Aurora September 2018

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Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle September 2018 | No.183


Pope Francis

Can he make the Church relevant again? 17

Sailing Solo:

A young doctor sails from Sydney to LA to raise money for indigenous literacy. 8

All of us are diminished: Phil Glendenning AM writes exclusively for Aurora on asylum seekers. 10

A reason to smile at St Joseph’s Me rriwa Campdraft

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On the cover

A momentous month

Roy Lawler, Ben Patterson and Ava Peel, with teacher Tanya Ninness.

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle September 2018 | No.183

Young people, social media and mental health:

August was a month in which history was made in the Catholic church with a Letter to the People of God which Pope Francis wrote in response to sexual abuse crises in several countries.


A reason to smile at St Joseph’s Merri wa Campdraft

How detrimental is social media to the mental health of young people? 6

Sailing Solo:

A young doctor sails from Sydney to LA to raise money for indigenous literacy 8

All of us are diminished:

Phil Glendenning AM writes exclusively for Aurora on asylum seekers. 10


In the letter, the first ever sent to Catholics worldwide, the Pope condemned sexual abuse and the cover-up of sexual abuse. The letter also contains a vow to do better in addressing sexual abuse.


Among Pope Francis’ comments were:

Featured ff St Joseph’s Merriwa show strong community spirit ff Young people, social media and mental health ff Reconnecting the loose threads


ff Newcastle’s ambassador ship builds links with PNG


ff Sailing Solo


ff Taking a leap of faith


ff God will bring it to fulfilment


ff Kesheni Kenya immersion program


ff School funding explained


ff Become a spiritual director


ff Healing a nation through education


ff How much do I need to retire?


ff Can Pope Francis make the church relevant again?


ff Hiroshima remembered


ff The future of faith


ff The philosophy behind St Nicholas Early Education


f f Aspire: Dark Matter gallery



“If one member suffers, all suffer together,” adding that “I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. “With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realising the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones;


John Kingsley-Jones P 4979 1192 E

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“What Church leaders in Australia have said in the past is consistent with what the Pope has written: It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. “These are important words from Pope

Francis, but words are not enough. Now is the time for action on many levels. “The Royal Commission has done much good for this country, especially in creating a safe place for survivors to be heard and believed. We again thank the survivors who have so courageously shared their stories.” In this issue, Brian Lacey has written a thought-provoking article Can Pope Francis make the Church relevant again? Other articles that caught my eye were those about the philosophy behind St Nicholas Early Education, the strong community spirit demonstrated by the students of St Joseph’s Merriwa, an explanation of Catholic school funding (which has become a pretty hot topic in the media) and the one about a gathering in late September of hundreds of people involved in youth ministry. To read the Pope’s letter in full go to John Kingsley-Jones Head of Diocesan Communications

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“We share the Holy Father’s determination to protect young people and vulnerable adults.

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In a media statement, the Catholic Bishops of Australia welcomed the letter, saying:

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“Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”

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A U R O R A C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E

A Nigerian Journey On the night following the ordinations, at the farewell meal, Fr Chris said again that it was not possible to thank me enough for coming all this way to Africa to be with them. I assured him in reply that it was quite possible, and that he and the community had achieved that quantum of thanks several days earlier. I’d been told before leaving home that the welcome would be warm and the gratitude enormous. Never a truer word. There’s a sad edge to the Nigerians’ thankfulness to see visitors. They do live with a feeling of being somewhat forgotten and abandoned. It goes with a consciousness that their country is an economic and political mess – not a disaster, but a mess – unattractive to European and US investors. The Chinese are filling the gap, as they are all over Africa, but the Nigerians genuinely aspire to being a progressive, democratic society. They’d much rather deal with the West, but the West isn’t interested in Nigerian progress, only in their oil. Anyway, you don’t see white faces, even at the airports. A non-African visitor is an event. A bishop is a double event. To be honest, it’s a bit of a strain to live up to the role. Very occasionally in Australia I am still called ‘My Lord’. In Nigeria, it’s in every sentence, and accompanied by ringkissing. I’d like to relax a bit, dress down, shake hands, do the ‘Call me Bill’ thing, but my clerical minders won’t have it. ‘The people expect…’, and so on. It is a very clerical church, in a very religious nation.

Warm, welcoming, proud, devout, struggling, confident, anxious, faith-filled, wonderful hosts

Just how pervasive religion is has to be seen to be believed. In Ibadan, the city where I ordained the four young Vocationists to the priesthood, I joke that every third building is a church. It’s an exaggeration, of course, but not by too much. Several times I counted three or four ‘churches’ in a row. For the most part, the ‘Apostolic Family Church’, ‘Bethel Assembly ’and ‘Happy Day Jesus Church’ buildings are gerrybuilt concrete block shacks, but some of them are quite flash. These latter have big signs showing their smiling pastor and advertising the up-coming big event. Anyway, large or small, there’s hundreds and hundreds of them. And then there’s the dozen or so religious ‘universities’ on the highway out of Lagos and the nearby ‘praise and worship’ camp-sites. The conventional places of worship, Catholic, Protestant or Islamic, aren’t so numerous, but they are some of the biggest and best buildings/compounds besides government offices. Faith and nationhood go very much together. At the end of every Mass there are prayers for vocations – which one might think hardly necessary in Nigeria, but perhaps it’s why there are so many – and prayers for Nigeria that very frankly seek an end of corruption and violence. Inversely, the politicians and public servants I met all told me that Nigeria will be OK in the long run because the people have faith in God, one way or another. They only have to hold back foreign, militant Islam and overcome corruption. Political corruption is the news in Nigeria. I was there only a few days, but in that time we managed to have one vote to impeach an entire provincial cabinet, a high court judge refusing to swear in a deputy premier on ‘fit and proper person’ grounds and the President himself changing his party allegiance.

There’s general acceptance that the last presidential election was rigged, but they’ve had worse presidents and it’s a step up on military rule. Massive population growth has outrun the school system, however, and declining educational standards threaten long-term liberal democracy. People accordingly worry that the president is a ‘populist’ in the manner of Trump et al, and that this might be the way of the future.

hosts. They are also either the worst or the best drivers in the world, because every second on the road threatens disaster but the calamity is almost always avoided, albeit by millimetres. Hopefully that’s an image of how they’ll negotiate their other challenges.

