“You can meet an Irish missionary almost anywhere in the world”. These are the words of Justin Kilcullen, speaking in the wake of his appointment as Chairperson of Misean Cara after its recent AGM.
Misean Cara is an Irish-based international missionary development movement consisting of 91 member organisations working with communities in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. In 2018, 52 of those members implemented 265 projects across 61 countries, working to transform the lives of over 1.4 million people.
An architect with a keen interest in human settlements, Mr. Kilcullen is no stranger to the work of Irish missionaries, having spent 20 years as Director of Trócaire. There is also a close family connection: his uncle Canice, a Jesuit priest, spent many years as a missionary in China.
“He incurred the displeasure of the authorities due to his speaking out on behalf of marginalised people, and was deported to Hong Kong in the 1950s,” explains Mr. Kilcullen. “His visits home were always a highlight in our family.”
The global nature of the missionary movement is something that has always impressed the incoming Chairperson. “You can go anywhere, to the most remote community, and you will find a missionary there, living in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, working with people to create opportunities and better lives. But you will also find missionaries at UN meetings and in government offices, lobbying for policy change.”
Having joined the Misean Cara Board in 2015, he’s looking forward to taking on the role of Chairperson. “Misean Cara is a dynamic organisation. Since its foundation in 2004, it has channelled over €200 million to thousands of projects in over 90 countries around the world. I find myself repeatedly humbled by the dedication and courage of the missionaries I meet, and I hope that I can make a contribution to their work in my time as Chairperson. I look forward to working with (Misean Cara CEO) Heydi Foster and the wider Misean Cara membership.”
Photo caption: Earlier this year Justin Kilcullen received a papal knighthood of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at a ceremony in Maynooth. Photo: Sean Farrell.