Editorial by Andrea Grant - Mission Leader
Over the course of 2017, we have engaged the leaders of our ministries in professional learning around the issue of sexuality and gender identity. We have been extremely fortunate to work with some highly skilled facilitators who have supported us as we grow in knowledge and understanding of this complex facet of human experience. Our leaders, including our Trustees, Principals, Managers of Community Works, Directors of Boards and Members of Stewardship Councils have been fortunate to receive input from the medical field, the social sciences and moral theologians. Our intent has been to journey together, in order to determine a pastoral response which reflects the vision, mission and values of Kildare Ministries grounded in the transformative vision of the story of Jesus.
We were delighted to have accompanying us on this journey Fr Michael Trainor, Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Australian Catholic University. Those in attendance at our 2016 Kildare Ministries conference would recall Michael’s exploration of Luke’s account of the ‘loaves and fishes’ to consider how the gospel provides the foundation for the our mission. In 2017, Michael agreed to support our leaders through their professional learning and then lead them in their Retreat.
On 16-18 August our Principals and Faith Leaders’ gathered in Sydney to explore their shared role in Faith Leadership of our schools. Our retreat began with a beautiful, hospitable welcome at Brigidine College, St Ives culminating in the celebration of Eucharist in their Chapel. This celebration set the tone for our retreat as Michael urged us to listen deeply to our call to discipleship, all the while ‘keeping our eye on Jesus’.
Following our time at St Ives we travelled together to St Joseph’s Retreat Centre, Kincumber and spent the next two days exploring the complexity of faith leadership as presented in the letters of Paul and Gospels of Mark and John. We invited Michael to share some thoughts on how this experience has been for him:
Being with people who are faith filled, educationally professional and engaged with the world in which they educate is a powerful experience. This experience, from our recent Kildare Ministries retreat, affirmed my spirit in many ways. It affirmed how the wisdom of the followers of Jesus in the first century CE, of Paul, Mark, Luke and John, can confirm us in the truth of our experience and the direction in which we are being called.
If I may speak directly, what touched me most was your openness of heart to allow yourself to be affirmed, troubled, encouraged, and challenged by the wisdom of your forebears, of these earliest generations of Jesus followers who had the same concern that you have as educational faith leaders—to make discipleship with Jesus a reality in a constantly changing world. What these ‘elders’ teach us is to acknowledge the presence and action of God in our world, the beauty and goodness of creation and people we are with, of our lives, that we are carried by God, and through Jesus to be collaborators of grace and faith of faith.
As we seek to build inclusive, open and grace-filled educational spaces, to do this with the support and insights of faith-filled colleagues who, like you, are disciples of Jesus and embraced by God’s presence. What you are embarking on is a courageous act: to believe that our Catholic tradition can authentically offer us the wisdom to move forward creatively, faithfully and collaboratively. The core values of Kildare Ministries provide the ground for encountering freshly this wisdom. Thank you for allowing me share my insights into this wisdom that emerge from the earliest households of Jesus followers.
We are enormously grateful to Michael for accompanying us on our journey which is far from over as we continue to explore how the mission of Kildare Ministries is enacted through the leadership and daily experiences of our communities. Thank you to all who have entered into these experiences with such generosity and courage – it is through these shared, deeply rich and heart-felt conversations our work will continue to grow and nourish the lives of those in our care.