The Religious Life Institute drew record crowds at Heythrop College today to hear Fr Gerry Arbuckle, the world-renowned social anthropologist, lead a conference on Refounding in a Postmodern Age. An international audience of religious of all ages came to hear the Marist priest from New Zealand who is currently in Britain to deliver the Martin D’Arcy Lectures at Oxford University on the theme: Healthcare in Chaos: Models in Conflict? His inspirational talks on religious life were received with great enthusiasm by all who attended the day.
"Many religious were disappointed that they couldn’t get to the day", said Sister Gemma Simmonds CJ, director of the Institute, "so we have taped the lectures in order to offer them as a set of audio-CDs for discussion among communities further afield. We were delighted to welcome members from the Conference of Religious of Ireland and Vocations Ireland who had flown over specially for the day. Participants remarked on the wealth of pastoral experience that was in the room, spanning many decades of ministry in all five continents of the world. We had people there ranging from candidates still discerning their vocation to golden jubilarians - there is still a great deal of energy around in religious life in Britain."
Sponsored by the Conference of Religious of England and Wales and Heythrop College, the mission of the RLI is to foster a theological vision of Christian religious life through study and research. It offers an accredited course of study in the theology of religious life at Heythrop and seeks to foster a new generation of writers and experts to help religious look beyond the post-conciliar agenda. By generating good materials for study and reflection and making them widely available through a variety of media it aims to develop a renewed appreciation of the place of the consecrated life within the Church.
Dr Gerald A Arbuckle has written extensively on the refounding of religious life in books such as Out of Chaos: Refounding Religious Congregations (1988), Refounding the Church: Dissent for Leadership (1993), From Chaos to Mission: Refounding Religious Life Formation (1995). His most recent book is Culture, Inculturation, and Theologians: A Postmodern Critique (Liturgical Press, 2010).