By Susan Gately - 23 August, 2015
Four young men begin a year with the Céilí Community today in which they will try to discern if they have a vocation to the priesthood.
The men, aged from 19 to 28, join another fourteen participants at a three-week long new evangelisation missionary course run by the community from 23 August 2015 to 11 September.
When the course ends, the men will stay on for a year with Céilí, joining in the community’s outreach activities through parish missions and school retreats.
This is the second year that Céilí has run a residential evangelisation course.
“It is called a new evangelisation course for missionary disciples” Matthew McGrath from Céilí told CatholicIreland.net.
The focus is on studying the drive for new evangelisation from Vatican II up to Pope Francis’ ‘Joy of the Gospel’.
“The idea is to enthuse and equip people for evangelisation,” said Mr McGrath who has been with Céilí for five years.
“Vatican II described the Church as the ‘People of God’. We are servants of each other. All the documents talk about the collaboration between priests, religious and laity. The emphasis is on community,” he said.
The eighteen participants (with almost half aged under 40) will spend the early part of each day in prayer, doing ‘lectio divina’ and celebrating Mass before study sessions until lunchtime.
The study sessions will include a number of ‘Life in the Spirit’ presentations on DVD, as well as expert presentations on the teachings of the Church and moral life.
Afternoons will involve further sessions on the Kerygma (the Gospel message) and how to share it, including practical training on giving one’s own testimony of faith.
On weekends, participants can return home, or take part in visits to places like Clonmacnoise. They are also planning ‘Cammino like’ walks around the Moat/Athlone area.
The four men discerning priestly vocations come from Finland and the UK. Another man from Cavan (aged 25) says he is doing the course to “see where it takes him”.
The Céili Community was established by Irish priest Monsignor Pat Lynch in 2000.
The Bishop of Meath, Dr Michael Smith, has recently awarded it canonical status as a ‘Public Association of Christ’s Faithful’.
Currently fourteen people make up the community including two religious sisters, one a Loreto nun the other a Mercy Sister.
In her early thirties, another woman Catherine O’Halloran joined the community some years ago.
She felt a call to religious life and went to study with the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ near Amarillo, Texas.
After three years, Sr Enda Maria O’Halloran returned to Ireland and in September 2014, with her profession, became the first Céilí Community nun “complete with a special green habit,” says Mr McGrath.
“She will spend another three years here before she takes her final vows with us,” he added.
The name of the Céilí community comes from “Céilí Dé” – the Community of God, a name given to early followers of St Patrick.
The community is made up of members – priests, religious and lay people – and a wider group of ‘Cairde Ceílí’. It is based in Kilbeggan Co Westmeath.
The community’s tools for evangelisation are parish and school missions. Over a period of a year, a whole team will work with a parish, spending months in preparation before the actual mission which is conducted by Céilí team members and a much larger group from the parish in question.