By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 June, 2013
The new director general of the Conference of Religious of Ireland has said one of his priorities will be to promote and develop religious life in Ireland.
Capuchin Fr Peter Rodgers (68) replaces Ursuline Sr Marianne O’Connor as head of the umbrella body which represents 9,000 men and women religious in 136 congregations across the island of Ireland.
He told CiNews that having just taken up the position on Monday, he is “happy, for the present, to continue with the policies in place.” An overall review of these policies is planned for 2014.
Speaking about his own priorities, he told CiNews, “I believe passionately in the values of religious life and its place in the Church.”
“It offers us a way of life that is rich in Gospel and human values and I would like to continue in CORI the search for ways of developing and promoting it,” he explained.
The Capuchin said he believed religious life has a future in the Irish Church; but what that future will look like, he said was unclear, but it would “certainly be different.”
Fr Rodgers underlined that CORI “has an important role to play in constructing this future” for religious life.
Speaking about the need to boost morale among Religious where morale needs boosting, he said, “We have been through a wintertime and it is easy to become discouraged with no vocations.”
Nevertheless, he said that Religious continue to respond generously to the needs of our rapidly changing society in Ireland today.
Another priority during his three-year tenure will be to support those many ageing religious who are still very actively involved in social issues.
“The needs of CORI as an organisation, as well as the needs of its members, have seen enormous change over the past number of years and I would like, with the leadership group, to continue to meet these new needs and the challenges they bring,” Fr Rodgers told CiNews.
The Dubliner was educated by the Christian Brothers at Colaiste Mhuire in the capital and at University College Cork and the University of Strasbourg.
He has worked in a variety of ministries including education, mission and pastoral work. He was appointed provincial minister of the Irish province of Capuchins in 2001, a role he held until 2006.
He then served on the order’s general council in Rome where he had responsibility for Western Europe and the Middle East. He returned to Ireland in October 2012.