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Thursday, 12 July 2018 10:04

Called to go forward as missionary disciples with joyful hearts

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CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj 150By CRA President, Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj

Our CRA Conference was a wonderful occasion for all who were able to participate. The keynote speakers Sr Gail Worcelo sgm and Fr Michael Whelan sm shared valuable insights on the theme 'Religious In Australia: Evolving with Hope'.

Gail spoke of the evolution of Religious Life emerging at key moments of grace throughout history. Characteristics of this current new moment in the evolution of Religious Life include: the call to embrace diversity - in and among religious congregations and beyond; the call to interiority and the call to deepening communion. God walks with us calling us to expansiveness and gifting us with the grace needed at this moment.

Michael spoke of our current reality as a deeply Paschal moment of grace which we are being invited to embrace. Through the power of story, he led us on a journey into the very heart of our life as Religious women and men.

During our days together, we also engaged with the process of the Plenary Council and expressed our gratitude to Lana Turvey-Collins and her team for being people of enthusiasm and hope. The Assembly also gave us an opportunity to hear about the auditing and risk work of Catholic Professional Standards Limited.

Our Assembly Eucharist and dinner gave us the opportunity to celebrate and ritualise a new moment in the life of Catholic Religious Australia when we formally transitioned from State bodies into one National Body. At the dinner, we were able to express our appreciation to Sr Ruth Durick OSU for her Leadership as President of CRA over the past two years - perhaps two of the most challenging years in our history as we worked our way through the final years of the Royal Commission and birthed the new national CRA entity. Ruth did this with wisdom and strength as she, with the Council, navigated our way through the many challenges that we faced.

On 1 July, I responded to the call and challenge of becoming the CRA president for this next term. I look forward to working with Council in creating the pathway through the next phase of our journey at CRA. We undertake this role ever mindful of the prophetic and charismatic role of Religious within the church and wider society. We do so, knowing that God is indeed doing something new among us.

This week has been an amazing week as the world has watched, prayed and supported the rescue of the 12 Thai boys and their coach from the Tham Luang cave. At moments like this is our global world is at its best. Imagine the difference it would make to thousands of children across our world if the global refugee crisis were approached with same intense endeavours as the world has experienced in this situation. Let us continue to do our part in keeping the focus on the children and their future rather than on the fear of difference and the lack of political will.

This week here in Australia, we celebrate NAIDOC week. This year, we give thanks and honour the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of our Nation whose lives are so central in maintaining of the culture, language, music, art of their people - 'Because of her we can' - Women who have been at the fore-front as advocates of social change for their peoples. We acknowledge and express our appreciation to all those women who have worked in Aboriginal Catholic ministry and on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Council and who have guided religious women and men in appreciating the depth of their spirituality and culture. You have taught us how to walk alongside you in the journey towards reconciliation.

This new moment in our story calls us to go forward as missionary disciples with joyful hearts.