Loreto Community Leadership Conference, September 2018
Loreto Leaders Meet in Melbourne
The IBVM Constitutions describe the rich role of a community leader in these words:
The community leader has a unifying role in the community and in the province. She leads the local community in accordance with the Constitutions and the policies and directives of the province and Institute leaders. She supports community members in their ministries and encourages them to further their spiritual, human and professional development. She has a special care for the young, the sick and the aged. (IBVM Constitutions 6.87)
Twice a year, Loreto community leaders, assistants and co-ordinators meet with the Province Council to reflect together, explore collaborative leadership, share experiences and become informed about province developments and different realities of contemporary religious life. Late September saw community leaders gather in East Melbourne for three days. This was a chilly challenge for our Sisters from Vietnam, The Philippines and Timor Leste, who rugged up to ward off Melbourne’s wintry weather. In her welcome, close to the International Day of Peace, Province Leader, Wendy Hildebrand, expressed her hopes for the gathering in: It is my prayer and hope that this gathering will lead us to a deeper peace in our understanding of our shared mission, call to ministry, life as religious women, acceptance of our limitations and blessedness in our brokenness.
Presentations on generative listening, financial stewardship and health matters were coupled with updates from the South East Asian region. Sister Wendy reflected on the challenges and richness of the province from the perspective of the last General Congregation’s Call: “creating the oneness that moves us across boundaries”. Table discussions and reflective processes enabled those present to appropriate the input at a deeper level. The gift of Mary Ward and Ignatius to review and reflect through the lens of faith and the space to do so in a safe and creative forum were particularly welcomed by those present. Informal conversations, shared meals, communal prayer and celebration rounded out the programme. The days together were an affirmation of and challenge to our vocation – a “vocation (that) is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.” (Thomas Merton)