by Fr MERV DUFFY
Earlier this year the members of the New Zealand Methodist-Catholic Dialogue received an invitation to send representation to the International Receptive Ecumenism Conference (IRE
III) in Fairfield, Connecticut. The authorities of both churches generously offered to fund this involvement.
Trevor Hoggard went as the Methodist representative. He is a member of both the national and international Methodist-Catholic dialogue.
I went as the Catholic representative. I am the dean of studies at Good Shepherd College.
We decided to travel to and from the event together, so that our journey could itself be an act of dialogue. It is amazing how much you can learn of each other and your church context
when you have a seven hour gap between flights in Los Angeles airport.
The Receptive Ecumenism movement has emerged from the university environment and is a response to the frustration that those engaged in the dialogue have experienced at the slow
pace of ecumenism and the lack of apparent outcomes.
There were eight 90-minute plenary sessions where all the participants listened to keynote speakers and questioned panels.
Participants split into six groups, three times, according to their interests, to follow
different strands of the conference.
These lasted two and a quarter hours and featured four papers, with discussion on each.
The IRE III Conference reports were delivered in a heavy accent! The quality of the papers
varied from world class by top flight communicators to lower level, such as doctoral
students summarising their specialised research.
As is often the case, the informal conversations were more stimulating than the formal
presentations. Virtually everyone was resident on site for the conference.
The programme allowed space for mingling during the breaks, at meals, and in the
The 80 or so participants came from more than 20 countries. One was New Zealand Anglican Bishop David Moxon,who came from the Anglican Centre in Rome.
It was an extraordinary gathering of very good and very talented people.
Trevor Hoggard and I felt privileged to be able to attend.
by Fr MERV DUFFY