Mercy leader new head for Australia's Religious

New CRA head Sr Berneice Loch

Sister Berneice Loch rsm OAM has been elected as the new President of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) at the 2014 CRA National Assembly held in Melbourne last week.

Sr Berneice is currently Leader of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG) and received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2013.

Notable among her leadership achievements was her central role in the establishment of Mercy Partners (2004-2011) and more recently the Institute of Sisters of Mercy Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) is the peak body for leaders of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life resident in Australia. Membership comprises more than 180 congregations of Sisters, Brothers and Religious Priests living and working in all states and territories.

She replaces Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc who has served the two-year term of the CRA Executive Council. At a speech to Assembly participants where she expressed thanks for their support and confidence, Sr Berneice honoured the outstanding leadership of her predecessor.

'You have held the position with grace and with a very light touch which has probably been very appropriate for the times you needed to lead this conference, particularly to the challenge of the Royal Commission,'  she addressed Sr Annette.

Sr Annette acknowledged the support from CRA members and office staff during her term as President. 'I would like to say thank you and I would like to say that I have absolutely every confidence that Berneice would do us even more proud,' she said.

Attending the Assembly were Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Sr Carmen Sammut msola, President of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia.

Their global perspective on the future and nature of religious life informed the issues that are currently faced by Congregation Leaders in Australia and New Zealand which were discussed widely at the Assembly. Lay partners from various ministries and Mr Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, also gave talks at the Assembly on partnership in mission.

Read full CRA media release here.

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