Esker ‘Gospel Reflection’ – ‘Lectio Divina’ – Thursdays 8pm, on Zoom



'St Mary of the Mountains' - an image very sacred to St. Alphonsus, and to every Redemptorist: she holds the Child in one arm, and the Book of the Scriptures in the other, and she is 'pondering these things in her heart'.

Esker Gospel Reflection: a group of people gathers each Thursday to reflect on the Gospel for the following Sunday.  The meeting takes place through Zoom (video-conference) on Thursday evenings, at 20:00 (GMT+1) and lasts a little more than an hour.  If you would like to participate, please contact us at  info@eskerreds.ie, or phone (353) (0)91 844007.

Known also as ‘Lectio Divina’, this reflection together on the Word of God for the following Sunday, helps us to go deeper into the Word, and to hear how it speaks to any one of us. Tell your friends.

We ponder, we weigh, the Word made flesh who dwells among us to the end of time.

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Prayer Going Back to School!


The Diocese of Clonfert sent out this prayer, for families and children, as the children go back to school, in these days. We encourage you to copy it and make it your own. Perhaps light a candle together, before you begin. We wish the very best to all students and teachers and staff members in our schools, as we set out on a new voyage together:

Diocese of Clonfert:
Prayer as we Begin this New School Year 2020/21

In these days, throughout our Diocese, so many people are working to create a safe learning environment for pupils and staff. In the midst of it all let us pause for a moment to invoke a blessing on the challenges of this particular school year.

This prayer may be adapted to be said at home, at Mass or in school. Perhaps before you begin you might safely light a suitable candle and pause for a moment in silence to become aware ofGod’s Presence.

Sign of the Cross

Father in Heaven!

Thank you for all those who have worked to reopen our school this year. Bless our board of management and our principal.
Bless our teachers and all our school staff.
Bless our priests and all who work in our parish.

Bless our parents, our families and our friends.
Help us to get used to new ways of doing things.
Help us as we prepare to grow in knowledge.
Help us also to grow in love for you and for each other. Keep us safe and healthy.

Keep all those we know and love safe and healthy too.
Be with our school and our whole world at this time. Amen

Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Sign of the Cross

When finished extinguish the candle safely.



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St. Dominic and Esker: Feast of St. Dominic, August 8th.

St. Dominic, by Matisse - at Vence

Fr. Denis Luddy prepared this homily for the feast of St. Dominic. Esker owes its origins to the Dominican presence in this area, –  from 1241 in the town of Athenry, and from 1716 on this present site where Esker Monastery of the Redemptorists stands today. We give thanks for the Dominican story and faithfulness through the centuries, and pray for them on this, the feastday of their founder, Dominic de Guzman, Spaniard.

Homily for the Feast of St. Dominic – 8 August, 2020

Introduction to the Mass…

Today, Dear Friends, we celebrate the Feast of St. Dominic – a Spanish priest who lived 800 years and founded the Dominican Order.

In marking the Feast of Dominic we are diving headlong into the origins and history of Esker monastery here;    we are bringing to life again the ruins of the Dominican foundation in Athenry — the ruined church there and this chapel in Esker are both dedicated to the Saints Peter and Paul.

And we are looking back on centuries of suffering, bloodshed and oppression, but times of outstanding courage as well — historians tell us that at least five Dominicans  of the Athenry community– three Brothers and two Priests - were martyred for the Faith in this part of County Galway.

Today we pray for Dominican Priests, Brothers and Sisters everywhere.


Next year — 2021 — will mark 800 years since the Spanish priest Dominic Guzman died.

They were known then — and are still known today — as The Order of Preachers, also as ‘Dominicans’.    They are marvellous preachers and when I was living and working in Cork city years ago — I was helped to find my vocation by going to Mass and listening to the homilies preached at the Dominican Church in Pope’s quay.

From their earliest days, then, Dominic guided his men to live very simply;  they lived a mendicant life:   moving around constantly to preach and relying on God’s people for food and support.

They preached all the time and were brave enough to fight the heresies of the time — a heresy is when we twist the Word of God and the Teaching of the Church into ERROR.

So, the time of Dominic — and St. Francis too, who lived at the same time — saw a mighty renewal in the church all over Europe through the work of Franciscans and Dominicans.

St. Dominic died only six years after he founded the Dominicans but by then the Order had spread all over Europe and to places beyond. The Dominicans were in Ireland by the time Dominic died. Twenty years after his death the Dominicans came to Athenry:  in 1241.


Athenry at the time was the English king’s most important barony in Ireland:  And over time the Dominican priory in Athenry became their most important centre in Ireland.

They were supported by the Irish and English nobility in the area.

King Henry VIII left the Dominicans in Athenry alone but Queen Elizabeth I sent her soldiers to destroy the monastery and the friars were banished.  They went abroad to France, Spain, Belgium. Some few remained here — in careful hiding and protected by the people.  The Priory was invaded, ransacked and handed over to the town.


By the time of the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 — the persecution and suffering had reduced Dominican numbers in Ireland from 800 to only ten or twelve.

