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    Irish nun recognised for work in India

    Monday, March 30th, 2009

    An Irish nun has been recognised in Carlow for her fifty years of working with the poor in India.

    Sister Cyril Mooney (72), A Bray native who moved to India when she was twenty, runs programmes in Calcutta aimed at helping street children.She was honoured in Carlow by the Friends of Calcutta group, who organised a “This is Your Life” tribute. It was attended by over 200 people including the Indian ambassador.

    Sr Mooney has previously received one of India’s highest honours, the Padma Shree; she is one of the few foreigners to be so honoured.

    Read the report in the Irish Times:
    Irish nun honoured for 50 years of helping street children of India

    Bishop urges diaspora to welcome newcomers

    Thursday, March 19th, 2009

    In his St Patrick’s Day message, Bishop Séamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry and Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Emigrants, has urged the Irish Diaspora to assist those who may be leaving Ireland to escape the economic downturn.

    Here is the entire text of his comments:

    Guím beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh uilig. On this, the Feast of our National Apostle, I send warm greetings to Irish people at home and abroad and to all those who join in the celebration of our national feast, including the many immigrants to our own shores.  Saint Patrick first encountered Ireland as a migrant. Thus, it is fitting that on the Feast of our National Patron, we again seek to highlight the needs of the many Irish emigrants spread throughout the world.

    Article 2 of our Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann, rightly states that ‘The Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.’

    The Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants (IECE) has, for over fifty years, sought to provide pastoral support to our emigrants and in cooperation with our many apostolates, sister organisations and volunteers will continue to do so.

    As a consequence of the current downturn in the economy, increasing numbers of Irish men and women are again leaving our shores in the hope of making a new life for themselves and their families. For many, this can be a difficult journey to make and so at this time of increasing outward migration, I urge the Irish Diaspora to continue to work together in the spirit of charity and compassion to ensure the welfare of all Irish emigrants.

    Today we remember in a special way those Irish emigrants whose journey has been a difficult one. We are especially mindful of the elderly Irish in Britain and our undocumented in the United States. IECE continues to highlight the longstanding problems facing generations of Irish emigrants. The outreach services provided to emigrants, pioneered by priests, religious and supportive lay people over many years, continue to expand and are truly in keeping with Gospel values.

    On this Saint Patrick’s Day, I am reminded of the words of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI who, in this the year of Saint Paul invites us to:

    love to the full without making any kind of distinction and without discrimination, in the conviction that any one who needs us and whom we can help is our neighbour (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 15). May the teaching and example of St Paul, a great and humble Apostle and a migrant, an evangelizer of peoples and cultures, spur us to understand that the exercise of charity is the culmination and synthesis of the whole of Christian life.’[1]

    It is also important on this day that we, as a society, recognise the difficulties faced by those who have come to this country seeking to make Ireland their home. I hope that they will receive the same ceád míle fáilte that we would wish for our own emigrants. The newly established Bishops’ Commission for the Care of Migrants, incorporating the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants and more recently the Irish Episcopal Council for Immigrants, will endeavour to support and give voice to the worries and concerns of those who wish to make Ireland their home.

    On this day too it is important to highlight an especially vulnerable group of emigrants – Irish people imprisoned overseas. The Bishops’ Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO), under the auspices of the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants, continues to work tirelessly on their behalf. ICPO provide support to over 420 Irish people imprisoned throughout the world. While the majority are imprisoned in Britain, others are located in Europe, the Americas, Australia and Africa. Thirty four new cases were received by ICPO in the period November 2008 to January 2009. This equates to one person every three days.

    The 2007 Report on Irish Prisoners Abroad prepared by Mr. Chris Flood provides an excellent synopsis of the many difficulties faced by Irish prisoners and their families. While considerable progress has been made, it is imperative that the remaining recommendations contained within the Flood Report are urgently implemented. The ICPO is committed to securing their introduction and will continue to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and others to secure their implementation.

    “May the Virgin Mother, who together with her Blessed Son knew the pain of emigration and exile, help us to understand the experience, and very often the drama, of those who are compelled to live far from their homeland, and teach us to serve them in their necessities, truly accepting them as brothers and sisters, so that today’s migrations may be considered a call, albeit a mysterious one, to the Kingdom of God, which is already present in His Church, its beginning (cf. LG 9), and an instrument of Providence to further the unity of the human family and peace?. (Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi)

    [1] MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI FOR THE 95th WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES (2009) Theme: St Paul migrant, ‘Apostle of the peoples’.

    Related websites:

    Emigrant chaplains featured on TG4

    Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

    A four-part documentary is telling the stories of emigrant chaplains in Britain and the US. Séiplinigh na nImirceach, being aired on TG4 throughout May, tells the story of four members of the Emigrant Chaplaincy Scheme, which was set up in 1957 to serve emigrants in the US and Britain.

    One of those interviewed is Ean board member Sr Attracta Heneghan, who worked with the Irish in Huddersfield. Also featured is Fr Michael Leonard, who works in Chicago.

    See the information at the bottom to watch the programmes online.

