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Chairperson Report

As 2015, and the Year of Consecrated Life, draws to a close we look back on a significant year for CVMA.  Following the success of the Vocations Workshop in October of last year, the Executive launched into the Survey conducted in association with the Pastoral Resource Office.  The energy and excitement of this endeavour was tempered with the realisation that the diocesan priesthood would require a different set of parameters and questions, and could not be included in the Survey we were undertaking.  However, the initial response, whilst slow and painstaking, is now providing us with data that sheds light on the changing face of religious life in today's Church.  The first phase has received an encouraging 60% response rate from congregations and societies of apostolic life.  We are now preparing the second phase which will go to individuals having joined these congregations and societies during the past 10 years.  It had been our plan to have the survey published during this year of consecrated life, but it became evident that this would be a 'bridge too far'.  We look forward to providing the feedback as soon as it is extrapolated, and will keep you posted on developments as they unfold.

A highlight for us this year was to be the biennial conference "Global Communication:  Encountering Christ", to take place in Sydney during September.  But due to disappointing registrations it was necessary for us to cancel this event.  What might this be telling us?  Perhaps the alternating of workshop and conference is no longer a manageable option for vocations ministers, and the CVMA Executive.  This, along with other circumstances, has necessitated a review by the Executive, which took place over the scheduled conference days.  We invited representatives from various religious congregations to join us and share what CVMA meant to them as vocations ministers, to their particular religious group, and whether we need to continue doing what we do.  The response from these representatives was a clear 'yes'.

Another significant occurrence this year was the notification from the ACBC that their funding of CVMA would cease at the end of 2015.  Whilst it came as a shock and a disappointment to us, it was not totally unexpected.  The reason given to CVMA being that "...most initiatives related to vocations to consecrated life..." not the diocesan priesthood, and "...that CRA was no longer contributing to CVMA".  The letter from Fr Brian Lucas, on behalf of the Bishops Commission for Church Ministry, goes on to say that the decision to cease funding "...should not be taken as suggesting that CVMA should cease operation but rather that its funding should come from those who participate in its activities".  Whilst there is disappointment that the two major institutions who endorsed and funded CVMA from its beginning are no longer in a position to do so, it leaves us with questions for CVMA's future.  How do we continue in supporting vocations ministers across the state networks, which is the need expressed to us, with limited funds.

The way forward during 2016 will entail:

  • reducing hours of operation at the CVMA office to one day per week;
  • this current issue of VocNET be the final in its printed hard-copy format, and will become an on-line version of articles and information (how this will be accessed is still to be finalised, and those who have paid their subscriptions for 2016 will be reimbursed);
  • the Executive will meet face-to-face once during the calendar year, instead of twice, and now have Skype meetings at other times during the year rather than the tele-conferences that have taken place in the past. 

These steps will alleviate our overheads considerably, and enable us to continue in a viable, though somewhat limited capacity.

It is with regret that I have tendered my resignation from the Executive, effective as of 31st December.  Due to undertaking a 4-year course of study, I will not be able to continue on the Executive or as Chairperson.  Had our scheduled conference been held this year I would simply have not sought re-election.  However, circumstances being as they are this has created an unforseen gap on the Executive.  However, there is indeed a God, and Br Greg McDonald fms from the NSW network has agreed to come onto the CVMA Executive until our next conference, which is scheduled for 2017.  We thank Greg for accepting our request, and know that he will make a fine contribution to the national vocations ministry.  Greg brings a wealth of experience and vitality in the area of vocations, youth ministry and discernment.

I wish the CVMA Executive every blessing in these challenging and changing times, as they forge a new pathway in vocations conversations.  It has been my pleasure to serve on the Executive for the past four years with an incredible group of dedicated vocations ministers.  I hope that commitments allow me to  attend future CVMA events, and will hold you all in my heart and prayers as the "new normal" of religious life becomes evident.

With blessings for Christmas, the New Year, and beyond.

Janette Murphy

2016 CVMA Executive

Left to Right:
Peter Hendriks msc
Jenny Seal fdnsc
Tony Cox ssc
Claire Cooke ssps
Janette Murphy rsj

Left to right:
Mrs. Donna Millsom
Jenny Seal fdnsc
Peter Hendriks msc
Catherine Warner pbvm
Anne Taylor rsc
Janette Murphy rsj
Lindsay Rust sac
Claire Cooke ssps
Catholic Vocations Ministry Australia © 2016