Ten years or so after Elizabeth’s death a few Irish Dominicans came back from Spain and Belgium. They made contact with the men who had remained and they put new heart into them to begin again and to struggle on.

These returned friars began receiving and training novices in the remote priory of Urlar, in County Mayo, far from the eyes of the soldiers of James I. They quickly re-founded Dominican Communities in Drogheda, Athy, Mullingar, Dublin and eventually here in the countryside outside Athenry.

They lived near here, first in Gloves North, and then in the woods in Brosk (pronounced Bresk), beyond Dominic’s hill. Young men joined them to become priests and brothers and after their schooling in Bresk, the friars sent them overseas to Louvain in Belgium, and to Spain to do further study.

After the uprising of 1641 in Ireland, Catholics reclaimed their churches. In 1644, The Irish Dominicans at a Chapter gathering in Kilkenny, formally made the Athenry community and school a University — such was the quality of the education here.

It never took off. Trouble and violence came very soon:  Cromwell arrived and ten hard years of persecution began, over the whole island.  His soldiers killed at least five of the Athenry community -  three brothers and two priests. They hanged a Dominican brother, from the Roscommon community, in what is now Eyre Square in Galway (at the site of the Liam Mellows statue). This man, Brother Naughton, had bartered his last bit of clothing in the Galway Gaol for a bit of food. This in 1653.

Make no mistake: the Catholic faith here in East Galway was founded on the blood of marytyrs.

With the death of Oliver Cromwell  ( go ndéana Dia trócaire air) and with the restoration of the king in England,  things got a little bit easier; the friars opened a school in the woods beyond Dominic’s hill, in Bresk. It lasted, on and off, for about thirty five years. Records show that over three hundred students attended — coming from all over Ireland.

But once again, violence and suffering came the way of the people here:  The Battle of Aughrim in 1691 - sixteen miles from us here -  changed Irish history for over two centuries. A few years later, in 1697,  the Dublin parliament — which excluded all Catholics — banished all friars and clergy - Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, as well as Jesuits, Bishops and senior clergy  - from the Island of Ireland.

The Athenry Community took a ship from Galway to France — going into exile in June of 1698.

But — and again we see the working of the Holy Spirit here and the heroic courage of some individuals — two friars remained.   They toughed it out went into hiding for 9 years.   The lands in these parts of Galway were wild – bogs and forest with pathways rather than roads — not a safe place for soldiers or priest hunters.

History threw up a low class of individual — PRIEST CATHCHERS – men who hunted priests for money and handed captured priests to the English authorities.

But, after about nine years, the pendulum swing again, and a lull in the violent intolerance of priests and Catholicism was seen. Five or six Dominican Friars managed to make their way back in 1707.   Denis Daly, a Catholic landowner and a Judge, gave them a bit of poor land in Coilascaul, beside Esker, in a place ‘between two lakes’. Here they build a cabin, deep in the hazelnut woods, in what is called today ‘Nut field’.

Eight years later, fire accidentally destroyed their refuge. Again,  Denis Daly gave the Dominicans some better land: in a drier spot.  That was in 1715 or 1716 and this is the site of Esker Monastery today.

So, from 1716, Dominican Friars lived here and ministered to the people for almost 180 years.

This was the early 1700s and in that time they experienced great poverty: once having to sell their Mass chalices: they kept their heads down: living quietly and doing priestly work “under the radar.”

By now the authorities were beginning to leave them alone and pretend not to notice their presence.

The Dominicans set up schools and taught young men trades.  One school building is now the chapel of the Esker Youth Village.

The other became Esker National School as we know it today. Some of you here will remember the Old Esker National school which you attended.

The Great Famine in the 1840s saw the Dominicans feeding hundreds of people each day — as well as keeping the schools going.

In 1844, they built the Church that we are praying in this morning.

This church of St. Peter and Paul continued the name of the ruined church in Athenry.  It replaced an earlier simpler one which once stood on the site of our Esker Retreat House.


From the early 1800s this locality of Esker and Athenry supplied many vocations to the Dominican Order.   Many lived heroic, saintly lives, none more so than Fr. Anthony Fahy who eventually worked on the missions in Argentina and brought thousands of Irish people to Argentina where they were given farms of land.

Anthony Fahy is a national here in Argentina today.


The Window of the Mother of Perpetual Help - first installed by the Dominicans in Esker Church, fifteen years before the Redemptorists came to hear. The window is now in the Retreat House.

The Redemptorists came to Esker in 1901 – only 120 years ago.  The Dominicans lived on this same spot for 180 years. The last Dominican left this place in August of 1893.

Astonishingly, the Dominicans — followers of St. Dominic — were part of Athenry / Gloves / Brosk / Coilascaul/ Esker for about 650 years.

Today we thank God for their lives, their work, their courage, their sacrifices, their faith and their ministry among the people of Esker and beyond.

We pray for Dominicans Sisters, Brothers and priests.

Four years ago, Dominicans throughout the world celebrated 800 years since their story began with Dominic Guzman, a saintly Spanish priest.

May the Lord continue to bless them greatly, in their work of preaching the Gospel to the world.












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Celebrating the Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, August 1st.

August 1st, Redemptorists worldwide celebrate the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, their Founder. We give thanks for him and for the group he gathered around him ono missionary men not long afterwards became officially recognised as The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded to preach the Gospel to the poor and the most abandoned. Just one year earlier, Sr. Maria Celeste Crostorosa (now Blessed) began the Redemptoristine Nuns, a contemplative Order, known now as The Order of the Most Holy Redeemer’. She and Alphonsus worked closely together in the foundation of both groups.

The Redemptorist Missionary -

Strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, in humility of heart and persevering in prayer, Redemptorists as apostolic me and genuine disciples of Saint Alphonsus follow Christ the Redeemer with hearts full of joy; denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding, they share in the mystery of Christ and proclaim it in Gospel simplicity of life and language, that they may bring to people plentiful redemption’  (Redemptorist Constitutions, §20)


“Return Love for Love”

is what he said to do.

When all was said and done, this was his heart’s deep cry,-

‘return love, for love’.

Live in the Birth of Bethlehem,

walk in its stables,

smell its smells,

and then

be filled with speechless wonder

at the One Who Is,

and who is lying in the food-trough of

the beasts.

Live in the Call of Calvary,

Come back again to stand

upon that hill,

don’t run away from the awe-filled

horror as you stand

and gaze at our Messiah,-

Sent by the One who so greatly

loved the World.

Live in the shadow of its radiance.

Live in the ever-lasting gift of Eucharist,

Behold the Man! Behold the Lamb!

Behold your God, given in a wafer:

Drink in the meaning of the Cup.

‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink?’  (Mark 10:38-39)

‘We can…’ said those

two Thunder Brothers to their Lord.     (Mark 3:17)

And so can we,- drink of the

overflowing cup of given life.

Return love for love.

‘Live in my love’, said He.

‘As He (my Father) has loved me, (John 15:9)

that is the very how

my love is now

for you!’

Come, live in it, and drink of it,-

Come, laugh and dance in it

with Mary, -who ‘rejoices in God my Saviour’ (Luke 1),-

‘so that your joy may be full’. (John 15:11)

If he has so loved us,-

then we

might live our lives,

returning love for love.

(Séamus Devitt C.Ss.R.)


( Memories of visit to Naples-Scala, and of page 47 of Frederick Jones’ book on the writings of Alphonsus Liguori, in Classics of Western Spirituality Series..)


Blessed Maria Celeste Crostorosa, foundress of the Redemptoristines

Both the Redemptoristines and the Redemptorists are constantly praying that young women and young men, in their twenties and older, will come and share the passion in us for people. We want the work of the Most Holy Redeemer to continue into future generations. Talk to any Redemptorist, or contact us at vocations@redemptorists.ie. ‘Every new generation is a continent to be won for Christ!’ (St. John Paul II)

‘The harvest is great, the labourers are few: ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest.’

seamus.devitt@redemptorists.ie, Esker Monastery, Athenry.

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Esker Church is open ! – or Join us daily on-line!

Esker Church is open again for Mass each weekday at 1oam:  capacity is 23 people. On Sundays, it is open for Mass at 11am, with capacity at 30 people. The Front Office is open daily, Monday to Saturday, from 10.30 to 12noon. The Church is open for visits, from 12 noon to 2pm, Monday to Saturday. It is not open on Sundays after the 11am Mass. Thank you for your understanding. 

You can join us daily ON-LINE at this website, for Sunday Mass at 11am, and for Weekday Masses at 10am. Let your friends know that they can easily find us now on www.eskerreds.ie, and can send messages or prayer-requests to info@eskerreds.ie. For Mass at the times mentioned, click on Webcam button on the right, on the home page. 

A Message from Fr. Brendan Callanan C.Ss.R., the Rector in Esker.


Dear Friends,

We are living in a very unusual time. The pandemic is presenting unprecedented challenges to us all. Consequently, we have to take a number of precautions to help diminish the threat of the coronavirus.

We re-opened the church on the 6th of July for the celebration of Mass. I am very grateful to those who have come to church to pray and/or participate in the Eucharist. I am grateful also for your cooperation with the stewards.

Our church is relatively small and, for that reason, we can only accommodate 23 people in the body of the church. Courtesy of our arrangement with Church Services TV, you can join us on-line for our Mass each day by logging on to our website www.redemptoristsesker.ie and clicking on the webcam to follow Mass live at the appropriate time (Monday to Saturday at 10.00am and Sunday at 11.00am)


I wish to remind you of some guidelines, which we all need to follow, to help make Esker Church a safe place for everyone and to enable us to keep the church open for daily Mass.

On Arrival you are asked to give your name. This is solely for tracing purposes, if that becomes necessary.

Sanitizer: please sanitize your hands as you enter and leave the church. Sanitizer is available in the porch.

The wearing of a mask is now a requirement in closed spaces.

Distancing: it is important to keep the required distance from others. This is why, on arrival in the church, the steward will show you to one of the designated places to sit for Mass, and after Mass will also guide you leaving the church. Physical distancing is important outside the church as well.

