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Monday, 13 April 2015 10:54

An opportunity to be inspired and to share

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Fr Noel Connolly ssc150The upcoming Mission Conference aims to give those out “on the streets” and perhaps “bruised, hurting and dirty” a scriptural and theological vision that will unite, encourage, sustain and enable them in their various vocations, writes Columban Father Noel Connolly

On 18-20th May, Catholic Religious Australia along with Catholic Mission will host our second National Mission Conference, Mission: one heart many voices 2015 at the SMC Conference Centre in downtown Sydney.

The first conference in 2013 was a nourishing experience. Around four hundred people involved in a range of missions including aboriginal ministry, migrants and refugees, justice and ecology, the scriptures, leadership, youth, women in the Church, parish, prayer and so forth came to the Conference. It was remarkable to see such a diverse group of people share so easily. There was great enthusiasm and hope about the gathering. I felt we were Church, but a humbler, more human and inclusive Church. In a way we prefigured Pope Francis’ style of church. We had our share of Bishops, religious, priests and lay people, people young and old. There was an energy and equality that only mission can bring. We are collaborating in something much larger than ourselves, God’s life and mission in the world. Finally it was a great opportunity to meet friends, some of whom we had shared mission with over decades.

MOHMV2015 logo150The present conference promises to have the same spirit. Steve Bevans SVD is returning and other keynote speakers include Maryanne Loughry rsm (asylum seekers), Denis Edwards & Jacqui Rémond (ecology – we are mindful that Pope Francis is about to publish his encyclical) and Pat Dodson (indigenous ministry). Archbishop Fisher will speak on Evangelii Gaudium at a Conference Breakfast on the Tuesday morning.

A major aim of the conference is to give those out “on the streets” and perhaps “bruised, hurting and dirty” a scriptural and theological vision that will unite, encourage, sustain and enable them in their various vocations. It is also an opportunity to gather “many voices”. There will be around thirty workshops concentrating on the various aspects of mission plus four Panels on Living and Leading Mission in: Parishes; Health & Aged Care; Education; and in Social Services.

To ensure that it will not be just a “talk fest”, this year we have introduced two new sessions Mission in the World: Song and Story which will feature among other things mission through music, aboriginal storytelling and the L’Arche community and Voices from the Heart where we can listen to the actual voices of people from the various marginalised and oppressed groups.

It should be not only an opportunity for personal renewal but for congregations and organisations to provide professional development for their staff. They should return enthused if our last conference is any indication.

Finally, could I also ask everyone to spread the news of the conference around their networks and membership?

We have many voices which can only encourage us all in our one mission, to bring about the Reign of God.

More information about the conference can be found on the conference website hosted by Catholic Mission.

pdf  Download the flyer for the 2015 Mission: one heart, many voices Conference (628.72 kB)

Fr Noel Connolly ssc is Chair of CRA's Australian Mission Network.