Archived News Item

Local Formation Animators meet in Sydney

Local Formation Animators (LFAs) from each of the congregations of the Institute gathered with the Institute Formation Council in Sydney from May 23–25, 2008. The Institute’s Formation Co-ordinator, Sister Kaye Evans RSM (Melbourne), reports on the conference.

On Friday May 22, the Local Formation Animators (LFAs) from each of the congregations of the Institute gathered with the Institute Formation Council (IFC) for the annual Local Formation Animators’ conference. The theme was Mystery-Mission-Mercy and was presented by Mary Lowcock RSM, who is currently director of Catholic Mission in Brisbane.

On the Friday night as we gathered there was the usual welcome and enthusiastic exchange of news and talk as we settled into The Centre at Randwick.

Prayer together opened up Saturday morning for us, then the group was given time to read and reflect on two articles in preparation for Mary’s presentation – “Mission: Mother of the Church and of Theology” (Noel Connelly) and “Towards a Spirituality of Mission” (John Bathersby).

Mary introduced her session with the questions: “What does mission mean to you?” and “Is mission something you do or something you live?”. Drawing on her own study and with insights, particularly from Noel Connelly, Mary helped us to delve into a Trinitarian theology of mission and took us through something of the shift in missiology today.

We were led into these challenging concepts of mission through an interactive process of listening, reflecting and small group sharing. Mary explored with us the theory that the Church does not have a mission; God’s mission has the Church (Noel Connelly). We were left with the questions – “Does this mean that the Sisters of Mercy do not have a mission but that God’s mission has the Sisters of Mercy?” “What does this shift in missiology say to the Institute and what does it mean for our world?” Much thoughtful and lively discussion resulted.

At the end of the day of input, reflection and discussion the LFAs were commissioned to take the material of Mystery-Mission-Mercy back to their own congregations through the workshops they will be offering.

Sunday morning was spent becoming familiar with the material and the process for its presentation. The LFAs then formed groups around their own regions and spent quite some time planning dates and collaborative ways of sharing meetings within congregations. The conference concluded with Mass celebrated by Michael Whelan SM and lunch together.

We are very grateful to Mary Lowcock, not only for her skilful and expert presentation of the theology of mission, but for the generosity with which she shared herself, her insights and her material. Once again the conference had provided an arena for all LFAs to meet together, share experiences of the past year, have the opportunity to receive some valuable input, share insights, and to plan for gatherings in the months to come. All of this woven in and around the warmth of friendships, the experiences of shared Mercy ministry, and tons of laughter!

At the recent IPC meeting the leaders agreed that all LFA workshops could be held between June and December, so watch out for your local LFA gathering or choose to attend one being held in another area. All dates will be published as soon as they are finalised but you can download (below) a list of those we know. We are excited that so many throughout the Institute will have the opportunity to engage with, and be challenged by, a developing understanding of Mission today and the implications for us as Sisters of Mercy.

From: Sister Kaye Evans RSM, Institute Formation Co-ordinator