What makes our Irish Apostolates unique?
Our way of working comes out of what is deepest in Irish faith and culture. Every person who approaches us is seen as a visit from Christ himself. This was the approach of the ancient Irish monks from Patrick’s time. They received the stranger as Christ. They washed his or her feet, gave him or her a bed of clean straw to rest. They then cancelled their fasting and had a feast to celebrate Christ’s visit. The same theology was behind the Irish tradition of leaving a key in the door and a light in the window at night to guide the stranger – Christ the light of the world might need a bed or food!
Our Apostolates are in this tradition. By being there for the immigrant, we are meeting Christ, now the exile away from home and family, as He was after his flight to Egypt. We meet His needs as did the Irish monks of the past. We share His pain and loss when workless, homeless or broken hearted. We celebrate with Him, in Eucharist, birthdays, reconciliations, baptisms and wedding parties.
We do this by asking for this Irish openness, hospitality, care and compassion from the immigrants themselves towards each other. We are a Body made up of many and varied members, with a welcome and a place for everyone, no matter whether or not they are members of the institutional Church. Like Christ, we not only walk with them on their life’s journey, we call them to witness to love and compassion by sharing their gifts, talents and resources in the service of others. As St. Paul said, we are all given special gifts to share with each other so that “we can all grow together to become fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself”. So we develop communities of mutual support, with a sense of solidarity, significance and security; and a community that looks outward to the needs of all.
We, therefore, rely mainly on the skills and resources of the immigrants themselves who volunteer their time and energy. In addition, we build relationships with professionals within our communities who have particular expertise for particular needs. Our structure is on a firm foundation of community service, motivated by faith and made effective by strong professional support and up-to-date resources.
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