The Southern Cross : June 2010
Page 10 June 2010 The Southern Cross www.adelaide.catholic.org.au opinion The Southern Cross Catholic guilt Goodness of women Funeral Directors Frank J Siebert Life changing. When you engage in Funeral ritual, you acknowledge life passed, give meaning to life lived, encounter your sense of loss, and your journey of grieving. When someone we love dies, we touch the mystery of life changing, not ending. Signature Service ... since 1867 Dedicated to Faith-centred Funerals Phone (08) 8223 5879 24 hours 7 days 49 Wakefield Street, Adelaide 5000. Proprietor and Manager B Siebert DESKS, WORKSTATIONS SCREEN SYSTEMS ERGONOMIC / EXECUTIVE VISITOR CHAIRS BOARDROOM & RECEPTION STORAGE & DISPLAY TABLES & CHAIRS Furniture Access 142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive Hilton SA 5033 T 8351 9293 F 8351 8926 www.furnitureaccess.com.au There is a photographic exhibition being shown around Australia which is wor th taking the time to visit when it arrives in your area. It's a photo shoot of women, not from Vogue in New York or London, but from ever y Catholic Diocese in Australia. The reason for the shoot is not to show the latest fashion attire in church wear or a glimpse of what Catholic women actually look like. It is an oppor tunity to look at the par ticipation of women in the Australian Church, with a focus on two women from ever y diocese who have been deemed inspirational. The exhibition was planned to coincide with the 10th Anniversar y of the repor t Woman and Man one in Christ Jesus. I was for tunate enough to be at the opening of the exhibition in the Por t Pirie diocese, my home diocese. Even though it was significant to be able to read the stories alongside the photos, what touched me deeply were the hundred or so women who came out on a cold night to suppor t this event. As I looked around the room I felt moved by the goodness of these women who continually give so much. Their commitment runs deep, and they are always present to the needs of the local church. There were many memories for me in the faces that night. Special school friends, friends of parents and the familiar faces of the women who par took in all the church activities I attended throughout my childhood in Pt Pirie. I felt a deep gratitude toward them, as they had provided a constancy, familiarity and stability to my experience of church and being par t of a church community. I realised my experience as a young person in the church would be replicated all around Australia as women have continually and humbly ensured that the nur turing, the feeding and the organising of parish life is attended to. I say humbly, because so often women have found themselves having to submit to the authority of the Church when it is often their wisdom that has informed that authority. How would we describe this? Would this be about the women's role in the Church, women's par ticipation in the Church or women's contribution to the Church? This is a vexed area and it's hard to find creative ways to move for ward with this discussion when the road has not been defined without the risk of being destructive. Women are co-contributors in the life of Christ within the Church and it is impor tant to discover ways of acknowledging this without being patronising, in order to build on the identity of women in the church. This photographic exhibition was like a pictorial audit of women in the church, a chance to witness and be a witness, to see and realise what there is to discover, to share and realise how much more there is to know. I am sure in Christ, that women have their rightful place in the church that is still, largely, undiscovered. If at times their role in the larger more power ful domain seems small, I am also sure that without women, the Church would be lifeless. Attending my niece's first reconciliation celebration recently, I was impressed with the children's confidence and enthusiasm in embracing this special sacrament. I couldn't help but compare it to the trepidation I felt as a youngster riding my bike to confession at the local parish church on a Saturday afternoon. Would I remember what to say when I knelt behind the strange wooden par tition with the sliding window? Did I have enough sins up my sleeve to sound plausible? Would the priest think I was really bad, especially when he heard how long it was since my last confession? Would it be the nice priest who visited the school ever y day? These were the questions that ran through my mind as I waited for my turn to confess. During a recent conversation with comedian Fiona O'Loughlin she said her mother had always described confession as "like going to the dentist". Cer tainly you felt a lot better on the way out than you did on the way in! My niece's reconciliation also highlighted the stark contrast in the way the Church now interacts with children: the confessional cubicles were not used but rather the priests sat out in the main part of the Church and conversed in a much more open and easy- going style. This can only be a positive move in terms of the young person's attitude to God and His unconditional love for them. While a Catholic upbringing in the sixties and seventies had many wonder ful benefits, the emphasis on sinfulness and repentance to appease a vengeful God instilled a strong dose of Catholic guilt which can be tedious at times. I am sure it was inadver tent but I don't think I'm alone when I say that my approach to doing the right thing was often based on the irrational premise that if I did the wrong thing, something catastrophic would happen to me or someone in my family. While Catholic guilt has added a strong moral compass to our lives, I would like to think that children being brought up Catholic today are much more inclined to make good choices because it is better for them and for those around them rather than out of a fear of God. Maturity and life experience has thankfully taught me that God is there for us no matter what and, most impor tantly, when we really need Him. -- Jenny Brinkworth A photograph of Geraldine Hawkes which features in the exhibition.