So, Nigeria and Nigerians: warm, welcoming, proud, devout, struggling, confident, anxious, faith-filled, wonderful

Bishop Bill Wright Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Frankly Spoken The Lord promises refreshment and freedom to all the oppressed of our world, but God needs us to fulfil that promise. God needs our eyes to see the needs of our brothers and sisters. God needs our hands to offer them help. God needs our voice to protest the injustices committed thanks to the silence, often complicit, of so many. Homily 6 July 2018

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St Joseph’s Merriwa show strong community spirit BY AMY THEODORE

With many local farmers doing it tough in the current drought, the seventh annual St Joseph’s Primary School, Merriwa, Junior Campdraft and Fete provided the community with a much-needed break to enjoy some fun time with family and friends. Held at Merriwa Showground, the event saw members of the Parents & Friends (P&F) Association, volunteers, past school members, and many others from within the community band together to organise and bring the day to life. While the event helped raise money for St Joseph’s, it also provided an opportunity for members of the wider community to come together and enjoy a fun-filled day. “The local community enjoyed the camaraderie which a day at the showground offers. Local farmers and others affected by the devastating effects of drought had a good reason to smile as they gathered for the school’s biggest fundraising event of the year,” said Helen Whale, Principal of St Joseph’s, Merriwa. The major sponsors of the day included Martins Group of Companies, Merriwa IGA, Welderup, Ben Furney Flour Mill, MACH Energy, Upper Hunter Shire

Council and Ross Granata Motors. Their financial support was a critical factor in the success of the day. A number of students from St Joseph’s competed in the campdraft and ring events, as others helped out with the fete activities. Stage 3 students organised the petting zoo which featured piglets from Merrifield Farm, chickens from the school coop, a goat, pony, lamb and more. The farm was supervised by senior and former students on the day. Other students got their hands dirty making items to sell at the various market stalls including potting plants for the garden stall, creating mosaic stepping stones for the plant stall, helping parents bake cakes and cookies for the cake stall and filling jars with an assortment of treasures to sell at the Tombolo stall. Some of the other fun activities included a high tea, face painting, a ‘Kiss the

St Joseph’s student showing some skill competing in a ring event.

Pig’ competition, lucky dips, busking by teachers and students, hobby horse making, sheep weight guessing competitions, a raffle and the annual hobby horse race. With many other campdraft events unable to be run because of the dry weather, a big thank you goes to Martins Group of Companies and the Maben family for their donation of fit and healthy cattle to ensure the day’s competition – involving 300 runs

The answer is that all of them are former students of our schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. We are aiming to contact some of these alumni, all of whom have excelled in their chosen fields of endeavour, to find out what the secrets of their success were – and we will run the first of these stories in the next edition of Aurora. The answers to the above question are: ff Mark Fitzgibbon (CEO of NIB who went to Marist Maitland) ff Katherine Britt (winner of four Golden Guitar country

The funds raised will go towards supporting wellbeing and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) programs throughout the school. “The St Joseph’s Campdraft and Fete filled me with pride for the wonderful school community we have and the fantastic relationship the school community enjoys with the wider community,” said Helen. “I am always amazed at how the day plays out, in no small part due to the huge amount of effort dedicated to its organisation by the band of team leaders within the P&F.

Did you Know? What do the following have in common? A CEO of a major health fund, one of country music’s biggest stars, a chief economist at one of our big four banks, an internationallyrenowned academic, a Bishop, an international sailing champ, and a former Deputy Mayor of Newcastle?

and riders from across – did take place.

music awards who went to St Joseph’s Charlestown) ff Alan Oster (Chief Economist of NAB who went to Marist Hamilton) ff Anna Rutherford (an internationally-renowned academic who was the first woman to be appointed Chair of the Commonwealth Literature & Language Association who went to St Columban’s Primary School) ff Bishop of Wollongong Brian Mascord (a former student of St Pius and St Joseph’s Charlestown) ff Nathan Outteridge (a sailing legend who attended St Paul’s Booragul) ff Our own Helene O’Neill (a former Deputy Mayor of Newcastle who went to St Josephs, Merewether and St Laurence, Broadmeadow).

“This is coupled by the fact that all parents turn out on the day armed with cooking or stock whips, with their sleeves rolled up ready to help out in whatever way they can. The generosity of the donors is testimony to the high regard in which the school is held and the value placed on educating the students. “This sets a wonderful example to our students who are left in no doubt about the value of community, volunteering, hard work and cooperation.”

Amy Theodore is a Marketing Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.



How much does physical health affect depression? A

CatholicCare’s Assistant Director and 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 P 131 114.

Do you have a question for Tanya? Email your question to or write to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300.

It’s great to see your doctor taking a holistic view of mental health. Blood tests not only screen for markers of medical conditions but also some vitamin/mineral deficiencies. For women, we know that a number of conditions can impact on mood, some of which include endocrine conditions such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, PCOS; menopause; iron deficiency; B12 deficiency; folate deficiency; food allergies and intolerances; and other medical conditions including neurological disorders and infectious diseases. In counselling, psychologists often recommend consultations with your doctor so that psychological therapy is not an uphill battle due to an undiagnosed condition which could be linked to depression. Yes you are right that a good diet and exercise are important for mental health, and nutritionists can provide further advice on a healthy balanced diet. Looking after our bodies is further supported by research which now suggests that our digestive system (our gut) is our “second brain” - and the neurotransmitters in our gut constantly communicate messages

Young People, Social Media and Mental Health BY KELLY PAVAN

Adolescence and young adulthood are critical times for the development of mental health problems. Research has found that half of all lifetime mental health disorders emerge by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24, and can lead to impaired academic achievement, unemployment, poor social functioning and substance abuse. Worrying about these statistics is far from alleviated when we see our children become more closely enmeshed with their peer group, drifting further from our parental influence as they progress towards adolescence with heads bent low over their devices, thumbs moving at the speed of light. This understandably leads to concerns about whether there is a link between

social media use and mental health for our young people. The answer is not straightforward because there is no one cause for mental illness, but rather a complex interplay between social, biological and environmental factors. However, access to social media in the Australian population is prolific – there are 17 million active Facebook users every month (in a population of 24 million)! Cyber-bullying, trolling and a compare and despair culture all have a significant negative impact on wellbeing, and so usage and exposure to social media is important to consider. But are all social media platforms detrimental? Are they equally as good or bad as one another?

A U R O R A C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E

My doctor recently diagnosed with me with depression Q and ordered some blood tests in addition to prescribing

anti-depressant medication. The doctor said the blood tests will screen for anything else which may be impacting on my mood, particularly relevant to a woman. How much does physical health effect depression? I understand eating a good diet and exercise are important, but how does it all link to mental health?

to our brain about how we are feeling physically and emotionally. How is this possible? I will get a little bit scientific here but it should all make sense soon. Consider these two things:

like a simple food intolerance can be quite helpful – but clearly that is not the answer to all mood concerns and you should always seek further advice from your medical professional.

