Realising the Faith is ‘the real deal’

Realising the Faith is ‘the real deal’ Patrick Edmund McCormick Williams in Cameroon, 2020, visiting the uncle of a friend, whose wedding he attended.
Personal Profile

When Catholics are in school or college, they receive education on the Catholic Faith and have ready-made Faith communities. When they leave school for the world of work, this access to education and community can fall away. This was the experience of Patrick Edmund McCormick Williams, an Austrian Catholic who moved to Ireland in April 2015.

So Patrick, along with other Cork-based Catholics, organised an impromptu weekly gathering for prayer and adoration in 2015.

“We just decided to have local meetings,” Patrick tells The Irish Catholic. “Our first meetings were usually just having an adoration and then having the Rosary and then going to have a social in the pub afterwards.”

There was already a link with the Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), they were coming over and saying a monthly Mass”

A year later, a new arrival Matt Lavelle, founded Juventutem Corcaigh with Patrick. For Patrick and Matt, this development made sense as “in the end Juventutem is just a core group of people who want to show people what the Latin Mass is”, Patrick says.

“The cornerstone is that we have at least a monthly meeting where we do outreach to especially younger people between 18-35,” he continues. “It started early 2017. There was already a link with the Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), they were coming over and saying a monthly Mass. We really just spring boarded off that.

“We knew that the FSSP weren’t around for just that day, but also for the whole weekend and even Monday nights. So it made sense to utilise their capabilities by actually inviting them to also have a talk on different topics and to really get some theology classes as well.”

For these gatherings, they took on the banner of “Theology on Tap” – they were weekly social gatherings, yes, but they also served another purpose. They were a chance for Patrick, and other Catholics, to fill the gap left in their lives when they finished school and college.

“Ever since we started working, and this would apply for me as well, we didn’t get that weekly or monthly class of just learning about the faith,” Patrick says. “It was really like – ok, we have to do it ourselves, at home alone, reading books or watching lectures online. In the end, we’re here to know and love God and the only way to know God is by actually learning more about him, his Faith, what he created. We’re living as young Catholics, young adult Catholics, that have a job – we don’t have the access that students have, a dedicated group. That was really something that we wanted to have.”

Patrick’s route to the Faith had not been without its struggles, however. He was raised a Catholic by his parents, but he knew as he got older there would come a point where he either accepted or rejected the Faith.

“In the end, I went through loads of struggles of really trying to figure out if the Faith is the real deal,” Patrick says. “I decided to quit school early on. There were a lot of reasons, but the main one was that I am partially dyslexic, so I had a bit of a hard time. I did try and get the high school degree, but after a few years I said this is enough. It also wasn’t properly understood by certain teachers, so certain teachers dismissed it.”


Fed up of school, Patrick decided to head abroad and challenge himself. He went on a mission trip to India, doing work for the Church.

“I was not in Europe, my parents weren’t with me, this is really my own initiative now, so will I really believe what they taught me to believe, does it actually make sense,” Patrick asks himself. “There were definitely challenging things.”

But it was in India that Patrick woke up to what God can do for a person: “In India, the school system is harsher than here,” he says. “Some of the schoolteachers unfortunately still use corporal punishment. This was something that I went, ok, well how can I deal with this, especially in connection to the Faith and so on.

The small ‘b’ was a small ‘d’, the ‘three’ and ‘e’ were turned around, all these things that are clear signs of a dyslexic”

“There was a little girl, she might have been six or seven years old. The teacher was very annoyed at her, pulled her into the teachers room – I was in there as well. She handed me the test of the little girl. I looked at it, to see what it was, and – there were definitely a couple of seconds of pure disbelief from my side. The small ‘b’ was a small ‘d’, the ‘three’ and ‘e’ were turned around, all these things that are clear signs of a dyslexic.

“I was sitting there in disbelief, thinking my goodness – I had a good couple of years, four, maybe five years, of trying to get the high school degree and keep failing a lot of the times because of dyslexia. It completely did a 180 now – I was in India, the other side of the world. If I hadn’t been there, nobody could have told the teacher. She had dyslexia and it was so clear to me.

“That was something I found really, really eye-opening. I was 19 and I thought, ok, God’s plans are way bigger than I expected. Because it was so personal, I thought that there needed to be something that was personal, because it was almost at the core of my five years of being at high school. It was definitely something that really opened up my eyes then.”