"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: 'Give them something to eat' (Mk 6:37)." (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (November 2013), #49)

 

Mary McAleese in Sydney

JMaryMcAleese04The former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, will be the guest of Aquinas Academy and Catalyst for Renewal in Sydney in September. On Sunday September 7 there will be a Public Forum in the Sydney Town Hall where Mary will be interviewed by Andrew West of Radio National Religion and Ethics Report. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson will introduce Mary. The Forum will begin at 2pm. All welcome - tickets $20. Book online now.

Mary McAleese served as the eighth President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. She was the second female president and was first elected in 1997 succeeding Mary Robinson, making McAleese the world's first woman to succeed another as president. She was re-elected unopposed for a second term in office in 2004. McAleese is the first President of Ireland to have come from either Northern Ireland or Ulster.

McAleese graduated in Law from Queen's University Belfast. In 1975, she was appointed Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College, Dublin and in 1987, she returned to her Alma Mater, Queen's, to become Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. In 1994, she became the first female Vice Chancellor of Queen's University. She worked as a barrister and also worked as a journalist with RTÉ

McAleese used her time in office to address issues concerning justice, social equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation. She described the theme of her Presidency as "Building Bridges".This bridge-building materialised in her attempts to reach out to the unionist community in Northern Ireland. These steps included celebrating the Twelfth of July at Áras an Uachtaráin and she even incurred criticism from some of the Irish Catholic hierarchy by taking communion in a Church of Ireland cathedral in Dublin. Despite being a practising Roman Catholic, she holds liberal views regarding homosexualityand women priests. She is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders and was ranked the 64th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

Mary will be the guest of the Global Irish Studies Centre at NSW University after she has been with Aquinas Academy and Catalyst for Renewal.