Good bacteria helps digest our food and also ward off things like viruses and mould – these bacteria then communicate with neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) in our gut which impact on our mood. Serotonin and other neurotransmitters help to make us feel emotionally stable and healthy – and is produced in the brain as well as the gut. Research now tells us that approximately 90% of serotonin is produced in our gut, and only approximately 10% is produced in our brain. The most widely used antidepressants act to push more serotonin into the brain from brain cells so it makes sense to take a look at the rest of the body to ensure serotonin production is as effective as possible! This is why antidepressants should form part of a wider group of treatments for depression.

Now a little bit more about exercise – yes it is true that exercise releases feel good hormones, but regular exercise can also reduce our stress hormones. When you exercise, particularly when you are feeling down, you will create a new “neural” pathway in your brain that links exercise to feeling good. Whereas it is too easy to reinforce and create a negative neural pathways that tells you “staying at home = feeling good” or “eating comfort food = feeling good” even if these things end up making you feel worse in the long term, physically and emotionally. The more you use a particular pathway or road in your brain, the more it becomes habit. So you have the power to choose which road you will travel down each day, reducing the power of the old habits.

So as you can see, our digestive health is connected to our brain and therefore our mood. So even acting on what seems

Of course, all of this in conjunction with relevant medical treatment and psychological support such as counselling will only help to develop an overall healthier life.

In a survey ranking YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram on their impact on health and well-being of young people, it was found that YouTube had a positive impact on mental wellbeing, while Instagram was found to be the most negative. If you’ve ever visited these sites you would recognise that you are more likely to go to YouTube for entertainment and information such as tutorials and funny clips. Whereas with the help of filters and modifications, Instagram is a finely crafted, superficial best of showcase – how could reality do anything but disappoint next to what we see there?

taboo topic, a conversation about what sites your young person is using and how they are being used, would be more productive. We also know that after friends, parents and family members, young people rate the Internet as a place they would turn to for support, and so exploring credible online sources with your child could also go a long way toward opening a dialogue around early intervention – eHeadspace, Kidshelpline and Youth Beyond Blue have excellent interactive and educational resources for parents and young people.

As much as I would like to wrap my children up and keep them safe from this potential harm to their self-esteem and mental well-being, with the absolute permeation of technology and devices in our lives, I know that trying to ban them altogether is a futile effort and may lead to their social media use becoming more hidden and secretive. So rather than making Internet and social media use a

References: Flinders University Student Health and Well Information Headspace Black Dog and Mission Australia Youth Mental Health Report 2017

Kelly Pavan is Manager Counselling Clinical for CatholicCare Hunter-Manning.

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Reconnecting the loose threads BY SAM HILL

Towards the end of September, hundreds of people from around Australia involved in youth ministry will gather together for the Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention (ACYMC). ACYMC seeks to reach people from all contexts and ministries and is the largest networking opportunity for youth ministry in Australia. It exists to: ff develop and nurture a national understanding and identity of Catholic youth ministry ff provide high-quality formation and training for those engaged in youth ministry across Australia ff provide an opportunity for youth ministers to network within and

beyond their immediate fields of ministry ff provide a space for youth ministers to seek spiritual reflection and nourishment. After the completion of ACYMC, the Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young People will begin holding Thread Days. The first of these will be held on 27 October with the aim of gathering together all the different youth ministry initiatives throughout the diocese for an afternoon of prayer, formation,

Sam Hill, Brooke Robinson, Sr Christine Ramada

information, sharing and networking. The theme ‘thread’ comes from a threeday youth retreat in 2012 called Camp Thread which connected youth ministries from around the diocese. It built strong connections sharing ideas and supporting each other through the challenges of youth ministry. Over the years those connections have dwindled as people have moved away or moved out of the youth ministry scene. Now new initiatives have started and a new generation of youth ministers are emerging.

The upcoming Thread Days will aim to connect, empower and support those in ministry to build sustainable initiatives that will continue into the future and offer a place where our youth ministers can share and learn from each other’s experiences. If you are interested in attending the Thread Day on 27 October, E Sam Hill is a Family Ministry Coordinator for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Newcastle’s ambassador ship builds links with Papua New Guinea BY ELSA JEANPRÊTRE

I was blown away by the selfless generosity that the Papua New Guineans showed to us. “When I think back on my time onboard the s/v Ruach in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG), I cannot help to think of whose life was truly changed for the better – my own, or the people that we were reaching through medical and marine training, and different hospitality services,” says Vika Chartier, a 22-year-old volunteer with YWAM Ships Newcastle. Vika was the Chief Stewardess on board the s/v Ruach during her first deployment to PNG to provide various medical delivery and training services. The s/v Ruach and her crew sailed to more than 12 islands in the Milne Bay Province, reaching some of the most remote communities. Throughout the first deployment, YWAM Ships Newcastle

(YSN) connected with representatives from both local and provincial government, laying the foundation for a long lasting relationship between YWAM Ships Newcastle and PNG. As YWAM Ships Newcastle aim is to help PNG to reach its national health goals, Vika always made a point to provide the best experience for any volunteers and guests who stayed on board. “Everyone in the world matters and deserves the best of service; no matter where they come from, their skin tone, or religious belief, everyone should have the same wonderful experience of life; not only onboard but together with PNG, we want to bring this hope of life into these extremely remote villages,” Vika says.

The crew of s/v Ruach hoist the sails

“I was blown away by the selfless generosity that the Papua New Guineans showed to us. There was never a shortage of working together. Papua New Guinea has my heart and soul; I cannot wait to work again onboard the s/v Ruach in the near future,” she adds. The s/v Ruach, an ambassador for the City of Newcastle, isn’t solely operated by YWAM Ships Newcastle staff. Marine volunteers are required, to safely sail the vessel, as are medical volunteers - to provide medical services.

There are also other opportunities of engagement so if you want to be part of this eye-opening and life-changing initiative YWAM ships are now preparing for their next deployment season, scheduled for 2018-2019. For more information or to apply, go to

Elsa Jeanprêtre is Communications Officer with YWAM Ships Newcastle.



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There was no help within a 400 km radius when Andrew’s shoulder popped out, so finding a solution was all up to him.

Andrew Brazier on board Perpetual Succour

Andrew Brazier, a 27-year-old Catholic Sydney doctor, has just completed an incredible adventure. He sailed solo from Sydney to Los Angeles in a 10 metre sloop raising funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. It took 17 weeks and included a force 10 storm, losing an engine, and an unscheduled stop in New Zealand after Andrew dislocated his shoulder. There was no help within a 400 km radius when Andrew’s shoulder popped out, so

Andrew battles rough seas

finding a solution was all up to him. “The plan was to sedate myself, lay face down on the outside cockpit bench with a 5-kilo weight attached to my arm which would be dangling down into the cabin. The theory is that the weight will cause the muscle to tire, and the shoulder will slide back in after a few minutes.

