Aurora May 2017

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Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle May 2017 | No.168

While Syria suffers… Tim Flannery on climate change Mother love: it’s complicated



Dynam leads S ic duo t Jame s’ Muswe llbrook

You’re invited!

Australian Catholic Youth Festival 2017 Register now!

First Word

On the cover Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle May 2017 | No.168

While Syria suffers… Tim Flannery on climate change

“A life lived in creativity is a life well lived”

Georgia Dulley and Jake Ballard, leaders at St James’ Primary, Muswellbrook. Read their story on page 5. Photograph courtesy of Niamh Marzol.



Dynam leads St ic duo Jam Muswellb es’ rook

Mother love: it’s complicated

Featured  A dynamic duo leads with ability at Muswellbrook 5  You’re invited to a youth festival like no other


 Caring for those in supported accommodation 6  Tim Flannery to speak at Tenison Woods Education Centre Dinner


 Satellite classes continue to thrive in the Hunter 8  Interfaith forums bring community together


 Three new St Nicholas centres to open in 2017 12  While Syria suffers, Iraq, Libya and Vietnam come to mind


 Countering Islamophobia


 Why not learn the lessons of the ‘Long Paddock’?


 What would Jesus do?


Regulars  First Word


 My Word


 CareTalk


 Two by Two


 Family Matters


 Faith Matters


 Seasons of Mercy


 Frankly Spoken


 Community Noticeboard


 Last Word


As I type my mind is full of the sights and sounds of the fifth Newcastle Writers Festival. Each year I try to balance volunteering – encountering so many writers, ‘minders’ and visitors – and attending sessions that are invariably thought provoking, entertaining and stimulating. Very popular guest and actorturned-children’s-author, Richard Roxburgh, said, “A life lived in creativity is a life well lived” and that captures an important aspect of what the festival represents. A highlight for me was reconnecting with Ailsa Piper and Tony Doherty, who featured last month, and whose deep friendship continues to engage audiences. Tony nailed what Aurora is about when he said, “Stories I find magnetic.” The winner of a copy of The Attachment is Anne Smith of Blandford. Still on writing, I listened recently

to young Somalian, Hani Abdile, read some of her poetry and tell the stories that led to her writing. Her book, I Will Rise, is the subject of this month’s review. Despite spending time in detention on Christmas Island and only learning to read and write as a young woman, Hani is lively and optimistic and her creativity is making a difference. Wendy Webb wrote to share a traveller’s tale and some encouragement. “Just a little note to say we went on the Queen Mary 2 recently, and I took February’s Aurora to read. How surprised I was to see the picture of another traveller reading Aurora on the same ship! The magazine continues to provide beautifully presented information, comfort and challenge to readers of all persuasions. The series on other faiths and denominations is useful in our multicultural society, to help us all understand each other better.”

Contact Aurora Next deadline 7 May 2017 Aurora enquiries should be addressed to The Editor Tracey Edstein E PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300 P 4979 1288 | F 4979 1119 Subscribe

Aurora is indeed well travelled! The Easter season will be underway when you are reading this. May the God of the heavens and of the earth enter into the place within you that holds the keenest chaos, the deepest mystery, the most intense darkness and there may the God of sun and moon stars and seasons breathe the words that will bring forth a new world. Jan L Richardson In the Sanctuary of Women Upper Room Books 2010.


Aurora online Good news! You can still catch up with Aurora online, via


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


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My Word

Things that work ‘Isn’t it good when things just work!’ You may recall the ad. A silver ball rolled down spirals, through switches, setting off balance beams and catapulty things, until finally something hit an array of dominoes that beautifully fell into place. It was a car ad, I think. But it is true, isn’t it? It’s good when things just work.

slides straight off your wet fingers or, if successfully captured, is good for about six square inches of washing and then, insult to injury, can never be totally rinsed off. This aberration, I think, is a marketing ploy. I’m sure the profit margin on squirty stuff is much greater than that on simple, cheap-to-make soap. But soap works.

The thing in my vicinity that just works, and for which I give daily thanks, is the traffic light system on the New England Highway through Maitland and on down to Hexham. Those sensors in the road are little beauties. They don’t pull you up at a corner unless there actually are cars waiting. They drop the right-handturn lane’s arrow out of the sequence if there’s no one there. I really noticed the difference when I drove down the old highway from Newcastle to Swansea lately and several lights pulled me up to let in non-existent cars from cross streets. Wouldn’t happen where I live! Okay, fellow residents, I do have my doubts about the settings on the Green Hills corner. But the exception proves the rule. Otherwise, the system works, and that is good.

More importantly, I think that, on the whole, our system of government works. Now, politicians being so unpopular these days, I’ll get howled down on this one, I suspect. And I freely admit that the system does not work as well as it could if the parliamentary terms were longer, the party whips less powerful, the press more interested in policy than in leadership contests and if compulsory voting didn’t make our election campaigns simply contests for the best three-word slogan. Still, with all its faults, our system of parliamentary, responsible government gets us through without violent upheavals, dictators and revolutions. Our only coups happen in the party room. We don’t live in a country of executive orders and presidential brain snaps. Every substantial matter of law and policy has to get by that large hall full of members who, in turn, have to worry about what their voters will think. On the whole, it works.

Another favourite thing is my genuine badger hair shaving brush. When my last one was nicked by a houseguest some years ago, I did the ideologically sound thing and bought an artificial one (‘just as good’) from a greenie store. Not the same at all. That’s not a lather! I ended up importing a new badger brush from England in desperation, and it works. All of which raises the question of why we replace things that work with things that don’t. Cakes of soap, for example. I’ve never had one fail. Those squirty things of body wash, on the contrary, even if you have two hands free to use them in the shower, shoot a dob of gel that

More curiously, papal elections seem to work. Elderly chaps in red silk gowns are locked up until they can settle on the one man who is supported by enough of them to enable the white smoke to be sent up the chimney. Certainly it is somewhat weird, but in my lifetime it has delivered Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, JPs I & II, Benedict XVI and now, of course, Francis. Can anyone out there think of a succession of prime ministers, presidents, chancellors, chairmen of

Ford or Telstra or whatever, anywhere, to match that strike rate of getting ‘the right man at the right time’? Of course, the X-Factor is the role of the Holy Spirit, which makes the comparison a bit unfair. But the point remains, papal elections do appear to ‘work’. Finally, and in all honesty this is the thing that got me started on ‘things that work’, it’s not long since I celebrated the pre-Easter ‘Holy Oils’ or ‘Chrism’ Mass in our cathedral. It worked. If being gathered together in prayer is supposed to lead us into a sense of a time that is sacred, if it is meant to be an experience of being united by our faith and hope, if it’s about feeling the power of God at work among us, then the Chrism Mass works, and works every year. Of course, the congregation is self-selecting, they’re the people who want to be there and to be a part of everything. They sing, they say ‘Holy, holy, holy…’ as if they mean it. They’re hushed when they should be and loud when it’s right to be. So everyone builds everyone else up. And there I go, blaming the Holy Spirit again! For it is a work of the Spirit in people, not of the organisation, not of the ‘institution’. This year we reflected on Jesus’ words ‘The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me and has sent me….’ We reflected on how each of us can say that, since we too are anointed with God’s Spirit. And I observed on the night how, if we don’t put up too much resistance, the Spirit of God really does work. It is good when things just work.

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No need to shift


A dynamic duo leads with ability at Muswellbrook

The device is run using Jake’s eyes to recognise symbols and using a voice generation technology to create speech through the computer. The device allows Jake to create speeches in advance, give answers and contribute to classroom discussion.


On Wednesday 14 December 2016, Mary Ballard, along with the parents of 14 other school captain hopefuls, waited with bated breath as principal Niamh Marzol announced the St James’ Primary School, Muswellbrook, school leaders for 2017.

Photo: School leaders Jake Ballard and Georgia Dulley. Photograph courtesy of Amanda Skehan.

Mrs Ballard recalls the “gut wrenching” feeling in her stomach that all mothers have when their child really wants something and “you’ve prepared them for disappointment just in case”. The first name is called, the engaging Georgia Dulley is announced as the first school captain. Mrs Ballard remembers looking across at her son Jake as he cheered on his friend. As Jake’s name was announced, his learning support officers Trish Howard and Melissa McLennan recall not being able to move. The school hall filled with a ‘roar’ and clapping from students and parents in what Mrs Marzol describes as a “landslide victory”. Jake had been chosen by the students along with his close friend Georgia to lead St James’ into 2017. Jake was born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and is non-verbal, communicating with classmates and teachers through the use of his Accent computer.

In 1998 Jake entered Kindergarten at St James’ and instantly everyone fell for this charismatic character. As I sit opposite Jake and Georgia, the giggling is infectious and it is not long before I too recognise why the students have chosen this pair as their leaders. When asked to describe how she felt when her name was announced Georgia tells me she was “really nervous”. A great big grin spreads across her face when she continues, “and then Jake’s name was announced too”. Jake and Georgia run the weekly school assemblies, lead school prayer and represent the school at formal events assisted by either of Jake’s support officers. Mrs Ballard says they are incredibly lucky to have the support of long term friend, colleague and Jake’s number one fan, Trish Howard. Mrs Howard remembers thinking when Jake started school, where she was teaching at the time, “Jake is a smart kid and I didn’t want him to ever miss out on anything.” So, Mrs Howard became his Learning Support Officer and has been with Jake for the past six years, enabling Jake to be part of activities such as horse riding and modified canoeing. The teachers, support staff, students and parents of St James’ are not only proud of their current school captains but in awe of Jake’s resilience, determination and “rather sick sense of humour”.

You’re invited to a youth festival like no other strong sense of positivity and love. Everyone is there for the same reason – to strengthen their faith and connect with like-minded young Australians. There are so many opportunities to make new friends and meet people from around the country.


The Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF) will take place in Sydney from 7-9 December. Organisers are expecting 15,000 young people (Year 9-30 years) from around the country to attend. Caprice Skinner has attended the previous two festivals and World Youth Day in Poland and encourages young people from our diocese to attend this year. ACYF is a unique experience. The entire festival is energising, uplifting and inspiring. Being surrounded by so many like-minded young people is like nothing you will have ever encountered before. The three days of the festival are busy, but there is so much to enjoy − every single moment is worth it. The atmosphere is amazing. You really feel a

So what can you expect at ACYF? Each day of the festival there is a variety of workshops, events and activities. One of the most popular is the praise and worship sessions which are all about singing, dancing and prayer. Fr Rob Galea and Steve Angrisano perform their own collection of catchy tunes, with fabulous choreography. The plenary sessions are another highlight when all participants gather together. The Spirit is present and you leave feeling inspired, energised and connected to Christ. The first ACYF was one of my most memorable moments in high school. If you’re at school now and you’re interested in going this year you should absolutely do it. Encourage your friends to go with you

so you can share what is a life-changing experience. High school can be a stressful time and the festival gives you the perfect opportunity to unwind, take your mind off school and instead focus on your faith and learning more about yourself. It’s a fun and enjoyable experience that can enhance your spiritual journey, with the added bonus of making life-long friends. ACYF allows you the freedom to express your faith in whatever way suits you. I came away from both festivals with a much greater understanding of who I am as a young Catholic. I felt motivated and passionate about expanding my faith knowledge and inspired to become more involved in the work of God. The festival will push you out of your comfort zone and you will definitely come away empowered to make a difference. This year’s festival is going to be much bigger than ever before and it’s so close to home, so it’s the perfect opportunity


for your first ACYF experience. Follow @ MNcatholicyouth and @mnnewstoday on Facebook to get updates on upcoming information nights. You can also check out the ACYF website to learn more, http:// You can register your interest in attending here, australian-catholic-youth-festival I hope to travel with you and around 300 other diocesan pilgrims to the festival in December. It will definitely be an experience that you will love and remember forever. Caprice Skinner is studying Business/ Commerce at the University of Newcastle. She won a Bishop’s Award in 2017 for her outstanding contribution to the community, both in her parish and beyond. Caprice is the Vice President of the University of Newcastle Catholic Society and has previously taken part in the Diocesan Pastoral Placement Program.

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Caring for those in supported accommodation In my role as NDIS Program Manager with CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning, I have been fortunate enough to witness our clients in supported accommodation experience so many memorable times. These include a Disney-themed party, TAFE enrolments filled with promise, a beautiful art project that is now proudly displayed at the client’s home, dream holiday bookings and so many skills-building opportunities. Our staff too have had increased opportunities to grow and better their practice. Regular reflection and training opportunities have increased morale and confidence across the staff teams.


Central to this success is the therapeutic care model CatholicCare has adopted. Therapeutic care has been defined as a holistic, teambased and individualised approach to supporting the complex needs of adversity. Put simply, carers utilising this model take their cue from the client, in this case a person with disability. Carers implement the approaches that work best and take into account the client’s language, culture and history. A primary goal of a therapeutic care model is to ensure independence, choice and control for

the people in receipt of service. The primary elements of therapeutic care are as follows: ff The therapeutic specialist works in partnership with the case management team to provide assessment and support to the client. ff Reflective practice is a process of ongoing professional improvement whereby staff develop their skills and practices through regular meetings with their teams, focusing on actions and responses and their impact. ff An active process, engaging the clients in every step of their journey, focuses on inclusion and direction led by the client and his/her support networks. ff Clients will be matched to households appropriately via well-developed and informed processes and compatibility tools to ensure positive experiences and growth. ff There is scope for the physical environment to encompass the resident’s individual flair. ff Staff are appropriately trained and qualified with a sound understanding of the theory

ff Care team meetings occur regularly, with agendas that focus on the best possible care of clients. ff In consultation with the client, a plan to reduce levels of support where appropriate is required to ensure the client’s empowerment, greater independence and sense of choice and control. ff Comprehensive governance and reporting are required to maintain consistent, high quality practice. ff A strong organisational commitment ensures staff are connected to the service provider. Ongoing training and development, wellness programs, transparency and consistency are critical. I hope that this brief explanation of the therapeutic care model employed by staff of CatholicCare reassures the family and friends of those with disability living in supported accommodation and informs the wider community. Please visit

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Renowned environmentalist to speak at Tenison Woods Education Centre Dinner in Maitland The Tenison Woods Education Centre is delighted that the guest speaker at its annual dinner this month will be Professor Tim Flannery. His topic will be “Laudato Si’ – Responsibility and climate”. Here he writes in his role as Chief Councillor of the Australian Climate Council. It’s not news to anyone that Australians endured a summer that could only be described as intense, with more than 200 record-breaking extreme weather events driven by climate change. These figures have emerged from the Climate Council’s latest report. Angry Summer 2016/17: Climate Change Supercharging Extreme Weather shows that summer temperatures soared to unprecedented heights, with capital cities such as Sydney experiencing its hottest summer on record. In addition, the report highlights that Brisbane also sweltered through its hottest summer based on mean temperature, while Canberra experienced its warmest daytime summer temperatures since records began. Councillor and climate scientist, Professor Will Steffen, said the effects of climate change touched every state and territory throughout the summer, with particularly intense heat and rainfall events. “We’ve seen more than 200 records broken in just 90 days as a result of climate change. We’re experiencing unprecedented extreme heat and setting new records at an alarming rate, with every part of Australia feeling the impact,” he said. The Report’s key findings include: f f The 2016/17 extreme summer heat in NSW was 50 times more likely due to climate change.

f f Extreme weather events dominated the 2016/17 Australian summer, including record-breaking heat, severe bushfires, extreme rainfall and damaging flooding. f f Sydney experienced its hottest summer on record, while it was Brisbane’s hottest summer on record in terms of mean temperature. f f Moree in regional New South Wales had more than 50 consecutive days of temperatures 35°C or above. f f Maryborough in regional Queensland observed a record 23 summer days of 35°C or warmer. ff Canberra recorded January temperatures of at least 30°C on 23 days, while reaching 35°C on 12 days, the highest number on record for January. f f Adelaide experienced its hottest Christmas day in 70 years at 41.3°C. ff In Western Australia, a number of locations in the Kimberley had their wettest December on record, while several sites in the east Kimberley had their highest daily January rainfall on record. “Climate change is driving hotter, longer and more frequent heatwaves, and the warmer atmosphere is holding more water vapour, stacking the odds towards more intense rainfall. Extreme weather will continue to intensify through this century if we continue to sit on our hands and fail to move rapidly to get fossil fuels out of our economy.”

A high-end emissions scenario (RCP8.5), equivalent to ‘business as usual’ greenhouse gas emissions, would result in a temperature increase of 2.8-5.1°C by 2090. This would likely make large areas of Australia, especially those in the interior, uninhabitable. Even if the temperature rose only 2°C from pre-industrial levels, a current 1 in 50 years extreme heat event in New South Wales would occur every five years. However, if greenhouse gas emissions are cut very rapidly and deeply, as required for a global temperature rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial, Australian temperatures are projected to increase by only 0.6-1.7°C by 2090. Regardless of the ultimate level of temperature rise, major Australian cities will be affected significantly over the next two decades at least, with Brisbane, Canberra and Darwin set for the biggest proportional increases in the number of days with maximum temperatures 35°C and above. Australia joined the rest of the world in Paris at the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties meeting in December 2015 to increase the level of commitment to limit climate change. While carbon emissions flat-lined in China last year and declined in the United States, Australia’s emissions rose by 0.8%. This rise puts into serious doubt whether even Australia’s very weak emissions reductions target of 26-28% by 2030 can be achieved. Climate Councillor and energy expert with

more than 40 years experience, Andrew Stock, said demand for power during these intensifying heatwaves is also placing even more pressure on Australia’s antiquated energy system. “Australia’s energy system is ageing, inefficient and polluting. Increasingly, it struggles to cope with more record-breaking heatwaves and extreme weather events,” he said. Mr Stock said increasingly intense extreme heat events will place even more pressure on the country’s energy infrastructure, along with the economy and our health. “Australians are crying out for leadership on climate and energy policy,” he said. “It’s time for Australia to power our economy with a 21st century energy system, one which deploys proven renewable technology and storage solutions instead of relying on high greenhouse emitting fossil fuels. These fossil fuels are the very culprits feeding the extreme weather cycle. We have to stop backing the wrong horse.” The Tenison Woods Education Centre Dinner will be held on 11 May at the Therry Centre in East Maitland. To enquire, please E sharon.murphy@ or P Sharon, 4979 1134. Please visit www.climatecouncil. to read The Angry Summer 2016/17: Climate Change Supercharging Extreme Weather report in full.

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Satellite classes continue to thrive in the Hunter This story explores the partnership of diocesan schools and Autism Spectrum Australia during Autism Awareness Month.

