Cherry Orchard parish celebrates week of hope

Redemptorists host five-day candleweek

If you missed the giant inflatable candle outside the church, you couldn’t miss the sound of song and laughter emanating from the Church of the Most Holy Sacrament in Cherry Orchard, Dublin last week as the Redemptorist parish celebrated its seventh annual Candleweek mission.

Biblical characters like Simeon and Shulamite chatted to Mrs Brown of Mrs Brown’s Boys and Mrs Doyle from Fr Ted, as the parish team brought to life a message of welcome from an inclusive God.

Redemptorists are known for organising missions, novenas and retreats, but when Fr Gerry O’Connor realised that in a city centre setting most people expressed their faith by lighting a candle in the church, the idea of Candleweek was first born.

“Once a month we have an event that draws and connects with people who would not usually come to church and Candleweek is an extended one of these in an effort to mobilise the community in prayer,” Fr O’Connor said.

A few months ago the parish team began to plan the different themes of each of the five days of Candleweek such as ‘God in the City’ and ‘Operation (Spiritual) Transformation’.

“We discuss what is happening in people’s lives and how the Church can respond to that,” Fr O’Connor said. “We look at what people are experiencing, what they are talking about, what are they watching on TV and take scripture and a Biblical character to try to speak to that.”

Two weeks before the mission the parish team cooked a meal for 50 volunteers who went door-to-door to 3,000 houses issuing personal invitations to Candleweek. Posters were put up around the area and boxes were also placed in schools, community centres, shops and clinics where people could leave their petitions.

Large crowds filled the church to capacity each night, for what parish pastoral worker Jane Mellet describes as the “biggest event of the year” in the parish. “We have every age group, and people who might come to nothing else in the year,” she said. “It relates to people’s lives and gives a great sense of hope in the community. The idea is to include as many people as possible, and to bring a lot of good humour and fun.”

Betty Teeling from Palmerstown, said it was the “great atmosphere and sense of companionship among everybody” that brings her to Candleweek each year.

Colette Lakes, also Palmerstown said she loved “the buzz and the uplift” and the “camaraderie among the community”.