Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle September 2017 | No.172
Learn about The Atonement: Linaâ€™s Project Director of Schools shares visit to Kenya A father-to-be reflects
O r a n g RY e Austra Sky w e l c o ml i a i s the dio ed to cese!
The whole community is invited to attend... The Atonement: Linaâ€™s Project Friday 15 September 2017 Newcastle City Hall, Concert Hall | 5.30pm â€“ 7.30pm For catering purposes, please rsvp anonymously via linasproject.com.au or 02 4979 1188 Personal details are not required to rsvp for this event.
On the cover Nic Marchesi, Steve Middleton, John Sandy, Sean Scanlon, Barry Urwin, Lucas Patchett and Maz Dargan at the launch of Orange Sky Laundry’s Hunter service. See page 10. Photo courtesy of Kate Bennett.
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle September 2017 | No.172
Learn about The Atonement: Lina’s Project Director of Schools shares visit to Kenya
Orange AustraliaSky welcome is the dio d to cese!
A father-to-be reflects
Featured Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy 5 St Joseph’s students have bags of attitude!
What is The Atonement: Lina’s Project? 7 Stay awake to hear the voices of those who need you Are you ready for a spa day for the mind?
CatholicCare’s supporting our most vulnerable children 12 “There but for the grace of God...”
St Dominic’s responds to community need
Two became four, then two again
“Your memory is a poet, let it have its say”
Regulars First Word
Two by Two
Seasons of Mercy
True stories all You will be reading this just after Father’s Day and hopefully it will have been a happy celebration. Actor and writer, Richard Roxburgh, was a guest at the Newcastle Writers Festival in April and was about to welcome his third child. He recalled that on becoming a father, “You find a lot of love that you didn’t know was there.” Our soon-to-be-a-Dad writer this month, James Beverley, may well have the same experience, and I will let you know the happy news when James’ and his wife Catherine Britt’s baby arrives. I urge you to read Joanne Isaac’s story introducing The Atonement: Lina’s Project on page 7. This event will take place in Newcastle on 15 September and all are welcome.
worked hard over many years to make the community van a valuable service. I was delighted to interview the doyenne of life writing, Patti Miller, to mark the publication of Writing True Stories. Patti, who is the fifth of eight children, shared a lovely memory from a sad occasion; the funeral of her mother. “We were on the sanctuary of the church and we all shuffled into our correct spot, without thinking about it. We all knew our place.” In Writing True Stories, Patti challenges the would-be writer to consider, and perhaps step beyond, his or her ‘place’ in sharing ‘true stories’. The winner of Helen Hayward’s A Slow Childhood: notes on thoughtful parenting is Barbara Devine of Waratah.
The partnership of the diocese’s Development and Relief Agency (DARA) and Orange Sky Australia (see page 10) is exciting and hope-filled for local homeless. The new services stand on the shoulders of all the generous volunteers who have
Contact Aurora Next deadline 7 September 2017 Aurora enquiries should be addressed to The Editor Tracey Edstein E email@example.com PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300 P 4979 1288 | F 4979 1119 Subscribe firstname.lastname@example.org
TRACEY EDSTEIN – Editor
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Law and social change If you’re excited by legal changes that have social and moral significance, these are exciting times. There has not been so much on the political agenda, I’d say, since the ‘seventies. Then, having got past the Vietnam War, we seemed quite suddenly to have a raft of social change legislation. Censorship of adult materials more or less ended. ‘No fault’ divorce legislation was passed. Laws against abortion were relaxed to allow exceptions in so many circumstances as to make abortion virtually available on demand. Laws against ‘victimless crimes’ were done away with, principally the laws against homosexual acts between consenting adults. As predicted in the ‘sixties, “the times, they were a’changing”. Now we again see proposals for quite dramatic changes in social legislation, and in much the same areas, marriage and homicide laws. We will be asked to vote (sort of) on changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions. And our parliaments will continue to consider bills to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide. Additionally now, and of interest to readers of this journal, it is proposed that priests be required to report revelations of child sexual abuse that they hear in Confession. But it is on the matter of same-sex marriage that I will say some more.
It seemed to me then, and now, that in a society where same-sex relationships are legal and gay couples can adopt and raise children, it’s a bit of a legal anomaly that their relationship itself doesn’t have a clear legal status. The church couldn’t recognise a samesex union as a marriage, except in the limited sense of ‘a marriage according to Australian law’. But this is true of many marriages, notably the re-marriages of divorced persons, marriages on a ‘for better or for as long as we’re happy’ basis, de facto marriages and marriages of couples with no intention of having children. The church doesn’t regard these as valid marriages, but we make no bones about the state giving them civil legal status. The question about any proposed law is not whether it squares with church teaching or a moral ideal, but whether it is a good practical rule for people living in this society at this time. Such a ‘common good’ argument can be made that, in our pluralist society, it does more for community peace and harmony for gay couples to have a place in the recognised structures than for them to be excluded. Those were my thoughts on state recognition of gay marriage as a matter of law, and I stand by them. But they only address the question I have asked.
I wrote some time ago that the push for same-sex marriage seemed to arise from the desire of gay couples to have an officially-sanctioned ceremony to formalise their commitment to each other and then to have that relationship accorded legal and social recognition.
Many of my fellow bishops, and many other good people, are asking a different question. They are concerned about the social consequences of recognising gay marriage. On one level, this is a generalised concern that the natural family configuration
of mum, dad and kids should be privileged by the state, lest other domestic arrangements come to be seen as equally valid, just as good as the traditional family. Moreover, there is a concern that some people may be adversely affected by gay marriage laws. All the legislative proposals contain a right for clergy to decline to celebrate same-sex marriages, but what about owners of reception centres, caterers, musicians, hire car firms and so on? In jurisdictions overseas such people have been sued or even prosecuted for declining to supply services to gay weddings. Isn’t this a failure to respect the conscientious or religious convictions of some citizens? Then there is a real concern about the future right of churches and schools to teach the traditional Christian view of marriage in the face of a contrary law or to control materials or curricula produced by governments for schools. These are legitimate concerns, and they are unlikely to be answered definitively before the postal vote is taken. What I urge, therefore, is that you give careful consideration to all information that comes your way, think hard, talk a lot, pray about it, and vote. Look beyond the campaign slogans and anecdotes, and vote for what you believe will be best for our Australian community − now and into future generations. And let’s all accept that people of good will might honestly disagree.
Can you help make a difference? Immediate, respite, restoration and permanent foster carers are urgently required for children of all ages.
To find out more, visit www.catholiccare.org.au or phone 1300 590 898
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Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy By BISHOP VINCENT LONG OFMConv
The Australian Catholic Church celebrates Social Justice Sunday on 24 September. This year’s Australian Bishops’ Social Justice Statement is titled “Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy”. have not been distributed equally. In our workplaces, conditions and security of employment have been eroded, while those who are unemployed subsist on incomes well below poverty levels. Australia is experiencing a housing crisis and our Indigenous brothers and sisters struggle with economic and social burdens that most Australians cannot imagine. Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFMConv, a former refugee, introduces the Statement.
In the Statement Pope Francis has called for an economic system that places men and women at the very centre – one that meets the needs of all people and is just and sustainable. He denounces economic structures that take a purely utilitarian view of human beings, treating them as mere elements of production, to be thrown away if they are not seen as useful or productive. The Bishops’ Statement is built around the gospel for Social Justice Sunday, 24 September. Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard, where all are active contributors and are recognised for their human dignity. Australia has experienced a quarter of a century of continuous economic growth, but the benefits of this good fortune
This Statement is inspired by the teachings of Jesus and by the unswerving vision of Pope Francis: that the most vulnerable and excluded are the ones who need to take first place in our hearts and in our actions as individuals and as a society. As this Statement makes clear, our Pope draws on Christ’s message of love and ministry to the poor. He also draws on the wisdom of his predecessors, Popes Benedict and John Paul II, and on a tradition that stretches back to Pope Leo XIII in the 19th century. Another source of inspiration was the major research project that culminated 25 years ago in the 1992 Statement by Australia’s Catholic Bishops, Common Wealth for the Common Good. In that Statement the Bishops warned of growing household poverty and employment insecurity. Most importantly, they stressed
that the economy is something that exists not for its own sake but for the benefit of an entire society.
reinforce our call for a society in which justice and equity are foundational to the economy, not afterthoughts.