“We use the latest teaching strategies and practices to give our students the best opportunity for educational success by tapping into their special interests and creating a curriculum uniquely focused around what motivates our students. By GABRIELLE SUTHERLAND

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is Australia’s leading service provider for people on the autism spectrum. It is the largest autism-specific education program worldwide that offers specialised services for over 1000 children in schools every year. “Our goal is to help students develop the skills to become as independent as possible and to enable them to succeed in the wider community. Using our own educational framework, the Aspect Comprehensive Approach for Education, we tailor our learning environment and teaching methods to the special needs of students with autism,” said Co-ordinator and Aspect Practice Specialist, Craig Smith. Diocesan schools have a strong association with Aspect, working in collaboration with school staff to address the learning needs of students on the spectrum. Located in Thornton, Aspect Hunter School enables children to enrol in the program at a young age and be offered an autismspecific education program to best determine suitable support options. Students may then benefit from the transition to satellite classes in local mainstream schools where they will develop core competency skills such as social development, emotional regulation and independence skills. Aspect Hunter School provides a suite of satellite classes that cater for the individual needs of students on the autism spectrum. A satellite class is an autism-specific class that provides specialised support services and facilities. Aspect Hunter School operates these classes from local mainstream schools in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and Department of Education schools. 8

“We focus on creative learning experiences for our students that connect to their strong visual processing skills, their skills around physics and exploring the world around them, their interest in technology and the huge range of other unique skills with which our students present. Our students love using robotics and Lego to create solutions to problems we give them in the classroom and on the playground. “We could not achieve the unique outcomes we do attain for our students on the autism spectrum and their families without our satellite program and the very special relationship we have with our local Catholic schools,” said Craig. Education Officer, Rachel Jones, said, “I am a big believer in the opportunity for students on the spectrum to be able to access and be exposed to a mainstream school setting, that arms them to build their skills and teaches them to cope within a mainstream school.” St Kevin’s Primary School, Cardiff, has been operating satellite classes since 2004. With a cohort of 97 students, St Kevin’s provides the space and classroom to accommodate the Aspect students, staff and teachers’ aides. With approximately 10 students enrolled in the satellite class, the students are offered a wonderful opportunity to develop the functional skills they developed at the main campus, and practise those skills in a more inclusive environment. Known as the ‘rainbow children’, the Aspect students are brought into a mainstream environment to encourage them to interact, socialise and participate in everyday school activities. From sports carnivals, school musicals, mission days, harmony days, Easter hat parades and special incursions, the Aspect students are included and accepted by all students at St Kevin’s.

The aim of the program at St Kevin’s is to provide the best possible service for the students so they can eventually attend a school in their local area. While some students are involved for 12 months, others may continue the program for two or three years, depending on their specific needs and the extent of their disability. St Kevin’s Principal, Mary-Anne Jennings, said, “One of the benefits of having the satellite class at St Kevin’s is that the Aspect students are constantly learning through observing our students. It makes our students very aware that everyone is different but everyone is special. It opens their eyes to a bigger, more inclusive world.” In 2003, satellite classes were introduced at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in Tarro. Currently accommodating 12 Aspect children, comprising both infants and primary students, Our Lady of Lourdes maintains a strong relationship with Aspect. While the students follow the same curriculum as mainstream classes, the primary focus is on developing their communication and social skills and behavioural and sensory needs through game-based learning activities. The aim of the program at Our Lady of Lourdes is to develop a creative and collaborative learning space for students to engage with one another and interact in an autism-friendly environment. As an iPad model school, Aspect students utilise apps in a way that connects their key strengths to foster a better learning experience. It is an effective tool that encourages students to engage and demonstrate their learning abilities. For example, the students will be asked to produce a short movie and record themselves speaking or photograph an artwork they made in class, using the iPads provided. Aspect Co-ordinator, Heath Wild, said, “I believe our satellite class model is an ideal setting for students on the autism spectrum to thrive in both their learning and wellbeing.”

On Thursday 6 April, the entire school community put on running shoes for the ‘walk for autism’ day. With school closed for the day, students and staff came dressed as their favourite character or representing a special interest to ‘celebrate our different brilliant walk 2017’. Newcastle Foreshore Park was full of energetic and excited students who were on a mission to raise money to receive a $200 prize for new teaching materials. It was a family fun day for the whole community to acknowledge and raise awareness of children with autism. In 2004, Holy Spirit Infants School, Abermain, welcomed Aspect students to join the school community. Currently operating two satellite classes, Holy Spirit accommodates 10 students ranging from 5 to 8 years of age. Similar to the other host schools, Holy Spirit works closely with Aspect staff to ensure all students are involved in integration opportunities. From eating and playing together at lunchtime to participating in special incursions or events at the school, the Aspect students are placed in an ideal environment to socialise and interact. While the satellite classes are designed specifically for students to develop their individual goals and core competencies, they also aim to provide as much interaction as possible. Holy Spirit offers reverse integration opportunities where students in mainstream classes can join the satellite learning activities. Learning about autism and how to interact with one another teaches students the importance of acceptance. “We want our students to experience the joy of learning, connect to their personal passions in school and work on their core goals around social communication, self-regulation and executive functioning to achieve incredible things,” concludes Craig.



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Achieving a ‘work-screen’ balance in family life 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.

My children seem to be addicted to their electronic devices, especially their iPads, and so getting them to do anything around the house is so difficult. As much as this frustrates me, I accept that I have allowed this to happen and now really want to find ways to reduce their device time. Any ideas? I hear you loud and clear! I think all parents are guilty of this, myself included! Electronic devices truly are an easy entertainment option for kids and they can educate them too. Our children have so much access to the world through their devices and that is not always a bad thing. But, like many things, in moderation is good; too much can become a problem. Due to their obvious attachment to their iPads, you now have “currency” and motivation which can be used to inspire some changes. Many parents are inclined to take away their children’s devices as a way of punishment but it would be better to think of their iPads as rewards instead.

To talk to someone about counselling support, P 4979 1172. Call Lifeline 24/7 on 131 114.

Do you have a question for Tanya?

You mentioned that you are having difficulty getting them to do anything around the house due to their iPad addictions. I’m going to suggest some ideas which may cause short term pain, but hopefully, long term gain.

Email your question to or write to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300.

Before you talk to your children about a change in their iPad usage, write a list of all of the things you “wish” they did more of or would start to do. Be realistic and consider their ages when coming up with this list. For

example, for a pre-teen, your list might look something like this: ff Feed the dog every morning ff Empty the dishwasher every afternoon ff Stack the dirty dishes into the dishwasher ff Wash the car once per week ff Put all dirty clothes in the washing basket. The above are examples of particular chores you might want them to do. But now think about all of the healthy activities they could be engaging in if they weren’t spending so much time on their iPads. How important is a healthy lifestyle to your family? You might include some of the following activities: ff Go for a short bike ride ff Jump on the trampoline ff Water the grass/garden ff Play a board game with your brother/sister ff Eat a piece of fruit or other healthy snack such as chopped vegetables. So instead of the kids feeling they are in trouble for using their iPads, you are actually rewarding them

for desirable behaviours, expanding their idea of entertainment and increasing their sense of reward and achievement. Now you can let your children know you’ll be introducing some new rules regarding screen time on their devices. They are welcome to use their iPads once they have completed particular tasks or chores around the house. You might set daily tasks or weekly tasks connected to time spent on their iPads. Keep the iPads in a location only you know about and give them to the kids once they have completed their tasks. Create a daily visual checklist if that helps as a reminder. When you first introduce this new idea, you can expect to be challenged but remember to be consistent, despite how hard it is at first. And remember also to be kind and not use this reward system as a way to continue to add chores to their lists! They are still kids. Stay strong and I’m sure it will be worth the effort.




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One by One

From island home to long career at Calvary Mater Newcastle By FANE FALEMAKA

Last year Calvary Mater Newcastle’s Clinical Nurse Specialist, Fane Falemaka, was the proud recipient of the Mary Potter Award. She was nominated by her peers because they felt she exemplified Calvary’s values of Hospitality, Healing, Stewardship and Respect. Also in 2016, Catholic Health Australia honoured Fane with the highly coveted Nurse of the Year Award. Aurora invited Fane to share her remarkable story. International Nurses Day will be celebrated on 12 May. I was born on the Tongan island of Falevai, the fifth of eleven children – nine boys and two girls! Our parents had very little, and the island didn’t have much to offer, but we had lots of love and a large extended family. I was brought up in a Methodist family and we went to church twice on Sundays as well as Sunday school. I looked forward to being dressed up and singing with the congregation. On Sundays we did nothing except church and rest – and enjoy special meals! Tonga is a group of islands, with Nukualofa being the main one. When I finished primary school on Falevai, I went to boarding school on another island called Neiafu. We came home on weekends and our parents could visit during the week, maybe to bring something we needed. The next stage was moving to Nukualofa to complete my senior years of school. There was no boarding school so I stayed with relatives for two years. By now, I was sure I wanted to become a nurse. I was fortunate to have an older brother who was studying Medicine in Queensland, so he organised for me to begin nursing training at Royal Brisbane Hospital. It was hard to leave my island home, but I knew my parents wanted each of us to have the best education and that couldn’t happen in Tonga at that time.

Fane Falemaka on duty at Calvary Mater Newcastle


When I arrived at the hospital, there were some other Tongan students so that helped me to settle. My general nursing took three and a half years and then I spent six months studying midwifery. I was determined to do my best and to make my parents proud. I became close to another Tongan nurse and she wanted to study theatre

nursing in Melbourne. She completed her course and I went to Melbourne too and studied ward management, then we returned to Tonga together. It was lovely to come home! For the next eight years, I nursed at Vaiola Hospital, Nukualofa, before being asked to return to Falevai where I spent my childhood, and run the hospital there. I had to do everything, even things that doctors usually did, because there wasn’t always a doctor. After a year, there was an opportunity to study for a year in Wellington (New Zealand) in order to qualify to teach at the School of Nursing back on Nukualofa. I stayed there for eight years, with my husband Taua. I had met Taua in Brisbane a number of years earlier and we’ve now been married for 40 years! Eventually we decided that if we came to Australia we would have better opportunities for work and that would help us support our families at home. I applied for a position at the Newcastle Mater Misericordiae Hospital and began nursing there in March 1986, so this is my 31st year! At first we lived in a one-bedroom flat in Mayfield, while we saved, then we built a home at Warabrook. I always loved working in the medical ward and I’m still there. What a place to work! The atmosphere, the people I work with, it’s so lovely! Being there so long, I know most of the people and some of the nurses are like my children. I love nursing. It’s a privilege to meet so many people – the people you care for, their families and friends, the doctors, the staff in your ward… When I started, the Sisters of Mercy (Singleton) were still running the hospital, and now it’s run by

Little Company of Mary Health Care. The values of Calvary Mater Newcastle – Hospitality, Healing, Stewardship and Respect – are my values too so I feel very comfortable here. I still love nursing. I work hard, doing the best I can, with love and respect. I remember my father telling me that nursing was not an easy job, but that I needed to treat everyone with the same care and respect. That’s what I try to do every day, particularly with people who are difficult. Sometimes other nurses say to me that I am always calm. I tell them that I am calm because I know what I have to do, and if there is a problem, there will be someone here to solve it. I find most people admire and appreciate what we nurses do. I have turned 70 but I am still working full-time. My husband and I were not able to have children but we have a Tongan community in Newcastle that sustains us. I belong to the Tongan Community Choir and I am the leader of a group of people who pray the rosary together regularly. We pray for the needs of the world – and there are plenty! When we retire, Taua and I plan to return to Tonga where we both have family. The days when I received the awards – the Mary Potter Award and the Nurse of the Year − were very special days and going home will be another special day. We will have come full circle!




