You will see from what’s below that one of the objectives of ‘Lay Mission Union Ireland’ is to ‘Raise awareness of the role of laity in the Irish Church’. And that another is to: ‘Identify and create outlets for returned lay missionaries to be actively engaged as a valuable resource.’
As secularising Ireland itself is now also truly ‘mission territory’ what might LMUI contribute to the understanding and development of that ‘home mission’? We in ACI shall be exploring that question directly with Jim Farrell and friends – but in the meantime here is Jim’s own
NEWS from Lay Mission Union Ireland (LMUI)
by Lay Mission Coordinator – Jim Farrell
Many of you have been part of the process of the establishment of Lay Mission Union Ireland either since the very early stages with the ‘Think In’ on the Role of Lay Missionaries back in 2013 or at various meetings in the IMU along the way since the end of 2014. I want to give you all a brief update on what has been happening with LMUI and my work as Lay Mission Coordinator with the organisation since July 2015.
As you can see from the bottom of this email, I am based at the Irish Missionary Union (IMU) office at 29 Westland Square, Pearse St, Dublin. Since I started working last July 2015, I have met some incredible and inspiring people (lay and religious/missionary) and have heard some truly amazing stories of people’s work overseas which motivate me in my role as lay mission coordinator. I have listed some information below for you to keep you up to date with what has been happening over the past few months.
Strategic Planning September 25th 2015
Maybe you attended the Lay Mission Union Ireland (LMUI) planning day on September 25th at St Paul’s in Arran Quay in Dublin which was attended by 20 people. This was an important day for LMUI as it gave everyone a space to share about how they see the work of lay missionaries and volunteers as well as focusing on the future. A number of areas were identified for LMUI to focus on over the next few months. A Steering Committee was formally agreed and they include Sally Roddy (Chair), Dympna Mallon (Secretary), Sr Carmel Flynn, Vincent Kenny, Angie Escarsa, John Denny, Fr Hugh McMahon (IMU Executive Secretary), Mary Winters and Jane Mellett.
LMUI Steering Committee Meetings
A number of meetings of the LMUI Steering Committee were held on Nov 4th and Dec 9th in 2015 and Feb 17th in 2016. During the December meeting, a comprehensive Action Plan was drawn up to advance the objectives of Lay Mission Union Ireland which are being carried out by the lay mission coordinator. (See copy attached)
What is LMUI and its Key Objectives?
The LMUI is a union of missionaries and faith based volunteers, sending and receiving lay groups, acting in solidarity to meet common objectives and needs. It is sponsored and supported by the Irish Missionary Union (IMU).
• Create a database of returned and present lay missionaries.
• Establish/develop a resource centre/gathering place for lay missionaries. Organise regional support meetings and explore the needs of returned lay missionaries.
• Raise awareness of the role of laity in the Irish Church and lobby within the Irish Church for greater support/recognition of lay missionaries.
• Develop funding/support structures for Long-term Irish lay missionaries
• Identify and create outlets for returned lay missionaries to be actively engaged as a valuable resource.
• Research employment opportunities in the sector for returned lay missionaries.
• Establish a network of contacts within Ireland and with relevant international bodies.
As lay mission coordinator, I have been meeting various lay missionary groups and faith based organisations and other key stakeholders over the past few months to build up positive relationships as part of his work. I have also been busy meeting individual bishops in dioceses across Ireland to raise the profile of lay missionaries/volunteers and have been warmly received by all bishops.
Support from the Irish Missionary Union (IMU)
The IMU have been very supportive of Lay Mission Union Ireland (LMUI) in sponsoring the position of a lay mission coordinator. I would like to thank the IMU Executive because without their help, LMUI would not be able to employ a full time coordinator to realise its objectives. LMUI had a number of meetings with the IMU executive as part of ongoing collaboration.
So far we have 80+ current and returned lay missionaries/volunteers registered and on our database. We feel sure that there are hundreds more out there so please help us to reach them by sharing the following link with anyone you know who might be interested in inclusion in our data base.
Many returning lay missionaries are finding it difficult to get accommodation in the present climate in Ireland so we are asking you if you know of any house or suitable accommodation which might be available to let us know.
Lay Mission Support groups in Dioceses
It is hoped that in the short to medium term to set up a number of lay mission support groups in some dioceses across Ireland to support lay missionaries/volunteers working overseas on assignment and to find meaningful ways for returned lay missionaries/volunteers to share their experiences and skills in parishes/dioceses and in their community. This is a work in progress.
LMUI FB page
A facebook page has been set up called Lay Mission Union Ireland:
We welcome everyone to connect with our facebook page and keep in touch. It is also a platform for having your voice heard and for keeping in touch with LMUI.
Returned lay missionaries/volunteers
If you have recently returned to Ireland from overseas assignments, feel free to contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into the office in Pearse St in Dublin. Best to ring beforehand 083 8422468. There is always a céad míle fáilte here.
Future things coming down the track……...
LMUI Newsletter coming soon…if anyone would like to write a short article about your experiences abroad as a lay missionary/volunteer, we would like to hear from you. And if you have returned to Ireland and are involved either in a voluntary or paid capacity in justice and peace groups, refugee work, advocacy work, human rights, pastoral work in your parish/diocese, climate justice etc, we would also like to hear from you as well.
One key thing stands out for me and that is, throughout my conversations with individuals and organisations, is that everyone who has worked overseas has been changed in one way or another by the experience of stepping outside their own culture comfort zone and this is also true of people who work on the ‘frontline’ in Ireland with people who are marginalised. Having a network like Lay Mission Union Ireland is one way of connecting with others who have had this unique experience and hopefully this will grow over time. From my own personal experience, it can take several years to really process that experience and somehow it grows deeper in time.