Easter converts ‘fabulous’ for Ireland’s parishes

Easter converts ‘fabulous’ for Ireland’s parishes Fr Severino Pinheiro welcomes Gabriel da Silva Vieira to the Catholic Church during Easter Vigil Mass in Our Lady of the Angels, Church Street, Dublin, on Holy Saturday, March 30
Ruadhán Jones and Chai Brady

Dozens of adults and young people were welcomed into the Church in Ireland over Easter weekend, with parishes praising the “great signs” of hope these conversions bring for local communities.

Many of the new converts are young people who have come to Ireland to make their home and through the “personal witness” from the Faithful have come to love of Christ, The Irish Catholic heard.

In Dublin, Ireland’s largest diocese, almost 50 people entered the Church during Easter Vigil Masses on Holy Saturday, while 40 converts joined the fold in Down and Connor diocese, with a handful being received in Cork and in Kilalloe.

The witness of the converts is “fabulous” for parishes, Fr Gareth Byrne, moderator for Dublin diocesean curia, told this paper.

“It’s fabulous for our local communities, the fact that people – young adults mostly – are not only happy to be in Church, but want to make a lifelong commitment to Church,” he said. “For the ordinary person in the pews, it is a great witness.”

The new members of the Christian family come from a wide array of backgrounds, with many coming to Ireland knowing nothing of the Christian Faith, Fr Byrne added.

But “they see people for whom the love of God is important and that attracts them,” he said, saying it shows the power of personal witness.

“They probably never thought they’d be the kind of people talking about their faith in this way, but suddenly it becomes important to talk about Jesus and Church and the impact on their lives – they become missionaries,” said Fr Byrne.

Despite negative news around the Church and increasing secularisation, people of “great commitment and sincerity” are making the choice to join the Church, Deacon Martin Whyte, attached to St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast, told The Irish Catholic .

“It shows the Holy Spirit is alive in the Church and in the world. We get so swamped with negative news but you don’t hear this sort of thing happening,” he said.

Almost 40 people entered the Church in the diocese of Down and Connor this year, with 20 already signed up to cross the Tiber next year, Deacon Whyte said.

“They are people of great commitment and sincerity, who as adults – nobody is forcing them to do this – are making a choice to make a commitment to journey towards God, journeying towards the Church,” the deacon continued.

Following Christian tradition, adults catechumens and candidates to be received into full communion are received into the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass.

Four young men and women, all members of the Brazilian community in Dublin, were baptised by Fr Severino Pinheiro OFM Cap. during Mass in St Mary of the Angels, Church Street.

“It gives people hope,” Fr Pinheiro said, “it is always a great sign. They are young people, they are interested in the Faith.”

The Brazilian community saw a “great crowd” for the Easter celebrations, Fr Pinheiro added, saying “always the number is increasing”.

In Ennis Cathedral, Co. Clare, an Anglican family were received into the Church, receiving Confirmation and First Communion during the Easter Vigil, Fr Tom Ryan told this paper.

The Boulle family are a “little sign in terms of hope that faith is still attractive to people”, Fr Ryan said.