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/mnnewstoday @mnnewstoday


Interfaith forums bring community together key beliefs, similarities to, and differences from, other traditions.


Bringing together people of faith is something the diocese does each and every day through its worship, community outreach and education services. Throughout this year, the diocese is extending this by hosting and participating in a number of interfaith forums throughout the region. Offered to the people of the region as an open invitation for education and enlightenment, the forums provide a unique opportunity for the community to come together in a shared learning environment. Encompassing Jewish, Muslim, Salvation Army and Catholic Eastern and Western Rites traditions, the forums aim to provide open, respectful discussion for the community to engage and share experiences with people from other faiths. Each forum focuses on a different faith tradition, with a specialist speaker presenting an outline of his/her faith,

Following each forum, attendees are invited to extend their learning by attending a special service of the nominated faith in the following week to experience firsthand how others worship within our local region. By providing both discussion-based and practical opportunities for people to immerse themselves in each faith, the forums work to facilitate a deeper understanding and respect for people of all faith traditions. Centring on the Jewish faith tradition, the March forum featured speaker Ruth Jacobs, who shared some of the historical background of the Jewish faith, parallels with other traditions and core beliefs. To the nearly 50 people who had gathered, Ruth emphatically stated one such core belief of the Jewish faith which, it could be argued, is a common thread throughout all faiths: “God is like a soul. It’s indefinable – you can’t see it, or touch it, but it’s there.”

It’s this sense of commonality which the future interfaith forums set out to explore – and just how similar faith can be across a wide range of traditions. Those attending are encouraged to take part in open discussion as speakers take questions from the audience, aiming to dispel any myths or misconceptions and promote wider understanding and acceptance of all faiths.

Ruth Jacobs

Many who have attended the interfaith forum have expressed their desire to “broaden my horizons, learn more about other faiths and see what we have in common”, and “to find out about Jesus’ life and what it may have been like way back when”. The next forum is planned for Wednesday 7 June and will feature a speaker who will discuss the Catholic Eastern and Western Rites. There will be an open invitation to worship together on Sunday 11 June. Register your interest to attend by visiting the diocesan website at

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Three new St Nicholas centres to open in 2017 operating 51 weeks of the year in all centres. By SEAN SCANLON

The diocese’s childcare agency, St Nicholas Early Education, is set to expand in 2017 with three new centres to open later in the year. With services already operating at Singleton and Newcastle West, St Nick’s will soon have five centres across the region - opening at Cardiff, Chisholm and also Lochinvar in late 2017 ready for the 2018 school year. Continuing the established commitment to providing high quality care using best practice principles, St Nicholas will continue to offer quality early education services to children aged eight weeks to five years,

The new Cardiff centre will provide 84 places for children, co-located with the existing CatholicCare Social Services office in Kelton St and close to St Kevin’s Primary School. There will be two nursery rooms catering for children from eight weeks to two years of age and dedicated rooms for children aged two and three years. The Cardiff centre will also feature a specialist four to five-year-old program led by Early Childhood teachers. St Nicholas Chisholm will offer 77 places and be located adjoining St Aloysius Catholic Primary School and St Bede’s Catholic College. Catering for children in specialist nursery and preschool programs, the Chisholm centre also provides an outdoor area designed to create challenging and

diverse play opportunities for all ages, including cubby houses and teepees, bike tracks, mud pits as well as interactive vegetable and flower beds. Parents with children attending St Nick’s and St Aloysius will have a convenient single drop-off point. St Nicholas Lochinvar will provide 124 places onsite with St Patrick’s Primary School and near St Joseph’s College. This will also provide a single drop-off for parents with children attending St Nicholas and the adjoining schools. Designed to create age-defined indoor learning areas with shared outdoor areas for all ages to enjoy, the Lochinvar centre also boasts a preschool wing with two learning areas for children four to five years of age, and close access to St Patrick’s Primary School, providing an invaluable school transition

program for families. The outdoor area at the Lochinvar site has also been designed to create challenging and diverse play opportunities for all ages. With respect to the rural surrounds of the Lochinvar area, St Nicholas Lochinvar aims to promote natural play spaces for young explorers across all age groups. As a unique service to parents, St Nicholas Lochinvar will also have a café facility for parents to order a coffee on the way in for drop-off and collect on the way out. With three exciting new developments already underway, St Nicholas is now taking waitlist applications from families interested in places at Cardiff, Chisholm or Lochinvar from late 2017. Applications can be made online via

Tri-Diocesan Covenant Service of Worship Jointly led by Bishop Bill Wright, Bishop Peter Stuart & Bishop Peter Comensoli


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Family Matters

Mother love: it’s complicated By JOANNE ISAAC

I remember when I used to meet up with friends, go to the movies and read as many books as I wanted. I would literally put one book down and pick up another. I remember regularly ringing one of my best friends and enjoying epic two-hour conversations. I remember re-watching all seven seasons of “The West Wing” in a month (long before Netflix and binge watching were even a thing). I remember walking my dogs every day. I remember lazy Sunday afternoons on the couch. Sometimes I would even have a nap! Those days are long gone because eleven years ago I became a mum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Having a family with my husband was a very conscious decision. I am so unbelievably lucky that I have been able to have three healthy kids. Children are, without question, a joy and a privilege and I love mine beyond measure. It’s not as though I didn’t realise that my life would change when they came along. It took us a long time to have our first and I had plenty of nieces and nephews around me before then. I knew that parenting was not all wine and roses. But I was a little naïve about the relentlessness of the to-do list, particularly when one became two and then two became three and school and sport and activities were factored in.

time, as is clear from my current dilemma. I am fully aware that I can be as much of a martyr as the next mum. I’m also hard on myself, a bit of a perfectionist, and as any parent knows, this personality type is ripe for some crushing reality checks as you grapple with parenting. Your kids aren’t perfect and neither are you, there is no one solution for anything, and you can’t fix every problem or heartbreak. We are constantly trying to work it out as we go along. But the fact is, if I don’t make time for me, then how can I expect to be a good mother and partner? And if I do learn to prioritise what’s most important, isn’t it only logical to think that I will be a better parent and partner? So self-care is not really a matter of indulgence, but of necessity.

emotional and spiritual health. As parents, we prioritise our children, our spouses and our work over ourselves. And we struggle mightily – feeling selfish and guilty – when we don’t. “Here’s a critically important concept: taking care of ourselves IS taking care of our families, our relationships, our careers, our obligations. It’s an investment in our longevity – in our future ability to continue to be productive in the many roles we all play. If we don’t care for ourselves, we’ll eventually and inevitably, be unable to care for others,” states Autumn.

If you google ‘how to take care of yourself as a mum’ you will be inundated with thousands of articles and tips. It’s reassuring to know it’s not just me who needs help! One of these articles “43 Easy Ways to Start Taking Better Care of Yourself Today” by Autumn Spencer resonated with me.

I know that when I have too much going on I am not as good a parent as I can be. And I want to be a really good parent. There is nothing more important. I don’t want my kids’ memories of their childhoods to be of a constantly frazzled mother given to stressful weeping in the car on the way to school! I want to be a great role model for them on how to manage life, as well as enjoy it, for all the wonderful moments we’re gifted with each day. I want them to remember me smiling and laughing and having fun.

“Self-care is about sticking up for yourself. It’s about prioritising your physical, mental,

So my mission is to make a little bit of time for myself each day. Schedule it in if I have

to. Regular exercise is going to be number one on my list – my lower back demands it. And I am determined to start one of the many books piling up in my bookshelf and it has to be fiction. The only thing stopping me is me! This year Mums’ Night Out is focusing on this very important issue with the theme of ‘Nurturing My Self’. Psychologist and Aurora columnist, Tanya Russell, is going to be there to help mums like me learn how to take better care of ourselves and utilise mindfulness in our pursuit of a less hectic and more present reality. Mums, grandmothers and foster mums are invited to join us to find out the many small ways we can make self-care a priority every day. Mums’ Night Out will be held on Tuesday 16 May at the Blackbutt Hotel, 80 Orchardtown Road, New Lambton, from 5.30pm. Cost is $20 per person. RSVP 4979 1134 by 8 May.




