Autumn Talks Series


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A series of 4 mornings on what it means to be a Christian today.
Is this your way? Explore these four guiding principles for Christian life and see how they resonate with your life.

1. Saturday 5th October
Working together to care for our Common Home
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 “Last Saturday was the first of the Autumn series talks with the title ‘Working together to care for our common home’. We were a group of about 16 people, and it began with a very interesting and personal input from Dr Ciara Murphy, a young enthusiastic environmental biologist who recently has started working with the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. Then Fr Brian Grogan SJ took over by asking us to name the key messages of Laudato Si (Pope Francis ‘ encyclical on the environment). For him, Community was the key theme of the encyclical and he invited us to make a gesture in the room to create a sense of community. So we moved our chairs from rows into a circle and a very interactive and reflective morning followed (including time for tea and biscuits and a simple lunch of soup and sandwiches at the end!). I particularly liked that he invited us to connect with our own experiences of the beauty and wonder of nature and he had brought a leaf for each of us to examine and to imagine what story the leaf might have to tell us. He also peppered the talk with many inspiring quotes, my favourite being from Thomas Merton, ‘Every moment and every event in a person’s life, plants seeds of spiritual vitality in our souls’. The group also heard from Maura and Maryclare from the parish council, about initiatives by the parish to be more environmentally aware especially as Gardiner St is an eco-congregation. Finally, the morning ended with many positive suggestions of how as a parish we can continue to care for our common home at this very vital time in the earth’s history”.

Review by Orla Cunningham

2. Saturday 19th October
Accompanying the Young in the creation of a hope-filled future
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“The second of our autumn series of workshops took place on Saturday, 19th October in the Blessed John Sullivan Room. Padraig Swan, Director of Faith & Service programmes in Belvedere College, co-facilitated with Callum Douglas; a Faith Programmes Director, working in various schools in Dublin.
The morning kicked off with a culturally diverse group of participants introducing themselves and sharing their reasons for coming to the workshop.
A lively conversation then ensued when Padraig asked people to split into smaller groups and discuss among themselves their thoughts on reality today, as experienced by young people. Out of this discussion, participants were then asked to consider what their hopes and responses for young people might be in light of this lived reality.
There then followed a 20-minute prayer exercise where participants could sit in reflective silence or follow a guided meditation in the prayer room. The morning concluded with a brainstorming session where the group put forward their suggestions for practical steps or actions, that we as individuals, or as members of Gardiner Street parish might take, in our efforts to accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future.
Saturday morning proved to be another very worthwhile and insightful workshop where participants, quite a few of whom were young men, had an opportunity to voice and explore their concerns with regards to faith and its place in the context of 21st century Ireland. What the group were able to discern is this: in this frenetic technological age young people are faced with an extraordinary and overwhelming range of choices. They are finding a new sense of community through online and social media interactions. They no longer find beauty or splendour in mass liturgies and it is proving difficult for them to create time or space for reflection. Seeking validation and approval from outside sources is leaving them less resilient and negative peer pressure prevents them from expressing an interest in faith or its exploration. Finally, homes or schools are no longer providing a strong grounding in faith values and so young people question the point or value of having a faith.
Moving forward, Gardiner Street parish will be taking all these concerns on board, and we are committed to implementing as many of the practical ideas put forward on Saturday morning as we can! “

Review by Christine Halloran

3. Saturday 26th October
Walking with people in poverty in a mission of reconciliation and justice
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“Despite it being a bank holiday weekend, a fairly large group gathered on Saturday morning for the third talk in our autumn series. We were privileged to have Fr. Peter McVerry SJ and Sr. Bernadette McMahon DOC (from the Vincentian Partnership) relate some of their experiences with regards to their walking with, and working for, people in poverty and the homeless. 
Peter and Bernadette we discovered have quite a lot in common.  Both contend that our lives are shaped by God and their work emanates from a deep spirituality rooted in the gospel values of Jesus as espoused by the Jesuit and Vincentian communities to which they belong. They believe that they were called to bring the ‘Good News’ to those who are most in need. Peter understands that being a Christian today means that we share Jesus’ dream of building a world of justice and peace. By helping those in need we open our hearts and so become more like God.  Bernadette visualizes God as never being alone; God is always surrounded by the impoverished and less fortunate among us.
This was yet another hugely rich and insightful morning where two inspirational and unbelievably humble social activists shared the knowledge and wisdom that they have garnered over the years from working with the marginalised. Over time they have come to regard everything in life as a gift and, therefore, operate from a place of deep and heartfelt gratitude.  They have also come to the realisation that we are neither in a position to nor do we have the right to judge anyone. Most importantly of all, they have learned that regardless of life circumstances we need to value all people, and we should afford everyone the dignity and respect that all human beings deserve. We are all God’s children, belonging to the one big family. People end up homeless, addicted to drugs or living in poverty for many reasons and it is our responsibility as Christians to do what we can to help our brothers and sisters in their need. In truth, when all is said and done, it is simple yet profoundly a case of: “there but for the grace of God go I”
Review by Christine Halloran

4. Saturday 2nd November
Showing the way to God through prayer and discernment
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BEING A CHRISTIAN MEANS: Showing the way to God through prayer and discernment
The final talk was facilitated by Brendan McManus, SJ on Saturday last, and focused on the final UAP, “Showing the Way to God through Prayer and Discernment”. This was a wonderful morning, rich and spiritually nourishing, where the group got to experience prayer in practical and experiential ways. Brendan also introduced us to key Ignatian concepts such as discernment in decision making, use of the daily examen prayer as a means of reflection, spiritual direction, and the spiritual exercises as ways of deepening our relationship with God. He taught us through the sharing his own personal story that “The glory of God is the human being fully alive” and that God will go to great lengths to bring each and every one of us into the fullness of our being!
The team at Gardiner Street were delighted with the turnout for the Autumn series of talks, especially when people had to forego their Saturday morning lie-in and get to St. Francis Xavier church by 10.00am. We believe that the talks allowed us introduce parishioners to the key Christian values that will guide our actions and ways of being parish as we move into the next decade of Jesuit ministry in our inner-city parish.
Review by Christine Halloran

What can I expect?

