Aurora November 2017

Page 1

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle November 2017 | No.174

Celebrating with Luther the moderate, 500 years later Playing with words: developing your child’s vocabulary Leadership program by women and for women in the Church



Sand, s scriptu urf, re and the Spi with He rit lene O’Neill

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First Word

On the cover

Truth? What is that?

Mackenzie and Georgia Pitfield, Daisy Breasley, Helene O’Neill and Jack Breasley.

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle November 2017 | No.174

Photograph courtesy of Bernadette Enright. See Monica Scanlon’s story on page 5. COVER

Celebrating with Luther the moderate, 500 years later Playing with words: developing your child’s vocabulary Leadership program by women and for women in the Church


Sand, sur f, scripture the Sp and with He irit len O’Neill e

Featured  Sand, surf, scripture and the Spirit


 Collaborating with thought leaders


 Magdalene Award


 The rise of Gifted Education in diocesan schools 8  Bishop’s Awards


 Joint initiative to deliver a leadership program for women


 Celebrating with Luther the moderate


 Glory be to God for pied beauty


 Students are maximising creative genius


 Walking the walk in Newcastle


 Pope Francis speaks when decisions must be made


As reported earlier, there has been a host of celebrations for the sesquicentenary of the arrival of the Dominican Sisters in Maitland. Journalist Debra Vermeer (née Way) was moved to write. “The photos inside the beautiful little chapel took me back. It was there, during the first Mass of Year 7, that I was first blown away by the reality of the Eucharist. My 11-year-old mind was transfixed by what was happening on the altar and I knew instantly that while my experience in the church of my youth had been good, whatever was happening here in this Mass was the real thing. It would be some time before I learnt about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but my heart knew it that day. The photos also made me think of the turns my life has taken because my parents sent me to that school, even though we weren’t Catholic. So much has flowed from that one decision.” Regular reader Edna Lavis was also kind enough to write. “Aurora is a lovely magazine filled with inspirational stories and advice. Originally a friend gave me a copy and since then I try to get it whenever I can. I find it really uplifting and love reading stories about people that I know in the community. Thank you for putting together such a wonderful magazine.”

Regulars  First Word


Contact Aurora

 My Word


Next deadline 7 November 2017


Aurora enquiries should be addressed to The Editor Tracey Edstein E PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300 P 4979 1288 | F 4979 1119

 CareTalk  One by One


 Family Matters


 Frankly Spoken


 Faith Matters


 Seasons of Mercy


 Community Noticeboard


 Last Word


And finally, from yet another writer – Man Booker prize winner Richard Flanagan visited Newcastle recently under the auspices of the Newcastle Writers Festival. Rosemarie Milsom interviewed him, and while he was suffering with a heavy cold, his thought processes were manifestly unimpaired! An abiding theme of his writing generally, and of his latest book, First Person, is truth. This is alarmingly relevant in the post-truth western world and beyond. Richard said, “Truth is routinely denied. What’s being corroded is the very idea of truth itself. It’s as if we’ve lost some clarity of moral imagination. There are such things as truth and there are such things as evil. “We’re always looking for someone in power to save us. We just need to look to ourselves more…” It occurred to me that when selfies and Facebook profiles rule, we’re too busy looking at ourselves to look to ourselves.


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

In remembrance I’ve never had ‘trick-or-treaters’ turn up at my place for Halloween. For most of my life that was not surprising because Halloween, like Valentine’s Day or the Super Bowl, was something known to us only from American TV shows. Now, I gather, ghosts and goblins are to be encountered at many a suburban door on 31 October, and I would be a most unsatisfactory neighbour if, as would be very likely, I had no ‘treats’ on hand. I guess I’d have to take the consequences, settling for the ‘trick’. Of course, I am Catholic, so there is that funny part of me that hankers for the revival of good old customs from the Middle Ages. What bothers me about the modern Halloween, however, is its lack of context. When our medieval forebears gave rein to their old superstitions and fear about the ghosts, it was a kind of parody of the old pagan world, almost an exorcism of it, before they got serious for the days of All Hallows and All Souls. Today’s little goblins are far less likely to turn their minds, on 1 November, to the great consolation of celebrating their fellowship with the saints in heaven or to the reverent duty of praying for the holy souls in purgatory the next day. So Halloween serves no useful purpose in the community, other than boosting the trade of fancy dress suppliers and confectioners. A celebration without cause. Not that I have any great objection to Halloween hijinks. Once, when I served in a country parish, the minister of another denomination got very worked up about the P&F of the local Catholic school organising a Halloween party as

a fundraiser. He preached against it, put posters on telephone poles in the area and, of course, sent me a blistering letter for promoting devilish superstition. ‘All a bit of innocent fun.’ Not jolly likely, apparently.

piece of timing. To make a fuss about

Of course, the Reverend Mr X was in some ways just being faithful to the Reformation. The more capital-p Protestants not only abolished Halloween but also the invocation of the saints and the prayers for the dead that were its counterweight or mirrored image. Without that context of rather warm and friendly ties with the dead, I guess you are thrown back on the ancient dread of the unknown and unknowable. If the hallowed dead are not contactable, not those ‘many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us’, the field is left open to the demons. All ghosts and goblins, no All Saints or All Souls.

country NSW Halloween can still be a


After centuries of ecumenical dialogues why has so little actually changed? There are no longer any doctrinal reasons why Catholics and Protestants cannot achieve visible unity. Reasons must therefore be sought elsewhere.

so on in November was inspired timing. And now five hundred years have come and gone since that day, and in good occasion for making a fuss about dangerous superstitions. In this November, if I can address a few words to my Catholic readers, I would like to think there would be a good deal of prayer for the dead and lots of invocation of the saints in our homes and churches. To unbelievers and semi-believers, the culture around us is persistently saying that ‘you’re a long time dead’ or, if younger, ‘YOLO, You Only Live Once’. Against that, our Apostle’s Creed asserts that we believe in the Communion of the Saints, that we are united in the one church with the saints in heaven and the yet-to-be saints in purgatory. The community of

... beliefs that are not lived out tend to fade and wither.

the living forms only part of the Body of Christ, which also includes all ‘the faithful departed’. But beliefs that are not lived out tend to fade and wither. Pray for the dead. Ask prayers of the saints as you might ask them of a living

It was not by accident that Martin Luther produced his Ninety-five Theses against Indulgences on the Eve of All Hallows. It was a little bit cheeky, since his own prince, Fredrick the Wise, would open his enormous collection of relics, viewing which earned millennia of indulgences, the next day. It was a great

500 Years after the Reformation... is ecumenical identity a real possibility?

indulgences, Masses for the dead and

friend. If the saints and the holy souls aren’t real to us, then we’re left with only the burnt-out stub of November faith, the harmless but meaningless silliness of pretend ghosts and goblins.

Thursday 16 November 2017

3.30pm for 4pm start to 7pm

Victor Peters Suite, 841 Hunter St Newcastle West Includes light refreshments 3 hr FEA available for CSO staff $20 pp ($10 concession)

Presenter Dr John D’Arcy May

In this seminar, Dr John May FTCD emer., provides a framework for making sense of what we are already doing, examining factors which have influenced the progress – or lack of it – of the ecumenical and interfaith movement.

For further information please contact Sharon Murphy E P 4979 1134 4

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Cover Story

Sand, surf, scripture and the Spirit


Sports Chaplaincy Australia defines a chaplain as a “trusted, authentic, caring person. They are trained in sports pastoral care to assist sports communities provide genuine care for their members.” Helene O’Neill is chaplain of Cooks Hill Surf Club. She has completed Levels One and Two of a chaplaincy course and her office is the beach, “a place without four walls”. Helene enjoys being in the great outdoors and connecting with the spirituality of nature. She loves that Cooks Hill Surf Club is a family-oriented club. “It epitomises a community, not a eucharistic community but a living faith community, faith in action.” Years ago, when working as the Knights Development and Coaching Officer, it was suggested to Helene that she may want to be chaplain to

PHOTO: Helene O’Neill with Jack Breasley, Mackenzie Pitfield, Georgia Pitfield and Daisy Breasley. Mackenzie and Georgia are students of St Columba’s, Adamstown, and Jack and Daisy attend St Joseph’s at The Junction.

the Knights but she didn’t see the connection between faith and footy. Her views on chaplaincy and sport have changed since then. Helene loves that Cooks Hill Surf Club values diversity, respect and inclusiveness. The club works in partnership with “Life without Barriers” and “Same Waves”, a program to help people with disabilities and special needs access and enjoy sand and surf. Helene said, “Kids love it – there is a sense of belonging, and everyone is welcome, no matter what age or stage of life.” As chaplain, Helene is a sounding board when someone needs to debrief, a ‘go-to’ person for major incidents or private needs and someone to yarn with at Nippers or at carnivals. One of Helene’s favourite scripture passages is, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20) and this encapsulates all she does. Helene loves bringing the fruits of the Holy Spirit into sport. She believes sport is the microcosm of everything that happens where you learn the qualities of life. The fruits of the

