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The Chaplaincy Programme launched in 2020, seeking to support YMCA young people, staff, families, and communities.

We piloted a new training programme to place volunteer lay (not ordained) chaplains in our YMCAs. We started training participants in October 2020 through February 2021 (see training sessions below). We had our first set of volunteer chaplains start in the new role March 2021.

We are delighted to be in our second round of chaplains, with volunteers serving in Belfast, Cork, Dublin, and Portadown centres. If you are interested in volunteering with us, email our National Coordinating Chaplain, Anne, for more information about the programme.

Applications for the 2022/23 cohort are now closed, check back for upcoming training.

Chaplaincy Training Programme

(October 2022 – January 2023)

Chaplaincy Everywhere Training Sessions*

  1. Caught Up in the Mission of God
  2. As Christ in the World
  3. The Spirit of Chaplaincy
  4. The Cloak of Chaplaincy
  5. What Chaplains Do 
  6. Chaplaincy in Today’s World

*learn more about the Chaplaincy Everywhere course here.

Practical Skills Sessions
  1. Coaching and Facilitation skills facilitated by Sam Moore and Ann Marie Kerr, Leadership Development Trainers at Innovista Ireland 
  2. Bereavement & Boundaries facilitated by Joan Singleton, Irish Bible Institute Tutor, Pastoral Care and Ministry & Personal Development Programme Supervisor 
  3. Listening Skills facilitated by Dianne Morris, Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Supervisor 
  4. Mental Health First Aid facilitated by Tom Tate, Counsellor, Psychotherapist & Workshop Facilitator at WhyMind 

What's On


Since 1904, World YMCA has teamed up with the YWCA to host a week of prayer. Off the back of these, we (YMCAs & YWCAs) continue to pray monthly with one another. 

Join us the FIRST Thursday of the month at 10.30AM on Google Meet for 30 minutes! 

Email Anne for more details or click this link to join here via Google Meet. 

Chaplaincy Team

We are the YMCA’s volunteer team of chaplains in Ireland.
Coordinating Chaplain contact: chaplaincoordinator@ymca-ireland.net

Anne Baenziger
National Coordinating Chaplain

Anne moved to Dublin from the States in 2013. She leads Breathe, a pioneer ministry of the Methodist Church in Ireland & from 2013-2020 she coordinated a youth leadership programme in Dublin schools with Innovista Ireland. Since June 2020, she has taken on this new role to develop our chaplaincy programme. She’s based in Dublin where you will find her cycling, drinking coffee, & watching movies.

Laura Bell

Laura is married to her teenage sweetheart Chris and they currently live in Belfast with their 2 girls Maeve and Fia. She is the Pastor of Christian Fellowship Church in South Belfast which she planted 6 years ago. She is an activist, loves people, enjoys working collaboratively on lots of projects, and is an aspiring house renovator. She is passionate about seeing young leaders empowered and equipped to lead across all sectors of society and in particular seeing women released to lead in the church in Ireland. She enjoys sports, travel, reading, movies, inspirational people & good conversations. She currently serves on the board of YMCA Belfast, the leadership of Women’s Explore and Kyria, and has just completed a Masters in Kingdom Theology.

Merle Patterson

Merle is married to Mark & they have 4 children. She’s a BA Hons in Applied Theology & recently graduated from Queen’s with a PGCE. She’s passionate about Jesus & living for Him. She loves to help & disciple people. She enjoys walks in the local park with her British Bulldog Winston, crocheting, & making jam!

Trevor Lawrence

I’m 46 and married to Alicia and a father & step-father to 7 children and grandfather of 2. I used to work in homeless services at the Salvation Army in Dublin City but have moved jobs recently. I am also continuing my studies at the Irish Bible Institute at Certificate level (Applied Theology) but will hopefully progress to Degree in 2023.

Cherise Boraski

My name is Cherise, I’m 23 years old, Canadian and I have lived in Ireland for the last five years. While originally I had planned on being a secondary school teacher, I have found that my passion is for youth work and pastoral care within the community. I really enjoy playing music and having a jam session with my friends as well as going on hikes.

Courtney Lynch

Hi, my name is Courtney and I have been living in Dublin/Wicklow for almost 2 years. I love playing and listening to music and animals, especially dogs. When not at work you can find me bordering/ rock climbing (indoors), hiking in the Wicklow Mountains, or reading while drinking tea.

Gary Sweetman

I am 37 years of age. I am originally from Dublin but have been living in the Ulster area for the past seven years. I like Liverpool Football Club, F1 and taking long walks especially in the morning. My biggest dislike would be spiders.

Evancia Aboussou

Hey, my name is Evancia, and I go by Eva. I have been living in Cork since 2017. I am working as a Software Quality Analyst and have recently started a childcare course. If you don’t find me at my work desk, I will probably be walking, running, playing some music, or hanging out with my friend or the teens of my church.


Lent begins February 22 and ends April 6 this year. How will you observe it? Some people fast or give something up while others try to take some on like giving to charity or reading the Bible more. It is a season for reflection as we look to Easter. Here are some resources for families, young people, personal reflection and more, click here to view it.

Self Care & Reflection

Self care is vital to holistic health, practicing reflection, good rhythms, and more can boost our health for our mind, body, & spirit. 

Here’s a self care resource which might be helpful to do now and then review in a few months time. 

Contact us if you’d like help with these or to simply chat through them or more guidance in your reflection.

React, Pray, Take Action

Breige O’Hare, writer, spiritual director and facilitator, has put together a lovely resource that can help inform and guide our prayers and reflections on Climate Action.

Download it here