“With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling”.
Local Formation Animators meet in Sydney
On Friday April 1st the 17 Local Formation Animators (LFAs) gathered from around Australia with the Institute Formation Council for their annual conference. The theme of the conference was captured in the quote from T.S. Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding “With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling”.
Friday evening saw everyone gather with the usual enthusiasm and delight in being together. We spent some time in ritualising the story of the past 8 years of LFA gatherings – recalling the themes of each year and the symbols which had been the gift of each of the events.
Saturday’s process was based on the address given by Dr M Shawn Copeland to the annual assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, October 2010. The address was entitled “Radical Openness, Suffering, and the Grace of Prophetic Hope”. Watching her address on DVD, spending time with reflection questions and conversation together helped us to explore Shawn’s message in the light of our experience. The heart of it spoke of how Religious Life can meet its ever-contemporary, concrete challenge to be church here and now, and in so doing to honour history and be faithful to the future. It relates who we are as church to the mission of Jesus of Nazareth; as Christian we are not only involved in that mission but also called and able to be faithful to it through the gift of the Spirit. (from Kathleen William’s reading guide to Shawn’s address.)
Sunday morning was given to the LFAs to explore their ‘take away’ kits and ways in which they would work with each other to present the workshops in their own regions. (Dates of these workshops are now available.)
Because this would be the last LFA conference as they have developed, one of the important aspects of the weekend was to reflect on the value of them and to consider what recommendations the LFAs would make to the New Institute. In speaking of the value, these were among the comments – ‘Coming together as a national group and enabling each member to have an opportunity to experience the same content’, ‘it ensures every sister has the same opportunity for ongoing formation; ‘ numbers attending workshops have remained constant over 8 years despite increasing age’; ‘ it brings individuals together in a unifying experience’; ‘provides a well-established network for distribution of updated theological and spiritual material’. The development of the LFA programme has been one of the highlights of the work of the IFC. There were strong recommendations that the networks and processes developed by the LFA group be continued in some form into the future.
At the conclusion of the weekend, Barbara Bolster, chair of the Institute Formation Council, spoke in high praise of the commitment, enthusiasm and hard work of the LFAs who have carried the programme throughout the years, developing it into such a gift for the Institute.
Kaye Evans RSM– on behalf of the Institute Formation Council. (Barbara Bolster, Karon Donnellon, Cheryl Camp, Maree Haggerty, Joan Sibberas, Sue Smith)