Over the two and a half decades since Common Wealth for the Common Good, Australia has been blessed by a period of uninterrupted growth. We are a far richer nation than we were 25 years ago. Yet there are still too many among us for whom this wealth remains a dream. Hundreds of thousands of people find themselves in poverty even though they have a job. Meanwhile, for those who depend on welfare payments, life has been made far harder.
Throughout the Statement runs the theme of Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. In this passage, all find a place in a fruitful world and are rewarded according to their intrinsic dignity.
Our Indigenous sisters and brothers continue to be over-represented in key areas of disadvantage, including life expectancy, illness and imprisonment. For many Australians, the spectre of homelessness is becoming too real. In major cities and towns the prospect of buying or even renting a home is moving out of reach, even for those with decent jobs. Emerging groups such as older Australians, particularly women, are at risk of becoming homeless. The ideas behind our Social Justice Statement for this year find strong support among international scholars and policy makers. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the vision of inclusive growth and shared prosperity,
I urge you to join me in praying for the grace to bring this vision about in our own world.
The ACSJC website (www.socialjustice. catholic.org.au/publications/socialjustice-statements) will have resources available for download free of charge before Social Justice Sunday. They will include Social Justice Sunday Liturgy Notes, a PowerPoint presentation and resources for schools and social justice groups. Prayer Cards and ‘Ten Steps’ leaflets can be ordered from the ACSJC on (02) 8306 3499 or E email@example.com. To enquire about the diocese’s Social Justice Council, P Alyson, 4979 1117.
Frankly Spoken Patience means to prefer a Church that is leaven in the dough, who does not fear soiling her hands washing the clothes of her children, rather than a Church of “pure ones” that pretends to judge before the time who is and who is not in the Kingdom of God.
Rome, 23 July
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By MONICA SCANLON
Jo Williams and students bubbling along at St Joseph’s, Kilaben Bay!
St Joseph’s students have bags of attitude! Teacher Jo Williams felt strongly that she could give children a variety of practical tools to empower them to self-regulate and understand their feelings when they were experiencing anxiety or anger so she wrote a Well Being Program. She delivered the program to children at St Joseph’s, Kilaben Bay, using her counselling skills and her teaching experience. The program included mindfulness activities, selfcontrol strategies, meditation and calming techniques. Each week there was a focus. In Week 1 it
was waking up with a positive attitude and in Week 8 it was going to bed calmly and happily. In between, the program focused on emotions such as anger and worry, protecting themselves from hurtful words and being the best they could be by finding the positive in others. Craft activities included making ‘attitude bags’ with items that made the children happy. They made glitter snow globes to help students to calm down and blew bubbles to release negative energy. Parents were encouraged to engage in activities at home. Each week,
Jo sent home information on what had happened at school and the children practised the meditation and mindfulness techniques. Jo expected perhaps ten children from Years 3-6 to sign up but the response was overwhelming and 43 children have been divided into two groups. Here are some of their comments: “I learnt how to be calm and how to be kinder to others. I liked making things.” “I use all the activities at home and my dad has done the meditations.”
Parents, too, offered positive feedback: “delighted with changes in our child’s attitude and behaviour”; “wonderful program, practical ideas and great communication to parents”; “loved the improvement in communication and relationships in our family home”. Jo strongly believes that “a schoolparent partnership can do fantastic things” and St Joseph’s strives to work as a community to strengthen school/home relationships and where the mental health of all is of utmost importance.
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What is The Atonement: Lina’s Project and why should you be there?
By JOANNE ISAAC
You often find, as a resident of the Newcastle, Hunter and Manning regions, that when you meet somebody new, you have someone in common. Their best friend used to date your friend’s brother or their aunty is related to your second cousin. If it’s six degrees of separation in big cities then it’s more like two degrees of separation for us. Our community is connected. We know each other. Something all of us in the community are aware of is the well-known and shameful criminal history of child sexual abuse by clergy and other church personnel in our own diocese. It is within the realms of possibility, in our sprawling but strangely intimate region, that most of us know someone who was abused by a member of the Catholic Church or at least know someone in their extended family or a friend. You may not realise that you know a victim, but in all likelihood you do. Many of us will have also crossed paths at some point in our lives with one or more of the perpetrators. There is no doubt that this heinous abuse and its cover-up has had a calamitous effect on our whole community. Lina, a victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of a member of the clergy in our diocese, has suffered tremendously as a result of her abuse. The dire effects have for Lina, as with all victims, been lifelong. Although Lina has been in contact with Zimmerman Services’ Healing and Support Unit for many years, I only met Lina in June. I already consider her one of the bravest people I have ever met. She would, no doubt, dispute this, considering she once told me that she “needs tablets to get myself to the supermarket, church and appointments and even then I am paralysed by panic”. But bravery takes many forms. Despite feeling “trapped inside myself”, Lina has been able to conceive an event of atonement that is being facilitated, on her behalf and in consultation with others affected by abuse, by the Catholic Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle. Known as The Atonement: Lina’s Project, this community event is open to all to attend at Newcastle City Hall on Friday 15 September from 5.30‑7.30pm. Lina hopes that the event, and the audio-
visual display that is a key part, will bring some healing to our broken community. It is completely understandable that many people feel distrust of, or hatred for, the Catholic Church. For Lina though, it’s hate that “dissolves society” and she wants the event to enable our community to come together in a genuine atmosphere of healing. In order to facilitate this, The Atonement: Lina’s Project launch event will see the Catholic Diocese publicly acknowledge the devastation caused to victims of abuse, their families, friends and the whole community, as well as naming both the perpetrators of the abuse and those who concealed their crimes. It is Lina’s hope that by openly laying itself bare in this way, the community will see that the Catholic Church in our region is “one full of sorrow and remorse, humbly asking for reconciliation”.
strong statement to them that we, as a community, believe them, stand with them and want to be part of Lina’s brave hope for healing.
and laugh with her. But of course, she
And, for those who want to look at it in gospel terms, because caring for those who have been harmed and seeking repentance is exactly what Christ would want us to do.
an enormous trust issue” and yet she has
The Lina I have come to know is witty, caring and incredibly smart. She is an artist of immense talent, a photographer, a writer, a teacher, a mother and grandmother, a lover of nature and animals. I stand in awe of her understanding of technology. I love to talk
is also damaged and fragile and in her words, “dangles on the rim of sanity”. Lina told me that “part of my abuse legacy is taken a courageous leap of faith in trusting the diocese to facilitate her vision for healing. She has put her own name to it. This is the very definition of bravery. Every member of our community is invited to attend the launch event on 15 September. You can RSVP anonymously via 4979 1188 or at the Lina’s Project website, www.linasproject.com.au.
