Holy Cross Family Ministries held its Global Leaders Meeting from September 18-23 at the Knock House Hotel at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in Knock, Ireland. Under the direction of Fr. Fred Jenga, C.S.C., President of HCFM, and Fr. Pinto Paul, C.S.C., International Director, approximately 45 Holy Cross religious and lay leaders from 15 of the 18 countries where HCFM has Ministry Centers gathered under the theme: “Inspiring Families to Live a Life of Purpose and Hope.”
The goal of this triennial meeting is to advance the Venerable Patrick Peyton’s worldwide mission and legacy by providing professional development, networking, information sharing, and spiritual growth to its international leaders.
“One of the most beautiful aspects of this meeting has been the global connections we’ve forged,” said Fr. Paul. “Stories of collaboration, camaraderie, and shared goals have been abundant. These connections are the threads that weave our global family together."
Keynote presentations were given by Br. Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, on “Holy Cross Family Ministries and Our Holy Cross Charism,” Ms. Marion Mulhallon “The Global Rosary Relay,” and Greg and Lisa Popchakon “A Vision for Renewing Catholic Family Life.”
Other topics related to media, social networking and ethics, branding, Church communications, networking, and programming were treated by Fr. Jenga, Fr. Pinto, Fr. Shiju Joseph, C.S.C., Fr. David Guffey, C.S.C., Fr. Wilson Thoppilan, C.S.C., and Fr. Arul Raj, C.S.C.
Since the meeting was held in the home country of Fr. Peyton, time was dedicated to celebrate Fr. Peyton’s heritage with a visit to his birthplace in Attymass, where the group celebrated Eucharist with the local community at the Father Peyton Centre. Visits were also made to Fr. Peyton’s parish church, his family home, and the graves of his family members.
At the Peyton Centre, Fr. Willy Raymond, C.S.C., former HCFM President, was recognized by Fr. Jenga and feted with gifts by the continental representatives for his many years of dedicated service to the ministry.
It was moving for the participants to celebrate the Eucharist at the adjoining Our Lady of Knock Shrine, with the Most Rev. Paul Dempsey, Bishop of the Diocese of Achonry, presiding and preaching at Mass in the Basilica. Likewise, Fr. Richard Gibbons, Shrine Rector, celebrated Mass for the group in the Apparition Chapel, on the same spot where Our Lady appeared to approximately 15 villagers in 1879.
The culmination of the week was a visit to Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine monastery, and home of the Notre Dame Kylemore Abbey Global Centre. Fr. Jenga presided at a Mass in the monastery chapel with the Benedictine Sisters.
“The participation of Holy Cross men and women and the lay collaborators from all over the world and the full-time presence of the Superior General, Br. Paul, at the meeting, demonstrated the embrace of Holy Cross Family Ministries by the family of Holy Cross,” said Fr. Jenga, assessing the week. “This is one ministry that brings together almost all the provinces in the Congregation of Holy Cross. It was inspiring to see the multiple programs we offer around the world in support of family life.”
Fr. Jenga’s sentiments of gratitude and inspiration were echoed by the directors from around the world who participated in the meeting.
“I had the opportunity to meet Holy Cross people and collaborators from different cultures, all dedicated to promoting prayer in families,” said Br. Anthony Terrones, C.S.C., Director of Family Rosary in Chile. “This experience opened my mind and made me understand that Holy Cross goes beyond geographical borders. Sharing this event with sisters, brothers, priests, and lay people of Holy Cross strengthened my faith in the founding spirit of Fr. Moreau in relation to the Holy Family. Additionally, visiting Father Peyton's birthplace inspired me to continue promoting the motto ‘The Family That Prays Together Stays Together’ in Rosario en Familia here in Chile."
Now, as Fr. Paul reminded the directors at the close of the gathering, the real work begins, carrying what they experience in Ireland back to their respective ministry centers.
“We’ve witnessed incredible stories of individuals and communities undergoing remarkable transformation. These stories are not just anecdotes; they are evidence that change is possible, and we can be the catalysts for it. Belief is the driving force behind transformation. I encourage you to believe in your ability to make a difference and to instill that belief in the families you serve,” said Fr. Paul.