Early in February the Wellington Catholic Education Centre hosted a web conference. The actual conference was held at Trinity Church in New York, and was transmitted to Wellington via the internet. So, by the wonders of technology, we were able to participate in an event on the other side of the world. This was a first for the Catholic Education Centre and hopefully we will be able to offer other web-conferences in the future.
The topic of the conference, reconciliation, has great relevance to our time. There is much misunderstanding between different religious and cultural groups in our world. All the speakers noted the difficulties inherent in establishing genuine reconciliation and the necessity of working towards this.
The two presentations that stood out for me were those given by James Alison, a priest and theologian, and Helen Prejean CSJ who is well known for her work with prisoners on death-row in the United States and for her book, Dead Man Walking [1994 and Death of Innocents 2006].
Central to James Alison’s work is an understanding of grace and the giftedness of life offered to us by God. For him this is experienced as a spaciousness and abundance. He suggests that it is not whether we are right or wrong that is of the highest importance but how we treat those we disagree with.
Sr Helen spoke of the need to protect all life – not just innocent life. A central theme in Sr Helen’s lively presentation was her commitment to the poor and those excluded from our communities.
If any parish is interested in exploring reconciliation further, we have a DVD with half-hour talks from each presenter which could be shown over a few weeks and discussed. Please contact me on 4961755 if you would like to know more.