Spirit are evident and these skills can be transferred to other areas of life. An avid cyclist, Helene also plays badminton and touch footy, runs and spends time at the beach. She devotes time each morning to weights and rowing where she gets in touch with herself and gives thanks for her gifts which she uses throughout the day. Nicole Pitfield, whose children are members of Cooks Hill Surf Club, says Helene is, “the epitome of a Christian, a good role model who knows the kids by name”. Parent Alicia Breasley spoke of Helene’s new role as chaplain. She said, “Helene is a fantastic resource as she already has a relationship with many of the children and is able to bring together practical aspects of their lives and their beliefs.” Alicia said that sometimes there are situations in a surf club that are difficult to cope with, such as rescues or resuscitations, and it’s wonderful to have support. Helene believes faith is ‘caught, not taught’ and the best way to demonstrate this is connecting with people. Helene sees herself as an active listener and if she sees a “Mary MacKillop moment”, an opportunity to develop faith and foster involvement, she asks herself, “How might I do that?” Helene is someone who notices others’ need to be valued as an individual. She is trained in Clinical Pastoral Education and it doesn’t feel like work to combine family, faith and diocese. Helene’s parish involvement at St James’, Kotara, includes being Chair of the Parish Team, Sacramental Coordinator, Eucharistic Minister and Altar Server Coordinator! She loves chatting to parishioners with a cuppa after Mass and believes everyone has a place in the parish − such as Ray, “Minister for

Chocolate Biscuits”. Helene is employed by the diocese as Family Ministry Co-ordinator and Sports Chaplain. She has worked for the local church for six years, supporting 22 schools from Stockton to Swansea. She liaises across schools, families and parishes to show people there are different ways of journeying in faith. She loves the opportunities afforded her through mixing with everyday people in their everyday lives. This may happen through chatting in the playground or at a sports carnival or through formal activities such as school retreats and staff development days. Another of Helene’s innovations is “Blessings in the Bush”, a program inviting students to walk in the bush, stopping to reflect at a special place such as a waterfall. Two years ago she came up with the “Faith and Footy” primary school program which incorporates a passage from scripture to send a subtle message. Through Pope Francis, the Vatican has established a Sport and Health Unit. Canberra’s Monsignor John Woods is championing a similar unit through the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and a working party of eight was convened to establish a strategic plan for such an initiative. Helene is a member of that group and looks forward to contributing over the next three years. Helene says that, “People have never been more connected via social media but they do less actual speaking face to face with each other.” She loves to empower others to use their gifts and talents. Helene is always looking for challenges and opportunities. Her philosophy is to keep it simple, have a few laughs, have a chat, listen and take the cue.




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Collaborating with thought leaders evidence-based knowledge and practice and encouraging reflective practice supporting a positive workplace culture.


Appointing a person whose role is “Manager, Practice, Development & Innovation” says a lot about an organisation. Acting Director, CatholicCare Social Services, Hunter-Manning, Gary Christensen, created the role so that there would be an individual dedicated to supporting clinical practice, coaching and mentoring managers and teams, bridging the gap that can exist between

Can we do this differently?’ ‘How can we address this need?’ ‘What’s the research saying about this?

Psychologist Tanya Russell, whose name is familiar to Aurora readers as the wisdom behind CareTalk (page 9), was appointed to the new role earlier this year and has been relishing the opportunity to focus on something that has long interested her: innovation. “In order for innovation to occur, my goal is to identify and collaborate with thought leaders who can contribute to the future direction and sustainability of CatholicCare,” said Tanya recently. “Bringing new ideas that enhance our services will help us with sustainability, and more importantly, in meeting the changing needs of the community. It is important that we diversify our funding sources and demonstrate that we are being creative in making a difference in

people’s lives.” ‘Thought leaders’ are important in supporting the work Tanya does. They range from colleagues with the particular ability to think differently or to see other possibilities, to professionals beyond CatholicCare and academics in the broader fields of social services, education and health. This practice of encouraging ‘thinking differently’ is underpinned by Tanya’s long experience in counselling, executive coaching, managing teams of staff and reflecting critically on research outcomes. As she says, “I’m still a psychologist and will continue to provide services in my capacity as an executive coach to a number of professionals working in the health and education sectors.” Tanya continues to grow in appreciation of CatholicCare’s commitment, as

an employer, to fostering a positive workplace culture. Asked what this means in practical terms, Tanya’s brimming with ideas! “It’s about people being happy to come to work – most days! – feeling that their ideas matter and that no practice or program is set in stone. I’d like to think all my colleagues would feel they could come to me with questions and thoughts. ‘Can we do this differently?’ ‘How can we address this need?’ ‘What’s the research saying about this?’” Clearly Tanya is happy to come to work. “I’m excited about the future of CatholicCare and to be able to contribute to its success is a wonderful feeling.”



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News Margo Nancarrow receives the Magdalene Award from Bishop Bill earlier this year.

Nominate a woman of substance for Magdalene Award!


A highlight of the International Women’s Day diocesan event in March was the announcement of the inaugural Magdalene Award winner, Margo Nancarrow of Rutherford. Margo has contributed, and continues to contribute, in the areas of liturgy, Special Religious Education, Catholic Women’s League and many others. The Award was presented by Bishop Bill under the auspices of the diocesan contact group for the Council for Australian Catholic Women (CACW). The CACW aims to promote the

participation of women in the Australian Church. Established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in 2000, the Council is committed to ongoing dialogue regarding the participation of women in the Catholic Church. A contact group was formed in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in 2002 and is now actively seeking to invite new members to meet and discuss ways women can participate more fully in a range of roles in the Church. At present the CACW contact group meets bi-monthly. Member, Dr Helen Belcher, is also a member of the CACW, and is thus able to keep the group informed of developments at the national level. Women of all ages

are encouraged to consider joining the group, either as regular members or to receive updates via email. The diocesan contact group for the CACW invites all parishioners to consider the Magdalene Award 2018 as an opportunity for all to recognise and show appreciation for those women in our parishes who are committed to, and involved in, decision-making, leadership, service and lay pastoral ministry. Nominating a woman you respect and admire, as well as accepting a nomination if you are ‘tapped on the shoulder’, is a positive way to celebrate our community and help raise the spirits of all in our Church, especially as we work through

difficult times in our diocese. This is only its second year and the process to find the inaugural Award winner provided 25 nominees, all of whom were wonderful examples of faith in action. We look forward to others being nominated as the variety of roles women undertake continues to expand. To receive a nomination form for the 2018 award, please E Ellen Hazelton, You may like to visit www.opw.




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Would you like a woman from your community to be recognised for making a difference? Nominations for the Magdalene Award close on 15 January 2018 To download your nomination form or for more information, visit


Contact the Council for Australian Catholic Women Ellen Hazelton - P 0407 513 813 E

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The rise of Gifted Education in diocesan schools


The holistic wellbeing of all students in our school communities is a key objective for all educators in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. The 2016 Vision Statement for Catholic Schools, At the heart of everything there is always Jesus Christ, provides a framework for teachers to help them achieve this goal through highquality teaching practices to provide opportunities for all students to excel, engage and exceed expectations in their learning. Last year, the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) identified a need to review and enhance its policies in relation to the field of gifted education to ensure the needs of high-ability students were being met in accordance with the Vision Statement. Following an extensive consultative review, a new strategic approach to gifted education in the diocese was developed and is being introduced in stages across the system. Phase 1 of the program is being implemented in certain nominated schools. While estimates about the number of gifted students across school populations vary, research suggests that the cohort is significant and up to 10% under the model of renowned giftedness and talent scholar, Françoys Gagné’. With such numbers and given that children have the right to be educated to their full potential, new policies and procedures have been put in place to recognise and respond to the needs of these children.

The CSO, and most educational institutions in Australia, has adopted Professor Gagné’s Differentiating Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT) as its model for gifted education. Professor Gagné has been recognised internationally for his theory of talent development, having devoted most of his research and teaching activities to the field of giftedness. Gagné refers to “giftedness” as the existence of high-ability, while “talent” refers to the systematic development of this ability into high-level achievements. Understanding these concepts explains why the existence of high-ability alone does not produce high achievement. Under Gagné’s model, high ability is the primary component of “giftedness”, but other factors are identified as being influential in the development of “talent”. The purpose of gifted education is to identify “giftedness” in students and to provide appropriate educational programs and interventions to enable development of “talent” to achieve potential. Gifted students vary in terms of the nature and level of their abilities, requiring a range of identification strategies and educational interventions to ensure students are being appropriately challenged and developed, intellectually and emotionally. The system’s new gifted education policies and procedures have been designed to fulfill this requirement.

