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News & Views

CRA and members of Religious congregations across Australia reflect on current issues in our world and our Church.

0918Multicultural Australia 150Catholic Religious Australia is concerned about increasing incidences of racism in our nation. On August 14 this phenomenon was brought to a new level by means of an important Parliamentary process - a senator's maiden speech.

“Hard-won national values, such as esteem for fairness and tolerance, received a blow through that speech", said Sr Monica Cavanagh, president of CRA. "The Australian project of working towards being the most successful multicultural society on earth has received a set-back. More fundamental still, the Christian principles upon which Australian law and customs are built have been completely ignored", she continued. "Oddly enough, such an attack on Christian principles was made alongside an expressed desire for the Australian population to reflect Christianity."

0818slavery 150Religious and other Catholic groups are concerned the Modern Slavery Bill 2018, currently before federal Parliament, could become a “toothless tiger” if their recommendations to the inquiry are not adopted.

Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), which recently lost its government funding, and other Church groups have made submissions strongly supporting the legislation, but have urged politicians to make changes to protect the vulnerable.

0818 Mass for Consecrated Life 2018 150Men and women representing about 70 religious orders and apostolic societies in the Archdiocese of Sydney gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral recently to celebrate the annual Mass for Consecrated Life, The Catholic Weekly reports.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP welcomed the nearly 200 members of consecrated life who have offered thousands of years of service to the Church with thanks for their “wonderful variety of charisms”.

CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150At this time of the year the church community gives a particular focus to those who are called to serve the mission of God as religious women and men. It is often referred to as ‘Vocation Awareness Week’. We who live the experience of Religious Life today know that all vocational calls stem from Baptism - no one is greater than the other and all are needed to serve the mission of God today. As Pope Francis writes: ‘In the virtue of Baptism, all are called to become missionary disciples’.

Religious women and men are called in a particular way to be the prophetic and charismatic voice within the church and world. The public profession of religious vows is a concrete expression of our commitment to this way of life. 

0718LaudatoSi 150At a Vatican conference this month to mark the 3rd anniversary of the release of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si - On Care for our Common Home, the pontiff urged all governments to strive to honour the commitments of the Paris climate treaty as a matter of urgency, saying "we cannot afford to waste time" in addressing the ecological crisis.

Francis said dialogue and commitment to our common home must make special room for two groups of people at the forefront of efforts to foster an integral ecology - young people and Indigenous peoples.

CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150Our CRA Conference was a wonderful occasion for all who were able to participate. The keynote speakers Sr Gail Worcelo sgm and Fr Michael Whelan sm shared valuable insights on the theme 'Religious In Australia: Evolving with Hope'.

Gail spoke of the evolution of Religious Life emerging at key moments of grace throughout history. Characteristics of this current new moment in the evolution of Religious Life include: the call to embrace diversity - in and among religious congregations and beyond; the call to interiority and the call to deepening communion. God walks with us calling us to expansiveness and gifting us with the grace needed at this moment.

0718PresentationSistersBBI 150A decision by the Presentation Sisters to ‘give their all’ for the sake of mission over the next 20 years, has led them to make a big investment in the future of theology in Australia by partnering with BBI-The Australian Institute of Theological Education to fund the employment of a female theologian with a deep interest in eco-theology.

Dr Di Rayson has joined the faculty of BBI-TAITE and, apart from teaching foundational theology, will also develop courses in her speciality of eco-theology and the thought of the 20th Century German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

0718ColumbansCentenary2 150A “deep and earthy spirituality” of inclusiveness and hospitality marks the Missionary Society of St Columban, said Bishop Terry Brady at a Mass to celebrate the centenary of the Columbans.

The Catholic Weekly reports that Bishop Brady was the chief celebrant at a thanksgiving Mass for the Society’s centenary at the Mary MacKillop Chapel, North Sydney.

New CRA leadership Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150The 42nd National Assembly of Catholic Religious Australia explored the theme of “Religious in Australia: Evolving with Hope” continuing the tradition of courageous and prophetic leadership which the women and men of religious congregations are known for.

A significant part of the gathering is the election of the new President and Council. Resounding applause assented to the election of Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph into the role of President.

