On Monday 9 October, approximately 100 participants in MMC’s second annual Conference at the Catholic Leadership Centre, East Melbourne, were led in a Welcome to Country and a Smoking ceremony by Wurundjeri elder, Uncle Tony Garvey. Occurring in the week of the referendum on a Voice to Parliament, the significance of the occasion was recognised by those present.
The Conference theme was ‘Mercy Companions: Claiming our Identity’. In her opening address, Chair of the Trustee Directors, Margaret Bounader, invited us to consider the claiming of our identity as “holding on to something which gives life and hope”. Cries for peace, justice, recognition and reconciliation are everywhere to be heard across our land and our common home. What might our ‘deep listening’ be stirring within us? How are we being called to be compassionate, hope-filled people in our time and place?
Emerging from a collaborative process over the past year, MMC launched its Identity Statements at the beginning of the Conference. You can view the Statements here.
These words help us to capture what is deep in our heart and soul. We will continue to ‘live into them’, bringing them to life as we deepen our understanding of who we are, what we do and why we do it within our Community Services, Education, and Health and Aged Care Ministries.
Over the two days, our Keynote Speaker, Sr Elizabeth Dowling RSM, explored our Vision, Mission and Values. In a panel format, with associated workshops each day, aspects of the newly launched Identity Statements were developed. Video recordings of the large group presentations are being edited and these formation resources will be made available on the MMC website for your use in Board meetings, staff gatherings, for personal reflection or as Reflections on special occasions.
A highlight of our Conference dinner was the telling of ‘good news’ stories by each of our six ministry CEOs who had been invited to respond to our MMC Vision Statement:
“As companions in ministry, we seek to bring about a compassionate and just society and Church by striving to alleviate disadvantage, exclusion and inequality.”
Each story was deeply moving. Each story reflected a snippet in the life story of someone who was in need and of someone(s) who responded with kindness and fidelity, often ‘going the extra mile’ if that was what was needed in the circumstances. The values of Compassion, Hope, Hospitality, Justice and Respect shone through as the ‘good news’ was being shared.
Many people contributed to the success of our time together, especially our Conference Planning Committee: Cathy Jenkins, Genevieve McCaskell, Rosie Busuttil, Alison Steele, Amanda Robertson, Darren Egberts, Chris Bence, Helen Boland and Annette Schneider RSM.
The photos will hopefully bring the event to life for you as you read on.
Our mission, our purpose as Mercy Ministry Companions is expressed as follows:
“We collaborate in the mission of Jesus by fostering a heart for Mercy within our ministries, in the broader society and for our environment.”
May we continue the works of our founders, inspired in our day by what they did in their time and place. So many of the cries for recognition, justice and compassion which they heard are echoing down the ages, reaching our doorsteps, video screens or headphones today. Let us do what we can to walk alongside our First Nations Peoples here in Australia, to support our fellow global citizens in the many war-torn regions of our fragile planet, to offer a greeting and a smile when that is all we have to offer, to recognise our call to be in right relationship with God, each other and our common home. We can make a difference, one person at a time.
Annette Schneider RSM