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Saturday 17 March 2018

Meet the young Irish man (24) who's leaving the hotel business - to join a Christian mission in Africa

"One of my friends said to me: 'Eoin have you lost it?'"

Eoin Waters and members of the St Camillus Order in Ireland
Eoin Waters and members of the St Camillus Order in Ireland
Eoin Waters

Claire Fox

A 24-year-old Irish man has told of how he shocked his friends when he announced his decision to leave the hotel business - and join a Christian mission in Africa.

Eoin Waters, from Carron in Co Clare, will travel to Jinja, Uganda in early August to join the Camillian Mission.

He will undergo a year of training for the order, while also working in local clinics and hospitals.

Speaking to, Eoin said his friends were initially shocked by his decision.

"One of my friends said to me: 'Eoin have you lost it?' He thought I was mad but he was very understanding and there's been a lot of goodwill toward me. There's been very little negativity."

A former History and Economics student at the University of Limerick, Eoin says his volunteering with St Vincent de Paul during his time at the university was one of the reason's he wanted to join the St Camillus Mission.

Eoin Waters
Eoin Waters

"It was a real eye opener for me as it was the time of the economic crash and so many were in poverty or had lost their jobs,"he said.

"Even from my own family when a close relation of mine was sick and in hospital and not looking his best, a nurse turned to me and said 'He's a beautiful man'. She was caring and saw he was still human. It really stood out for me."

Eoin said he knows that not many young people are interested in attending Mass but is hopeful for the future of Catholicism.

"It's important to get young people active. A lot of the time young people will only go into a church if they've a funeral to go to but I think helping those in need in organisations like St Vincent de Paul is a good introduction to the Church for them," he said.

The Clare man's eventual aim when he returns from Uganda is to study as a priest with the aim of becoming a hospital chaplain.

While he knows that becoming a priest will rule out him having a wife and children of his own, he believes he will be better able to help the community in his role as a priest.

"Obviously having a family is the most wonderful thing in the world but I'll get to help people in the community that I wouldn't normally be able to help if I had a family of my own," he explained.

Eoin will be following in the footsteps of Kerry man, Fr Tom O' Connor, who began his work in the St Camillus Order in Uganda in 2000 to help with the AIDS crisis. According to Eoin, since then the level of AIDS in Uganda has decreased but there is still a huge amount of work to be done.

"There's been a huge progression since 2000, but there's still so much poverty. It's still one of the world's poorest countries."

Apart from the poverty crisis, Eoin said that there will be more trivial things for him to get accustomed to when he arrives in the east African country.

He said: "I'll have to brace myself for the heat.

"The official language is English but there's a local dialect that I'll have to get my head around.

"There's eight or nine of us heading over there but most are from Uganda or India. I'm the only Irish man but that won't phase me. I've worked with so many different nationalities in the hotel business over the years."  

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