My Ancestors in the Redemptorists

Professor Brendan MacSuibhne, of NUIG, speaking at the West Cork History Festival in Skibbereen. He spoke about the low rate of Mass attendance among Irish Catholics pre-famine, and now it gradually changed after the famine, until, in the twentieth century Ireland had probably the highest rate of Mass attendance of any country in the world.

As you can see in the quote below, he considered that my ancestors in the Redemptorists had contributed greatly to make the Irish people devoted and devotional. The ‘stormtroopers’ arrived in the middle of the nineteenth century, and got to work. They were so successful that they still carried out the same methods and message right down to my own time.

“What you get in the 1850s is serious hardcore proselytisers hitting the country in the form of the Redemptorists – these are the stormtroopers of Roman Catholicism, ‘Do you reject Satan and his works?’ – and they made Confession, Communion and Confirmation rites of passage in Catholicism.”

I find it hard to argue with what he says. Luckily for me, by the time I arrived on the scene, in the sixties, the Vatican Council had happened, and the Redemptorists in Ireland took it very seriously, and changed both their style and their message.

Many of this older generation, the stormtroopers, are buried in the crypt under the high altar in Mount St. Alphonsus, Limerick, the community to which I am now officially attached since the closure of Esker. I hope they won’t be spinning in their coffins with the type of views I have been expounding over the years. I wouldn’t want to disturb their peaceful rest.