The new approach also provides an appropriately resourced model for best practice professional development for teachers and for monitoring and evaluation based on student data relating ability and achievement. As mentioned earlier, phase one of the new strategy is being implemented in several of our schools. Nominated secondary and associated primary schools have formed clusters and are identified as Gifted Education Lead Schools (GELS). These schools are trialling identification processes and appropriate educational interventions. The focus is on a continuum of identification and learning, K-12. These schools will be sharing their experiences and outcomes with other schools across the system. Principal at St Columban’s, Mayfield, Jennifer Crichton, said, “The GELS project has given us the opportunity to educate staff further in identification and differentiation for gifted students. We have enjoyed working with Corpus Christi and San Clemente to share learning and ideas to strengthen our already existing partnership. “We share a Dominican foundation which promotes attention to study as one of its pillars and a common goal of ensuring that all students in our schools achieve their full potential.” Within these nominated schools, a new role of Gifted Education Mentor (GEM) has been created to support gifted learners and to work with teachers. Gifted Lead Schools

English teachers, Andrew Nisbet, Jay Power, Sarah Elliott and Emma Easterbrook, collaboratively planning for differentiated learning


St Pius X, Adamstown Holy Family, Merewether Beach St Joseph’s, Merewether St James’, Kotara South St John’s, Lambton St Therese’s, New Lambton St Clare’s, Taree Holy Name, Forster ASC St Mary's Campus, Maitland ASC St Peter’s Campus, Maitland St John the Baptist, Maitland St Joseph’s, East Maitland San Clemente, Mayfield St Columban’s, Mayfield Corpus Christi, Waratah

Each of the GELS also has a gifted education committee, including Principal and/or Assistant Principal and GEM. The role of the committee is to lead the identification process and support teachers in providing appropriate strategies to assist students. Principal of St Pius X High School, Robert Emery, has observed, “The strategic focus on gifted education is already causing teachers to rethink their fundamental beliefs about who our gifted students are and how best to teach them. This change of mindset will result in better pathways for our gifted students through their school lives.” Later this year, representatives from each of the GELS will gather to share their learnings for the year and to evaluate the initial identification processes. Professional learning in gifted education has been provided to all principals and assistant principals as well as members of the CSO leadership team and education officers. All members of the gifted education committees have attended several professional learning workshops. The key components of the Gifted Education K-12 policy and strategy are: Leadership commitment Identification and use of data Capacity building of staff Targeted strategies for gifted pedagogy School-wide and cluster approach to gifted education. “The GELS program allows teachers to focus on the importance of differentiation and better cater for our gifted students in Catholic schools. It will continue to support our students and their families into the future on their educational journey, as we recognise students’ potential and foster their talents,” said principal of St Therese’s, New Lambton, Duilio Rufo. As the CSO Education Officer in Gifted Education, I look forward to working with all the schools in the diocese during this exciting new era of learning. Sally Brock is Education Officer (Gifted Education) at the Catholic Schools Office.

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How much is too much? 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 or write to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300.


The end of year is approaching and I have been reflecting on my drinking habits. I feel I drink too much alcohol and would like to address this. I used to enjoy a few glasses of wine on Friday night and then Saturday nights, but over the past year, I find myself drinking every night. I feel this is impacting on my health and my family. How much is too much and how do I begin to make my health a priority again? If you feel you are drinking too much, you are probably right. You are the expert in your life and how you feel. Your concern indicates that your alcohol consumption does not fit with who you want to be as a person, nor does it match your health and relationship goals. What makes alcohol consumption problematic is influenced by a few factors: quantity, frequency, health conditions which are negatively impacted by alcohol, the impact on your family and your reasons for drinking. If you are generally a healthy person (physically and emotionally), then drinking within the recommended guidelines is of no concern. There are certain situations where no level of alcohol is considered safe (such as during pregnancy) and if you are uncertain, please seek further professional advice. The Australian Alcohol Guidelines developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend the following in order to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury: For healthy men and women, who drink regularly, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day Drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion. However, one glass of wine is usually

considered more than one standard drink – anywhere between 1.4 and 1.6 standard drinks. There are so many conditions which develop as a result of excessive alcohol consumption; however, health risks are not usually what lead people to make changes for the better. Long lasting change is more successful if you consider the things that are most important to you, such as family, relationships and health. Make these your motivation to change. Ask yourself the following questions and perhaps write down your responses to them: In relation to your physical and emotional health, who do you want to be? Do you want to be someone who eats healthy foods, drinks in moderation or doesn’t drink at all, wants to be physically active? In relation to your family and other relationships, who do you want to be? Would you like to be someone who spends quality time with family on a regular basis? Someone who enjoys doing outdoor activities with the family? Your reasons for change and who you want to be are personal. Having considered the kind of person you want to be according to your values, set yourself some achievable short-

term and long-term goals. What small steps can you take today to live a healthier and more fulfilling life? How would you identify successfully working towards the values associated with your physical health? For additional help, the following may be useful: Talk to your GP about options, including a general health assessment. In NSW, you can contact the alcohol and other drug helpline for a confidential discussion on 1800 422 599 (24/7). Contact your local community health centre or the Drug and Alcohol Triage & Referral Service on 1300 660 059. Make an appointment for counselling. Talking to someone outside your family can help to work through the emotional aspects of alcohol use. You can contact CatholicCare for an appointment on 4979 1172.



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One by One

Travelling to the beat of a different drum By SR MELISSA DWYER FDCC

They say the best way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans. If someone had told me when I was growing up that I would serve the church as a religious sister, I would have told them they were mad. When I was a child I remember my mother often having to drag me to the car to go to Mass. There was a program on television that I enjoyed watching and Mass often clashed with my sport training. My priorities were on the field so sitting in a pew was a waste of time. From the age of five, I dreamed of representing Australia at the Olympic Games. I played netball, hockey, cricket, tennis − but I excelled in athletics. The first time I picked up a javelin, I broke the club record so javelin was my sport. I wasn’t the most naturally talented athlete but I believe I was one of the hardest working. I loved training on Christmas Day or in the rain, always seeking that advantage over others. A poster on my bedroom wall read, “Second place is the first loser.” Sport was my first and only love. I continued to represent Queensland and went to university to become a physical education teacher. I had my sport, and many friends, yet I felt empty and lost. I seemed to have everything but I doubted myself. After some searching, it became apparent that a personal relationship with Jesus was the only 10

thing that could satisfy my longing. I joined a youth group and began going to church. Two years later, I was invited by the Canossian Daughters of Charity to volunteer in Africa for a month. I had met the sisters through youth retreats, and at 19, the opportunity to travel to Africa and work with the poor excited me. Yet the trip clashed with the Olympic trials for Sydney 2000. I was living in Forster Tuncurry and training full time to see just how far my dream could go. When I won the NSW Open Championships in the year 2000, I had to decide: Africa or Olympic trials?

I went to Africa, my life changed forever

I went to Africa, knowing I would still have years to fulfill my sporting dreams. My life changed forever. I travelled to Tanzania where I worked at a shelter for homeless young people. I remember meeting an 11-year-old girl called Neema. Neema had been left in a basket by her parents when she was born. She had suffered greatly. Almost every day she was raped by the

homeless boys at the shelter. When it was time to leave, Neema begged to come back to Australia with me − to be my servant; to tie my shoes and carry my bags. I remember being so angry that God could allow people to suffer like this. I yelled at God, asking why I could do nothing to help this little girl. God told me very clearly that there was something I could do. I could give my life completely in service of God and God’s people. I decided to leave the sporting arena and become a Canossian Daughter of Charity. This decision to walk away from sport and enter religious life was a shock, especially for my coaches, family and friends. It was completely out of the blue and people thought I was crazy. I didn’t know the first thing about being a nun. Yet I knew I loved Jesus passionately and I wanted to live a radical life of following him, so that Jesus had not only the first place in my heart, but the only place. I made my first vows in April 2005. Whilst I had to let go of my dream of representing Australia, I believe my vocation is a gift more precious than any gold medal. In 2008 I was blessed to have the opportunity to go back to Africa and serve the people of Malawi. Malawi is a very small country, ranked the poorest in the world in 2016. Students are in the classroom at 5am and finish school at

9pm. They know the only way to escape poverty is through education. Journeying with these people who have nothing but are so full of joy taught me so much. People might think working in a remote village with no smartphone, limited internet, unreliable electricity and no hot shower is difficult. It took time to adapt. Yet it taught me that the greatest riches are not the externals, but the heart that loves. The people of Malawi opened their hearts to me and I feel so blessed to have had the chance to share life with them. I came home last year, after eight years in Africa as principal of a girls’ secondary school. My dream was Olympic gold. God’s dream for me was religious life. I know that if I really want to follow Jesus radically, I need a listening heart and the courage to follow where God calls me next… Please visit http://canossiansisters.




