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Tuesday, 20 September 2016 17:43

Making a place at the table for all

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Sr Ruth Durick osu 150Religious life in Australia is undergoing an ageing process at a greater rate than the general population. We can feel overwhelmed, even discouraged. Or we can also reflect on the gifts that we can bring to our society, writes CRA President Sister Ruth Durick osu.

The recent Social Justice Statement of the Australian Bishops Conference, A Place at the Table, focusses on social justice in an ageing society.

Often in a society such as ours, the value of an age cohort may be articulated in terms of its productivity within the economy and/or its cost to, or dependency on the economy. The measuring units are usually monetary values with no real appreciation of the non-monetary value which skills, experience and contemplation bring to our community. Many societies can teach us much about the gift of ageing. For centuries tribal elders have been valued andrespected within traditional societies for their experience, skill and wisdom.

Religious life in Australian society is undergoing an ageing process at a greater rate than the general population. We can feel overwhelmed by this and even discouraged in the face of diminishment. We can also reflect on the gifts that we can bring to our society and our world at this time in our history. With ageing comes a certain lessening of attachment to material things as their necessity fades. In religious life this can be even more so. This means that we have less to lose and be more courageous in our prophetic witness to the gospel.

There are so many inspiring stories of older people who, with wisdom, courage and often great energy, are moving further into the margins of society and bringing hope to others. We keep hearing accounts of women and men religious who go to the margins on a daily basis, helping refugees and asylum seekers, being companions to young parents raising their children on their own, providing stable influences for those who have few anchors in their lives, sitting with families who have experienced tragedy, advocating for those in society who have been silenced.

Thank you to all those who inspire hope and who continue to challenge us to create a place at the table for all.

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