Plan for 'school of evangelisation'
A former Aer Lingus stewardess is setting up Ireland's first "school of evangelisation" in a former B&B at Knock, Co Mayo.
Eleanor Healy says the school will "offer young people an alternative way to live rather than getting smashed out of their brains with alcohol or perhaps engaging in sex for self-esteem", The Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, has given his support to the school.
Ms Healy, a mother of two who worked on the European routes as a cabin crew member with the national airline, describes herself as an "a la carte Catholic" before she came to God in a deeper and more meaningful way.
"I was yearning for something more meaningful," she says. "I told myself that there had to be more to life than the Gucci handbags and the other trappings of the materialistic life."
Working closely with Eleanor is a poet, John McCarthy, from Ballintubber, Castlebar, and Patti Fitzgerald, an American who has worked with a similar school in Arizona called Youth Arise North America.
Ms Healy, a native of Tooreen, Co Mayo, says that, although the project is in the initial stages, 14 young people have already expressed an interest in becoming students at Our Lady's School of Evangelisation which will offer a faith development programme for young people aged over 18.
Fr Benny McHale, a priest based in Dunmore, Co Galway, will be spiritual director of the school, which it is hoped will be operational by next September.
Fr McHale said: "While doing school retreats we noticed that young people have a tenuous grasp of their faith. So we decided to do something about this."
Ms Healy says her burning desire is to assist young Irish people return to their faith.