FOCUS’ International Mission to Ireland
There’s a saying in Ireland: “There’s two kinds of people in this world, those who are Irish and those who wish they were.” Well, lucky for me, approximately one-sixteenth of my blood can be attributed to the old Emerald Isle. While I often submerge myself in the Hispanic culture (from which the majority of my heritage comes), I will have the opportunity to experience Ireland this summer at the FOCUS International Conference.
The conference is the second of its kind for FOCUS. Last year, it was held in Spain in conjunction with World Youth Day. Holding an international conference with English-speaking students from across Europe and the United States provides us a way to really “reach the nations” for Jesus Christ. We are able to equip students, especially those at campuses, which do not have FOCUS, with spiritual growth, inspiration, and practical tools for the New Evangelization. During this particular conference, we’ll be staying in an abbey in County Limerick, taking a pilgrimage to Mt. Crough (a favorite retreat spot for St. Patrick), and visiting a Marian apparition site. In addition to dynamic speakers, students will experience hands-on training and fellowship with fellow young Catholics.
So, why Ireland? I think that if you asked people for the most Catholic country in the world is (besides Vatican City), they’d probably say Ireland. And that would be half-true. Ireland has a long-standing identity rooted in Catholicism. It has produced great, influential saints like St. Patrick and St. Brigid. The countryside is adorned with beautiful abbeys, monasteries and churches. But in recent years, so much of this identity has been lost.
Nearly 90% of Irish identity themselves as Catholics, but nearly 90% of them are not attending Mass regularly. And the country that used to send out missionary priests to all parts of the world is literally running out of priests, seminarians, and religious. This nation, which has been afflicted and wounded with sexual abuse and scandal, is in desperate need of healing, and I believe that the international conference is at the tipping point of that healing process.
By now I’m sure you’re dying to come with us, but don’t worry! You can experience the conference as if you there. I will be blogging and tweeting, so stay tuned to the FOCUS blog for updates during the week of July 30-August 6. Follow me on twitter @lngarcia.
Please pray for this trip, as well as all the other mission trips missionaries and students will be serving on, including Russia, Peru, the Philippines and many more! Check out focusmissions.org for more info.
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FOCUS’ International Mission to Ireland
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Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
For FOCUS, this means meeting college students across the nation where they are and challenging them to examine the meaning and purpose of their lives. Through personal relationships and friendship, we offer college students the true peace and fulfillment they seek in the good news of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic faith, inviting them to answer His calling in their lives.
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