The morning begins with solid input from our speakers followed by coffee and then a chance to deepen a question or a text in a simple prayer exercise and finally discuss our findings before a simple soup & sandwiches lunch for those who wish it.


9.30 - 10.00 Registration
10 - 11 Talk
11 - 11.30 Tea/Coffee
11.30 - 12.15 Workshop 1
12.15 - 1.00 Workshop 2
1.00 Soup & Sandwiches (optional)

A voluntary contribution would be appreciated.

Working together to care for our common home

Workshop 1 Working together to care for our common home

Saturday 5th October

Our planet is threatened by human-induced climate change. Can we ignore it?

Explore the options with Dr Ciara Murphy and Fr. Brian Grogan SJ and our response to human-induced climate change.

· Learn about the major challenges

· Be converted to care for the earth

· Explore practical steps

This workshop opens with some quality input by Fr. Brian Grogan and Dr Ciara Murphy. Then you are invited to meditate on the issues and pool our wisdom.

Sat 5th Oct

Registration 9.30-10

Optional soup & sandwiches at 1pm

Our Speakers

Fr Brian Grogan SJ

Fr. Brian has been a retreat director, spiritual guide, speaker and writer for many years.

His latest book Finding God in a Leaf - The Mysticism of Laudato Si explores a way of opening our spirit to nature and responding interiorly to the challenge to keep it safe for the next generations.


Dr Ciara Murphy

Ciara Murphy is Environmental Policy Advocate with the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. She works on influencing policy change at a national level as well as focusing on local initiatives. Ciara holds a BSc. in Environmental Biology and a PhD. in Environmental Microbiology which has equipped her with broad knowledge of environmental and biodiversity issues.


Accompanying the young in the creation of a hope-filled future

Workshop 2 Accompanying the young in the creation of a hope-filled future

Saturday 19th October

During this workshop, we will look at how young people engage with faith; what interests them and empowers them in their search for God.

The workshop will generate ideas as to how we, as a church can facilitate that search and discern paths for future development in parish and faith community.

Saturday 12th Oct

Registration 9.30-10

Optional soup & sandwiches at 1 pm

Our Speakers

Padraig Swan

Director of Faith and Service Programmes at Belvedere College SJ

Padraig has been leading the pastoral team at Belvedere College since he moved from the Jesuit Centre for Young Adults in Gardiner Street. He coordinates faith programmes and service projects at home and abroad as well as accompanying the boys in their faith development.

Callum Douglas

An aspiring writer Callum leads and assists in retreats and faith programmes for young people. He seeks ways of translating the richness of our faith tradition and bridging the gap with younger generations. He will share this vision during our workshop.

Walking with people in poverty

Workshop 3  Walking with people in poverty

Saturday 26th October

During this workshop we will:

¨ Listen to the vision of two practitioners of Social Justice

¨ Explore links with the Gospel message

¨ Explore what this means for us

Saturday 26th Oct

Registration 9.30-10

Optional soup & sandwiches at 1 pm

Our Speakers

Fr Peter McVerry SJ

For a generation now, Jesuit, Fr. Peter has been a champion for Dublin’s Homeless People, advocating their rights before the State.  Now, through the Peter McVerry Trust, he is providing housing for an increasing number of persons in need. Fr. Peter’s vision is rooted in the Gospel and responds to the ever-changing needs of homeless people.

 Sr Bernadette McMahon

Sr Bernadette is a Daughter of Charity and Director of the Vincentian Partnership. She leads a team of professionals and volunteers who since 1996:

· Promote an Active Citizenship/Voter Education Programme with communities in disadvantaged areas

· Raise awareness of the impact of poverty in an affluent Ireland by examining the minimum essential budget standards.

Showing the way to God through prayer & discernment

Workshop 4  Showing the way to God through prayer & discernment

Saturday 2nd November

During this workshop we will:

¨ Learn about the fundamental assumptions about our relationship with God

¨ Experience the practice of prayer in the Ignatian tradition

¨ Encounter God through creative prayer, savouring your experience, journaling and the journey of pilgrimage

The search for God

Everybody can find God, and perhaps surprisingly everybody can show God to others. God is to be found in the most unexpected people and situations.

Help and Guidance

Jesuits and their partners in mission seek God in quiet prayer, the Sacred Scriptures, life-experience, community and communion.

Find your way to God

Saturday 2nd November

Registration 9.30-10

Optional soup & sandwiches at 1 pm

Our Speaker

Fr Brendan McManus SJ

Fr. Brendan has been a spiritual director, retreat and pilgrimage guide for a number of years.

His book "Redemption Road" has been published in Ireland and the USA to great acclaim. He has followed this with “Finding God in the Mess” and “Deeper in the Mess”.