Face Covering: we encourage you to use a face covering when you are in the church. This helps us to protect one another.

Communion: to receive communion please remain in your place. The Eucharistic Minister will approach you. When you extend your arm, the sacred host will be placed on the palm of your hand. Communion will not be placed on the tongue.

At end of the Celebration: The steward will guide people, beginning at the back of the church, as they leave the church. If you wish to light a candle, please remain in your place and wait for the steward to guide you to the candelabra.

Novena Petitions/Thanksgivings: It has been strongly recommended not to leave pens or paper on the altar rails. The suggestion, then, is that you write your petition/thanksgiving at home and place it in the petition box when you come to church. I understand that this is an inconvenience but appreciate your cooperation in the matter. Alternatively, you can send your petition/thanksgiving by clicking here on  info@redemptoristsesker.ie,  or just click on ‘Pray with Us‘ at the top of this page, and entering your petition/thanksgiving prayer. Continue to send in your prayer requests, all the time. Thanks.

Donations: There is no basket collection during Mass but there is a donation box at the back of the church where you can give your contributions. On our website, www.redemptoristsesker.ie there is also a DONATE button and it is possible for you to make a contribution that way. We are very grateful for any support you can give.

May God bless each and every one of us.

Fr. Brendan Callanan C.Ss.R., August 7th, 2020.





The Mass Schedule is as follows:

MASS  on weekdays, 10am , Monday to Saturday.  (On Saturday, Novena Prayers will be included).

MASS on Sundays, at 8am and 11am, in the church.

You are asked to arrive in good time, so that proper protocols may be observed, as required in this time of Covid 19. We appreciate your cooperation in all of this.

There are twenty three (23) spaces in the Church.  This is a relatively small number, but we are conscious of the continuing importance of physical distancing , – two metres at present.



LIVE-STREAMING OF MASS DAILY FROM ESKER –  Weekdays at 10am, Sundays at 11am.  

On opening the Esker website, you will find a button on the top right corner  - ‘Webcam’.

Click on the Web-Cam button on the right, to participate in our daily Mass, or, alternatively, find us on churchservices.tv/esker

We would be happy to hear from you by email, to let us know how you find it. You can also send in petitions and intentions for prayer.  Thanks.

SUPPORTING ESKER:  You can now donate securely to the upkeep of our Church and Monastery using a credit card. Simply click on the Donate Now button on this front page,  and choose the amount you want to donate. You will be guided through the steps.

ESKER 2020 ANNUAL NOVENA DATES:  September 1st to 9th, inclusive.  If you can’t come to the Novena, the Novena can come to you! Join us online.   We have not forgotten you, and we hope you will join in with us for this great event.  

Meantime, ESKER CHURCH is open daily, Monday to Saturday, from 12noon to 2pm, for people to visit and pray.  It will be Closed on Sundays, from after the 11am Mass.  Social distancing – 2 metres apart – is to be observed.  Please use the sanitisers that are available

The SHOP is opened now, Monday to Saturday, from 10.30 until 12noon.

The Monastery and the Walks  remain closed until further notice.

The Grounds and the Pitch & Putt Course remain closed until further notice.

REDEMPTORISTINE NUNS in Drumcondra, Dublin:  You can find them on www.rednuns.com, and follow Mass from there, daily, if you wish.


A few images that may lift your hearts:

From the corridor in Esker Monastery











               When you cannot receive Holy Communion physically, you can say this prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori, from his Visits to the Blessed Sacrament:

SPIRITUAL COMMUNION:   ‘ My Jesus, I believe that You art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You were already there, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You; permit not that I should ever be separated from You.    Amen.

God bless and protect us all, at this time. Go bhfóire Dia orainn ! Dia linn, ló ‘gus oiche!

'The Madonna of Ireland' - in a church in Gyor in Hungary since 1652. Linked to the then-Bishop of Clonfert, Walter Lynch. (Photo adapted by S. Devitt C.Ss.R.)



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Pre Marriage Weekends: 2021 dates, – le cúnamh Dé!








Please pass the word about this and other Pre-Marriage weekends, planned for Esker in 2021.

We are planning for  PRE-MARRIAGE WEEKENDS in 2021:  Please God, we will be able to go ahead with them:  

Dates for 2021:

Pre-Marriage Dates as follows, for 2021:   15/17th    January,   2/4th April,    11/13th   June,       and     1st/3rd October


These are some of the comments from recent weekends: 

‘A fantastic weekend, very informative; topics relevant, speakers fantastic and very honest. A great chance for any couple to talk without…mobile phones. And the ground around beautiful and the food only fab’

‘More awareness, marketing and advertising of these courses. It could be promoted on FB and social media.’

‘Thanks for a fantastic weekend. We really enjoyed it and have taken lots away from it.’

‘Very well run weekend… We really liked both couples.  We learned a lot…’ 

‘We enjoyed the weekend and took more from it than we had hoped, with very high expectations.’

‘We heard about the course from … past participants’.

