Healing Circle

Healing Circle

Following on from an idea first proposed by Dr. Marie Keenan at the AGM in 2016 the first Healing Circle met in Ovens Cork on Tuesday 28 November.

Thirteen priests attended, drawn from different dioceses and religious congregations. The meeting dealt with the life experience of priests and the priests were invited to share at a level they felt comfortable with.

The session was facilitated by Barbra Walsh whose expertise helped in providing a safe space where people could be open and honest while support was felt. The gathering differed from the usual clerical gatherings as its focus remained on the felt reality of priest’s lives, the struggles, and the challenges.  People shared openly their stories and how they were sustained through the demands of being a priest today.

A few comments from a priest who attended:

“it was powerful to listen to other vocations stories.”

“it is clear to me that we are so desperately vulnerable and so desperately under supported and collectively under resourced and that a lot of the time we are alone.”

“Again and again the word ‘real’ was used to describe what guys were in relation to the Healing Circle and how privileged we were to be able to share and journey with each other.”

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  1. Joe Kavanagh says:

    Thank you, Tim, for organising the Ovens gathering. It was a refreshing and encouraging experience, and very sensitively led by Barbara and your good self. Here’s hoping it will be the first of many, and part of a whole healing process, especially for all who have suffered from clericalism in all its manifestations.

  2. I feel delighted to hear the Healing Circle has started and has already brought much fruit to those who attending.
    I am wondering if there is any consideration to having these Healing Circles in other parts of Ireland?
    Keep up the good work

  3. Mary Vallely says:

    Thanks to Tim for this report. I found it very moving to read some of the comments. The Healing Circle seems an inspired idea and I hope it helps those priests who feel isolated and vulnerable.
    “Let them marry!” shouts a voice in my ear.
    However I do realise that celibacy is something very precious to those who have freely chosen it but humans need other human affirmation, sharing, warmth, affection, companionship and to be challenged by someone they love and trust.
    Support systems are vital and the opportunities to confide in and converse with others who share similar experiences. May these Healing Circles continue to give sustenance and support to all those who need it. May those who find celibacy hard continue to challenge the ruling and find a much needed support in the form of a wife. ( Some day I’d like to be able to write ‘ or in the form of a husband’ but I’ll leave that particular battle to the great -great- great grandchildren.)

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