Geraldine, who had been the speaker in 2002, began this year’s address by saying, “Thank you for inviting me back.”
True to form, she altered her topic from the original, but it didn’t matter a jot to attendees. She decided to speak about “living through the Church’s Holy Saturday” – who could argue with such an image?
Holy Saturday is about darkness, tomb time, solemnity ‒ and perhaps most importantly, anticipation. However, we know Holy Saturday only because we have lived Easter Sunday.
Geraldine proclaimed that she’s a big fan of the Sisters of St Joseph – of co-founder, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and of the Sisters’ many ministries.
She also addressed the fallout of the Royal Commission, reminding her audience of the need to “articulate better our shared values” as well as acknowledging the imperative to recognise that “it does mean a new us.”
While “we knew the Church represented much more than the awful headlines”, she recalled that “the lack of kindness was terrible to face….Would it rob us of joy?”
However, Geraldine does not have it in her to throw in the towel, despite these words of Greg Craven, Vice Chancellor, Australian Catholic University:
“Have things ever seemed worse for the Catholic Church in Australia? If it were a boxer, it would look tangled in the ropes, sliding towards the canvas and spitting blood. The past four years have been horrendous…”
She is carving out her own spiritual road map, with reference ‒ interestingly ‒ to the Jewish tradition, captured in the words of the late British chief rabbi, Lord Jonathon Sacks, from whom she draws the concept, ‘Belonging before believing’.
As someone who has entertained the concept of a quieter, humbler post-Royal Commission Church, I appreciated Geraldine’s sharing of her hope that “for maybe 12 months, the Church might suspend all unnecessary activity and just listen”.
Moving forward, Geraldine believes, “It’s up to us to dream of entities that don’t require an imprimatur.”
While Geraldine didn’t stretch the analogy, or gild the church lily, she is a blessing for those of us who, in spite of all, wish to be part of “the new us”.
The TWEC Dinner upholds the Josephite tradition in this diocese and contributes to ongoing adult faith formation. Please click here for more information. For more detail about Greg Craven’s comments, click here.