Report of the 2009 National Committee Meeting of the Associates of the Presentation Sisters

Melbourne, 13-15 November 2009

The National Committee of the Associates of the Presentation Sisters is made up of representatives of Associate groups in each congregation. There are two groups in Victoria, two in Tasmania, five in Wagga Wagga and one in Lismore, both in New South Wales, two groups in Queensland and one in Western Australia. The regional organisation of these groups is a consequence of the history of the founding groups of Sisters.

The Committee meets once a year in Melbourne, over a weekend. In 2009 the meeting was held from 13 to 15 November at the Sisters’ house in Mornington.

Pauline Kingsbury represents Western Australia, Jan Murray Queensland, Sybil Thompson Tasmania, Tricia Fogarty Wagga Wagga, Annette Atkinson Victoria and Caroline Thompson Lismore. Caroline was unable to attend this year’s meeting and Helen Lockton attended in her place. There were no new people on committee. Annette continued as Chairperson and Sybil as Secretary/Treasurer.

A national review of the Associates was carried out in October 2009. About 75 Associates and 45 Sisters responded with written comments. The detailed results were distributed to members of the National Committee and the Sisters on the Plenary Council. On the Saturday morning of the meeting, the Committee discussed general trends across the congregation groups. Each representative summarised issues relevant to their group.

The discussion of the review continued on Saturday afternoon when the Committee met with the Plenary Council, a committee made up of the Congregation Leaders and Sister Bernadette Keating, the President of Society. The general issues were discussed with the Council members and then specific issues with the respective Congregation Leader of each group.

The following ideas about the National Committee emerged from this review:

  • There is a need to be conscious of the language used. “Presentation People” describes our relationship with the Sisters in a clearer way than “Associates”.
  • It is the charism of Nano Nagle which attracts Presentation People. People can be encouraged to share within local groups how Nano’s charism operates in their daily lives, sharing with others who they are, rather than what they do.
  • There are different experiences within the different congregation groups. What happens in one group may be different from another.
  • There is a need for better communication between the National Committee and other Presentation People, that is, between Associates and Sisters, between different congregation groups and with Associate groups in other countries. This could be achieved through emails.
  • Spiritual formation is needed to renew and maintain enthusiasm.
  • Members need to be encouraged “to take one step beyond” and assume leadership roles, with the support of their predecessors.
  • Different models of leadership handover could be considered. One such model involves the past, current and future leaders where the past leader mentors the current leader and the next nominated leader learns about the responsibilities of the leader and observes what is required to carry out the role.
  • Increasing connection with the IPA, the International Presentation Association, is desirable, particularly when the group meets in Australia. Information can be received from this group through their website and distributed to the congregation groups represented.  Issues of social justice that IPA present should be taken on to work towards social justice for all people.
  • The Presentation website should be used as a resource for information and ideas, and the website supported with contributions.
  • The notion of Presentation People should be expanded to include people who share in Presentation ministries, for example people in Presentation schools.

Most groups have different structures and organise different events for their members. Most groups meet monthly.

The next meeting of the National Committee will be held from 23 to 26 September 2010.

Jan Murray, Queensland representative