The example of the Claddagh Church and Father Rush can be a model within Church planting that we should pursue today. The bond that the this Church has built with this small Irish community lasted centuries.
The Priest, Fr. Rush became a vital part of his community, he did not keep himself closed up in his church building, he reached out to real needs of the fishermen of Galway Bay. What he did was to open the church doors to the fishermen, they needed a place to construct and mend the sails of the fishing boats and he had the largest building in town.
His Church was one of the first truly multi-purpose buildings in the church planting movement in Ireland.
Not only did he open the church building for maintenance of sails and nets, he saw another real need and opened a navigation and fishing school, the first of its kind in Ireland, to quote his own words, ‘the benefit of the fishermen’s children of the ancient Village of Claddagh. Not to build his own kingdom on earth.
What jumps out at me is he saw their needs and found a way to involve the church in an outreach, he did not set up stumbling blocks, membership requirements or other man made barriers, he just found a need and helped.
He built lasting friendships, as an entry into the Church’s financial books note, “a gift was made by a local woman, Madam French to the church and she did not ear mark it for a specific purpose”, so Fr Rush in his desire to reach his community passed the blessing received onto the fishermen in the form of ten quarts of strong water.
- He saw a need and filled it
- He did not hinder the community
- He built friendships outside the church doors
- He shared his blessings