‘Thank you sincerely from both of us. It was a very special and inclusive weekend of essentially important knowledge, sharing in helping us prepare for our sacrament of Marriage…Thanks!

Contact 091 844007, or email info@redemptoristsesker.ie

DATES 2019:

January 25th – 27th     (Friday 8pm to after lunch on Sunday) (completed)

March  29th -31st  -  (completed)

May 10th – 12th:     Friday 8pm to after lunch on Sunday. (completed)

October 4th – 6th


Cost per Couple is €260

A wedding for a day, a marriage is for every day!’

‘I freely recommend this programme and I pray for the couples and priests who present it. May the Lord continue to bless your work in Esker.’ Criost linn, John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert

A Residential Weekend, from Friday evening 8pm to after lunch on Sunday. Sandwiches galore etc. on arrival. Everything supplied. Just bring yourselves!

Feedback from recent Esker Pre-Marriage Weekends:

  • ‘Excellent. Will recommend to others.’
  • ‘We found the weekend very rewarding and insightful. We really enjoyed it and would highly recommend to our friends. Thanks to the married couples for their very honest and brave feedback on married life, and thanks to …. for their kindness and knowledge. We’ll be forever grateful.’
  • Thank you to everyone who talked…’
  • Didn’t know what to expect, loved the weekend and think every couple would benefit from it…’
  • ‘We appreciated the honest feedback from all the married couples.’
  • ‘Excellent weekend, thanks again for sharing your experiences: we hope to use your advice and tools along the way.’
  • ‘Thank you to all the couples for your honest and open accounts of married life’
  • Thank you to all involve, the weekend was well structured, on depth and well presented. We have both learned some valuable lessons to help prepare us for married life.
  • Really enjoyed the course, we both got so much out of it. It was lovely  being in Esker,-  the accommodation, food and hospitality was excellent.
  • Amazing weekend. Very grateful. Thank you.
  • Thank you for your generous spirit over the weekend.
  • Very enjoyable weekend. Nice and relaxed environment.
  • We felt the course was absolutely fantastic. Thank you to the couples…. for being so honest. It makes you realise that some of the things that you go through in a relationship aren’t that disastrous and you can work through them.
  • It was lovely to hear from real couples. It really opened up the lines of communication for us and we are much closer and stronger as a result. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences with us.
  • Overall, a wonderful weekend, great experience. Will most definitely benefit us in our future. Great food. Well run.
  • …Stronger relationship coming out of the weekend. An incredible, life-changing experience I would say. I feel renewed in my own faith and excited about building our relationship with God as a couple. We both thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • We found the course to be really great in preparing us for married life ahead. Everyone involved was very open and welcoming and it was great to draw from the experience of the married couples. We will definitely recommend the course to all of our friends.
  • Thank you so much for really helping me and N grow more in love and more stronger this weekend. What a magical weekend – we cannot thank you enough.
  • This course was amazing. Would highly recommend to people. Team are fantastic and very honest and open which is really nice to be a part of.
  • Thank you for your commitment in giving the course. Your dedication really comes through. The course is really well run … Really enjoyed the openness and candour of the speaking couples and the time and technique of writing to each other. Thank you.
  • This weekend was the most special thing we have ever done for our relationship. The generosity of spirit of all the w/e team was outstanding, we feel very grateful for having experienced it.
  • It brought us closer together and gave us good tools to help us maintain unity through our marriage. We found the course speakers excellent and open. Than you for your time. We highly recommend this course.

Feedback continued:

  • ‘V impressed by the weekend. We appreciate the time and openness of the couples who facilitated, and especially as it was done on a volunteer basis.’
  • ‘Coming to the course, we were not sure what to expect. For both of us the weekend has been a powerful and emotional path of discovery. It was honest and thought provoking. We enjoyed the experience immensely and will definitely recommend it to friends.’
  • ‘It was a beautiful experience for both of us, giving us life-skills and hope, that hopefully one day we will look back and say we are as happy after 30 years as the day we met, through your help and guidance.’
  • ‘Excellent all round!’
  • ‘Valuable, reflective and thoughtful experience – the honesty and genuineness of the team is hugely motivating and inspiring. Plenty of thinking for our future marriage – highly recommend this! Keep up the excellent work.’
  • ‘This was an excellent course – it gave an insight into marriage and how as a couple we can make our marriage work in a loving way and in the presence of God. The time the team gives you is amazing. Thank you.’
  • ‘We expect that this weekend will stand to us tremendously in the long run. We appreciated the open and honest approach of the couples, facilitators and team couples. We’re delighted that we came.’
  • ‘Great weekend, very helpful on all aspects of married life. Honesty and openness of the teams made the course very relevant to the real life problems or issues that we will face. Lovely atmosphere.’

Click here or go to ‘What we do’ on Homepage, for details about our PreMarriage Courses, and also to read comments from couples who have experienced this course in Esker in the past two years.

