By Ann Schneible
ROME, JULY 5, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Over the week leading up to last month’s International Eucharistic Congress and through the Congress itself, a small international group of missionaries came to Dublin to give witness to their faith.
The 50th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), which took place in Dublin last month, welcomed thousands of pilgrims from around the world. Included among the attendees were students of the Rome-based Emmanuel School of Mission (ESM), who attended the Congress primarily as missionaries and volunteers. The ESM is a year-long program designed to train young adults from around the world to be missionaries in their daily lives.
Patrick Muldoon came to Dublin as a student of the ESM, the only student this year to be a native of Ireland. He spoke with ZENIT about the Dublin mission, and his hopes for the Church in Ireland.
On mission to Ireland
For 17 days, students of ESM were in Dublin, their work ranging from parish ministry to street evangelization. During the first week of their stay, the students provided outreach programs for St. Martin’s Parish in Tallaght, a large suburban parish in Dublin. The students worked in primary schools, hosted a series of events for the parish, and made house visitations. In general, Muldoon said, the objective was to be “in contact with people, sharing the joy of our faith.”
The second phase of their mission focused predominantly on the Eucharistic Congress itself, with an emphasis on street evangelization. “Our mission was to be present on the streets of Dublin,” Muldoon said, “to provide visible evidence by evangelizing, sharing the joy of our faith. We were there because of the Congress, really welcoming the people, listening to them, sharing the testimony of our own faiths.”
The ESM’s mission in Dublin this past June, however, was not the first. Back in December, the preparatory committee of the IEC invited the school to Dublin to promote awareness of the Congress. Their objective, Muldoon explained, “was to be out amongst the people of Dublin on the streets, meeting with them, just being present. We were doing vibrant street evangelization, which may not be so common in Dublin. And again, just visiting schools, visiting the universities, being in contact with the youth, and creating a presence in the city center.”
The Eucharistic Congress
As a native Irishman, Muldoon expressed his hope in what the IEC achieved. “I was certainly very uplifted by the Congress,” he said. “My strong opinion was that there was a great feeling of community, a feeling of togetherness in the Church, a feeling of inclusivity… I was particularly impressed by the large events for young people, because this is crucial as part of evangelization… that we reach out to the young people.”
“We have a Christian duty to reach out to our neighbor,” Muldoon continued. “Hence, the ecumenical focus of the Congress was important. As the theme of the Congress implies – communion with Christ and with one another – we have this duty to reach out to our neighbor. In that sense, my hope for the Congress would be that we have been renewed in that aspect of hope, of giving hope to one another.”
“We should not lose sight that we can build the faith again, in small, simple steps.”