Religious leaders focus on the future at 2011 National Assembly


Just over 120 leaders of religious congregations will gather in Brisbane from 21-24 June to consider the changing face of religious life.

Joining the leaders at the annual Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) National Assembly will be a representative from the Asia Pacific and three New Zealand Religious.

CRA holds a National Assembly each year to gather religious leaders together for sharing and support. Each assembly is organised around a theme of current relevance to Religious and society.

The theme of the 2011 assembly is ‘See, I am doing a new thing – the changing face of Religious life and the challenges’.

This theme continues the discussion on the findings in the November 2010 survey report ‘See, I am doing a new thing’ commissioned by CRA to get a picture of religious life today.

While the report showed that Sisters, Brothers and Clerical Priests were ageing and decreasing in numbers, another key finding was that they have significantly broadened their ministries and roles over the past 30 years.

CRA Executive Director Sister Veronica McCluskie said the members did not want the information contained in the report to remain a few numbers and graphs.

“We want to draw out the findings of the survey and really examine the reality that is facing Religious and consider how we will respond to it,” Sr Veronica said.

“So the focus at the assembly will be on looking at what are the new things congregations are doing; what are the challenges and what are we being called by God to do.”

The assembly’s four keynote speakers will be Columban Father Noel Connolly, Mercy Sister Jan Gray, Loreto Sister Christine Burke and Jesuit Father Richard Leonard.

Fr Noel will discuss the theme from a missiological (mission) perspective. Sr Jan will focus on the topic from a theological position and Sr Chris will consider the changing face of religious life from an international context. Fr Richard will look at religious life in a media-saturated culture and will lead a workshop on social networking.

A number of other Religious will report on ways they have adapted, changed or taken on completely new ministries and roles.

Each day will begin with prayer and there will be significant time for delegates to discuss and reflect on information and ideas being presented over the three and a half days. On Thursday, 23 June the group will gather for the assembly Eucharist which will be led by the Archbishop of Brisbane, Archbishop John Bathersby.

“We look forward to a gathering of great companionship, sharing and prayer together,” Sr Veronica said.

“We hope that leaders will leave with many ideas and much inspiration to take back to their congregations.”
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