In mid September 2013 1 was asked by a friend religious if I was interested in participating in a 26 week programme on The New Evangelisation. I showed the programme to Sr. Christina Gorman. She was most enthusiastic and so we both decided to 'launch into the deep'!
The genesis of this programme began a few years ago with The New Springtime Community.
History of The New Springtime Community
In mid June 2008 a group gathered on four successive Sunday nights to pray for a Spirit-filled revival in the Church. When the four weeks had passed the meeting continued by common agreement. Some time later, it was felt that the eighteen participants were becoming a community with a common sense of purpose. Their Mission Statement expressed their core vision: "With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will engage in evangelization ourselves, as well as teaching, training and equipping others who also desire to evangelise those who have not yet developed an intimate personal relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Saviour". In May 2009 the members were led by the Spirit to call themselves The New Springtime Community. Four people were elected to lead the community. In 2011 the members committed their energies to one or other of three interconnected streams - Evangelising, Formation and Intercessory Prayer. Pope Benedict XVI said in 2008: "We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity". Benedict, like his predecessor believed that this renewal of Christianity can only be brought about by a new evangelization, e.g. sharing the basic teachings of Christianity, which focus on the person and saving work of Jesus.
Two courses were designed by the committee. The first was a Parish Evangelisation which lasted six weeks. It took place in St. Jude's Parish in Templeogue in 2013 and the second was the certificate course of 26 weeks - facilitated by Fr. Pat Collins, members of the New Springtime Community and guest speakers. This was held in the Conference Room, Mary Aikenhead House, Donnybrook. Different models of evangelisation were explored and evaluated. Our eyes were opened by what is already happening in some of the Dublin parishes and around the country. We were assured that the Lay people are well and truly involved in evangelising and that the Gospel is safe in their hands because they have a wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ.
We were encouraged to experience two ministries unknown to us previously. Our first trip was to An Cuan, Rostrevor - made famous in the 70's by the late Rev. Cecil Kerr. This Centre now has 'Youth with a Mission' (YWAM)' as their focus. An Cuan set up a Discipleship Training School for young people (18+ years) who have a desire to deepen their relationship with God and share His love with others. It is a six month course and consists of living in community with lectures etc. Some are given overseas experience in places of conflict.
Many courses are held in the evenings such as: Life in the Spirit Seminars, Alpha Courses, and Charismatic Prayer Meetings etc. All staff are voluntary and have to support themselves from stipends.
Our second new ministry experience was Nightfever.
Nightfever started in October 2005, shortly after the World Youth Day in Cologne. Since then it has become a regularly organised evangelisation event, spreading to 35 cities throughout Europe, the UK and now Ireland. It takes place in St. Teresa's Church, Clarendon Street Dublin every two months. Galway and Wexford are now blessed with this ministry.
Nightfever is an event which combines street evangelisation with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The core idea is that mission teams go out into the nearby streets and offer people a candle with no conditions, inviting them to go into the church, light their candle and pray and experience the evening as they wish - in silence, in song, in prayer. The lighting of the candle symbolises a person's prayer intention. The candle will continue to be lit and the person's intentions prayed for when they leave the church. Everyone is welcome to get a taste of what it is like to be in the church, even if it is just for a few minutes. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar and the church is lit only by candlelight, while gentle music and song create a quiet atmosphere that helps those present to contemplate, pray and be still before God. There is an opportunity to reflect on a passage from scripture or write a prayer and place it in front of the altar. Priests are also available to chat, or for Confession. The evening concludes at 11pm.
Nightfever seeks to reach out to young people that have stayed away from the church and to draw them closer to faith again. The event is a great opportunity for anyone of any or even no faith background to come for a peaceful and beautiful evening in St. Teresa's Church, so please invite your friends! For more information about the event or if you would like to help see Nightfever Ireland on Facebook. You may email nightfeverireland@)gmail.com
Overall, we really enjoyed our 26 weeks and our visits to Rostrevor and Nightfever. We were so impressed with the Springtime Community and their dedication and commitment to one another and to their mission.
Srs Christina Gorman and Pauline Campbell