireland have been very positive. We have met two devout religion teachers from two different schools: Shane Hogan, from Christian Brothers School in Charelville and Nodlaig Lillis from Nagle Rice in Doneraile. They have opened the door for us in which we have been able to work with the students.
In CBS, Charleville
In general we have seen a great openness and thirst from the young people for the faith in the schools. In CBS Charleville (Christian Brothers School all-boys) we’ve had retreats with almost all the class levels, from 13-18 years old. Before holding the retreat, a few days before we would normally “break the ice” with each class, presenting who we are, a personal testimony and some secret weapons with some juggling or beat-box harmonica. To see four young religious in cassocks, each one with their talents, really shocks them, breaking their mindset of a stereotypical old boring priest. One boy said to Fr. René as he was juggling: “He’s a God!” We corrected him, saying: “No, he’s not a God. He brings people to God.”
At each retreat the boys received three powerful graces: Confession, Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Mass. In general, the students aren’t practicing Catholics. So to them everything is new. To start off the Retreat we began with confessions, to start off in grace, so that they could have a clean heart for Adoration and Mass. Before exposing the Blessed Sacrament, we would give them a talk on a Eucharistic Miracle. Then following the talk we exposed the Blessed Sacrament. The vast majority never had Adoration. Despite the inexperience, the boys made a great effort to recollect themselves. We invited them to go right before the altar, face to face before Jesus, having a personal conversation with Him. Later, one of the boys, trying to find the words to describe his experience with the Lord said during lunch break: “It weighs on you… It weighs on you.”
To top it off, we finished with the Holy Mass. For many of the boys, it’s as if they received the first Holy Communion again, as they received Him with a clean heart. With the Senior students, the 18 year olds, they were enjoying themselves so much that they did not want to go home. With the Junior students (17 year olds, 5th year), we followed up with a hike to Galtymore Mountain in County Limerick. We filled up our van and headed off to the mountain. Despite the typical Irish cold weather, the boys had a great time. One said to us: “If you ever do something like that again, I don’t care even if I’m the only one, let me know.”
Nagle Rice, Doneraile
The other more frequent school has been a mixed (boys and girls) school, Nagle Rice. We have had many occasions to speak in their Religion classes. One instance, we spoke to the 4th year, TY class (16 year olds), on Missions, how our personal experience was to live in Ecuador. We spoke about the harsh conditions of a “Mission trip” for example through the Puyo, as many of the communities don’t have medicine, such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. But above all we told them that a Missionary goes to a different country to evangelize. After the class, a few students were interested in leaving Ireland to go to Ecuador for a Mission trip.
We not only come into their religion classes, but we also coach their basketball team! We practice once a week for an hour, as we always begin and finish with a prayer. The team does not have a good reputation for winning games, however, to start the New Year they are on a three game winning streak! We enjoy the time with the boys as we use basketball as a bridge to bring them to the Lord.
In His Image
To reach out to more young people, outside of the classroom, we have dedicated a new program on our YouTube channel called: “In His Image.” In each episode Fr. Luke DeMasi speaks about certain spiritual topics that are relevant and practical to the youth. For example, he has spoken on Providence, Prayer, Retreat, etc. The goal is to get one important point across to be able to encourage the youth to live a serious spiritual life.
We encourage that you subscribe, follow us on Flickr and Instagram. Every Tuesday a new episode is released.
We ask for all your prayers as we continue our apostolate here in Ireland.
We will keep you all updated as to how things pan out here in Ireland.