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‘What has God got to do with it?’

By Sarah Mac Donald - 31 January, 2015

Pure in HeartYoung people between the ages of 13-17 are taking time out later today to explore love, relationships and where God comes into it.

Lay group, Pure in Heart, is hosting an afternoon of interactive workshops and discussions in Dublin which will challenge young people in relationships to look at love in light of God’s plan for their lives.

General Manager, Catriona Heffernan, told CatholicIreland.net that the particular strength of Pure in Heart in that it is young people reaching out to other young people.

“I think that brings with it a great wealth of warmth and understanding. Our mission team are very varied in their personalities and gifts and it is extremely effective when they speak to students.”

While the group usually caters for the 18-35 age group, this is a new venture in hosting a youth day for 13 to 17-year-olds which is not in a school context.

“A number of parents have contacted us and said they are dying for our children to hear this message but we haven’t been to their child’s school. They are coming to us,” she explained.

She believes Pure in Heart’s message is one of hope as many young people are seeing the message the culture promotes about relationships for what it is.

Student day Jan31st-page-001“They see that Pure in Heart offers an alternative message – a message of genuine authentic love – the fruits of which is genuine happiness of the heart.”

The group was founded Dublin in the year 2000 by a young laywoman, who saw the need for it among her friends whose relationships were leading to devastation and heartache.

It has since become an international movement, with well-established groups in the UK as well as Liberia and Haiti.

There are also two groups in America; “one very strong group in Boston and another group in Worcester”.

The group in Boston recently gained UN NGO status which Catriona Heffernan describes as “hugely powerful for a small community that started in Dublin”.

Interest in the mission of Pure in Heart has been spreading by word of mouth.

“A new priest was with us recently and said what we have is powerful. This is our gift to the Church.”

“We have one spiritual director and about 20 priests that come throughout the year and give retreats, in addition to the weekly prayer meeting and monthly vigil.”

The group has also produced three young vocations to the Irish Church and over ten marriages. “But we have to be careful too – it is not a dating agency!” jokes Catriona Heffernan.

Their serious intent is apparent from their devotion to St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

“John Paul II was ahead of his time with the theology of the body – the church is just beginning to unpack this message. I think Pure in Heart has a huge role to play, as the Church begins to unpack this message, to aid the presentation of this message in a manner that is vibrant and joyful and appealing to young people.”

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