Between May 26 to 29 the Canadian Religious Conference /Conférence religieuse Canadienne met in Montréal for their biannual General meeting with the title: “Discerning Hope Amid the Challenges.” 300 religious, men and women, participated in a common discussion on the issues that confront religious life today in Canada.
The issues became clear right in the opening exercise to write down two critical or challenging issues at this time. Here is a small sample of the responses: how to handle a diminished leadership, how to pass on the spirit to the next generation, how to keep alive the flame despite age, what do we need to let go, how to develop leadership with the laity. how to develop interculturality, The exercise showed that the issues were shared by the majority of the religious groups.
To prime the pump, the CRC leadership had invited p. Simon Pierre Arnold, a Benedictine from Peru but originally from Belgium, to speak to the CRC gathering about the current situation. He gave one prepared presentation on the challenge of religious life in Canada, with a special invitation to the religious to “leave behind the schema of Christendom” and to undertake a “new mission ad gentes” by decolonizing our western mentalities. He complemented this presentation with a two-hour question and answer session in which he deepened his viewpoint.
On the final day the participants were asked to write what they thought the new administration ought to tackle in the next two years. From those five priorities will be chosen.
An altogether good exercise, with excellent liturgies and an aging but still energetic group of people. In the eucharist, presided by Card. Lacroix of Québec, the religious were thanked for the contribution that they had made to the history of Canada.