Editorial by Mission Leader for KM
One of the great joys of working in ministry is the emphasis on community. This was so strongly evident during the recent inaugural Kildare Ministries conference, held on 12-13 September in Lancefield. The Trustees were pleased to welcome all who gathered as a collective from across all ministries. The 75 delegates came with one common purpose which was to further develop the emerging narrative of Kildare Ministries but it also gave us an opportunity to celebrate the journey so far. In fact, the atmosphere for the entire conference was warm and collegial similar to that of a great family reunion, where people are joyous about being in the same space together, celebrating that which unites and binds and acknowledges those differences that make us unique.
Every level of governance and each ministry was represented. Representatives of the Members’ Council and the Leadership Teams of the Victorian and Sydney Brigidine Communities and the Presentation Sisters; Representatives from Brigidine College - Indooroopilly, Brigidine College - St Ives, Clonard College, Kilbreda College, Kildare College, Killester College, Marian College -Ararat, Marian College - Sunshine West, Presentation Family Centre, Star of the Sea College, St Joseph’s College, Wellsprings for Women; Representatives from the Board of Kildare Education Ministries and other Boards from our incorporated schools and community works together with members of our Stewardship Councils, Trustees and staff of Kildare Ministries.
Our conference began with an invitation from the Executive Director, Erica Pegorer calling us all to be mission leaders in the liminal time and space. Presentations from Louise Cleary csb and Nola Vanderfeen pbvm reminded us of the stones laid in the foundation of Kildare Ministries and the steps and years of discernment taken before entering ‘the crossing place’. This was followed by the co-chairs of the Trustees, Maree Marsh csb and Annette Schmiede who gave insight into the way in which Kildare Ministries is trying to bring meaning and direction to this liminal space for our ministries. Judging by the overwhelmingly positive responses given by the delegates in the evaluation, this session was seen as a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the journey thus far and on the direction in which we are being called. As a collective we acknowledged that the creation of any new entity is not without its birth pangs but the toil is worth it.
Our afternoon sessions on day one took the form of ministry workshops, where leadership teams courageously shared challenges they currently face under the theme “There’s a crack in everything; that’s where the light gets in”. Rather than dwelling on the difficult nature of our work these honest sessions reminded us all that we work at the service of vulnerable people who come to us with all their giftedness and their frailties and our shared mission to care for them is a precious one. They also highlighted that none of us are called to do it alone. The day concluded with a relaxed celebratory meal and again the vibrant atmosphere was tangible. There was simply a joy of being together and taking the time to get to know one another.
On day two delegates were treated to three outstanding presentations from our guest speakers: Michael Trainor, Michele Hugonnet and Kate Fogarty. Each took a different approach to consideration of our leadership through Kildare Ministries. Michael’s presentation on Luke’s narrative of feeding the five thousand, took us all back to the world of Jesus. Michael was able to bring this scripture to life and offered an interpretation that many of us had not heard before. One key point from this presentation stayed with us; Jesus directed the apostles to organise the crowd into their community groups and this was the heart of the narrative – from within their community they would be fed and nourished, they would not go hungry or be forgotten. Michele Hugonnet offered a clear and simple explanation of the role of PJPs and the developing new church and Kate Fogarty inspired us all to be courageous in our leadership and in our purpose.
The link to the mission of Kildare Ministries which came from each presentation was both the aim and the revelation of the conference. By the end of the conference, key issues emerged for each ministry and clear future pathways began to appear. But the greatest success came in the strengthening of the Kildare Ministries community, knowing that we are all in this together, all striving for the same mission and supporting one anther along the way.