Since its humble origins in Newark, New Jersey in 1978 Renew has spread to 12O dioceses across the United States and also in Canada, Australia, Africa, the Philippines, England and Scotland. Now it has landed on our shores and we in the dioceses of the West of Ireland have been chosen to launch Renew in this country.

Renew is a spiritual renewal process which helps every person to develop a closer relationship with Christ. With the help of Renew it is hoped that each individual will

. Improve their prayer life.

. Discover scripture.

. Develop a personal relationship with Christ.

. Experience the joys of taking part actively in the community.

Renew aims to create an atmosphere, an experience or climate of community and belonging. This is a deep-felt need within us all that often isn’t adequately responded to by existing church practice.

Renew enables us to become active in our faith and allows us to feel a sense of belonging and community which we may not have experienced previously.

How is this done?

Renew takes us back to basic gospel themes. Our exploration of these themes brings us on a journey of conversion and deepening of our relationship with Christ.

Small faith reflection groups will be set up in the parish in Autumn 1996. These groups will meet in homes or any other decided venue. Each group will consist of eight to ten people who will read the word of God and reflect on their faith and friendship with each other. The limited numbers encourage participation and creates an atmosphere of intimacy and trust. Some members of each group will be familiar with the Renew process.

They will have attended meetings organised by the Parish Renew Team and will be acquainted with the programme. Each group will follow the same programme which has been approved by the bishop and priests of the dioceses.

It is hoped that as many people as possible will volunteer to join a small faith reflection group. We owe it to ourselves and to our parish to make Renew work. It is especially important in today’s world where society has become increasingly materialistic in its outlook. Many people feel an apathy towards their faith and have allowed it to fall by the. wayside.

Renew has proved to be a success in many countries throughout the world. It has enriched many peoples’ lives and brought parishes closer together. It is not just a renewal of individual members but a renewal which promotes diocesan unity and creates a spiritual awareness throughout the parishes.

Renew is for everyone including the priests and bishops. It is important that we, as a parish, undertake the journey together. It is by working together that we can find solutions to many of life’s problems. We will not solve everything but the joy of interacting with others equips us with the strength to deal with life in a different way. We are all familiar with the saying “A problem shared is a problem halved”.

Let’s open our hearts and allow Christ in so that we can all be renewed.

The roots are buried deeply

symbolising our past

anchoring strongly

the faith of today.

They are twisted by hunger

and shaped by despair

yet each generation is richer

because of their pain.

After years of denial

on the bare mass rock

their faith kept hidden

when persecution was rife.

Still grew the tree stronger

its roots searching on

seeking for moisture

in the words of Our Lord.

 

The trunk channels goodness

to feed the bare wood.

Never lying empty

but changed with rebirth.

On a bare barren hill

Our calvary made

stripped of its clothing

lying naked and still.

All through the cold winter

awaiting the day

when full of new splendour

green shoots will appear.

 

The wells run deep

nourishing the tree

Bringing it life

through years of unrest.

When Athenry lay crippled

limping in pain

the well surged up

and bathed its sores

The face of Our Lady

appeared in the mist

giving courage to those

who kneel at her feet.

 

Thus sank the roots deeper

in faith and in prayer

till the wounds disappeared

and the tree grew again.

Thus, leading to us the newest of buds

tentatively opening, unsure of our task.

Doubt not your great talent

or will to succeed

for in the last days of Autumn

We will be renewed.