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News & Views

CRA and members of Religious congregations across Australia reflect on current issues in our world and our Church.

New CRA leadership Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150The 42nd National Assembly of Catholic Religious Australia began on Tuesday, exploring the theme of “Religious in Australia: Evolving with Hope” continuing the tradition of courageous and prophetic leadership which the women and men of religious congregations are known for.

A significant part of the gathering is the election of the new President and Council. Resounding applause assented to the election of Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph into the role of President.

Refugee Week logo 150As the leaders of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) gather this week at their National Assembly, they stand in strong solidarity with the many asylum seekers and refugees for whom this year’s World Refugee Week theme of ‘the need to belong’ is clearly under threat in the face of the most recent Government legislation.

Last year the government announced an end to Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) for several thousand asylum seekers on bridging visas, to come into effect in 2018. This action removes financial support and accommodation for some of the most vulnerable people in Australia – people who are already experiencing immense suffering.

1712RuthDurick 150This edition of Pathways will be my last as President of CRA. Next week at the National Assembly we will elect a new President and Council. The theme of the Assembly “Religious in Australia: Evolving with Hope” is reflective of our call to life at present.

We are here, in Australia, which while being an island is no isolated region. Many of our members are part of international institutes which brings with it a richness and resource for building a global community. We are very much part of the Asia Pacific region with all the richness and challenge that this offers. We also have a distinctive character which is Australian.

Amended flyer 150The Catholic Religious Australia National Assembly kicks off next week with the theme ‘Religious in Australia – Evolving in Hope’.

The Assembly of religious leaders will be held from June 19-21 in Brisbane and will pick up from the 2016 Assembly during which leaders resolved to embark on a journey of restructure of the state and national bodies of religious leaders.

0618SrPatriciaPowell 150Religious were among those to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in a year in which women recipients outnumbered men for the first time.

Among those to receive honours were Sr Patricia Powell rsm, who was recognised with an OAM for service to the Catholic Church in Australia and the Diocese of Bathurst, Sr Joan Evans PVMB AO for distinguished service to the international community of Thailand through humanitarian assistance programs for the disadvantaged, and Sr Mary D’Apice RSCJ AM for significant service to the Catholic Church in Australia, and to education. 

0618StraddiePassionistsNorth Stradbroke Island Catholic community elder Aunty Rose Borey had every reason to be brimming with pride when she turned up for Mass recently, The Catholic Leader reports.

Not only was her beloved St Paul of the Cross Church at Dunwich packed for the 175th anniversary of the first Catholic mission to Aboriginal people in Australia, but four of her great-grandchildren were being baptised. She was pleased, too, that the Passionist Fathers, the order that provided the priests for that first mission which began in 1843, were represented at the Mass.

0618AnthonyGittins 150The only way to love and serve people is to encounter them in the margins, according to distinguished American author and speaker, Rev Prof. Anthony Gittins CSSp, who visited Australia recently.

"The only authentic way to serve the poor is to actually cross the boundaries of separation – the margins – and to encounter them in a personal way so that you can say 'I don't love the poor, I love this person. I don't love the homeless or the people in prison, I love this prisoner or this person who is homeless'."

Royal Commission Final Report 150The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have today confirmed that the Church will enter the national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse when that becomes possible under national legislation.

“Since as early as 2013, the Catholic Church has called for a national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse,” ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

0518CarmelitesWF 150A new Carmel will make its home in the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese at the invitation of Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE.

Five nuns will come from communities of Discalced Carmelites in Nebraska and Pennsylvania to form a Monastery of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the western New South Wales diocese. Two of them are Australian – Sr Francis from Canberra, who joined the Nebraska convent around 15 years ago and Sr Mariam originally from the Blue Mountains, who joined one of the Pennsylvania convents in 2011.

0517Slavery 150The Federal Government has announced it will harness the power of big business to help combat modern slavery, through the establishment of a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement, in a move that has been welcomed by Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) who have worked tirelessly to combat slavery and human trafficking.

