Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





ACLRI Leaders meet in Melbourne: "We mustn't lose hope"

Leaders of Religious Congregations from around Australia and the Pacific region are meeting in Melbourne this week for their annual conference. A major focus "is to have a no-holds-barred forum to name responses to the 'crisis' or challenges to change in the Catholic Church today" says the president of ACLRI.

In a media release issued last night to publicise the conference, Sr Bernadette Keating PBVM, the leader of the Presentation Sisters in Victoria and current the President of the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ACLRI), says leaders representing most of the 200 groups of Catholic religious women and men in Australia and the Pacific region will be present at the 2003 national assembly at Melbourne Town Hall from today until Saturday. The theme of the conference this year is "Issues in Leadership".

Sr Bernadette said that, “despite the understandable community focus on the horrors of physical and sexual abuse in the churches – issues that in no way we are trying to avoid – it’s important to realise that ACLRI members also are represented in a wide range of leadership roles in other sectors including welfare, health, education and rural sectors”.

“In many respects, the Catholic Church, through its breadth of male and female religious institutes, is one of the longest serving 'agencies' in a whole host of community-related areas, and not just in the capital cities but in the regional centres, rural areas, including the smallest, remotest country towns,” Sr Bernadette said.

"While there certainly does appear to be a crisis in leadership everywhere", the ACLRI President said, "we mustn’t lose hope.”

Sr Bernadette said this year’s annual conference was being organised along process lines: “Rather than traditional sessions where speakers – most often overseas-based experts – are brought to Australia to deliver papers, this year we are involving each and every delegate as participants in the process.”

Sessions cover a broad range of sensitive topics, including:

• Who are we as major superiors? (And what is expected of us);
• Naming the darkness. (Sharing our faith stories and the challenges to our faith);
• Understanding power. (And how is it used: Power and leadership. Power and sex).


25 Jun 2003