The Church has just celebrated the feast of Pentecost, a day when we recall the empowering presence of the Spirit moving in and among us in so many different ways. As Religious women and men we are constantly urged by the Spirit to engage in the work of Gospel mission, to experience the Spirit pulsating through all of creation.
As we gather for our CRA National Assembly in the coming week we are ever mindful of the Spirit being with us and guiding us in exploring together our mission to be a prophetic voice in the world and church today. It provides Leaders within Religious Institutes the opportunity for nourishment and enrichment as we engage in the theme: Communio: Stewarding a life that belongs to the Church and the World. Our presenters Sr Mary Pellegrino csj and Fr Richard Lennan will lead us in a reflection on this theme as we share our dreams and hopes for our future as Religious women and men here in Australia.
The Assembly provides us with the opportunity to walk together as women and men of healing and hope in a world and church seeking compassion and connection. This annual event is important for those entrusted with responsibility of leadership within their Institutes.
After the Assembly, Sr Mary Pellegrino will be visiting a number of centres sharing her insights and reflections with Religious women and men around the country. I encourage you to participate in one of these events if possible, so that you too may be enriched through her sharing and experience.
Pentecost Sunday also marks for the Australian church the completion of the first stage of the Plenary Council journey. Through a process of discernment in a group gathered together, themes for deeper reflection have emerged. The six National Themes for discernment invite people to reflect, to pray and to consider how God is calling the People of God to be a Christ-centred Church in Australia that is:
· Missionary and Evangelising
· Inclusive, Participatory and Synodal
· Prayerful and Eucharistic
· Humble, Healing and Merciful
· A Joyful, Hope-Filled and Servant Community
· Open to conversion, renewal and reform
More information on the National Themes for Discernment can be found on the relaunched Plenary Council Website: www.plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au I am mindful of the many ways in which Religious have contributed to this journey both as participants and encouragers of others. As the next stage begins we continue our prayerful support and our gift of sharing wisdom around the major themes. We express our appreciation to the facilitating team and the Plenary Council commission for moving forward with this work of the Spirit.
Joan Chittister in her book ‘In Search of Belief’ writes that the ‘Spirit of God is a wild thing, breathing where it will, moving as it pleases, settling on women and men alike … The Spirit of God leads us to new heights of understanding, to new types of witness, to new dimensions of life needed in the here and now’. May this time of Assembly be such a moment for Religious Life in Australia.
Monica Cavanagh RSJ