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Recognising contribution of young people Students and young people from across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle are often engaged in activities that allow them to live out their faith in real and practical ways. From supporting music ministry to engaging with communities through social justice initiatives, attending youth days or helping out within their parish, students and young people have made extraordinary contributions to the life of the diocese. Bishop Bill Wright generously supports The Bishop’s Award as a means of identifying, recognising and encouraging the efforts of young people who have contributed to the community through their parish, church group or church agency. This may include involvement in groups previously mentioned or agencies such as Caritas, Youth Ministries, St Vincent de Paul, Mini Vinnies or similar church groups. It may also include contributions within parishes, for example, Liturgy and Youth Ministries. Bishop Bill, together with the Catholic Schools Office and the Federation of P & F Associations, views this award as an exciting opportunity to acknowledge the involvement of young people in parish life, strengthening the links between parish communities, schools and the broader community. The Bishop’s Award invites applications in the following categories:

1. Catholic School Student’s Award for students in Years 7-11 enrolled in Catholic secondary schools within the diocese. 2. Catholic Student’s Award for students in Years 7-11 enrolled in any public or independent school or home schooled. 3. Catholic Young People’s Award for young people from Year 12 – age 25. Kolivette Va, a student at San Clemente High School, Mayfield, and a recipient of the Bishop’s Award in 2016, reflected on his achievement recently. “It was an honour to receive the Bishop’s Award in 2016. Faith is a big part of my life and the lives of my family. I am very grateful for the opportunities I am given to contribute to my local parish and school community. I would encourage others to explore ways to connect with God and proudly display their faith.” Application forms and information can be downloaded at To learn more, E Cath Garrett-Jones




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Joint initiative to deliver a leadership program for women


The Council for Australian Catholic Women, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Mission and Australian Catholic University (ACU), are delighted to announce a joint initiative to deliver a specialised leadership program for women in the Catholic Church. “Leadership for Mission” is an initiative that has been specifically developed by

women and for women, inspired by the Gospel vision of justice, freedom and the dignity of the human person. Amid renewed calls within the Catholic Church for the participation and diversity of women’s voices in decisionmaking, leadership and ministry, this program seeks to embrace, enhance, and theologically ground

women’s leadership capabilities, skills and aspirations. Director of the National Office for the Participation of Women, Ms Andrea Dean, said, “I’m thrilled that this dynamic and practical partnership will enable another cohort of young Catholic women to be educated for leadership within and beyond the Church in a multi faith society.” Executive Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Professor Dermot Nestor, said, “This program situates the practical and contextual leadership experiences, needs and aspirations of women within an academically grounded and collaborative environment. The faculty has developed a curriculum that presents an opportunity for participants to reflect deeply on their own faith, their personal mission and

vocation as a way of addressing the many challenges and opportunities of our world.” National Director of Catholic Mission, Fr Brian Lucas, said, “I’m delighted that Catholic Mission can join with the other sponsors so a new generation of young women can have a formation experience preparing them for future leadership roles in the church.” Leadership for Mission is a sponsored, two-year, part time program commencing in February 2018. It is structured across four residential sessions in North Sydney and supported through ACU’s online learning management system. Applications are being sought from women across Australia aged between the ages of 25-35, with diverse personal and professional experiences. For more information contact Andrea Dean, Director, National Office for the Participation of Women, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at director.opw@






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David Kirkland

Family Matters

Playing with words


As parents, your hopes for your children are most likely along the lines of ‘be happy’ and ‘achieve to their potential at school’. One of the best ways in which you can help your children to work towards such goals is to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, a varied and rich vocabulary. It is only fitting that when discussing such a topic, we define what we are talking about. There are two important aspects of the word ‘vocabulary’: a) understanding the meaning of words - ‘receptive vocabulary’ and b) using a word correctly in speech or writing - ‘expressive vocabulary.’ Think back to when your child was not yet talking, but may have been able to follow little instructions such as “wave to Nanny”. This shows us that their receptive vocabulary was developing, but that they needed more time before they could express such words themselves. Why is it important to understand the difference between receptive and expressive vocabulary? There is a delicate balance between overly simplifying how we talk to our children (using only words they already know and use) and using words that are too complicated (words they don’t understand and don’t use). Children are

like little sponges who, over time and with frequent exposure, soak up words they hear first and then start using them themselves. Patience and repetition are key when helping your children move a word from their receptive to their expressive word bank. It is difficult to fully appreciate the power of words in our adult lives, let alone their importance as a child learning to read or reading to learn. An abundance of research highlights the link between vocabulary and academic achievement. In The Report of the National Reading Panel (2000), teaching vocabulary was identified as an essential component of comprehensive literacy instruction. Try to imagine learning to ‘crack the code’ of written English while simultaneously attempting to comprehend the meaning of the word you are sounding out. Reduced vocabulary makes it very difficult to understand what you are reading – no matter what age you are. This raises the important point – when do we stop learning new words? As a novice about to embark on the terrifying journey of house renovations, I am constantly ‘googling’ a long list of jargon from the architect and builder. Word learning is a life-long journey and

as parents, your role in this learning does not cease when your child celebrates his or her 8th birthday. In fact, explicit teaching of vocabulary in secondary school is just as important as in pre-school.

Step Two: Relate the word to something

Research articles show the variation in vocabulary between children of similar age. Research by Hart and Risley (1995) gave way to the phrase, the “30 Million Word Gap” (see table below). Essentially, the results indicated that between one child and the next, there could be a difference of 30 million in terms of the words they have been exposed to in their first three years of life.

Step Three: Support your child to














2,000 12,000 20,000

We can reduce this gap by talking, reading, singing thirty minutes a day.

Unfortunately, vocabulary acquisition is very much susceptible to the ‘Matthews Effect’ – the more words your child understands, the more words s/he will be able to learn. The children who come to school with good vocabulary continue to make gains, while the gap between those and the children with a reduced knowledge of words grows every day.

in your child’s environment, eg “Remember when your sister ate a piece of lemon and pulled a funny face, it was hilarious!”

think of his/her own example, eg “Can you think of something else that was hilarious? Something that was so funny you couldn’t stop laughing?” Step Four: Refer to the new word throughout the coming weeks. Aside from narrating your daily activities, there are many other opportunities to develop vocabulary − in particular, reading to your child every day. When the classroom readers are sent home in Kindergarten, be careful that you are not only reading these. They are designed to help your child learn to decode written words. They are certainly not designed to expose them to exciting and interesting vocabulary – as you will no doubt discover. Try to find time to practise the ‘learn to read’ texts from school, while still spending time reading high interest books to your child. As your child grows older, s/he may be less happy about sitting and listening to you read aloud, so try exploring audiobooks and podcasts. You can play a significant role in supporting your child to build a great

How can I help my child? There are no prizes for guessing that the primary way you can help your children develop their vocabulary is to talk to them. Some considerations for introducing words may include;

vocabulary. If you would like some

Step One: Give a child-friendly definition, eg “‘hilarious’ means something is really funny.” Sometimes this can be where the discussion stops. However, research suggests that between 10 and 30 exposures to a new word are required in order to confidently use it in our own speech, so keep at it!

Donna Crow is Education Officer

help or have concerns, please talk to your pre-school/classroom teacher who will be able to provide more individualised advice.

(Speech Pathologist) at the Catholic Schools Office.