/mnnewstoday @mnnewstoday

You see, although I haven’t forgotten that I used to make time for me, I have essentially stopped making time for me. I am also painfully aware, particularly over the past couple of years, that I am not looking after myself. I can see it and feel it. It is now possible for me to injure myself bending down to retrieve a carrot from the fridge or demonstrating a drill to my daughter’s netball team at training. I want to do something about it, but as each week flies by, nothing changes. Mums take on a lot. Whatever our work situation we are still shouldering the lion’s share of child-rearing, domestic duties, school and sport organisation, family finances − and the list goes on. We also bear the brunt of the myriad frustrations, disappointments and anxieties of our children. The fact is, children need love and attention in order to thrive and life is complicated. And that oft-mentioned to-do list is the bane of my existence, piling on the pressure. The spring clean my house requires would take the whole of spring! I have things on the to-do list that have been there for years, although organised linen cupboards are surely over-rated! I’m not talking about being indulgent. It’s not, ‘woe is me, I want more time for myself’. I’ve never placed much emphasis on ‘me’ | 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




While Syria suffers, Iraq, Libya and Vietnam come to mind A local commentator unpacks the recent US attack on Syria. What may have happened by the time you read this? Donald Trump ordered the launching of missiles against the Syrian state in response to the alleged 4 April chemical attack in Idlib. He was compelled to take this action because, “even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack”. His actions have met with widespread approval from otherwise harsh critics of his from the Democratic Party and the ‘national security’ apparatus. The mainstream media has been quick to rally round the president’s decision.

government forces have all but overcome their opponents and Assad was being increasingly recognised as the legitimate leader of Syria, an attack like this would be carried out? It would seem to undermine the regime’s objectives completely. And as US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley made clear4, Assad’s removal has now been re-prioritised.

The principal justification given for this attack is one that we have heard many times before – humanitarian concern. Such appeals to our sense of justice − that we might affirm the necessity to punish – are not uncommon. We are told that the situation is complicated, and that we must trust “the experts”. Is it really that complicated? 1 Let us recall the numerous times that we have been misled as a pretext for violence, only to realise that the true war agenda was far from benevolent. Iraq, Libya and Vietnam come to mind.

The mainstream media would have us believe that Donald Trump, and his predecessors, were moved by compassion to commit acts of state violence. What does he feel for the children of Yemen, under genocidal attack by US-backed Saudi Arabia? How about the children of Iraq killed in American strikes? Interestingly, Raytheon stocks jumped a day after the missile attack and it emerged that the president may directly benefit.

We are confronted with a terrible crime in Idlib. However, there are several reasons that we must not rush to assume that the guilty party is the West’s latest bogeyman, Syrian president Bashar Assad. If the United States had any evidence of regime complicity, it could put all dissent to rest by making it public. As Paul Gottinger notes, “if the accused is a US enemy, no evidence appears to be needed.” 2 The scenario is reminiscent of the 2013 chemical attack in Ghouta. In that instance, President Obama appeared to demonstrate restraint, observing that, “dropping bombs on someone to prove that you’re willing to drop bombs on someone is just about the worst reason to use force”. Subsequent investigations 3 found that it was entirely possible that opposition forces carried out the attack. So we must ask ourselves why, when

The so-called war on terror has been tremendously expensive for taxpayers − but extremely lucrative for contractors and convenient for politicians. The human cost has been catastrophic. The US invasion and occupation of Iraq (a top priority for the Bush administration even before 9/11) led directly to the emergence of ISIS. While western nations have been impacted by this group, the vast majority of victims have been Arabs. Among his assortment of recent gaffes, White House press secretary Sean Spicer accidentally (one must assume) admitted to the objective of “destabilising” the Middle East. Wikileaks has provided us with ample evidence of the efforts being made by the US government towards regime change in Syria during Barack Obama’s tenure. The quest for resources, economic dominance and geopolitical manoeuvring seems to keep stability off the table in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the millions displaced by western interventions in the Middle East are met with

increasingly militarised borders and, if and when they reach safe shores, a citizenry widely conditioned to fear and hate them. The rhetorical demonisation of refugees by public figures such as Nigel Farage and Donald Trump has ignited deeply held racial and religious prejudices. We have become a society willing to create mass displacement through war, but not to protect those forced to move – or perish. Donald Trump previously claimed that he would look Syrian refugee children in the face and say “go home”.

We have become a society willing to create mass displacement through war, but not to protect those forced to move – or perish.

With a president hell-bent on improving his atrocious popularity levels, we could be walking into a much larger conflict − a dangerous tension grows with Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.

The human suffering that we see from Syria and around the world is carefully filtered. Judith Butler talks about ‘frames’ we use to understand war, violence and torture. The Idlib attack is within the accepted frame. The 1000 civilian deaths 5, in March alone, from US attacks in the Middle East are not within the accepted frame. The media establishment failed to dispute

the narrative of “beautiful” missiles – again reminiscent of the Iraq invasion. As Frankie Boyle highlighted 6, would we be so excited by pictures of children dying as the bombs explode? But no, we do not see their faces or hear the stories of those suffering under our bombs. Our selective outrage at some deaths above others demonstrates that many lives have already been deemed not really worth living. If Assad is guilty of using chemical weapons, he should be prosecuted. So too should top US/UK/Australian officials who have committed war crimes around the world − Donald Trump being the most recently initiated killer-in-chief. Not rushing to a conclusion does not equal support for Assad or his regime, just as condemning regime violence against civilians does not equal support for imperialism. If we truly want to make a difference, we must vote against war and force the hand of financially compromised politicians. Whether in Australia, the UK or the US, voting for the lesser evil does not work in a political system where the major parties both have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo with regard to war. We must set aside our fear and vote for peacemakers. War does not bring true peace. Punishment does not bring true repentance. In our advocacy for non-violence we most certainly cannot remain passive. We must disrupt and oppose injustice. That means disobeying the call to war from our leaders and our media. Support independent media that hold the powerful to account. We must look beyond Donald Trump and recognise that we are witnessing an American empire in decline. War is the objective. Let's not fall for it. Jason Von Meding is senior lecturer, School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle.


Caitlin Johnstone, “The situation in Syria is NOT complicated – here’s what you need to know”



“Did Assad really use Sarin?”


Trevor Timm, “It’s not just Syria. Trump is ratcheting up wars across the world”


Scott Ritter,“Wag the dog – how Al Qaeda played Donald Trump and the American Media”

6 BoyleFans/posts/1476804212360940


Angela Dewan, “US envoy Nikki Haley says Syria regime change is inevitable”

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Faith Matters


Nirvana: All that’s required is a wish to find real inner peace Newcastle Buddhist Kadam Mick Marcon introduces the teachings of Buddhism, with reference to the writings of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche. What is Buddhism?

be happy when I retire…”

“Buddhism is the practice of Buddha’s teachings, also called ‘Dharma’, which means ‘protection’. By practising Buddha’s teachings, living beings are permanently protected from suffering. The founder of Buddhism is Buddha Shakyamuni, who showed the manner of accomplishing the ultimate goal of living beings, the attainment of enlightenment, at Bodh Gaya in India in BC589,” Modern Buddhism (2nd edition, 2014, page 3)

Because we rely so heavily on conditions outside our control, our experience of happiness and quality of life is as vulnerable as a child’s sandcastle at the beach. As Geshe Kelsang says in How to Transform Your Life (2nd edition, 2016 page 278), “We are like a child making a sandcastle who is excited when it is first made, but who becomes upset when it is destroyed by the incoming tide. By training in meditation, we create an inner space and clarity that enable us to control our minds regardless of external circumstances. Gradually we develop mental equilibrium, a balanced mind that is happy all the time, rather than an unbalanced mind that oscillates between the extremes of excitement and despondency.”

What did Buddha teach? Buddha taught that all living beings, including animals and insects, share the same basic wish, to be happy and to be free from suffering. We have had this wish our whole lives, and if we check carefully we will see how it underpins all that we think, say and do, from having a cup of coffee, to buying the weekly lotto ticket or avoiding that annoying person at work! We wish to draw close to, and never be separated from, the people, situations and things that make us feel comfortable, happy and secure. We try also to avoid the people, situations and things that make us uncomfortable, anxious or unhappy. We tend to believe that things such as food, money, reputation, relationships, status and material possessions are real causes of happiness and, motivated by this wish, we devote much time and energy to gathering and increasing these things and guarding against their loss. We easily become attached and emotionally dependent on them; as a result, we find it difficult to be happy without them. We are always thinking “I’ll be happy when or I was happy when……” indicating we’re not as happy as we would like to be right now. “I’ll be happy when I go home, I’ll

Real happiness is not to be found outside the mind. Happiness is a feeling which is a part of our mind and so its main cause must lie within the mind itself. The main cause of happiness is inner peace. The more peaceful our mind is, the happier we are. If our mind is peaceful, we are happy, if it is un-peaceful, we are unhappy. Inner peace is real enjoyment. Without a peaceful mind it’s impossible to enjoy anything. For example, we might be enjoying a walk by the beach then we remember a problem at work, a person we dislike, or maybe an unresolved issue from 20 years ago! If our mind responds in a negative way, such as with anger or jealousy, then whatever peace of mind we enjoyed a moment ago is destroyed. The walk, the beach, the person we’re with at the time, have no power to bring that enjoyment back. And to think that only an hour before we were thinking, “I’ll be happy when I go for walk…by the beach…with my friend...” If something is a true cause of happiness, the more you have of it, the happier you become. Even our favourite food, music or other ordinary enjoyment is not real happiness.

After a while we seek a change of song, menu or even partner! The development of inner peace, however, is non-deceptive. As mentioned above, the more peaceful our mind is, the happier and more content we are. We’ll never get to a point where we think, “I’m too peaceful!” Buddha said, “If you realise your own mind, you will become a Buddha. You should not seek Buddhahood elsewhere.” We all have the potential to become a Buddha or “enlightened being”. As Geshe Keslang Gyatso says in The New Eight Steps to Happiness (2nd edition, 2015 page 81). “In the heart of the cruellest and most degenerate person exists the potential for limitless love, compassion and wisdom. Unlike the seeds of delusions, which can be destroyed, this potential is utterly indestructible, and is the pure, essential nature of every living being.” Virtuous states of mind such as faith, love, compassion and wisdom are real causes of inner peace. For example, when we genuinely love someone, our mind is peaceful and therefore happy! The opposite is true for negative states of mind such as hatred. “From virtuous actions comes happiness. From non-virtuous actions comes suffering. If we believe in this, we believe in Karma.” Modern Buddhism (2nd edition, 2014 page 42).

depends on the mind and our previous actions (karma). This is why everyone has a unique experience and no two people are identical. Mind also is without beginning or end, and because our bodies are impermanent, it follows we have had countless previous lives. Each life is like a new dream − sometimes pleasant, sometimes unpleasant − but all are equally a mere appearance in the mind, just like a dream.

