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Wednesday, 14 June 2017 21:27

Building bridges across the divide

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Sr Ruth Durick osu 150At this time in our history we are called to affirm our mission for reconciliation, of the need to build bridges across rivers, moments and places, writes CRA President Sister Ruth Durick osu.

“I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” EG #49

This challenge from Pope Francis saw a marvellous embodiment of response during May, when the Catholic Mission Conference ‘Mission: One Heart Many Voices’ was held in Sydney. The focus was on reconciliation and the conference aimed to ‘model moments of mission for all to inspire moments of mission by all’. By all counts it was a wonderful gathering, full of people enthusiastic for the Gospel, challenged by deep questions surrounding mission and encouraged by the presence of each other in such an affirming space.

handshake bridgingThere were powerful witnesses to the process of reconciliation. Evelyn Parkin, an indigenous woman from Stradbroke Island, spoke of the need to enculturate deeply the summit and source of our faith in order for the spirit to sweep over our land; that we are not fully church until each is able to make their contribution and it is received. She spoke of the long-suffering pain of not feeling welcome. Ginn Fourie, a white South African woman whose daughter was killed by black activists before the end of apartheid witnessed to the long and difficult process of reconciliation as she spoke of meeting the one who ordered her daughter’s killing and of how through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa she came to befriend and then work with him. The conversation was about forgiving the unforgiveable.

These witness statements were then followed by a keynote address by Frank Brennan who spoke of the important process of Justice, behind which lies the Truth, which may then help begin the journey to Mercy, to Forgiveness and finally to Reconciliation. He used the image of the river. What side of the river am I on as I witness injustice? At this time in our history we are called to affirm our mission for reconciliation, of the need to build bridges across rivers, moments and places. Each of our congregations has a distinct and wonderful charism which is “not an inheritance, safely secured and entrusted to a small group for safekeeping; rather a gift of the Spirit integrated into the body of the Church, drawn to the centre which is Christ and then channelled into an evangelising impulse” EG#130 It is our challenge to embody this today.

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Read a related article on the Mission: one heart, many voices conference held on 15-17 May 2017 in Sydney.