I build my capacity as a religious leader at Holy Family by being inspired Mary to take up my cross with conviction when faced with adversity.
“We feel our Crosses hard at times, but our courage should rise with them.”
I am reminded that throughout Christian history the Saints, like Mary placed their trust and authority in God to overcome obstacles along the way. Mary was not exempt. In Mary’ case she spoke out about a matter of misconduct. For me in my leadership role it makes me think about always ensuring that I try to do the right thing no matter the cost. Thus, not worrying about my reputation or shifting the blame onto someone else but instead making things right and trying to achieve a positive resolution for all parties. Most importantly, I must not use the influence of my role but search for truth and accountability for my action.
One of the priests who was implicated in the misconduct case pursued his own agenda and put pressure on the Bishop to have the Sisters of Saint Joseph under the Director of the Adelaide Archdiocese’s authority. Conversely, the Sisters of Saint Joseph rule is a centralized structure under the control of a General Superior who was drawn from their membership which Mary was determined to remain faithful to as it was integral to her calling. She then informed Bishop by letter of her refusal to comply but instead seek God’s will. He saw it as insubordination and Mary was excommunicated from the Church on 22nd September, 1871.
I am in awe of how Mary steadfastly refused to compromise herself and her sisters core values to the Bishop’s request of continuing her mission under his authority. It made me ruminate on the times in my leadership through circumstances beyond my control, I am thrown into challenging situations with staff, parents, students and the parish community.
Mary’s response to her conflict makes me re-evaluate how I will react in the future knowing my words and actions will determine that outcome and my relationships with those involved. Am I going to act with anger and wanting revenge or like Mary that through her sacrifice she displayed her faithfulness to her community, her friends and trust in God to resolve the situation? I believe Mary had a freedom that occurred through her service to others due to her seeking to do God’s will. From her example, I need an open mindset, that will enable me to alleviate my anxieties and strive to live out what I truly want for all people, our world and myself. I would believe that it is best summed up by Paul Gardiner sj,
“Mary MacKillop walked in faith and entered into the mystery of the Cross with an utter belief that enabled her to deal in an extraordinary way with oppositional people and difficult situations.”
Hence, we learn from Mary’s awareness that God would provide, for eight months later Mary was reinstated as leader and the sisters renewed their vows under their constitution.
Finally, Mary reinforces that I build capacity as the religious leader of Holy Family by placing my trust in the providence of God.