When we started Cuirim Outreach, we dreamed of going to Ireland ONE DAY.
The ideas for our work in Mexico came from studying the Irish monastic movement. If you're interested in a more detailed, historical account, we'll recommend some books. The shortened version is below.
People like St. Patrick came to Ireland around 400 AD. At that time, the Irish lived in nomadic tribes, moving around with their animals. They were illiterate and violent. Since the Roman Empire viewed the Irish as barbarians, leaders like Patrick tried to Christianize them with very little support. Surprisingly, many Irish responded to the gospel, but as they tried to foster Christian community, they ran into some challenges. Rome was falling into decay and couldn't offer instruction or support. Some Irish Christians learned of a man named Anthony who set up monasteries in Africa. This became their model, but with one major difference.
After the conversion of Emperor Constantine, Anthony had moved into the desert to separate himself from what had become a nominal Christian culture. The Irish used the same idea, but they used it as a model for reaching the people, as opposed to getting away from them. Although there are several sites in Ireland set up far away from the people, most monasteries were located on travel routes. By being hospitable to travelers, disciples were added each year. In addition, bookmaking became a primary task in many of these places. Long before the invention of the printing press, Irish believers spent countless hours copying the scriptures and other books by hand in the most ornate and artistic style imaginable. The days were lived in a rhythm of work, study, prayer, and rest: a model we follow at Cuirim House.
Each year we plan to take a team of people back to Ireland to celebrate this wonderful history. There is a monastic site called Seir Kieran's in Clareen, County Offaly, where we particularly like to go. There are other more famous sites, but this is the village where our founders, the Donohues, have family ties. We find great joy in praying and worshiping on this holy ground, and we've had opportunities to talk about our modern expression of this ancient work (i.e. Cuirim House).