    The filmmakers say:

    As Chaplains they were there to provide pastoral care to the emigrants but more often found themselves much more deeply involved in the lives of the emigrants than they could possibly have imagined. For many emigrants the Chaplain was seen as a first port of call, to sort accommodation, and employment and to deal with the difficulties many young Irish found themselves in in a strange land. In recent years, we have become very aware of our ‘Diaspora’ and their role in the development of today’s Ireland. In this series, the Chaplains have the opportunity to tell their own side of the emigration story. We also hear from the emigrants themselves, those who have stayed abroad and those who returned.

    The programme also looks at parallels with new immigrant communities in Ireland.

    The programme airs on Sunday nights at 9:30 throughout May. Here are the outlines for the individual programmes:

    Programme 1 An taithí I Londain Sunday May 4th
    Fr Tom Looney is currently Parish Priest of the Gaeltacht community of Dingle. As a young priest he was sent to London to work as an Emigrant Chaplain. Through his experiences we introduce the work of the Emigrant Chaplains and the importance of their role. We also draw parallels between his work London with Irish emigrants and the contemporary situation in Dingle for the new immigrant communities.

    Programme 2 An taithí i Huddersfield – Sunday May 11th

    The second programme in our series looks at the particular experiences of those who emigrated to Huddersfield in the North of England. Huddersfield always had a particular draw for emigrants from Connemara, and in recent years, Sr Attracta Heneghan worked with the older Irish emigrants who have settled there. Now back in Ireland, Attracta meets with Sr Marilyn, a Nigerian Nun who has come to Ireland to provide pastoral support for African immigrants who are settling here.

    Programme 3 An taithí i Sasana – Sunday May 18th

    Fr Gearoid Ó Griofa reflects on his work as an emigrant chaplain with particular responsibility for emigrants in London from Gaeltacht areas in the 1980’s. We examine how today’s chaplains in London are working with the elderly and often lonely Irish emigrants, the same generation which the original chaplains were sent to help 50 years ago. In his current role as PP in the suburbs of Galway Ó Griofa also comments on challenge of multicultural Ireland with examples of cooperation with local NGOs and foreign chaplains.

    Programme 4 An taithí i Chicago – Sunday May 25th

    Our fourth programme follows Fr Michael Leonard on his rounds in Chicago – a particularly Irish city. His brief is to work with newly arrived and undocumented Irish, but the old established Irish community (and their children) still welcome the connection with the Irish priest. We feature contributions from the older Irish-American community who had to leave Ireland and the newer generation who are in USA by choice.

    Watch the programmes online! They are subtitled, in case your Irish is rusty. Here is how to find them:

    1. Go to
    2. On the left, click on “Cláir Eile – Cartlann”
    3. Scroll down until you see each of the four episodes of “Séiplinigh na nImirceach”.

    IECE replaced by Commission for Migrants

    Monday, March 31st, 2008

    The Irish Episcopal Commission for Emigrants has been restructured. The move was announced following the March 2008 General meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference held in Maynooth.

    The IECE has been replaced by the Commission for Migrants, which is a Commission of the Irish Episcopal Conference. This Commission is supported by a Council for Immigrants and a Council for Emigrants.

    The pastoral outreach for this new commission is guided by the norms set out by Erga migrantes caritas Christi (The love of Christ towards migrants), a 2004 Vatican document.

    See Erga migrantes caritas Christi

    Foreign Affairs Minister outlines new relationship

    Friday, December 14th, 2007

    Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has published an article outlining Ireland’s relationships with the Irish abroad. In “Ireland’s New Approach to its Diaspora”, available in full on the website, Minister Ahern outlines the changes that have taken place in recent years.

    He notes that the Diaspora is vast:

    The dimensions of our Diaspora are breathtaking. In the last US census, 36 million people declared an Irish link. The figures for Britain, Australia, Argentina, Canada and New Zealand are equally impressive. Large numbers are also to be found in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and increasing numbers of Irish-born people are living in Spain and other Mediterranean countries.

    Minister Ahern also notes that changes in Ireland, including the peace process and economic success have allowed Ireland to re-evaluate the relationship with the Irish abroad. This has resulted in a tremendous increase in funding, up to €15.2 million this year, and increasing to planned spending of €34 million a year in the lifetime of the current administration. He details the spending in Britain, the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

    Minister Ahern concludes:

    Regular newspaper articles and TV programmes show that there has never been so much interest at home in the Diaspora. Irish people are travelling abroad in huge numbers and meeting members of our Diaspora in many of the countries they visit. Our Constitution has been changed to reflect the new commitment to the overseas Irish, enshrined in the amended Article 2. New structures have been established by the government through the Irish Abroad Unit to coordinate our policy in this area and to provide funding, when appropriate, to projects relating to the Diaspora. It is a very exciting time with much happening. We have to ensure that we maintain the interest of our communities abroad in Ireland as the generations go by. I am confident we can meet that challenge. I am fully committed to maintaining this new outreach to our people – our global family – overseas.

    See the entire article on the website. looks at religion in globalising world

    Friday, July 20th, 2007

    A new website has been launched that focuses on topics related to migration and religion., subtitled “Religions in a Globalised World”, is an information channel for new publications, funding, conferences and other events. Site administrator Tuomas Martikainen of Finland says the areas of interest include religion in diaspora, religion and international migration, globalisation and the study of religion in local settings.

    Visit the site at

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