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Southern Cross editorial
Two events in the Adelaide Archdiocese in
recent weeks have given me much cause
for optimism – the launch of the Mary
MacKillop walking trail as part of a National
Trust smart phone app and the visit of
Fr Timothy Radcliffe to South Australia.
The events are exciting on a number of
fronts but what stands out for me is what
can be achieved when we work together
with the various elements of our local
Church and the wider community.
In the case of the app, this came about
because of the relationship that the
Archdiocese has developed with the
National Trust for the St Francis Xavier’s
Cathedral restoration project, a significant
initiative in its own right.
A germ of an idea was put forward by the
National Trust and the untiring efforts of
Sister Patricia Keane to promote the work
of Mary MacKillop in the city of Adelaide
ensured it came to fruition.
The launch brought together the Sisters,
the Trust, the city council, the Archdiocese,
local media, school students and even the
sculptor of our beautiful Mary MacKillop
statue, Judith Rolevink.
Media personality Peter Goers (pictured)
brought his inimitable humour to the event
and Sr Sheila McCreanor reminded us
of the goodness of Mary MacKillop, her
friendship with people of different faiths
and backgrounds, and her pragmatic
approach to life.
At a time when the Church is facing many
challenges, Mary MacKillop is the epitome
of what it means to bear witness to the
Similarly, the visit of Fr Timothy Radcliffe
OP reinforces the message this month of
our own Vicar General Fr Philip Marshall
who says that at the “heart of the renewal
of the Church” is going out into the world
to serve God, not dwelling on how we can
attract more people to the pews.
Fr Radcliffe certainly goes out into the
world – he has visited approximately
120 countries (not many, in his words) –
including many regions where Christians
are facing incredible suffering and
His preaching to, and conversations
with, Christians all over the world and his
ability to communicate the deep truths
of our faith come at a time when the
world is crying out for voices that are not
connected to fundamentalism. Similarly,
his desire for the Catholic Church to be a
“home for all” is a welcome contribution
to debate on discipline issues associated
with the forthcoming synod on the family
To have someone of his intellect and
experience amongst us for more than
three weeks for a program involving a wide
range of groups both in Adelaide and Port
Pirie dioceses is quite an accomplishment
and has involved much preparation and
It’s another indication of what can be
achieved through some creative and bold
thinking, collaboration and the harnessing
of abundant energy within our own
I was reading about the state of our world
recently and the article was saying that the
real things of our world make us bankrupt
in morale and spiritually dead! The article
went on to say that we are becoming
uncivilised; civilisation is collapsing. When
you watch the news and programs on TV
or listen to the radio you feel like throwing
your hands up in horror as you wonder
what we can ‘do’ about the state of our
world. Our morale can be low at such
times. This led me to recover something
that a South American theologian, Jon
Sobrino, wrote in the 1990s.
Morale is about what gives you spirit.
And “Spirituality is simply the spirit of an
individual or a group in relationship with
the whole of reality”, says Sobrino. So
what is the ‘whole of our reality’ here in the
Adelaide Church and society as we come
Sobrino says that any genuine spirituality
quest demands “honesty about the real”,
“fidelity to the real”, and a connection by
which we permit ourselves to be” carried
along by the more of the real.”
This is what confronts all of us in the
present negative realities as we come to
Pentecost and the great commission to go
out with ‘Good News’. What is the positive
way we, in our times, ‘get real’.
Honesty about the real. The Gospel calls
us out of unreality, says Sobrino, to a
“profound honesty about the ‘real’, the
recognition of things as they actually are”.
The whole point about Jesus’ own life,
death and resurrection is that it sheds
light on our reality. Finding ‘the real’ can
be hard; it is the attempt that counts, our
searching attitude. Building on the action
of the past decades following the Second
Vatican Council we are on that search in our
Archdiocese now with various processes
that focus the search for us:
– F irst, there was the visit last year of Fr
David Couturier who gave us five new
directions as a local church that lead us to
the forums of these months.
– Secondly, there is also the search for
outcomes from the Pastoral Planning
Conference last year that ask us to think
and act as the church is “rebuilt”. Some
who went to that conference are taking us
forward with this.
– T hirdly, there has been the dynamic
presence during this month of Fr Timothy
Radcliffe OP who spoke with many of us
about the ‘real’ of our baptism into the
body of Christ.
– T hen overarching all this is the call of
Pope Francis for us to be people of “The
Joy of the Gospel”.
We are ‘getting real’ honestly!
Fidelity to the real. We seek action with
these processes as Sobrino gives us the
suffering servant in Isaiah as a model
of how to be faithful to the ‘real’. Jesus’
faithfulness to the ‘real’ creates resistance
with leaders of his time. They don’t get it.
They won’t ‘get real’. There is struggle; still
he keeps on. It leads to the Cross AND the
Resurrection AND to Pentecost.
As people who love to serve the life of the
Church, we need to know that we need
to be faithful, to be prayerful, to persist
rather than seeing ourselves silenced.
We maturely converse about things that
concern us, that are a struggle, which might
be painful, we dare to dialogue with the
‘real’ of the world of our times. We are in
dialogue with the society within which we
‘live and move and have our being’
Willingness to be swept along by the
“more” of reality. Jon leads us to be honest
with and faithful to ‘the real’ as it leads
us to hope. For him this is not just sitting
around waiting. Our hope is active.
We go forward in hope.
Fr Anthony Kain is facilitator for the
Office for Worship and parish priest of
Glenelg and Plympton.
Getting ‘real’ in a positive way
Fr Anthony Kain
Signs of optimism in our midst
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