“I didn’t have Propofol; I didn’t have midazolam; I didn’t have fentanyl. But I did have Bacardi Rum. I rang Mum and said my final goodbyes. I prepared the weight, which was my emergency flares container filled with 5 litres of water, and got out the rum. I probably should have positioned myself before indulging, but I have a romantic side to me and staring at the morning horizon while swigging rum was an opportunity not to be missed.” The plan was successful, and Andrew was able to continue his voyage after a recovery stop in New Zealand. Andrew’s faith also kept him going. He said, “I prayed like I have never prayed before, and was given much strength. God is Good!” Andrew’s encounters with wildlife also boosted his faith. He writes, “As I crossed over the continental shelf this morning, I was truly blown away. The first indication of something special was several flocks of birds, too many to count, sitting in the water. As I drew closer, whales started to surface through these birds, lazily blowing spray into the air with a loud hhmmmph. The dolphins appeared next, contrasting the lazy movements of the whales with fast deliberate porpoising. “As Perpetual Succour drew closer to these birds, they would take off in their

hundreds. Pattering their feet and flapping their wings, they would run along the surface until they judged it was safe and slide gracefully to a stop. One would decide to flee, and it would set off the rest in a chain reaction. The sound of so many feet slapping the surface was a tribute to the existence of life of which I’ve never witnessed before. Presented with so much life, I was overwhelmed and shed a tear or two, I must admit. You leave such an encounter with a firm conviction that the presence of life is beautiful and such a beauty must proceed from a great love.” Andrew is a very talented writer and shares his adventures on the blog He is raising money for Indigenous Literacy foundation to combat the statistic that 75% of Indigenous Children haven’t reached minimum reading standards by Year 5. In a society where reading is so important on a day-to-day basis, kids with so much potential are left behind, leading to a cycle of poverty and chronic disease. Donations are welcome through Andrew’s everyday hero page. https://give. Brooke Robinson is Content Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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Taking a leap of faith BY RICHARD SOFATZIS Solomon Omeiza and Richard Sofatzis are both 27 years old, studying at the Good Shepherd Seminary in Homebush. Solomon is studying for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, and Richard is studying for the Archdiocese of Sydney. As part of National Vocations Awareness Week, they shared their stories at Pints With A Purpose. Becoming a priest was never something I had thought about while growing up. So it was somewhat random when in year 12 a priest that I knew made the suggestion “Richard, I think you might be a good priest. Have you ever thought about it?” I just laughed and dismissed it.

But moments later, something that he had said struck a chord with me. It was the first time I internalised the thought ‘could that apply to me?’ I went to university, got involved in different things on campus, committed myself to study, but the thought the priest had placed in my mind was always there. From time to time, I would pray about it and I would ask God ‘what are you asking of me?’ It’s hard in prayer because I’m like ‘is that you talking?’ or am I imagining things? But I always sensed a deep calling to serve others. So that was in my prayer and I felt the priesthood drawing me in to that, although not knowing with certainty.

Solomon Omeiza and Richard Sofatzis speaking at Pints With A Purpose

However, if God is asking something of you, you’ll be reminded a number of times. There were so many different ways, different people, different scenarios and it was as if God was saying, ‘no you’re not going to forget about this’. My biggest struggle in making the decision was ‘how do I really know this is God’s will for me?’ An engineer by trade, I needed mathematical certitude. I wanted to have ‘an equation’ that I could solve somehow and say this is all good, I know what God’s will is; done! It took a long time. It was eight years later and I still hadn’t made a decision, and I thought, I need to just choose.

Triple J Unearthed

Over the course of a retreat at the seminary, that’s when I realised that when God is asking something of you in your life, God is always going to ask you to have faith. To trust. Therefore, if I were to have 100% mathematical certitude, that’s not how God works. There is always room to take a leap of faith. So I knew what I had to do. Even to this day, it’s still a journey forward; it’s constant discernment at the seminary.

The best entries are played on national radio and the winner will be flown to triple j to record, remix or master a track. The winner will also enjoy a mentorship with an industry professional.

I’ve been asked, ‘why would you join something that has lost all credibility in the public eye these days?’ I answer, I want to give of myself to fill the void and be a good priest. All of the baggage of the past that would deter someone to become a priest is an inspiration for me to really try and make a difference. To give of myself as best I can.

Year 11 student Conor McCamley, from All Saints College, Maitland, is considered as one of the best entries in the Unearthed High song competition run by triple J.

Izzy from triple J says of Conor’s song, “Wow this one is really stark and intimate; I’m a bit blown away to be honest. Some heartbreaking stories in this one that really are brought out by that minimalistic production”. To listen to Conor’s song Silence, head to https://www. conor-mccamley.

God will bring it to fulfillment BY SOLOMON OMEIZA My first thoughts of becoming a priest came when I was about 8 years old. I would imitate what I saw the priest do at Mass. I would call together my siblings – whether they minded it or not – and say the Mass for them. When it reached the time for communion, I would take a white peppermint, dip it in coke, and give it to my sisters, Bose and Joy, who would be my Mass servers. My mum would just laugh at us, especially when Joy wanted to drink the remaining coke with me. After my senior secondary school education, there was still this inner urge in me to serve God and humanity. During a parish retreat directed by Rev

Fr Dominic Totaro, SJ, he talked about ‘Ignatian Spirituality’ and, taking us through Psalm 139, I began to ponder my reason for being. The words of the Psalmist: “O God you search me and you know me…” made me keep asking questions about my existence: where have I come from? What am I doing here? Where am I going? Fr Dominic reminded us that human beings are created for a purpose and every other thing on the face of the earth is meant to help us achieve this purpose. It was during this retreat that I really started thinking of joining the priesthood to see if it would answer my question of what I am doing here and where I am going.

My mum never stops praying for me. She was a major beneficiary of missionary work through the free education program in Nigeria. She wished to be able to assist anyone who devoted himself or herself to missionary work, and today, seeing me in the seminary gives her much joy. This in part forms my desires to become a Catholic priest; that I can, in any little way, be a missionary as the apostles were and engage in missionary work. This means that my mission would remain to proclaim to everyone I meet the message of salvation, the message of the Kingdom of God; just as Christ handed down the message to his

apostles and they to their successors, down to us. Perhaps, then, I can begin to satisfy that inner urge in me to serve God and humanity. When I told my family of my desire to become a priest, they reminded me of something that happened when I was 8 years old. We had a community event where people would come from different places. During the mass, the priest asked, ‘Who would like to become a priest?’ I raised my hand and said yes, and this priest prayed over me. “As this is your heart’s desire, I pray that God will bring it to fulfilment”.

