Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 5, 2002
Irish pilgrim finds answers at JP II
By ROD STAFFORD-MAYER
Special to the WCR
Johnny McCarthy can't find enough good things to say about John Paul II Bible School. "What they're doing here is fantastic," said the 43-year-old Catholic from the Tuan Diocese in southwestern Ireland. "It's amazing to find 40 young people living together in such harmony."
McCarthy was in Rome two months ago for a conference of 120 Catholics connected with schools of evangelization around the world. While there, he listened to a presentation made by Ernie Chauvet and Loretta Hopegood of John Paul II and was invited to come to Canada to assess for himself the program offered here.
McCarthy, who has been a retreat and parish mission worker for the past 10 years, says he doesn't think there is anything quite like John Paul II anywhere else in the world. "The closest to this community would be the Emmanuel Community in France and they don't offer a program with as much inner healing."
McCarthy wants to start a similar program in Ireland. "Back home we have lots of young people leaving the Church because they don't see the richness of their faith," he said. "Church authorities are not yet seeing the problem, but they're going to have to address it soon."
His own parish church, which had been a hotbed for vocations in the past, has not had someone go to the seminary in the past 20 years. "Many programs give little formation in evangelization or an understanding of the past roots of human behaviours."
At John Paul II the young people are formed, given opportunities to experience inner healing through prayer journey, and graduate ready to go on," he said. "I've talked with some who are ready to work with alcoholics, some ready for the seminary and others prepared to advance into youth ministry positions either in their parishes or with the other two ministries offered in Radway", Life Vision Communications and Behold the Lamb.
"The need for good formation was heavily stressed at our meeting in Rome," said Bible school director Ernie Chauvet. "One bishop in Nigeria found his priests coming out after seven years in the seminary not properly equipped to reach out and touch people with the message of Jesus. He now insists on two full years of formation in evangelization prior to ordination."
Others are also noticing the John Paul II program. "We have two couples coming here next year from New Zealand who are interested in starting a similar school of evangelization there," said Chauvet. "We've also had some interest recently from Louisiana in the U.S. and St. Lucia in the Caribbean."
Two years ago, a team from the youth outreach ministry Behold the Lamb went to Scotland to help launch a similar youth team in that country. Most of the members of Behold the Lamb are former Bible school students. "After two years, that program is still successful," said Kerrie Gould, a director with Behold the Lamb.
McCarthy who found himself somewhat "burned out" in Ireland, admits to a new excitement after spending time at John Paul II. "I can't wait to get back to Ireland to share with my bishop the program you offer here. There's certainly something very good going on at John Paul II."