Chai Brady speaks to Eimear Felle from Mary’s Meals
Never underestimate the power of World Youth Day (WYD) as it can be a “life-changing” and eye-opening experience, according to one Faith-filled Irish woman.
Now the Communications Co-ordinator for charity Mary’s Meals, Eimear Felle (34) to this day thanks the event for giving her so much, including a deeper Faith.
Dublin-born Eimear, along with her brother, was raised in Clondalkin by her mother and grandmother. Now living in Blanchardstown, she says her upbringing was “unconventional”.
“I would probably state that I had an exceptional childhood despite the fact that there was no father around,” Eimear says.
“I spoke to a priest recently who said the functionality of family needs a father and a mother and I said there are always exceptions and I believe I am one of those exceptions, as with my brother, we never missed out on anything and Faith was a huge part of my life.”
Although not “bible bashers”, her family, particularly her grandmother, inspired her as a person who had “an incredible” Faith that she carried throughout her entire life.
Eimear says: “We always prayed together as a family, if anybody got sick or had an accident the first thing we did was pray together and we’ve carried that into our adult lives, my brother and myself.
“Our neighbour unfortunately recently died and the first thing we did was pray together. In an unconventional way it’s almost a habit, but I don’t want to say habit it’s just a natural thing to do.”
Her family have been strengthened by this and despite many odds, including the death of Eimear’s grandmother when she was 27-years-old, she says “because I had Faith I got through it”.
It was in her late teens that she began to drift away from the feelings she had about religion. Although Eimear never stopped going to Mass or praying it became more of a habit, there was less feeling behind her worship.
Then in 2005 her best friend invited her to go to World Youth Day in Cologne together when she was 20 years old – two years after Eimear completed her Leaving Cert.
“I was always open, I never closed myself off to religion, it was always there. I suppose I just wasn’t always committed. Then I went to World Youth Day and everything changed,” she says.
“It was literally life changing. Being in the same vicinity as literally one million people of your age, wanting to pray and loving Jesus and being very outward about it, it was a real eye-opener because I’d never experienced anything like that before – and it wasn’t overwhelming at all. I thought it might be but it wasn’t. It was just so much fun, everybody was happy, we were all tired but it was a good tired.”
She had a powerful moment when she met a priest in a cathedral in Cologne. Eimear went to Germany with the Emmanuel Community and met with a smaller group of people from all over the world at a forum in Kevelaer before going on to Cologne.
When she arrived in the city and they were sitting down for dinner she began to feel “unsettled”, even after going for a walk the feeling did not pass. It became stronger and stronger until she told her friends she was going to visit the nearby cathedral. Her best friend accompanied her.
The priest she approached was “so human”, and she had the best experience of Confession she ever had. Eimear says he “took my hand and he just told me that I was loved and that everything was going to be ok and I just burst into tears”.
Speaking of her experience at WYD she says: “It solidified my want for faith in every aspect in my life, it made me realise I’m no use without it. Even through the tough times I realise if I’m not able to recite an actual prayer, talking to God is just as good if not better.”
After working in her family newsagent for a number of years she went on to become a Fundraising Co-ordinator at Mary’s Meals. The charity’s goals include providing chronically hungry children with a school meal each day in order for them to engage in education and consequently be lifted from poverty later in life.
There was complications in Eimear’s application process that might have cost her the job if it wasn’t for the advice of a friend, who told her to call the Mary’s Meals office to find out the status of her application. She was informed that they had never received her CV. After realising there was a formatting issue in the document she sent, Eimear quickly redrafted it over Easter and sent it once again. Shortly after that she received the call she had been hoping to get.
“I just love to give I’m always looking after others, it’s just my human nature,” says Eimear.
“So finding a job where in fact I can work to help others was just perfect, and who wouldn’t want to help starving children receive food and an education? It wouldn’t seem right if somebody said no to that.”
Taking up a new role as Communications Co-ordinator last month, entering her fifth year in the charity and with Faith giving her strength, there’s no doubt Eimear is ready for whatever lies ahead.