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Wednesday, 11 February 2015 01:31

Trusting the God of surprises

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Sr Rosemary Grundy pbvm150

Presentation Sister Rosemary Grundy sees her life as one that is constantly upended, ready to discover the face of God in new circumstances and ready to be called out of her comfort zone. The latest surprise arrives in the form of her new role as CRA Executive Director. “When I was requested to apply for the position of CRA Executive Director, my plans for the rest of my life were unexpectedly upturned,” said Sr Rosemary. “This significant change of direction was not new to me, but still challenging, and now I find myself living in Sydney.”

Sr Rosemary, a member of the Queensland Presentation Sisters, began her career teaching at the Presentation Congregation’s colleges of St Rita’s Clayfield and St Ursula’s Yeppoon. But it was at St Thomas More College Sunnybank working as Religious Education Coordinator where she experienced her life being upturned, called to respond radically to the needs of those living on the edge.

At St Thomas, she encountered students from Brisbane’s “fringe” suburbs where poor families struggled with low-paid jobs, high unemployment, domestic violence and single parenthood. This engagement compelled her to live amongst them in community and paved the way for her involvement in social justice.

Sr Rosemary and Becci opt“At the time, a new thing was happening at Queensland University, where Community Development was taught as a core component of Social Work courses,” said Sr Rosemary. “To my surprise, this led me to read and pray through the rich documentation of Catholic Social teaching and led me along a pathway of Social Justice activity.”

Her engagement with groups working for housing justice, women’s rights, poverty elimination and peace brought her to the attention of a minister in the Queensland Government. She was then seconded as Community Liaison Officer in a new mega Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning. Her local involvement led to more justice networks, such as the Forum of Australian Religious for Justice. Her perspective and work broadened to the Asia Pacific region in her participation at a Forum Conference in Thailand and expanded to global advocacy as a participant in the UN Fourth World Conference on Women (1995) in Bejing. When the global Presentation Sisters were granted NGO status with the UN, she found herself at the International Presentation Association office in New York in 2006-2007 and in 2012, she attended the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

She brings a keen awareness of justice to all her roles in various ministries – twice as a member of the Queensland Presentation Congregation’s Leadership Team, as Manager of the Home and Community Care for frail aged residents of Tamborine Mountain – home to some of south-east Queensland’s exquisite rainforests, and as a representative of the Congregation on the Boards of Directors of two colleges.

Sr Rosemary looks forward to this new change of working at Catholic Religious Australia and getting to know Sydney. She is grateful for the hard work of Sr Leone Wittmack rsc before her and happy to share the journey with Ms Becci Swan, who is also new in her role as CRA's Administrative Assistant, Giselle Lapitan and Dinal Jayamanne.

However, there is one thing that won’t be a surprise. Sr Rosemary will certainly bring her sense of empathy and justice, gift of relationship and her openness to grace in religious leadership at CRA as she has done in the past. One need only read her favourite passage below, with these words resonating in her own pilgrim journey.

I believe in the power of grace,
of imagination….
To remake the world,
To release the truth within us,
To hold back the night,
To transcend death,
To charm exhausting speed,
To ingratiate ourselves with the birds,
To enlist the confidence of poets –
And prophets.
We stand on the edge of our world….
Waiting to reveal itself.

Photo shows Sr Rosemary with Becci (right) at the CRA Office.