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National clergy gathering

Fr Ian McGinnity addresses the NCP convention
Fr Ian McGinnity addresses the NCP convention. Photo: Andrew Ballard.

More than 250 Australian bishops, priests and deacons attended the 12-16

July convention in Parramatta, reflecting on the changing face of contemporary ministerial priesthood and the risen Christ’s presence in the midst of this change.

Fr Ian McGinnity, Chairman of the National Council Priests of Australia (NCP) and Parish Priest of Mary Immaculate Parish, Quakers Hill, said the conference was a time to reflect on the ministerial priesthood today and its role into the future within the Australian context.

“It is an opportunity for priests to honestly face the challenges ahead and to renew their hope and vision that the risen Christ moves in and through this time.”

In his welcome address, Bishop Anthony said the Diocese of Parramatta shared in the challenges faced by other parts of the Church in Australia and around the world.

“The increasing secularisation of society, how to respond to rapid change in economy, ecology, technology and culture, the ageing and declining numbers of people in priestly, religious and married life, the effects of more than a decade of battering in the media on our credibility and morale, and the need to ensure that all people, and especially young people, are welcomed, safe and genuinely built up in our Church…every part of this country has particular challenges, related to size, distance, personal-ities, economy and history,” Bishop Anthony said.

“In the context of current controversy about physical and sexual abuse by clergy and religious and the sometimes grave mishandling of these matters by Church leaders, it is appropriate that at this convention there will be a reconciliation liturgy acknowledging our personal and ecclesial responsibility and praying for healing and conversion.”

Four keynote speakers addressed the convention:

  • Fr Donald Cozzens: Writer in Residence and Adjunct Professor of Theology at John Carroll University in Cleveland.
  • Prof Richard Lennan: Author of Risking the Church: The Challenges of Catholic Faith, The Ecclesiology of Karl Rahner, is a priest of the Diocese of Maitland- Newcastle and Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College.
  • Assoc Prof David Tacey: Author of books such as ReEnchantment: The New Australian Spirituality and Edge of the Sacred: Transformation in Australia is associate professor at La Trobe University, teaching literature, spirituality and Jungian psychology.
  • Geraldine Doogue: ABC commentator and journalist, host of ABC TV’s Compass program.
At the convention dinner, Fr Ed Campion launched Damien Williams’ book Sign of Unity, Instrument of Peace – A Short History of the National Council

of Priests of Australia.

Presiding at the closing Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Bishop Anthony urged delegates to be bridge-builders between the sacred and secular worlds.

“Soon we will return to our daily bread, a world of many opportunities but one that too often presses us to eschew nuance and take sides,” Bishop Anthony said in his homily. “Ours must be a commitment to the whole of reality, to every human person, to the beautiful if challenging worlds to which they belong, and to the God who is our author and sustainer.”

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