Wisdom in the Square


A U R O R A C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E

All of us are diminished BY PHIL GLENDENNING AM I don’t know what will happen when I die. I don’t want to know but I want the potter to make a whistle from the clay of my throat and for that whistle to fall into the hands of a naughty child. and I want that child to blow on the whistle with all the silent and suppressed air in his lungs so that it might disturb the sleep of those who are dead to my cries This poem was penned by a young man who spent more than three years in an Australian immigration detention centre. It was written many years ago – a significant and salient reminder that the abuse of human rights towards people seeking asylum has been going on for far too long in Australia. Last month, we heard the cry of a mother unable to bury her 26-year-old son. He had died by suicide on Nauru and the authorities refused to release his body. As her son lies on a slab in a refrigerator, unable to even find the peace of a grave, she cries out “Are you afraid of our dead bodies? Why do you hate us so much?” This, after more than five years in detention. Nothing more eloquently defines cruelty as this mother’s griefstricken cry for her dead son. Yet this

cruelty is funded by Australian taxpayers and it leaves all of us diminished.

scared to leave the house. He should never have been sent back.

The impacts of this policy also radiate beyond our immediate region. Recently, I returned to Afghanistan to monitor the safety of failed asylum seekers who had been returned by Australia as part of the Edmund Rice Centre’s Deported To Danger project. Over the past decade and a half, we have discovered that 31 people sent back by Australia have been killed. Despite nearly two decades of war, perhaps because of it, we at the Edmund Rice Centre have never seen the situation as bad as it is today.

We have reached a point in our national life when organised cruelty towards some of the most vulnerable people on the planet has become acceptable public policy. It will be remembered for generations. I strongly believe that within the next decade an Australian prime minister will rise in the parliament and offer a national apology for the harm that has been done in our name to people seeking asylum and their families. There will be compensation to be paid and rightly so, because this is happening on our watch and none of us can say we did not know.

This time, we met a man who lived in Australia for seven years. He is an Hazara; a member of the most persecuted minority in Afghanistan who had worked previously as a driver for the military and was threatened by the Taliban. In Australia, he worked as a painter in a capital city. We saw his Australian tax records and photos of his work and life in Australia. And yet he was rounded up by immigration authorities and sent back to Kabul, now the most dangerous part of Afghanistan and recently declared an ongoing conflict zone by the United Nations and the International Organisation for Migration. Since he has been back, he has seen his mosque bombed, his children’s school attacked and he is too

What has made this ongoing cruelty possible is the deliberate manipulation of the Australian people to believe that compassion is a form of weakness. The Australian Minister for Home Affairs recently stated that one act of compassion towards an asylum seeker will lead to people smugglers sending more boats. At this point we have really hit a wall. The flawed and confused belief at work here is that asylum seekers create people smugglers. The truth is that smugglers respond to a situation when countries and nation states who wage war are unable to assist the people they have gone to liberate. We continually send people back who are genuine refugees.

The flawed and confused belief at work here is that asylum seekers create people smugglers We know that, because many who have been sent back have been killed. This is not only in breach of the Refugee Convention, it is a breach of Australian domestic law and a fundamental breach of any principles of basic human decency. There are regionally-based alternatives to the current cruel policies, successfully used after the Vietnam War, but they do not suit the current fear-of-the-other domestic political debate. Currently, we are faced with an ugly ignoble truth that many countries in the Western world are increasingly determining that people fleeing persecution are to be as feared as much as those from whom they are escaping. Asylum seekers and refugees in the US, Australia and parts of Europe are treated as if we are at war with them. Increasingly the response to asylum claims is not to examine their veracity and offer protection to those found to have claims that are valid; instead protection is being replaced with punishment.

Currently, we are faced with an ugly ignoble truth that many countries in the Western world are increasingly determining that people fleeing persecution are to be as feared as much as those from whom they are escaping.

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Wisdom in the Square

What has made this ongoing cruelty possible is the deliberate manipulation of the Australian people to believe that compassion is a form of weakness. There is a deeper question here. Determining that compassion is a form of weakness represents a fundamental undermining of the standards upon which civilisation is based. I find it ironic that many of those who are crying out loudly for Western civilisation to be lauded and uncritically taught at universities are often the very same people advocating such punishing policies towards refugees – policies that undermine the very best traditions and heritage of Western civilisation: the rule of law, equality before it, respect for human life, human rights and democracy. So in the face of this reality, these are challenging times for the Catholic Church in Australia. It would be easy, in the wake of the Royal Commission and its findings for the Church to withdraw from the public sphere and quietly go about doing good work in education, health and social welfare. Yet, this is precisely not the time for the Church and Church people to go quiet. As shocked as we all were by the Royal Commission’s findings, if we are serious about the values of our faith, then we need to find voices anew to proclaim those values wherever they are threatened. When compassion for the vulnerable is publicly portrayed as weakness, we have a job to do. We need a strong eloquent Catholic voice defending and promoting the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable, including Indigenous peoples, refugees and people seeking asylum. By standing with those at the edges of our society offering true witness, we will find a way forward, not just for the Church, but for the nation

itself. More importantly, it is simply the right thing to do. The anonymous young asylum seeker who wrote the poem called for the sleep of those who are dead to his cries to be disturbed. In order to do this we need to reclaim compassion in Australia as the fundamental civilising strength societies like ours need to prosper and thrive. Brother Philip Pinto put this best when he spoke to a Christian Brothers school assembly in New York: “It is futile for earthbound humanity to cling to the dark

and poisoning superstition that our world ends at the nearest hill, is bounded by the river shore, and is enclosed in the tight circle of those who share our town, our views and the colour of our skin. It is the task of our educators, our young people – and indeed all people of good will – to work together to strip the last remnants of that ancient cruel belief from the fabric of humankind”. Today, this remains our task. Martin Luther King used to say that “the arc of history is long but it bends towards

justice”. Despite tragedy, suffering and cruelty in our world today, that remains true, but it has always taken people of compassion and humanity to do the bending. Time to blow on those clay whistles. Please visit and

Phil Glendenning AM is the Director, Edmund Rice Centre and President, Refugee Council of Australia.

