| 18.5°C Dublin

Archbishop appeal Catholic Church must challenge House of Prayer cult, says daughter of devout follower

Fake visionary Christina Gallagher has lived in luxurious mansions while claiming €250 pictures of the Virgin Mary will offer protection from a coming apocalypse

Close

Maria Hughes met Archbishop

Maria Hughes met Archbishop

Maria Hughes met Archbishop

A woman whose elderly mother believes pictures she bought from the House of Prayer will protect her from Covid has said the Catholic Church is abdicating its responsibility by not publicly condemning the controversial organisation.

Maria Hughes, whose mother became involved with the House of Prayer about 20 years ago, said she met Archbishop Eamon Martin years ago in the hope the Church would take on the organisation founded by fake visionary Christina Gallagher.

However, they have so far failed to do so.

Close

Christina with Fr McGinnity

Christina with Fr McGinnity

Christina with Fr McGinnity

 

The Sunday World has highlighted, over the years, how Gallagher, who claims to receive messages from Jesus, has lived in various luxurious mansions while claiming pictures of the Virgin Mary, which the House of Prayer sells for €250, will offer protection from a coming apocalypse.

As well as selling the pictures, the House of Prayer has made significant amounts over the years from followers who leave them large sums in their wills and from people who donate money while still alive.

The finances of the organisation were highlighted by the recent purchase of a building in New York for $2.2m, which officially opened yesterday.

Gallagher, who founded the House of Prayer in Achill in 1993, has been supported for years by Catholic priest Fr Gerard McGinnity.

But Maria Hughes has said her mother, a 78-year-old former nurse, has been a devout follower of Gallagher for around 20 years and it has caused the rest of the family considerable heartache.

"She was very vulnerable at the time. There had been sudden deaths of close family members and she was looking for answers," says Maria.

"Christina presents this connection to the other world. My mother would be feeling that loss and want to connect with that. It began by going to the House of Prayer from around 2000 to 2001. She would travel from the east coast to the west coast every Saturday.

"She became really embroiled with it and would take the meaning of these messages very ­seriously," said Maria.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Close

Christina in prayer pose

Christina in prayer pose

Christina in prayer pose

 

While she no longer travels to the House of Prayer in Achill, her devotion to Christina is more intense and it guides how she lives her life.

Maria said her mother takes risks, such as not getting the Covid vaccine, because she believes buying pictures from the House of Prayer and following Christina's messages will protect her.

"She has put all her energy and faith into this belief system that Christina has set up. It's very hard to counteract that now.

"My mother is a clever woman. She's a qualified nurse who would be well regarded in the community. People would go to her for help and advice, but obviously since she believes these pictures and prayers have provided her with protection, essentially she's being taking risks - physical, emotional, social and financial risks.

"Even the intelligent person can be hoodwinked into this system. It's something family and friends find hard to believe. You think if only we could say the right thing to make her see.

"This has always been the dilemma my family and I have faced. If we could just find the right words, but there are no right words. Having gone there on a weekly basis to Achill and listened to people telling you if you spend all your time praying and fasting things will be good for you and you're the chosen. It's at odds with reality to the rest of us."

Close

Followers of Christina on Achill Island

Followers of Christina on Achill Island

Followers of Christina on Achill Island

 

Maria still visits her mother regularly but said her devotion to Christina makes things very hard.

"We're there every week. We're walking on eggshells watching what we say.

"You can have a normal conversation but if you touch on anything religious, you're told you're not doing things the right way and should be praying and then you get talk of the microchips and that belief system, she says."

Maria said if there is a solution it has to start with the Catholic Church condemning the House of Prayer.

"I've written to the Catholic Church on numerous occasions. I've met Archbishop Martin, who gave me a private interview in 2014. I went to ­Armagh and spoke to him and said my main concern was the spiritual rape of my mother.

"This is ongoing and not going away for us. I asked what solution they could bring or practical ideas to bring a resolution to this and bring her back to not feeling lonely and isolated from everybody else but bring her back into the community."

Close

Maria warned Eamon Martin about the House of Prayer

Maria warned Eamon Martin about the House of Prayer

Maria warned Eamon Martin about the House of Prayer

 

She said she asked if they could train their priests on how to discuss the issue with their parishioners rather than bury their heads in the sand.

"There should be an alternative view from the Catholic Church. I asked if they could train their priests and give them help. I spoke to the local parish priest, I spoke to Archbishop Neary in Tuam, I even wrote to the Pope. There are no easy solutions but we need help."

She also said that since she raised her concerns with the Church seven years ago Christina's Church is just getting bigger with franchises opening in the US.

"You're just putting the problem onto somebody else," she declared.

"They hide behind Canon Law, saying there's only so much they can do in this jurisdiction or that jurisdiction. Give me a break, they need to start tackling this head on. That can start with an excommunication.

"Fr McGinnity gives Christina credibility and her messages are tying in the Catholic Church. That credibility comes from Fr McGinnity.

She said the Catholic Church should care about pensioners not receiving vaccines based on messages Gallagher claims to receive from Jesus.

"They do have a duty of care because the vast majority of their followers are elderly, the vaccine story could be another way to hasten their demise.

"Because of the risk hospitalisation and death with contracting Covid, it could potentially provide more donations for [the House of Prayer].

"The families may not even find out until after the person has died."

Earlier this month the Sunday World revealed that relatives of House of Prayer followers were worried for their health after they refused to receive the Covid vaccine due to messages Gallagher claimed to have received from Jesus. The Church claimed the jab was the mark of the beast.

The House of Prayer's new building in Brewster, New York was previously a synagogue.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy