Catholic bodies Cori and IMU join forces to create new association

Amalgamation talks for about three years were speeded up in the last 12 months.

The Rev Dr Frank Sellar: installed as   moderator of the Presbyterian Church

The Rev Dr Frank Sellar: installed as moderator of the Presbyterian Church


Two of the largest entities in Irish Catholicism will join forces this week to become the Association of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland (Amri). It involves the amalgamation of the Irish Missionary Union (IMU) and the Conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori). It will be based at Cypress Grove, in Templeogue, Dublin.

Fr Hugh MacMahon of the IMU told The Irish Times that talks about amalgamation had been going on for about three years but had been speeded up in the last 12 months. Legally, civil and canonical issues may take up to six more months to resolve, he said, but Amri would be set up from next Friday and begin operations following a meeting today.

“A new general secretary will be appointed,” Fr MacMahon added, but a temporary appointment was expected to be made at today’s meeting. “Up to 80 per cent of IMU members are already in Cori,” he said, and that amalgamation made sense for other practical reasons such as “personnel, resources and finances”. It was “also an opportunity to set up a fresh organisation more adapted to the Irish situation and the changes in Ireland today”.

Cori was set up in 1983 as the Conference of Major Religious Superiors (CMRS) through the amalgamation of the two s conferences of men and women religious. It changed its name to the Conference of Religious of Ireland in the 1990s. It has been suggested this was in response to a comment in the Dáil made in March 1990 by then taoiseach Charles Haughey who, dismissing a CMRS report on poverty, said he was “always a bit doubtful about any organisation that has ‘major’ and ‘superior’ in its title”.

Today, Cori has a membership of 136 religious congregations which represent more than 9,000 men and women religious in Ireland and abroad.

The IMU was set up in 1970. Currently, it has 1,500 members. Both organisations have an ageing membership, with the average age in the early 70s.

On Monday evening, the Presbyterian Church’s annual general assembly took place in Belfast, at which its outgoing moderator, the Rev Dr Ian McNie, said the church should not “retreat into the trenches” in the face of challenges. It “needs to step out into our world, proclaiming this message of God’s amazing grace with a conviction that is credible”.

Dr McNie was speaking as the new moderator, the Rev Dr Frank Sellar, was installed. Dr Sellar said there were “many good reasons why we may legitimately fear and hold grudges against those who wish us harm, but the Gospel tells us that perfect love casts out fear and where Jesus is present, fear is driven away”.