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Celebrating with Luther the moderate


With this year’s 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and the beginning of the Reformation, there is a flood of biographies and histories, perhaps in emulation of the overworked printing presses of Luther’s day. For Catholics, celebrating this event might seem like Indigenous Australians celebrating the arrival of Captain Cook, but since the Second Vatican Council there has been a steady reconciliation of the Lutheran and Catholic Churches, and this year Catholics and Lutherans around the world are participating in joint thanksgiving services and other commemorations. Peter Stanford, a regular contributor to the UK’s Tablet, in his sympathetic Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident, argues that Catholics should applaud Luther, and points to Pope Benedict’s statement that essentially Luther was right in his proclamation of ‘faith alone’, and to the way Pope Francis, building on Vatican II, has channelled Luther by taking a broom to the Vatican and giving more power to the people. Indeed, Stanford points out that Vatican II echoed Luther’s emphasis on the ‘priesthood of all baptised believers’ when it declared that the laity and clergy make for a ‘shared priesthood’. Further back, the Council of Trent, ostensibly anti-Lutheran, actually followed Luther in laying down a

program for reducing corruption and educating the clergy. Heinz Schilling, in probably the most comprehensive of recent Luther biographies, Martin Luther: Rebel in an Age of Upheaval, writes that Luther’s emphasis on sermons led to a smartening up of preaching within the Catholic Church. Luther also led the way to the modern emphasis on education, generally and in religious institutions. Luther thought he was scraping the barnacles off the ship of the Church (his opponents accused him of putting holes in the hull), but he was not the first to rock the boat. Carlos Eire in his massive but gripping history, Reformations, suggests that Luther simply put the torch to the bonfire others had compiled. The conciliarist movement and the rising power of states were challenging papal authority. Humanism renewed focus on the Bible in its original languages, contributing to the Protestant emphasis on the authority of Scripture. Reform from below had flared in Spain and there were renewed movements of popular piety and mysticism. According to Heinz Schilling, the worldly, dynastic, nepotistic papacy had lost the people already. He writes that Catholics should be thankful that Luther restored faith to its prominent place, over allegiance to the pope. Historians pick various points where

Luther broke away, including the indulgences controversy that provides this year’s anniversary, but another strong candidate would be his eventual realisation that the papacy of his day, rather than being misled, was the root of the problem. Actually, says Stanford, the Catholic Church rejected Luther, not the other way around. Luther himself always hoped for reform, and a place within the Church. And he certainly retained much of Catholic practice, unlike the more radical Calvinist or Anabaptist reformers. He didn’t reject infant baptism, and he disagreed only slightly on the Eucharist, not going down the Reformed track of the Lord’s Supper as mere remembrance (which led eventually to its complete disappearance in some Pentecostal churches). He had no problem with Mary, fasting or confession. The Reformation took hold partly because of Luther’s bravery – or what some might term stubbornness – but also because in many ways he was a moderate, both in his theology and the way he hoped his reforms would proceed. He decried the harassment of priests by overzealous students. He made provisions for nuns who didn’t want to leave convents. Schilling writes that Luther didn’t want to ‘unsettle’ parishioners. He was not an isolated monk, as is sometimes suggested, but an Augustinian lecturer who worked

amongst the people and had a feel for them. He criticised the iconoclasm of the Swiss who literally whitewashed churches. He understood the value of music and painting in the proclamation of the Gospel. Then again, he was a hothead when it came to his theological rivals. He fiercely denounced as heretics those who disagreed with him. But there were many, and it was partly his fault. His Reformation ran away from him and he was largely powerless to stop it, mainly because he had put into people’s heads the idea that they were free to interpret the Scriptures without the interference of earthly church authorities. Or at least, that is how they read him, and Luther would protest that this was a misreading. He said that Scripture was clear in its message and able to be read by the people, but he also insisted that clergy were needed to interpret, preach and educate. The prioritisation of individual faith led to the religious wars and an eventual compromise of the separation of church and state, writes Schilling, the legacy of which being our modern, pluralist society where even the right of the Church to speak in public debate is questioned. He might be partly responsible, but this is not a development Luther would be celebrating.

References: Heinz Schilling Martin Luther: Rebel in an Age of Upheaval Oxford University Press; Peter Stanford Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident Hodder and Stoughton; Carlos Eire Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 Yale University Press.

Frankly Spoken Marriage is a historical word. Always in humanity and not only within the Church, it’s between a man and a woman... we cannot change that. That is the nature of things. This is how we are. Let’s call them ‘civil unions’. Let’s not play with the truth. It’s true that behind all this we find gender ideology. In books also children are learning they can choose their own sex... But let’s say these things as they are; marriage is between a man and a woman. This is the precise term. Let’s call the same sex union a civil union... – September 2017 from ‘Politics and Society’ Patti Miller, photograph courtesy of Sally Flegg.


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Faith Matters

Western and Eastern Catholics complement each other


In the July Aurora, Rev James Carles, in his fine contribution titled ‘Of feasts and fasts: the Eastern Orthodox Church’ broadly described Ukrainian Catholics as well. How can that be so? Our heritage and customs and the traditions expressing our Christian faith have the same Eastern Byzantine origins as do the Orthodox and hence, we express our faith in similar ways which are different from those of the Western tradition. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in its 2016 booklet titled “Eastern Churches in Australia” clarifies which Eastern traditions are Catholic. “At present, there are twenty-three groups of Eastern Christians who, with the Latin

Church, form the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter and bishops in communion with him.” Byzantine Rite Eastern Ukrainian Catholics are one of the twenty-three. The following is an outline of the Western (left) and Eastern (right) emphases in expressing the same Catholic Faith and has, with permission, been taken from material published by the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, Canada.

Two different traditions, one Catholic Church: The faith is the same, but expressed differently Priest faces people across the altar - gathering around the Lord’s table here and now.

Priest faces East, towards the altar along with the people - leading the people to the Heavenly Liturgy in God’s Kingdom.

We like things that are new and modern, and use them in worship, too. Church buildings and services today use things from present everyday life and culture.

We like things that we have received from our ancestors. Services and church buildings, even new ones, are based on traditional and timeless models.

Prayers are kept simple, not repeated. Great care is taken to give the whole text of the service in programs or missalettes, so that the mind can grasp things clearly.

Prayers are repeated and sung. There is a lot of movement; many senses are used to get the whole self (mind and body) involved in worshipping God.

Different, yet the same: Liturgy, buildings, art There is a more relaxed feeling, very down to earth, using a lot of contemporary music. Liturgy has the feel of a shared celebration.

The use of dramatic music and actions tries to lift people up to experience a ‘taste of Heaven’.

Emphasis: God is here with us, so go and live this out in the world.

Emphasis: This is what God has in store for us in Heaven, so go and live this out in the world right now.

New churches are usually built in a very simple style, with little adornment and only a few pieces of art, to fit into the modern world and reflect modern tastes.

Even new churches with modern lines usually have domes and a lot of icons, emphasising that traditions which the Church developed over the centuries are still meaningful today in the modern world.

Emphasis: Each generation responds to God in its own way, and our current styles and fashions can give glory to God, just as the past styles did.

Emphasis: God has been with us through the centuries. Even though things change, God’s love – and our response – are always the same, yesterday and today.

Contemporary artists are encouraged to let their individual experience of God come through their art. This encourages creativity and artistic freedom, but cuts down on the common ownership and understanding of this religious art by others.

Icons express the public teaching of the Church. The individual artist’s ideas are secondary. Iconographers have a somewhat limited freedom, but the basic message of salvation in the icon is more easily grasped, once its common symbols are learned.

Emphasis: Many different styles of art help us to express what God’s love means for us.

Emphasis: There are things about God’s love which we have all experienced and understand together.

When thinking of major Catholic doctrines The Oneness of God, who is also three Persons. Trinity: God as three Persons, who are also One. The Humanity of Christ invites us, but He is also Divine. Christ: The Divinity of Christ inspires us, but he is also human. The Pope is the guarantor of unity. Dioceses are directly under his jurisdiction. Church: Bishops in synods (in communion) with the Pope guarantee the unity of the Church. Mary as Virgin and Mother. We relate to her sharing in the earthly life of Jesus.

Mary: Mary as Theotokos (GodBearer) or Mother of God since Christ is God. She stands at the head of all of God’s creation.

eschatology (i.e. heaven on earth); beauty in its fullness; liturgies sung from beginning to end – the human voice is the most important instrument.

Model: Lord’s Supper; down to earth atmosphere; clear messages with simple words; very frugal use of symbols; focus on the here and now; beauty in simplicity; use of various musical instruments in the liturgy.

More linear; either-or; often prefer juridical, philosophical clarity to poetic synthesis. Thinking: More symbolic; more paradoxical; bothand; prefer poetic synthesis to philosophical analysis.

Liturgy: Model: Heavenly Liturgy; cosmic realities; subconscious, holistic, more use of senses; repetition as a way into the deeper self; focus on

Western and Eastern Catholics approach, teach and celebrate their faith differently, but they share the same Catholic Faith.

Western and Eastern Catholics do not contradict each other. They complement each other. One need not be ethnically Ukrainian to join in our liturgy. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is a church that comes from the Ukrainian people, but is for the entire human race.




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Seasons of Mercy

Calling all kindred spirits! An ‘Anne fan’ shares her deep appreciation of the stories of Anne Shirley, heroine of the beloved “Anne” books by LM Montgomery and set on Canada’s Prince Edward Island.


