PRAYER FOR CO. CORK
Situated in the Southwest, Cork is Ireland’s largest county. According to the 2022 census, it has a population of 581,231, of which 221,452 are living in the city of Cork.
The main religion is Roman Catholic (342,452) with others totalling 29,636.
Areas of concern
In an increasingly secular society, many young people have no anchor to hold onto and have to struggle with their identity. They are easily led into drugs to escape reality. Many are experiencing mental health issues, especially anxiety due to isolation during covid and worry about the future, exacerbated by the media.
Although Ireland’s economy remains resilient, there is increasing pressure on many families due to the rising costs of housing, food and fuel.
The education system
Much money has been invested in many new schools, with large numbers going on to third level education. There are active Christian Unions in MTU and UCC.
There is a big shortage on GPs and Doctors in hospital. This leads to long waiting lists and suffering for many.
This has been described as one of the major social concerns, especially in Cork city. Students find it very hard to get accommodation. Since the pandemic, more people have moved from bigger cities to rural Cork to find a better way of life.
Few families or communities have escaped the tragedy of suicide. This is often associated with mental health problems and addictions.
Refugees and asylum seekers
The effect of the intake of refugees has been largely positive. Many businesses are delighted to employ much-needed staff. Most notable in recent months has been the intake of Ukrainians. In August 2022 there were 4,682 Ukrainians living in Cork. This has opened up opportunities for churches and individuals to reach out in friendship, giving English conversation classes and other help.
The Church: prayer, unity and mission
· Since Covid, many Catholic churches have noted a reduction in numbers attending mass. There is a severe shortage of priests, and the Bishop of Cork and Ross has been reorganising parishes and seeking to make more opportunities for lay people to minister.
· Many other churches have experienced decline in recent years, while some have grown. There appears to be much movement of members between evangelical churches and fellowships, leaving some discouraged and others excited. This has led to a lack of unity.
· Many Christians are praying for their local area, but this happens mostly in local churches or small groups. The distances between churches and groups outside the city is probably one factor in the lack of united prayer.
· There are many opportunities for mission. Christians are involved in street evangelism, student ministry, children’s and youth clubs and summer camps, ministry to seafarers, Food Banks, Street Pastors, Bible Study groups, the Alpha course, online services and bible studies, and much more. Praise God for many willing to reach out and eager to share their love of Christ.
· There are many opportunities to share the faith and an openness among many. Quite a number of people in the region, perhaps especially in West Cork, could be described as New Agers. There have been a few conversions to Christ among this group, but we would love to see more. There are also new opportunities to befriend and share the gospel with Ukrainian refugees.
· We are so encouraged by the open doors God has given us for the gospel. One small village church has a weekly children’s club reaching about 80 children. In another town, a small group of Protestant and Catholic ladies study the Bible and share their journey of faith in a meaningful way. But we long for much more!
· Pray for ‘more labourers in the vineyard’ and for greater cooperation between churches and organisations.
As follower of Jesus in Co Cork, we believe that we need to keep looking to Jesus as the ‘author and perfecter of our faith’. Pray that we will make His will and His Kingdom our priority.
‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us; Break us, melt us, mould us, fill us.’
‘Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare a way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations.’ Isaiah 62:10
Shirley Alexander & Gillian Kingston (November 2022)