Refugee Week logo 150As the leaders of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) gather at their National Assembly, they stand in strong solidarity with the many asylum seekers and refugees for whom this year’s World Refugee Week theme of ‘the need to belong’ is clearly under threat in the face of the most recent Government legislation.

Last year the government announced an end to Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) for several thousand asylum seekers on bridging visas, to come into effect in 2018. This action removes financial support and accommodation for some of the most vulnerable people in Australia – people who are already experiencing immense suffering.

1712RuthDurick 150This edition of Pathways will be my last as President of CRA. Next week at the National Assembly we will elect a new President and Council. The theme of the Assembly “Religious in Australia: Evolving with Hope” is reflective of our call to life at present.

We are here, in Australia, which while being an island is no isolated region. Many of our members are part of international institutes which brings with it a richness and resource for building a global community. We are very much part of the Asia Pacific region with all the richness and challenge that this offers. We also have a distinctive character which is Australian.

Amended flyer 150The Catholic Religious Australia National Assembly kicks off next week with the theme ‘Religious in Australia – Evolving in Hope’.

The Assembly of religious leaders will be held from June 19-21 in Brisbane and will pick up from the 2016 Assembly during which leaders resolved to embark on a journey of restructure of the state and national bodies of religious leaders.

0618SrPatriciaPowell 150Religious were among those to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in a year in which women recipients outnumbered men for the first time.

Among those to receive honours were Sr Patricia Powell rsm, who was recognised with an OAM for service to the Catholic Church in Australia and the Diocese of Bathurst, Sr Joan Evans PVMB AO for distinguished service to the international community of Thailand through humanitarian assistance programs for the disadvantaged, and Sr Mary D’Apice RSCJ AM for significant service to the Catholic Church in Australia, and to education. 

0618StraddiePassionistsNorth Stradbroke Island Catholic community elder Aunty Rose Borey had every reason to be brimming with pride when she turned up for Mass recently, The Catholic Leader reports.

Not only was her beloved St Paul of the Cross Church at Dunwich packed for the 175th anniversary of the first Catholic mission to Aboriginal people in Australia, but four of her great-grandchildren were being baptised. She was pleased, too, that the Passionist Fathers, the order that provided the priests for that first mission which began in 1843, were represented at the Mass.

0618AnthonyGittins 150The only way to love and serve people is to encounter them in the margins, according to distinguished American author and speaker, Rev Prof. Anthony Gittins CSSp, who visited Australia recently.

"The only authentic way to serve the poor is to actually cross the boundaries of separation – the margins – and to encounter them in a personal way so that you can say 'I don't love the poor, I love this person. I don't love the homeless or the people in prison, I love this prisoner or this person who is homeless'."

Royal Commission Final Report 150The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have today confirmed that the Church will enter the national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse when that becomes possible under national legislation.

“Since as early as 2013, the Catholic Church has called for a national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse,” ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

0518CarmelitesWF 150A new Carmel will make its home in the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese at the invitation of Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE.

Five nuns will come from communities of Discalced Carmelites in Nebraska and Pennsylvania to form a Monastery of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the western New South Wales diocese. Two of them are Australian – Sr Francis from Canberra, who joined the Nebraska convent around 15 years ago and Sr Mariam originally from the Blue Mountains, who joined one of the Pennsylvania convents in 2011.

0517Slavery 150The Federal Government has announced it will harness the power of big business to help combat modern slavery, through the establishment of a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement, in a move that has been welcomed by Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) who have worked tirelessly to combat slavery and human trafficking.

The reporting requirement, which will be enacted through a new Australian Modern Slavery Act, will require more than 3,000 large corporations and other entities to publish annual public statements on their actions to address modern slavery in their supply chains and operations.

0517MercyHandover 150A journey that began with the arrival of Queensland’s first Sisters of Mercy in 1861 took another historic turn recently.

During a special ritual, the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy transferred canonical responsibility for Mercy Community Ltd to Mercy Partners, The Catholic Leader reports.

