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"An Old World Order is Dissolving and a New World is in the Making.”

Charism Beyond Borders

CRA, Catholic Religious Australia, recently held their annual assembly.  The theme of this year’s National Assembly was ‘Charism Beyond Borders’. Under this theme, congregational leaders   explored ways they are responding to the mission and call of Jesus by working with each other, with lay people and other organisations.

Around 120 congregational leaders and lay people involved in ministries with congregations took part in the assembly. The keynote speakers were:

• Br Philip Pinto, Congregational Leader of the Christian Brothers
• Dr Michele Connolly rsj, lecturer in New Testament Studies, Catholic Institute of Sydney
• Bishop Greg O’Kelly, sj, Bishop of Port Pirie, South Australia

Br Philip’s first talk, “A World Moving Beyond Boundaries,” on 26 June was a fearless exploration of charism, authenticity and leadership in religious life, of which he knows much about. His approach to religious brotherhood has been described as counter-cultural and subversive, with an emphasis on integrity, quality and authenticity of religious life.

Concluding his first talk he quoted Johannes Metz about the origin of religious congregations: “These are the historical times when pain is deeper, aspirations more acute, when a settled world’s values are up-ended, in short, when an old world order is dissolving and a new world is in the making.” 

“I want to say something about charism and where it springs from, and how we allow it to guide us in a world that is unrecognizable from the one we grew up in,” Brother Philip Pinto cfc said as he opened the first session of the 2012 CRA National Assembly in Adelaide.

Br Philip, current Congregational Leader of the Christian Brothers, went on to speak at the assembly every day, using passages from poets, writers and thinkers such as Rabindranath Tagore, David Whyte, Ian McCallum, Erich Fromm, Johannes Lindworksy and even Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings".

 Election of New Leadership

It was not only about revisiting the idea of charism and mission at the 36th National Assembly of Catholic Religious Australia, but the spotlight also turned to the new leadership of the CRA Council with Sister Annette Cunliffe rsc at the helm.

At this year’s assembly, about 140 leaders of religious institutes and lay partners gathered in Adelaide from 26-29 June. The theme “Charism Beyond Borders” explored the ways in which religious charism is lived, communicated and challenged in a post-Christian Australian society. With lay people increasingly ministering in partnership with religious, their voices were also heard as this year, for the first time, lay partners were invited to this gathering. At the assembly, the President and members of the National Council of CRA were elected for the following two years.

Of her election as CRA President by her peers, Sister Annette said, “I see my new role as a great honour and privilege. I see the role of President as one of facilitating collaboration of Religious to make a difference in the Church and wider society, to bring the world closer to the way God dreams it could be – a world of peace and transparent justice.”

“Together Religious can do even more, than if each group acts independently. “


National Assembly of Catholic Religious - website



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