Media and Communications Office
A week after Catholic Social Services Victoria’s flagship event, ‘Hearing, Healing, Hope’, the key messages of mercy, inclusivity and abiding hope continue to resound throughout the Catholic sector.
A series of workshops and presentations provided an engrossing schedule at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne, as the three-day event navigated both religious and secular challenges as well as underscoring the Church’s need to hear from and heal the marginalised, and hope to nurture a more unified community.
Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, CEO of Catholic Social Services, delivered a closing address to an eager audience. He provided a conclusive review of Hearing, Healing, Hope, reasserting the event's key messages.
Fr Brennan suggested the conference’s participants had been ‘wrestling with the question, “how do we listen to and heal the nation’s First Peoples, those last to arrive, those who are left out by government and market, and those who are the survivors of abuse?”’
He suggested that ‘the gospel is not heard at the centre; we need to go the edges.’ After a brief pause he explained that whether we have experienced good or bad days, it was always a privilege to be at the edges.
‘Last year, someone said to me in my travels that part of the job in social services in the Church is always to realise that when you work with the marginalised you too will be marginalised,’ said Fr Brennan.
Throughout the well-attended conference, various speakers placed considerable emphasis on inclusivity within the Church and highlighted the need for stronger community development.
‘Part of what we’ve got to do in the Church as well as in society is get that right mix between government, market and community,’ posited Fr Brennan. ‘Absent ourselves, then notions of government and market take over.’
In order to cultivate a deeper sense of community and foster growth within the Church, Fr Brennan said change was necessary.
‘For any measures to counter inequality, foster education and opportunity, and (provide) a viable safety net,’ he said the Church could not remain the same. ‘Otherwise the young will not belong, let alone believe, and the world will find that the salt of faith has lost its tang.’
‘Let’s turn hearing into understanding, healing into new life and hope into love, mercy and justice for all,’ insisted Fr Brennan. ‘This wisdom and experience provides the hope for us to be the church of the gospel. Rather than the church of a bygone clerical era.’
As the clock continued to count down towards the conference’s end, Fr Brennan stressed the importance of the atmosphere the three-day event had encouraged.
‘We are grateful that in this safe space we can be attentive to the evidence, the expertise the commitment to listening, the commitment to healing and the abiding hope. Its here within our ranks,’ he told the audience.