Cura Annual Conference 2012 “Engaging with Potential” – Address by Bishop Gerard Clifford, President of Cura
“There are more people than ever involved in parish and diocesan programmes (the work of the Church) than ever. That involvement will be at the heart of any renewal in the Church into the future” – Bishop Clifford
First of all I want to extend a ‘cead mile failte’ to all the members of Cura. The Annual Conference is a key event in the Cura calendar. It is a time to meet, a time to renew friendships and acquaintances. It is a time to review and reflect on the work of the past year and an opportunity to plan for the future.
This year our focus is ongoing work taking place as part of the Strategic Planning Process and on the rebranding of Cura as part of this process. Last night we had a fine presentation on the opportunities that this presents to us as an organization to ensure we continue to be relevant and effective in the delivery of crisis pregnancy support services. The objective is clearly to ensure that the work of Cura is clearly communicated and that we use varied means of communication to get in touch with the various target groups of people who use our services. Some of us are already well versed in all of this, for others it will be an on-going discovery. This presents a daily challenge to ensure that the services of CURA are available in the marketplace. Through a better use of communications we will ensure that our message reaches clients efficiently and effectively.
Today gives an opportunity to thank all of you, the two hundred plus counsellors of Cura for your commitment and dedication. You give your time voluntarily, generously and with enormous commitment. I think of the thousands of women who, over the 35 year of Cura, have reached out generously to women and men when they were faced with crisis in their lives.
The spirit of voluntarism that has inspired the work of Cura over the years is strong and effective as ever. But we live in changing times. 35 years ago it seemed people had more time for themselves and more time for others. There seemed to be fewer pressures, less stress, less hassle and more time. The pace of life was more tolerable, less demanding than the frenetic style of life that is characteristic of today’s world.
Recent years maybe we have learned something from the needless hustle and bustle that characterised life during the raging years of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. One of the consequences of the pressurised world of those years was characterised by the way in which people began to retreat from the public eye. The “gated houses”. The gated estates symbolised a feeling of insecurity. They were also symbols of a new way of life where privacy was highly regarded and effectively secured, so much so that neighbours became strangers to each other. Much of this happened in an atmosphere where this new sense of insecurity seemed to stifle neighbourliness.
Happily Cura can never be accused of retreating into the background. For over 35 years the Cura family has continued its outreach unabated. Cura, like many other organisations and groupings, continues its outreach with generosity and commitment.
I believe that Cura volunteers are fired-up with a real sense of reaching out to others. Thank God the spirit of voluntarism is alive and well. I believe that same spirit will be at the heart of the renewal and commitment in the Church in Ireland in the years that lie ahead. When people feel that they are being appreciated and are given a role in the renewal of the Church they respond generously. They see that they have a part to play in that renewal.
In Ireland today there are thousands of men and women giving generously of their time and talent to voluntary activities for example on Boards of Management of schools at primary and post-primary level, outreach to vulnerable groups in society such as the excellent Saint Vincent de Paul and Meals on Wheels services countrywide. One of the real contributions in recent times is the number of people involved in child safeguarding throughout the length and breath of Ireland in various groups and organisations.. One must also acknowledge the involvement of lay people in parish, diocesan and national programmes of spiritual renewal through pastoral councils and pastoral outreach. The list could go on and on.
The point is clear. There are more people than ever involved in parish and diocesan programmes (the work of the Church) than ever. That involvement will be at the heart of any renewal in the Church into the future. I believe that same involvement will be the strength of the Church in the years ahead.
Today I thank all of you for the work you do on a weekly basis in your local centres as counsellors, as part of Schools Awareness teams and as part of the management structures at local, regional and national level. I thank the members of the National Office team for their ongoing support to the work of Cura. I thank you for the focus, the energy and the enthusiasm you bring to this work.
There is a saying in Irish – “Ar scath a cheile a mhaireann na daoine”
– we live in the shadow of one another. In other words we depend on others and others depend on us. That is the real spirit of CURA.
I trust that all will leave here today renewed in commitment, positive for the future challenged in our outreach and grateful for the friendship and support of one another.
May God reward you generously for your work.
Notes to Editors:
– Bishop Clifford addressed the conference on Saturday 11 March 2012
– The 35th annual Cura conference took place over 9 and 10 March 2012 in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone, Co Westmeath in the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
– Cura was established 35 years ago by the Irish Bishops’ Conference.
Cura is funded primarily by the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme (CPP) and operates under th e mandate of the CPP. Cura is informed by the values of the Catholic Church and does not provide contact details for abortion services.
– Cura is a voluntary organisation that provides a wide range of free support services to those who find themselves facing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy. These services include free pregnancy testing; free counselling and support including an opportunity to work out your feelings about your pregnancy; the opportunity to discuss options you wish to explore in relation to your pregnancy; support in telling your partner, family and friends if needed; counselling and support after an abortion; support to the parents of a new baby; practical information on rights and entitlements and a successful schools awareness programme. These services extend beyond the person experiencing the pregnancy and are available to men and other family members. Cura has a nationwide presence and reach, operating 14 dedicated centres around Ireland and a number of outreach centres. There are over 200 trained crisis pregnancy counsellors and 30 post-abortion counsellors working on a voluntary basis for Cura who provide professional, non-judgemental support to help clients make informed decisions without influence or direction.
For more information on Cura call Lo-Call 1850 622626, see support services on see www.cura.ie. For media information, please contact Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth, Martin Long 00 353 86 1727678