Sr Pat Fox2 150Australian Sister Patricia Ann Fox of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion has been in the headlines since her arrest in the Philippines on April 16 for allegedly engaging in illegal activities. She was released the following day after a 22-hour detention, but has since had her missionary visa revoked and was given 30 days to leave the country.

Catholic Religious Australia is among a growing chorus of religious and broader community leaders who have spoken out in defence of Sr Pat and her work with the poor and marginalised in the Philippines.

1712RuthDurick 150On Saturday 5th May a number of leaders of Religious Congregations joined with members of the Australian Bishops Conference to thank the members of the Truth Justice and Healing Council whose work covered the 5 years of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and which was completed at the end of April.

It was my honour on behalf of Catholic Religious Australia and its members to acknowledge the achievements of the Truth Justice and Healing Council and to thank its members and staff for the superb work they have done over the past 5 years. Catholic Religious Australia has had the opportunity elsewhere to say a particular ‘thank you’ to Francis Sullivan. The acknowledgement of the TJHC , given on Saturday 5th May, appears here:

Royal Commission Final Report 150The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have established a new advisory group that will play a crucial role in influencing and monitoring the Catholic Church’s ongoing response to the child sexual abuse scandal.

Archbishop Denis Hart, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, explained that the new Implementation Advisory Group will monitor the response to the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse and the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, which led the Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission.

Sr Pat Fox2 150In 2013, Pope Francis wrote that being a Missionary was at the very heart of being a Catholic, a parish or a Catholic Institution. For the past 27 years, Sr Patricia Fox, the Superior of the Our Lady of Sion Order has been living these ideals as a Missionary to the poor and marginalised in the Philippines.

We applaud the missionary work of Sr Patricia over these many years, bringing the face of Christ to our Philippine sisters and brothers. Standing in solidarity with the poorest of the poor, Sr Patricia has contributed to many agricultural projects in order to empower ordinary people to take charge of their lives and work towards the alleviation of poverty.

Sr Pat Fox 150The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion issued a statement this week indignantly condemning the Bureau of Immigration’s arrest and detention of Sister Patricia Fox, NDS, without due process and respect for her fundamental rights.

Sister Pat, who has now been released from detention, has since 1990 been a tireless worker amongst the poor and marginalised people of the Philippines.

0418RejoiceandbeGlad 150Holiness is present in the patience of God’s people, in parents who raise their children with immense love, in people who work hard to support their families, in the sick, and in elderly religious who never lose their smile, says Pope Francis in his latest Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exultate.

In the document, ‘Rejoice and be Glad’, Pope Francis says the path to holiness consists in daily acts of charity, joy and a sense of humour and people should choose their own path to holiness according to their state in life.

0418OverseasAid 150The Edmund Rice Centre has called on the federal government to boost its overseas aid budget rather than proceed with a reported $400 million cut.

The Centre, which carries forward the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers, says any decision by the Turnbull Government to cut Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) would come at the worst possible time, as last year, the United Nations warned the world was facing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.

1712RuthDurick 150In this Easter Season we hear the wonderful accounts from the Acts of the Apostles of the early Christian churches. They were struggling communities, trying to find their way in a society which had strung up their leader and made a public example of him. It is significant that the Church gives us the opportunity during the Easter season each year to hear again the account of the early church and its formation.

If Easter is about anything it is about hope – to be found in darkness and death as much as in life and light.

0418EileenOConnor 150The members of Our Lady’s Nurses of the Poor say they are “delighted” by the news that the official process for the beatification of their founder, Eileen O’Connor, has begun.

Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP announced he has begun the process which could lead to the proclamation of Australia’s next saint.

Carmelites 150For a religious order well known for its charism of prayer and contemplation, the Carmelites of Australia and Timor-Leste have made a big splash in social media, clocking up more than 100,000 Facebook followers in less than a year.

Communications Director Fr David Hofman O.Carm says the Carmelites have been surprised and delighted at the growth of their social media following and the opportunities for connecting with people that it presents.

Amended flyer 150The 42nd Catholic Religious Australia National Assembly will be held in Brisbane from June 19 to 21, with the theme 'Religious in Australia: Evolving with Hope'.

Keynote speakers will include Gail Worcelo cp and Michael Whelan sm and registration forms are available here to download.

 

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