Video Material - National Pastoral Leaders' Conference
Maeve Louise Heaney: Beauty and Belonging: Making Space(s) for our Yearnings
We are not only rational beings, we are also deeply symbolic beings who use the arts to attempt to make sense of our life and the world. Beauty transforms us by interrupting the commonplace flow of our lives, enabling us to meet the Word who is Some One. Music can be an unwritten theology for those who lack or who reject any formal religious creed. Nameless yearnings can find expression in harmony and lyrics which speak directly to the heart, stretching us to wider and deeper spaces in ourselves and our understanding of God. Maeve challenged us to see the Apostle Thomas not as the doubter we have tended to label him as, but the as the stubborn one who won't stop until his particular question gets answered. Questions take priority over answers, always, and draw us into dialogue.
Hugh MacKay: How Should the Church Respond to a Society Like Ours at a Time Like This?
Hugh MacKay, well known Australian social researcher and author, addressed the Conference from the perspective of his research and his great commitment to Australian society. Hugh explored the contrast between the yearning of our hearts and the power of other forces to seduce and confuse, so that what is deep within each one of us is scattered; leading to a fragmented society… 'It's all about me!' Hugh revealed how, as a western society, we have lost the capacity to listen deeply to our spiritual and genetic centre; seeking the illusion of eternal happiness as an entitlement.
Hugh spoke oft the failure of the Church to engage the hearts and minds of the people, but encouraged us to remember that the power of love, kindness and compassion; all that is deeply within our own spiritual and genetic centre, is what we have to offer society at a time like this.
Richard Gaillardetz's address on Tuesday afternoon: Wrestling with the Faith in Times of Scandal: Why Belonging to the Church Still Matters opened up so many challenges for us all. Richard challenged us with the concept that faith is not just intellectual thoughts, or a matter of belief in doctrine, but is primarily about love - what we love and desire and how that motivates us and drives us. How can our communities be places where love transforms us, and our world?
"Wrestling with the faith" - now what might that look like? Many of us know the struggles we might have with certain practices, disciplines or even doctrine. What does it mean then to wrestle? To honestly and openly be able to learn from something we might naturally want to reject? Richard's challenge to some who might well adopt a "Liberal Paternalism" was indeed food for thought. Who are we to say this or that practice or idea should not even be raised?…. after all, 'I' have already deemed it not worthy to even present to my family/community!!
The invitation to be a listening church, and a community of compassion, humility and repentance gave we conference participants many challenges to take back to our parishes and workplaces.
Richard Gaillardetz's second keynote: Pope Francis and the Church of Tomorrowwas another to give great heart to the gathered assembly. And challenges as well. The Call to the "Peripheries" (the Church as Field Hospital), the Call to Radical Proximity, The Call to Accompaniment, The Call to Mercy and the Call to be a Vulnerable, Messy Church - all these ask that we be, above all, a church of love, grace, welcome, acceptance - which is out on the streets, bruised, dirty and hurting. This means that the call by Pope Francis to 'invert the pyramid' not just applies to the bishops and clergy, but to each of us called to serve God's people. Again, the invitation is there for us all, especially we as church leaders, to listen - with a listening that is "more than simply hearing", with humility and mercy.
Geraldine Doogue: Living Through the 'Holy Saturday' of our Australian Church Experience: what are the steps towards hope?
"Tangled in ropes, sliding towards the canvas and spitting blood".... the image of the boxer used by Geraldine Doogue to lead us into our Church's 'Holy Saturday' questions.... How much worse can it get? and Where to from here? What will our Church be like into the future?
As a result of the sexual abuse scandal and the Royal Commission process our Church is not the same and we won't be again. We are waiting and struggling... this is what Geraldine named as our Holy Saturday experience and this is OK. We need to wait and to struggle, to grapple with the questions while we 'hang in there' We, as a Church need to reflect deeply while we are in the middle of the mess, but we need to also acknowledge that goodness is present in our Church and that goodness matters... Holy Saturday is not the end of the story. We are a people of hope and we know we will rise again, albeit in a new and different way.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge: Plenary 2020 and the future of the Catholic Church in Australia
Journey…the real God in the Bible is a dislocating God…a journey is a dislocation. Archbishop Mark talks about these, giving a Scriptural and theological basis for what will come. He relates his own journey of coming to appreciate the vital need for Synodality. As you listen to this you also become involved in the journey…