A quiet haven aimed at offering people a place to take a pause from their busy lives has been created in St Mary's Church in Enniskerry and people from across the community are being welcomed in.
The brainchild of parish pastoral worker, Aideen Green, the “safe space” is a new initiative aimed at building community and adapting to the changing Irish culture. This Thursday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., people from across the community are invited to come to the Church to enjoy some quiet contemplation time in a warm, safe, candlelit environment while listening to gentle music. It is the first of what is hoped to be many events and has been christened by Aideen as “downtime Thursdays”.
“We are aware of things being in decline in the Church. We are trying to look at causes. Obviously, some of the negative things that happened within it is one of them, but another is cultural. People are living their lives in a completely different way,” she said. “We really need to try, in as authentic a way as we can, not to ask people for something, but to offer people something. It is the Christian thing to do.”
As time goes on, Aideen hopes to expand the offerings.
"We hope that it will grow into something different to what the Church would have traditionally offered,” she said.
Aideen said that the idea is somewhat inspired by an initiative led by Father Jim Caffrey in Ballally.
"He’s trying to build community through contemplation and service,” she said, acknowledging that the Enniskerry community has different needs to more urban ones like Ballally. She is particularly keen to engage younger people.
"It is something young people want more of in their lives – downtime, silence and time away. They can come here, have a coffee and just sit in silence. They don’t need to do a thing.”
Acknowledging the rise of mental health issues in communities, Aideen feels quiet spaces could be beneficial for people’s mental wellbeing. She said she hopes, in time, to be able to open the space up to children to support their wellbeing.
Since announcing details about the inaugural “downtime Thursday” on the parish Faceboook, Aideen has been inundated with messages from those interested. She is keen to stress that the space is open to all.
"We are trying to create a place of stillness in the parish that is accessible to everyone. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are. It is for everyone,” she said.
"The culture is completely different now. We’re trying to adapt to the culture and, at the same time, we are trying to do it from a Christian perspective.”