|Public Statement with Regard to the Claims and Works of Mrs. Christina Gallagher and the ‘House of Prayer’ at Achill, Co. Mayo|
|Most Rev. Dr. Michael Neary
Archbishop of Tuam
In June of 1996 I constituted a Special Committee of Enquiry for the purpose of carrying out an investigation into the claims and work of Mrs. Christina Gallagher, resident at the ‘House of Prayer, Achill Sound, Achill, Co. Mayo in this archdiocese. The Committee, composed of two priests and a religious sister, has recently submitted its report. In the light of this report, and after due reflection and consultation, I wish to make the observations and announce the provisions listed below.
1. I have had submitted to me no evidence which would give cause for questioning the integrity, good will, sincerity of spiritual devotion or orthodoxy of faith either of Mrs. Christina Gallagher or of her collaborators in the work termed ‘The House of Prayer’ at Achill.
2. Further to the above, it appears that there is a great deal in the same work which is wholesome and good and which has been a force for good in the faith, prayer and lives of many people who have, in whatever manner, been associated or otherwise in contact with it.
3. While recognising the difficulty involved in treating such matters, I find myself obliged to state that no evidence has been presented which might prove beyond reasonable doubt the occurrence of supernatural phenomena of whatever kind in this situation other than that of faith. Mrs. Gallagher and her associates retain, of course, the right to believe and state their belief that such have indeed occurred and continue to occur. The question, as far as competent ecclesiastical authority is concerned, remains open and unproven.
My chief concern at this point is that the work termed ‘The House of
Prayer’ be integrated into the life of Achill parish, of this
Archdiocese and of the Church in general in a more stable and ordered
manner than has heretofore been the case. I am also concerned that it
should be helped to adhere more closely to the original understanding,
which obtained with both my predecessor, Archbishop Cassidy, and Mrs.
Gallagher, of what it would in fact be and strive to achieve. To these
ends I am to make certain provisions, summarised below, in its regard.
Agreement with Mrs. Christina Gallagher and her associates, the work
termed ‘The House of Prayer’, located in premises of the same name at
Achill Sound, Achill, Co. Mayo, is to take the form of a Private
Association of the Christian Faithful. Such associations consist of
persons who freely choose to collaborate in a particular kind of
apostolate or in pursuit generally of some end related to the Church’s
mission in the world. They exist and operate in conformity with canon
law which expressly envisions and provides for them.
3. The same
statutes will include, as in canonically required, a clear and
unambiguous statement of the ends which the Association intends to
pursue and the means to be employed towards these ends. Chief among the
statutory ends, in the case of the ‘House of Prayer’ at Achill, will be
the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the recitation of the Rosary and
the provision and proper maintenance of a place of spiritual retreat for
priests. These ends are those originally agreed upon by my predecessor,
Archbishop Cassidy, and Mrs. Gallagher and I observe that the clarity of
this agreement may have become somewhat obscured during the intervening
5. The chapel
which is located on the premises occupied by the ‘House of Prayer’ at
Achill Sound is to be formally designated and established as a Private
Chapel in the sense of this term as it is understood in canon law. As
such, it may only be used for the celebration of Mass and other sacred
celebrations subject to my permission and supervision in my capacity as
diocesan bishop. The Parish Priest of Achill will, ex officio, be
Chaplain and the curate in Achill Sound will, by virtue of his
appointment, be Assistant Chaplain. These two priests along will have
faculties to preach and hear confessions in this chapel. Furthermore, no
priest, other than these two, may celebrate the Mass in the Chapel
without permission from me.
7. The Association,
finally, will have as its headquarters the premises presently occupied
by the ‘House of Prayer’ at Achill Sound. The work of the Association
will be carried on at this location and at no other within the territory
of the Archdiocese. The same will be noted and confirmed in the statutes
of the Association and will be strictly adhered to.
Provided Courtesy of: