Diversity, inclusivity and joy were the key themes addressed on the opening day of the “Mission: One Heart Many Voices” conference in Sydney. Source: Catholic Mission.
Carol Zinn SSJ from the US States and Irish Bishop Paul Tighe delivered keynote addresses that urged the 400 conference participants to take an open, welcoming and joyful approach to living the Gospel.
Dr Zinn spoke of leading mission, engaging the audience with an immersive presentation that included singing and audience participation.
“Leadership for mission is about trust,” she said. “Without having that relationship of trust with God, it is almost impossible to lead mission.”
The first part of Dr Zinn’s address focused on living the joy of the Gospel, the focus of Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Critical to doing so, she said, is choosing love over fear, inclusivity over exclusivity, and mercy over judgment.
“We have a choice of how we’re going to be and how we’re not going to be, and we have to know the difference,” she said.
Acknowledging that it is sometimes difficult to do mission in our home context and step out as Jesus did, Dr Zinn encouraged the audience to witness. “We must witness to the Gospel if we are to be prophetic in our response,” she said. “Practicing the Gospel requires a mutuality response; humility and curiosity are necessary to break down polarisation.”
Bishop Tighe, the Vatican’s Secretary for the Pontifical Council on Culture, spoke of the challenges facing the Church in today’s digital world
“Among the main challenges we face is the question, what does it mean to be Church in the geography and demography of the digital world?”
The answer comes in authenticity, witness and what we communicate, he said. “When we communicate, we are communicating the person of Jesus. It is a person, not just a message.”
Ironically, the complexity of the digital age can still be effectively met with simplicity, as proven in an example that caught yesterday’s audience off-guard.
“The single greatest communication tool the Church has is still a smoke signal,” Bishop Tighe said. “Thousands of TV cameras watch a chimney for days, sometimes weeks, during the election of a new pope.”
Spirit of inclusivity, diversity encouraged on Day 1 of mission conference (Catholic Mission)