“I feel that the diocese needs to apologise and ask forgiveness for the harm suffered through abuse, but also through the coverup of that abuse. The diocese needs to ask forgiveness of the people of the entire diocese – not only the Catholic community, but the whole community in general,” said Lina. The symbol of a King penguin and an egg has been chosen to promote the event and will play an important role in the culmination of the audio-visual presentation. King penguins work together as a community to support each other and nurture their eggs, which represent new life. Lina’s Project hopes to encourage solidarity and moving forward with hope. For Lina, who chose this motif, the Penguin and the egg represent a great deal. “When I think of pastoral care, I am reminded of the duty of care necessary for new life to grow in safety and love. Around the world, the egg is a sign of new life. I want this project to acknowledge the devastation and promote healing throughout our community,” said Lina. So why should you attend? Because we are connected — our whole community has been affected by these crimes. Because bearing witness to victims’ ongoing suffering will send a
Stay awake to hear the voices of those who need you During the recent school holidays, my wife, Alison, and I led an immersion to Kesheni which was facilitated by local Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders members in Kenya. Appropriately, Kesheni means ‘stay awake’ in Swahili. Participants travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, and visited a variety of Catholic agencies including the Kurt Fearnley Centre, the Mary Rice Centre for handicapped children and the Women for Women Centre. The immersion was a leadership experience for adults encompassing ministry in East Africa and providing participants the opportunity to be immersed in the work of the Catholic Church, its energetic patrons and wonderfully generous volunteers. A Kesheni welcome liturgy included African singing and commissioning with the traditional water and flour placed on our hands. It provided the chance for the Kenyans to meet the immersion participants and for Alison and I to catch up with good friends on this, our eighth trip. Kibera is the largest slum in the world, thus we began there. We spent the day at the Ruben School, leaving early to hear beautiful
singing by the clinic nurses and staff. Each day they sing in wonderful harmonies for each patient they treat. The clinic sees 250,000 mothers and babies per year. Alison will be staying on at Ruben for another two months completing a research project on the feasibility of introducing a 24-hour delivery suite for mothers having their babies. Kesheni 2017 participants were given the choice to spend quality time in classrooms in one of the various centres, or working in micro finance projects for adults, including beading, charcoal brick making, fish and chicken raising, vegetable operation, honey making and clothing making. The group saw a real community-focused school, an oasis in a slum of one million people. It also runs community education on clean water, sex education, family planning, nutrition and food programs. Ruben leader, Br Frank O’Shea, accompanied by local police, took us on a slum walk, pointing out the challenges the locals endure, including pollution, raw sewage and poverty leading to violence, rape, spread of HIV, malnutrition and disease. We saw the devastating effect of the rubbish blocking the river. Mounds of plastic and garbage block the flow of raw
Exuberant students at Br Beuasang School, Embulbul. sewage which is stagnant, mosquito-ridden and full of disease. The smoke from fires used to burn plastic was rancid and made breathing difficult. We visited several families and left gifts of rice, sugar, tea and salt for each family. During their time in Kesheni, participants explored the various ministries empowering communities through programs in education, advocacy, human rights, youth camps, health and socio-economic services for children and their families. We drove to Otiende to Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute. This ministry, one of three facilities in Nairobi for people with severe disabilities, caters for 67 females aged 14-35. Most are bed-bound or wheelchair-bound; some have multiple disabilities. There are some 40 carers working with nine Sisters. They are led by Sr Gonzola from Calcutta, who has a disability herself. We made beds, cleaned bedrooms, washed wheelchairs and cleaned
out the drains. We presented the sisters with rice, oil, sugar, tea and salt. This is a new component of the program, the result of our meeting a young woman, Shelagh from Edmund Rice Karibu, who volunteered last year at an Edmund Rice Camp. Whilst being immersed in the African culture, participants enjoyed the cuisine, lifestyle and wildlife, including a day-long visit to a wild life game reserve to see the ‘big four’. The immersion is a significant personal and professional opportunity which helps individuals to develop a sense of personal spirituality, leadership, interpersonal skills, inspiration and engagement with those impoverished and disempowered. It gives each participant an opportunity to become an agent for change in his/her community and motivate others to support those less fortunate, here and overseas. Michael Slattery is Director, Catholic Schools Office. Edmund Rice founded the Christian Brothers and today his name is linked to a variety of ministries. In 2018 teachers in diocesan schools will have the opportunity to participate in a similar program.
HAVE Dr Michael Slattery with students of Ruben School, Mukuru.
BY MICHAEL SLATTERY
Awkward conversations Q By TANYA RUSSELL Registered Psychologist
CatholicCare’s Manager of Counselling and Clinical Services, registered psychologist Tanya Russell, addresses an issue each month. The advice provided is general in nature and does not replace ongoing support and advice from your health professional. To talk to someone about counselling support, P 4979 1172. Call Lifeline 24/7 on 131 114.
Do you have a question for Tanya? Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300.
Last month you gave advice on how to begin an awkward conversation with a colleague. I would like advice on how to be on the receiving end of those awkward conversations. I hate conflict and am worried that I might let my emotions get in the way of resolving an issue a colleague has raised with me. What should I keep in mind to help me accept potentially awkward feedback in a respectful way? Communication is a two-way street. Often when it is one-sided, it can result in conflict and both people feeling that they haven’t been heard. As much as it is important for one person to have the skill to begin an awkward conversation to resolve an issue, it is equally important for the listener to be able to hear what the speaker has to say in a respectful way. The words people say in a face-to-face conversation make up about 7% of the information communicated. Tone of voice contributes approximately 23% to communication whereas body language makes up about 70% of our overall communication. So ensure that not only do you sound open-minded in what you say and how you say it, but that your body language expresses this too. Sitting stiffly with your arms crossed sends the wrong message, so despite how anxious or awkward you may feel, try to have an open posture with your arms down. One of the most important listening skills
is the art of silence. The role of the listener is to do just that. Resist the temptation to interrupt, don’t try to defend yourself or tell the speaker s/he is wrong. The moment you do these things the conversation has become a disagreement and you project defensiveness on your part. Be curious and ask questions to help clarify the issues raised with you. The goal of a difficult conversation is to acknowledge the issue and emotional effect it has had on the person raising the issue, even if you did not intend to make the other person feel that way. Try to stay calm, on the surface at least. Find ways to deal with your emotions both before and after the conversation. Listen: remember the importance of silence and of being open-minded. Emotional intelligence: be aware of your emotions and the speaker’s emotions, and ensure you manage your emotions at the time. It takes courage for someone to raise issues so empathy will be needed.
Action: what actions need to be taken as a result of this conversation? Do you need to do something differently? Reflect: all awkward situations and moments of adversity are opportunities to reflect on ourselves, what is important, how people see us and how we see ourselves. Is this an opportunity for growth and change? Regardless of how well prepared both people are, the conversation may still feel awkward. But, as the listener, or the one receiving awkward feedback, if you can keep these tips in mind, there is a good chance of achieving a positive outcome. To read last month’s question and answer, please visit http://mnnews. today/aurora-magazine.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Marriage annulments are often misunderstood, and very little is known about the process. Would you like to know more?
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Two by Two
The sky is orange for friends on the street Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett (2016 Young Australians of the Year) set out to improve hygiene standards for homeless people and stumbled on the “power of conversation”.
By MONICA SCANLON
Nic and Lucas describe themselves as two everyday blokes who believe that “to make a difference, we must do things differently”. They met at St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace (Brisbane). After school Nic was working as a camera man and Lucas was studying Engineering and Commerce at the University of Queensland. At school, volunteering with a food van, their eyes had been opened to homelessness in their own backyard – people living and sleeping on the streets. They were curious as to why people were doing it tough. Nic recalls his first encounter with the food van when he was 13 − he had never spoken to a homeless person. Over time they found the people they met were just like themselves or their relatives but things had happened in their lives and they had become homeless. Nic and Lucas stumbled on an original idea, admitting it was a crazy dream to build a van to wash clothes for the homeless. In October 2014, they built the first laundry van and have gone on to engage wonderful sponsors for subsequent vans. They needed to form a Board of Directors and to find experts in washing − so they consulted their Mums, who taught them how many scoops of powder to use.
Comments from friends on the street include, “I have never washed these”; “The service is two-pronged as you get your washing done but you also meet awesome people”; “I may be homeless but I’m feeling good because my clothes have been washed and feel fresh.” The name Orange Sky comes from the song of the same name, written by Alexi Murdoch, which is about helping brothers and sisters. It is not religiously or politically associated. They needed a name and liked the message of the song. Nic works mainly on the building side of the partnership and Lucas is all about strategy, marketing and content. Outfitting a van with washing machines, dryers, water tanks and a generator on board costs $110,000. They can wash and dry clothes anywhere and have travelled to disaster zones in the wake of cyclones and bushfires to reach out to those in need. Over time Nic and Lucas considered the importance of being clean when you don clean clothes and so as
well as the 14 laundry vans, there are now three shower vans servicing 140 locations across Australia.
Nic and Lucas’ mission is to positively
There are 20 staff and 850 volunteers around Australia and 5.8 tonnes of laundry is washed weekly. The 2011 census (latest available figures) indicates there are 105,000 homeless across Australia. Nic and Lucas are excited by the prospect of more Orange Sky Vans reaching more people across Australia and then going international with laundry vans and shower vans.
so many people. Nic is happy to be
In Newcastle, the Orange Sky Van will work in partnership with the newly commissioned diocesan Development and Relief Agency (DARA) van which provides food. Friends on the street can grab a coffee or bite to eat and enjoy time with the volunteers while their clothes are washed and dried. Their health benefits too from having clean clothes. Both Orange Sky and DARA’s Van rely on the support of volunteers and donations to maintain their presence.
and letting others know that someone is
connect people with the community and they feel inspired and privileged to meet living his dream of helping others. Lucas summed up their goal simply: “When we work together and connect, great things happen. We actually don’t need a laundry van or thousands of dollars, we just need care, we just need to start the conversation.” Orange Sky Australia is about promoting respect, delivering hope there for them. Please visit www.orangeskylaundry. com.au. To learn about DARA’s Van, visit www.dara.org.au. To volunteer, P Brodie, 4979 1145.
