Report on Meeting with We Are Church Ireland,
Dublin, 29 July 2013
The core group of WAC Ireland invited Francoise and myself for lunch at the home of Phil Dunne to meet them and exchange news. The lunch went on for four hours, and was a veritable feast. Phil and Brendan Butler are both IMWAC Council members. The other four members are: Dairne McHenry, Jackie Nelson, Finbarr Quigley and Jerry McCarthy. This core group, consisting of 3 women and 3 men, is like an executive committee. WAC Ireland has about 300 members, most of whom are in Dublin. Meetings are held only in Dublin, and are monthly meetings which are open to the public. They were impressed by the fact that we have 3 regional groups, but as we said, distances in South Africa are much larger, and we have many more big cities than Ireland. The core group like our name.
They meet in a hall in a Jesuit facility, for which they have to pay. They couldn’t believe that our Archbishop has forbidden us to meet on Catholic property or that I was prevented from practising as a Minister of the Eucharist. They don’t usually have a speaker at their meetings, except at their AGM, so the core group proposes topics to help keep meetings focussed. They thought that our public lectures were an excellent idea for spreading the word and for recruiting members. They also have a spiritual and liturgical component, so they will have prayers, readings and hymns. Recently they organised a liturgical celebration in a hotel (to make it more accessible) and many members of the ‘public’ attended and enjoyed it. They thought that our annual retreats were something they might like to try. Most of their members are older people. They were impressed with our idea of holding our next meeting at the University chaplaincy and will think about doing something similar. The question of having a social justice component has been raised, but generally the feeling has been that they should stick to their core business.
The core group are most impressed that we are in discussion with our bishops’ conference. They don’t have much personal contact with their bishops. Once, when they wanted to hand the bishop a petition, he refused to meet with them. They work fairly closely with the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, many of whose members share the same aspirations and concerns. Some of the WAC Ireland members are involved with women’s ordination groups. A new movement was started in Ireland recently called The Association of Irish Catholics. They are less ‘radical’ than WAC Ireland, but are affiliated to the Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland.
We are Church Ireland began in 1997 but was re-launched in 2011. They have drawn up “Principles of Organisation” and have an AGM, with audited accounts etc. Read more about them on their impressive website and see why we need to have such a website asap: www.wearechurchireland.ie
Our discussion with the Irish core group was lively and inspiring. As we all said at the end of the afternoon, it is amazing how alike we all think, despite the fact that we come from different cultures and different continents. The Holy Spirit is truly at work all over the world to reform our Church. On parting the group gave us a copy of the alternative Last Supper painting which is on their website!
Brian and Francoise Robertson