“Anne Shirley!” the normally measured Marilla Cuthbert exclaimed many, many times as she met the reality of the young orphan girl who had come to live at Green Gables. No doubt Marilla was dealing with the whirlwind of Anne, a young girl strong in every aspect of thinking, feeling and acting. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables illuminated my understanding of the world as a young girl. it was Anne who turned a chance moment with a colleague into a connection that speaks to the depths of Montgomery’s work, and it is Anne whose relevance and inspiration I am hoping to impart to my young daughter, Alexis, along the journey of my reading Anne to Alexis. The beautiful and complex relationship that evolves between Anne and Marilla, and beyond that, the adult/child dynamic in general, is one of the many themes explored by Montgomery. It is this theme I find myself reflecting on most often as I read Anne to Alexis, particularly when I stand back and think about the highly connected, technological and often superficial world our children must navigate. I reflect on how we, as adults, can respond to, and guide, the feeling and thinking child to do and live true to herself in a world that seems to want to influence, buy

or own the imagination and very core of our children’s sense of self at every turn. And whilst they may come from a time long since passed, Marilla and her brother, Matthew, dear Miss Stacy and even Mrs Lynde are giving me insights I did not perceive the first time around about how adults can positively nurture a child’s sense of self. As I read to Alexis − digging deep within myself to muster a convincing portrayal of the characters and context so as to appeal to a seven-year-old not terribly experienced with the rich and vivid prose of times gone by − my efforts are duly rewarded when I see that she too is benefiting from knowing Anne. I see Alexis connect with Anne, despite the contrasts in their young worlds, over a hundred years apart. Not only is she sporting plaits more and more these days (along with a desire for auburn, or as some may say, “splendid Titian” hair); I think what appeals the most to Alexis is that Anne makes her feel “normal” in a world run by adults, a world that can be confusing and frustrating for her at times. She is learning that it’s all right to struggle, to feel great heartbreak as well as great joy, to make mistakes, to learn how to fix them and to get back up again. And Anne, with a little help from Montgomery and the adult characters

Zoë Trypas reads Anne of Green Gables to her daughter, Alexis. she created who care for and guide Anne, does this without sacrificing her self-possession or her lust to embrace all aspects of life and living. It is this feeling of normalcy that I hope will underpin and guide Alexis to her authentic self. My wish for Alexis is that whatever she encounters on this great journey of life, she will know that it is with her authentic self that she can best respond. I can read philosophy, psychology and parenting books till all the jersey cows in the world wander into Mr Harrison’s field and, to be fair, learn a great deal about myself and my relationship with my daughter from this academic exercise. But it’s nothing like the heartfelt experience of sharing this journey with my daughter, immersing ourselves in a story that

appeals to us both, where Anne and her “Jonah days” become every day conversations for us, providing safe places to explore ourselves as individuals and our relationship as mother and daughter. And the icing on the Rollings Reliable Cake is two-fold: one, the very copy of Anne of Green Gables I read as a young girl is the copy I read now to Alexis; and two, three generations of Anne lovers came together to bring you this piece. Thank you, Tracey, my colleague and kindred spirit, and to Alexis, my love. Zoë Trypas is an investigator with Zimmerman Services, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.




WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR CATHOLIC NEWS? The Australian Catholic Media Council invites you to participate in the Australian Catholic Media User Survey. Go to 16

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Glory be to God for pied beauty


There was nothing outstanding about the Cook children who lived in Stockton in ordinary circumstances; but as they grew – Fran, Warner, Trish, Meg,

Colleen, and Anne − they developed into extraordinarily loving and artistically talented young people. One of those siblings, baptised Anne Veronica, called Annie at work and Bonnie at home, was a diminutive young girl with long black curly hair and big, blue eyes. She loved nature and all things great and small. She faithfully worshipped at the Sacred Heart Cathedral and died on All Souls Day in 2016. She is sadly missed by everyone who knew her.

7/09/2016 10:52 pm

Bonnie kept a dog and two cats and she loved the birds who inhabited her garden. She particularly loved the magpies and

Aunty Bonnie

often spoke about them to her sister, Colleen. She spoke so gently and lovingly about the birds, how they looked after each other, the accidents they suffered, their flying off and leaving her and their returning, that Colleen decided to write down all the anecdotes some years prior to Bonnie’s death. When Bonnie was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and a limited life span, she spoke with regret at not being able to leave anything notable for her family’s memories. Those words inspired Colleen to collate all the anecdotes that she and Bonnie had talked about and to put them together in a small children’s book called Aunty Bonnie’s Magpie. She sought the permission, first, of Bonnie to proceed with the project. Bonnie was so delighted! Colleen then turned to her brother, Warner, a

talented artist but living with Parkinson’s Disease, to illustrate the story. A son-inlaw, Mark, a graphic designer, laid out the book and prepared it for printing. Colleen’s children helped with fonts and editing and before Bonnie died, the book was finished. What had begun with the birth of Colleen’s first grandchild, ended some time after the birth of the fourth granddaughter and the death of her darling sister. You can buy a copy of Aunty Bonnie’s Magpie from the West End Newsagency, Newcastle. All proceeds assist with cancer and Parkinson’s research, at Bonnie’s request. Your children will love it!




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Magpie Book 1

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Students are maximising creative genius ​ By SHANE ABELL

Shane Abell, Learning Technology Co-ordinator at St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead, shares with us his passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and what competency in this field means for students. Many work places have their own jargon – words, acronyms or abbreviations you would not normally find in ordinary speech − and education is no exception. One current example around

the world is the shared goal of exposing more students to science, technology, engineering, and math—STEM. A renowned educationalist recently summed it up by stating, “Being competent in STEM fields is the modern equivalent of being literate and numerate in the 19th century.” STEM aims to develop skills in crossdisciplinary, critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and digital technologies, all of which are essential in 21st century occupations. Australia’s Chief Scientist stated, “A renewed national focus on STEM in

school education is critical to ensuring that all young Australians are equipped with the necessary STEM skills and knowledge they will need to succeed.” Fortunately, many local schools are at the forefront of this endeavour, largely a result of the tremendous support of industry and the Regional Development Australia Hunter’s Advanced Manufacturing Industry Schools Pathways Program. At St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead, we offer iSTEM as a Stage 5 (Years 9/10) elective course and are extremely proud of the educational outcomes it is fostering. It is my belief that the letter ‘i’, for integrated, is of paramount importance to the success of any STEM program. Apart from this course, students are offered many extra-curricular opportunities, including ‘Build me a Future’ Days, Electric Vehicle festival, LEGO robotics, Da Vinci Decathlon, Mars Rover Challenge and recently the Day Zero STEM camp during the school holidays in Goulburn.

Corey Baker and Joel Holland, flying a ‘Rolling Spider’ Parrot Drone, while studying Sensors in the Motion Module of the iSTEM course with Shane Abell.

On a larger scale, the results in the National Science and Engineering Competition from St Mary’s and schools

within the diocese are exceptional, gaining recognition across the nation. Closely related to STEM education is the pedagogy supported by educational theorists and design thinkers as well as the passion of tinkerers and hobbyists, the “Maker movement”, which is finding its way into mainstream education. At St Mary’s, we are in the process of transforming a part of our library into a drop-in space for students to maximise their creative genius. Facilitated by recently securing a government grant to the value of $5000, the establishment of this ‘makerspace’ is to promote design thinking by focusing on the Four Cs: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. Libraries today should be less about focusing on what they have for people and more about what they do for and with people. Shane Abell is Co-ordinator of Learning Technology at St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead.





Marriage annulments are often misunderstood, and very little is known about the process. Would you like to know more?

For further information, contact the Tribunal Office on 4979 1370. 18

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Walking the walk in Newcastle A local entrepreneur leads Newcastle walking tours that are steeped in the past, grateful for the present and confident about the future.


“We live out of stories”, particularly those among us who are Christians, guided by ‘the greatest story ever told’. Other faiths, families, sporting clubs, workplaces and friendship groups all have stories they treasure. Exposure to the narrative of one’s place can serve to deepen the communal sense, as well as the senses of identity

and security, of those who live here. This is the ambit of Becky Kiil’s work. She is young and well-informed, telling the story of a place with an age-old people past. In common with many born in the heart of Newcastle, I retain certain images from childhood that compel me to say, ‘This is home’. My first five years are a pastiche of impressions walled around by sun-drenched sandstone near the Centaur Private Hospital where I was born; fumed by rising gas from the basements of the Church Street terraces or the more inviting aromas from Reg McLean’s bakery under Pacific Park; infested with dangers such as the cavernous, glass-splintered alley beneath the Grand Hotel; fascinated by the World Pool, the white concrete tank traps near South Newcastle beach, salted scents and the ever-present sough of the sea… These fragments locate me, so it seems only peripheral to know that Newcastle is Australia’s second oldest city, site of the first coal mines in the southern hemisphere;

visited by Mark Twain in 1895… With such facts I am vaguely familiar, but I rarely ‘feel’ them. I become aware of such life and vitality in Becky’s eyes; in her voice, a bubbling enthusiasm; in her words, authenticity underpinning information. She’s in love with Newcastle! Originally from Whyalla, Becky brings something deep and genuine into her work: weekday and weekend guided walking tours of Newcastle and Newcastle East. “Novocastrians,” she believes, “live with unparalleled beaches, history and culture that’s accessible and available – you can’t find that in many places.” The tours she facilitates are not anchored in the past but embrace also Newcastle’s revitalisation. Becky’s passion for architectural planning colours her tours which embrace aspects new and old − “Newcastle’s arts scene, Aboriginal heritage, colonial and industrial life”. I ask her to name one site she has come to value and she instantly begins

to extol the wonders of the ‘LockUp’, City Arcade (with the men’s baths underneath); art deco buildings in Wolfe Street, Boatman’s Row, Mencken’s constructions… Then she speaks of Wickham and its importance to Aboriginal people. This is not an afterthought. Through sensitive liaison with the Indigenous community, Becky hopes to be able to add more detail to what is already integral to her narrative. Becky’s perspective is broad indeed. Her tours are unique, celebrating the city’s vitality with more than a nod to a cherished past. Conversing with her, I’ve begun to feel what she is in the process of creating. Newcastle Afoot offers stories for living! Becky Kiil may be contacted for bookings or to learn more. P Becky Kiil 0432 851 313 or visit www.