While the washing and drying is happening, there is nothing to do except sit down and have a chat − and that’s where Orange Sky, a unique service, makes the biggest impact. The six orange chairs are the most important part of the van – volunteers giving their time to chat. As well as chatting, Orange Sky also provides opportunities for their friends on the street to be empowered − giving them pathways to full time employment through commercial washing contracts. Nic and Lucas know that many homeless people are tired and scared, don’t know where the next safe place to stay will be and may have only a few dollars in their pockets. Doing laundry is not always a priority. Those disconnected from the community see a safe, friendly face and for some, the highlight of the week can be having a genuine and non-judgemental conversation with Orange Sky volunteers. 10
Nic Marchesi, Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration, Sean Scanlon and volunteer, Jack Tearle.
Are you ready for a spa day for the mind?
By BRONWYN MELVILLE
Aurora invited Bronwyn Melville, Pastoral Care Worker at St Pius X High School and Chair of the Parent Education Working Party of the Federation of Parents and Friends, to share a new initiative of the Federation. As a mother of five with a job and a number of other interests and commitments, my days – and nights – are crowded. That’s my choice, but there are times when the idea of some ‘time out’ is very appealing.
learn some self kindfullness, engage in meditation prayer, hear interesting speakers and enjoy a shared lunch. It will be a ‘spa day’ for the mind! I have loving and supportive parents
who have always edified us in our role as parents; me as a mother, and my husband as a father. Because, due to distance, they were not able to provide ‘hands on’ support for us in raising our
When I brought my first baby home, my grandmother (a mother of seven, orphaned at 12) said, “Make sure you you need to take care of yourself − because no one else will do that for you.” It is something I have tried to do for myself and for other mums, dads and carers; encourage them − and help them − to take care of the carer. To learn more about the parents retreat days on 14 and 15 October, E
This year the Federation has turned its attention to supporting parents of children in diocesan schools more directly, with the inaugural Parents Retreat Days. Parents are invited to participate in one of two consecutive days at Monte Pio Inn, Campbells Hill. The days will be opportunities to slow down and
BBI aims to cater to a wide range of people interested in Theology and its aligned disciplines by providing the highest quality of online education at both academic and non-academic levels.
kindness and care as a parent.
always have your breakfast and do what
The Federation of Parents and Friends focuses primarily on the needs of students and how parents can help their children and has had some significant gains: responsiveness to students with special needs, including the annual Special Needs Mass, celebrated last month, and the Bishop’s Awards for students and young people.
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five children, I am very aware of self
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CatholicCare’s supporting our most vulnerable children
By ELIZABETH SNEDDEN
“Foster carers are very special people who provide love, support and stability to some of our country’s most vulnerable children,” Gary Christensen, Acting Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning, said on the eve of NSW Foster Care Week. NSW Foster Care Week, 10-16 September, is co-ordinated by the Association of Children’s Welfare
Agencies with the support of nongovernment foster care agencies. It acknowledges the wonderful contribution made by foster carers across NSW.
child or young person cannot live with his/her own parents or extended family, a safe place to stay is required.
CatholicCare is hosting its Annual Foster Carer Luncheon to thank carers for their ongoing efforts. In Australia over 40,000 children suffer abuse and neglect each year. When a
The number of children in out-of-home care (OOHC) − that is, in foster, relative and other forms of non-parental care − has almost doubled over the past decade to around 41,000. There are nearly 20,000 children and young people in OOHC in NSW alone, with 49% of those children and young people living in the Hunter and Central Coast areas. These alarming statistics reinforce the necessity of the care provided by foster carers, supported by agencies such as CatholicCare, to create an environment where these children can thrive. “Immediate, respite, restoration and permanent foster carers are urgently required for children of all ages,” Gary said. “Our carers do a remarkable job, but we need more of them to ensure that no child faces duress in their current
circumstances or future. “Being a foster carer is challenging and rewarding, but our carers don’t do it alone. “CatholicCare partners with them, providing ongoing support and development opportunities as well as an allowance to assist them in meeting the needs of children in their care,” Gary said. Where restoration of children to birth parents is not possible, CatholicCare assists carers to adopt or become legal guardians. If you would like to find out more about the wonderful work of our foster carers, or are interested in becoming a foster carer, please P 4979 1120 or E ccenquiries@ catholiccare.org.au.
hey smile, they heal, they teach, they comfort. Around the globe Catholic religious sisters quietly perform their dedicated and heroic service without remuneration and barely even noticed by the wider world. But in order to assist others, they themselves also need to be helped, for although they minister to so many, they themselves still need their daily bread and a roof over their heads.
Help Religious Sisters - the unsung heroines in the Church! I/We enclose $................... to support the work of Religious Sisters for the poor and persecuted Church.
Each year the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) supports over 11,000 religious sisters wherever the Church is poor or persecuted. It is vital that the indispensable work of religious sisters in Christ’s Holy Catholic Church continues. Religious sisters are the unsung heroines in the Church. ACN is proud to assist the inspirational work carried out by religious sisters in some of the poorest, most dangerous places in the world.
A complimentary Vatican rosary blessed by Pope Francis will be sent to all those who can assist with a donation of $20.00 or more to support this cause and tick the box in the coupon. 12
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Achieving HSC success: tips for students and parents
By CHRISTINE CHAPPLE
The Higher School Certificate (HSC) examinations will soon be here for thousands of local students, their teachers and family members. As a teacher of HSC students for many years and having my own two children take on the challenge, I know first-hand that the next two months will be a trying time for all involved. The HSC exams begin on 16 October with students receiving their results on 14 December. I like to think of the HSC as one of life’s big lessons rather than as an academic test. It is a lesson in resilience, drive, perseverance, time management, self-reliance, determination − the big learnings that are so crucial to success in life. It is often the first of life’s real challenges for our children. It rewards hard work and, like most things, you get out of it what you put into it. However, the fact of the matter is that students do have to sit myriad exams to be awarded the credential, and between now and 16 October there are many practical steps a student can take to maximise success in the HSC, and many ways parents can support their children.
The key to success in the HSC is to be organised and work consistently throughout the year. The HSC is akin to a long distance race and the old adage, ‘slow and steady wins the race’, rings true. Students who have been working consistently all year can certainly look to the HSC examinations with confidence. By the time you read this there will be about six weeks until the start of the HSC. With assessment tasks completed and individual student HSC assessment marks and ranks forwarded to the NSW Education Standards Authority, this remaining time is crucial. Used productively it can lead to improved examination performance. Parental support − providing encouragement, guidance and a calming influence − is key. Following is advice for students − which parents can reinforce − in order to maximise their HSC results. In terms of classwork, attendance is crucial. The course is not over just because the trial exams or final assessment tasks have been completed. There may only be two or three weeks of the term left but
teachers will be working hard to finish the course and provide crucial revision. Your teachers are your greatest resource and you need to work with them right to the end. As well, you should be finalising the compilation of well-organised study notes, completed for every subject by the end of Term 3.
witnessed students having their assessment mark increased (some substantially) by simply making the decision to focus on their study at this time and consequently doing better than expected in the exam. Adopting a solid study program over the next few weeks can really pay dividends. Exam preparation is crucial to success in the HSC. At this stage the HSC is a team effort and success relies on
Your teachers are your greatest resource and you need to work with them right to the end.
