This is Father Gabriel Barros. On 19 October he arrived in Ireland with a (transitional) deacon, Harold Bumann, to take up residence in Kilmyshall, County Wexford, Ireland. Why is that so important? – Because Father Gabriel and his confrere are members of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, and Kilmyshall, a village of less than one hundred inhabitants, is their new centre of operations.
The Institute of the Incarnate Word is a new congregation founded twenty-three years ago in Argentina, whose aim is the Evangelisation of Culture. Now present in twenty-seven countries, the Institute has about four hundred members and about twice that number of seminarians, as well as a (men’s) contemplative branch and a community of sisters; like most of the new communities, the Institute also has a flourishing lay movement.
In his ordination year, Father Gabriel (and his confrere, Father Pablo Scaloni) spent two months with us at Saint Mungo’s learning English. Apart from addressing Sister Maureen as Sister Morning, they did very well and made great progress. So it is that an Argentinian with a Scottish accent is now about to evangelise Ireland.
The Franciscans of the Renewal arrived in Limerick a couple of months ago and, on the first of October, the contemplative sisters of the Congregation of Saint John opened a community in Derry, with Bishop Hegarty expressing the hope that they would be followed by additional sisters and also by the Brothers of Saint John. (H/t to Conor for this news before it happened.) The Church in Ireland doesn’t realise it yet, but these new communities will challenge people, clergy and especially religious by showing them a different way of being disciples of Christ (-the most noticeable part of the difference being enthusiasm). If there is anything that is killing the religious life at the moment, it is our certainties: many of us have made up our mind about how things are going to be in the future. (For someone else’s thoughts on this, have a look here.) Fortunately, the new communities haven’t read the script, so prepare yourself for a surprise!