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Meeting with the Brothers of Ireland-England

From 16 to 25 October 2021 Jean Blaise Mwanda and Fernando Cordero, on behalf of the General Government, carried out the canonical visit to the Brothers of Ireland-England. On 10 November, they held a virtual meeting with the brothers in which they thanked them for their fraternal welcome, which had made it easier for them to get to know the brothers better and be attentive to what was shared in the course of their conversations. Special thanks must go to Michael Ruddy, Provincial Superior, who organised their time in England and Ireland and who was available to them at all times.  In each community they had the sense that the brothers were looking forward to the visit and to an open dialogue. They were also able to meet with the sisters in Dublin, celebrating the Eucharist that concluded with a festive dinner. They also met with the Secular Branch in England (via zoom), and in Cootehill and Dublin in person.

         In this virtual meeting, some significant strong points of the Province were highlighted: the care of the "inner life", the bulletin "Faith-Sharing" as an instrument for personal renewal and community sharing; pastoral zeal, dedication to the elderly and sick brothers, attention to the poor, as in the case of the "Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre" (London). The Province was also encouraged to strengthen teamwork and to take care of the links between the brothers in England and those in Ireland.

         For some years now, the brothers have been looking for a new way of organising themselves as a community within the Congregation. After listening to them, the Visitors found that the Delegation is the possibility that has the strongest support. Moving from Province to Delegation is not simply a change of name. They invited the group to "a dialogue on the option of mission in England and Ireland. It is true that the timing of the pandemic does not make meetings easy, but we do have virtual tools that can be taken advantage of. It is believed that the group as such has not completed its mission, rather, there are still many forces to be channelled in its service. As such the Province is encouraged, with realism and creativity, to seek new ways of being and being in the Church, more so now in tune with the synodal path to which Pope Francis urges the universal Church to embark upon. Another issue raised during the visit was the possibility of an international community in London, which will be a matter for further discernment.

         After the address by Jean Blaise and Fernando there was an opportunity for the brothers to give feedback and ask questions. Later, after the canonical visitation is discussed in the General Government, the Superior General, as usual, will write a letter to the brothers in Ireland-England.