all students doing their best. It is time to start ‘sprinting to the finish line’ by consolidating your learning. Establish a realistic study plan geared to the HSC timetable and follow it all the way to your last exam. This is also where parents can provide some gentle persuasion and practical support. Over the term 3 holidays (‘stuvac’)
Completing all homework is essential. Homework is very much the ‘icing on the cake’. At this stage it will generally mirror HSC-style questions, thus helping to develop further and consolidate effective examination technique. The aim now is to focus on doing well in the HSC exam and completion of homework tasks is one way to assist this. During the remainder of the term, establish and commit to a robust but reasonable homework routine, remembering to maintain a healthy life balance. This may also be a time to evaluate the balance between paid work and homework. As I have stated, the focus should now be on improving your performance in the HSC exams. The HSC mark equals the average of the exam mark and the moderated assessment mark. The exam mark is used to determine how the school assessment mark will be adjusted to determine the moderated assessment mark. Therefore, students and their cohort need to do well in the exam to ensure the moderated assessment mark is an improvement on the school assessment mark. If you have been disappointed with your performance in assessment tasks, take heart that doing well in the HSC exam can negate this. I have repeatedly
continue to consolidate your learning by completing past exam papers, essay plans and factual paragraphs; attending tutorials; participating in productive study groups and making use of online resources such as www.hsccoach.com.au (University of Newcastle). Ultimately, the HSC exams are designed to give students the opportunity to showcase what they know and understand. Whatever the outcome, be proud of your accomplishment and know that you have now developed essential skills to meet many more of life’s challenges. Christine Chapple is Education Officer (Secondary Curriculum) at the Catholic Schools Office and an experienced teacher of senior students.
“There but for the grace of God...”
By JOHN MURRAY
Gifts come in all shapes, sizes and forms. Some delight in the kind that comes in brown paper packages tied up with string. In an address in 2004, Barack Obama had something to say on the subject. “Hope in the face of adversity, the audacity of Hope: in the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us...” he opined. Well, it doesn’t come wrapped in brown paper but I agree that in a troubled world where the darkness of despair can sometimes descend, Hope is most important. Among gifts of the non-material kind, I, too, would rate it highly. As a person believing in a ‘forever’ marriage, as a traveller on the eternal journey, as a parent who cares deeply about his children’s future...yes, Hope is always in my focus. Being without Hope would, for me, constitute mere existence − but is Hope God’s greatest gift? Over a thousand years ago, Persian poet-astronomer, Omar Khayyam, gave thanks for his “jug of wine” and “loaf of bread”. Beyond that he bequeathed us these extraordinary lines: “I sent my Soul through the Invisible, Some letter of that After-life to spell: And by and by my Soul return’d to me, And answer’d ‘I Myself am Heav’n and Hell’.” I look upon these words as a precious gift for, like all writers with insights to share, he is talking to us about that essential yearning we still retain − about our potential to act for both good and evil; that wanting to know what is on the other side. His sharing is a gift because it re-affirms the ‘normality’ of our human imperfections...our very mortality. ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ as states of mind – so very today! I recall reading something of the sort in a book by Cardinal Ratzinger (later, Pope Benedict XVI). Yes, the idea of setting aside time for introspection is special, a gift, but is it greater than Hope? In St John’s Gospel, more is said on the subject. In the account of the woman caught in adultery, the idea of self-examination implicitly unfolds. 14
An adulteress had been seized by a mob in Jerusalem and was about to be stoned to death. Intervening, Jesus invited anyone in the crowd who was
Being without Hope would, for me, constitute mere existence − but is Hope God’s greatest gift?
without sin to cast the first stone. One by one, as the kneeling Jesus scribed circles in the dust, the accusers let the stones fall from their hands and silently drifted away. Jesus had caused them to seek within themselves and the truth they found there was confronting, then debilitating, because it threw their hypocrisy into high relief. Stripped by this self-appraisal of all illusions, falsehoods and pretensions, each was left clothed only in naked shame. The kernel of this lesson, pointing towards our vital need for honest introspection, is indeed a great gift.
Every person has been imbued with free will. Each has the choice when affronted by another to choose to react in numerous ways, from seeking to exact “an eye for an eye” to forgiving unconditionally. What an onus! Many times, sadly, I have not fulfilled the task of forgiving because I have been too tardy in first emptying myself of feelings of hurt or outrage − which is to say, I’ve neglected to first squash my own selfishness and false pride. That can happen only when I can do such things as experience, if vicariously, a hopefilled Indigenous man’s humiliation and feel his sweat prickling my own brow. Only when I picture the internal tugof-war of the angel-beast that is my potential. Only when I quiver with those same violent impulses of that mob with killing-stones in hand...only then that transformation might begin.
Forgiveness of those who have wronged me must be preceded by my forgiving myself! And that might be attempted only after I have confronted my own claiming of moral high ground and acting as if sinless − flying in the very face of God! I have been gifted the free will to see myself as no different from my enemy and then, in recognising that we two are really one, to forgive... to try and sometimes fail...and try again...because my will allows it... My free will to say, “There but for the grace of God...”
Then, in chapter 20 of St John’s Gospel when the risen Lord appeared to his disciples, another gift is disclosed. “...he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’” In Christ’s final instruction to his disciples they were exhorted to forgive, to show mercy. But something crucial lies here: those who would commit to this vocation do so because they have already been blessed by God with an indispensible gift, not peace or love or the ability to work miracles, but free will!
By SHEILA KEANE & JEAN TALBOT
Being led by inward experience is central to Quaker practice and therefore words may seem inadequate to convey its essence. Like all mystical and contemplative traditions, Quakerism relies on the language of silence. Formally known as the Religious Society of Friends, Quakers understand ministry as a function rather than a person. Hence there is no set order of service or ordained minister. We sit silently in a circle reflecting our equal responsibility for the conduct of the meeting, waiting expectantly for the divine presence within and amongst us. Sometimes a Friend may be moved to speak but otherwise silence is maintained for the hour of worship. Some find traditional Christian language full of meaning, some do not. You might hear Friends speak of being led by the Inward Light, for example, and our understanding of the Quaker tradition can be enhanced by insights from other faiths. You will not find theological orthodoxy amongst the Religious Society of Friends. We do believe that there is that of God in everyone, but we accept that people understand God in their own way and from their own experience. There is a number of traditions or “testimonies” that Friends try to live by: Equality, Integrity, Social Justice and Peace, as well as Simplicity, Environment and Community. These testimonies reflect the corporate beliefs of the Society.
Relying on the language of silence Equality To avoid participation in classism, early Quakers dressed plainly and addressed everyone in the familiar “thee” and “thou”. Men refused to take off their hats or bow to those in authority. As a result we were in trouble a lot, and much Quaker involvement in prison reform came from the experience of so many Quakers spending time in gaol. Women and men have always held an equal place in Quaker organisation, and Quakers were leaders in abolishing slavery. Quakers have a long history of resisting racism and corrupted power. Integrity Early Friends did well in trades because they were honest in their dealings, unlike many of their contemporaries. We do not take oaths; rather we affirm that we are telling the truth, as always. Simplicity Living simply is another expression of integrity and equality. We understand the need to share resources as part of our testimony to peace and social justice. We are asked to “… search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war”. Peace and social justice Quakers have been advocates of peace from our early beginnings, refusing to participate in war, providing relief for all victims of war regardless which side of the conflict, supporting refugees, and helping rebuild lives and infrastructure in the aftermath of war. As 17th century Quaker, William Penn, said, “Peace can only be secured by justice; never
by force of arms.” The work for peace is inseparable from the work for social justice. This is perhaps the most visible aspect of modern Quakerism. Environment We have a growing concern for our environment. This is a spiritual as well as practical testimony. We join with our Indigenous friends in sensing connectedness with the spirit of the land, and this connection motivates strong action. Many local Quakers are involved in community gardening, land care, bush regeneration, opposition to fossil fuels and the encouragement of renewable energy. Community The challenge of taking a firm stand in opposition to corrupt power, social injustice, racism and ecological destruction is more than most can bear alone. Quakers rely on one another and also band with others working in these areas. We also share our search for spiritual experience which guides our actions. In celebration of the International Day of Peace, the Hunter Valley Friends Meeting will be hosting an exhibition of Quaker peace activities at the Adamstown Uniting Church from 21 September to 1 October. Quakers refused to carry arms in World War I. Many were thrown into prison while some served as conscientious objectors in the Friends Ambulance Unit on the front line in France. Quaker relief work after World War II (which included feeding German children) won them
the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize. A young Quaker was quoted in the award ceremony speech, saying, “We weren’t sent out to make converts. We’ve come… to build up in a spirit of love what has been destroyed in a spirit of hatred… Religion means very little until it is translated into positive action.” Quakers were granted consultative status at the United Nations in 1948 and have offices in Geneva and New York where we work in peacebuilding, climate change, food sustainability, human rights and refugees. Quaker Service Australia (QSA), established in 1959, supports community-based, ecologically sustainable development overseas and in Indigenous Australia. Individual Quakers in Australia led international negotiations banning land mines (1996) and were amongst those serving as human shields in Iraq in 2003. We’ve been at this a long time. We welcome visitors to attend our meeting for worship held in Kotara at the Grinsell Street Uniting Church, Sundays 11am-noon. You can learn more about Quakers at www.quakersaustralia.org.au. Newcastle Friends can be contacted by email on huntervalleyquakers@ gmail.com.
Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone. − George Fox (1656)
Image courtesy of Magnolia Star Photography.
Seasons of Mercy
Thoughts from the second best singer in the house! Father-to-be James Beverley shares some thoughts in the month when fatherhood comes into focus.
By JAMES BEVERLEY
I have always considered myself to be lucky, even though there have been periods in my life when you could argue against this − it always seems to turn around before long.
As a child, knowing your parents were having a good time always made it that much better, maybe because you knew you were getting a little bit more freedom to be a kid.
As I look to becoming a father, I find myself looking back on my life from my earliest memories. More than ever I’m convinced I am lucky.
I had a great childhood. I grew up on Lake Macquarie in a kid’s paradise that allowed us to have freedom as children and eventually teenagers. Summers were spent with days on the lake in tinnies (way before you were old enough to drive a car) and trips to the beach on the weekends. Winters were spent playing footy and soccer and riding old motorbikes in the bush with my mates.
I was born into a family with parents who have always put their children first and continue to do so. Like all good parents, they do this to their own disadvantage at times. Not that they ever let on. My best childhood memories are of Saturday morning sports where both Mum and Dad would be involved in coaching, washing jerseys, bringing oranges, family get-togethers and spending time with my cousins. We would constantly be running around believing we were getting away with all sorts of things, all the while we could still hear our mums, dads, aunties, uncles and grandparents laughing and talking somewhere nearby.
My wife and I had very different adolescent years. While her talent was taking her overseas at a young age, my push bike was taking me on countless trips around Wangi Wangi. But the one thing we have always had in common is that we are both blessed with two great supportive parents who, without our realising it at the time, were teaching us to be great parents one day.
Catherine and I don’t mind admitting that we have spent our lives so far living for ourselves − because we could. But that will change soon enough, and in some ways it already has (more so for Catherine). Over the years we have watched most of our friends and family become parents and good ones at that. The one thing they all have in common is that they put the children first. They become better at everything they were before they were parents because they want to do the best for the family so it brings out the best in them.
it will make us into the best versions of ourselves
So I’m not nervous about becoming a father because after all, people have been doing it for generations and I truly believe it will make us into the best versions of ourselves. Something else that gives me confidence that everything will be fine is my wife. You see, Catherine is one of those people who, through determination, is good at everything she does, and I have no doubt she will be an amazing mother. And, as I do in our life together now, I’ll do my best to keep up. Catherine and I have an amazing life and we are both excited to become a family. After the baby arrives, we plan to spend two months at home and then
hit the road again in our caravan, all the while learning to be parents. It is important for me that our children grow up watching their mum making and playing music. Maybe some or all of them will inherit her talent, maybe not, that’s not important. If they don’t inherit Catherine’s voice then I’ll continue to be the second best singer in our house! I sincerely hope that they inherit her attention span though, as well as her looks and intelligence, but whatever will be will be. Our little gumnut will be welcomed by four very excited grandparents, plenty of aunties and uncles and a growing number of cousins. What is important to me about our child/ren is: •
they find something they love and find a way to continue doing that and loving it;
they grow into good people and have a positive effect on others they meet;
they learn from their mistakes and do their best to do a little bit of good each day;
they grow up in an active house full of laughter and music;
and that one day they read this and they too feel lucky.
So my soon-to-be-a-father thoughts are not about nerves, but about the realisation that Catherine and I have been raised to be great parents. It’s up to us now and we cannot wait! For now, we will enjoy the last of our sleep-ins…. James Beverley and Catherine Britt’s first child is due in January.
St Dominic’s responds to community need
By ALYSSA FAITH
From 2018, St Dominic’s Centre, Mayfield (formerly St Dominic’s Centre for Hearing Impaired Children), will begin to offer a schooling option for students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This decision is a direct response to local
community need. Beginning with Kindergarten offerings only, the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle’s only special needs school, boasting specialist staff and facilities, will cater to the needs of even more students and families searching for an
option for their children. The new class will have a full-time teacher and learning support teacher to begin, and then as the school grows, it is hoped additional resources will be made available to cater for the expansion.
students with additional needs.”
Principal, Mrs Veronica McLoughlin, is excited at the prospect of seeing the school evolve with and cater to the needs of the community.
“Students at St Dominic’s have a unique opportunity to work in a small and specialist environment, allowing our students to thrive academically, socially, spiritually and emotionally, and this will remain the case for current and future students,” says Ms McLoughlin.
“By introducing Autism into our enrolment criteria for Kindergarten, as a system we are responding to a significant need in our community. St Dominic’s is closely linked with the Dominican community and one of its greatest strengths is responding to emerging needs,” says Mrs McLoughlin.
Soraya Siulai, principal Veronica McLoughlin and Megan Nay.
“To ensure St Dominic’s continues to offer a model that is sustainable, the new class will only be a small cohort at first, but we are excited at the prospect of expanding the service we offer. Our diocese remains strongly committed to a continuum of service delivery for
Through this time of change, the current student cohort (students with moderate cognitive disabilities and who are deaf or hard of hearing) will continue to be a key focus for the school.
“The staff are inspired and excited to follow in the Dominican tradition of responding to the needs of the time and work tirelessly to offer an exceptional standard of education for our students.” For more information, visit www. mayfieldsd.catholic.edu.au.
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Two became four, then two again
Shirley and Eunice preparing to celebrate! Photograph courtesy of Magnolia Star Photography.
Does your child go to a Catholic school? For all the good news stories from our schools across the diocese, visit
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By TRISH BOGAN
Maitland twins Shirley Mills and Eunice (Eunie) Morris are about to reach the milestone of their 90th birthdays and great celebrations are planned! They were born, ten minutes apart, in East Maitland in September 1927 and raised in the Protestant faith. Their parents struggled through the Great Depression and World War II. Six more children were reared including a second set of twins. The girls were inseparable and enjoyed the same pastimes; they could knit and sew by seven, took up tap dancing and won an eisteddfod at 11. By 15 they were working in Hector’s butcher shops. At 16, they learned old time dancing, and this was how they met the men they married. Shirley says, “Our mother would take us, we weren’t allowed to go on our own!” Eunie says of their dancing days, “There was a (Catholic) younger set in Morpeth and Ron and Noel were in that younger set.” Ron Morris and Noel Mills were great
mates. One night the boys decided, “You take one and I’ll take the other.” Two became four; Shirley and Noel; Eunie and Ron. Shirley says, “That’s how we started and we’ve been together ever since.” Eunie adds, “They won us over and partnered us for our debut on 25 August 1945, the night peace was declared; there were great celebrations.” There were no cars for the young in those days! When the boys came to visit the sisters at their home in East Maitland, they would either ride a bicycle or arrive with a horse and sulky. Courting became “serious” and they asked permission to become engaged to Shirley and Eunie. Both Noel and Ron were Catholics and Eunie says, “We were impressed with the Catholic faith.” The girls liked accompanying their future husbands to Catholic ceremonies. They particularly enjoyed Christ the King processions and Mass at Maitland Showground and “loved the parish missions”. Morpeth parish priest at the time, Fr James Walsh, instructed the girls in the faith and they became Catholics. Fr James also presided at the wedding of both couples, Noel and Shirley
in April 1949 and Ron and Eunie in September 1950. They dedicated themselves to the parish and to their children’s Catholic schools. Shirley is a gifted seamstress and handmade the priest’s vestments and other church items over many decades. Both are excellent cooks and donated generously to church and school fundraisers. Eunie says, “Generations enjoyed the housie I called over many years in the school rooms.” The two families grew and lived not far apart, but things changed when the 1955 floods struck. Eunie says, “We were moved to a Commission home in Morpeth, having lost everything. Shirley and Noel were the same at their farm. They got a Commission home around the corner, and their back yard ran into our side yard!” A gate was quickly installed and the families couldn’t have been happier. Their children have shared life together, more like brothers and sisters than cousins and are still close. Eunie says of their combined seven children, “Each home felt like home for them. There were never any arguments and never have been, right through.” Shirley and Noel have three children,
Eunie and Ron have four. Between the sisters, they share 23 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren; Shirley has two great-great grandchildren. They both admit that their early years were difficult but happy times, making clothes from flour bags, no telephones and rudimentary farm homes. But Eunie says, “We weren’t the only ones, we were all in the same predicament, everybody helped one another.” The twins share more than a birthday. When Shirley and Noel married, Eunie says, “We had never been apart and I fretted so much.” Their families are used to them arriving at events and unintentionally wearing matching outfits. When they feel unwell and speak on the phone, they can pick up on each other’s ailment. Since their birth they have seldom been apart. They speak each day on the phone, and Eunie says, “We share lunch and afternoon tea on Wednesdays.” Noel died in 2006 and Ron in 2008. The loss of their life partners has drawn the sisters closer than ever. They have shared 90 years together; long may they continue to enjoy each other’s company.