Happiness is a feeling which is a part of our mind and so its main cause must lie within the mind itself.

A Buddha is said to be an “awakened one”, a person who has awoken from the sleep of the delusions and sees things as they really are. The Buddhist path to nirvana is therefore a path of spiritual awakening, transcending

Buddha explained how all suffering can be traced back to selfish intention and ignorance, and all the happiness in the world arises from cherishing others and wisdom.

the painful minds that create suffering and

Buddhists talk about ‘Samsara’ and ‘Nirvana’. Samsara is the personal reality created by a deluded mind and Nirvana is the experience of a mind free from delusion. The sublime inner peace of nirvana and all the elaborate sufferings of samsara depend upon the mind. According to Buddhism, mind is the creator of all. There is no objective reality, everything


instead becoming completely familiar with the causes of peace until the experience of peace and happiness becomes unchanging. How Buddhist principles and meditations are not just for ‘Buddhists’, Buddhist teachings can be practised by anyone. All that’s required is a wish to find real inner peace! Please visit www.meditateinnewcastle. org.

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Seasons of Mercy

Exploring ‘cyclospirituality’ By JOHN CAVENAGH

As far as I can recall, ‘cyclospirituality’ is a term which came to me while I was happily cycling along a quiet country road one morning. There is a number of articles on ‘spirituality and cycling’ on the internet but I have stuck with my variant because I feel it somehow captures the spiritual wavelength of this uplifting physical activity more effectively. I have been a cyclist now for more than 50 years. One of my most treasured memories as a child was in ‘pretend travelling’ using the one bike in our family. My older brother and I got around the potential conflict about whose turn it was to ride the bike by pretending we were both on a ‘road to somewhere’. One of us had our imaginary horse (characterised by a creative ‘giddy up’ running style), and the other would be on the ‘motorbike’ (the small bike I mentioned). We spent hours interchanging the two forms of ‘transport’ as we journeyed through the nearby school grounds and on the many surrounding bush tracks! The ‘motorbike’ would always outpace the ‘horse’! At 4 years of age, this was my earliest memory of the joys of cycling. We never did get a horse... Cycling is an extraordinarily efficient means of transport. A London GP described doing his house calls in central London on his pushbike. In twenty years, he covered over 87,000km. He also had no parking problems! He alleged he had saved at least 10,000 litres of fuel a car would have required covering the same distance. That amazing technological triumph of the 20th century, the Anglo-French Concorde (now mothballed), consumed one litre of fuel to carry one

passenger 7.7km. A cyclist, by contrast, manages to travel 495km on an equivalent quantity of fuel (Williams, 1994, p. 1744). Interestingly, the same doctor has worked out that 1.75 litres of draught bitter or a 50 gram bar of milk chocolate has enough energy to propel a cyclist 25km (Williams, 1975, p. 27). Try putting that in your RV! Of course there is the pure joy of the physical activity and the sense of getting together just to journey with friends. A close friend of mine delights in the thrill of cycling and I am inspired by his deep grin from ear to ear and his expression of pure joy as he cycles along, particularly when he accelerates downhill! Now that I have entered retirement I’m able to spend more time cycling. I delight in pedaling along on my phenomenal Cervelo road bike – carbon frame of course! I love getting out on the road. I have ridden to and from work for many years. I like to think I am a very defensive road cyclist and take the responsibility of adhering to all traffic signs – even stop signs! These days, ‘stop’ signs have become ‘slow down a bit!’ signs for motorists. There are two categories of cyclists – those who have had a spill and those who are yet to have a spill! I have had a couple of spills with a couple of fractures and by now I must have cycled well over 100,000km in my lifetime. I have cycled to work in London, Leiden and Brisbane as well as here in Newcastle. Years ago when studying in London, I remember getting stuck in the inner lane on a dreaded four lane roundabout near Hyde Park Corner. To this day I cannot remember how I managed to get off it! There is something important in cycling for me and I have been giving this a lot of thought in recent years.

I have loved the benefits of riding to and from work over the years. It calmed me down and as I arrived at work I was surprisingly serene in mood, so my colleagues intimated, but full of enthusiasm for the day ahead. I had time to sort things out in my mind on the way to work but it was the calming effect on me which I enjoyed most. After a busy day at work I had accumulated frustrations, disappointments, exasperations and anger. I jumped on the bike and by the time I arrived home I had transformed into a calm and communicative husband and father! I noticed a big difference when I used a car and never really felt good about ‘car’ days. This calming effect is even more pronounced when I cycle with others on longer journeys over many days. I find the pedalling rhythm is akin to a mantra and I find myself reflecting on my relationship with God. I notice the scenery and wildlife more, and rich conversations with other cyclists occur. I think it is about our journeying together. As Christians, our pilgrim status becomes palpable on these rides. We become a community − sometimes with over 600 other cyclists. Everyone seems to be willing to help each other and most importantly encourage each other up the many hills on the journey.

One of my most powerful experiences occurred during one of these long bike rides. Late one afternoon I found myself part of a standing ovation given to a grossly overweight cyclist as she pedalled into overnight camp several hours after everyone else had arrived. Most of us had taken 4-5 hours to cycle the 80km for the day– she took about eight hours. As she struggled into camp – everyone stopped and applauded. Tears were streaming down her face and many of us became quite emotional as we acknowledged her amazing determination and grit to keep on going and not give up. I think this incident highlighted for me the importance of community and the deep respect and support freely given by this community of cyclists to one another. Finally, recent evidence suggests cycling boosts mitochondrial activity by over 60% in the older population and this reverses the effects of ageing (Robinson et al, 2017)! So ‘get on your bike’ is good advice and there are safe places to cycle in Newcastle. The Fernleigh Track is probably the best, a wonderful Council facility which goes from Adamstown all the way to Belmont using disused railway tracks. Make use of it and enjoy life to the maximum!

Notes Robinson, M, Dasari, S, Konopka, A, Johnson, M, Manjunatha, S, Esponda, R, . . . Lanza, I R (2017). Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans. Cell Metabolism, 25(3), 581-592. Williams, R. (1975). De Motu Urbanorum. The British Medical Journal (Oct. 4, 1975), pp. 25-27, 4 (5987), 25-27. Williams, R. (1994). De Inertia Urbanorum. British Medical Journal (Dec. 24, 1994), pp. 1741-1745, 309 (6970), 1741-1745.


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Countering Islamophobia

Islam continues to be prominent in news reports, usually for all the wrong reasons. Editor of Bridges (see below), Columban Patrick McInerney, offers helpful suggestions to those who want to penetrate beyond the headlines. In doing so, he echoes the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In recent years there has been a sharp rise in Islamophobia, an irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. This fear is heightened by sensationalist reporting of violent, criminal events carried out by a tiny and unrepresentative group of Muslims acting contrary to explicit texts of the Holy Quran and established Islamic principles. It is further heightened by an almost exclusive focus on these acts while ignoring the vastly more frequent acts of political, racist, sectarian and ethnic violence committed by others. It is spread by populist politicians seeking electoral advantage at the expense of vulnerable, targeted groups. It flourishes where ignorance, stereotypes and prejudice abound.

In this toxic environment, what can we do to counter Islamophobia? How can we support Muslims? How can we promote a just and harmonious society where all citizens are given due respect?

Challenge stereotypes When you hear racist, Islamophobic comments, whether it be around the water fountain at work, at the restaurant when dining out with friends, or around the kitchen table at

Fact check

home, challenge them: “That is not what I read ….”, “That

When you hear or read something, do not take it at face value. There are too many “fake news” items and “alternative facts” being disseminated through media and gossip. Just because something is said or printed, repeatedly, it is not necessarily true. Do a fact check.

is not what I heard from ….” You may lose some friends in

Mind your language

Avoid putting people into boxes. Avoid labels. Allow people

Do not use expressions such as “Islamic terrorism” or “Muslim terrorist”, because they are oxymorons (a contradiction in terms), are offensive to Muslims and spread a false impression of Islam.

community’. There are Muslim ‘communities’, which are as

the process, but if they prefer ignorance and bigotry to truth and justice, they aren’t worthy of your friendship anyway.

Respect diversity to be themselves. There is no such thing as ‘the Muslim linguistically, ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse in practice and customs as any other group.

Reach out to others

Inform yourself Make an effort to learn the basics of Islam from a reliable source. Do not rely solely on the newspapers, the television, the internet or public discourse. Read a published book by a reputable scholar. We recommend Ten things everyone needs to know about Islam by Professor John Esposito as an authoritative, accessible and attractive account of the basics of Islam.

When feeling under siege from the constant barrage of

Meet a Muslim

working for the common good and building one society.

The best way to learn about Islam is to meet a Muslim. When you meet face-to-face, when Islam is not just a media-generated amalgam of seemingly strange beliefs and practices, the proverbial “other”, but has a name - Abidah, Fatima, Maha, Ibrahim, Ahmed, Muhammad - and a face, is someone you recognise as your “brother” and “sister”, then the fears, stereotypes and prejudices simply fall away.

repeatedly, for as long as it takes.

prejudice and overwhelmed by the seeming lack of any prospect of real change in society, resist the temptation to ‘circle the wagons’. It is easy to stay at home, among your own, and bewail your fate − “they’re all against us” − but it is hard and takes courage to keep on reaching out to others, building bridges not walls, promoting relations, That is exactly what our religions challenge us to do,

This article was originally published in Bridges, Vol. 74, March 2017. Bridges is the newsletter of the Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, a ministry of the Columban Mission Institute. Please visit www.

From Nostra aetate, the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions. The church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to humanity. They endeavour to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden plans of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet; his virgin Mother they also honour, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting. Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values. (Nostra Aetate, par 3) From Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council. …But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, first among whom are the Muslims: they profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day. (Lumen Gentium 14)

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Why not learn the lessons of the ‘Long Paddock’?


