Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle February 2017 | No.165
When you’re at school, who’s your buddy? A son pays tribute to his mother, Kathleen Evans
E STOR Y
Meet n e Directo w r of School s, Mich Slattery ael
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On the cover The children of St Peter’s Primary, Stockton, listened to every word when Vicar General Rev Brian Mascord visited them. Photograph courtesy of Kate Bennett.
In the interests of dialogue Featured Meet the new Director of Catholic Schools 5 Project Compassion 2017
New Protection and Safety Council
What can I say about my mother?
Nurturing a relationship with God through hands-on experience
A festival invitation to all young people
I’m blessed to call Australia home
Local resource is for the common good
Meet a matriarch – and remember your prayers 18 Experience leads to improved services for people with disabilities Global leadership for a global challenge
This month a new column, Faith Matters, appears. Pope Francis has said, “In this work (peace building), the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.” (23 March, 2013).
they will be enlightening and make a small contribution to the work of peace building.
Accordingly, the first “Faith Matters” column is by Farooq Rah, a Muslim and a chaplain at the University of Newcastle. Throughout the year, writers from a variety of traditions and denominations will open a window into their faith. While these pages can be no more than a brief introduction, it is my hope that
Aurora will appear as an insert in The Newcastle Herald, The Maitland Mercury, The Scone Advocate, The Singleton Argus and The Manning River Times on Wednesday 1 March, 5 April, 3 May, 7 June, 5 July, 2 August, 6 September, 4 October, 1 November and 6 December, and in The
Three stories this month focus on the experience of strong women. Anne Benjamin, former Chair of the Catholic Schools Council, shares something of her life in India. Kathleen Evans, who died just before Christmas, is the subject of an affectionate memoir by her son, Luke. Finally, Connie Jennings’ long life of love is an example to each of us as we launch into another year.
Muswellbrook Chronicle the following day – and online in full at www.mn.catholic.org.au/ aurora. Please mark your calendar! As the school year begins, with all its promise and expectation, our cover image is a reminder of the joy of storytelling, so much a part of education, formal and informal. The children of St Peter’s Primary, Stockton, were entranced by the tale Vicar General, Fr Brian Mascord, shared with them. I hope you will enjoy this month’s stories and that 2017 holds promise for you.
TRACEY EDSTEIN – Editor
Regulars First Word
Next deadline 7 February 2017
Aurora enquiries should be addressed to The Editor Tracey Edstein E email@example.com PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300 P 4979 1288 | F 4979 1119
One by One
Seasons of Mercy
Good news! You can still catch up with Aurora online, via MNNews.today. mnnews.today/aurora-magazine
Advertising Fairfax Media Phone 4979 5259 Aurora appears in The Newcastle Herald, The Maitland Mercury, The Singleton Argus, The Manning River Times and The Scone Advocate on the first Wednesday of the month and in The Muswellbrook Chronicle on the following Thursday. The magazine can also be read at mnnews.today.
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Reality TV: Watching people behaving badly The New Year break gives someone like me a bit more time to catch up on popular culture. And it’s somewhat disturbing. Of course, the culture I’m seeing may not be all that popular. I’m talking about watching TV, and maybe that’s not a good gauge anymore. Possibly everyone else is watching great stuff over on cable, which I don’t have. For those of us stuck with free-toair, however, prime time is now a pretty much unrelieved diet of cooking shows, home renos and dating/marrying series. And the worst of it is that these programs aren’t really about cooking or real estate or whatever. Fundamentally they seem to be about what is laughably called ‘reality’, that is to say, the emotional rollercoaster ride that is imposed on, or feigned by, the contestants. Why do we want to watch fairly ordinary people being driven to tears or screaming at each other, being bitchy or utterly, utterly soppy? I understand why the TV networks love these shows. They don’t have a lot of cash to throw around these days, and there’s nothing much cheaper to make than a ‘reality’ program. But why do we, in apparently great numbers, want to watch real people acting badly (both senses of ‘acting’) or being brought to tears? And who benefits from the creation of a society of emotion junkies? It’s seventy years since George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” explained how sloppy language led to sloppy thinking, making the populace easier to manipulate. Is training people to live on contrived emotional drama a similar strategy to wean us off the hard work of actually thinking? The phenomenon is probably more innocent than that. The dominant strand of the western tradition, back to the Greeks, is that our lives
should be guided by reason, not by emotion, by thinking, not by feeling. From time to time the culture goes through a bit of a reaction against that austere intellectualism. And now is apparently one of those times. We seem to have decided that living by our emotions is generally a good thing. Of course there are downsides to the belief that expressing what you are feeling is good and natural. A lack of practice in restraining our emotional reactions is far from an obvious good in society. Combined with individualism, and sustained by the advertising mantras that I really ‘deserve’ everything I want and that I am the most important person in the world, lack of emotional control, not surprisingly, gives us daily instances of road rage, screaming tirades and worse. If I’m feeling really bad, why shouldn’t I take it out on you? ‘It’s no good bottling it up’, after all. Except, of course, that often that is a good thing, to exercise some control over your impulses, if you’ve ever had the good fortune to learn how. The tendency to be guided by emotions rather than thought or reason is a bit of a problem for religion, too. Of course there is an important place for emotion in our religious lives, as many popular devotions attest, not to mention the rich and deep mystical tradition. But it is not the purpose of our faith to gratify our emotional needs. At the most obvious level, for example, it is not the purpose of our worship to make us feel good. We come together in worship to give praise and glory to God. If I also feel some elevation of my spirits, so much the better. But the dear old ‘I don’t get anything from it’ is really cart-before-the-horse stuff. Time in prayer or worship is a rational reaction to the existence
and the goodness of the Creator and Redeemer. It’s one of the many things in life that is not ‘all about me’. A more serious problem that an excessive focus on my feelings brings into religion, however, is the misunderstanding of conscience. In Catholicism there are two acceptable senses of ‘conscience’ that I can think of. One is Newman’s ‘voice of God in my soul’ or St Ignatius’ ‘good spirit’. To be guided by conscience in this sense takes considerable faith and experience, because it is a matter of being able to truly discern the voice of the ‘Other’ from the inner voices that are merely my wants and needs, my feelings. The other sense of ‘conscience’ in our tradition is that it is a use of reason to determine what is right. It is hard, and prayerful, thought about such things as how my act will affect others, how would it be if everyone acted like this and is this an appropriate way for a human being to behave. In either of these proper senses, ‘conscience’ is, in Catholic tradition, the supreme law: you must follow your conscience. Cardinal Pell was, strictly speaking, wrong to deny that. But I have some sympathy for his reluctance to say ‘just follow your conscience’ when that is now so readily taken to mean ‘Well, you do whatever you feel is right,’ What we’re ‘feeling’ is often not the best guide. The road rage guy is feeling righteous indignation, feels he is ‘in the right’, presumably. But he still shouldn’t rip off your mirror. The human thing is to struggle to do what’s right, and that is often not what we feel like doing at that moment. I’m still with the Greeks on that.
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Meet new Director of Catholic Schools, Dr Michael J Slattery
By ALYSSA FAITH
As the 2017 school year commences, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Schools Office welcomes a new Director of Schools.
interest in advocacy for the poor and enjoy leading adult and student immersions to ministries and schools in Kenya, East Africa, each year.
Dr Michael Slattery brings a wealth of knowledge and extensive experience in the Catholic education sector. For the last seven years he was College Principal at St Edward’s Christian Brothers College, East Gosford. Previously he held leadership positions at the Catholic Schools Office at Broken Bay, including Secondary Schools Consultant and Acting Director.
Michael was happy to share something of his story and hopes for his new role.
