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Monday, 15 June 2015 13:52

An openness to encounter, dialogue and mutual assistance

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Sr Berneice Loch rsm150 2015We don’t always find it easy to put aside our very human instinct to exhibit or even defend our own patch in order to listen to the unique contribution of other groups. Yet this is what we are called to do if our lamps are to shine brightly for the good of all God’s people, writes CRA President Sister Berneice Loch rsm.

The Year of Consecrated Life is half over and Pope Frances has announced the special Jubilee year of Mercy to follow. Both themes will inspire Religious into the months ahead.

In the most recent newsletter of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea, the reflection was written by Sr Theresia Tina rsm following her attendance at the meeting of Leaders in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, held in Port Moresby in March. Theresia was reflecting on two of the themes of the conference, one of which was about the Pope’s call to Congregations to work together, exhibiting a “Communion of Charisms”. She quoted “No one contributes to the future in isolation, seeing herself or himself or part of a true communion which is constantly open to encounter, dialogue, attentive listening and mutual assistance. “ (Francis, Apostolic Letter on the Occasion of the Year of Apostolic Life)

This seems to me to be integral to what Catholic Religious Australia and similar conference throughout the world are all about. Each of our charisms is a unique gift to our individual institutes and to the whole Church as well. Each of us brings into relief just one of the many faces that God turns towards the People of God, and we can each aim to show just a glimpse of the inexhaustible richness of God.

We don’t always find it easy to put aside our very human instinct to exhibit or even defend our own patch, our own institute’s special slant on God’s message, in order to listen to the unique contribution of other groups. Yet this is what we are called to do if our lamps are to shine brightly for the good of all God’s people. God is a God of diversity and we recently celebrated the Feast of the Trinity to remind us of this.

The CRA Assembly, now only a week away, is a particular occasion which draws us all to a deep appreciation of the diversity and beauty of the many different charisms which are represented there. It is always a delight at these assemblies to see those with a common heritage coming together and renewing their contact with each other, and at the same time leaders forming and reinforcing strong bonds across different traditions.

We are called to lead in troubled times, in times in which leaders need each other and the Church needs the richness of diversity that the congregations represent. The Church needs all its leaders to put aside difference and come together for the sake of those we have been called to serve. If the Religious cannot do this there is little hope it will happen more widely.

If you have not already registered I hope this passage will remind you to do so without delay. These are times in which we need each other and the Church needs us to be part of its witness. I hope to see you there.

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