Soul Food Christianity, if false, is of no importance; and if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. CS Lewis



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Kesheni Kenya Immersion Program 2018 BY AMY THEODORE

The 2018 Kesheni Kenya Immersion program saw staff from the Catholic Schools Office head off on a two-week trip to Nairobi in Kenya. The travellers visited a number of Catholic agencies including the Ruben School, Ruben Medical Centre, Kurt Fearnley Centre, Mary Rice Centre for handicapped children, Women for Women Centre, an Advocacy Centre, St Joseph’s Home for the Destitute, Br Beausang School Embulbul and Youth and Health Clinic programs. This is what some of the participants had to say about the trip:

“The immersion is a significant personal and professional opportunity which further develops a sense of personal spirituality, leadership, interpersonal skills, inspiration, and engagement with those impoverished and disempowered. Our hope is that each participant will become an agent for change in their own community and motivate others to support those less fortunate in Australia and overseas. Michael and I enjoyed observing the growth of participant’s every time and it is a joy for us to share the experience with those seeking some answers to questions in life, its meaning, and our place in the world.” Alison Slattery, Immersion Leader “The immersion experience is an event that changes one’s world view forever. It allows participants to begin a process of critical questioning and analysis that leads us to a reappraisal of the systems and structures that create or perpetrate global injustices; and we begin to realise that we are connected to the suffering of others.” Dr Michael Slattery, Immersion Co-ordinator and Director of Schools, Catholic Schools Office

To read their full stories head to

“As we set off for Africa none of us could really articulate what was awaiting us at the end of our 32-hour journey. The sights, sounds and smells that met us in Nairobi provided a stark realisation that we weren’t in Oz anymore. As with any trip, it was the people who shaped my experience, with both my fellow pilgrims and the people we met enlivening my time. “Seeing the work of the people we met was humbling, inspiring and daunting all at once. For me it was truly seeing Jesus in 2018, walking the streets of Kibera or Mukuru slum, connecting with people through compassion, empathy, hope and love. From the young people who run a youth group, to the fathers who manned the gates of schools and the teachers and principals, all of whom felt moved to respond to a need within their community. I am so grateful and blessed to have shared this time in Kenya. It was an awakening of my heart, eyes and mind and is something that will shape my spirit for many years to come.” Veronica McLoughlin Principal of St Dominic’s Centre, Mayfield

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“Being part of the Kesheni experience was enriching beyond belief and something I will carry with me always. The highlights for me were the Kenyan people, their smiles, their faith and their positive and hopeful attitude to life. “The sense of community and faith in action was strongly evident and this was particularly highlighted in my visit with Leigh Peacock and two members of the Karibu Youth Group, Victor and Laura, to Fairview Primary School within Kibera Slum. The school was started by Mabel, a teacher who herself lived within the Kibera Slum and recognised the need for the school to provide food, clothing and sometimes the opportunity for sleep in order to meet the needs of students within her community. The school opened in 2004 with seven students and has since grown to 276 students with 12 trained teachers. “What most impressed me was the happy and supportive environment and the teachers’ passion to provide students with a better life and with the opportunity to dream and achieve. Many teachers spend long hours after school tutoring and playing games with the students and there is a genuine care in their interactions.” Brid Corrigan, Strategic Programs Advisor, Catholic Schools Office

“Kesheni 2018 was an amazing, inspiring and life-giving journey for me. Yes, confronting but also sobering to see the smiles and happiness of these wonderful Kenyan people who make the most of their daily lives with what they have, not with what they want. “Our group bonded well and looked after each other day by day. I found it enriching to know colleagues and new people on another level. The opportunity to see firsthand the varied and numerous ministries catering for the local people was extraordinary. The sense of welcome and appreciation for our efforts and donations was even more extraordinary! “Our third week was very fulfilling with great satisfaction and a sense of achievement with the Early Learning Centre renovation project. The reaction of the children along with Br Frank O’Shea and staff was a sight to behold! A life experience that will stay with me forever. Asante sana!” Leigh Peacock, Principal of St Joseph’s Primary School, Kilaben Bay

“I went into Kesheni 2018 with a completely open mind – being open to whatever experiences and situations were to be put before us and willing to participate however I could. I knew there would be a wide range of emotions experienced and this definitely proved to be the case. To say it was confronting would not really be strong enough at times, but the joy and friendliness of the Kenyan people and the opportunity we had to provide even a little support was absolutely a more significant factor in why this immersion trip was so special. “The joy and love of the experience comes from the happiness, resilience and determination of the Kenyan people. The faith, love of life, resilience, compassion for each other and empowerment that emanates from the young people of Kenya made it a tough place to leave and it will continue to be an experience I draw on. I will be forever grateful to Michael and Alison Slattery and Karanje for the privileged opportunity to have these experiences and for their care and guidance along the way.”

Jenny Howard Assistant Principal of St Columba’s Primary School, Adamstown

“Our trip coincided with the sporting day run by Edmund Rice Youth once a month where all the children from the slum areas come and play. This is huge for them and they spent the day playing games, singing and just having fun. As the day wore to an end we fed the children some rice, meat and vegetables. They then proceeded to walk the ten kilometres back to their homes or orphanages and I was told that would probably be the only meal they received for the weekend until school started on Monday.

“Kesheni awakened me to a far greater appreciation of love and life, the importance of welcome and the development of a far deeper spirituality and the power of faith. It’s not possible to describe in words the experiences we have shared.

“Stories of struggle, abandonment, hunger and poverty were everywhere but never without a sense of hope and optimism. Joy, love, laughter and care for each other was evident on a daily basis. The face of God was everywhere. They awakened me to the human condition but also to a level of spirituality that goes beyond anything I have ever experienced.

“The first two weeks involved encounters. Watching, speaking and interacting with amazing youth, and men and women who have dedicated their lives to empowering a change in mindset so that through education, lives are transformed, developed and sustained. At the end of the initial two weeks, half the group, with heavy hearts and teary farewells, returned home. The remaining six worked on a project in the Ruben Centre, in particular, the Early Learning Centre. Through funds raised from donations and school events, the ‘makeover team’ were able to fix a blocked drain to stop flooding, rooms were painted and decorated, lino was laid on the floors and mattresses, toys, teaching resources and cleaning and baby care products were provided.

“Was I glad to get home to my family, of course! Was I sad to leave? Absolutely! Words cannot describe Kenya, its people, its beauty and the whole Kesheni experience. Thank you Alison, Michael and Karanja. Thank you for my awakening.”

“Special thanks to Samuel Karanja for his ongoing work, input, organisation and care of our group whilst in Nairobi, and Michael and Alison for coordinating this awakening experience – we are eternally indebted to you.”

Joanne Trotter, Principal of St Joseph’s Primary School, Bulahdelah

Debra Hawthorne, Principal of Holy Cross Primary School, Glendale



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School funding explained in four easy steps (no, really) BY JIM HANNA

In Australia, the actual cost of a school education is some $12,000 per primary student per year and about $14,000 for a secondary student (regardless of sector). Imagine if families with two or more children had to meet that cost on their own each year? This is why state and federal governments jointly fund all not-for-profit government AND non-government schools to some degree. Taxpayer fully fund all government schools and only partially fund non-government schools. Here’s how school funding is calculated.

