The first Mary Aikenhead Ministries conference in 4 years was held at the Amora Hotel in Sydney on 11 and 12 May 2023.
We were truly blessed to have with us a significant number of Sisters of Charity whose presence lifted all of us.
In curating the conference program, the Trustees were mindful that the world had changed since 2019 and that there had been a flow-on impact of changes across our ministries; and those impacts continue to influence our mission and workplaces.
We were also aware of the many new people at governance, executive and leadership levels who had joined Mary Aikenhead Ministries since 2019.
It certainly was the hope of the Trustees that the conference would touch everyone’s hearts and minds and that everyone would leave, affirmed, challenged, and inspired in their respective ministry.
There were three components that were chosen to form the narrative of the conference program:
- Making our history - who we are and how did we get here?
- Australia: Context and Challenges
- MAM for today and tomorrow
Interwoven in these three strands was our conference companion Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, who offered us his insights and challenges on the learnings of the conference.
We were also proud to launch the Inaugural Mary Aikenhead Ministries Oration.
It was wonderful to have a diverse range of local and international speakers.
A highlight of the conference for many was our coming together at the end of day 1 to celebrate a beautiful mass in the historic St Patrick’s church, which happens to also be the oldest surviving Catholic church in NSW. Our Mission and Formation director, Louwana Saba and her team of volunteers excelled in leading us in such faith filled liturgies throughout the course of the whole conference.
Following the conference, we sought feedback from the delegates, and we are truly grateful for everyone who took the time to provide their feedback on both what they found uplifting and what they found disappointing. It was all constructive and we will truly endeavour to learn from those things which some of you highlighted that can make our next conference even better.
It seems a great many participants thoroughly enjoyed the showcasing of our ministries and just about everyone appreciated and valued Fr Frank Brennan's analysis and challenges contained in his summation of the conference.
A number were disappointed that there was little table discussion after each presentation and the Trustees will reflect carefully on comments regarding overseas speakers as well as the technological challenges that pose when the presentation is online.
However, our intention is that the conference is a journey – our history, how we got here, what ‘here’ in Australia looks like for society and the Church (as we are a work of the Church) and then looking to the broader world and then the future. We pray that the conference continues as each participant takes back to their workplace the call to consider our story in the context of these times and looking to the future. Just as the work the Sisters commenced in the 1980s prepared the way for the PJP, and the work to create the PJP prepared what we are now able to do.
It is by the work we do today that we will continue to be a ministry that flourishes in the decades to come. Hopefully, people will share the conference with others, think about what they heard, consider what challenged them and understand that what we do today sets us up for tomorrow.
Caritas Christi Urget Nos!