By Sarah Mac Donald - 21 June, 2014
Over the four days, the 25th Parish Cells International Seminar heard presentations on how parish cells work, the role of the cell leader, the importance of Eucharistic Adoration and the Holy Spirit as the principle agent of evangelisation.
Personal testimonies and stories of the growth of parish cells around the world were also shared.
Daily mass was concelebrated by 70 clergy, and delegates visited a cell meeting and a liturgical concert, while perpetual adoration throughout the seminar provided ongoing spiritual nourishment.
According to Phil May from the UK, participants learnt how St Eustorgio’s parish in Milan developed the PEC system over 25 years, during which time not only have the cells flourished but individual parishioners have grown in their faith and the parish itself “has been transformed, brought alive, into a vibrant limb of the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”
“We witnessed how hundreds of people have given their talents to the service of others in all sorts of ways, often with great humility. ‘Jobs’ have been made into ministries. The hospitality we received was overwhelming,” Phil May reported.
“However, the system of Evangelisation Cells is not unique to St Eustorgio’s. It has been operating around the world in different Churches for some years but at St Eustorgio’s we were able to see a parish – which has to contend with challenges similar to those which we face in an increasingly secular society – benefiting hugely from placing its focus on evangelisation and having a structure, a system, to do it.”
‘Cells’ have nothing to do the padded or police variety but is taken from the biological model of living organisms which over time grow, divide and thereby multiply and in doing so give life to the parish.
A cell is simply a small number of people meeting regularly, perhaps fortnightly, to pray, to read the Scriptures, to discuss their faith, to learn from teaching provided by the parish priest in a recorded format and, always with evangelisation in mind, to attract new members in order that they may multiply with new Cells being formed.
“I attended the first workshop 25 years ago. That experience gave me a huge desire to be committed to the parish cell system of evangelisation. This year I arrived home fully refreshed in my spirit, body and mind,” Hilary, a parishioner from Ballinteer in Dublin, said.
“It was good to meet young adults who were committed to their faith. They welcomed me to their group on Tuesday evening. It was a good session of sharing and prayers.” Fr Robert from Co Down reported.
“The parish of St Eustorgio and its cell community is an example of God’s love in action. I go there each year on pilgrimage to refresh my spirit and to remind myself, that weak as I am, Jesus loves me and holds me “in the palm of His hand,” Dan from Lucan Co Dublin explained.
“Being part of a community of Christians from different countries and cultures, who showed such joy in the celebration of Mass together and in singing the praises of God and the Holy Spirit,” Anne and Kieran from Leixlip Co Kildare said.
“During the seminar, I experienced a deep sense of my spirit being revitalised. The prophet Hosea’s words fit for me: ‘But look, I am going to seduce her and lead her into the desert and speak to her heart’ (Hosea 2:14),” Margaret from Carrickfergus Co Antrim said of her experience.
For further information and to read the stories see: www.nationalparishcells.com