Michael is a man with a deep commitment to the Catholic faith. He is an active member of his local parish and is chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council at Star of the Sea Parish, Terrigal. He sees himself as “a leader who integrates religious dimensions into all aspects of the educational environment” with an expectation that all members of staff “actively work to ensure the mission of the Church is the first and foremost strategic goal for our schools”. Michael and Alison have been married for 37 years, have two sons, Matthew and Paul, and a grandchild, Lara Jane. Michael and Alison have an
Q. What attracted you to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle? A. Firstly, working with a Bishop whom I know to be supportive of the nature and importance of Catholic schools to the Church. Secondly, the challenge of working with a sound leadership team in implementing school improvement in the religious and educational domains in a system which is clearly in growth mode and moving in a positive direction. Q. What has been a career highlight for you? A. Taking up principalship again after working in Catholic system leadership reminded me of the expectations of State, Federal and diocesan demands, especially in relation to the legal issues and audit processes of school governance. Being principal of St Edward’s highlighted
the importance and joy of being in a living school community with staff, young people and their parents. It had deep meaning for me, particularly in religious, educational, social justice and sporting encounters with members of the community. Q. How would you describe your commitment to the Catholic faith as an educational leader? A. Every child deserves a quality faith experience in our schools. It is part of our Gospel commitment as Catholic educators to nurture in the hearts and minds of young people a relationship with Jesus. It is central to educational leadership in an authentic Catholic school and to the various religious, educational, social and sporting experiences. Q. If you were to describe your leadership style in three words, what would they be? A. Collaborative – Working with others in a team atmosphere to bring positive change to community. Passionate – I take leadership responsibility seriously and
work hard to make a difference. Decisive – Making informed decisions in a timely manner. Q. As a highly accomplished academic, who have been significant influences on your career and education? A. My parents for encouraging me to be the first in our family to attain a HSC and a university degree, and my wife Alison for her patience and love whilst enduring 27 years of my study at various universities whilst I worked full-time. Also, the various academic staff at the Australian Catholic University in the Educational Leadership Faculty for their support in lifelong learning. Q. Having had experience as a teacher, principal and executive at the Catholic Schools Office, what aspects of each role do you think will most contribute to your new role? A. Each of these experiences has taught me to be clear about the nature of teaching and leading in a Catholic setting. They will all serve to keep me informed of the craft, ministry and vocation of teaching, and the privilege of serving a Catholic community. Other key skills are planning strategically in collaboration with others, discerning, evaluating and meeting the expectations of the major stakeholders within our chancery, parishes and schools. Q. What are you most looking forward to in your new role as Director of Schools? A. I look forward to visiting each school to encourage members of the community to strive for excellence in learning − learning about their God, about their various key learning areas and about themselves as global citizens with a Christian responsibility for those less fortunate. No doubt members of school communities are equally keen to welcome Michael to their place.
is in an s. Th e sc ho ol so re d by Au str ali on sp ly ge lar s, 00 stu de nt be n Sc ho ol of 20 Sla tte ry at th e Ru n so Ali d an l ae Mi ch Na iro bi, Ke ny a.
It is part of our Gospel commitment as Catholic educators to nurture in the hearts and minds of young people a relationship with Jesus.
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Love your neighbour through Project Compassion 2017 Pancakes will be on the menu! By PATRICIA BANISTER Caritas Australia’s annual Lenten fundraising and awareness-raising appeal is an extraordinary, ongoing demonstration of the faith, love and generosity of the Catholic congregation and caring supporters throughout Australia to help end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity. The theme for Caritas Australia’s 2017 Lenten fundraising campaign is “Love your Neighbour”. Project Compassion 2017 will be launched in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle on Tuesday, 28 February, by Bishop Bill Wright at 10.30am in the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton. Members of parish and school communities are warmly invited to participate. The liturgy, which takes place on Shrove Tuesday, will be followed by refreshments in the Southern Cross Hall.
A Caritas Dinner will be held in the Cathedral Function Centre on Friday, 3 March, commencing at 6.00pm. The guest speaker on this occasion will be Richard Campbell. Richard will be speaking about his experience as a Kinchela Boys Home (KBH) resident and the assistance Caritas Australia is providing for men who experienced separation from their families.
relief through his work as an artist. However, he attributes the beginning of his healing to something even more powerful than his creative work, his reconnection with former KBH boys. The KBH Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) was established by KBH survivors to reunite with one another and begin healing. KBHAC’s “Unlocking the Past to Free the Future” Program works to restore the social
First Australian Uncle Richard, who has strong links to the Newcastle area and is a survivor of the Stolen Generations, was forcibly removed from his family as a child and taken to KBH in NSW. Hundreds of Indigenous boys were incarcerated there between 1924 and 1970, suffering ongoing physical and verbal abuse. They lost every aspect of their identity – their names, their culture and their families.
and emotional wellbeing of the survivors
When Uncle Richard left KBH, he struggled with the legacy of pain and was trying to find
Compassion 2017 campaign. These stories
and their families. The former KBH boys have realised that their shared suffering has created a brotherhood. They support each other by sharing their stories and coming to a common understanding of how their experiences have impacted on themselves and their descendants. Uncle Richard’s is just one of six weekly stories which enhance the Project highlight the aid being provided and the
Parishes will have Project Compassion boxes and share packs available from Sunday, 26 February. If you would like further information about Project Compassion 2017 or wish to make a booking for the Caritas Dinner, please P Patricia Banister, Caritas Diocesan Team member, 0409 300 192 or E pabanister7@ gmail.com. Please visit www.caritas.org. au/projectcompassion.
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Diocese launches new Protection and Safety Council By BISHOP BILL WRIGHT
As a diocese we have an absolute and enduring commitment to promoting and ensuring the safety of all who are connected with us – be it through our parishes, Catholic schools, early education or community outreach services. To ensure we deliver on this commitment and continually improve our practices, I am pleased to announce the formation of a new body − the Diocesan Protection and Safety Council (the Council). Formed in January 2016, this Council will offer independent advice to me, as Bishop, ensuring that the diocese continues to develop its policies and practices in the field of professional standards. The Council will advise on promoting the protection of
children and vulnerable adults within the diocese, developing the diocesan capacity to continue to support those who have been affected by child sexual abuse and rebuilding a sense of trust within the community about the diocese’s commitment to protect children and vulnerable adults. Consisting of a range of professionals from local and interstate communities, the Council is deliberately diverse, with a mix of both Catholics and non-Catholics, clerics and lay people specialising in both the legal and mental health sectors.
of any evaluation or review processes conducted, new developments implemented and an operations summary of the Diocesan Protection Unit – Zimmerman Services, available from December 2017.
The Council will produce an annual report for each financial year, detailing results
Learn more about the new Council by visiting the diocesan website.
To learn more about Healing & Support Services please contact us at: 50 Crebert Street Mayfield NSW 2304 PO Box 29 Carrington NSW 2294 P 02 4979 1390 F 02 4979 1151 E firstname.lastname@example.org
stemmed from that time. Regardless, Mum was a loving woman who made sure her family members knew how much she cherished them. We felt loved. By LUKE EVANS
What can I say about my mother? In 2010, Kathleen Evans participated in the canonisation ceremony of Australian Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Rome. The disappearance of Kathleen’s cancer was accepted as the miracle that took Mary, cofounder of the Sisters of St Joseph, ‘over the line’, so to speak. Kathleen died just before Christmas and her son Luke shares his remembrances. What can I say about my mother, Kathleen Evans? I was invited to write a few words of remembrance and my first thought was “What could I possibly say?” People who know me know that I usually have lots to say, so here I go. My mother, Kathleen Elizabeth Evans, née MacKenzie, was born into a very ‘by the book, old school’ Catholic family. The parts of Mum I never came to understand, I believe developed in that time. I have read Mum’s account of her youth in her book Kath’s Miracle and I believe that you can’t walk away from an upbringing like that without taking some of it with you. Mum’s mother was a hard woman, sometimes given to cruelty, for one reason or another. My mother was never cruel. Sometimes I think she struggled with emotions and with expressing how she truly felt and I can’t help but think this 8
In 1993, when I was 13, Mum received the news that she was dying of cancer. I believe it was what was called a Stage 4 non-small, metastasised carcinoma. The cancer had spread to her glands and to her brain and it was inoperable. Any chemical or radiation treatment was predicted to give her maybe a week or two extra at best, along with a handful of horrible side-effects, so Mum elected to have no treatment. She retreated into her faith and to her growing connection with Mother Mary MacKillop, who was being talked about then as possibly Australia’s first saint. Mum and the family, along with a lot of people from our Parish of Windale and throughout other parishes in Australia, prayed the novena prayer for Mother Mary’s intercession on our behalf to God. Mum used to like to say that if you were going for a job interview and you knew someone who was “in with the Big Boss”, you’d ask them to “put in a good word for you”. That’s what Mary was to Mum. In fact, Mum talked to Mary all the time and her prayers to God and Jesus were pretty much just conversations. She would talk to them, ask for advice and try to listen to the small voice within (or perhaps a big voice from outside) for answers. She often felt she got those answers in one form or another, but always cautioned us that sometimes the answers would not be what you wanted to hear. At the end of the novena, Mum started to feel a little better. In 1994, some ten months after receiving her death sentence, Mum was told her cancer was gone. Gone completely, without treatment − until 2016, when she contracted both lung and brain tumours again. So many questions spring out at me. Firstly, “Does this somehow negate her ‘miracle’?” To me, the answer is simply “No”. Doctors have told us this was a new illness, not a regrowth of the old tumours. The cancer was in the opposite lung this time and also at the other end of the brain. And 23 years ago, my mother was given six weeks to live. Twenty-three years! Something incredible happened then, whatever it was. This leads to my next point: there are many who do not believe
in miracles at all, or say that recoveries from cancer are not miraculous. To me, the definition of a miracle is any event that neither science nor medicine can explain. The rest is open to interpretation. I can only tell you what I saw – my mother was dying and then, for reasons no one can explain, she got better and stayed that way for 23 years. That’s a miracle to me. People always asked, “Why you?” Mum struggled with this question. Why her and not every other person who has an illness and asks God for healing? It’s a good question and is one I can’t answer. What I see though is that Mum worked with other cancer patients for ten years and saw a lot of people through to their own deaths with a measure of hope, peace and acceptance that perhaps they were lacking before she walked into their lives. Also, she saw her little family grow to 19 grandchildren, along with five great-grandchildren, the last of whom is the only one Mum was not here to meet. He was born the day after she left us. “One went out and another came in,” my sister, (the baby’s proud grandmother) said. We jokingly called Mum “the Matriarch”. We were her family and she had 23 extra years with us.
because of Mum and others stepping forward to discuss their connection to Mary and how they felt her acting in their lives today. I don’t know if any of that answers the “Why her?” question, but – again − it’s good enough for me. Fr Brian Mascord was at Mum’s funeral as a concelebrant and he delivered a beautiful homily in which he shared a recent conversation he had with Mum. She said to him, “It was never about me, Brian, it was always about God.” Fr Brian reminded us that, in our own lives, we should remember that it is never about us, but about how we interact with the world and with individuals and how we put into practice the teachings of our God every day.
