First Belong To God



Acclaimed journalist and Pope Francis’ biographer, Austen Ivereigh, recently published a book entitled FIRST BELONG TO GOD – ON RETREAT WITH POPE FRANCIS.  In and through it he shares retreat material that he offered to Jesuits and their collaborators in the UK during the Covid 19 pandemic, expanded and updated to incorporate more of Pope Francis’ teachings, both prior to and since becoming pope.

Ivereigh’s original offering, and this book, also draw considerably on the insights and writings of renowned spiritual director St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.  More specifically Ivereigh adopts an ‘eight-day’ thematic structure (see below)  greatly favoured by Jesuits and others skilled in helping women and men deepen their relationship with God.

One of the wonderful consequences of Ivereigh’s endeavours is a book laden with possibility by way of supporting the committed reader deepen their relationship with God, as well as grow in recognising the will of God in their lives.

Mindful of this a small group of adults, six at the time of writing this introduction, two priests and four lay persons, have expressed interest in taking time out for an afternoon or evening every month during the 2024/2025 school year so as to collectively engage with the book, and to encourage and support one another in doing so. 

Might you have an interest in joining them?

Before you decide, we request that you acquire a copy of FIRST BELONG TO GOD and see if it speaks to your heart and mind at this time.  The book is available from Veritas, Knock Bookshop and via Kindle.

If you experience FIRST BELONG TO GOD as appealing, have availability one Thursday afternoon or evening in the month beginning in September, and are willing to devote personal time to reading and pondering designated chapters, please get in contact with us (see below).

Participants are also actively encouraged to use this initiative as a means of exploring spiritual direction and / or of returning to the practice of spiritual direction. More will be said about this at our orientation gatherings in September. 



19th September
Session 1 – Orientation

17th October
Session 2 – Wonderfully Made

21st November
Session 3 – To Come Out From Ourselves

12th December
Session 4 – The Lord of the World

16th January
Session 5 – Called, Chosen, Sent

20th February
Session 6 – The Ecology of Mercy

20th March
Session 7 – Around the Common Table

10th April
Session 8 – The Triumph of Failure

15th May
Session 9 – A New Imagination of the Possible

19th June
Session 10 – Afternoon / Evening of Recollection


(Sessions 2 to 9)

Afternoon Sessions
3.00 pm  
Welcome / Tea / Coffee

3.15 pm  
A time of personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament

3.45 pm
Twenty-minute presentation on theme of the session

4.05 pm
Quiet Time

4.15 pm
Facilitated Discussion

5.15 pm
Evening Prayer integrating scripture reflection

5.45 pm
Light Evening Meal

Evening Sessions
7.00 pm  
Welcome / Tea / Coffee

7.15 pm  
A time of personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament

7.45 pm
Twenty-minute presentation on theme of the session

8.05 pm
Quiet Time

8.15 pm
Facilitated Discussion

9.15 pm
Concluding Prayer Service integrating scripture reflection

9.45 pm
Tea / Coffee for those who wish to linger


Fr Pat Hogan SVD  has kindly agreed to serve as Spiritual Director.  Pat will be available to meet participants in Donamon Castle between sessions by appointment.

Kevin McGeeney,  Justin Harkin  and another (Facilitators)



Everyone who seeks to reserve a place will be asked if they have acquired a copy of FIRST BELONG TO GOD and perused its content.  

Owing to the nature of the initative the number of places is limited to twelve (afternoon and evening).

Please contact Justin Harkin on 087 6171526 / [email protected] if interested.


Donations will be appreciated.

A Joint Initiative
of the Elphin Diocese’s
Pastoral & Faith Development Services
The Divine Word Missionary Community,
Donamon Castle,
Co. Roscommon.

Updated18th June 2024