Two new staff members, Paul Gallucci and Chris Boucher, have recently joined The Big House Ireland.
The Big House Ireland is a Christian charity, which seeks to be a place where young people can discover more of God’s love and hope in their life. No matter who they are, or what is going on in their life.
Surrey-born Paul Gallucci is the organisation’s new House Chaplain having previously served as a Methodist Minister in Stoke-On-Trent, and more recently Newtownards and Limavady.
Married to Paula, who hails from Lisburn, Paul is a proud dad to Reuben, Joel, Benji and Theo.
Telling us a little more about himself, Paul said: “I came to know the Lord at the age of 15 having grown up in a non-Christian home but one that was very sympathetic to faith. I went to a Church of England school, and it was there where I received my grounding. I learned how to pray, who Jesus was and what He was like and that I could know Him.”
“Aged 11 or 12, I started to go to a Youth Club run by the local Methodist Church. Lots of my friends from school also went there and to the church service on Sunday so I went along with them.
By the time I reached my mid-teens, I had been involved in Church life for a while and the invitation was given to me to take responsibility for my own faith. It was at that point that I changed gear and made a commitment to follow Christ for myself”, added Paul.
Originally, Paul aspired to become an animator. However, his ambition to work as a Story Board Artist for Disney changed when the Lord began to call him into ministry towards the end of his time at Art College.
Subsequently, he attended Cliff Bible College in Derbyshire for a year before accepting a position as a Youth Pastor and ultimately offering himself to the Church for Ordained Ministry and being ‘on the circuit’ for 20 years.
Alongside this, Paul and Paula have maintained an interest in the work of The Big House Ireland as volunteers and have been particularly ‘hands-on’ since the organisation purchased their building in Limavady just over a year ago.
Increasingly, Paul had a desire to get alongside the staff and young people to support them pastorally. He will also be running retreats where workers can be refreshed, or young people may be involved in conversations about God while also having the opportunity to be creative. Ensuring that there is a ‘rhythm of prayer’ to everything that The Big House does by co-ordinating prayer teams as another major strand of Paul’s role.
Speaking about his hopes his time with The Big House, the keen artist, runner and family man told us:
“My big hope is that the kindness of God is experienced by those who use The Big House either through a personal encounter with God or through the kindness of His people while they are with us. I want them to know that they are valued, and that God delights in them.”
Chris Boucher is the new Programme Worker at The Big House Ireland.
In this role, he is responsible for the development, evaluation, and delivery of the three main programmes run by the charity that aim to improve the mental health of the young people it reaches.
These programmes are called Shaken, Steady and Strong and can be delivered in various formats depending on the setting in which they are being delivered. For example, Shaken, which looks at the things in life that shake us and what God says about them can be delivered as a one-off two-hour session at a youth event, a four-part programme for a residential weekend or an eight-week Shaken for Schools Initiative.
Again, Chris is no stranger to working with young people in a Christian context having grown up as a child of the manse within the Methodist Church.
Having started life in Glengormley, Chris moved around the island to various places where his father was minister.
After making a child-like commitment to Christ at the age of five or six, Chris admits that he drifted from his faith slightly in his mid-teens before making a deeper commitment to the Lord as a sixteen-year-old.
He remembers: “Throughout that time and the couple of years that followed he was really blessed by some great work by the Methodist Youth Department and different events that it organised. Those programmes really spoke into and developed my faith in a great way.“
In fact, Chris says that it was those experiences that God called him to study Youth Work at university and then to embark on a career in Christian Youth Work which he has absolutely ‘loved’.
The impact on his own mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of a serious illness to his little girl, Lucy, who ultimately received a kidney transplant, enabled Chris to see the value of Christian counselling.
As a result, he felt lead to study Youth counselling to degree level and as he did so, was encouraged to consider seeking a role with The Big House Ireland in its work with young people.
Chris went on to say: “Particularly in the aftermath of COVID-19 there is a big need for young people to receive help with their mental health and well-being. Even before COVID, many young people were struggling with anxiety, self-worth and other things that challenge them in a mental and emotional way.”
“I hope that every young person we encounter knows that they are worth hearing, worth caring for and to understand that they are of value to God. Above all, we want to give young people hope; ok some of them may be in a bad situation right now but there are people who want to give them time, listen to them and to make them feel in their heart that God is there for them too”, he added.
Outside Church, Chris is a ‘film nerd’ and keen supporter of Glentoran and Manchester United. Married to Ciara, the couple have three children, Daniel, (12), Lucy, (9) and six-year-old Noah.
For more information about The Big House Ireland, log on to www.thebighouse.org.uk