1 The base amount

Each year, the Federal Government sets a base funding amount per student for all school sectors. In 2018, the base amounts are $10,953 per primary student and $13,764 per secondary student. 2 Disadvantage loadings

It then adds funding for six types of disadvantage (disability, Language Background Other Than English, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, low socio-economic status, small schools and remote schools). Together, the base amount and any disadvantage loadings make up the Schooling Resource Standard, or SRS. This amount differs for each school, eg, a primary school with many disadvantaged students might have an SRS of $16,312 per student while a school with few disadvantages might have an SRS of $11,749 per student.

3 Governments fully fund the SRS for all government schools

State and Federal governments jointly fund 100% of the SRS for all government schools. These schools are free to raise more funding from other sources (eg, parents’ fees, hiring out school facilities) without losing any of their government funding. In 2016 (the latest data available), NSW government schools raised $450 million privately. 4 Non-government schools attract less public funding, based on parents’ wealth

State and Federal governments only provide 20% to 90% of the base amount for non-government schools because parents and carers are expected to help fund the children’s education according to their ‘capacity to contribute’ (governments pay all disadvantage loadings for all schools). This capacity to contribute is estimated using ABS household Census data and students’ addresses to create a socio-economic (SES) score from 60 to 140 for each non-government school. The higher the score, the less government funding the school attracts – and the more parents are expected to pay.

Non-government schools serving the poorest families – those with an SES score of 93 or less – attract 90% of their base funding from government, ie $9,858 per student. The government assumes the school’s parents can afford fees of $1,095 per year. The level of government funding support falls as SES scores rise from 94 to 124. Primary schools serving the wealthiest families – those with an SES score of 125 or more – only attract 20% of their base funding from government, ie, $2,191 per student. Parents at these schools are expected to be able to afford $8,762 per year in school fees. Of course, parents in diocesan Catholic schools do not pay fees anywhere near this level. That is because all schools belonging to a system (like diocesan Catholic schools) can pool their government funding and redistribute it to meet student needs and keep fees affordable, regardless of location or SES. In 2016, NSW Catholic schools received an average $10,900 per student in government funding, while government schools received $12,617 per student.

Term investments with the CDF offer a way to invest while also supporting the Catholic community. Earn a competitive rate of interest, while choosing the timeframes that are right for you. Choose from 3, 6 or 12 month options. For more information about our services, including our Terms and Conditions. Freecall 1800 810 330 or visit Investments with Catholic Development Fund (CDF) are guaranteed by Bishop William Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle Diocese and CDPF Limited, a company established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference for this purpose. We welcome your investment with the CDF rather than with a profit oriented commercial organisation as a conscious commitment by you to support the Charitable, Religious and Educational works of the Catholic Church. The CDF is not subject to the provisions of the Corporation Act 2001 nor has it been examined or approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The CDF is also exempt from the normal requirements to have a disclosure statement or Product Disclosure Statement under the Corporations Act 2001(Cth). Neither CDF nor the Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle are prudentially supervised by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Contributions to CDF do not obtain the benefit of the depositor protection provisions of the Banking Act 1959. CDF is designed for investors who wish to promote the charitable purposes of the Diocese.

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Become a Spiritual Director BY JOHN CAVENAGH

Christian Spiritual Direction is defined as help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship. The focus of this type of Spiritual Direction is on experience, i.e., any experience of the mysterious Other whom we call God. Moreover, this experience is viewed “not as an isolated event but as an expression of the ongoing personal relationship God has established with each one of us.” (William A. Barry & William J. Connelly, The Practice of Spiritual Direction, 1992). Commencing in February 2019, a 4-year course training Christians to be Spiritual Directors will run here in the Newcastle region. This course is an evolution of a previous course in Spiritual Direction conducted in Newcastle between 2011 and 2014. Key Concepts of the course include: ffAn understanding of God’s desire to be in a relationship with the human person and of that person’s faith

response to God’s presence in their daily life; ffAn understanding of religious experience in terms of the total human experience; ffA way of contemplative listening that is grounded in one’s relationship with God; ffA way of living that values discernment and the recognition of the movement of God within one’s life; ffAn appreciation of the rich resources of the Christian contemplative tradition that can enhance and deepen one’s spiritual life; ffA conviction that being in Spiritual Direction is a catalyst for spiritual growth. As our Church learns from the past and embraces the future, the need for Catholic Christians to rediscover and enrich our individual personal relationships with God is vital in our adult faith development. The Spiritual Direction Ministry is one of the many ministries which a person may

feel called to do by God and requires ongoing discernment, emphasised in this course. Tutors assist participants in this process from year-to-year. This program features the integration of experience and theory in an adult learning environment; and comprises 200 hours of participant contact including a minimum of 50 hours of supervision. Emphasis is placed on prayer, contemplative reflection, the spiritual literature, reflective listening skills, observation and the participation in real plays. Course formators include Rev Malcom Drake and Rev Nerida Drake, both Associate Ministers at AUCA, and Sister

Healing a nation through education Most of us would agree that education is crucial for the development of any child and young person. As Pope Francis has recently affirmed, education is a basic human right. To a great extent, we in Australia take for granted the availability of good primary and secondary education. However, even basic education and literacy are not readily available in every country, out of reach of great numbers of the world’s population. The history of Catholic schools in the Hunter Valley, demonstrates that even in Australia the provision of educational opportunities needed a helping hand to get started. It is not widely known that in the late 1860’s, then Bishop of Maitland, James Murray wrote to the “Propagation of the Faith” in Paris (of which Catholic

Mission is the current day Australian descendant), urgently requesting funds to assist transporting from Ireland, Dominican nuns and Mercy sisters to establish and run schools. Our own Diocese, was at least partly established on funds received from the Universal Church! There is justice and poetry in the fact that today, parishioners and others across this Diocese remain committed to our annual Catholic Mission, (Propagation of the Faith) Church Appeal. The appeal provides much needed funds for new and emerging Catholic communities around the world. Earlier this year, I visited children’s education programs in Myanmar undertaken in partnership with Catholic Mission. For the past 12 weeks, I have been speaking at Parishes across our Diocese seeking financial support for

Christine O’Connor RSJ. The course will be held one night monthly in the Adamstown Uniting Church, with a weekend retreat each November. Anyone interested to find out more, please contact Dr John Cavenagh via email, or contact the Inner Newcastle Parish on 49791101.