New Cardiff centre opening late 2017! New centres at Lochinvar and Chisholm to open early 2018!
Register your interest now, visit: www.stnicholasmn.org.au or phone 4979 1110 for more information
By TRACEY EDSTEIN
Your memory is a poet, let it have its say I challenge you to read Patti Miller’s newly published Writing True Stories and not want to drop everything and write! While reading about writing can be a diversion from actually writing (I speak from experience), this friendly guide is replete with practical exercises to lead the would-be life writer to the blank page or the computer screen. Patti has made the domain of life writing her own, and balances leading writing groups with her own writing. Writing True Stories is the next best thing to having her at your shoulder, encouraging and challenging you. Her generous sharing of her earliest memory is emblematic of the script of her life. “My grandmother lived with us in one of our nest of rooms on the farm outside Wellington.
When I was very young I would slip into bed with her and she would tell me stories of the family, who was connected to whom, who was related, and I would ask her questions about her life...I can’t remember the details but I can remember the sensation, the dark room, the lovely warm feeling of being in bed with Gran, and the feeling that she was paying attention to me. I came from a family of eight, so to have one person paying attention just to you was a very rare and precious thing.” Always an avid reader, Patti believed, even as a small child, that “to write books for other people to read must be the best thing to do in life. There’s never been any real question about doing what I wanted to do. It always seemed important to me to follow your passion. I was brought up in a very religious, Catholic family, and we were very poor, so there was a strong conditioning against materialism. Somehow it was a very fine thing to be poor and material things weren’t that important; but rather to follow what your soul wanted...” There is one question that has preoccupied Patti Miller throughout life – at the checkout, in foreign lands, travelling on a train: What is it like for you to be in the world? It could be said that her classes and guides are designed to elicit answers to that question from myriad people. She admits that the majority of her students are women – “women are more emotionally courageous, the chroniclers, the storytellers” – and is chuffed by the fact that many of her groups continue to meet when the course has finished. Her success is tribute to the fact that many people know the desire inside to record their story – for publication, for their grandchildren to know what it’s been like for them to be in the world or simply to gain a little immortality. Patti writes, “This is your chance to speak to the future.”
Patti Miller, photograph courtesy of Sally Flegg.
In recent years, Patti has developed “a passion for long distance walking − I keep on saying walking when I mean writing and vice versa but they are very similar. There’s that setting out on an unknown journey, having to pay attention and going up the wrong track sometimes and having to circle back, hoping to get somewhere but not knowing where it is...” And to encourage you to walk, as well as write, Patti says, “When
I’m writing a personal essay the ideas always come to me while walking.” Patti Miller practises what she preaches, having written several books of what she calls creative nonfiction. “Creative nonfiction encompasses true crime and true thrillers, nature writing, history, some types of biography, travel or sojourn memoir, and the personal essay.” In her book, The Mind of a Thief, red-haired, ivory-skinned Patti shares the experience of learning that when her father told his children that their grandmother was “a blackfella’, he was right. “There’s no way I would have imagined I had Aboriginal ancestors. I could hear my heart beating.” While it may not be true that ‘everyone has a novel in them’, Patti believes absolutely that “There is a story in everyone because we couldn’t live without it. We need a story to make sense of our lives, we can’t get up in the morning if we haven’t a story that makes sense to us...” What’s your story? Patti Miller Writing True Stories Allen & Unwin 2017. Please visit www. lifestories.com.au
H AV E YOUR
Writing exercises: Memory •
Write your earliest memory. Rather than looking at the experience from the outside, immerse yourself in it. Write what you can see, feel, smell, hear. Let this memory flow on to other people who may have been there, the surroundings as you recall them. Remember, your memory is a poet, let it have its say.
Draw a floor plan of the house you lived in as a child, then mentally wander through it. Go from room to room. As soon as you see something that catches your interest, stop. And start writing. Write about what you see, or what happened there, or who you’ve bumped into. If the writing stops, go back and have another wander.
Community Noticeboard Mercy Spirituality Centre, Toronto
“Before We Say I Do”
5-7 September “Expanding Prayer Boundaries” Colleen Rhodes rsm will lead 2 days reflecting on the graciousness of the Cosmos/Creation as a model for prayer. Residential $250 or nonresidential $150. Commences with evening meal Tuesday and concludes after lunch on Thursday.
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.
22-24 September “Echoes of Mercy” Gaye Lennon rsm invites you to take space, time and quiet to explore the path of Mercy as echoed in our own lives and the impact that has on our world, our universe. Where am I being gently encouraged towards courageous transformation as the call to Mercy continues to echo? Residential $250 or non-residential $150. Commences with evening meal Friday and concludes after lunch on Sunday. 5 October, 6.30-9pm Dinner conversation guest, Sue Campbell, convenor of “Real Women”, a quarterly gathering of women based at Warners Bay Parish, will initiate conversation about her favourite topic − women! Limited to 9 participants, cost $40. 6-8 October Biblical scholar, Elaine Wainwright rsm, is leading a weekend exploration, “Stories Told and Untold on the Journey”, exploring the ways in which stories emerge from and shape a community through the lens of a gospel narrative. Residential $250 or non-residential $150. Commences with evening meal Friday and concludes after lunch on Sunday.
“Before We Say I Do” is a group program held over two days or four evenings. Course 5/17 9 and 16 September at Singleton Course 6/17 4 and 11 November at Newcastle. St Mary’s Maitland celebrates A Garden Party will be held in the grounds of St Mary’s Campus, All Saints College, Maitland, on Sunday, 10 September, to celebrate the arrival of the Dominican Sisters in Maitland 150 years ago. Afternoon tea will be served after an official welcome in the chapel at 2.30pm. All ticket sales will include a commemorative badge. Ticket sales will be limited to 250. Limited quantities of a specially labelled commemorative wine will be available for purchase on the day, along with other memorabilia. Tickets available at www.trybooking.com/book/ event?eid=292241.
26 October Reflection day “Things to be desired”: “Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” This will be a reflection day of quiet and peace, using the Desiderata as our focus. We will explore the depths of meaning in the poem, employing art, music, drama and the magnificent environment of our centre to draw us into prayer and contemplation. Facilitator, Val O’Hara rsm, $20, 9.30am-1pm, light lunch included.
Sisters, staff, students, former students and friends are invited to attend a dinner at 6.30pm on 23 September at the Therry Centre, East Maitland. To book www.trybooking.com/281930 or to arrange a table, P Margaret Paterson 4933 4996.
Mercy Spirituality Centre, 26 Renwick St Toronto P 4959 1025 E firstname.lastname@example.org, www.mercytoronto.org.au.
