Friends, greetings as we begin another year!
I am writing this from Chiang Mai in Thailand where I am attending the Asia Pacific Conference of Major Superiors. This was preceded by a meeting with the key Secretaries and Directors of Works of the Conference including Australians Robin Koning, our Conference Delegate for Studies, and Helen Forde, CEO of Jesuit Mission.
We have been looking at the various needs of our Conference in the light of the documents of GC36. What does it mean to be ‘companions in a mission of reconciliation and justice’ (Decree 1)? And what might it look like to have ‘renewed governance for a renewed mission’ (Decree 2)? The needs of our Conference are great and they continue to grow. Our resources are limited. What does the Lord call us to become in 2017 as we consider the universal mission of the Society expressed in all of Asia Pacific?
There are many challenges we currently face in our Conference as also in our own Australian Province. We can face those challenges by living our faith, having open and listening conversations and being courageous in the discernment of our decisions.
Most of us head home from our Conference on 26 January, Australia Day. I arrive home on the 27th. Truthfully, I am not disappointed in missing our national holiday. Each year it carries more ambiguity and tension for me.
I think of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of this land and their continuing absence from any mention in our Constitution. I am also aware of those who have sought life and freedom in our country and whom we continue to reject and even imprison. Perhaps we are fortunate we rarely get to sing the second verse of our national anthem, ‘For those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share’. Can we, as a nation, face these hard truths in 2017 and work more closely together on our very particular and Australian ‘mission of reconciliation and justice’?
This year promises to be an important year for our Province as we pick up the directions offered by our recent General Congregation. Let us move forward aware of the Lord’s friendship with us. At the end of 2016 Pope Francis reminded us that the completed Year of Mercy must continue to be celebrated and lived out in our communities. Everything, he says, is revealed in Mercy. Let us keep in mind those most in need of mercy and our friendship. Let us be open to new friendships.
Fr Brian F. McCoy, Provincial