And, of course, Australia now has its first saint, in part
...ten months after receiving her death sentence, Mum was told her cancer was gone. Gone completely, without treatment...
Marriage: Should I stay or should I go? Q
By TANYA RUSSELL Registered Psychologist
CatholicCare's Counselling Team Leader, registered psychologist Tanya Russell, will address an issue each month. The advice provided is general in nature and does not replace ongoing support and advice from your health professional. To talk to someone about counselling support, P 4979 1172. Call Lifeline 24/7 on 131 114.
Do you have a question for Tanya? Email your question to email@example.com or write to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300.
Over the past few months, I have been seriously considering leaving my husband. We have been married for 14 years and we have three children but somewhere along the way, we have grown apart. I am torn between doing what’s “right” by the children and what is “right” for me. I don’t know how I feel anymore and don’t want to open up too much to my friends, especially if I decide to stay. How do I start unpacking this more in my head before making my decision? A My first instinct is to ask, have you discussed your feelings with your husband? Fourteen years ago, you and your husband committed to starting a life together but the way forward no longer seems clear. As much as you are making a decision for your individual wellbeing, to make a decision that is right for you, you really need to have all the information. That includes knowing how your husband feels about you and your relationship. Assuming you do not feel unsafe within the relationship, talking to your husband could give you helpful food for thought as to whether your relationship issues can be addressed and enhanced. Imagine making a decision like this without his input and then wondering later, “What if”? How would you feel if he told you he had made a similar decision without your input? Relationships are hard work, and after 14 years together, it is quite “normal” to grow apart. The question now is: what do you want to do with these feelings? It is a good idea to take the time to process what is going on for you and speaking to a counsellor could also be very helpful. A counsellor is a neutral person who will explore in depth, and in a neutral way, all possibilities and beliefs, and also whether
relationship counselling could be an option for you both. A counsellor can also help you work out how to talk to your husband if this is something you are not sure about.
ff Affection ff Intimacy ff Conversation
You could use the following in preparation for counselling, or to explore on your own:
ff Recreational companionship
ff If there was the possibility of things changing in your relationship, would you stay? For example, if both you and your husband committed to working on the relationship, would this be enough motivation for you to feel positive about the future? If the answer is “yes” or “maybe”, then it is worth exploring.
ff Financial support
ff What are the things that are working well in your relationship and what are the things that are not working well? When you consider what isn’t working, are these areas where skills can be enhanced or learned? For example, many couples who attend counselling struggle with skills such as dealing with conflict, committing time to be together or showing love and affection towards each other. Think about some of these aspects:
ff Honesty and openness
ff Domestic support ff Family commitment ff Admiration. Everyone’s needs are different and it can be helpful to consider how well your partner meets some of your needs in the above categories, but also how you meet your partner’s needs. It is surprising how individual needs within a relationship can both differ and coincide. This is just a starting point and there is much reading you could do on relationships, but start somewhere and know that when you do make a decision, it is well-informed. Two books I recommend are 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage by John and Julie Gottman and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
One by One
Women + Education = Hope By ANNE BENJAMIN
It’s a line as straight as an arrow: educate young women and you can expect a brighter future for their families. Nowhere have I seen this more clearly than in India. After my marriage, I lived and worked in South India for over three years. Since then, I have visited regularly. On one occasion, I met a young woman called Jodi in the mountains of Southern India, where the eastern state of Tamil Nadu rises high up into the Western Ghats near the border with the western state of Kerala. Jodi was studying in Grihini, a school designed specifically for poor women in the remote villages around the hill station of Kodaikanal in South India. At 19, one of eight children, none of whom attended school, Jodi was learning to read and write. Over the next few weeks, I visited a number of villages and met with around 70 women like Jodi, who were either current students or who had completed the Grihini program. The Grihini experience has been lovingly nurtured by a group of Indian and expatriate educators since 1987. It is hosted by the local Jesuit community in Kodaikanal and supported by donors in Australia and elsewhere. After their mothers had been persuaded that it was safe to let their daughters leave their village to take part in the six-month Grihini residential program, about 30 women, aged between 13 and 23, were selected for the pioneer cohort. Some were Adivasi (or Tribals); some were from Dalit colonies (or “untouchables”, those whom Gandhi called “Harijan”); some came from colonies of Tamils repatriated from Sri Lanka; some were from “caste” colonies. All were poor with
limited or no education. As with all education programs, the proof of Grihini’s effectiveness is in its graduates. Teachers are called Akka or “big sister” and young women are invited to take on new roles as women in charge of their own lives. The teachers do not educate the girls out of their villages, but equip them to return to their homes and to practise what they have learned about hygiene, nutrition, the environment, superstition, caste oppression and empowerment. Women who had been through the program enthusiastically ensure their own children receive a good education. Maheshwari, 29, employed by the Government as a nurse’s aide, completed Year 10 by correspondence. Completion of her nursing required that she attend university once a week, a three-hour journey each way by bus, which she undertook with her brother. “If I had not gone to Grihini, I would not have taken this opportunity [to complete 10th Standard and her nursing training],” she told me. When I caught my first sight of the village of Poombari from high above on the winding narrow road, it looked bucolically picturesque, terracotta tiled roofs contrasting with the narrow terraces in a spectrum of greens which edged down the mountain towards the village. Close up, however, Poombari was built on the ingrained oppression of poverty and caste. Our car took me to the Dalit colony, a segregated settlement within the larger village reserved for
those who were “out-of-caste”. The homes here were small and dark, with no water. Women had to bend to enter. The women told me that before they went to Grihini and learned their rights, their children were treated differently in the local government child care centre and made to sit in a different place from the “caste” children. They showed me a monument to their new-found power: a toilet block, large and imposing, with carved wooden doors, in a central place in the colony. Before the women had pressured the government to build them this facility, they had had no private place in which to bathe or toilet. Nallamma was 14 when I met her in Poombari. She was one of four children and had dropped out of school after Year 7. Around this time, her uncle had died, leaving four children. With the strong sense of family responsibility one often sees in India, Nallamma’s parents had assumed responsibility for these children as well, bringing the household to eight children and three adults. Around this time, textile mills in the area began aggressive recruitment for young labour. At festival times, the recruiters would visit places like Poombari, bringing alcohol for the men. If a villager agreed for his daughter to be taken to the textile mills to work, he was often given a cash handout. So Nallamma had become a worker in the textile mills, even though the legal age for such work is 18. She needed to stand for long hours, the work was dirty and the supervisors sometimes abused the young women. Nallamma wanted to return to school. Of course, Nallamma could have done what most of the other women in the Dalit colony in Poombari did: work for daily wages as an agricultural coolie. The soaring sides of Poombari are sculpted with tiers of commercial gardens. Garlic, carrots, cabbages and peas grow in these narrow ledges up and around the
mountains. The work of planting, weeding and harvesting is the work of the poor, especially women. It is not well paid and it is seasonal, paying possibly around 2000 rupees during the months when there is work. Before beginning her seven-hour shift, a worker might walk up for to two hours to reach the field. (By way of understanding salary relativities, young graduates who live in cities can earn up to 50,000 plus rupees a month.) In Mooliyar village, the girls and young women met me with bunches of marigolds and trays of papaya and bananas. We climbed up a steep pathway through the village. A single pipe carried water to the village from the river across the highway. Finally, at the top, we reached a meeting room. The forest continued to climb beyond this point further up the range. The room was filled with women sitting cross-legged on the floor or standing around the entrance. Toddlers climbed from knee to knee. One of the speakers was Leelavathi who had only a few years’ schooling when she joined Grihini in its early days. Building on what she had gained from the program, she successfully nominated as a local government councillor and spent five years in this role. She set up her own organisation to protect the rights of (women) workers. As I was leaving the village, the white-haired village president pointed out the solid single-room houses of rendered brick and tiled roofs. “The women got us these good houses from the government,” he said. “The women did it.” As I said goodbye to Grihini, Jodi gave me a scarf of double thickness that she had knitted on circular needles. Only afterwards did I notice her hands, twisted like the shattered foot of a seagull. It is with these broken hands that she produces her beautiful handwork. *** This is the kind of story that inspired Anne’s recently published memoir, Saffron and Silk. To find out more about Saffron and Silk, please visit anne-benjamin-blog.com Learn more about or support Grihini at grihini.org.au This story has been rewritten from one published as “Kurinji”, Stories for International Women’s Day, ACU website, 2011.
