Bishop Buckley's Letter.
September 2004


It is now almost 40 years since the late Bishop Cornelius Lucey wrote a letter to the people of the Diocese informing them of his decision to establish a Diocesan Mission to South America. Little could he have known, or indeed imagine, the impact that decision would have. Since 1965, over 55 priests, almost 70 Bon Secours, Presentation and Mercy Sisters have served voluntarily in the desert area of Trujillo, Peru and more recently in Manta, Ecuador. The priests and sisters worked with a population of the poorest of the poor which at times was over 300,000 people.

Primarily, the work of the priests and sisters in South America was to make Christ better known and loved. From this came a commitment to the material welfare of the people. Churches were built, parish centres established, the Good News of the gospel was preached and the local people were prepared to become actively involved in organising the life of their local Church. Parish schools offered hope for a better future, medical centres cared for the sick and forgotten, food programmes fed the hungry. the first local schools for children with special needs were developed and small community projects to create employment were supported in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty.

It is unusual for a diocesan missionary project to last as long as that of Cork and Ross. It survived terrorism, weather phenomena and political turmoil. How does one explain the success of the Cork and Ross Mission? Beside the grace of God, there are two possible explanations: continuous flow of volunteer priests and sisters and the unfailing support by the people of Cork. For this support and goodwill I sincerely thank you. The Lord will reward you for your generousity over the years.

Due to the growing shortage of priests here at home, the last remaining priests were recalled in March and responsibility for the parishes was handed over to the local Church. There is an obvious sadness in ending this link which has been part of the life of the diocese for 39 years. Yet, there is justifiable pride in what has been accomplished. The lives of entire communities there have been transformed and enriched by our joint efforts.

We are happy that the Mercy Sisters and Bon Secours Sisters who worked with the Mission from the beginning will continue to work in the parishes in Peru. Both Congregations are now receiving many local girls into their Communities. This is not the end of our commitment to Peru and Ecuador. We will continue to support the sisters and local churches in accordance with their specific needs for as long as this is necessary.

Now is an opportune time to celebrate what has been achieved. It is an occasion to give thanks to The Lord for all the blessings during the past 39 years and we look forward in hope as we face the challenge of finding new ways of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to people at home and abroad.

I am inviting you to a spacial Mass of Celebration and Thanksgiving which will take place in the Cathedral on Thursday, the 23rd. of September, at 7.30 pm