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11 April 2019

Wisdom and Compassion: A Day with Religious in Winnipeg

12On April 1st, about 60 religious, mostly women of the Winnipeg and Saint Boniface dioceses, gathered for a day offered by the CRC for Ongoing Formation. The theme was “Wisdom and Compassion in a Broken Church: Healing the Past and Shaping the Future”.

The morning featured presentations by Fr. Timothy Scott, CSB, Executive Director of the CRC, and Sabrina Di Matteo, Assistant Director for Ongoing Formation. Their talks addressed the situation of the Church in the last months, given the numerous cases of sexual abuse brought to light, and the issues of responsibility, accountability and transparency at the heart of the Vatican Summit on the Protection of Minors, held at the end of February.

Fr. Scott addressed the weariness many of the faithful are feeling towards the Church’s situation, even more so for consecrated persons involved in pastoral care. Speaking on compassion and its roots in the Bible, he underlined the importance of seeing this Church situation as a call of compassion for and with the victims and survivors of sex abuse, residential schools, and any suffering at the hands of the Church. In this way, we can better embrace the notion of Passion – especially in Lent and Easter season – not limited to suffering but understood as a burning love for justice and reconciliation, a call to transform our Church to be more in the image of the loving God.

Sabrina Di Matteo, who was glad to discover the religious in Winnipeg and Saint Boniface at her first official event in Ongoing Formation, reflected on crisis as an opportunity for transformation and reform. She gave examples of young “reformers” in Medieval history and religious communities: Martin Luther, Teresa d’Avila and Catherine of Siena, who each sought with wisdom and passion to return to the radical Good News that founded the Church. Sabrina also addressed signs of hope to be found in the development of research on sex abuse and counseling for victims and perpetrators, which can help the Church become a leader in prevention, protection, and provide models for civil organizations dealing with similar issues.

The afternoon was dedicated to discussions on the experiences of the local communities regarding the CRC’s themes of Interdependence, Prophetic Witness, Integral Ecology and New Forms of Dialogue and Communion. The religious addressed their practices, challenges, spiritual needs and questions. The Ongoing Formation service will take these into account for further activities. A time of prayer and song concluded the day spent together, and many religious expressed their appreciation for the talks and hope they felt, having revisited wisdom and compassion in their own spirituality.