Ministry in Spirituality
"To be a person is to have a story." We go on telling our story. We
go on listening with and tending the stories of each other - those,
who are closely with us day by day; and those, who move in and
out of our lives. At times we come together to celebrate our stories,
and the bigger story - of Jesus among us.
It is in this context, that the ministry of spirituality comes alive
today, as it has done across the generations before us, in ways
that are particular to the culture and circumstances of the time.
Our early Sisters ministered to the women of convict times. They,
with others (like Carolyn Chisholm), helped to lift the spirit of the
age. Across the years, ministries developed in health care,
education and social welfare. The practical was there always, and
deep within this was a presence to each person in their
uniqueness and their wholeness - and a knowing of God being
with them and among them.
As we look back at the decade just gone, we note something more
specific in the development of the ministry of spirituality. People
are giving expression to deep yearnings and longings. They are
searching for meaning in their lives. There is a difference in the
atmosphere of society. As David Tacey writes:
"The surface of life will not be restored until
links have been (re)established with the
depths. This is why so many Australians,
especially young Australians, are talking
about the need for spirituality today." ( Re-
enchantment , p.45)
Our Sisters have responded to the call of our times. They gather
with people in their homes - for prayerful reflecting together on
their lives and the Gospel, and with programmes of on-going
prayer and faith development. They offer spiritual guidance in the
context of retreat centres, where people come seeking spiritual
guidance. Members of school staffs are often among those who
gather, renewing and deepening their own spirit, and being more
able to share this with their students. Whatever the walk in life,
people come to be more grounded in who they are, and to grow in
intimacy with their God - they give expression to this in many
The healing prayer ministry captures something of the all-
encompassing love of our foundress, Mary Aikenhead, in her
concern for the whole person. Those involved in this ministry
spend time in prayer with the emotionally broken, the abused,
those who are confused and disturbed, the rejected, the hurting
ones. Enabling people to journey back through their lives, recalling
painful memories and revisiting painful experiences can be
demanding and painstaking. To be part of their continuing journey
in their new-found freedom and peace is humbling.
The Medley Avenue community in Liverpool offer programmes and
prayer opportunities in the convent and in the homes of families.
An outreach from this local community is the Web of Payer which
unites us with people across our land - people who regularly
support us in prayer. These women and men occasionally gather
for a day of reflection and prayer in different cities.
Caritas Christi Conference Centre and Bethany Retreat House in
Wahroonga NSW were places alive in spirituality programmes and
retreats through the '80's and '90's. Currajeen Retreat Centre at
Eltham Victoria continues today on its relocated site in the outer
Melbourne suburb of Doreen, with its lovely setting, looking out on
pastures and cattle, and with its varied accommodation. Also in
Victoria, the Sisters of Charity work together with the Brigidine
Sisters at the Kilbride Centre at Albert Park. The Sisters of Charity
are represented at this centre in the roles of coordinator, hospitality
and spiritual direction.
At the Emmanuel Pastoral and Spirituality Centre in Launceston
one of our Sisters has been a member of the centre's team of
religious and lay people, a complementary mix for this crossroads
part of the church of the Tasmanian church.
In all our centres, the women and men who attend programmes
and retreats bring an ecumenical flavour to our ministry - they
represent a breadth of religious traditions. A Sister has been a
member of the Commission on Ecumenical Spirituality, Theology
and Education of the Tasmanian Council of Churches. One of our
Sisters was an assistant in the Religious Services Centre in the
Olympic Village of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. She
knows a widening in her experience of the multiplicity of Christian
faiths, and it has introduced her to the worlds of Buddhism, Islam
and Hinduism. Also in the Melbourne Archdiocese a Sister has
worked on Ecumenical Commissions throughout the '90's and
takes part in ecumenical discussions and prayer groups
throughout the year.
Spirituality involves the whole person and all
of life. Whatever our ministry, Sisters of Charity are enmeshed in
the lives of God's people.