Listening Learning Leading – 2013

Listening, learning and leading – a conference on the impact of mission and identity on what we do and how we do it 9, 10 October 2013

Click here for final conference program;  see below to view photo gallery.

A book of conference proceedings is being now available.  The following material from the conference is also available:

Chris Lowney: Called to lead:  Leadership to make mission a reality  video
Julie Edwards: Sharing the Mission with the whole organisation video
Sr Margaret Mary Flynn:  The Heart of the Matter video
Bishop Eugene Hurley:  Challenged and inspired to be Christ in the world today: video

Panel discussion: Panel comprising Fr Joe Caddy (CEO, CatholicCare,) Michael Myers (Chair, Centacare Ballarat), Carol Vale (CEO, Bethlehem Community), Teresa Rhynehart (St Vincent de Paul Society) and Rev Jim Curtain (Mission Director, St John of God ACCORD) video

Mary MacKillop Oration
Michael McGirr – Mary MacKillop Oration – The one habit of a highly effective leader video

Chris Lowney – slides from workshop on decision making
Patricia Faulkner – slides from workshop on Board leadership
Frank Brennan – notes for workshop on Catholic Social Teaching
David Beaver – slides from workshop – Getting recruitment and induction right
Leanne Lewis & Chris Middendorp – slides from workshop on listening to clients
Carmel Crawford – slides from workshop on Forming hearts for mission
Jenny Glare – slides from workshop on The Challenge of Child Sexual Abuse
Bob Dixon – slides from workshop on the changing face of our community
Anne Hunt and Julie Morgan – slides from workshop on leadership formation

A reflection on the conference:
In our busy world, it can be hard to take time out to listen and reflect—and learn. Yet it has never been more important to do so. At a conference in Melbourne on 9–10 October, 180 members and friends of Catholic Social Services Victoria did just that, and concluded that it was time well spent. In the words of one participant, a leading practitioner in their own field:

I enjoyed the conference … interesting … lots of good people … energising commitment to the ‘mission’ … honest about the challenges they suffer … all in all, good stuff!

The hope and the energy that Pope Francis has brought to the Church and the world was part of our narrative at this conference. He was referred to by nearly every speaker. Visiting US author Chris Lowney launched a book on Pope Francis and his leadership during the conference. But our mission goes back to the Gospels: speaker after speaker reflected on the centrality of the Gospel mission to Catholic service:

To love one another as Christ has loved us; to reach out to the least of our brothers and sisters; to reveal Christ to those that we serve.

Julie Edwards of Jesuit Social Services explained how the Gospel mission, as reflected in Catholic social teaching and the Ignatian tradition, must pervade all aspects of their work. Chris Lowney, quoting Thomas Edison, put this another way: vision without execution is hallucination. Another important part of our reality is that many of those who work in our Catholic agencies are not Catholic; many not Christian. They join us because they want to share in our work, and they bring their own strengths.

Our mission as leaders requires us to reach out with respect, as an organisation that is truly Catholic, with a treasure to offer individuals and the world. As Julie Edwards put it, we’re not just a bunch of people doing good things, we are a living organisation, with deep roots. Many noted that staff generally embraced enthusiastically the principles and the application of Catholic social teaching, and it is up to us to give them that opportunity. Importantly, too, it is by our fruits that we will be known. We are called, individually and as a Church, to present the face of God to those we serve, and to make the hope of the Gospels a reality. Sr Michelle Reid sgs was one of several who reminded us that we can only serve in dialogue with those who are to be served.

Leaders must articulate this sort of vision, and must walk the talk. This is what we see Pope Francis doing. At the conference we heard Bishop Eugene Hurley of Darwin model such engagement, as he related his face-to-face work for asylum seekers, and the broader advocacy that has flowed from that. We were also reminded that we are all called to share in the vision, and to help others move with us in that direction. Such shared ownership is associated with high-performing organisations; and with the insights of St Ignatius of Loyola.

Such leadership must be developed as a habit; and it requires regular reflection and learning to keep it vibrant. The Ignatian Examen—taking five minutes two or three times a day to reflect on the grace of God’s creation; of our experience; and on what lessons we can glean—was explained and modelled during the conference. Participants were well aware that all in the Church is not rosy. Sexual abuse of minors looms large, and must be named and dealt with. There are implications here for our organisations, but also for the role that our sector must play in the Church.

Bishop Eugene was the final speaker, and he put these reflections into context, when he quoted Pope John Paul II from 1998:

The Church is in the world as the living presence of the love of God, who leans down to every human weakness in order to gather it into the embrace of his mercy.

And, even as we are inspired by this, he reflected, we know that the human dimension of our Church is not perfect, nor are any of its members. But Bishop Eugene called on all to strive, with love, to close the chasm between the Church and Christ; to heal the wounds, warm the hearts, and be close to the people. The blazing glory of the Resurrection far surpasses any human weaknesses and their effects. He received a rousing ovation.

Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads, a new book by American speaker and author Chris Lowney, was launched by Garratt Publishing on the 9 October at 5.00pm at the Catholic Social Services Conference Listening Learning Leading

Chris also delivered the Keynote on Day 1 of the conference  His address ‘Called to Lead: Leadership to make mission a reality’ challenged us all to consider more deeply how we live our faith and mission, in community services and beyond.  Learn more about Chris, ex-Jesuit and ex-investment banker on Chris 

Drawing from the Jesuit tradition and his corporate experience, Chris has published widely on leadership.  A recent Harvard Business Review blog – A Simple Ritual for Harried Managers (and Popes) – continued his advocacy of Ignatian practices and values for those in the corporate world. 

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