Nurturing a relationship with God through hands-on experience
By SIUBHAN SADLER
Siubhan Sadler introduces an innovative way to help children understand the Christian story. I first encountered Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) in 2012 when visiting a cousin in England. She took me into an Atrium – a joyful and peaceful place where young children can learn about God in a hands-on environment. I was immediately drawn to its beauty and simplicity. In the early church, before they were baptised, catechumens were taught about the faith in the Atrium (front room) of a church building. The Atrium for the CGS is filled with materials like models of an altar, baptismal font and vestments, and items from parables like mustard seeds and a model good shepherd
(complete with model sheep). Children who attend the Atrium are free to choose to work with these materials any time they wish. CGS was founded in Rome in the 1950s by Sophia Cavalletti and Montessori educator Gianna Gobbi. Together they developed materials to teach children about liturgy, and about Jesus and his life. CGS is unlike any other catechesis that I have encountered. Instead of providing children only with information (catechism), it allows the Holy Spirit to work through the materials and touch their hearts. CGS helps a child develop a real, personal relationship with God. I believe that it is far more important that we have this relationship than that we know the answers to all the catechism questions. This relationship is the firmest foundation of a Christian life. When I returned from England I began teaching scripture in my local state school. When I experimented and brought in my CGS model altar for the students to work with, they were fascinated. My early dabbling in CGS was
confirmed with a call from God to begin an Atrium when I moved back to the Hunter.
trained Good Shepherd Catechists and will run the Atrium with the help of a number of volunteers. We are aiming to open the Atrium for 3-6 year-olds in February 2017.
Atriums need a dedicated teaching space. We are very fortunate that Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Beresfield will host the first Atrium in If you would like more information or would like this diocese in its old parish office. We are busily to send your child to the Atrium, contact OLOL. preparing the Atrium Atrium@gmail.com space to welcome the Cath erine Pato n with the mod el children. There is a lot altar that is part of the Atriu m. of woodwork, sewing, painting, varnishing, shopping and assembling of flat packs to do before we’re ready. We are grateful to the many skilled people who have volunteered their time and resources to help us as we begin. Former ACTiv8 Youth Leader Ailis Macpherson and I are
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News of Sydney and Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Youth, Anthony Fisher OP, is looking forward to welcoming young people from across the country. “I look forward to welcoming the youth of Australia to Sydney. Who could forget the energy and the buzz when we welcomed tens of thousands of young people for World
By BADEN ELLIS
Youth Day in 2008? Now, nearly a decade Following the success of the Australian Catholic Youth Festivals held in Melbourne and Adelaide in recent years, Bishop Bill Wright is optimistic that the 2017 Festival, to be held in Sydney in December, will be a destination of choice for many young members of the diocesan community.
later, young people from across the country will join Church leaders to celebrate and pray for the young Church of Australia,” said Archbishop Fisher. The festival marks the beginning of the Year of Youth in 2018 proclaimed by the Bishops of Australia to celebrate ten years since World
Bishop Bill participated in previous festivals and led a 70-strong contingent to Krakow for the World Youth Day pilgrimage in July last year.
Youth Day was hosted in Sydney. The theme
The three-day festival will be hosted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in partnership with the Archdiocese of Sydney. The event will be held at Sydney Olympic Park and at other key city locations. Organisers hope to attract 15,000 young people to celebrate their faith together. Archbishop
The theme draws inspiration from Pope
of the Festival and the Year of Youth is, ‘Open New Horizons for Spreading Joy: Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment’. Francis’ address to young people at the Vigil at World Youth Day Krakow in 2016. Pope Francis continues to challenge the young people of the world to engage boldly with their faith, their relationship with Jesus and the world.
“My friends, Jesus is the Lord of risk, he is the Lord of the eternal ‘more’. Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths….To take the path of the ‘craziness’ of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbours who feel abandoned. To take the path of our God, who encourages us to be politicians, thinkers, social activists.” – Pope Francis. Anticipating the festival, Bishop Bill said he is “already encouraging the young people I meet to plan to participate, and the parish communities
and schools to consider supporting their own to be part of the festival. “There will never be a better opportunity to take part in an event which I believe will be life-giving, joyous and lots of fun,” said Bishop Bill. Baden Ellis is Festival Co-ordinator for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. To learn more, please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/ acyf.
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Who’s your buddy?
By JOANNE ISAAC
This year I am in the privileged position of having a child in Year 6 and a child starting kindergarten (with another one in between). The reason I feel lucky about this is not just because I will finally get the much coveted school photo featuring all of my kids at once, but because I’ve been able to witness the buddy system at St Benedict’s Primary School, Edgeworth, from two perspectives. It has been a joy to share my daughter’s excitement as she waited to find out who her ‘little’ buddy would be, watch as she met Aria for the first time and feel proud to see Sienna and her Year 5 classmates being so attentive and caring to their young friends. I have also witnessed the excitement of my son as he bonds with his ‘big’ buddy Jack and talks about him at home or watches him play handball before school starts, casually hanging out with the big kids. Whenever we see him, Caleb’s face lights up. Having a buddy is obviously a significant thing for both the ‘big’ and ‘little’ buddy and something I think is invaluable for a multitude of reasons. For the older child, being a buddy signals the beginning of a real leadership role at school and for the younger child having a buddy provides them with an anchor in the school setting – a setting that must seem tremendously large to a 4 or 5-year-old. Even for children like my son, who has literally grown up at the school, starting kindergarten can be an overwhelming proposition. In term four last year, to help ensure a smooth transition this year, the new kindergarten children met their buddies and were presented
with a T-shirt stating, “I’m going to St Benedict’s Edgeworth next year.” Over the course of a number of orientation sessions the buddies played games together, visited the classrooms, toured the school grounds and came to know each other. Spending that quality time with their buddy last year will make the first days and weeks at school much easier. Aaron Heard, Aria’s father, has nothing but praise for the buddy system. “It allows the kids starting school to feel more confident, knowing they have a relationship with one of the senior kids,” said Aaron. For me, it’s knowing that Caleb will have someone other than his sisters to look out for him, someone he can watch and learn from and lean on if necessary. Watching Jack with Caleb and Sienna with Aria has been enjoyable. Jack, the youngest in his family, seems pleasantly surprised by this little human who wants to ‘dab’, hug and play handball with him. Sienna, the proverbial eldest child, is bringing her toolbox of tricks to the relationship, well used to looking out for younger ones, but this time for one who doesn’t ever annoy her (a welcome change!). Jack and Sienna agree that being a buddy is fantastic. “The best thing about being a buddy is how it helps you to be a leader. The little kids are so cute and they ask really funny questions,” said Jack. “It’s great being able to help someone and I have loved the feeling you get when you know that your buddy is looking up to you,” said Sienna.
Who doesn’t love being adored? Religious Education Co-ordinator at St Benedict’s, Michelle Collins, plays an integral role in helping the Year 5 students prepare for their buddy role each year. “Prior to meeting their buddy for the first time the Year 5 children meet with the kindergarten teachers several times to discuss their responsibilities as buddies, the dos and don’ts of being a great buddy and how to meet and greet parents. After each buddy visit we meet for a debriefing and Q & A session to discuss any issues and celebrate our successes,” said Michelle. Michelle believes there are many advantages of the buddy program for both the older and younger children. “The older children gain a sense of responsibility. They realise that this impressionable and often scared little person is relying on them to help them settle into ‘big’ school. The older children also often exhibit a real pride in their school, especially when first meeting the parents of the little ones. It’s almost like they are saying, ‘Look at me, it’s going to be ok, I’ve been here six years and I’m doing well.’ “I think the younger ones appreciate having someone who ‘knows the ropes’ looking out for them. It is very daunting for them. The bond they form with their buddy is very special. When preparing to become a buddy, the Year 5 students often
reminisce about their own experiences starting school and tell stories about their buddy. It is often a bond that transcends the first year of school. Many keep in touch with their buddy even once they have moved on to high school,” said Michelle. While the school has processes in place to ensure that the kindergarten children do not become overly reliant on their buddy, Michelle emphasised that it’s a positive experience for all involved. “It is such a joy for the older children to be caring for someone else and they really do enjoy the time they spend with their little person. They often refer to it as the highlight of their year. At the same time they encourage the younger ones to build friendships with their peers,” said Michelle. At consequent meetings after the ‘Meet Your Buddy Day’ last year, you would either see the little ones anxiously looking around for their buddy when they arrived for orientations or the older kids racing up from their classrooms to greet their little friends. The sense of excitement each time was palpable. My daughters still treasure photos and gifts they received from their respective buddies. The buddy system is truly a valuable one that brings out the best in the older children and nourishes the confidence of the younger ones. It enhances community and friendships and gives the older children a chance to exhibit the Gospel values they have been learning about for years.
