The biennial Catholic Social Services conference, themed ‘Serving Our Communities with Courage and Compassion’, will be held at the Catholic Leadership Centre, Victoria Parade, East Melbourne on 26-28 February 2020.
The conference theme resonates with the mission and ethos of many Jesuit ministries serving the Australian community, and the Jesuit journal Eureka Street is the conference media partner. Representatives of Jesuit ministries will be both attending and presenting at the conference.
In particular, Dr Bronwyn Lay, Ecological Justice Coordinator for Jesuit Social Services and coordinator of the Climate Change Exchange at RMIT University, will lead a workshop entitled Eco-Justice: The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor are One. Her co-presenter is Fr Andy Hamilton SJ of Jesuit Communications and Jesuit Social Services.
This workshop will explore how we can strategically address climate change and ecological harms which are already impacting in a variety of ways on the most marginalised in our society. There is much work being done by different organisations and advocates in this area, so it is important to come together and explore the different variants of ecological justice and begin to define a common vision going forward for the Catholic social services sector.
The opening keynote address at the conference will re-issue Pope Francis’ call to go to the margins. To be delivered by Francis Sullivan and entitled Margin Call — The Risk of Integrity, the address will present a challenging overview of the state of Australian society and the Australian Catholic Church and explore the root of our calling to serve in ministries of the Church.
Sullivan is well-qualified to address these issues. He spent five years as CEO of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He has been committed and active in forums like the forthcoming conference to promote ‘reform, renewal and refreshment in the Church’.
The conference will also include sessions on Catholic social services ‘journeying’ effectively with Australia’s First Peoples, the homeless, children and vulnerable people, regional Australians and those impacted by domestic violence, disability and/or the justice system.
Other focuses will be best practice in governance of ministries, formation for ministry, the Plenary Council, and fostering emerging leaders. During the conference dinner, Ursula Stephens, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, will deliver the 2020 Mary MacKillop Oration. The conference will conclude with a media masterclass on engaging media to advance mission.
For further information and bookings, see https://www.css.org.au/Serving-Communities.
Gabrielle McMullen AM, Catholic Social Services conference committee