Wednesday 22 November 2017

It's a great gift to be able to stop and pray

Maura Garrihy at the Glencomeragh House retreat centre in Co Waterford. Photo: Patrick Browne
Maura Garrihy at the Glencomeragh House retreat centre in Co Waterford. Photo: Patrick Browne

Maura, a graduate of theology and business studies at Maynooth University, says she began to lose interest in the Church when she was a teenager at school, because she did not see it as relevant.

But she had a spiritual reawakening when she went on a youth retreat organised by the Catholic group, Youth 2000.

"When I was 15, I was searching for purpose in life. I was restless and not fulfilled. I never doubted the existence of God, but I thought it was irrelevant

"I went to the overnight retreat in Ennis. What I saw were young people who had something I didn't have.

"They were normal and joyful, and the reason why was because they had a friendship with God.

"There was music that spoke to my heart.

"For young people going to Mass, they often struggle to see where they fit in.

"They feel that they are in a minority because there are a lot of older people. They might be bored because the homily doesn't interest them."

Maura likes to pray at different times of the day, including first thing in the morning and in the evening.

"My prayer life is very important to me, especially in challenging times of my own life, when there is a crisis or I am worried about someone. It's a great gift to be able to stop and pray, and receive consolation and peace from that.

"I am a normal young person, who likes to go out with friends on a Saturday. I drink, but you wouldn't see me getting hammered."

Maura believes there is still high Mass attendance in areas where there is a strong sense of community, particularly in rural areas. "Another contributing factor to high Mass attendance is if the parish priest and the team around them do their job well.

"I studied business, and in any business if you believe enough in your product, you have the best marketing strategy, you have the best leaders and you give it 110pc.

"The same is true of the Church. In parishes where you see a priest and a community who are passionate about the Church, who invest deeply in the liturgy in terms of music and welcome, and have good homilies, people will travel to the church."

Maura now works for the Holy Family Mission at the Glencomeragh House retreat centre.

"Many people in Ireland may not go to Mass but they are still open to faith.

"Last Sunday, we had our first family day, and 120 people came. The kids were doing face painting and a treasure hunt, and we had family prayer.

"We are in a remote area, but the fact that we attracted that kind of group shows there is an appetite for faith.

"I don't have an issue with the fact that priesthood is reserved for men, but I would have a difficulty if a priest was not open to working with the people around him.

"I do want to see more women step up to positions of leadership. The Church would benefit greatly from that."

Maura Garrihy (27) from Ennistymon, Co Clare, works in youth ministry for the church in the Waterford diocese

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