Report from the AMRI Autumn Conference


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The Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious in Ireland, AMRI, held their Autumn Conference on Thursday 4th October at the Emmaus Centre in Dublin. The Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles were represented at the conference by Srs Kathleen McGarvey, Maria Lee, Philomena Mulligan, Mary Usifoh, Majella McCarron, Julie Doran and the Justice Officer John McGeady. Sr Kathleen not only participated in the conference but facilitated one of the workshops on Mission and Dialogue.

The morning session of the AMRI Autumn Conference consisted of panel seminar on the new book, A Dialogue of Hope edited by Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ on the role of the Church in Ireland today. Fr O’Hanlon and three other contributors to the book, David Begg, Fergal O’Farrell and Iseult Honohan, provided attendees with an overview of their chapters in the book. The speakers outlined opportunities, and indeed the necessity, for those of faith to continue to contribute to discussion in the Public Square in an increasingly secular Ireland, especially at this critical time when the old consensus global political and economic paradigm appears to be spent. This panel was then followed by a response by Dympna Mallon who explored the role of the laity in the Church and the need for structural change within the Church to give a meaningful voice in leadership to laity.

Following lunch, the conference attendees were invited to split up and attend the workshops to which they had signed up: Gospel leadership; Mission and Dialogue; Healing, Wellbeing Wholeness; and JPIC. For those not in the know, JPIC stands for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Sr Maria Lee and John McGeady, Justice Officer, attended the JPIC workshop on behalf of the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles.

The JPIC workshop was led by Sr Sheila Curran RSM, the AMRI Justice Co-ordinator, with the assistance of Fr Tom O’Connor of the AMRI Executive. Fr Michael McCabe SMA further assisted as secretary and noted all that was said during the workshop. Sr Sheila and Fr Tom discussed the place of JPIC within the AMRI strategic goals. They then provided a rapid overview of the context of JPIC within the Church: covering Catholic Social Teaching; the Second Vatican Council; the Conference of Latin American Bishops in 1968 in MedellínColombia; the subsequent document Justice in the World that emerged from the World Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971; and the declaration of the Preferential Option for the Poor. Attendees were invited to speak about their work in promoting JPIC. APT: Action to Prevent Trafficking was spoken about, as well as An Tairseach, the eco-centre in Wicklow, and the experience of migrants in direct provision centres. Those in attendance were then invited to discuss how AMRI might further strengthen the work of religious in JPIC. Some suggested that greater media skills training would be very helpful in raising awareness, as well as facilitation workshops to help congregations better define the JPIC goals they might want to target and how to go about that.

Towards the end the Conference, when all had returned to the main hall for the closing plenary session, Fr Michael gave a brief overview to all assembled of the remarks made during the workshop. The Conference ended with questions and remarks from the floor for the panellists before being formally wrapped up for another year. The mood during the day was buoyant and engaged, and all left the Emmaus Centre in high spirits.

John McGeady (OLA JusticeOfficer)
12 October 2018