What are our shepherds up to?
The Archdiocesan Clergy gathered at Galong for the annual Clergy Assembly, 20-23 May 2019. Priest and theologian, Father Tony Kelly, CCsR, spoke of the mystery of Christ. He emphasised “the scandal and shock of the Cross.” Noting that we live in an “irritable culture,” he encouraged us to never forget that while foolishness to the world, the Cross is the Crucified Christ, who is “the power and wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24-25). “We can never leave out the cross!” he echoed, “but must embrace its power, a power defined by self-giving love.”
“The Cross is the Christian’s identity and victory; the ‘power and wisdom’ of a God who acts in a way the world least expects! Jesus’ self-emptying on the cross is God’s greatest act of humility and self-revelation of ‘the aboriginal self-giving of God.’”
This was more meditation than a lecture. Many of us simply closed our eyes, listened and tried to let it sink in. Kelly asked: “Is the true revelation of God passing us by? For the Cross is the signature of the Resurrection! Whereby even the Risen Jesus on that Easter morning still proudly bore the marks of the wounds that were now transformed.”
During these days the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the ‘forgotten sacrament’ as Archbishop Christopher reminded us, was close to our minds and hearts. The confessional has been, is and will continue to be a place where important conversations and conversions take place. We looked at the practicalities of celebrating the sacrament and committed to a deeper catechesis.
Archdiocesan IPSS Manager, Maria Hicks, focused on The Gift of our Children. Maria commented upon the recent changes to the ACT Crimes Act and was able to update us on new mandatory reporting obligations, which now rightly require all people over 18 to report any suspected abuse. Angela McCabe, a trauma psychologist, led a helpful session on resilience and self-care. Pastoral education supervisors Barbara Hall and Susanne Schmidt, entered the fray, too, on supervision for clergy. Very fine and intelligent presenters.
Wednesday evening is always the highlight since it celebrates the unity of our Presbyterate in a Jubilarian Mass and Dinner. This year we celebrated Fr’s Allen Crowe and Peter My’s 25 years of the priesthood; Archbishop Francis Carroll and Fr Neville Drinkwater 65 years; Fr Stan Sniezek 60 years and Fr Peter Gannon 50 years. We were joined by Kevin and Margaret Croker who recently received the Papal honour of Knight and Dame of the Order of Saint Gregory. Their extraordinary service to the Church and outstanding dedication to the care of the priests of this Archdiocese is beyond compare.
This Assembly was a graced time. I was particularly struck by the joy and unity of the clergy.