Ian McGinnity, priest of Parramatta diocese and past NCP chairman and Tony Flannery CSsR, founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland and currently on the the Leadership Team reflect on the conference in Chicago.
I write my final missive to you as Chairman of the NCP (my swansong or swagsong), on the feast of All Saints, appropriately the occasion for remembering all the Saints canonised or unrecognised. In the world we often view things from the perspective of opposites. You are either: a saint or a sinner, progressive or a traditionalist, angel or demon, member of the NCP or the ACCC et cetera.
I recently obtained (through the kindness of Noel Molloy) and read a fascinating book which looks at Australian ministerial priesthood entitled Where Did All the Young Men Go? It is an autobiographical study in which 23 men now aged over 70, who were part of the Manly Seminary class in the 1960s, tell their life stories.
I write these words having just returned from Ireland, which combined a relaxing holiday touring Eire, as well as my participation at the 2nd International meeting of priest associations and lay reform groups in Limerick (13-17 April), a follow-up to our initial meeting in Bregenz, Austria in October 2013.
The annual face-to-face meeting of the NCP committee was held at the National Office in Belmont, Victoria, 9-11 February. It was a fruitful time meeting with the other members of the committee.
The face of the Australian Priesthood is changing and we are all at different ages and stages in both life and ministry. We all need support!
The recently completed extraordinary Synod in Rome on the Family (5-19 October) has been a litmus test on how seriously the Roman Catholic Church, under Pope Francis’ leadership, is about listening to the people of God in their joys and hopes, struggles and challenges in living out the message of the Gospel in family life in the 21st Century.
The last couple of weeks have been a busy time for me juggling essential parish ministry (including confirmations and funerals) with my attendance at various gatherings of the broader Church and these events have influenced my thoughts as I write this message.
On 4 April I attended the funeral of former priest, Jim Grainger, at St Kevin’s Church, Eastwood. Jim, who was ordained for the Archdiocese of Sydney in 1965, left active priesthood ministry in 1979.
I write to you from my new parish after completing my sabbatical in Chicago. I returned to Australia and took up this new appointment on Christmas Eve. I was hoping to begin in January and have a little time for re-entry into the busyness of parish ministry but this was not to be.