Media Statement from the Provincial Leadership Team of the Irish Redemptorists
Sunday 20th January 201
The Irish Redemptorist Community is deeply saddened by the breakdown in communication between Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R. and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)
Fr. Tony Flannery is highly regarded and respected by many in Ireland, both within and outside of the Redemptorist Congregation. He has been an effective parish missioner all over the country since the mid 1970s and from this context has raised matters which he believes need greater dialogue, debate and consideration. Within the Dublin Province of the Redemptorists there exists a very lively spirit of debate and dialogue; we are and over many years have been, committed to mature discourse. Although not all Redemptorists would accept Fr. Flannery’s views on all matters, we do understand and support his efforts to listen carefully to and at times to articulate the views of people he encounters in the course of his ministry.
As Irish Redemptorists we appreciate the difficulties this situation has created for others, especially for our Superior General in Rome, Fr. Michael Brehl. He has made every possible effort to resolve the matters which have emerged between the CDF and Fr. Flannery.
Our Redemptorist Constitutions require us to be obedient to God’s call to us as religious in the Church. Following our founder, St. Alphonsus, for whom thinking with the Church was a important criterion of missionary service, a further key element of our Church mandate is to listen and stay close to God’s people; to engage in missionary dialogue with the world while endeavouring to understand people’s anxious questionings; to try to discover in these how God is truly being revealed.
It is of immense regret that some structures or processes of dialogue have not yet been found in the Church which have a greater capacity to engage with challenging voices from among God’s people, while respecting the key responsibility and central role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
We sincerely hope and pray that even at this late stage, some agreed resolution can be found to this matter.
Media enquiries: through Wally Young at Young Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org and/or 087 2471520.
For many Irish people, especially of a certain generation, the word Redemptorist is synonymous with ‘parish mission’. There are few parishes in Ireland that have not experienced at least one Redemptorist parish mission in the last 160 years. Parish missions traditionally have been the flagship apostolate of the Congregation since the first mission was preached in Limerick more than a century and a half ago.
Parish mission work isn’t the only ministry in which Irish Redemptorists have been engaged since 1851. The ‘explicit proclamation of the Word’ has taken on many forms: the annual solemn novenas have had extraordinary success in recent decades and continue to attract young and old in their thousands; the ministry to young people has developed very significantly over the years; Redemptorist retreat house, church ministry and parish work continue to serve the needs of the Irish Church. Individual Redemptorists now minister with migrants, travellers, in schools, universities, prisons and hospitals and to many other groups and communities.
From the very beginning, “overseas mission” has been an integral component of the Irish Redemptorist story. Redemptorists down the decades have engaged in other important work too, not least of which has been the peace ministry, which helped in no small way to bring about a resolution to the Northern ‘Troubles,’ and the ministry of ecumenism which has helped build bridges and forge links with members of other Christian communities in Ireland. Redemptorist Communications has also been a significant ministry of the Irish Province.
Fr. Tony Flannery, C.Ss.R.:
Fr. Tony Flannery, C.Ss.R., is a Redemptorist for over 40 years. He studied from 1965 to 1969 in Cluain Mhuire in Galway; from 1969 to 1971 he was a student in Marianella in Dublin. From 1971 to 1973 he worked in Limerick as a teacher and from 1973 to 1975 he was a student once again in Marianella (Dublin). After ordination as a priest, he worked as a parish missioner from 1975 to 1983 out of the Esker Community in Athenry in Co. Galway. From 1983 to 1996 he was based in our Limerick Community as a parish missioner. From 1990 to 1996, Fr. Flannery was Rector of our Mount St. Alphonsus Community in Limerick. After a period of sabbatical time between 1996 and 1997, Fr. Flannery returned to Esker and has remained there as a parish missioner since then.