By SHIRLEY MCHUGH
I’m blessed to call Australia home Chair of the diocesan Social Justice Council, Shirley McHugh, reflects on our nation in the wake of Australia Day. I believe Australia Day is a day of special significance for all Australians. It takes time for newcomers to understand the true meaning of ‘being Australian’ and to come to terms with their decision – if they had a real choice − to leave one life behind and begin a new one in a country with different stories and perspectives, birth-marked by the great Southern Cross. Australia is a vast country – a “land of sweeping plains….flooding rains” − but it is more than that. It is a land where indigenous people roamed for thousands of years, unknown to the rest of civilisation, and where Europeans arrived one day and settled on the land to build an empire based on sheep and farming and mining. It is a country where men and women grew tough and resilient in a harsh climate and adjusted to what the indigenous people had already conquered – isolation, disease and hardships. Prisoners were brutally treated in the early settlement of this country. For next-tonothing crimes they had committed in Great Britain, they had lost the countries of their birth, lost families and friends and lost their dignity. Pioneers braved the unknown with heroism and determination. All these unlikely elements combined to build the country we know today. From the pages of their minds, poets, like Paterson and Lawson and Stewart, Kendall and Slessor, poured forth volumes of history and stories and ballads about Australia. 14
Kendall took us to “channels of coolness [where] the echoes are calling” and where “softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing, the notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing”.
just kicking a ball around.
In his wonderful poem, “Five Bells”, Slessor gave us this brilliant description of Sydney Harbour, observing that “the Harbour floats in the air, the Cross hangs upside down in water”.
from overseas look at this land as we leave
Early in the First World War, Laurence Binyon in “For the Fallen” described our soldiers: “They went with songs to the battle, they were young Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted They fell with their faces to the foe.” How many of us have thrilled to the sound of the hooves of mountain men as they strove to keep up with The Man from Snowy River or felt the terror of the drover’s wife as she cocks her gun at the snake? I still thrill to the flags fluttering from many homes on Australia Day, of watching whole families with our flag draped around their bodies in the form of t-shirts, shirts, swimmers – anything wearable. I rejoice in the families gathering in our many parks, barbecuing “snags” and the inevitable onions and tomato sauce, playing cricket or
Someone has a radio blaring and the sound of “I still call Australia home” always brings tears to my eyes. How many of us returning the aircraft or ship and say to ourselves, “I’m glad to be home”? For people new to this great country, it is surely the hope of all Australians that those who seek freedom from persecution will find sanctuary and embrace the best of Australia. Drug addiction and drugrelated crimes, racism and domestic and family violence certainly exist. There is an onus on each of us to do what we can, individually and collectively, to address these issues and build strong,
For people new to this great country, it is surely the hope of all Australians that those who seek freedom from persecution will find sanctuary and embrace the best of Australia.
united communities. Yes, Australia Day is a great day to think about the legacy of our forebears, about personal responsibility and about the demands of the future. In fact, any day is a great day to reflect on what it means to be Australian. I thank God that I was born in Australia.
Peace and blessings of God be upon you In the first column of a new series, Muslim Farooq Rah offers an introduction to a faith that is followed by some 1.7 billion believers.
By FAROOQ RAH
“I bear witness that there is no god but God.” “I bear witness that Muhammad is the prophet of God.” Throughout the world, Muslims hear these two declarations echo through the call to prayer; they utter them in their five daily prayers and find them upon their lips throughout their lives. But to what is it that the two credal statements − the first pillar of Islam − call Muslims to witness? “Say: ‘Truly, my prayer, and my acts of worship, my life and my death, are for Allah i [alone], the Sustainer of all the Worlds’.” (Quran 6:162) The truths of the two creeds become apparent through the individual’s thoughts, speech and actions. Anything can potentially become the object of one’s devotion. Thus, Muslims are called to negate, in their lives, everything other than God, after which only God remains. It is revelation that guides one to this, and it is to this that the second of the two creeds refers when affirming the prophethood of Muhammad ii. A Muslim is called to accept the prophetic claim of Muhammad as the one to whom the Quran was revealed and who, being the perfect embodiment of its message, himself becomes the source of guidance in the way he lived among the early Muslim community. Numerous companions of the Prophet imparted to later generations that guidance, which came to be encoded in the Hadith literature. Alongside the Quran, the Hadith forms the primary source of interpreting Islam. Understanding the life example of the Prophet − what he did, said and approved of − is integral to understanding the message of the Quran. The first pillar of the Muslim is affirming with the tongue what is in the heart and the remaining four pillars show how that affirmation ought to be manifested in action. Five times a day, a Muslim prays to God, facing Mecca. Taking the time to pray throughout the day allows a Muslim to build and spiritually gauge his relationship with God. The prayers are a constant reminder, in a world of constant distractions, of what ought to ground us in our lives. After prayers, the third pillar relates to the right of the needy. Muslims are required to purify their wealth yearly by distributing a part to those in need. Called Zakat, the Arabic word: “to purify” and “to grow” refers to two spiritual dimensions of this pillar. A
Muslim purifies her wealth by making it a source of material benefit for others while allowing her soul to grow spiritually through detachment. The Zakat is the minimum Muslims give to the needy, but many events in life call for one’s generosity and the language of the Quran is morally edifying and encouraging:
for God must be expressed through action. Hajj, the last of the pillars, is one that many will recognise as the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Once in their life, Muslims are commanded to do Hajj. Five times a day a Muslim faces the Kabba iv in prayer. The Kabba serves as a single direction for prayers and is what unifies all Muslims in
“Establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan. And whatever good you send forth for your souls you shall find it in Allah’s Presence.” (Quran 73:20)
so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware. (Quran 49:14)
This “Beautiful Loan” is really an outcome of God’s generosity towards his creatures. Our generosity towards others is to be a reflection of God’s generosity towards us, for our relationship with God is intimately tied with our relationship with one another. It is to this that a prophetic tradition speaks in which God ascribes the abject needs of his servants to Himself, for which He rebukes “the son of Adam iii” for having neglected Him. Shocked, the son of Adam asks God how it is that He, “the Lord of the world”, can be in need? Had you fulfilled the needs of so and so, “you would have found Me with him” is the resounding reply. The “Beautiful Loan” we metaphorically extend to God not only manifests itself through acts of charity but also through disciplining our souls by fasting (the fourth pillar). Every year for the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from food, drink and sexual relations with their spouses between sunrise and sunset. “O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God.” (Quran 2:183) But what is it to be conscious of God? It is recognising within ourselves the profound awareness of a personal God Whose living presence is brought into our lives through the obedience of his law. That obedience is the correct human response to the divine. Fasting cultivates consciousness of God in a number of ways. Through observing it, one finds that one has the ability to discipline the soul with others. Fasting provides a temporary state in which one can contemplate the plight of those for whom that state is permanent. It negates life’s pleasures temporarily to affirm their divine source, a reflection forming the basis for gratitude. One may add many other spiritual benefits, but what matters is that the command to fast issues from God, and love
their individual and communal prayers. There is not a moment in time, day or night, when someone is not in the state of prayer, facing the Kabba. Indeed, there is not a single moment in which the gates to the Kabba are shut; it remains a continuous witness to those in prayer and those proclaiming, in the Hajj, “Here I am Oh God, here I am [in your divine service].” The rites of the pilgrimage to Mecca are manifold and require the believer to be in an absolute state of physical and spiritual purity. The hardships that accompany the rites, which include circulating the Kabba seven times, are there as reminders that the path to God is to be taken with others. O People! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes,
i Allah is the Arabic word for God as understood in traditional theism. Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians also use it. ii It is part of Muslim piety to utter “peace and blessings of God be upon him” after the Prophet’s name and I exhort Muslim readers to do the same. iii A phrase synonymous with humankind. iv The cube-like structure in Mecca. | C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E | W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A - M A G A Z I N E
Seasons of Mercy
