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Fr Peter McVerry, SJ (born 1944, Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a Roman Catholic priest, notable for battling homelessness in Ireland.[1] According to one report, the trust which he founded helped 3,600 homeless people in Dublin in 2013.[2]

Peter McVerry
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Known forMcVerry Trust


Early yearsEdit

Fr McVerry grew up in Newry, County Down.[3] where he was educated by the Christian Brothers. He later attended Clongowes Wood College. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1962 and received a BSc from University College Dublin in 1968. He studied philosophy and theology in the Jesuit School of Theology in Milltown Park.

Fighting homelessnessEdit

After his ordination as a priest in 1975, McVerry lived and worked in Summerhill, North Dublin. During these years he came face to face with the problem of homelessness and deprivation. He set up a trust to help struggling young people.[3] He first worked in Ballymun and the North Inner City during the 1970s when he found young homeless people in the streets.[3][4] In 1983, he founded a charity to tackle homelessness called The Arrupe Society after Jesuit leader Pedro Arrupe, but it was subsequently renamed the Peter McVerry Trust, which began as a three-bedroom flat in Ballymun.

We started working with young people and opened a youth club and a craft centre and then I came across a kid sleeping on the street aged nine-years-old ... We decided we better add a hostel to the services we were already running for young people so we opened a small hostel down in the inner city for six boys, as it was all boys then, there were no girls on the streets in the 1970s.

— Fr Peter McVerry[3]

The trust grew from one flat over the years to include eleven homeless hostels, over 100 apartments, a residential drug detox centre and two drug stabilisation services. In 1979, he opened a hostel for young homeless boys aged between twelve and sixteen. He focused on those deemed too difficult to deal with by other agencies. McVerry recently opened a residential drug detox centre in County Dublin for homeless drug users. McVerry has lived in Ballymun since 1980.[citation needed]

The homeless in Ireland are not a problem, they are simply people who have come upon difficult times and circumstances.

— Fr Peter McVerry[1]

In 2013, the charity worked with almost 3,600 vulnerable youths. There was controversy in 2014 when a candidate for political office used images of McVerry in campaign leaflets, and McVerry denied that he was endorsing any particular candidate.[5] He appealed to the government to buy more housing for the homeless.[6] He advocated greater spending to help reduce inequality.[7] In 2014, he stated that the crisis of homelessness was threatening middle-class and working-class families.[8]

Peter McVerry TrustEdit

The Peter McVerry Trust (known previously as The Arrupe Society) was founded in 1983 as a charity to reduce homelessness in Ireland.[9]


  1. ^ a b "'Pride of Ireland Awards': Homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award" by Jilly Beattie, Irish Mirror, 4 June 2014; accessed 10 June 2014.
  2. ^ Peter McVerry Trust says there's been an increase in the number of homeless families, The Journal, 13 May 2014; accessed 10 June 2014; "...THE PETER MCVERRY Trust helped almost 3,600 homeless people in Dublin last year, that's a 17 per cent increase on 2012...."
  3. ^ a b c d "Our hero for life" Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine by Jack Gleeson,, 9 June 2014; accessed 10 June 2014, "...[Fr] McVerry was presented with his award by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, at a glittering ceremony shown on TV3...."
  4. ^ Jarlath Regan (16 April 2016). "Peter McVerry". An Irishman Abroad (Podcast) (135 ed.). SoundCloud. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Fr McVerry: ‘I did not endorse candidate’", by Melanie Finn, The Herald, 14 May 2014; accessed 10 June 2014, "...Fr Peter McVerry has echoed Brian O'Driscoll's comments in saying he is not endorsing any candidate who has used his image in election leaflets...."
  6. ^ Father Peter McVerry: "Tsunami of homelessness" threatening to wash over Ireland due to housing shortage" by Brynmor Pattison, Irish Mirror, 18 May 2014; accessed 10 June 2014, "...And he called on the Government to buy 1,500 houses and apartments to stave off the crisis. Fr McVerry said that this would be far more effective than temporary resolutions such as paying for hostels and shelters...."
  7. ^ Fergus Finlay interviewed by Ken Cowley,; accessed 10 June 2014, "...Peter McVerry said he'd gladly sit in a few traffic jams if a little of the money spent on infrastructure could be spent on inequality..."
  8. ^ "Middle-income families caught in homeless crisis": McVerry, by Niamh Horan, The Independent, 25 May 2014; accessed 10 June 2014.
  9. ^ Pattison, Brynmor (18 May 2014). "Father Peter McVerry: "Tsunami of homelessness" threatening to wash over Ireland due to housing shortage". Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.