Members of the Network invite you to join them on 21 September, the International Day of Peace, 2-4pm at the Islamic Centre of Newcastle, 3-5 Victoria St, Mayfield. Afternoon tea will be provided. For catering purposes please rsvp to email@example.com by 19 September.
Living Waters: The place of pilgrimage in our lives Pilgrimages have been a central component of faith for people over many thousands of years. On Saturday 9 September a number of pilgrims will share their journey with us and there will be an opportunity to walk a labyrinth in the afternoon. Come to St James’ school hall, Vista Parade, Kotara, from 10am-3pm. To rsvp, E firstname.lastname@example.org or P 0407 436 808.
On Sunday 24 September there will be Mass at St Mary’s at 11am followed by an ‘open school’. All are welcome. Hunter Interfaith Network
Two Bishops Dialogue You are warmly invited to attend the 2017 Two Bishops Dialogue for adults. This is an opportunity to gather as an Ecumenical and Interfaith community with Bishop Peter Stuart and Bishop Bill Wright. Both bishops invite
you to join them in conversation about morals, ethics and good decisions on Tuesday 10 October, 6-9pm at St Luke’s Anglican Church, 11 Brown St, Wallsend. Light refreshments will be served. To rsvp by 5 October or for further details, please P Brooke Robinson 4979 1111 or E email@example.com.
For your diary
Retreat for Parents
8 International Literacy Day
The Federation of Parents & Friends Associations is holding a retreat day for parents of children in schools of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle on Saturday 14 or Sunday 15 October at Monte Pio Inn, New England Highway, Rutherford. It will be a day to stop and take time to be refreshed, strengthened and renewed for the all-important task of parenting. No cost! E firstname.lastname@example.org. See page 11.
10 World Suicide Prevention Day
St Laurence Centre Library The St Laurence Centre Library will be closing its doors on Friday 27 October. The collection will be placed in storage until July 2018 when it will be combined with other collections at the library’s new location in Parry Street Newcastle. The library will continue to operate as usual until its closure in October: Tues 11-3, Wed 1-6 & Fri 11-3. Please ensure all borrowed items have been returned to the library no later than Wednesday 25 October. Lora Murray, Librarian, 4902 9100 or email@example.com. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) The diocesan RCIA team invites clergy, parishioners and anyone who is interested to an Inservice day on Saturday 28 October at the Abermain School Hall. The theme for the day is “RCIA’s mission in parish communities”. There will be presentations by members of existing diocesan teams and by people beginning a team in their parish, and a forum for questions focused on ‘where to now? or ‘show us the way’. To learn more P Daphne Peterson 0412 318 074 or E firstname.lastname@example.org. Seasons for Growth Companioning Training, Children & Young People’s training, 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 4947 1355 to learn more about becoming a Companion. Enrolments for training are completed at www.goodgrief.org.au.
September 4 National Child Protection Week begins.
12 Bishop Bill meets with student leaders for
Mass and supper.
15 Lina’s Project event (see page 7)
International Day of Democracy
21 World Alzheimer’s Day Rosh Ha-shana (Jewish New Year)
International Day of Peace
Bishop Bill blesses and opens new CatholicCare
office at Muswellbrook.
24 Social Justice Sunday
Bishop Bill celebrates Mass for Foundation Day at St Mary’s, Maitland.
3 0 Bishop Bill celebrates Mass for feast of St Michael at St Michael’s, Wollombi. Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement)
October 4 Joint Clergy Day for clergy of dioceses of Broken Bay, Newcastle and Maitland-Newcastle.
For more events please visit mn.catholic.org.au/calendar and mn.catholic.org.au/community. 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 www.mn.catholic.org.au/ acyf. For more information, contact us at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/mncatholicyouth.
You matter. We care about you Calvary Retirement Communities provides safe, secure and relaxed community living through residential aged care, respite services and retirement villages. We have care choices available in Belmont, Cessnock, Eleebana, Maitland, Sandgate, Singleton, Tanilba Bay, Taree, Waratah and a new facility in Muswellbrook.
NEW VILLAGE To view of Calvary Muswellbrook’s villas contact our ILU Coordinator P: 1800 222 000 W: calvarycare.org.au/villagelife
Calvary Muswellbrook Retirement Community offers 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas alongside a Residential Aged Care Facility. There are still villas available.
To arrange a visit or for more information on services near you call 1800 222 000 or visit www.calvarycare.org.au. Continuing the Mission of the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary
Aurora on tour Aurora was spotted touring outback Australia on the mighty Indian Pacific!
Review By GAIL DOOLAN
William Keepin’s Belonging to God: Science, Spirituality & a Universal Path of Divine Love outlines the essence of the spiritual path of love as revealed in sacred scriptures, focusing on the Bhagavad Gita, the Qur’an, and the Gospels and demonstrating a remarkable convergence of the essential teachings of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. All three scriptures affirm a supreme Godhead which goes by different names and is perceived in different ways. Particularly important are the common themes emphasising surrender of self, absolute trust in God, and the gift of divine grace that transforms and divinises the soul of the seeker. Keepin writes, “I do not address the complex issues of Islamophobia and extremist ‘Muslim terrorism’ here, which are two sides of a tragic coin. Suffice it to say that such terrorism is perpetrated by a tiny minority of ‘Muslims’ who profoundly betray the very heart of Islam, violate the entire thrust of the Qur’an, and evidently pay no heed to their own Prophet Muhammad’s ominous warning that “He who wrongs a Jew or a Christian will have myself as his accuser on the Day of Judgment.” The core of the Islamic faith is profound devotion for and surrender to God – nothing else and nothing less. In this regard, Islam is one of the most exalted religious traditions, because it goes straight to the very heart of spiritual life.
Inter-spiritual dialogue can serve as a catalyst not only for the growth of inter-religious dialogue, but also for the peace of the world. In his foreword, Fr Thomas Keating OCSO says that the book offers a valuable contribution to this vision. The underlying path of transformation is strikingly similar across the three traditions despite, as Keepin says, “their myriad theological, cultural and liturgical differences”. Keepin reveals a new way of understanding the deeper significance of these teachings, drawing upon scientific breakthroughs in the fields of quantum physics and fractal geometry in mathematics. In quantum physics, a single electron is believed to have some form of awareness of the universe. In fractal mathematics, the macrocosm is replicated in the microcosm. He offers a new way of understanding the oneness of human and divine consciousness across all divisions. I recommend this book for those interested in expanding their understanding of that which is bigger than we are. William Keepin Belonging to God: Science, Spirituality & a Universal Path of Divine Love 2016 Skylight Paths Publishing.
Thai chicken rissoles This easy and tasty recipe is a treat for the whole family. Omit the chilli for child-friendly rissoles and replace with a chopped spring onion. An alternative to the recipe’s chicken mince is finely diced chicken breast for added texture.
BARTHOLOMEW CONNORS Chef - The Cathedral Café
f f 1kg chicken mince f f 1 tablespoon fish sauce f f 1 bunch coriander, finely chopped f f 1 knob ginger, finely chopped f f 1 medium chilli, finely sliced f f 1 packet Asian slaw or salad from supermarket f f 1 packet original fried noodles f f Lime wedges, 1 or 2 per person f f Sweet chilli sauce or homemade Thai dipping sauce.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Combine the chicken mince, fish sauce, coriander, ginger and chilli in a large bowl. Roll mixture into small rissoles. Heat a dash of oil in an ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. Add rissoles and brown on one side for 2 minutes, then turn and brown for another minute. Place frying pan into the oven and cook rissoles for 10-12 minutes. Check that rissoles are not pink in the middle and chicken is cooked through.
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.
Serve with salad sprinkled with fried noodles, lime wedges, a sprinkle of coriander leaves and the dipping sauce. You may also like to add homemade crispy sweet potato chips.
Open new horizons Standard Package ......................... $550 Festival Essentials Package ............ $270 10963
For package details and to register go to mn.catholic.org.au/acyf
Council for Ministry with Young People
for spreading joy 7th-10th ...
DEC 2017 Contact
ACYF Hotline: P 02 4979 1105 E firstname.lastname@example.org @MNcatholicyouth
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Winter of the Hunter Aged Care & Disability Achievement Awards 2016
Retirement Village of the Year
14 Denton Park Drive (off New England Highway), Maitland NSW 2320 email@example.com | signaturegardens.com.au