Young Indigenous Religious Ready to Carry on Missions

“The Minister of State for Trade and Development made some interesting and positive comments about missionary development work, how it fits into the Irish aid programme, and the need to support local missionaries in developing countries who are taking over from the Irish born missionaries,” Matt Moran, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart told ciNews about the AGM of Misean Cara which supports the work of missionaries abroad.

The minister in question, Joe Costello TD (pictured), spoke at the Misean meeting in Milltown Institute on June 27 saying, “The future for the missionaries in Ireland is a challenging one.  Religious brothers and sisters of our generation are looking to their African counterparts to take forward the missionary work for the next generation.  Fortunately, the church is strongest and at its most vibrant in Africa, Asia, and South America.”

The Minister said he met some young religious during his recent visit to Sierra Leone and added, “These young men and women are ready and willing to engage with development processes in their own countries and neighbouring regions.  It is important that we continue to support them in seeking solutions to the perennial problems of poverty and inequality.”

He said that Misean Cara plays a unique role in supporting missionary development work at time when this work is changing in the face of new challenges.  Ireland’s tradition of engagement with the developing world has meant that missionaries have worked in many challenging situations, including situations of famines and conflict.

“You have not shied away from living and working in remote areas with marginalised and vulnerable people.  You have often remained while other agencies have withdrawn,” he said. 

“Irish missionaries were the pioneers in the area of development cooperation, predating our own official aid programme.  Indeed, you led the way for much of what the Government is now doing in the area of development assistance.  The influence of the missionaries is reflected in Irish Aid’s focus on poverty reduction, on hunger, its commitment to avoiding any form of tied aid, and its strong solidarity with those is greatest need.”

Speaking of the Aid Programme, he said it is a practical expression of our values as a nation and is delivering €639 million for poverty reduction in 2012. 

In the light of Ireland’s recent financial difficulties, there are challenges facing the aid programme however Ireland has prioritised global hunger and food insecurity.  There has also been continued focus on performance and results so Ireland and international partners ensure every cent spent on aid programmes delivers value for money.

The minister acknowledged that Irish missionaries are moving more towards working through local structures and institutions in Africa and in partnership with local people. 

“In our partner countries, we value the importance of locally owned policies and solutions at the country level.  We strive to support our partners to take a leadership role in their own development processes.  In this way, we try to ensure that solutions are community-based, locally led and sustainable.  In so doing, we can help ensure that the legacy of missionaries’ global development work is secured,” he said.



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