Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan was this year’s keynote speaker at the Archdiocese of Sydney’s clergy formation conference. The topic given to Bishop Drennan was: “Icons of Christ: developing personally and professionally as leaders of local faith communities for the new evangelisation.”

Bishop Drennan noted that leadership is currently a hot topic, not just in the Church, but in society generally, given generational sub-cultures impacting on methods of communication and engagement. Among the particular challenges facing priests and parishes is growing
communities — the People of God —in a time of increasing individualism. There is a strong cult of people “doing me” rather than “us”, yet the covenant relationship of God with the world through history has been a journey from “I to We”.

Among the sources of leadership that Bishop Drennan explored with the Sydney clergy was the central place of the Chrism Mass in the life of a diocese and its bishop, priests and people. Drawing on the Chrism Mass Gospel reading where Jesus is chased from the
synagogue out into the lanes and fields of Capernaum, Bishop Drennan invited the priests to reflect on where and to whom the sacred oils lead them as evangelisers, healers, and anointers or facilitators of the divine life.

He suggested that while the oils may appear like a channel of priests’ ministry — which they are — they are first and foremost instruments of the Holy Spirit who is constantly at work in the world.

Maria Cavallaro, senior PA at the Sydney archdiocesan curia, said that the priests’ assembly
was “filled with joy”.

In thanking Bishop Drennan, she said: “I am so grateful to see happy smiling men filled with hope.”