The first of two gathering sessions for the Plenary Council is soon upon us. It is the first such gathering in Australia in 80 years, and distinctive because of the greater participation of lay people. We have asked various community members to share with you their thoughts on the upcoming Plenary Council, and why each of the different themes are such an important consideration for the church at this time.
Chantale Wilson shares her thoughts on formation – how might we better form leaders for mission – adults, children and families, couples and single?
The question of ‘how better to form leaders for mission’ is one that inspires and resonates with me because, while the issues and questions we face are great, the opportunities and the mission are greater!
In the first place, it’s a question that reminds us that God’s mission, older than time, is as alive and vibrant as ever. As the Catechism tells us, “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church” (CCC 1).
It also reminds us that the call to live our Baptism and be a part of that mission in this time and this place is as real as it was for the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who urge us on! Yet, in the face of Gods unchanging love and invitation, our world has changed and God’s timeless mission needs us to bring new knowledge, new skills, new insights and understanding to the realities of this time and place.
In my work as part of the Children and Families Team with Evangelisation Brisbane, I come face to face with some of these realities each day. These challenge me as a leader to constantly reflect on the question of how we can better create opportunities for people of all ages to encounter Jesus and thrive in the joy and purpose that life as a missionary-disciple brings. Like so many others, I long to see our parishes and communities be places where all generations can find a home, from which they can go forth to share the love and justice of Jesus in their world.
This calls for leaders whose hearts and minds are being ever moulded as missionary-disciples in relationship with Jesus and in communion with the Church, and whose hands are being ever strengthened to engage in God’s mission today. It calls for inspiring leaders who are equipped with the tools to lead with integrity, wisdom, intentionality, courage, collaboration, joy, innovation, accountability and that ‘missionary creativity’ spoken about by Pope Francis. Finally, it calls for leaders whose natural gifts have been animated by the Holy Spirit and honed through solid formation and practice.
As a Church that seeks to ‘go forth’ to proclaim the Gospel with renewed commitment; to witness to the risen Jesus in our midst; to listen, to care and to accompany those who are in need or seeking God’s love; to reconcile with those who have been hurt; to advocate for the vulnerable and the poor; and to care for our common home in this time and this place, we are compelled to ask ‘how might we better form leaders for mission’. Why? Because we long for all people to know God’s love and ‘to share in his own blessed life”. As we ask this question, let’s pray that the Holy Spirit begins to inspire, even now, those men and women who are being called to lead us today and in the days to come.