WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Members of the Council of Consecrated Women offer a blessing to Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, May 3 to mark his 90th birthday.
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Archbishop Richard Smith says the Edmonton Archdiocese will undergo a process of discernment, purification and reform.
May 12, 2014
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
The Edmonton Archdiocese wants to involve everybody in its response to Pope Francis' call for discernment, purification and reform.
Archbishop Richard Smith made that announcement May 3 at the annual meeting of the Council of Consecrated Women.
He has already created a 10-member committee with representatives from all sectors of archdiocese. The team will get together once a month for the next year beginning next month.
Also in the coming year the group will prepare the ground for broader archdiocesan reflection and consultation about the discernment, purification and reform process.
"You can see that this is a multi-year process," Smith said at the meeting. "I want to involve everybody within the archdiocese. The format, the method is still to be discerned."
The archbishop said there might be the occasional faith-formation
opportunity during the overall process but warned that the response to Pope Francis' call will be far greater than the Nothing More Beautiful series.
"What we need to be doing now in response to Pope Francis is something far more radical and far deeper."
The pope's call for discernment, purification and reform was made in the context of the new evangelization and can be found in his exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).
"His call to the Church today is to really understand and live what it means to be a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ – people who are sent in particular to the peripheries, to the edges, to the margins," explained Smith.
"Then he deepened the call further with his apostolic exhortation. What I say to people is for the Church today, this is clearly required reading and it's very challenging reading."
The archbishop said he loves listening to the pope and reading his writings. "But at the same time he is constantly hitting us right between the eyes with dramatic challenges."
In his exhortation, the pope focuses on the concept of pastoral conversion. "If we are to be missionary disciples of Jesus Christ then the whole Church must undergo a pastoral conversion," explained Smith.
"He wants us to undergo whatever conversion is necessary in order to be an authentically missionary people."
In the exhortation, at the end of paragraph 30, the pope says, "I'm calling upon every local Church to undergo a resolute process of discernment, purification and reform," Smith said.
"He is deadly serious. These are times in the Church for pastoral conversion."
Smith invited the religious women to take a look at Francis' exhortation. "Take to heart the call of Pope Francis and ask what it will mean for us here and now to undergo a resolute process of discernment, purification and reform."
He shared with members of the Council of Consecrated Women some of the steps the archdiocese is putting in place to try and make the process happen.
For the last couple of months the archbishop and his planning committee have been meeting with a facilitator to discern questions such as what does it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and how do we help our people experience the Eucharist as an authentic encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.
"But now we have taken a further step and we have put together what I'm now calling a pastoral conversion committee," he announced. This 10-member committee is made up of the five members of the archbishop's planning committee in addition to reps from education, rural areas, young families and other areas.
"For yourselves, I would suggest this doesn't mean sitting back and wait and see what the archbishop is going to come up with," Smith told the women.
"There is an opportunity now for each and every one of us to respond to the call of the pope and say, 'Alright, how do we go into this resolute process of discernment, purification and reform?'"
At the meeting the religious women elected new members to the council and marked the 40th anniversary of the Council of Consecrated Women, which has undergone a change of name three times.
It began as the Sisters' Council much as the Council of Priests. In 1985 it changed its name to Council of Women Religious. The council has had its current name since 2008.
It began 40 years ago with 630 sisters from 30 religious communities. Now it has 175 members from 27 religious communities.
The council marked the 90th birthday of Archbishop Joseph MacNeil with song, cake and hugs. MacNeil never missed a meeting of the council during his 26 years as archbishop, except once when the women couldn't meet on a Saturday.
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