Chapter in Focus

Another highlight of the Chapter Meeting held at Victor Harbor in mid-November 2016, was welcoming William (Bill) Dahlberg as a new member at a Mass celebrated at St Jude’s Anglican Church Port Elliot.

Born in the United States, Bill has been in Australia since 2002, when he partnered with Alexis Fraser. They had met while he was the facilities engineer at Pine Gap, outside Alice Springs. Alexis was a Crown Prosecutor at the time. The pair has been together ever since.

‘I feel very honoured to be able to learn from and work together with this community of compassionate, loving priests and lay God-seekers devoted to the study of, and facilitating the availability of, cutting edge theology to those that yearn for it’, said Bill

In summing up the four days, the Revd Dr Phillip Tolliday, theological consultant to SSM, described the meeting as ‘a very human affair, filled with humour, depth, candor, conviviality, and above all, with a desire to pursue what Gerard Manley Hopkins has described as ‘the dearest freshness deep down things.’

He went on:

Theology makes all things odd, in a God-shaped way. Significantly, this is the only way in which the world has ever been. That idea can be traced back to Thomas Aquinas from whom we may glean the insight that God is not somewhere else in the world, but somehow else in the world.

That’s the very reason why Father Kelly’s question: What is God doing now? is at once so simple and yet so mercurial. What it means for us is that theology takes our common, normal, everyday affairs and it makes them odd. So, now they’ve changed but not changed, they’re ordinary but extraordinary, they’re the same but somehow they’re not.

The Chapter was, as you may imagine, a very human affair, filled with humour, depth, candor, conviviality, and above all, with a desire to pursue what Gerard Manley Hopkins has described as ‘the dearest freshness deep down things.’ This it did by reflecting on our common life together and the forms it might take. This it did by talking about structures, elements of the rules and the constitution. So, perhaps you may wonder: What was God doing? Quite a lot, I believe, though, as always, with delightful subtlety and the capacity to ever surprise us.

Our time together gave us space to reflect upon the often understated but crucially important human disposition of trust. The fiduciary relationships we enter with those we know—and still more often with those we don’t know—forms the glue that binds us together. But not only this, they also open us out to one another and the world, which ‘God’s grandeur’ continues to make odd.

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