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Adventure Retreats Ireland (Brs & Srs)

 On Friday, 3rd September, Brothers, Sisters, friends, invited guests and the local media were present in Tanagh, Co Monaghan for the official launch of Adventure Retreats Ireland. This new initiative is on the site of the former seminary of the brothers in the area of Cootehill, where there has been a faithful SS.CC presence for over 60 years.

Adventure Retreats Irelandhas been developed by Shane Halpin, the director of vocations and missions as an outreach of the Congregation offering young people a new way of engaging with their faith. The initiative is a three–way partnership between (i) Congregation of the Sacred Hearts Brothers, Sisters and Laity, (ii) Tanagh Outdoor Education Centre/ Monaghan VEC and (iii) the services this year of NETMinistriesIreland- a fulltime youth retreat team.

A range of retreat encounters which combines high quality outdoor pursuits with a blend of experiential faith activities, sharing and exercises will be offered by the young retreat team.

The range of outdoor activities offered are considerable and are aimed at providing learning and reflection opportunities, leadership skills and opportunities for creative expression. This centre incorporates both a faith development team and a team of professional outdoor instructors and will be subsidised initially by the Brothers and Sisters. In-school or in-parish retreats where the team will go out to different locations, are also offered. 

The project is being seen as an essential ingredient in the development of experiential faith among young people. For too long young people have been neglected in terms of their faith experience, often having to endure poor liturgy and a music ministry which hasn’t changed since their grandparent’s day. Many have never really experienced their Catholic faith as something fun and to be enjoyed.  The concept is simple: provide a young vibrant retreat team, offer young people a quality faith experience that relates to where they are at, and make it enjoyable at the same time!”

Parallel to the development of the youth retreats will be a volunteer programme running at the centre where young adults, male and female will be invited to give a period of time to live in the centre and support this “peer ministry” project, enabling them at the same time to get a feel for the SSCC way of life and Charism of the Congregation.  This is very much in its embryonic stage but it is hoped as the initiative develops it will become a reality.

At a time when the Church in Ireland has been assaulted on many fronts and seeing a certain disillusionment creep in, it was wonderful to be there as Sisters and Brothers, supported by so many loyal friends, witnessing very real hope as the project was presented. The project is seen as answering a tangible need in a country crying out for Good News!  It is our hope that it will become a national centre for this type of day or residential retreat and in so doing offer opportunities for youth evangelisation. The needs have changed...the dream remains the same, that of spreading the love of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

The Net Ministries team with r-l Mary McCloskey, sscc, Shane Halpin (Promotor of Vocations & Missions), Michelle, the manager of the Tanagh Outdoor Centre, Derek Laverty, ss.cc and Ultan Naughton, sscc.