Over 400 religious men and women from Ireland and Britain gathered in Malahide, Co Dublin for a two-day conference on the 17th and 18th April 2010, entitled ‘Walking the Way’ that marked the golden jubilee of the Conference for the Religious in Ireland (CORI).
The keynote speakers who addressed the delegates included President Mary McAleese, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP, Sr Gemma Simmons, CJ, Sr. Lynn Levo, CSJ, Fr Mark Patrick Hederman, OSB, Sr Bernadette Flanagan, PBVM, Sarah Mac Donald and Capuchin, Fr Michael Crosby.
Addressing the delegates in her keynote speech, President Mary McAleese told the 400 religious men and women that a significant anniversary always invites a certain amount of retrospection. President McAleese said the congregations between them “represent an unequalled and unrivalled investment” in Ireland’s “education, health and social welfare” and the “pastoral and spiritual enrichment of her people.”
She said CORI’s members were entitled to be proud of the positive transformations that they had helped to effect over recent decades.
“The story has many good, even great, chapters for you and your predecessors” which had created and sustained “much of the founding infrastructure of today’s education and healthcare systems and outreaches to the poor and marginalised”.
She added that “The millstone of the Ryan and Murphy reports will be carried for a long time on the way ahead. President McAleese stated that, “This is the moment when we need people of faith to have faith in themselves and in our country’s ability to dig deep, heal its wounded and with their help, walk the way ahead together, to a better time and a better Ireland.”
In her address entitled, Religious Life – A Question of Visibility, Sr Gemma Simmons stated that, “Recent events within the Church have shown that a highly visible and differentiated lifestyle was, alas, no guarantee of holiness or integrity in living the vows we professed.” If religious life is to have an impact in the world, according to Sr. Gemma, it “must be in dialogue with the crucial signs of the times.”
CORI operates as an umbrella body for 137 religious congregations whose collective membership totals 9,000 religious. CORI saw the conference as, a forum where Religious could talk about the meaning and purpose of their lives in the present reality.