New Book on Catholic Movements in Ireland

There is still a vibrant Catholic faith in Ireland in spite of the recent scandals that have rocked even the most faithful. 

This is according to ciNews writer Susan Gately, whose new book, God’s Surprise - the New Movements in the Catholic Church, brings to the fore the, “extraordinary faith,” of those involved in Catholic movements. 

The author spent time with members of each 10 movements and found herself among very committed and dedicated Catholics.

Susan Gately based the title on the words of Cardinal Ratzinger during his time at the Pontifical Council for Doctrine and Faith, and his keynote address in 1998 on the movements of the Church.  He spoke of the ever increasing sense in the 20th century that, “God is dead,” but then the movements began to emerge. 

“It was like the surprise of the Holy Spirit, he said it was like the Holy Spirit took the floor.  Then he spoke about various movements that he had come in contact with and his sense of joy and how he could see the life flowing through them,” Susan told ciNews

The book includes ten movements.  The author attended a typical meeting of each and wrote a ‘fly on the wall’ description of what happens.  She also tells the stories of people involved and those of the founders and their beginnings. 

She had been writing about the movements in Reality magazine but was very struck by the, “extraordinary faith,” that she found in each.

“I felt ‘this is so extraordinary that it can’t stop here’ and that was when I had the idea of turning it into a book,” said Susan Gately.  She is particularly pleased that the book went on the shelves this week in Veritas in time for the beginning of the Year of Faith. 

Mindful of the difficult period that the Irish church is in, she has also asked each movement how they have faced the crises of abuse in the church in Ireland and declining faith.  “Even though people were horrified and upset and dismayed in all of the movements, they were not turned from their course.  It was like they had set sail and had a goal,” she said and gave as an example Youth2000, that has the enthusiasm of bringing the gospel to all. 

“They (all movements) were not swayed from their course and there was an extraordinary vibrancy.  I would say that that is because they are all based in community.  So they all have this sense of support from other people and the power of prayer.  They all have this feeling of mission as well, that they have been entrusted with something that they have to bring ahead and involve other people in.”

Some movements have thousands of members in Ireland while others have hundreds.  Those that involve young people see their members go on to join other church groups or family movements or communities when the time is right.  Many movements now have two or three generations of families involved.

“The thing that gave me joy was to see that, in the movements, faith is passing from one generation to the next.  For example the people who started the Community of Nazareth see their grandchildren are now getting involved,” said Susan Gately. 

“I was at a Focolare meeting recently and saw the same thing.”

The book includes the Legion of Mary, Youth 2000, Focolare, Communion and Liberation, Cell System of Evangelisation, L’Arche, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Cursillo, the Community of Nazareth and Teams of Our Lady.  There are so many more movements and communities in Ireland and the author hopes to write about them in Reality magazine and possibly another book in the future.

Susan Gately is a freelance journalist, specialising in social, family and religious affairs.  A former solicitor, she gave up law to study journalism and spent five years as editor of ciNews and is now a contributor.  She also writes for a number of newspapers, including the Irish IndependentIrish Catholic and the Universe, and does multi-media reports for the Washington DC based, Catholic News Service.

by Ann Marie Foley

© 2002-2012




| More

St John of God Brothers
St. Mary’s
Co. Louth
Tel: 00353 41 686 2607

© 2012 St John of God Brothers
Web Design: Colum Keating