IEC2012 Blog

O’Brien Boys Carry Forward the Catholic Faith

Posted by Mark McDermott, June 13, 2012 at 18:00

The first day of the International Eucharistic Congress 2012 was, in artistic parlance, one of ‘wash and colour’. The vibrancy and joy of foreign groups stood out in stark contrast to the more muted and reflective disposition of Irish pilgrims.

The reasons for the difference in reactions doesn’t need further airing here, but suffice it to say that the words of apology from the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, to victims of clerical abuse during the Opening Mass went down extremely well with Irish Catholics. Sincerely felt emotions were sincerely delivered – and sincerely received by everyone present.

But to say that Irish Catholics are ‘down and out’ would be a gross misstatement. The Catholic Church has a 2,000-year history of turning the other cheek, rolling with the punches, and learning from past mistakes.

Time to move forward

Going by the reaction of pilgrims when you speak to them, they’re very quick to acknowledge the wrongs that have been inflicted on the people abused by certain members of the clergy and religious. But they also feel that now is the time to start looking – and moving – forward. Too many backward glances, like Lot’s wife, leads to a petrified, stony existence with no hope for the future.

And hope is what is so evident in the eyes and thoughts of those who are only too happy to talk about their faith and what it means to them when you ask why they’re here. The O’Brien family, headed by husband and wife, Jimmy and Therese, and their three boys and baby girl are one such inspirational example. From Sligo, in the north-west of Ireland, Therese said that they are committed Catholics – “We always have been, ever since our involvement in Youth 2000.”

Jimmy and Therese added that they wanted their children to experience the Congress, which is one of the main reasons for them being here. “It’s an aspiration for the kids, really, that they’ll follow in our footsteps.”

‘Spiritual lift’

The O’Brien’s are very involved in an organisation called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Ireland, which operates a website that informs children and their parents about the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see Their personal expectations for the Congress are that it will fill them with a new enthusiasm for their faith and give them a “spiritual lift” to help them carry on.

Their boys were certainly excited about the opening procession. “We were in it!” Marc (6) pipes up. A chorus of “Yeah, we were in it” followed from big brother Paul (7), a quieter Thomas (4) and their first cousin, Joseph McCaughey, who was adamant that he’s six-and-a-half years old, and was “excited because I might be on the telly”! Baby Clare (1) was totally oblivious as she slept soundly in her mother’s arms.

Jimmy explained that the boys are part of a group from the Diocese of Elphin that carried a giant rosary, made by Corina Muldoon, and which has been decorated for IEC2012 by students from a number of primary schools in Sligo.

Our conversation was cut short in the Simmonscourt pavilion as Jimmy high-tailed it to chase after his inquisitive young charges, who had run off to explore what must seem like the largest playground in the world. Congress or not, the job of being a Catholic dad is never done!



Eileen Nyhan says:

A great article, the O'Brien family are certainly leading where others should follow.

Posted on : 15/06/2012

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