Day One – by Sr Sophie Boffa
One Heart Many Voices was the theme of the biannual Mission Conference organised by Catholic Religious Australia and Catholic Mission, and held in Sydney CBD from May 13-15. This was my first experience of attending the Mission Conference, and it was a great opportunity for me to be enriched, encouraged and challenged to look at the ways in which I currently do and can live and embrace mission. There were several highlights of the day for me. One of the keynote speakers, Sr Carol Zinn ssj, delivered a powerful keynote address on Leadership for Mission, and I was so touched by the description she gave of love, as “Looking at Others with the Very Eyes of God”. In the afternoon, I attended Elizabeth Lee’s session on “’Bring in the Poor and the Crippled’: Spiritual accompaniment of those on the fringes”, which encouraged me to think more deeply about what spiritual accompaniment is and how I can offer such accompaniment to those around me. It emphasised the importance of listening to others and their story above anything else. The day ended with various sessions called “Engaging the Heart”, which focused on sharing mission through art, music and theatre. I attended the Encounter L’Arche session, facilitated by the Sydney L’Arche community. I have a real love for Jean Vanier and his writings and was so excited to be part of this session. Members of the community, those with and without disability, engaged in song and sharing of their stories. There was so much love, joy and companionship in the room; each person was simply able to be themselves, without judgement. This experience, and the entire day as a whole, reaffirmed for me the beauty, dignity and worth of all people, and especially of those whom society may identify as “unworthy”, “undesirable” or “outsiders”. I left the first day of the conference feeling challenged, inspired and excited for the future, and so privileged to be part of this event.
Day Two – by Sr Rita Apura
It was a great privilege for me to be part of the Mission Conference: One Heart, Many Voices 2019. It was not just an invitation to come together and be nourished, renewed and encouraged. Furthermore, it was not only another tool to put into my tool box. Day two offered a wellspring of knowledge, ideas, dialogue and relationship. It presented and offered for me the reality that as a Church in Australia, in all its highs and lows, its challenges and strengths, sadness and joys, God is and will always be with us no matter what. Thanks to our Provincial Leader, Sister Lucyna Frączek, who encouraged us Sisters in Holy Spirit Province to attend the conference. I believe each of the talented, high calibre and equipped speakers, whether in the keynote address, the facilitated dialogue and interaction, the concurrent sessions or the sharing of conversations with one another, presented a variety of gifts which came from the heart of each of the people present during the Mission Conference.
The masterclass session presented by Fr. Noel Connolly, SSC on “What we Australia can learn about Mission from the global church”, demonstrated a practical way to integrate culture, tradition faith and mission. Indeed, it was a day filled with great insights that were very enriching and invigorating and which above all challenged me to be humble. As a missionary, allowing God the freedom to use me, to take on a more compassionate, contemplative, discerning mind and heart and to constantly search for God’s presence is the most authentic way of living the Gospel with joy.
Day Three – by Sr Grace Roclawska
Three days full of encounters of Christ present in His church and in one another. This sentence describes my feeling of day three and of all days of the Mission Conference 2019. The day started with a Reflection and Prayer of ‘Lament, Healing and Hope’. In words and images, we reflected on the current issues which hurt our Church and in which we are still broken and need healing. The Spirit of prayer moved some people to tears, others to silence. This extraordinary hour was followed by two morning concurrent sessions of people’s choice. The final conversation was with our keynote speaker, Sr Carol Zinn ssj, and invited speakers Ms Charlene Robson and Mr Phil Glendenning, to share their view on ‘Becoming a Church beyond 2020’.
It was an enriching, enlivening and encouraging experience for all of us. It affirmed our efforts to live and lead mission and the joy of the Gospel in our daily life, ministry and work.
I am the church, You are the church, WE are the CHURCH! …today and in the future.
For more photos visit our FB page https://www.facebook.com/csfnaustralia/