The Legacy of Irish Missionaries Lives On is a new book exploring how the legacy of Irish missionaries is being continued in Africa, Asia, and South America. The book is written by Matt Moran former Chairperson of Misean Cara, and includes an inspirational foreword by former Irish President Mary Robinson. Sponsored by the Irish Missionary Union (IMU) and Trocaire, it was launched yesterday by Senator Rónán Mullen.
The book contains a series of articles and reflections from across four continents by missionaries, leaders of church and state, diplomats, documentary-makers, journalists, development consultants, academics, as well as some beneficiaries of the work of missionaries including a tribal chief in Nigeria.
Speaking at the book launch Matt Moran said: “I set out to be different in what I wanted to do. I wanted to illustrate the new phase of mission. The seeds that were sown some decades ago are now baring fruit, and we can see this with all the local missionaries coming up in the global south.”
“The time was right to shine a light on this new phase. During my time active in the missionary movement, there was a lot of talk about the influence of missionaries on the Irish Aid programme. This is still the case today.”
The numbers of Irish missionaries now serving in developing countries has declined to 1,100 and there are few new entrants to missionary congregations in Ireland. Unlike earlier books giving a historical record, this book illustrates how the work initiated by the Irish is being continued by members of their congregations in the global south where vocations are plentiful and by diocesan congregations that some Irish missionaries founded particularly in Africa and in India.
Other topics covered include the increasing role of faith in international development, the influence of missionaries on the evolution of Ireland’s overseas aid programme in the early 1970s, the advocacy and social justice work carried out by religious at the UN, parish twinning as a new bridge between communities in Ireland and in developing countries, and the role of lay missionary volunteers not only in the global south but also within the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Missionaries receive significant Irish Aid funding through Misean Cara. The book advances a strong case for the continuation of that funding to Irish and local missionaries whose development and humanitarian work amongst the poor is an integral of Ireland’s overseas aid programme.
In her foreword, Mary Robinson says: “missionaries are an important part of our diaspora. Their committed work, as illustrated dispassionately in this book and supported with diverse testimonial evidence, has helped to establish recognition of Irish values internationally.”
“The missionary movement is firmly enshrined as a key part of our national heritage. This book commends the past and points to the future where the work of the Irish will be continued in a new era by local and indigenous missionaries and by Irish lay missionary volunteers,” says Mary Robinson, “it will be a valuable resource for historians and documentary makers, for students undertaking research, for those interested in international development and volunteering, and for media personnel, as well as the general reader. I am pleased to recommend it.”
The Legacy of Irish Missionaries Lives On is available in bookshops or online at http://www.onstream.ie Profits from sales will go to World Missions Ireland for missionary activity in the global south.
Photo Caption: Former Chairperson of Misean Cara Matt Moran and Senator Rónán Mullen launch The Legacy of Irish Missionaries Lives On.