Journeying with Parkinson’s Disease By WARREN & CHRISTINE SHEPPARD Warren and Christine Sheppard share their experiences since Warren’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. Christine The Parkinson’s journey is both individual and challenging. It is an illness that affects all aspects of the lives of people living with the illness and the lives of their carers. Everyone knows that Michael J Fox has, and Mohammed Ali had, Parkinson’s, but you may not have known about your younger neighbours or work colleagues. Perhaps you had noticed a changed gait, a blanker face, a slight tremor – but that is all. About 11 years ago when we were walking along the beach, we noticed that one of Warren’s feet left a dragging pattern in the sand. Attempts at diagnosis failed, partly because Parkinson’s is a hard illness to diagnose because of the range of possible symptoms it displays. Eighteen months later, Warren was referred to a Professor of Neurology, and after some questioning and an MRI, we were told that it was possibly Parkinson’s and given some scripts for medication. If Warren’s symptoms improved after medication, it was most likely Parkinson’s. His symptoms at that time were a dragging foot, blankness of expression (called face masking) and smaller handwriting. There were no tremors, the classic symptom associated with the illness. The symptoms, at that time, responded well to medication. That evening, we went to our All Saints (Kotara) parish family group for a meal and shared our news. This group, to which we have belonged for about 26 years, has been very supportive. The following weekend we had time away at one of our favourite places, Crowdy Head, to begin processing what was happening to us. We went to Mass and talked with our former parish
priest, Fr Paul O’Neill. This was the beginning of many deep conversations with various people. Warren continued as pastoral worker in All Saints Parish with Fr Greg Arnold, carrying out pastoral care and preparing liturgies until he found that the daily unpredictability of this disease made work too difficult. As a Uniting Church Minister then working in public Mental Health, I retired from that ministry in 2010 to give more time for Warren and for babysitting grandchildren, as well as for being involved in supply ministries and working under the National Chaplaincy in Schools program. As our
grandchildren in Sydney, (now aged 4 and 6) grew, they would remind their Pop to have his medication. We have learned that medication has to be taken right on time, otherwise its effectiveness is easily lost. Warren’s symptoms have included tiredness, face masking, change in gait, quieter speech, some falls, some hallucinations and anxiety at different times. The Parkinson’s community in Newcastle is extensive with people involved in different activities depending on the age of onset of the illness. We joined PD Warriors, an exercise group for people with Parkinson’s, run by exercise physiologist Michael Barrett who has an interest in brain plasticity and exercise programs for those with Parkinson’s and their carers. What a great program! The local Parkinson’s choir, with the delightful name of “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, meets weekly and is for those with PD and their carers. As well as social contact, the voice and the brain get a good work out with songs which challenge us. None of this singing songs like “Daisy”! Much of our repertoire is 21st century like Katie Perry’s “Roar”, where our soul is challenged to roar like the lion! With our just retired
maestro, Tim Hall, the choir has written a song called “Friends”. Tim put the words together and performed the music. Poignant phrases like “I lost my confidence; this has been hard for us but we’ve all found something we couldn’t share.... We’re so much more than just the sum of our parts.” Warren For Christine, a song the choir sings that captures the journey is “Lean On Me”: “Lean on me when you’re not strong...I’ll help you carry on.” As a carer, it is tough, and she has a small group of Christian friends who pray for her and listen to her. She is hugely thankful for them. With me, she prays the divine office aloud daily. She is a ’fan’ of St Mary MacKillop and seeks her prayers also. When the opportunity arises, we go to the place of Mary MacKillop’s tomb at North Sydney for prayer. She is regularly inspired by the Gospel of John, chapter 1, which describes the coming of the Word, especially verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and lived [or set his tent] among us, and we have seen his glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” Christine Warren was very ill in July and had an unexpected 17-day stay in Calvary Mater, Waratah, with very difficult complications in terms of his Parkinson’s. A care model where pastoral care was integral made his stay more bearable. Deep conversations with the Pastoral Care team and daily Eucharist were part of his healing – and indirectly, healing within me. Visits by Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Church clergy and laity, with parish priest Terry Horne anointing Warren, all reminded us in those dark days that God is truly present in God’s people. Warren Christine was very grateful at this time for the patience and support of the people of Hamilton Wesley Uniting Church where she is currently in supply ministry. We appreciate the loving support of our family and friends, including our parish family group and members of Adamstown Uniting Church evening congregation where we also worship. Mr Warren Sheppard is a former Pastoral Worker at Calvary Mater Hospital and All Saints Catholic Parish. Rev Christine Sheppard OAM is currently supply Minister, Hamilton Wesley Uniting Church.
Local resource is for the common good John Hayes shares a resource that may be useful to you or your organisation.
By JOHN HAYES
“The Commons” is a library, Fair Trade Café, community hub and arts space on the top floor of Fellowship House, alongside the Wesley Uniting Church in Beaumont Street, Hamilton. It has been established to connect communities of love and justice, empowering people to live lives of hope, joy and meaning. After much planning and negotiation by the founders – Caitlin O’Reilly, Tim Evans, Andy Goodwin and Miriam Williams − it opened in November 2012 as a faith community of the Uniting Church with the mandate of “Community Development”. This community space operates in accord with the emphasis on justice of the founders, the management committee and a cohort of volunteers all aligned to common values: Ethical; Sustainable; Creative; Inclusiveness including in matters of Faith, Gender, Sexuality and Ethnicity. Small acts matter! Miriam said, “We reused an empty space for a different purpose and so, as hunters and
gatherers, we recycled and upcycled, using assets already in the community, to fit out the space with a second hand coffee machine and other items including lounges, tables and chairs, bookshelves, books and board games, a record player and records and so on.” Caitlin and Tim were already involved in the local music scene so were well equipped, with the skills and talents of others, to establish a Fair Trade Café, and to offer hospitality and music in a safe place. The Commons provides a low-cost venue for groups − yoga, film, “Just Dance”, craft – whose members’ philosophy aligns with its own and meeting venues for organisations such as Clean As and Amnesty International. The Commons does not provide seed funds to support these ventures but does provide in kind support such as free or low cost venue (often just a request for a donation) and connection to a large network of supporters on social media. In 2014, an Ethical Bulk Dry Goods self-
service grocery shop, known as “Common Goods”, was established. This was upgraded in 2016 with a grant from the Uniting Church to buy fridges, bulk bins and gravity dispensers. It stocks reasonably priced food and other items needed by most households and some businesses, for example: flours, nuts, grains, legumes, dried fruits, coconut products, chocolate, olive oil, soaps and local honey. The committee has established contact and alignment with local growers, mostly organic, and some local suppliers, and now, becoming a supplier to the nearby Apothecary Kitchen means turnover has increased which assists in maintaining freshness and boosting income. The Commons is a not-for-profit organisation, and any surplus is reinvested to pay the
wages of a part-time worker. Please visit www.thecommons.org.au and www.facebook.com/thecommonscafe or just call in, you will be assured of a warm welcome. Open Tuesday 12-6pm, Friday 9-2pm, Saturday 10-2pm. John L Hayes is a member of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Social Justice Council and takes a keen interest in the environment, climate change and global warming. He recently presented on Transitioning to Renewable Energy and Sustainability at a Uniting Church event called “Inspiracy” held in churches at Merewether and Adamstown and in The Commons.
The 2016 Diocesan Year in Review is available online now! Read about the many ways the people of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle live their faith every day. Available online www.mnnews.today or at your local school or parish.
CatholicDiocese OF MAITLAND-NEWCASTLE
Meet a matriarch – and remember your prayers By TRACEY EDSTEIN Constance by name, constance by nature… it’s possibly not an original thought in terms of Waratah’s Constance (Connie) Jennings, but it is true. I don’t know too many 91 year-olds whose enthusiasm for life, deep faith and abiding hope remain, as Connie’s have, despite the loss of her husband, Darrell, five years ago, after 64 happy years of marriage. Much of Connie’s vitality is due to her revered role as matriarch of a large and loving family spanning five generations. As the photograph shows, Connie can trace a direct line through her daughter Anne, grand-daughter Bernadette, great-grand-daughter Maddison and greatgreat-grand-daughter Sarah, aged 3. Sarah has been an especially welcome presence since she entered the world after just 27 weeks gestation and weighing 900 grams. However, she bears no ill effects from her early arrival and now, as Connie says, “She comes racing in here like the wind!”
