Dear members of the Kildare Ministries community,
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of Kildare Ministries and as the old cliché says, where has that time gone? The arrival of an anniversary, brings with it an expectancy for celebration, and provides opportunity to pause and reflect on what has been achieved and a time to wait for what is yet to come. Indeed there is much to celebrate. One tends to think that nothing much changes from year to year but in fact even a cursory glance at the previous five years, identifies important events, occasions and moments that have played their part in helping to define and unite us as an emerging faith community called Kildare Ministries.
There was nothing more moving, nor more spiritual as the two liturgies that gave life to Kildare Ministries in 2014, one held at Kilbreda and one at Brigidine College, St Ives. Being a witness to hundreds of women who had dedicated their lives as Brigidine or Presentation Sisters, standing united with one voice to entrust their lives’ work to the Trustees of Kildare Ministries was humbling, emotional and life giving. The ceremonies are etched in my memory for their demonstrative proclamation of Kildare Ministries and the courageous step these women took in entrusting their works to the Trustees who stood in front of them, equally humbled and emotional receiving the gift they had been given. These liturgies and all that was celebrated within them, were indeed moments of grace and infinite promise.
Without a road map, the Trustees began to shape the entity and it was only after their own retreat in 2015 that the Trustees penned the Vision, Mission and Values statement which was to become the thread that bound our work. In fact, all our work still draws inspiration from that foundation document. Over these last five years we have come together on many occasions, for meetings, retreats, seminars, workshops, student programmes and the big events like the pilgrimages and the conferences. We have welcomed new people into the fold and farewelled good friends along the way. We have given priority to building our community through strong and nurturing relationships, while at the same time developing our narrative and understanding about it means to be mission leaders for our faith community today.
We have made mistakes along the way and perhaps would have done some things differently if we had our time again. There were moments of tension and disappointment that understandably arose from being in that liminal space between the known and the not-yet-known but what always struck me was the enormous good will evident in all the people who make up our community. The competence, creativity and commitment displayed on a daily basis by our leaders and those who serve in our ministries, has ensured that Kildare Ministries is beginning to have a recognisable voice.
It is in this vein that the celebration for our fifth anniversary was designed. The Trustees were keen that our ministries were ‘outward’ looking by using their combined voice to speak out against injustice to humanity. The Faith Leaders in our schools have been able to combine in the Ash Wednesday liturgies the story of Behrouz Boochani, a recent literary award winner and a detainee in Manus Island. Boochani’s tragic story is a blatant reminder that although we share a common humanity we don’t all enjoy the same privileges. Boochani is only one example of far too many examples, of where people are marginalised because of where they were born, imprisoned for no crime, uneducated because of unfair structures, enslaved because of their economic circumstance with little hope of freedom from these injustices.
We mark our fifth anniversary by pledging to make the world, or at least our own communities, better places for us having been in them – teachers, volunteers, students, principals, board directors and managers, trustees – all of us. This is what it means to be mission leaders in the Kildare Ministries way, to extend a hand of hospitality, to open our doors with welcome in our hearts and to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus in our daily interaction.
We are excited that the Living Justice Principles marks our fifth anniversary as well. Two years in the making and many consultations in between and we are now ready to road-test our Charter. Many teams of people contributed to this central document and we thank each one for their participation in and commitment to its completion. Living Justice posters were distributed to every ministry during the first two weeks in February. We hope that engagement with this document will become our hallmark.
Judging by the many photos sent to us celebrating the beginning of the year it seems that we are off to a good start and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few important moments already celebrated this year.
- We welcome Luci Quinn as the new Principal of Clonard College
- We welcome Louise Cleary csb as the interim Chair for the KEM Board
- We welcome the first cohort of pioneering Year 7s to Kildare College in Adelaide and of course all year 7s and new students in our schools
- We congratulate Brigidine College, Indooroopilly on their 90th anniversary and for holding the last land transfer ritual in early February
- We welcome all new staff and volunteers across the ministries and hope that you will find your new place warm and inviting
At the time of writing, the news was just breaking that George Pell has been found guilty of child sexual abuse. While we can appreciate that George Pell continues to protest his innocence, the stories around the charges are devastating and horrific. There would be so many personal reactions to this revelation ranging from feelings of betrayal and bewilderment, anger, confusion and even a sense of hopelessness for our future Church. What a stark reminder, if indeed we needed one, that the Church itself is deeply in its own Lenten period, where the darkness and isolation is surrounded by confusion, anger, grief, fear and anxiety.
We must not lose sight of the pain and suffering of the victims of sexual abuse, and indeed we remain alert to their needs in our communities. Now more than ever we need to draw from the inspiration of the Gospel and take heart that good will prevail over the evil of sexual abuse in our own Church and across the globe. Ash Wednesday reminds us of the fragility of our humanity and calls us to renew our spirit and our conviction to make our relationships flourish and our communities thrive. Let's pull together to show a face of Church that is loving and kind, compassionate and authentic.
Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you
Deep peace of Christ to you