Progressio Closing Mass

By: Fr Joe Ryan

Sadly, after 75 years, Progressio, formerly CIIR, the Catholic Institute for International Relations, has had to close down due to a lack of funding. On 6 July, I was glad to be able to join Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Canon Tom Atthill and the congregation at St George's Cathedral, Southwark, for the closing Mass. This was followed by a reception at the CAFOD offices next door in Romero House.

Many gave moving tributes to several wonderful people who over 75 years set up international self-help projects making such a difference to developing countries. Then there was the volunteer programme and the documentation service, especially the ‘Comment’ series. Engaging with governments looking at unjust structures on the basis of Catholic Social Teaching was an integral part of the work. A name that came up over and over again during the evening was the inspirational Mildred Neville, a moving force behind CIIR from 1967 to 1985 as general secretary.

Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD; Martin McEnery, Chair of Trustees; Cardinal Cormac, welcomed everyone. Daniel Hale of CAFOD acted as MC. Those who shared their memories were: Enda Byrne, Jon Barnes, Julian Filochowski, Ian Linden, Dinny Hawes, Christine Allen, Carmen Medina and James Collins.

One message emerging from all that was said was that the work of Progressio must continue in the lives and work of all present and beyond. It is hoped that while a chapter closes a new one must begin.

Fr Joe Ryan is chair of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission

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