Assembly Day in the Irish Region Feb. 28, 2017
The Irish Region holds its Assembly with a one day celebration in the early part of the year and usually another one day event in the second half of the year. On the 27th of February the majority of members had arrived in time for the evening supper and later in the evening gathered for a chat accompanied by a night cap.
Presentation of Five Regions of Asia
In the morning some of the others arrived in from their various places and we had a 99% turnout, as only one member was unable to attend as he was preparing to attend the funeral of the sister of the late Fr. Roger McGorty. At 9am after a short Asian themed guided prayer using the movement of hands as we sat in our chairs, Fr. Jimmy Lindero led us through a comprehensive, if fast-paced presentation of the five regions of Asia: Southeast Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, and Southwest Asia: He gave a geo-political introduction and then focused on the different places of apostolate where the Mill Hill Missionaries currently work. Using short videos and pictures he presented the places and members who currently work there, so the sense of continuity with Mill Hill continues. He presented also a short video on Cambodia and explained how the Society was in the process of responding to a missionary request to work there. It was a highly informative session and added an air of mission Ad Gentes to the whole day.
After a short break, Sandra Neville, the Safeguarding Officer for the Irish Region led the Assembly in a training session. She explained that the rolling out of the 2016 all Ireland Safeguarding Children Policy and Standards for the Catholic Church in Ireland alongside some new government legislation have resulted in the need for the revision of our own Mill Hill Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures. A revised and updated version will be finalised and sent to members soon. The new National Policy and standards have made the application of Safeguarding more focused and adaptable to the different situations than what was there previously which was a one model to fit all. The new policy will be more encouraging of developing a culture of safeguarding which adds a movement forward from the more establishing and implementing of policy and procedures tone of the previous documents. The new Policy will focus not on files or cases but on our application and attitude of good practice as members of the Mill Hill Missionaries in Ireland.
She explained about the step forward in the Garda (Irish police force) vetting procedure with e-vetting, the new government legislation on it. This clearance by Garda vetting is now a legal requirement and anyone involved in or intending to lead liturgies and sacramental celebrations, even pilgrimage groups, will need it before they receive their ‘Celebret’
She said most of the Mill Hillers living in the Region had been registered and her office will reach out next to those overseas to apply for it. There is a need for vetting before any ministry (that is sacramental ministry or leading or participating in pilgrimages as a priest, etc.), and this is especially true for people returning back to the Region either on holidays or permanently. It must be stressed that it is now a criminal offense to minister without vetting and those in authority will be held accountable.
Fr. Denis C. Hartnett who is the assistant to Sandra also presented aspects arising from some of the issues encountered over the years and how there is a need to develop further the culture of safeguarding, especially with change of attitude.
At the close of this Session Sandra distributed the annual “Agreement to abide by the Irish Region’s Safeguarding Policy and Procedures when working with children and young people form” which has to be signed by the individual member and shows that each member understands his responsibility and duty in working towards safeguarding children as well as agreeing to abide by the Irish Region’s safeguarding policy. An additional clause to be ticked off for those working fulltime in the Dioceses confirms that they will adhere to the policies and procedures in their place of ministry. We concluded the morning with the Celebration of the Eucharist led by Fr. Jimmy Lindero.
In the afternoon the different departments gave some brief reports:
The acting Organising Secretary Fr. Maurice McGill spoke of the volume of letters received annually, and although dropping in number there were still thousands coming in and a number of them require a personal reply with a response of support and empathy to particular trying and struggling situations the subscriber had narrated. Fr. Denis C. Hartnett on behalf of the Parish Promotions Duo explained that they had led Mission Promotion Masses in the parishes in part of the southern side of the Archdiocese of Dublin in 2016 and although the numbers attending varied in places they still were very well received by both priests and parishioners. In 2017 they will be in part of the Archdiocese of Armagh. Fr. Jim O’Connell the Editor of St. Joseph’s Advocate said the Parish Promotion(s) brings in a number of new subscribers annually but deaths and no contact of a subscriber for a number of years means a reduction in the quantities printed. The Bursar, Fr. Pat Murray informed the Assembly that he was busy preparing for the Annual Audit of the Accounts. He explained how the finances were performing, with examples of some of the highs and lows, with figures of income and expenditure from 2016 and what considerations need to be kept in mind for 2017.
Fr. Philip O’Halloran, the Irish Regional welcomed Fr. John Conroy on his appointment to the Irish Region and thanked people for their support on his coming to serve in the Region. There are 36 members living in the Irish Region, including two priests who are studying. Since his arrival he had to give a significant period of time to Safeguarding related activities as there were a number of meetings and trainings at the national level as well as some other groundwork and updating on where things are with our own Mill Hill situation. He gave an update on the stages undertaken so far on Kilkenny and how it involves fixing necessary changes and movement to go with the September issuing of the Autumn Advocate.
He drew the members attention the need to update some of the personal information of the members as some was dated from 2007 if not earlier as well as reminding that some still had no Wills in the files or no indication of where they were held if not in their file. He explained that the current Regional Council members’ tenure ends on the 1st of May and that in discussion with the General Council a new Council has been chosen. He thanked the outgoing Regional Council very much for being so supportive since his arrival. He acknowledged their faithful and long service on the Council through the thick and thin of things at a time of great change and upheaval in the Irish Church. He then named the incoming Council: Fr. Maurice McGill who will also be vice Regional, Fr. John Nevin and Fr. Tom Keane. He reminded members of the 65+ course in Rome and wanted to confirm the names soon. He opened the floor to members to raise their points and after a short time declared the meeting closed, he repeated his thanks for all who came to the day and concluded with a short prayer.