Connie was born at the Mater, Waratah, and lived almost all her life in Hamilton. Her parish of St Laurence O’Toole, Broadmeadow, is pivotal to her story. Connie married Darrell there, in a gown she made herself, having left school to study dressmaking. Their five children are Geoffrey, Anne, Rosemary, Carmel and Ruth and the girls were all married there. Sadly, Carmel died in 2007 and her funeral, and that of her father, was celebrated at St Laurence’s. As young parents, Connie recalls that life was understandably busy and because her mother and her mother-in-law had died, “We had no one to depend upon, only our two selves.” This central role of the parish church – and more importantly, community – would be echoed in many families belonging to the generations that didn’t move about too much. Connie and Darrell involved themselves in the school canteen, St Vincent de Paul Society, caring for senior parishioners, fetes and other fundraising events, a sewing class in the school and so on. Connie recalls clearly the time when parishioners were invited to participate in liturgical ministries such as proclaiming the Word and minister of Communion. Telling
this story, Connie becomes quite emotional, and it’s (fro m lef t, clo ck wis salutary to be reminded that Be rna de tte an d Coe) An ne , Ma dd iso n, Sa rah , nn ie. what is taken for granted in these days of declining going to be congregations was quite a turning point in there!” the lives of an older generation. “I didn’t think I was good enough,” recalls Connie. She came Daughter Anne recalls clearly that the family to realise that not only was assistance needed, rosary was prayed every night before (a fairly but that everyone – lay and ordained – has gifts early, pre-television) bedtime. “There was to offer. great wisdom in that custom, because it was At this stage of her life, living happily at Maroba a meditation that calmed us all down as well Aged Care Facility, Waratah, Connie is grateful as reminding us of what was important.” As when parishioners or local clergy bring her children, Geoffrey and Anne would run across Communion. When asked what she looks Richardson Park to morning Mass during the forward to, she replies unhesitatingly, “Visitors.” week. For months Anne saved her pennies to During his time as the diocesan Missionary of buy a missal, and “when I finally got it, I thought Mercy, Fr Richard Shortall visited, anointed her I’d arrived!” and made the Year of Mercy real for her. When there is any kind of concern, Connie’s While age imposes limitations, Connie’s ability advice to her family members, always, is to highlight the best of the past and her wisdom “Remember your prayers.” figure status among her descendants ensure “I’ve had a good and long and happy life,” she that she is part of all family events. In fact, says. When the time comes to join Darrell and late last year when Connie suggested to one Carmel, Connie will be ready, but meanwhile, of her grandsons that she might not be up to she has a lot of living to do and a lifetime’s attending the family Christmas, he said, ‘Well, wisdom to impart. we just won’t have Christmas if you’re not
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Experience leads to improved services for people with disabilities By PETA CASS
As a parent, grandparent and wife, I have supported my family through some challenging times. Having a child with special needs, I have, in years gone by, struggled to find individualised, local supports and often felt quite isolated and frustrated by the lack of control I was experiencing. Later, I decided to turn those experiences into an opportunity. It provided me with a platform to launch a new career path supporting others going through similar hardship. I have now worked in the social services industry for six years, including four years at CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. I am proud to work for an organisation that is committed to providing a range
of quality support services to people with disabilities. As a team, we support people in defining their goals, identifying their strengths and accessing resources by developing collaborative, open, honest and transparent relationships with the people we support. Based in CatholicCare’s Taree office, I was thrilled when, on 1 July 2016, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced to the Manning region. Since July 2013, the NDIS has been trialled at various sites across the country, with the Newcastle Local Government Area included in this trial phase. The expansion of the NDIS into areas including Taree and Gloucester six months ago means that the services offered by CatholicCare are now consistent across the diocese. While working for CatholicCare I have had the pleasure of assisting many Manning locals by providing them with goal-oriented, individualised support plans. Although our previous programs have been successful, with some amazing outcomes achieved with and for the people we support, the government’s former funding guidelines limited what we could offer and to whom. Often, this would see a gap in necessary supports for people in the Manning. However, with the expansion of the NDIS, we have already seen wonderful benefits afforded a larger number of people who are now able
to experience greater choice and control in terms of how the services they select are delivered. This not only has a tremendous impact on the individuals in the short and long term, but will also benefit their families, carers and the community in general. The aim of the NDIS aligns with CatholicCare’s core belief in early intervention − investing in people early to improve their outcomes later in life. For CatholicCare, success is building capacity and delivering on empowerment opportunities for the people we support. For people accessing our Disability Services programs, this may include greater independence, community involvement, employment and improved wellbeing. It is a great privilege to play such a vital role in providing support and assistance to people with a disability, their carers and families. I know that trying to determine what support you may be eligible for, and how best to access it, can be confusing. However, it doesn’t have to be. CatholicCare has always prided itself on its holistic approach and this will continue with the rollout of the NDIS. For more information on how CatholicCare staff can assist you or your loved ones, please P 6539 5900 in the Manning or 4979 1120 in the Hunter.
Short & long term Foster Carers are needed FREE INFO SESSIONS
8 February Gloucester
21 February Port Stephens
6pm - 8:30pm
6pm - 8:30pm
P (02) 6558 1777
P (02) 4979 1120
Light refreshments provided
Call to register or visit catholiccare.org.au for more info | C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E | W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A - M A G A Z I N E
Global leadership for a global challenge
By OLIVER WHITE
This is the last in our series examining the plight of refugees and asylum seekers who make their way to Australia.
announced resettlement deal between Australia and the US survives the incoming administration. However, even if the deal goes through for the 1,600 refugees on those islands, what outcomes are there for the remaining 3.5 million refugees stranded in the Asia Pacific region?
Many of the “year in review” articles published at the end of 2016 looked back at the previous twelve months with a mix of emotions, predominantly bewilderment and horror. The Syrian civil war continued, in its sixth year, to dominate headlines, and an unprecedented number of terrorist attacks was planned, foiled or carried out in European countries. Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election were seismic political shocks that will continue to reverberate around the globe in the years ahead. In Austria, a far-right candidate came within striking distance of winning the presidency. As political pundits and social commentators now debate heightened xenophobia, racism and the rise of demagogues, there seems little doubt that the world is facing a new era of unpredictability and instability.
What are the alternatives to Australia’s ‘stop the boats’ policy and offshore-processing regime? What would it look like if states in the region were to co-operate and share responsibility (rather than evade it) in their efforts to find solutions for refugees?
The election of Trump has raised serious questions about the direction of US foreign and domestic policy and the attendant impact on the world. During the campaign, Trump promised to curb the resettlement of Syrians to the US, build a wall to keep out Mexicans and block the immigration of Muslims altogether. The US is currently the most generous refugee resettlement country in the world and the largest donor to the United Nations’ refugee agency. Will this continue to be the case during a Trump presidency? The shockwaves are being felt on the other side of the world as anxious refugees on Nauru and Manus Island pray that the recently
At its core, a regional protection framework would address the legal protections granted to refugees as they move through the region, and would acknowledge that onward movement to countries such as Australia usually results from the lack of protection in transit countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Refugees would be recognised as distinct from other migrants and granted safe entry to countries of asylum. A key component to such a regional framework would be a standardised Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedure across the region that is fair, transparent and efficient. Special support and procedures should be offered to particularly vulnerable groups such an unaccompanied minors, stateless people or survivors of human trafficking. Refugees would be screened, registered and issued with legal documents to prevent their detention as “illegal migrants”. They would be issued temporary work permits so they can support themselves while their claims are being processed and granted access to healthcare and education for their children. For those unable to work, welfare provisions should be made so that their basic needs are met.
Funding for the provision of vital services such as healthcare, psychosocial support, legal assistance and education should be increased, allowing civil society to play a role in strengthening refugee protection in host and transit countries. This would help to stabilise populations and reduce the need for refugees to use people smugglers. Crucially, a regional protection framework would provide durable solutions for those that require them. Ideally, resettlement countries such as the US, Canada and Australia would consider increasing their quotas for humanitarian visas and work towards decreasing the waiting time for resettlement for those in transit countries.
of stakeholders including local and national authorities, humanitarian and development actors, the private sector and civil society. The UNHCR has called the Global Refugee summit a “game changer” for refugee and migrant protection. Whether it is or not will depend on political leaders being willing to face potential voter backlash − as has been recently witnessed in Germany – and heed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call to action,”Wir schaffen das,” (“we can do this”), by committing to genuine efforts to collaborate and share resources. This will need political will and an ability to articulate a political vision that goes beyond short-term
Incentives must be found for host and transit countries in the region to allow refugees to settle permanently and to comply with international standards of protection.
While regional mechanisms such as the Bali Process and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have stalled in their efforts to develop a regional framework, there have been some positive developments on the global stage.
narratives about refugees and migrants,
The UN’s Global Refugee Summit on 19 September 2016 resulted in the so-called New York Declaration in which 194 States declared their global solidarity with refugees and migrants, reaffirmed their obligations to respect their human rights and pledged support to those countries affected by large movements of refugees and migrants.
a critical mass of people who will demand
States will spend the next two years negotiating a Comprehensive Refugee Response (CRR) Framework to be applied in response to large-scale refugee influxes and protracted situations. This will be broader than a typical refugee response, involving a range
As leaders make grand promises on the world stage, it’s equally important that communities at the grassroots work hard to create new narratives that are framed in terms of shared values and counter the fear-driven rhetoric of security and exclusion. Crucially, they must be narratives and stories that resonate with a broader group in society in order to mobilise more of our political leaders and hold them to account for their lofty promises on the world stage. We all need to heed Chancellor Merkel’s call to action, and say to ourselves and one another, “We can do this.” Oliver White is former Assistant Director, Jesuit Refugee Service, www.jrs.org.au.
