Reasons for faith, hope in a disrupted Church

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Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne. The Archbishop says that despite the extensive lockdowns in Australia over the last two years he sees signs of hope for evangelisation in many places. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli believes the current extended lockdown in much of eastern Australia represents an unprecedented opportunity for Catholics to draw upon the grace of God, deepen their personal faith and share it with others.

Archbishop Comensoli was speaking at an online presentation, Reasons for Hope in a Disrupted Church on 21 September, organised by the Arete Centre for Missionary Leadership in Sydney.

He told the forum of over 100 mainly students from the centre that the lives of so many Australians have fundamentally changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Melbourne has spent more time in lockdown than any other city in the world and this has had a fundamental impact upon our people. But we must take courage in that our Church is used to facing disruption in different ways throughout our history”, he said.

“Yet through disruption, there can be tremendous grace, that through these personal trials, we can draw closer to Christ. We may find Him in this disruption or rather He may find us”.

“Yet through disruption, there can be tremendous grace, that through these personal trials, we can draw closer to Christ. We may find Him in this disruption or rather He may find us”

Archbishop Comensoli said the disruption facing the Catholic Church in Australia today, linked to a drift away from the practice of the faith, must also be seen as an opportunity for believers to take up the call to missionary discipleship.

“Disruption helps us reflect more deeply on the call to discipleship. It can help stir us into discernment and action, to go out into the deep and bring others too into a closer encounter with Christ”, he said.

The Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, Daniel Ang. Mr Ang underscored the importance of Sydney’s Arete Centre in forming future missionaries for the Church. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Alongside Archbishop Comensoli at the forum was the Director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, Daniel Ang.

He said places of theological formation such as the Arete Centre, were critical to help Catholics grow in their understanding and love of their faith.

“One expression of disruption is that many Catholics have lacked access to the riches of their own tradition. This can lead to a form of ‘cultural amnesia’ where the constellation of resources, insights and Catholic practices we can draw upon for our spiritual lives now and in the future are unknown”, Mr Ang explained.

“Of course, in mining our tradition we can risk being stuck in the past, but it is also true we can be ‘stuck in the present’, trying to live out our faith without access to the deep and wide sources of faith that are made available to us in the Catholic tradition”.

“The Arete Centre aligns with our mission as an Archdiocese, to make Christ known and to equip Sydney Catholics to live that faith with a renewed sense of confidence, knowledge and practical skills”.

Applications are open for places in the Arete Centre’s one year Foundations of Missionary Leadership Course for 2022. The program is open to anyone passionate about parish renewal, including youth ministers and other leadership positions in parishes and ecclesial movements and communities. Download a prospectus on the Arete Centre website:  https://aretecentre.org/

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