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
* 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
* 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
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 them.
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
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.