If cemeteries can be said to be beautiful places, Bourke cemetery is. It’s strangely peaceful and quite stark in its beauty. Old pioneers are buried alongside generations of loved ones. It’s a place to be reflective, a place to think about the things that matter and the things that don’t. Bourke is in the Catholic Diocese of WilcanniaForbes and it is one of many rural and isolated towns in outback NSW. In the heart of the Bourke cemetery is the gravestone of Fred Hollows, the muchloved eye doctor who brought so much healing to so many people out west. He was a rascal by all accounts and a fiercely passionate man who cared deeply about people and making a difference. His gravestone is a huge boulder, carved and polished. It sits within a ring of smaller boulders which together form the shape of a huge eye. His headstone forms the pupil of the symbolic eye. It’s a great place to come if your prayer is a request to see more clearly. I found myself there in the 45 degree heat

of last summer as the Royal Commission began its summary of child abuse within the Catholic Church. If ever there was a time we – as Church − needed to see clearly, this is it. It matters now, perhaps more than ever, to be able to see what has happened. It matters now to accompany those who have been hurt and to do what is right and just. It matters now to be able to hold to a vision of how much better it could be. The people of this outback diocese know, from pay-dirt experience, that the Church of the past cannot always meet the experiences, needs and challenges of the times we live in and the crises we face. In an effort to help us to see more clearly the diocese is offering Lessons from the Long Paddock. The Long Paddock is the name given to the corridor through which Australian cattlemen and women – drovers − move stock from one place to another. They are the fenced, grassy verges along the side of major roads across the country. Long Paddocks make connections, lead from one place to another, make

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movement possible, save lives and bring hope. Lessons from the Long Paddock is an online event and conversation to be launched on 6 June. It begins with a look at what really matters at the heart of our tradition. It dares to ask, what does the experience of the desert outback have to offer our Church in these times? How can the vast emptiness of the bush lead us all back to an experience of the divine? The early Church was born in a land of desert wilderness. Faith in the outback has often been more a matter of finding the life and energy from within the experience itself and hope is part of the psyche because it’s had to be. The Catholic Church of Wilcannia-Forbes offers the wider Church now a ‘Long Paddock’ corridor of wisdom to be shared so that our conversations together might lead us to see clearly what it is that matters now. The e-conference, Lessons from the Long Paddock, will be online on 6 June with

National Symposium: Religious Education, Secularisation and Australian Catholic Schools

participants to gain access via the website of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes. See the address below. Bishop Columba Macbeth Green, a leader who appeals across the spectrum of the Church in Australia and who has celebrated with ordinary parish communities, charismatic communities, Latin Mass communities and Catholics in both regional and city areas, will run a session titled “Outback Spirituality”. Keynote speaker Fr Frank Brennan sj will speak about “Australian Spirituality” and I will facilitate a conversation around “Christian Spirituality”. To learn more please visit www. or P (02) 6853 9340. This article was first published in The Catholic Weekly.




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Gospel Leadership in Chaotic Times: the Hope of Pope Francis

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New mentoring program for Australian Catholic women set to launch Christine Pace

“A lot of women were talking about the need for women to get together and support themselves to have an impact in the Church,” she says.


A new mentoring program to build the skills and faith of Australian Catholic women so that they can have a positive impact in the Church and wider society is about to be launched. The Australian Catholic Women’s Mentoring Program is the initiative of Christine Pace and other members of the Young Catholic Women’s Interfaith Fellowship 2015/16. It will be launched on Saturday, 20 May, at Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney, with Senator Deborah O’Neill as guest speaker. Christine says the idea for the program arose from conversations at the Catholic Women’s Colloquium held last September.

“I thought the answer to that is a mentoring program which would provide a structured way for women to get together in faith and grow in confidence and skills.” The program also fulfils a requirement of the Young Women’s Fellowship that participants initiate a project at the end of the fellowship. “So, for the project component, our cohort has split into two groups. One‘s developing an Interfaith Resource and the other’s working on this program,” Christine says. “I think mentoring is useful for both men and women but it can be particularly valuable for women, because women can sometimes doubt themselves, and mentoring plays an

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important role in boosting confidence.”

phone conversations, email and so forth.”

Christine is no stranger to the concept of mentoring, having benefited from it herself.

“The great thing about this mentoring program is that it will be structured around our faith and it will encourage women in their faith, as well as in their career and networking. The mentors we hope to attract will be successful Catholic women in a range of different fields.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have two mentors – one through a professional association and one through workplace connections. It’s really great being able to talk to someone at a higher level who validates your ideas and encourages you.” The Australian Catholic Women’s Mentoring Program sits under the auspices of the National Office for the Participation of Women, a body of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. “Women will be able to sign up for a faith or career mentor and they’ll be matched with a woman of similar skills or interest and locality (where possible). They can choose how best to connect, for example meeting in person,

“My hope is that it will evolve and grow and become well known. It’s about women supporting women in their life and faith, and hopefully that in itself will have a positive impact on the Church and society.” Register for the mentoring program at




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What would Jesus do? In the season of Easter, this is an apt question. We hear this question often. Sometimes it is asked with a flippancy that presumes the answer is obvious. What Jesus would not do is obvious – he would not be idolatrous, he would not kill, commit adultery, or steal. We know he would not lie. Discerning what Jesus would do in situations he could never have encountered in his lifetime is challenging.

We have a glimpse of Jesus as a keen and perceptive boy of twelve in the Temple asking questions. Perhaps “What would Moses do?” or “What would Elijah do?” We later see him appropriating sublime texts such as those of Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…to bring good news to the poor.” He had imbibed the very best wine from Israel’s vineyard.

We can look at what he did, and learn from that. As an apprentice tradesman Jesus learned what to do from a master – his dad, Joseph. When he switched careers he had many to learn from – patriarchs, lawgivers, poets, prophets – each taught by the one inspiring Master.

He had imbibed the very best wine from Israel’s vineyard

Jesus learned from the writings and stories of his tradition. Bits and pieces were passed on about God’s attributes, attitudes and actions. Likewise, he found there the good and bad doings of his ancestors in their relationships with God and with one another.

So, when challenged to make specific decisions, there was rich inherited wisdom to draw from. Jesus, like no other, drew from the heart of it.

Jesus looked in the most perceptive way at this religious heritage. It took him to the core of revelation – what God did out of love – and, in turn, what his forebears did or failed to do.

Human need also taught him what to do. There is a snippet of Jesus learning on the spot. From a foreigner, a female foreigner whom he initially seemed to disregard as outside his concern, Jesus heard, “Even

the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” From a mother’s love, the universal embrace of God’s love was impressed upon him. He knew what he had to do. He knew he must cure her child, and every mother’s child. He saw with ever greater clarity, tutored by human experience, that the Father is the one source of all; that all are equally treasured children, and that love is the only relationship that should prevail – the only thing to do. Jesus listened, learned, and acted. To what else would Jesus turn when facing a specific need to act? The gospel accounts are clear – he prayed. Especially when major challenges presented, Jesus is shown in prayer to his Father. Faced with the biggest crisis – do I or don’t I submit to arrest, trial, torture and execution? – he appealed to the Father. What would Jesus do? He would find through prayer what his love relationship with his Father and with his siblings told him must be done. The Church, from its birth, has continually asked, “What would Jesus do?” In every era, as new situations and challenges evolve, the question is necessary. What would Jesus do today about the marginalised, about the environment, about

terrorism, about refugees, about exploitation, about discrimination, about persecution, about current family and sexual issues? To answer, it is crucial to go about it as Jesus did. Seek what is revealed in the scriptures and traditions – now expanded and enriched with those about Jesus himself. Then listen to need and hear what love demands as a true fraternal response. Finally, commune in prayer with the Father for clear vision and courageous resolve. We rely on the Spirit, the very Spirit of Jesus, to answer us. We don’t always hear the answer clearly and fully. We often get it wrong. Then, hopefully, we strive to listen more attentively. It is very important, though, to keep on asking that vital question – not in an offhand or nonchalant way, but as a serious and concerted exercise – because, in reality, the answer ultimately being sought is, “What would Jesus have me do?”



Frankly Spoken The most important work we must do today among ourselves and with humanity is the work of ‘the ear’: listening. Listening to one another without hurrying to give a response. It’s interesting, when people have this ability to listen, they speak softly, tranquilly. But when they don’t have it, they speak loudly and even shout. Religious people must listen to one another and speak to each other as brothers and sisters. Listen and speak softly, peacefully, seeking the path together. Meeting with British Muslim leaders 5 April 2017.


