“Being the Change” – Tony MacCártaigh

“Being the Change” – Tony MacCártaigh

Posted by Colm, With 0 Comments, Category: Church News, Church Reform, Latest News, SCC (Small Christian Communities),

Tony encouraged each of us to draw up a list of all that makes us happy. Then draw up a list of all that makes us angry with the world. Next identify links from each list to the other. Where our deepest joy meets the world’s greatest needs will indicate our vocation and place in the world. We might then summarise our life purpose in a single sentence. Tony shared his with us: “As a married Catholic priest to promote community development and spirituality.”

Tony was born 70 years ago in Cork. He loved hurling and played for Shamrocks. They hated their neighbouring team Carrigaline. There wee 2 priests in his family. One was known as “Holy Joe” who had two great hates: Martin Luther and King Henry Vlll. Tony learnt the four marks of Catholicism from the Catechism; it was so crystal clear; why can’t the Protestants see that?

Tony was ordained in 1971 in Waterford after which he worked in Ecuador for a few years and learnt about Liberation theology. During a 6 month spell in the jungle there with his uncle he made a personal decision to learn Irish as that was his identity.

He returned to Rialto and moved to the Pro Cathedral where he worked in Sean McDermott Street and Gardiner Street. The Corporation planned to pull down many of the houses and replace them with car parks. Tony joined with the community to fight these plans.

Tony resigned his canonical ministry to marry Lillian. They now have 4 adult children and 2 grandchildren! Tony got a job as a Welfare Officer with the Eastern Health Board (EHB) and he completed courses in drug addiction. He quickly discovered that addiction counselling was his ministry. Many were dying of drug related illnesses. Addiction was a hole in the soul.

With others who had left ordained ministry Tony helped set up LEAVEN as a support group. Fr Michael Keane also joined. There was no due process in the Roman Catholic Church. The bishop was judge, jury and policeman!

With Gemma McKenna he became involved in Fig tree, a small local Christian community that is still there today.

Some 7 years ago Tone retired from his job with the EHB. He started celebrating the Eucharist in several small Christian communities in Rialto and Greystones.

Definition of INTEGRITY: Doing something you believe in, even when it’s hard. [Recommended reading, “Sully” about the pilot who landed an airplane in the Hudson River]

Tony joined the Federation of Christian Ministries in the USA, who commissioned him as a priest and solemniser. Tony does lots of weddings, blessings of homes and month’s mind ceremonies. Tony completed a doctorate with Global Ministries University. He is developing a course in Christian Feminism with Bridget Mary Meehan.

There is a new church emerging. We have more in common with other Christian churches.

Living Systems Theory: Part is in the whole and the whole is in the part. Foe example an addicted person in a family can lead to all the family chasing their tails; if that addicted person decides to change then the whole family is changed. Similarly if a community in the Church changes, then the whole Church is changed. A small remnant can change the whole.

All life is sacred.

All life is interconnected.

There is only one life – when we die we stay in this life but in a different dimension.

[Reference: “God is not out there” – Donald Walsh]

Tony visited the Richard Rohr Centre ‘Contemplation and Justice’.

Am I a Roman Catholic? Definitely I am a Catholic.

Recommended film: “The Big Sick” about a Pakistani family living in the USA who want their son to marry a Pakistani.

Tony last month visited his 27 year old son who is living in Salt Lake City where he works for a large technology company who promote Cultural Diversity”. Tony and his son attended an Evangelical Church where the preacher was the Reverend France Davis (who walked with Martin Luther King at Selma 50 years ago).

Tony asked his son if he would write a letter setting out why he (and many other young people) have left the Roman Catholic Church. His son wrote a long letter and Tone read some extracts:

He believes in a loving God. He has true faith. He does not need others to believe the same as he does. In the Roman Catholic Church women are sidelined. The Roman Catholic Church openly discriminates against women. The Roman Catholic Church also discriminates against homosexuals. Google and Amazon are held to a higher moral standard than the Roman Catholic Church. Why has the Roman Catholic Church lost young people? Enough is enough! This generation are more educated than others. With Google you can get the answer to many things. For example: Celibacy for priests; when was it introduced? In seconds Google says it was in the 12th century. The Roman Catholic Church has lost out by not having married priests. He acknowledges the importance of his parents loving example.

Tony concluded with his personal life statement: “My vocation is as a married Catholic priest to promote community development and spirituality.”

Tony shared 5 handouts:

  1. Federation of Christian Ministries
  2. Vocation: Where deep joy meets World’s deep need (Palmer)
  3. Reading List
  4. Jesus/Resurrection/Eucharist (James Mackey)

    Brendan Butler presenting "Last Supper" gift to Tony MacCártaigh

  5. Global Ministries University

Comments from the long discussion which followed:

  • The film “Jesus’ female disciples” (Channel 4 on 8 April 2018) spoke of Jesus sending his disciples out “two by two” = man & woman
  • The same film also showed tombstones showing Lazarus & Jesus & Mary & Martha: In the 2nd century all figures were the same size; by the 4th century Martha was gone and Mary was the size of a footstool.
  • Women have had 1000’s of years of oppression; this has become an internalised oppression
  • #MeToo movement arises from this. Men are needed to support removing this oppression.
  • The Unitarian Church on St Stephen’s Green is open and inclusive; 80% are Catholics
  • Tony was asked if his son’s letter might be published? Tony to check with his son and if he agrees it could be put on the WAC website and Facebook pages
  • Tony sees language as being a big alienating factor for young people. The old theology of Jesus having to die to appease God is not relevant.
  • The question should be: Why has the Catholic Church deserted young people?
  • Creative people from the arts are not involved in the church. Their creativity is rejected.
  • Tony and Pope Francis are on the same track! We should support Pope Francis!
  • Pope Francis is on a par with the Dali Lama
  • Two parents both with 4 children each saw the Roman Catholic Church having no relevance for their children. They see no relevance in the mass. But the values of their parents have been received.
  • Today is the (deferred) Feast of the Annunciation. Mary bypassed her husband, her father and the religious authorities. She did not ask for permission. She accepted what she was asked to do. Magnificat: “Pull down princes from their thrones”
  • Many young people are too good for the Roman Catholic Church which speaks with a harsh voice. The young understand the real world is many shades of grey.
  • A speaker from the Netherlands earlier this year said they had dropped from 20,000 to 1,000 members seeking reforms in the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican just stonewalled and appointed bishops who did not speak Dutch. Now their focus is on building communities ahead of reforming the institutional church.
  • A new Charted for Human Rights is being developed. Human Rights are indivisible.
  • Tony Flannery was given no right of appeal. He remains officially silenced.
  • Don’t get too despondent! Christianity has done great things. 175 countries subscribe to the 17 Development goals.


Colm Holmes

10 April 2018