/mnnewstoday @mnnewstoday

Does your child go to a Catholic school? For all the good news stories from our schools across the diocese, visit or connect with us on social media by visiting

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Pope Francis speaks at a time when decisions must be made


In an expanded “Frankly Spoken”, parish priest of Nelson Bay, Fr Kevin Corrigan, offers an overview of the words of Pope Francis as the deadline for the same-sex marriage plebiscite approaches. For your consideration, I offer Pope Francis’ teachings in response to contemporary questions which critique, or aim to revise, a society’s understandings of marriage, parenthood, gender and family life. “... No-one can think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole. The contrary is true: it poses a threat to the mature growth of individuals, the cultivation of community values, and the moral progress of cities and countries...” (52) “... (We) need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same sex unions, may not simply be equated with marriage...” (52) “...In various countries, legislation facilitates a growing variety of alternatives to marriage, with the result that marriage, with its characteristics of exclusivity, indissolubility and openness to life, comes to appear as an old fashioned and outdated option. Many countries are witnessing a legal deconstruction of the family, tending to adopt models based almost exclusively on the autonomy of the

individual will...” (53) “...Yet another challenge is posed by various forms of an ideology of gender that denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programs and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can change over time. It is a source of concern that some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised...” (56) “...It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent.

Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting and respecting it as it is created...” (56) “...Each child has a right to receive love from a mother and a father....Husband and wife, father and mother, both…. show their children the maternal and paternal face of the Lord. Together they teach the value of reciprocity, of respect for differences and of being able to give and take...” (172) “ the same time, we cannot ignore the need the children have for a mother’s presence, especially in the first months of life. Indeed, “the woman stands before the man as a mother, the subject of the new human life that is conceived and develops in her and from her is born into the world. The weakening of this maternal presence with its feminine qualities poses a grave risk to our world... (173) “...mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centred individualism... It is they who testify to the beauty of life...” (174) “...In western culture, the father figure is said to be symbolically absent, missing,

or vanished. Manhood itself seems to be called into question...” (176) “... God sets the father in the family so that by the gift of his masculinity, he can be ‘close to his wife and share everything, joy and sorrow, hope and hardship. And to be close to his children as they grow...” (177)

Quotations from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia: On Love in the Family (2016). Please visit



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Community Noticeboard 20 Years of Christian Meditation in Newcastle The Community is celebrating 20 years of Sr Carmel Moore teaching meditation in Newcastle on Saturday 4 November 9.30am to noon at the Chapel of Newcastle Parish Centre, 25 Farquhar Street The Junction (enter via laneway). There will be sharing of meditation stories and morning tea. RSVP E annecuskelly@ or P 0407 436 808. No cost. Mater Graduate Nurses Mater Graduate Nurses are most welcome to attend our 71st Reunion on Sunday 12 November commencing with Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton, at 9.30am. Lunch follows at the Victor Peters Suite ($60). Please P Stacey 0412 741 451 for catering purposes. The annual Deceased Nurses Mass will be on Friday 24 November at noon at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton. All are welcome to celebrate the lives of these special women. Mercy Spirituality Centre Thursday 16 November 9.30am-1pm Reflection Day Soul Sisters: Using images of Louis Glanzman and poetry of Edwina Gateley, there will be an invitation to explore stories of women in scripture and to notice how their voices and experience speak powerfully to our own. Facilitated by Helen Baguley rsm. Cost $20, light lunch included. Thursday November 23 Dinner Conversation 6.30-9pm An invitation to share in conversation around the one table. Mark Toohey, social worker and Diocesan Director for Catholic Mission, will initiate this conversation about life journeys and meaning-making in light of the question ‘Providence or Coincidence?’ Cost $40, bookings essential, maximum of 9 guests. Please advise of critical allergies at the time of booking. Mercy Spirituality Centre, 26 Renwick St Toronto P 4959 1025 E, 500 years after the Reformation… …after centuries of ecumenical dialogues why has so little actually changed? Dr John D’Arcy May will speak on this topic on Thursday 16 November, 3.30/4-7pm, at the Victor Peters Suite, 841 Hunter Street, Newcastle West. Cost $20 ($10 concession), negotiable…includes light refreshments. E or P Sharon, 4979 1134. Payment at (Enter ‘Reformation’ at payment notes.) Interfaith Forum This forum will be held on Wednesday 22 November in the faith tradition of the Salvation Army from 6.30pm to 8.00pm at the Salvation Army Church, 67 Cleary Street, Hamilton. Worship date is at the same church on Sunday

26 November at 10am. Please register with Brooke Robinson E brooke.robinson@ or P 4979 1111.

Christine 4943 3824.

Seasons for Growth

The 40th Annual Christmas concert will be held on Sunday 3 December at 7pm at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hunter Street, Newcastle West. Many renowned choirs and individuals take part in this annual event which includes communal singing. Admission is free, but a collection plate will cover expenses. Everyone is welcome. Due to the 40th Anniversary we are giving away a special printed 2018 calendar, limited to one per family. Contact Joop de Wit E or P 4954 5227.

‘Parent Program: Supporting your child following separation and divorce’ provides an opportunity for parents to better understand the experience of separation and divorce from a child’s perspective. The program explores ideas and strategies for parents to help their children transition through family change. Taree 22 & 29 November 11am-1pm, Newcastle 28 & 30 November 5.30-8pm. Please P Zoe 4979 1355 for enquiries or to register. For more information visit Invitation to Liturgical Ministers to a Celebration of Achievements All members of Liturgy and Sacramental Teams, Liturgical Ministers, members of the assembly and community, Funeral and Bereavement Ministers, Campus Ministers, RECs, CSO staff, all members of the clergy are invited to join Bishop Bill and Fr Brian Mascord in a celebration of achievements over the 201617 Liturgical Year. This will be held on Friday 24 November, 5-7pm in the Toohey Room, Diocesan Offices, 841 Hunter Street, Newcastle. Each community is asked to identify its best liturgical achievement for the Liturgical Year. When registering you will be asked to nominate your favourite hymn for the year. Drinks and light refreshments, announcement of achievements, hymn singing and great company are assured on the night. RSVP for catering purposes by Friday 17 November to Sharon Murphy P 4979 1134 or E St Nicholas visits the Dutch Society ‘Concordia’ Newcastle and Hunter The Dutch community will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the official arrival and celebration of St Nicholas, patron saint of children, on Saturday 2 December at Marmong Park, 31b George Street Marmong Point. Look for the Dutch flags. Activities begin at midday; a traditional Australian sausage sizzle, soft drinks, coffee, tea and the famous little pancakes (poffertjes) will be available. Parents to purchase a small, clearly named present for children. Free admission and everyone welcome, but attending children must be booked for catering purposes. Further information and bookings, P Joop de Wit 4954 5227 or Toni Somerville 4958 1552 E

Newcastle and Hunter Multicultural Choral Society Christmas Concert

13th Annual Australian Bonhoeffer Conference: Applying Bonhoeffer’s Worldly Christianity in Practice

November  1 All Saints  2 All Souls  4 Day of Prayer for Anglican-Roman Catholic Reconciliation  5-11 National Adoption Awareness Week  8-10 Bishop Bill attends Young Student Leaders

Retreat at Riverwood Downs

 11 Remembrance Day  14 World Diabetes Day

The Australian Institute of Theological Education (BBI) is hosting this conference on Wednesday 6 December in Sydney. It will focus on applying insights from the German theologian to contemporary issues such as climate change, ecumenism and Islamism. For further information contact Michael Kenny E m.kenny@ or P 9847 0578.