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Community Noticeboard Annual TWEC Dinner This will be held on Thursday 11 May at the Therry Centre at East Maitland. The guest speaker is internationally renowned environmentalist and writer, and Australian of the Year 2007, Tim Flannery. The cost is $65 pp, including canapés, a two-course meal and drinks. The Tenison Woods Education Centre offers adult formation within the diocese. P Sharon 4979 1134 or E Mercy Spirituality Centre Toronto – Reflection Days Movement and Meditation from the heart - Presence Tuesdays 2, 16, 30 May 9.30am – 11.30am. An experience of mindfulness meditation using gentle body movement, sacred text, music, imagery. Facilitator: Vicki Hancock. Cost $25 per session. Powerful Parables Thursday 18 May. 9.30am – 1.00pm. Story telling: story listening, story sharing: discovering new meanings in the ordinary of our everyday. Facilitator Val O’Hara rsm. Cost $20 includes light lunch. Praying your dreams – Weekend Retreat Friday 19 May 6.00pm – Sunday 21 May 3.00pm. Dreams are a consistent help for the process of listening to the soul. As the rabbis liked to put it, “Like a letter that is unopened from God”. The weekend will be a combination of prayerful input, reflection time and voluntary sharing. Facilitator Patrick Oliver. Cost $250 residential, $150 non-residential. Contact: P 4959 1025 or E Sacred Spaces Concert at Singleton This will be held on Saturday 13 May. Australia’s finest Scottish music duo, Chris Duncan and Catherine Strutt, will play the fiddle and grand piano. This will be a candle-lit ‘Convent After Dark’ concert. Cost $30/$5. Wine and canapés will be served in the garden before the concert (at additional cost of $10). P 6572 2398 or E Mums’ Night Out You are invited to Mums’ Night Out on Tuesday 16 May from 5.30pm at the Blackbutt Hotel, 80 Orchardtown Road, New Lambton. Come and enjoy a great meal and good company and listen to psychologist Tanya Russell share some insights into how Mums can build self-care and mindfulness into their daily lives. Mums’ Night Out is an initiative of the Tenison Woods Education Centre and is an evening for mums, foster mums and grandmothers to have a break and share some insights, a meal, and conversation. P Sharon, 4979 1134. Seasons for Growth Adult training: Newcastle 14-15 June, 13-14 September. Companioning Training - Children & Young People’s training: Taree 25-26 July. Newcastle 8-9 November. 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 find out more about becoming a Companion. Enrolments for training are completed at “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-to-be married couples to assist them in preparing for, and maintaining, their commitment to one another. Couples who are marrying are advised to attend a course which falls around four months prior to the wedding. Book early as some courses are very popular. To learn more, please P Robyn, 4979 1370. “Before We Say I Do” is a group program held over two days or four evenings. Course 3/17 20 and 27 May at Newcastle Course 4/17 22 and 29 July at Newcastle Course 5/17 9 and 16 September at Singleton Course 6/17 4 and 11 November at Newcastle. St Brigid’s Markets, Branxton These monthly markets assist the parish and wider community at Branxton. Held every third Sunday, (next 21 May) in the Old School Grounds, 9am-2pm, www. Tri-Diocesan Covenant Service of Worship This liturgy, jointly led by Bishops Bill Wright, Peter Stuart and Peter Comensoli, will be held on Tuesday 23 May at St Luke’s Anglican Church, Metcalfe St, Wallsend at 7.45pm. The Ecumenical Service of Worship renews the Covenant signed in 2008. All are welcome. Interfaith Forum The Ecumenical and Interfaith Council invites you to participate in a forum exploring Catholic Eastern and Western Rites on Wednesday 7 June, 6.30-8pm, at the Parish of the Protection of the Mother of God, 105 Gosford Road, Adamstown. Please register with Brooke Robinson, or P 4979 1111. Diocesan Youth Camp Elim “Be Grow Show 2017” will be held Friday 16 June - Sunday 18 June at Camp Elim, Forster. This is an annual retreat for those aged 16 years+ organised by the Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young People. This year’s theme is Luke 1:49 ‘for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name’. Go to to register. P 4979 1111. Ecumenical Prayers in the Spirit of Taizé Sunday 18 June (13 August, 8 October) at Merewether Uniting Church, 178 Glebe Road, Merewether. Commencing at 7pm for 45 minutes and 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. E minister. or P Rev Jennifer Burns 0411 133 679. Stories and Memories of St Mary’s Maitland To help us celebrate St Mary’s Maitland Sesquicentenary (150 years), we are calling

on ex-students or ex-staff members to share with us a fond memory, funny story (that can be published!) or account of a significant event from their time here. We intend to make a collection of these, along with some photos from the event or the year or decade in which the story belongs. These will be then placed around the school and made available later in the year for those interested. We would like no more than an A4 page of text. Any photos would also be most welcome. However, we ask that only copies be sent. Contributions to the Memories of St Mary’s can be posted to Ms H Kearney, St Mary’s Campus, 16 Grant Street, Maitland 2320 or E helen. Date Claimer This year’s Blessing of the Land will be held on Sunday 27 August at Pokolbin Community Hall, 128 McDonald’s Road, Pokolbin from noon. To learn more, please P Chris 043 4332 217 or E All are welcome. Australian Catholic Youth Festival This event will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Sydney from 7-9 December 2017. Expressions of interest are now open for young people in year 9 (2017) to 25 years who would like to be a part of the Maitland-Newcastle contingent. Those over the age of 25 are encouraged to register as group leaders. Register your interest now at acyf. For more information, contact us at or www. 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 printed. The ELibrary is sponsored by Catholic Mission and is ideal for clergy, pastoral workers, teachers, catechists, adult educators and many others. For further information, feedback, suggestions or help, contact the ‘help desk’, http://sharingtheword.intersearch. Retreat opportunity The Divine Retreat Centre at Somersby is a ministry of the Vincentian Missionaries. Throughout 2017, retreats will focus on young people, families, healing, liturgical feasts and divine mercy. To see the schedule or to learn more, please P 4372 1598, E or visit Volunteering with Palms Australia Palms is seeking qualified and experienced Australians to assist in various missionary and development activities. There are opportunities in a wide range of areas, from teaching in Timor Leste (pre-school, primary and secondary) to assisting with the development of a brass band in Kiribati; from plumbing/building in Papua New Guinea to English/Science teaching/ mentoring in Samoa. Whatever your skills and experience, there is a place for you! To learn more P 9560 5333 or E

For your diary May  3 World Press Freedom Day  4 Yom ha-Shoah, Holocaust Memorial Day  7 Fourth Sunday of Easter

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

 8 National Volunteer Week begins.  12 International Nurses Day  14 Fifth Sunday of Easter

Mothers’ Day

 15 International Day of Families  21 Sixth Sunday of Easter  2 3 Tri-Diocesan Service of Worship (see left)  24 Mary Help of Christians,

Patron of Australia

 26 National Sorry Day  27 National Reconciliation Week begins.

Ramadan begins.

 28 Day of the Ascension

World Communications Day: “Fear not, for

I am with you: communicating hope and

trust in our time.”

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins.

 31 World No Tobacco Day

June  4 Pentecost Sunday  5 World Environment Day

For more events please visit and

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 or visit 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.

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Last Word

Aurora on tour Clearly Aurora was having a cool (even cold) time in Stockholm, Sweden.

Soul food

“I came to ruefully and bemusedly understand that once you’re a Catholic, you’re always a Catholic….deep inside.…I’m still on the team.” Bruce Springsteen in his autobiography, Born to Run.

Review By MALCOLM ST HILL Hani Abdile, a refugee from Somalia, came to Australia by boat when she was 17 and writes about her experiences in Australia’s immigration detention system. I Will Rise is a moving account which bears witness to the human consequences of detention and prompts the reader to confront what Hani dubs the “hidden reality”.

at being so

I Will Rise deals with many issues and loss of identity is one of its most powerful themes. In “My Psychologist”, Hani says of the authorities, “They consider me a creature and change my name to a number.” In “Identity”, we read the dehumanising labels: “boat person, asylum seeker, queue jumper, refugee”. It is easy to forget that these are real people.

The real triumph of the book is in Hani’s

Hani left Somalia to find a better life, and eventually, after surviving the deprivations of life on Christmas Island, she finds it. This is bittersweet, though. She leaves not only the worst of Somalia but also the best. “Mama Africa” is a lament for her homeland. Poems about her mother and grandmother, expressing sadness

They will be moved by Hani’s courage,

Pesto and tomato pasta If you like to prepare meals in advance to make weeknight dinners quick and easy, this dish is a must to add to your repertoire.

BARTHOLOMEW CONNORS Chef - The Cathedral Café



f f 100g fresh basil leaves (about 2 bunches), washed and dried f f 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

To make the pesto in advance (it keeps in the fridge for 4 days), place the pine nuts, cheeses, garlic and oil into a blender or food processor. Blend until mixture has a white pasty texture. Add basil leaves slowly. Blend together, then add butter and season.

f f 3 tablespoons Romano cheese

Cook pasta according to packet directions.

f f 3 cloves garlic

Bake or pan-fry tomatoes in oil until softened.

f f 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

f f 10 tablespoons olive oil f f 50g soft butter

Drain pasta into a large bowl, reserving 1/4 cup of water in pot.

f f 2 punnets heirloom (or cherry) tomatoes

Stir pesto through pasta and season to taste.

f f Salt and pepper f f 2 x 500g boxes dried casarecce pasta f f Extra parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts for garnish 22

far away and having to say goodbye, are particularly moving. There are bright moments too. In “Beautiful Day”, Hani celebrates the day she “got (her) own name back” and walked “freely into this beautiful world”.

self-belief. “I am not a waste,” she declares in “Here I am”. I Will Rise is a celebration of hope and of the essential strength of the human spirit. It will appeal to anyone interested in the plight of refugees and wanting to know about the emotional impact of life as a detainee. honesty and determination. I Will Rise is published by Writing Through Fences, a group of writers who are in or have lived through immigration detention. It is available through their website.

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.

Ser ves


Place cooked tomatoes on top of pasta, adding extra parmesan and pine nuts to your liking. Serve immediately.

| 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


5:30pm Tuesday 16 May 2017 Cost: $20 pp RSVP: Monday 8 May

An evening for mums and grandmothers to share a meal and conversation



Blackbutt Hotel 80 Orchardtown Rd, New Lambton NSW 2305

Guest speaker: Psychologist Tanya Russell will share some insights and tips for mums on how to build self-care and mindfulness into their daily lives.

For more info or to RSVP P 4979 1134 or E


A multi-sector A multi-sector dialogue on living dialogue living the joy ofon the Gospel the joy of the and leadingGospel mission and leading mission

Join the conversation this May at Australia’s premier conference on mission. It is a unique opportunity for those leading and working in Catholic organisations to listen, share and experience the many and diverse voices that form an expression of the one heart of mission. With high profile guest speakers, specialised masterclasses and creative experiences of liturgy, faith and action, it will be a transformative moment of mission that will affirm, inspire, nurture and imagine. Don’t miss out!

Register before 12 May at | 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



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