The reporting requirement, which will be enacted through a new Australian Modern Slavery Act, will require more than 3,000 large corporations and other entities to publish annual public statements on their actions to address modern slavery in their supply chains and operations.

0517MercyHandover 150A journey that began with the arrival of Queensland’s first Sisters of Mercy in 1861 took another historic turn recently.

During a special ritual, the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy transferred canonical responsibility for Mercy Community Ltd to Mercy Partners, The Catholic Leader reports.

Sr Pat Fox2 150Australian Sister Patricia Ann Fox of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion has been in the headlines since her arrest in the Philippines on April 16 for allegedly engaging in illegal activities. She was released the following day after a 22-hour detention, but has since had her missionary visa revoked and was given 30 days to leave the country.

Catholic Religious Australia is among a growing chorus of religious and broader community leaders who have spoken out in defence of Sr Pat and her work with the poor and marginalised in the Philippines.

1712RuthDurick 150On Saturday 5th May a number of leaders of Religious Congregations joined with members of the Australian Bishops Conference to thank the members of the Truth Justice and Healing Council whose work covered the 5 years of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and which was completed at the end of April.

It was my honour on behalf of Catholic Religious Australia and its members to acknowledge the achievements of the Truth Justice and Healing Council and to thank its members and staff for the superb work they have done over the past 5 years. Catholic Religious Australia has had the opportunity elsewhere to say a particular ‘thank you’ to Francis Sullivan. The acknowledgement of the TJHC , given on Saturday 5th May, appears here:

Royal Commission Final Report 150The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have established a new advisory group that will play a crucial role in influencing and monitoring the Catholic Church’s ongoing response to the child sexual abuse scandal.

Archbishop Denis Hart, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, explained that the new Implementation Advisory Group will monitor the response to the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse and the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, which led the Church’s engagement with the Royal Commission.

Sr Pat Fox2 150In 2013, Pope Francis wrote that being a Missionary was at the very heart of being a Catholic, a parish or a Catholic Institution. For the past 27 years, Sr Patricia Fox, the Superior of the Our Lady of Sion Order has been living these ideals as a Missionary to the poor and marginalised in the Philippines.

We applaud the missionary work of Sr Patricia over these many years, bringing the face of Christ to our Philippine sisters and brothers. Standing in solidarity with the poorest of the poor, Sr Patricia has contributed to many agricultural projects in order to empower ordinary people to take charge of their lives and work towards the alleviation of poverty.

Sr Pat Fox 150The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion issued a statement this week indignantly condemning the Bureau of Immigration’s arrest and detention of Sister Patricia Fox, NDS, without due process and respect for her fundamental rights.

Sister Pat, who has now been released from detention, has since 1990 been a tireless worker amongst the poor and marginalised people of the Philippines.

0418RejoiceandbeGlad 150Holiness is present in the patience of God’s people, in parents who raise their children with immense love, in people who work hard to support their families, in the sick, and in elderly religious who never lose their smile, says Pope Francis in his latest Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exultate.

In the document, ‘Rejoice and be Glad’, Pope Francis says the path to holiness consists in daily acts of charity, joy and a sense of humour and people should choose their own path to holiness according to their state in life.

0418OverseasAid 150The Edmund Rice Centre has called on the federal government to boost its overseas aid budget rather than proceed with a reported $400 million cut.

The Centre, which carries forward the charism of Blessed Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers, says any decision by the Turnbull Government to cut Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) would come at the worst possible time, as last year, the United Nations warned the world was facing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.

1712RuthDurick 150In this Easter Season we hear the wonderful accounts from the Acts of the Apostles of the early Christian churches. They were struggling communities, trying to find their way in a society which had strung up their leader and made a public example of him. It is significant that the Church gives us the opportunity during the Easter season each year to hear again the account of the early church and its formation.

If Easter is about anything it is about hope – to be found in darkness and death as much as in life and light.

0418EileenOConnor 150The members of Our Lady’s Nurses of the Poor say they are “delighted” by the news that the official process for the beatification of their founder, Eileen O’Connor, has begun.

Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP announced he has begun the process which could lead to the proclamation of Australia’s next saint.

Carmelites 150For a religious order well known for its charism of prayer and contemplation, the Carmelites of Australia and Timor-Leste have made a big splash in social media, clocking up more than 100,000 Facebook followers in less than a year.

Communications Director Fr David Hofman O.Carm says the Carmelites have been surprised and delighted at the growth of their social media following and the opportunities for connecting with people that it presents.

Amended flyer 150The 42nd Catholic Religious Australia National Assembly will be held in Brisbane from June 19 to 21, with the theme 'Religious in Australia: Evolving with Hope'.

Keynote speakers will include Gail Worcelo cp and Michael Whelan sm and registration forms are available here to download.

 

Vocations Ministry Report 150A new report on recent religious vocations in Australia has uncovered some common characteristics of religious orders that are attracting new women and men, which could help strengthen religious life in Australia and overseas.

Understanding Religious Vocation in Australia Today was commissioned by Catholic Vocations Ministry Australia (CVMA) and carried out by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Research Office.

1712RuthDurick 150The plight of children is constantly before us these days. Often it is from a distant, bureaucratic perspective – compliance, record keeping, reporting. While these are important, we need to check ourselves that we do not lose sight of the child as an individual, as a gift.

We need to check ourselves that we have not become inured to the violence which is perpetrated on the most vulnerable members of our society in so many ways and which forms a regular part of our daily news reporting. We can get caught up in the policies, protocols and political strategies of the powerful and the administrators and lose sight of the very people for whom we are here.

0318AsylumSignThe Sisters of the Good Samaritan have called on the Federal Government to urgently review proposed changes to a Government support program for people seeking asylum which will force vulnerable people, including families and children, into destitution and homelessness, The Good Oil reports.

“The Sisters of the Good Samaritan are deeply concerned by the Government’s proposed changes to the Status Resolution Support Service which fail to recognise and respect the human dignity of all people,” said Congregational Leader Sister Patty Fawkner.

0318TJHC 150The Chief Executive of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, Mr Francis Sullivan, has urged all states to join New South Wales and Victoria in signing up to the national child sexual abuse redress scheme, as Catholic leaders reiterated their long-standing support of the scheme.

"Today’s announcement paves the way for non-government organisations in NSW and Victoria to join the scheme," Mr Sullivan said.

0318SrAnneGardiner 150International Women’s Day was celebrated in Rome this year with a talk from Australia’s Sr Anne Gardiner on the work being done to support indigenous women into leadership positions in in the remote island community, Vatican News reports.

Australia’s Embassy to the Holy See sponsored the event and invited Sr Anne, a Daughter of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, who was recognised as the 2017 Senior Australian of the Year because of her work with the Tiwi island people.

1712RuthDurick 150The release, in December 2017, of the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse marks an important point in our development as church and as religious in the church and society here in Australia. We are particularly mindful at this time of all those whose lives have been so damaged by the evil of sexual abuse.

The release of the final report is not a full stop. It is an ellipsis indicating a pause, perhaps a faltering pause, but one denoting that the future is ours to take hold of, and to move forward as gospel women and men, doing what we are called to through our consecration: To bring good news to the poor; to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison. (Luke 4:18)

0218GeoffGiudiceCPSL 150The seven-member board of the Catholic Church’s new child and vulnerable person standards setting, auditing and reporting organisation is now in place and busy developing a major new approach to the way the Church ensures everyone who comes into contact with its ministries is as safe as possible.

The Chair of CPSL, The Hon Geoff Giudice, said following the appointments of Queensland education specialist Dr Kerrie Tuite and WA governance expert Dr Ruth Shean this month, the board is now made up of members with a wide range of skills and expertise.

0218ArmsTrade 150The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart have challenged the Federal Government’s recently announced plan to increase weapons exports.

"Weapons are designed to kill and maim human beings," said the Congregational Leader, Sister Monica Cavanagh. "We completely reject the philosophy which finds it acceptable to boost industry, create jobs, increase exports and protect local manufacturing via the arms trade.

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