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When you cannot receive Communion…

The Chapel of the Benedictine Nuns in Kylemore: photo S. Devitt

When you cannot actually receive Holy Communion, you can make a prayer of Spiritual Communion: you can express the longing that is in you to be united completely with Christ.   We can say a prayer of Spiritual Communion, such as this one by St. Alphonsus, founder of the Redemptorists: it’s in his ‘Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament’:

My Jesus, I believe that You art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You were already there, I embrace You and unite myself wholly to You; permit not that I should ever be separated from You.    Amen.

AS GAEILGE:  ‘A Íosa, mo Thiarna, creidim go bhfuilir i láthair go fíor san Naomh Shacraimint. Gráim Thú os cionn chuile nidh faoin spéir, agus is mian liom go mbeifeá agam istigh i m’anam. Cé nach féidir liom Thú a ghlacadh anois go sacraimintiúil,   ar a laighead tar chugam go spioradálta isteach i mo chroí. Fáiltím romhat amhail is go bhfuilir ann cheanna féin. Agus aontaím mé féin leat go h-iomlán. Ná lig dom go brách a bheith scartha Uait. 

There is a beautiful song on YouTube, ‘There is a longing in my heart, O Lord…’. Listen to it here, and watch the words on screen.

A song that many young people love, ‘All of me loves all of you’ by John Legend, is his own composition to his bride for his wedding day, some few years ago. So many of the words can speak of the Eucharist, as well – words of self-giving, and of mutual love. I often use it with young people, after Holy Communion. ‘I give my all to you, you give your all to me…’  ’All of me loves all of you, all of you loves all of me.’    John Legend produced and played the lead part in ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’, the show, about two years ago.

Wherever you are, and however you are, you can always walk in the presence of the Lord Jesus. He is the Vine, and we are the Branches… and we are all ‘one person in Christ’! He is within. At any time of day or night, you can go into the room of your heart, close the door, and be with your heavenly Father in that place. God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.

Séamus Devitt C.Ss.R.



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Lá Fhéile Phádraig, St. Patrick’s Day: a day of joy and thanksgiving


Aghagower: The village of Aghagower lies about six miles from Westport. It is on the path of the Tochar Phadraig or Patrick’s Way, that goes from Ballintubber Abbey to Croagh Patrick. It claims a rich history of contact with our Saint. It is well worth a visit, – if you can find it!

Patrick baptized the local chieftain, Sinach, and ordained him Bishop.

In the village of Aghagower, near Westport, near Croagh Patrick

Soon after, on Shrove Tuesday in 441, he and others walked to nearby Cruachan Ailleach (Croagh Patrick), and spent 40 days there, returning in time for the Easter Ceremonies on Holy Saturday. We ask his prayers now, at this difficult time in the history of our planet and world.

At the village of Aghagower, Co. Mayo: Photo: Seamus Devitt


Patrick was born c. 386 AD,  in Bannavem Tiberniae in Britain (or Britanny?): his father was Calpurnius, a Deacon in his community.

At age 16, young Patrick was taken captive with many others, by Niall of the Nine Hostages, and Patrick ended up, it is said, as a slave near the mountain of Slemish (Sliabh Mis) in Co. Antrim. There he tended sheep and other animals until the age of 22 or so. During that time, often alone on the mountain during the night, he found again the faith that he had learned but not lived, when he was a teen at home. He came to a great love for Christ.

He escaped at about age 22, travelled from Wicklow probably to Brittany. Later, he heard, in a dream, the call to return to Ireland to minister to the people who had enslaved him. He studied in Auxerre, in France, and was there for possibly twelve years. He trained as a priest, and later was ordained a bishop and sent back to Ireland. Many ridiculed him for his folly, but he was resolute.

Tradition is that he landed on a beach at Raholp, in Strangford Lough, in Co. Antrim, and spent his first night in Saul, nearby. There is a church in his honour there today.

He travelled through many parts of Ireland, preaching the Gospel and bringing the Irish ‘heathens’ to faith in Christ. He loved them dearly, despite all his hardships. He was desperately homesick, but would not leave, for fear he would never return. He stayed in Ireland for another thirty years, converting, baptizing, and setting up monasteries.

He died c. 461, and is reputedly buried in Downpatrick.

Patrick left us two writings, one called the ‘Confession’, a song of praise of God for his calling Patrick to work among the Irish people. The other is the ‘Letter to Coroticus’, who was a pirate who had taken captive many newly baptized men and women, and taken them into slavery.

Some quotations from Patrick: (Ireland was the back of beyond, then!)