 16 500th anniversary of the Reformation event

Australian Catholic Youth Festival

 25 White Ribbon Day

This event will be hosted by the Archdiocese of Sydney from 7-9 December 2017. Open for young people in Year 9 (2017) to 25 years who would like to be a part of the MaitlandNewcastle contingent. Those over the age of 25 are encouraged to register as group leaders. Register your interest now at For more information, contact us at or www.

 26 Christ the King

“Before We Say I Do” 2018 Early Dates Marriage Education is a vital part of planning for a life partnership. CatholicCare offers a selection of courses for married and soon-tobe married couples to assist them in preparing for, and maintaining, their commitment to one another. Couples are advised to attend a course around four months prior to the wedding. Book early as some courses are very popular. “Before We Say I Do” is a group program held over two days or four evenings. A full list of next year’s dates will appear in a future edition; here are the first two courses for the beginning of 2018. P Robyn, 4979 1370. 1.

Bright Sparks St Columba’s Drama Group, presents “That Christmas Glow” on Sunday 3 December at 2pm in the hall in Lockyer Street, Adamstown. Cost $10 with Pop-Up Cafe. Seating at small groups of tables. Bookings recommended. E Lyndall on or P

For your diary


Marriage Education Course – Before we Say I Do, 10 and 17 February in the Murray Room, 841 Hunter St West, Newcastle 9.15am-4.30pm. Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding and Study (FOCCUS), 19 and 26 February in the Toohey Room 841 Hunter St West, Newcastle 5.15-7.30pm.

(see opposite)

 20 Universal Children’s Day

World Philosophy Day

 21 World Television Day  22 Interfaith Forum – Salvation Army (see opposite)

 27 Nov-1 Dec Bishop Bill attends Australian

Catholic Bishops Conference, North Sydney.

December  1 World AIDS Day  2 International Day for Abolition of Slavery  3 International Day of Persons with Disabilities

First Sunday of Advent

Chaplains Commissioning Mass,

Sacred Heart Cathedral, 9.30am.

For more events please visit and

2018 Columban Art Calendar The 2018 calendar, which supports the missionary work of the Columbans, will be available in parishes or visit www.columban. The accompanying Art Guide dvd can be downloaded free at au/2-018artguide and is a valuable resource for religious and art studies.

Soul Food Grief is a generous host – it seems it insists so many sit down at its table. − Judy Johnson, poet, Grieve Live Read 2017

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Last Word

Aurora on tour Here is Aurora in beautiful Saint Cirq Lapopie, a medieval village in south western France.


The cover of this beautiful book, Cry, Heart, But Never Break, a translation from the original Danish, suggests a story in what could be described as Nordic-noir style. Death is pictured as the kind of scary figure that might just hide in a corner of a darkened bedroom. He sits at the table, bony hands enclosing an empty cup of coffee. A solemn little girl, her hand resting lightly on his wrist, sadly looks him straight in the eye. Unexpectedly, his face is gentle. It’s a story within a story, centred on four children whose grandmother is dying. Death came knocking at their door, and even though they let him in they could not make him welcome. To ease their grief Death told a story about Sorrow and Grief who lived in a dark valley and Joy and Delight whose home was on the sunny hilltop. Like any good fairy tale they paired up and lived happily together, half way up the hill and half way down. The children, like all children, got what Death was trying to say, even if they couldn’t say why. Their hearts were opened to take in the deep knowing that death and life, sorrow and joy, are part of each other. In child-friendly pictures and words, Cry, Heart, But Never Break talks about death without the euphemisms that

sometimes accompany such literature. It’s what I would call an heirloom book. Buy it for your children, your grand-children, read it and let it talk to your adult heart too. Glenn Ringtved’s Cry, Heart, But Never Break (illus Charlotte Pardi, trans Robert Moulthrop) is published by Enchanted Lion Books, 2001.

Smoked chicken and provolone stuffed eggplant This dish is a lovely blend of flavours from the Mediterranean. It’s an easy recipe that lends itself to additional ingredients or substitutions – I add smoked chicken for some protein, which can be substituted with raisins and toasted pine nuts or mushrooms for a vegetarian version. Delicious served with some fresh crusty sourdough or toasted Turkish fingers.

BARTHOLOMEW CONNORS Chef - The Cathedral Café


Ingredients f f 4 eggplants f f Oil and knob of butter f f 2 medium brown onions, finely diced f f 1 whole red capsicum, finely diced f f 1 zucchini, diced f f 1 clove garlic, finely sliced f f 500g smoked chicken, diced f f 1 punnet mini Roma tomatoes, quartered f f 50g semi-dried tomatoes, diced f f 1/4 cup chopped parsley f f 50g Mediterranean olives, diced f f Salt and pepper f f 200g provolone cheese, finely sliced with vegetable peeler f f 250 ml water f f Passata and rocket leaves for serving 22

Cut eggplants in half lengthways. Score the flesh in a lattice pattern, sprinkle all over with salt and leave on a tray for 40 minutes to remove bitterness. Preheat oven to 150°C (fan forced). In a frying pan on low heat add knob of butter and dash of oil. Slowly sauté onion until translucent.

Chef Bart’s culinary gifts can be enjoyed at Cathedral Café, 843 Hunter St Newcastle West, 10am–1.30pm, Monday to Friday. P 4961 0546.

Increase to a medium heat. Add capsicum, zucchini and garlic and continue to sauté for 10 minutes. Rinse salt from eggplants. Scoop out the flesh, squeeze out excess water. Finely dice the flesh and add to the onion mixture. Stir in smoked chicken, Roma tomatoes, semi-dried tomatoes, parsley and olives and cook for around 5 minutes until mixture is heated through. Season to taste. Lay the eggplant shells onto a baking tray and fill evenly with mixture. Add a few peels of provolone on top. Place in the oven for 20 minutes then serve on a bed of hot passata with a mini rocket salad and additional provolone peels.

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What do you think of


Aurora, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle's monthly magazine, seeks to:

This new look and feel contributed to Aurora winning many awards with 2014 being

Share the stories of the people in our community

a highlight when she was the proud recipient of both the premier religious press

Offer a Catholic perspective on current issues and events

Encourage opportunities for stillness, reflection, celebration, prayer

Issue an invitation to all to participate in the local church.

It’s 21 years since Bishop Michael Malone launched Aurora as a diocesan newspaper, and next month’s will be edition number 175! In 2011, in a bold and unprecedented step, Aurora magazine became an insert in six regional newspapers, initially boosting circulation enormously. The look and feel of Aurora changed significantly to embrace a larger and more diverse audience.

awards: the Bishop Philip Kennedy Award (Australasian Catholic Press Association) and the Gutenberg Award (Australasian Religious Press Association). We don’t believe in resting on our laurels so it’s time to take stock and you can help! In a bid to make Aurora as appealing, accessible and sustainable as possible, we would like to know more about what our readers particularly like – and don’t like. Please complete the short survey below and post to Tracey Edstein/Survey at PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300 or complete online at, ideally before 20 November.

The names of all who complete the survey will go into a draw to win a $100 voucher from Woolworths, with the winner being announced in the December edition!

1. What is your age bracket? (please tick) Under 21






6. How likely are you to recommend Aurora to a friend? Very likely


Not very likely

Not at all

7. Do you have any comments on Aurora’s visual appeal and ease of reading eg length of articles, images, layout, use of colour, font size and style, paper quality?

41-50 2. Are you male or female? (please circle) 3. How do you read Aurora? 8. Apart from receiving information via Aurora, do you use any of the following as sources on Catholic perspectives? (please tick)

Print edition from newspaper? Print edition from church? Online edition 4. Please provide feedback on Aurora’s regular features. Very interesting; or

Of some interest; or

Of little or no interest

My Word by Bishop Bill First Word by Tracey Edstein Education stories (various authors) CareTalk by Tanya Russell CatholicCare stories (various authors) Seasons of Mercy (various authors) People profiles (various authors)




Other social media

Radio (which stations?)

CathNews daily bulletin


Diocesan Update (weekly e-bulletin)

Facebook 9. Are you a churchgoer?



If Yes, do you participate weekly/monthly/on occasions such as Easter, Christmas, weddings…? (please circle) 10. Do you have any other comments?

Family Matters (various authors) Opinion pieces (various authors) Community Noticeboard Book Review Taste by Chef Bart 5. Do you have any suggestions about topics you would like Aurora to cover in the future?

11. At present some readers subscribe to Aurora at a cost of $30 a year – largely to cover the costs of postage. Would you be interested in becoming a subscriber and having Aurora posted to you? Yes


Please add your name and address if you would like to enter the draw for a $100 voucher: Name: Address:

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