Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 16, 2008
Canadian religious urged to be signs of hope for humanity
Dominican father calls for leaders with 'tremendous flexibility'
By PETER NOVECOSKY, osb
Christian leadership is the service of God's grace.
"If we look to the Gospels, then the model that Jesus offers us is that of service. My theory is that Christian leadership is the service of God's grace. We serve people by serving the happening of God's grace."
Radcliffe used the parable of the prodigal son to explore the "happening of grace" in people's lives. It is not only the father in the parable who is a model for leaders, he said, but also the two sons.
"The parable is about the loss and restoration of unity of family," he said.
Diversity within community often leads to drama, he said. In the parable of the prodigal son, "there are no hints that the father treats (the departure of his younger son) as a dramatic event. . . . Life carries on."
The father resists "the culture of control." He lets things happen, even though he does not know where this will lead. Leadership means being unafraid, however much chaos threatens.
This will mean letting things die. Leadership is in part "the art of dying so that the future may break in," he said. "It is creating the space for the young to do what we cannot imagine or anticipate, loosing the grip of the present, stirring in a bit of unpredictability."
The younger son models leadership by stepping out in faith and vulnerability. "Christian leadership is fundamentally about stepping out in front, going ahead, as the prodigal son steps out to go and seek his father, and his father steps out to go and greet his son" Radcliffe said.
The elder son models the jealousy religious leaders may feel. They can be jealous of those who have given in to their "wildest fantasies and still come home and get the best robe," he said.
Leaders who serve "the happening of grace" need "tremendous flexibility and refuse to be stuck in predetermined roles."
The CRC leaders represent more then 21,000 religious women and men from across Canada. The theme of the assembly was Remembering for the future!
"We are remembering the contribution of women and men religious in such areas as education, health care, the promotion of women in society and being present to the poor," said outgoing CRC president Sister Donna Geernaert, a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul of Halifax.
This is not a nostalgia for the past, "but an openness to new horizons, forging new pathways in the Church and in contemporary society," Geernaert said.
The CRC also chose a new executive with Dominican Father Yvon Pomerleau as president, Ursuline Sister Anne Lewans as vice-president and Marianhill Missionary Father Alain Rodrigue as secretary-treasurer.
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