The commitment of the Divine Word Missionaries AUS Province to building a culture of well-being and safety continues on a range of fronts, including an appraisal process for confreres.
The Provincial Council has asked 33 SVD members to initiate an appraisal process for themselves this year. Such a process was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, and is also aimed at ensuring the well-being of missionaries in their ministry.
“Appraisal of confreres and ministries is one of the three Royal Commission recommendations that the AUS Province is actively taking up, for the sake of a better and safer Church,” says the Province’s Professional Standards Coordinator, Fr Michael Hardie SVD.
“The other two – Ministry Supervision and the Code of Conduct – represent a professional standards based, three-cornered approach to achieving safer, more reliable and mission-centred outcomes for our work.”
Fr Michael said that in approaching the implementation of these activities, the SVD is working with peak bodies such as Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL), Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) and the local dioceses and archdioceses where the SVD has pastoral ministries.
“We realise that taking on the processes of appraisal, ministry supervision and following a code of conduct represents a major change in Province culture, but we believe we are building a safer, more efficient Province in the process.”
Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD, says all active confreres will be appraised, with a second group to undertake their appraisal next year.
“This is something new, which we hope will help all active conferes become better versions of themselves,” he says.
“It’s about keeping healthy, happy and holy!”
Under the appraisal process, the District Leader assists in finding a suitably skilled person outside of the SVD to undertake the appraisal of a confrere and they then submit the name of that person to the Provincial.
The Appraiser works with the confrere and begins the appraisal process and the confrere also undertakes a self-appraisal.
The process also includes personal monthly spiritual direction, some professional supervision and regular ministry group supervision, along with four days of Recollection and a major annual retreat.
“This appraisal process is an invitation for each confrere to invite those assisting in his appraisal to help him stir the embers of his religious life of service into a fire, whilst we go about the daily business of our lives serving the People of God,” Fr Rass says.
He says it is hoped that the appraisal process will help to affirm and empower confreres in their ministry through the recognition of their accomplishments; to assist growth through identifying the confrere’s basic approach to ministry; and to identify areas for ongoing development.