The events of 2009-10 galvanised many Irish Catholics into a realisation that their church was in deep crisis, and that things would never be the same again. Our traditional lay tendency to wait for others to take the initiative had been shown to be deeply dangerous: Irish lay Catholics had now to adopt a different proactive role if their church was to recover and renew itself – and Irish bishops were by then also promising an era of greater lay involvement.
The crises of 2009 brought a significant number of new members to VOTFI, especially in the Dublin area. Opportunities were explored for mobilising support for survivors of abuse and for revitalising Catholic commitment to the renewed and vibrant church envisaged by Vatican II.
To reflect this new reality we in VOTFI reorganised ourselves. The role of coordinator exercised by Sean O’Conaill from 2004-2010 was at Easter 2010 devolved to a Membership Support Team, some of whose leading members were Dublin-based. Sean’s location in Coleraine in Northern Ireland had never been ideal, and became disadvantageous to the growth of VOTFI in Dublin and other urban centres in Ireland. Health concerns also advised that he should step down from the coordinating role at that time.
The thinking behind the formation of the Membership Support Team (MST) was that leadership should not be controlling and directive, but should instead encourage members to be proactive and creative in their own locales in fulfilling VOTF’s mission and goals. We felt sure that this was a time of opportunity as well as crisis, and that it was the individual members of VOTFI who would know best how to rise to those opportunities, in their own space.
Unfortunately, the MST experiment suffered also from the ill health and exhaustion of key members, so, by 2013, VOTFI had reverted to an unstructured network, communicating online, but unable to strike a high profile. The obduracy of the church’s leadership had worn us down and forced us to reassess our mission in light of that – and to rest also.
See ‘Ongoing’ on the main menu above for an update on our current preoccupations and activities.