Proulx elected president of Canadian Religious Conference

By  Peter Novecosky, OSB, Catholic Register Special
  • May 30, 2012

MONTREAL - The new attitude initiated by the Second Vatican Council and the changes in society in the last 50 years has deeply affected the life of the Church and the life of religious communities, 290 leaders of religious communities in Canada were told.

The leaders gathered here May 24-28 for the bi-annual assembly of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) at which time they also chose a new executive.

Replacing Sr. Mary Finlayson as president is Norbertine Father Michel Proulx of St. Constant, Que. Elected vice-president was Providence Sr. Annette Noël, of Montreal and the secretary-treasurer is Basilian Father George Smith of Toronto.

“The Second Vatican Council was a new Pentecost for the Church,” said Fr. Gilles Routhier, the vice-dean of the faculty of theology and religious studies at the University of Laval in Quebec City. The Pope had an intuition that an era of human history was coming to an end and that the world was on the threshold of something new, Routhier said. It was in this context that the Council was convened 50 years ago this fall with the goal of renewing the way the Gospel was proclaimed.

Speaking more directly to life in religious communities, the second keynote speaker said religious today need to recognize the world is changing and religious must adapt to new challenges.

Charity Sr. Patricia Wittberg, of Cincinnati encouraged religious leaders “to recognize the time we inhabit.” She asked delegates to imagine the year they graduated as teens, which may “seem foreign” to the graduating class. Each generation has different spiritual hungers and different secular preoccupations which those who are older or younger may not understand. It is “hard work” to stay “mentally flexible” to communicate across cultural boundaries, she said. Most people don’t bother to try.

“But Christ himself crossed all sorts of cultural boundaries, welcoming women, pagans and sinners,” she pointed out. “Therefore, as imitators of Christ, we are called to do the same.”

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