By Anthony Barich
Pope Benedict XVI has, among others, appointed Sister M Isabell Naumann, a member of the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, as a Consultant to the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Sister Naumann is a Doctor of Sacred Theology who lectures in systematic theology at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, a member institute of the Sydney College of Divinity and is the Academic Dean of Sydney’s Seminary of the Good Shepherd.
Sister Naumann, who is also a member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy, sees in Mary a relevant model for the Church. She said that Mary’s “relational” qualities of openness, receptivity, readiness to dialogue are key values in the Church’s encounter with other cultures and the world’s religions.
Built into this openness and receptivity, she said, lies “an awe for the beauty and goodness that can be found in each person and culture”.
This Marian dimension is an essential ingredient for any inter-cultural and religious dialogue, said Sister Naumann, who is also an adjunct professor in theological anthropology at Melbourne’s John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies.
“Christ and the Gospel are above culture, and can never become prisoner of a particular culture, so a culture needs to be penetrated by Christ and the Gospel, by the Good News,” said Sister Naumann.
The Seminary of the Good Shepherd’s Rector, Fr Anthony Percy, described the Schoenstatt Sister as “a woman of the Church” who brings great academic gifts and an ecclesial personality – a love for the Church. She is a gift to both the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Seminary, which she has served for two years.
Fr Percy has also this year taken on Sister Dawn Karey, a Sister of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart from Goulburn, to teach elocution and homily preparation.
He said having two such esteemed females in a seminary is important for the formation of priests, because “the priesthood is not a men’s club”.