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Thursday, 23 April 2015 10:05

Religious called to ‘Wake up the world’

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religious parramatta croppedReligious in the Diocese of Parramatta recently came together in fellowship and joy, and were reminded that amidst all the changes to religious life, the call remains the same - go to the poor and live community in authenticity, writes Mercy Sister Ailsa Mackinnon.

In this Year of Consecrated Life Pope Francis has encouraged those in consecrated life to ‘Wake up the world’.

Certainly the religious of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta were woken by the words of Fr Aloysious Mowe sj.

The Director of Jesuit Refugee Services spoke, not about his usual topic - the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia, but about the challenges and joys of living religious life in Australia in the 21st Century.

The occasion was a gathering at the St John Paul II Centre at Marayong on 15 April when 75 men and women religious came together to pray, to share a meal and to enjoy each other's company.

Fr Aloysious gave an inspiring keynote address.

He commenced his talk by referring to the difficulty of forecasting how religious life will be lived as the 21st Century enfolds.

He spoke of the fact that change is part and parcel of modern life. In thinking about the long history of consecrated life one would never have expected that just 100 years ago, modernism was having its influence and religious were adapting their lives as a result.

Again, just 50 years ago the Second Vatican Council was finishing and its conclusions brought tremendous change to the way consecrated life is lived now. And the change will continue.

Yet, amidst all the change the call to religious remains the same - go to the poor.

Fr Aloysious said that the time in his life that was the happiest and at the same time the most challenging was when he was ministering with those who are the poorest.

The challenge, then, for the religious of the Diocese is to understand that concern for the poor should always be foremost. Knowing this, their ministries will reflect this concern.

The second concern is that religious are called to live community in an authentic way.

Fr Aloysious recalled that religious have Jesus as a model in the living of community. His approach to people was inclusive and non-judgmental.

For religious to reflect on Jesus’ life and actions is a lifelong commitment and will lead to authentic community.

Jesuit Refugee Services recently opened its doors to refugees and asylum seekers in Parramatta. The Arrupe Centre is at 4 Victoria Road.

This centre is extension of the work of Jesuit Refugee Services to those who are the poorest in Australian society.

Fr Aloysious concluded his talk with reminding the religious that the call to go to the poor has particular relevance in attending to the needs of the original inhabitants of Australia and to its most recent arrivals.

(Photo shows Sr Ailsa with Fr Aloysious Mowe sj. Image from a photo by Alfred Boudib)

 

This article by Sr Ailsa Mackinnon with a slideshow of photos by Mr Alfred Boudib was first published in the April 2015 issue of Catholic Outlook, the official magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.