Faith Matters

Tobar Mhuire: Finding hope in our shared Celtic tradition

The Tobar Mhuire Summer Institute returns next week, led by Timothy Ray, the Passionist retreat centre's new writer in residence. Brian McKee explains the event's theme and highlights other upcoming experiences

The Tobar Mhuire Summer Institute returns next week at the Co Down retreat.

THE global pandemic has killed millions, changed or eliminated countless jobs, created massive shortages of necessary goods and services, and undermined the social networks connecting people to one another.

It continues to pose material, emotional and spiritual challenges as men and women try to restore those aspects of our societies which have been crippled or to imagine new possibilities for those things which have been lost.

For Christians, this is a challenge to both individual faith and social action as we strive to assist those who have been impoverished, console those who are mourning, and offer hope to those seeking to rebuild their lives and the world around them.

As we face the challenge of rebuilding hope and community following the experience of social isolation thrust upon us by the pandemic, Tobar Mhuire Retreat centre at Crossgar, Co Down have invited Timothy Ray to take up the position of writer in residence, beginning this summer.

A former Jesuit, Timothy brings a diverse background in creative expression, cultural history, philosophical and theological reflection, and public policy to his work in spiritual formation and the arts.

He has focused on the exploration of affinities between Ignatian and Celtic spirituality during the last 20 years and published eight prayer books and self-guided retreats developed from his reflections.

This year's summer institute at Tobar Mhuire opens next Wednesday and runs until Friday (June 29-July 1).

It is titled 'Finding Hope in the Celtic Tradition for a Post-Covid World' and will seek to respond to the challenge posed in a world wounded by Covid-19 through a consideration of the 'points of contact' between the ancient Celtic saints and our modern society during this time of crisis.

Each of the sessions will examine seminal beliefs and practices from the Celtic spiritual tradition and connect the experiences of the ancient Celtic saints to those of the men and women of our time.

Later in the summer, Tobar Mhuire will host a series of three-day short breaks for clergy and others in ministry who are facing increasing stress and pressure to deal with growing workloads and expectations.

These three-day residential experiences in August and September will be an opportunity to take time out to rest, reflect and be refreshed.

Each day will include input on a theme from Celtic spirituality, an opportunity for individual and group reflection - as and if desired - as well as good food, shared prayer and a chance to enjoy a good walk.

In a further exploration of our shared Celtic heritage, Tobar Mhuire will host a series of evening and day courses that will include an introduction to Celtic spirituality, Celtic spirituality and ecology and a course to get to know some of our Irish saints, including Patrick, Brendan, Brigid and Ita.

These events are open to all and it is hoped that at a time when we are all searching for hope, that our shared Celtic heritage might provide a vehicle to acknowledge that there is more that unites us than divides, and encourage us all to take up the challenge of bring hope and peace to the lives of individuals and to our wider community.

More information on these events and more can be found at

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Faith Matters