My family and I recently made a trip to Europe. Our main plan was to visit my wife’s family in Poland, and we decided to pass through Ireland on our way there and back to the US. We’ve never been to Ireland, so we were excited to experience the green, Catholic, Ireland of St. Patrick. The plan was to stay one night in a town called Portmarnock (which is about 25 minutes northeast of Dublin) and on our return trip, we’d stay three nights in the center of Dublin.
Portmarnock was absolutely beautiful, exactly how you would picture Ireland in terms of its topography, with the sea and lush green rolling hills. The people we met were nice, and we were definitely not deceived by the stereotype of it raining a lot. After having a great time in Poland, I was excited for our second visit to Ireland when we returned.
But this time, we decided to stay downtown in the heart of Dublin.
The first evening there we really enjoyed the live music, food, and atmosphere. However, the next day as we explored more of the city, we were surprised by how liberal the area was. It was much different than I had expected and in some ways, it really felt that there was no evidence of Christianity. Perhaps I was naïve in my expectations for what it would be like, but I was very surprised.
Before the trip abroad, I made sure to pack up a copy of our evangelization training program, relit, to bring to Ireland. I had the opportunity to meet with someone from the archdiocese, and during our conversation, I was asked what my overall impression of Ireland was. I said I was surprised by how liberal the area felt and that Christianity seemed to be non-existent.
He smiled and said, “Let me guess: You pictured a very green, Catholic Ireland.”
I said yes, and he went on to tell me “Those days are far behind us. It’s quite sad to see the dissipation and the Catholic identity removed from society, especially in the center of Dublin.”
And then he shared that there is a growing movement among the young people to get the Faith flourishing again. While that hope for the future was encouraging to hear, it was still sad to see how much of the Catholic identity has been removed from Ireland.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will move through the young people and all those faithful to the Church and convert Ireland back to its Catholic roots. I pray that history does repeat itself and that, once again, Ireland is a green, Catholic Ireland. Let’s pray for all evangelists!
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