Fr. Mike Eivers
Don PiGi Perini
Fr. Michael Hurley
Leixlip Parish Cells
In the 1980s, Longford born Mgr. Mike Eivers worked as parish priest in St. Boniface, Florida.
He knew that the American church was going through, at best, a holding operation. As he
prayed for direction in his own ministry, in part prompted by illness due to overwork, he
observed vibrant and active churches which were dynamic, where growth and mission were
strong features. None of them were Catholic.
They were largely Pentecostal. Churches. He decided to take a closer look at them and to
determine their reasons for growth. As part of his research, he visited Korea to meet with
Paul Yonggi Cho, who pastored a cell community of almost 1,000,000.
He drew a number of conclusions about these growing churches.
* Each individual who participated had experienced a renewal of faith through the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit as at Pentecost. S/he remained expectant of God's intervention
to guide them through life's events.
* People met in large assemblies. Worship was joyful, with a great degree of participation.
* More significantly, he observed, they also met in small house units. This enabled fellowship
and friendship to be fostered. People knew they were welcomed. They were pastored and
encouraged. It was an ideal and natural place where questions of the day, including
personal questions, were shared and looked at in terms of God's word in the scriptures.
* Prayer, the use of scripture, and the availability of teaching were important.
* Participants had a strong commitment to evangelization, to sharng faith with family
members, neighbours and work and leisure colleagues.
* All provided leadership, and were active in ministry, in one way or another. The role of the
pastor was influential in providing teaching and vision.
For Fr. Mike, the conviction of faith, the growth in numbers, the clarity of mission and the
degree of participation, that he observed in these churches, stood in sharp contrast to the
uncertainty, the dwindling congregations, the inward looking analysis, the politics and the
passivity that marked so much of the American Catholic Church as he knew it.
He recognised that he could introduce all of the above conclusions to the parish where he
worked. Then after further reflection and prayer, he initiated the parish cell system of
evangelization. These cell groups answered a need and began to develop so quickly
throughout the parish of St. Boniface that within a few years 550 parishioners participated in
Fr. Mike claimed that once he had provided initial training and built in ongoing supervision,
his sense of responsibility for the parish decreased, as did his workload. He knew he was
now surrounded by many co-workers. He claimed, 'of all the initiatives I have undertaken,
cell groups yield the best fruit'.
News of this 'success' story spread rapidly. People were gathering in small groups. They were
enjoying the experience. They were forming bonds of friendship. They were also coming to
know Jesus in a personal way. They were growing in confidence and were beginning to find
it somewhat easier to talk about their faith. Interest was also aroused when it became known
that they had an ability to involve the lapsed and alienated.
In February 1987, Don Pigi Perini, parish priest in St. Eustorgio, Milan, visited St. Boniface
with 10 parishioners to learn from this experience. They were so inspired by what they saw
that today more than 1,100 people participate in cell groups in St. Eustorgio, which is in turn
a catalyst for parish cell groups throughout Europe.
In 1990, for example, four parishioners from the parish of St. John the Evangelist, Ballinteer,
Dublin visited the First European Seminar on cell evangelization in Milan. The impact was
that at one time more than 300 parishioners were active in 31 cell groups throughout the
parish of Ballinteer.
They also became part of the pastoral plans of such diverse parishes as Carrickfergus, Co.
Antrim, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Callan, Co. Kilkenny and Doneraile, Co. Cork.
We, in Leixlip, were blessed to have as our Parish Priest, Fr. Michael Hurley, who is
responsible for the introduction of the Parish Cell System of Evangelization to Ireland
The first cell meeting was hosted in Leixlip in July 2004, with the help of the cell members
from St. John the Evangelist, Ballinteer.