ERI Webinars: Edmund the Advocate

One of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a proliferation of online meetings and webinars. ERI has had to cancel its regular Geneva training courses and as a result we have become more active online. Recently in co-operation with PRATYeK in India ERI organised a series of four webinars on the theme Edmund the AdvocateRemembering Edmund Rice, the advocate for human rights and social justice, in the context of the challenges facing our world today.

The following article was provided by Ms Grace David in India.

“Two webinars were held on the 27th of August and were scheduled for two different regions keeping in mind their time zones. The first webinar was for the region of Oceania. The Keynote Speaker of the day was Denis McLaughlin who in his detailed and brilliant historical sketch of the life of Edmund highlighted some astounding details of his life. What struck most of the participants was the role of women especially his wife, Mary Rice and his sister in gradually leading him to become a fearless advocate for the rights of the oppressed.

The four panelists for the day were – Judith Hurley, Biong Biong, Kylie Kuppe and Sean Cleary. All four of them outlined the wonderful initiatives in the fields of justice education, community outreach, immersion progammes and advocacy that are being led by the Edmund Rice network in their region on various levels, particularly in regard to the urgent global issue of care for creation, asylum seekers and first Australians.

Click here for a link to the Oceania webinar

The second webinar of the day focused on the justice and advocacy work being carried out in the regions of Europe and Africa. The Keynote Speaker of the day was Aiden Donaldson who in his outline of the life of Edmund presented an exposé on the stances of Edmund for those exposed to the brutalities of oppressive systems of the day. The five panelists of the day were – Jessica Dewhurst, Kevin Mascarenhas fpm, Cyprian Omoding, Tom Murray and Cormac McArt. This passionate group outlined their advocacy work and grassroots activism with vulnerable communities of African young people, with the homeless and refugees in Ireland and with student groups through training, immersion programmes and classroom modules in Belfast and other parts of Europe.

Click here for a link to the Europe/Africa webinar

The third webinar was held on the 28th of August and focused on the regions of North and South America. The Keynote Speaker of the day was Br. Raymond Vercruysse. He presented a vivid sketch of advocacy in Edmund’s life through an array of insightful quotes and historical details. The panelists for the webinar were Sean D’Alfonso, Mia Mirassou, Paola Miranda and Br. Stephen Casey. Their talks presented a panoramic view of the advocacy and human rights work being done in the Americas especially in campus ministry, designing advocacy programmes for students, direct advocacy as the Regional Advocacy Coordinator for Latin America, Prison Ministry and various other novel initiatives to reach out to the marginalized and underprivileged sections of their societies.

Click here for a link to the Americas webinar

The final webinar on the 29th of August was for the region of India. The Keynote Speaker of the day was Br. Vinod Gabriel Thomas who presented the historical life-sketch of Edmund that clearly outlined Edmund’s stance for the rights of the poor around him. The panelists for the day were Steve Rocha, Sunil Britto, Philip Pinto, Charles D’Souza and Neha Pradhan Arora. Their talks covered the wide range of advocacy and justice work carried on by the Christian Brothers in India through their school networks, the PRATYeK NGO, Journeying Together communities in Meghalaya and Zambia, and the various other centers of social action and community life. This webinar, which had more than 400 participants from around the world, set the tone for more imaginative and collaborative initiatives in the future. Moreover it highlighted the prerequisite of all our works for advocacy and justice – a deep spirituality of connection and compassionate awareness.

Click here for a link to the India webinar

In conclusion one can truly say that these webinars have paved the way for a new way of learning and sharing, not only for those working on the frontlines or on grassroots levels but also for the larger Edmund Rice network across the globe. It is an invitation for all to join in the mission of our Blessed Founder in the urgent work of promoting human rights and advocating for social justice.  These webinars helped to spread awareness about the legacy of our Founder and also the new consciousness and skill sets needed for our times which can play a crucial role in the coming days for all who envision working for transforming the unjust structures of our world.”

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