St Joseph’s Young Priests Society was started by Galway born Olivia Mary Taaffe. Her mother died shortly after her birth in 1832, resulting in her Grandmother and aunts raising her and her sister. They moved to Dublin when she was a child. She was brought up in a strong religious environment and received a private education, mainly from a French Governess. Due to this she was greatly influenced by the church in France and Italy while growing up. Over the years this French influence increased further, and she spent her early twenties finishing her education in Paris.
In France, she came across the procession of the Blessed Sacrament and was impressed by the widespread devotion in its honour. She also developed a great love for St. Joseph during her time here. In 1867 she married John Taaffe. During their marriage, Olivia and John had travelled throughout Europe. A priest at Maranville in France had founded a movement for friends of St. Joseph, as Protector of the Holy Souls, and he always had a few boys from poor families in his parish helping with the liturgies and preparing to be priests. They were taught Latin and other subjects, while also helping out at the various devotions celebrated at the shrine in honour of St. Joseph. Pious benefactors, who financed their higher education for the priesthood, spiritually adopted these boys. This gave Olivia an idea.
After the death of her husband and son, she devoted herself to the Confraternity of St Joseph. Enlisting help from a convert Jesuit, Fr. Joseph Darlington and imitating the French model, she began to produce an English version of the French newsletter La Gerbe, calling it St. Joseph’s Sheaf, which was first issued on a feast of St. Joseph in 1895. Her first appeal in Ireland was for a young altar boy in Dun Laoghaire. He had all the dispositions and the wish to be a priest, but his parents were not in a position to help pay for his education.
Along with putting up some of the money for him, she also looked for support from readers of the newsletter. The appeal was successful, and the young man was able to go to Mungret College for his formation. As a result of this success, she began looking for funds to help many more men in their journey to priesthood, and by the end of the second year the readers were contributing to the support of ten students. The Society’s aims and objectives were presented to our Parish at all Sunday masses in November 2008. Our local branch of the Society was formed from volunteers in the Parish and our first meeting took place on 18th November that year. New members are always welcome.
Our objective is to pray for vocations and also to raise funds for the education of student priests.
Many thanks and blessings to our prayer friends and benefactors over the years.
Contact : Veronica Sweeney 01 8317342