  • ‘We are indeed witnesses that the Good News (Gospel) has been preached in distant parts, in places beyond which nobody lives.’
  • ‘I came to the Irish heathens to preach the Good News…I gave up my free-born status…I am ready to give even my life… It is there that I wish to spend my life until I die…among a people newly come to belief whom the Lord took from the very ends of the earth‘Is ansin is mian liom mo shaol a chaitheamh.’ 
  • About himself: ‘I was like a stone lying in the deep mud. Then he who is mighty came and in his mercy he not only pulled me out, but lifted me up and placed me at the very top of the wall.
  • ‘One night I saw a vision of a man called Victoricus, who appeared to have come from Ireland with an unlimited umber of letters. He gave me one of the and I read the opening words which were ‘The voice of the Irish’. As I read the beginning of he letter I seemed at the same moment to hear the voice of those who were by the wood of Voclut which is near the Western Sea*. They shouted with one voice: “We ask you, holy youth, come and walk once more among us.” I was cut to the heart and could read no more.’
  • In another place: ‘He passed over (the learned ones) for me, a mere outcast. He inspired me to be the one who would serve the people faithfully to whom the love of Christ brought me. The love of Christ indeed gave me to them to serve them humbly and sincerely for my entire lifetime if I am found worthy.
  • ‘We are a letter of Christ bearing salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth’. 
  • ‘Today, I offer …the living sacrifice of my life to Christ my Lord.’
  • ‘Spread out your nets…make disciples of all nations… go into all the world.’
  • ‘I cannot hide the gift of God which he gave me in the land of my captivity. I sought him vigorously then, and there I found him. He kept me from all evil because of his Spirit who lives in me and worked in me up to this day.
  • At the end: ‘Let your conclusion and the general opinion rather be the real truth, that my success was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die.

Jesus was like a magnet, for Patrick. Patrick was drawn to Jesus Christ in a deep way, from the time of his being taken captive at about the age of sixteen. For the six years of his captivity (probably near Slemish Mountain in Co. Antrim) Patrick found again the faith that he had so lightly held, in his earlier youth. Ever after, young Patrick and not-so-young Patrick, was filled with a sense of the presence of Christ and the love of Christ,  all about him and within. ‘Jesus Christ, yesterday, today, the same forever’, said St. Paul. He can be a magnet for us today, if only we let ourselves be drawn to him. He hungers for us, and waits for an answer.

*The ‘Western Sea’ may well be Lough Neagh, which was West of Slemish where the young man, Patrick, tended sheep. In German maps today, for example, this large body of water is referred to as a Zee.

Jesus Christ and his people need young missionaries at this time of our human history, to bring the great news of the Gospel to people of all ages, young and old. Will you hear his voice and invitation to ‘Come, Follow me’, as did Patrick in his twenties?

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Redemptorists worldwide celebrate St. Clement Hofbauer, March 15, 2020

John Clement Maria Hofbauer








Click here to watch a 6-minute video on St. Clement Hofbauer, on YouTube.

Redemptorists in Esker, Redemptorists worldwide, together with Redemptoristines and all our Redemptorist Co-Workers, celebrate this weekend of March 15th, 2020, the Feast of St. Clement Maria Hofbauer, who died in Vienna as the noon-bell rang for the Angelus, on March 15th, 1820. Clement is known as the ‘Second Founder’ of the Redemptorists, for it was he who brought the Redemptorists out of Italy and into Northern Europe.

John Hofbauer was born on St. Stephen’s Day in 1751, in what is now the Czech Republic. His father was Czech, his mother was German.

John’s father died when young John was only seven. His mother pointed to the crucifix and said to John, ‘From now on, HE is your Father’, pointing to Jesus.

John was about twenty when he became a hermit. Around that time, he took the name ‘Clement’, and that is how he is known to us today.

At about 33, he and a friend joined the Redemptorists in Rome. Less than a year later, they set out over the alps, hoping to found communities of Redemptorist Missionaries in Northern Europe. He worked for over twenty years in Warsaw, with an ever-increasing community of  Redemptorist colleagues. Napoleon ordered that community to be suppressed and the monks scattered. At age 57, Clement went back to Vienna. Over the next twelve years, he ministered to rich and poor alike, from his tiny room on Johannes Gasse. Artists, musicians, writers, politicians, University students all flocked to this humble priest’s house. He put new heart into all of them.

Clement Hofbauer died on March 15th, 1820, two hundred years ago. His dream of setting up Redemptorist communities and forming young Redemptorists was only realised after his death, when the Emperor gave his approval. A great flourishing of Redemptorist Missionaries, called ‘to follow Christ by preaching the Gospel to the poor’, took place right after his death. We thank God for this courageous, visionary, contemplative missionary.

St. Clement, pray for us, in our world of today. Teach us ‘to preach the Gospel anew’, in every generation, in every way, with ever-increasing freshness, joy, and love.

We invite you to go to YouTube, and key in “St. Clement Hofbauer and Séamus Devitt”, for a six minute video about this saint and friend.

(For good quality copies of these pictures of St. Clement Hofbauer, contact seamus.devittcssr@gmail.com

—- Addition:

Mauls on a Rainy Day

How 3 Mauls on a Rainy Day helped Clement Hofbauer, Redemptorist Saint!

This rainy day changed the course of one young man’s life. John Clement Hofbauer, now aged 30, had given up on his dream of becoming a priest. He simply could not afford it. Because of the poverty of his family - his father had died when John was only 7 - he had to go to work in his middle teens. Over the next fifteen years, young Hofbauer was in turn baker, hermit, student, hermit and back to baker.

