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'See I am doing a new thing': the changing face of religious life and the challenges (2011)

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CRA’s 2011 National Assembly was held in Brisbane from 22-24 June. The theme for the conference was ‘See I am doing a new thing: the changing face of religious life and the challenges’.

Just over 120 leaders of religious congregations from across Australia attended the four-day conference. Joining them were three representatives from New Zealand and one from the Asia-Pacific region. Also taking part were Bishop Brian Heenan and Bishop Brian Finnegan from the Bishops’ Commission for Church Ministry, Father John Maher from the Australian Council of Priests and Father Frank Devoy representing the Australian Catholic Council for Clergy Life and Mission.

The theme allowed delegates to continue discussion around the findings of the survey report into religious life – ‘See I am doing a new thing’, launched in November 2010.  

The assembly’s five keynote speakers were Columban Father Noel Connolly, Mercy Sister Jan Gray, Loreto Sister Chris Burke, Mercy Sister Veronica Lawson and Jesuit Father Richard Leonard. Father Noel discussed the theme from a mission perspective. Sister Jan provided a theological focus and Sister Chris considered the changing face of religious life from an international context. Sister Veronica  provided much food for thought when she unpacked the bibilical story of Tabitha - a bibical prototype for religious life.  Father Richard looked at religious life in a media-saturated culture, and provided delegates with fascinating information on Australian society amd the Catholic Church.

Other leaders gave snapshots on some of the ‘new things’ in religious life in Australia today. Key ministries that were reported on were refugees and asylum seekers, indigenous Australians, and programs being provided to better support overseas Religious in the Australian culture.

Leaders also took part in workshops on lay partnerships, establishing public juridic persons and Religious in temporary profession.

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