A FORMER heroin addict, DJ Gareth O’Callaghan, journalist John Waters and former governor of Mountjoy Prison, John Lonergan are amongst the high profile speakers set to preach at weekend masses in Ennis during Lent.
With many people in Ennis living in a time of uncertainty and worry as a result of the current economic crisis the Lenten theme for the parish this year ‘From Pain to Promise’ is particularly appropriate.
The Ennis Parish Team has invited a variety of speakers to come and preach at weekend masses during Lent. Speaking at the masses will be people from all walks of life who have struggled but, having come through it, show there is a way forward, even though it might not always be an easy journey. It is hoped that this year’s theme will strike a chord with people who are feeling the pain now, but are looking for the promise.
Fr Fergal O’Neill of the Cathedral Liturgy Group told us, “At this moment there are a lot of people out there who are feeling very down in the current climate. I read Gareth O’Callaghan’s book A Day Called Hope and I thought it was a fantastic title. Just as Jesus came through pain to his resurrection, people are looking for their own resurrection moment in their own lives and we thought that this was an appropriate theme for Lent.
“The speakers who are coming here have all struggled through their own personal issues and we would like to offer some bit of hope to other people that they too can come out the other side. By listening to their stories maybe they will feel a connection. everybody has their own personal story, by hearing how the speakers overcame their own pains the listeners might get some hope.”
He said he was thrilled that so many high calibre speakers have agreed to share their stories at mass.
“We have speakers from all walks of life coming to talk at mass and they are all very enthusiastic to be involved in this. Anything that can be done to offer a bit of hope to people and get them out of the doldrums can only be a good thing. Having the speakers on the Saturdays means that more people will be available to come along and listen. Anybody can come along and hear these wonderful stories.”
The series of speakers begins at the 7.30pm mass in the Cathedral on Ash Wednesday, March 9. The guest speaker will be Brendan McGee, a former heroin addict, who spent many years on the Ha’penny Bridge begging, having completed a diploma in drugs counselling is now preparing to study for a degree in social science.
On Saturday, March 12, Pauline McMahon will be the guest speaker at the 6.30pm mass in the cathedral. Pauline is a separated mother of three children from Newry, Down and is also a primary school principal. She will speak on the issues surrounding relationships and separation and how she found healing in the power of prayer and meeting empathetic people on her journey.
Fr Tony Butler, SMA will speak on Saturday, March 19. Tony is from Dublin, but has worked in many places throughout the world. He will tell of his struggle in a humorous and hopeful way as a priest and Christian in a believing community.
Gareth O’Callaghan will be no stranger to radio listeners. He can currently be heard on 4fm and previously presented shows on RTÉ 2fm. He is also an author and former television presenter. Gareth is an outspoken supporter of suicide and depression-related topics, having had previous personal experience himself. He has written many books dealing with such topics and is probably most famous for his book, A Day Called Hope. He can be heard on Saturday, March 26.
John Waters and John Lonergan will both be well known to Ennis people. John Waters is probably best known as a journalist and activist for the rights of fathers. His recently published books include Lapsed Agnostic and Beyond Consolation. He can be heard on Saturday, April 2.
John Lonergan, has recently retired having spent 26 years as Governor of Mountjoy prison. He spent 42 years working in the prison system and saw human nature at its worst – and often, unexpectedly, at its best.
He has developed a deep understanding both of human nature and of Irish society. The Governor, his new book, gives a unique insight into his life and life in modern Ireland. John has spoken in Ennis on various occasions previously and he will conclude the talks on Saturday, April 9.
Each of the speakers will speak at the 6.30pm Saturday Mass in the Cathedral and some of the speakers will be available to speak a masses on Sunday. More details of the Sunday speakers will be available in the parish newsletter and parish website. A warm invitation is extended to all to hear these inspiring stories.