Cork City has a bright and welcome new addition – Brew132, a Catholic café serving up evangelism and faith alongside coffee and cake. Located on Washington Street, Cork, Brew 132 opened its doors in early April, offering warm hospitality and hope to the community of Cork and beyond, and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart are proud to support this new and exciting venture for the young Catholic community in the local area.
“The concept is based around two ideas,” says Courtney Holbrook, manager of Brew132. “Firstly, there’s a lot of young Catholics in the world (and quite a few here in Cork City), but sometimes it’s hard to connect to each other. So we’re here to try to help connect practising young Catholics to community and bring everyone together. Secondly, there are a lot of people who would go to a café, but who would never think of stepping foot in a Church. Our goal is to get to know them and show them Jesus through our joy and our witness. From there we can help connect them to different groups to help them continue to grow in their faith.”
“The idea of an evangelising cafe is not new,” continues Courtney. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she remarks, “There are Catholic cafés in the United States, and a few Christian ones here in Ireland – most notably An Tobar Nua in Galway, which actually gave us a lot of help in starting up here in Cork.”
The initial idea for the establishment of a social hub for Cork’s young Catholics was brought about by Fr Maurice Colgan OP, of the Dominican Order. “I think it’s something he’s been wanting to do for years,” explains Courtney, “but everything started falling into place this year. He brought me on board last summer, and we’ve been working on it since.”
The café has received wonderful support from Cork and beyond. “A number of religious orders/organisations have been involved with funding the café: St Joseph’s Charity Shop, Presentation Sisters Cork, Sisters of Mercy Cork, Bon Secours Sisters, Sisters of Charity, Augustians, Capuchins, Franciscans, Domincans, and of course, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.”
“The Cork NET Group and UCC Chaplaincy are involved, and we’ve also got Juventutum Corcaigh, Cork City Youth 2000, Ignite Prayer Group, Nightfever, and Jesus Youth. Representatives of the leadership of these groups would meet every so often just to help determine the look and ministry in the café in the planning stages. Saturdays are also worked by volunteers, and many students are volunteering summer hours with us as well!”
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
A warm welcome is guaranteed to all visitors to the café. “We’ve been very influenced by the charism of hospitality, so the one word to describe what we’re going for is ‘homey’,” Courtney says. “We strive to provide a homey atmosphere where we can love our customers through service. It comes from the idea of Hebrews 13:2, one of the verses that inspired the name, that says ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it’. Through this homey atmosphere people can begin to experience the love of Christ, and then be more comfortable when we begin to share our faith. I think it also provides a great outlet for Catholics to come in and talk about faith without fear of being judged.”
Brew132 currently offers an extensive menu of hot drinks, alongside an array of tasty treats. The café also has a packed bookshelf for visitors to peruse as they sit and sip. “We’ve got theology books and fictional books that have a moral worldview/ethos,” explains Courtney – with a wide range of titles and authors, even the most discerning reader is likely to find the perfect companion to their morning coffee!
All new ventures come with their own challenges, and this is no different. “From a ministry perspective it’s not easy knowing how to approach people about the faith,” explains Courtney. “We’re starting to get to the point with a few people where we know them well enough to start talking with them about faith, but sometimes we don’t see the opportunity. We’re learning how to make those opportunities without making it awkward.”
However, the benefits far outweigh the challenges in this bustling hub on Washington Street. The café is located on the busy street that connects the city centre with University College Cork, and it’s the hope of the Brew132 team that it will become a regular port of call for passing students. “It’s a real highlight to see people return,” notes Courtney. “We’ve had a few people return for our coffee and we’ve slowly been getting to know them, have gotten to know their names, and can chat with them a bit when they come in. It’s such a small thing, but it’s definitely a highlight for me.”
With an “amazing” Grand Opening providing great encouragement, the team at Brew132 are already off to a wonderful start. The future looks bright for Cork’s new Catholic café, and we at the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart are delighted to be part of this promising new venture.
You can also visit their website,
and read more about the café in a recent article by Greg Daly for The Irish Catholic.