Now aged thirty, he was back in a bakery in Vienna. His childhood dream of becoming a priest was now out of the question. Then, one morning he was coming out of St. Stefan’s Cathedral (‘Stefandom’) after serving Mass. It was raining heavily. As he stood at the door, he noticed three women, the Maul sisters, standing close-by. He offered to find them a carriage. When the carriage arrived, they invited him to come with them, as his home was in the same direction. They thought he was a seminarian. He explained that he couldn’t afford to go to University. They said they would look after all his costs. Clement accepted their offer, and began his University studies at age 31. And two years later, he and a friend were knocking at the door of the Redemptorist community at St. Giuliano in Rome. And that’s how Clement Hofbauer began his Redemptorist journey and journeys. He was about 34 when he began, and was 34 years a Redemptorist, until his death as the noon angelus bell rang out on March 20th, 1820. We give thanks for this courageous visionary man who is known as the ‘Second Founder’ of the Redemptorists. He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (‘Redemptorists’ for short), because their goal was and is ‘to follow Christ in preaching the Gospel to the poor’.

The very first Redemptorist to come to preach a Mission in Ireland in 1851 was a Fr. Frederick deHeld. Frederick had been a university student in Clement’s Circle in Vienna and had carried the coffin of his friend, this simple but wonderful priest, Fr. Hofbauer.

See what can happen from Mauls on a Rainy Day! The works of God are wonderful.  ‘It’s never too late to start livin’ !’


St. Clement Hofbauer’s feast is on March 15th. He died two hundred years ago, this year, in Vienna.

















Vatican, March 7, 2020

Reverend Father Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., Superior General,  Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer,  Via Merulana, 31,  00185 Roma

Reverend Father,

In your courteous letter of February 2, you informed the Holy Father about the Bicentenary of the death of St. Clement Hofbauer, C.Ss.R. You also asked that he present once again this unique and multifaceted man to the Christians of our time.

His Holiness, welcoming this devout gesture, shares the joy of your Congregation and hopes that the celebrations in question will constitute a precious opportunity to make increasingly known and welcome the witness of this Saintly Confrere. Faithful to the apostolic spirit of the Founder, St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, St. Clement made every effort to proclaim the Gospel in the peripheries of his time and to bring the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer beyond the Alps, laying the foundations for its subsequent growth throughout the world.

His life’s journey was always guided by a deep faith, a faith that he learned on his mother’s knee, in his native Tasswitz, in Moravia. Despite numerous and painful events, and in different social and political contexts, this faith led him to abandon himself with full confidence into the arms of the Heavenly Father and not to lose hope in realizing his dream of being a priest despite numerous obstacles. Welcomed into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, he took this unexpected opportunity as a particular grace and a further call to serve the cause of the Gospel and to witness to the precious treasure of faith, initially in Poland, because of the laws in force at that time in his homeland, and then, later, in Vienna.

This faith, deeply rooted in his very being, and enriched by the teachings of the Founder, led him to consider the unbelief and distance from God of many of his contemporaries as dangerous, almost unnatural. As a result, he continuously sought to find new ways of bringing the joy of the Gospel to all, promoting ever richer experiences of humanity and Christian life.

Clement’s passion for the work of God was reflected in his passion for his brothers and sisters and led him to put himself at the service of the poor in the city of Warsaw. Through material aid, he offered to abandoned orphans, to foundlings, to girls and young people of every nation and religion present in the city, the possibility of a more dignified life, freed from illiteracy and moral dangers. He trusted always in divine Providence and in the help of generous people, whom he did not neglect to ask for alms and collaboration for love of these brothers and sisters.

Transferred to Vienna in his later years, his missionary concern extended to other ‘peripheries’: to the university world and to that of culture. He attracted many illustrious scientists and artists, inviting them not only to approach the Church, but also to an intense and conscious spiritual life. He sought to satisfy their inner poverty, in different but not dissimilar ways from those that led the Founder to become passionate about the condition of the poor and uneducated peasants of Southern Italy. He gave particular attention to the world of youth and especially to the students, who saw him as a welcoming friend and a priest whose faith and goodness were contagious to those who approached him. Thanks to this commitment, men and women, young and old, noble and bourgeois, scholars and artists, state officials and prelates, students and professors trusted his leadership and spread his spirituality, exercising their influence in all areas of society.

His faith led him to hope against all hope in the firm conviction that “what seems impossible to human beings is always possible to God”. St. Clement Hofbauer urges contemporary Christian communities to leave behind worldly security and outdated pastoral schemes and free themselves from fears and laziness so that they can welcome the cry of the wounded men and women which rises from our cities today, and thus bring the joy of the Gospel everywhere.

While offering fervent wishes for the success of the Bicentennial Celebrations, the Holy Father invokes the heavenly protection of this Holy Confrere and of Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, and heartily imparts to you, to the entire Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and to all who will participate in these celebrations his Apostolic Blessing, a pledge of every grace and renewed missionary commitment.

I unite my personal best wishes, and confirm my own feeling of religious esteem for Your Reverend Paternity,

Sincerely, Pietro Card. Parolin, Secretary of State


For more information about our way of life, or to talk directly about whether you might be called to be a Redemptorist Missionary:

Please contact Fr. Derek Ryan C.Ss.R.  vocations@cssr.ie

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