By Una Angew, SSL
St. Louis Sisters
Dublin, Ireland

The training session organised for our CWR regional group was held in the Mercy Sisters’ Eblana Centre, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin on Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20.

The training group consisted of eight members. Our facilitator and presenter for this event was Bernadette Kehoe, the communication and development leader for the Conference of Religious in England and Wales (COREW). Her vast experience along with her thorough preparation for this workshop were impressive and enormously helpful.

As preparation, Bernadette recorded video interviews with several significant Irish communicators: Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer, Catholic Communications Office; Roger Childs, Religious Programmes Editor, RTE; Joe Humphries, Religious Affairs Correspondent, The Irish Times; and free-lance religious journalist Sara Mc Donald.

We listened carefully as Bernadette probed her interviewees with questions regarding how women religious are viewed in Ireland. The consensus was one of relative invisibility resulting from over-cautiousness and a reluctance to give public witness to questions relating to religious life in Ireland today.  We agreed that recent Church scandals, the median age of women religious in Ireland, and reluctance to engage with social media, means, unfortunately, that our voice as religious women is missing from important national conversations. This is an absence that needs to be redressed.

A series of positive alternatives on a variety of up-to-date websites was presented, showing how religious women around the world can share values with others in a variety of creative ways. Bernadette also conducted practice sessions on engaging in radio interviews and learning to sit in the interviewee’s chair.  This was an excellent training session.