Frankly Spoken No conflict can become a habit impossible to break. Israelis and Palestinians need peace. The whole Middle East urgently needs peace! Peace is a gift, a challenge and a commitment. It is a gift because it flows from the very heart of God. It is
a challenge because it is a good that can never be taken for granted and must constantly be achieved. It is a commitment because it demands passionate effort on the part of all people of goodwill to seek and build it.
From Pope Francis’ address to the Diplomatic Corps to the Holy See on 9 January 2017.
Community Noticeboard 2017 Dates for “Before We Say I Do” Marriage education is a vital, yet often overlooked, part of preparing for a life partnership. The marriage education courses offered by the diocese are run by CatholicCare, which offers a selection of courses for married and soon-tobe married couples to assist them in preparing for, and maintaining, their commitment to one another. Course 1/17 4 & 11 February at Newcastle Course 2/17 25 March & 1 April at Morpeth Course 3/17 20 & 27 May at Newcastle Course 4/17 22 & 29 July at Newcastle Course 5/17 9 & 16 September at Singleton Course 6/17 4 & 11 November at Newcastle To learn more, please P Robyn, 4979 1370. Ecumenical Prayer Service in the Spirit of Taizé These will continue in 2017 at Merewether Uniting Church, 178 Glebe Road, Merewether (dates below). Each service commences at 7pm for 45 minutes and is characterised by the singing of simple harmonised tunes, often in various languages, interspersed with readings, prayers and a period of silence. Services are followed by supper. Contact Rev Jennifer Burns for further information P 0411 133 679 or E minister. email@example.com. Sundays: 12 February, 9 April, 18 June, 13 August and 8 October. Encounter – Annual Catechist Mass Mass will be celebrated on Friday 17 February at 7pm at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton. This invitation is an opportunity for priests, parishioners, families and friends to celebrate the ministry of Special Religious Education, Sacramental and Children’s Liturgy. Celebrant Bishop William Wright. Supper
will follow. To rsvp P 4979 1346 or E firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enrolments for training are completed at www.goodgrief.org.au.
St Brigid’s Markets, Branxton These monthly markets assist the parish and wider community at Branxton. Held every third Sunday, (next 19 February) the Old School Grounds, 9am-2pm, www.facebook.com/stbrigidsmarket.
Catholic ELibrary An excellent Catholic ELibrary providing free online access to nearly 6000 books, articles and discussions on Catholic faith, living and culture, is now available. All the texts in this growing ELibrary can be read on desktop or on hand-held devices, can be downloaded and can be printed. The ELibrary is sponsored by Catholic Mission and is ideal for clergy, pastoral workers, teachers, catechists, adult religious education and many others. For further information, feedback, suggestions or help, contact the ‘help desk’ provided on the website, sharingtheword.intersearch. com.au.
Living Waters Meditation and Spirituality Centre - Hildegard of Bingen - Her Music and her Spirituality Anne Millard will sing and Sr Carmel Moore rsj will speak about Hildegard’s spirituality at St James’ School Hall, Vista Parade, Kotara, on 4 March, 10.00am 3.00pm. Morning tea provided, byo lunch. Cost $20. To rsvp, E annecuskelly@ hotmail.com or P 0407 436 808. International Women’s Day/ Magdalene Award The 2017 theme is “Be bold for change.” International Women’s Day 2017 will be celebrated at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton, commencing with Mass at 9.30am on 12 March. Morning tea will be served and the inaugural Magdalene Award will be presented by Bishop Bill to a member of the diocesan community. A warm invitation is extended to all. For further information P Patricia Banister, 0409 300 192 or 4932 5601. Seasons for Growth Companioning Training 2017 Children and Young People’s training: Newcastle 15-16 March, 8-9 November. Taree 25-26 July Adults Training: Newcastle 17-18 May, 13-14 September. This training is essential for those wishing to facilitate the Seasons for Growth program with children/young people or adults. Please P Jenny or Benita 4947 1355 to learn more.
Mercy Spirituality Centre Toronto – 2017 Program To receive this in booklet format, P 4959 1025, E email@example.com or visit the webpage, institute.mercy.org.au/ toronto. Mums’ Cottage Invites grandparents to Grandparent and Toddler day, every Wednesday during school terms from 10am-noon at 29 St Helen’s Street, Holmesville. Enjoy some companionship with other grandparents while children play. Mums’ Cottage offers a range of services, programs, workshops and family events and would love to welcome you at any time. For more information, P Mums’ Cottage 4953 4105, E firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mumscottage.org.au. Youth Mass On the last Sunday of each month, the 5.30pm Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Macquarie St, Wallsend, has a youthful flavour. Everyone is welcome.
For your diary 2017 is the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
February 1 World Interfaith Harmony Week begins. 2 World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life 6 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation 11 World Day of Prayer for the Sick 14 Bishop Bill presides at Called to Serve Mass, Sacred Heart Cathedral. St Valentine’s Day 20 World Day of Social Justice 24 Teal Ribbon Day (Ovarian Cancer Australia) 28 Shrove Tuesday Project Compassion launch, Sacred Heart Cathedral.
For more events please visit mn.catholic.org.au/calendar and mn.catholic.org.au/community.
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Review By CLARE GREGORY Beyond Belief is a non-fiction book about what has filled the vacuum left by the rejection of institutional religion. Author Hugh Mackay defines and explores concepts of God, spirituality and religion in an accessible, objective and nonjudgemental way. He draws on his experience as a sociological researcher, as well as referencing other researchers and theologians, many Australian.
Even amid the many attractions of life aboard the “Queen Mary 2”, Aurora is being eagerly read!
In a clear, conversational style, Mackay describes the human side of faith: why we need it, the effect it has on our lives and the way we see the world. Many personal stories are succinct and well-integrated into the context. He describes how people have re-defined God and spirituality according to their own needs and experience. People are hungry, and one good word is bread for a thousand. David Whyte “Loaves and Fishes”
Mackay has a reasonable understanding of Christian teachings (except for two key points, to follow). However, despite not believing in God, he respects those who do by getting his facts (mostly) right. Mackay states at the outset that he does not address the supernatural. All of his assumptions and speculations are based on the non-existence of the supernatural realm. At one point, he refers to the supernatural and asks, “…how would that be relevant to your life in the natural world?” It seems
he is unable to perceive a world in which a supernatural being is both the cause and purpose of existence. But to take Christianity, or any other religion with a deity, and to eliminate the deity itself from the core, is to leave behind a subjective mess. Following this rejection of deity, he concludes that “…most religions have moral teachings at their heart…” I suspect that more than a few conventional Christians would disagree with this. What can the conventional, practising Christian get from this book? This is not a book that argues for or against belief. It is by no means a philosophical or theological treatise. It is descriptive and analytical, which may be useful to understand how and why atheists and agnostics (and those with unconventional beliefs) come to their position, instead of rejecting them and thus opening oneself to the accusation of spiritual elitism. Beyond Belief is published by Pan Macmillan Australia.
American sticky ribs This is a simple and tasty dish that is fun and so easy to make.Scan In toaddition the learn more to about how CatholicCare can support, assist and care for you and your ingredients below, you need a packet of wet wipes and a lip-smacking-hunger! family, or visit www.catholiccare.org.au BARTHOLOMEW CONNORS Chef - Cathedral Cafe
f f 1.5 kgs American style pork ribs (cut
Combine all ingredients (other than ribs) in a bowl. Marinate ribs all over with this mixture and cover with cling film. Place in fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 150deg (fan forced).
into sections of 4 bones each) f f 6 tablespoons ketchup f f 6 tablespoons soy sauce f f 3 tablespoons honey f f 1 teaspoon mixed herbs f f (Optional) dry chilli flakes f f Salt and pepper to serve.
Remove from fridge, ‘drain’ ribs of marinade and place them on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Cook for 30 mins. Meanwhile, in a small pan, cook the remaining marinade and simmer for 5 mins. Baste ribs with marinade all over, return to the oven for 15 mins and repeat this process once more. Serve ribs hot with whatever you like and enjoy! Chef Bart’s culinary gifts can be enjoyed at The Cathedral Café, 843 Hunter St Newcastle West, 10am–1.30pm, Monday to Friday. P 4961 0546.
49 Boo 79 k tod 13 ay 70
Are you planning a wedding? Explore your relationship, build on your strengths and gain essential knowledge and skills that you will use for years to come. Register now for the next ‘Before We Say I Do’ program.
‘Before We Say I Do’ Marriage Education Course 2017 COURSE DATES
NEWCASTLE 4 & 11 February 2017
MORPETH 25 March & 1 April 2017
NEWCASTLE 13 & 20 May 2017
NEWCASTLE 22 & 29 July 2017
SINGLETON 9 & 16 September 2017
NEWCASTLE 4 & 11 November 2017
For a registration pack and brochure
4979 1370 email@example.com
Aurora’s February cover story captures a moment during a visit by Vicar General Brian Mascord to the students of St Peter’s Primary at Stock...