House of Prayer Support Group Meeting at the Ballymascanlon Hotel near Ravensdale, Co Louth Saturday August 15 to Sunday 16.

We had a very well attended meeting at this hotel. We have to say that the location, the service and the peaceful backdrop of a lovely house, gardens, a golf course and modern additions in harmony with the old house were a perfect spot for us to share with each other.

The discreet meeting rooms can be highly recommended for similar events. The welcome, service and food were of a very high quality.

Getting back to the purpose of our meeting. After some of the family members of the
House of Prayer sought redress from the relevant Archdioceses to their problems and they felt utterly discouraged it was decided to hold both a seminar to discuss actions in regard to this state of affairs and by sharing their experiences, assistance and common themes might emerge. We noted that the two concerned Archdioceses confuse their relative responsibilities and direct you to other Archdiocese when you seek a response. It is clears that Tuam has responsibility to discern the nature of the visions of Christina but have no jurisdiction over Fr McGinnity. On the other hand Armagh has no jurisdiction in regard to Tuam but has for over twenty years failed to discipline Fr McGinnity for his involvement in an unrecognised Shrine and a blatantly
Disobedient visionary. She absolutely, and unequivocally refuses to submit to her bishop. That alone for Fr McGinnity should be the end of it. However, due to the failure of Cardinal Brady this priest has been left untouched. We await the determination of the new Archbishop Eamon Martin. Having gone down the road of canon law we took great heart from the book by Kevin Symonds which takes a completely angle from the stale road Canon Law was taking us down.

For some of the participants it proved very difficult as they were living with the daily consequences of the House of Prayer on their lives.

One participant said, that this intense opportunity to get to know each other and to address both the issues around the House of Prayer was better than 200 hours on the phone and on email.

1. Firstly we clarified our strategy. We suggested as we are trying to involve all the bishops we all need to approach our local bishop to raise the House of Prayer. Mike will contact AB Martin as agreed and see where that leads. We discussed the next steps and what we would do in the event of the Irish Episcopal Conference not agreeing to our request to appear before them.
In the event of them turning us down we have developed alternative strategies to address that eventuality. We can only decide on that as each step unfolds.
We noted that Tuam is hardening its position so we should not be surprised at their lack of response. We did note though the change from when they used to be very open to dialogue. It was agreed in that instead of thinking outside the box they have rather confined themselves to the notion that if they do not recognise the House of Prayer it will go away.
2. Denis Robinson gave a very helpful insight into how difficult for family members to deal with the cult experience. He dealt with Scientology but the experience is universal. The same dynamic in relation to dealing with a family member under influence was discovered. Denis was part of the historic Late, Late Show which featured his brother in law.
Here is the Late Late Show he referred to:
Also his wife Anne spoke as a family member in 2012.
Here is her moving testimony:
3. We then had a fantastic presentation from a Family Therapist showing us some of the insights of counselling and psychology. He touched a few raw nerves
but it was just what we needed to hear. The idea of trying to use logic with someone who rejects rational thought only drives them deeper in. So we talked about how we can resolve things. Everyone there was part of this process of thought reform where we work on the total situation and try to build towards success.
We shared the fact that the HSE is forming a section on Vulnerable Adults and that part of their brief is that of Elder abuse. We noted how many cases we were involved in this regard from the House of Prayer. We hope to brief them on our insights after the summer.
One of our Board members reflecting on what the Family therapist said wrote this.
“On One can ask, what can concerned relatives and friends do about it? It is difficult to say except that confrontation only empowers the resistance with an intense energy, attracting the opposite effect to that intended. The zealous followers of the House of Prayer see themselves, not as hostages, but as enthusiastic contributors and volunteers. However in many instances, communication breaks down and the concerned relatives and friends gradually become “enemies” and most serious of all, victims by proxy. They, unknown to themselves, set out upon an unachievable task and drift slowly towards depression, exhaustion and burnout in trying to manage a problem that is not theirs and which they have no power to act. They are the inevitable casualties of collateral damage as they try to force a solution to someone else’s error.
He ended with this prayer which the Family therapist started with.
This is the dilemma outlined in Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer;

“ God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference.

Consequently, the dynamic of dealing with the internal relationships of family must not then be confused with the public debate and the attempt to get legitimate ecclesiastical authority to act with good authority and in support of their own vulnerable members.
We had a lovely dinner together and so the gains made at the meeting were strengthened over the meal.
After our delegation went to observe the Mass at Knockbridge where Fr. McGinnity officiated we returned for further discussion. It was more small group in style where those with specific experience could share with each other. We agreed to do this again, and hopefully if those who took part feel it was beneficial they might invite DI to another location. We have set the ball rolling and the ball is now in their court.
We will publish a separate post on the visit to Knockbridge Parish.

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