John Cavenagh is a spiritual director in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.


essential and effective children’s education programs in Myanmar. Our Diocesan Schools are also focussing on support of these projects during 2018. As shown in our own history of Catholic education in the Hunter, a little financial and prayerful support to communities in need can help them achieve sustainable outcomes of great benefit to themselves, and often also for their non-Christian neighbours, now and for generations to come. Hosted by Catholic Mission, Myanmar’s first Cardinal, Charles Maung Bo, used a recent short Australian visit to promote support for education and peace in Myanmar. Cardinal Bo touched on conflict and political turmoil in Myanmar, which has received extensive media coverage over the past two years, but focused on the Church’s work to heal and build the

nation through education. ‘We have opened schools in remote areas. We have built churches where there was none. We have educated our poor seminarians and sent them back to remote areas,’ the Cardinal said. ‘With courage and resilience, we must carry on in the future.’ Cardinal Bo urged Australians to continue their support of education in Myanmar through Catholic Mission, linking it directly to the prospect of peace. To support crucial education programs in Myanmar, or to watch Cardinal Bo’s video message, head to

Mark Toohey is the Diocesan Director for Catholic Mission in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.



A U R O R A C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E

How much do I need to retire? BY JUSTIN CLEVELAND

It’s the question we’re asked most often: “How much do I need to retire?” The answer is, unsurprisingly, complicated. Hearing, “it depends,” isn’t particularly satisfying. So, let’s take a look at how you decide how much money you’ll need to have the kind of retirement you want. What are your goals in retirement? One reason it’s so difficult to answer the question is that every individual’s idea of retirement is as unique as the person. Some people want to quit working and travel; others want to spend time at home with family. Others still want to keep working or volunteering. The lap of luxury for one person is a modest existence for another. The amount of money you’ll need in your super savings depends largely on the kind of life you want in retirement but also what kind of assets you have. For example, do you own your home outright, or do you rent? That will change the calculation significantly. The other side of this calculation is that you will have a chance to live the life that

you can afford. Sailing around the world in a hot air balloon sounds like a grand adventure but, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. To determine what you can afford, consider: ffDo you own your home? ffWhat is your super balance? ffDo you have any other savings, investments or assets? ffWhere do you want to live? ffWhat kind of additional payments (like Centrelink aged pension) are you eligible for? Where you retire can play a big role in how far you stretch your dollar. For example, comparing the cost of living between Sydney and Perth in August of 2018, a survey found that consumer prices including rent was about 23% cheaper in Perth, meaning your savings should last longer there. Excluding rent, prices were about 5% cheaper in Perth – still a notable difference when thinking about how long your savings will last.

Don’t let your savings expire before you do

ffHousehold goods and personal items (clothes, technology, home repairs)

While we think about retirement as the end, it’s just the beginning of a new journey.

ffSocial expenses (dining out, hobbies) ffCar ownership and maintenance

You might be retired for 30 years so it’s essential that you not just focus on the total amount of money that you have saved but also how it’ll be spread out over the years. Other things to consider There are many ongoing costs that you’ll need to think about, such as: ffPhone and internet services ffPrivate health insurance

ffAged care costs. So, how much do I need to retire? As much as it pains to say, it depends entirely on what retirement looks like to you. Ask a financial adviser: How much do I need? Our financial advice team can create a plan to help you make the most of your money and achieve your financial goals, no matter if you’re just starting out or getting ready to retire.

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Can Pope Francis make the Church relevant again?


Richard spoke about Pope Francis’ constant challenge of creating a more ‘synodal church’. Ecclesial relevance must not be confused with ‘trendiness’ – Professor Richard Gaillardetz reminded participants at his recent seminar on ‘Can Pope Francis make the Church relevant again?’ In early August, our diocese was honoured to welcome Professor Richard Gaillardetz, Joseph Chair of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College. Richard’s visit was timely and built on the challenging and very relevant conversations members of the diocese had with eminent theologians Rev Dr James McEvoy and Rev Dr Richard Lennan, who were also visiting the diocese in July and August. In his presentations with clergy, parish and diocesan leaders, diocesan staff and parishioners Richard Gaillardetz challenged all members of the church to embrace the invitation of Pope Francis to have the ‘courage and boldness’ to bring the message of Christ through a ‘pedagogy of desire’ to all those who are in our communities – especially those who may be on the margins. Through his commentary on Vatican II, and through his reflections on the church leadership we have experienced in the 50 years since this great council, Richard linked the teaching of Pope Francis to our contemporary context here in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese and asked how we may be able to effectively meet the greatest crisis facing the Catholic


Church since the Reformation. Again, using the example and teaching of Pope Francis, Richard invited the local church in Newcastle to embrace the enormous wisdom of our doctrine and tradition and to work collaboratively to recover lost credibility. As an outsider to our Australian context, Richard praised the decision of the bishops to invite all Australians to participate in a national Plenary Council in 2020. At every seminar, Richard challenged participants to embrace the call to ‘listen and dialogue’ as together the Australian church defines a blueprint for the future. Richard spoke about Pope Francis’ constant challenge of creating a more ‘synodal church’. He stated that a synodal church must be whole and entire, committed to the practice of mutual listening. Richard also remarked on how Pope Francis masterfully linked this listening church to Vatican II’s teaching that all the faithful were given a supernatural instinct, a sensus fidei, for discerning God’s Word, penetrating its meaning and applying that Word more fully in their lives. Therefore, it will be through this Plenary Council process that the church will be able to engage in an honest and humble engagement with all Australians. Brian Lacey is Head of RE and Spirituality Services for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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A U R O R A C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E

Hiroshima Remembered The Newcastle group, Christians for Peace, recently held a solemn ecumenical service on the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The event, hosted by the Adamstown Uniting Church, was attended by some 150 people. There were religious ministers and lay people from various denominations with a noticeable presence of religious Sisters, Dominicans, Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of St Joseph. Meditative music from the pianist struck a quiet, reflective tone, in tune with the hearts of those drawn to the event. The welcome and prayer period were followed by the reading of poems, the singing of solo and communal hymns and intercessory prayer to involve all. Each section was short and unhurried with different persons leading. The variety and quiet, steady rhythm of the prayer was unifying and solemn. It opened the darkness of death, sorrow and great wrong and also brought the Gospel perspective of hope. Poetic images spoke without naming. ‘Bruised black clouds shed tears over a whole world… and God wept for these were His children.’ One refrain we all prayed was ‘How long must we cry out?’ Another was ‘Teach me to do what is right, work in the darkness, trust in the light. And may love be the path that I walk upon’.

The Future of Faith BY JOHN DONNELLY It is a brave person who is prepared to present on the topic of The Future of Faith – Challenges and Possibilities in Maitland-Newcastle at a time when many of us have lost faith. But if anyone can, it is Dr Richard Lennan – the local priest who has gained recognition for his study of the church and is Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College in the School of Theology and Ministry. I first met Richard when he returned to Australia in the early 90s to lecture at Sydney College of Divinity. He was fresh from his doctorate studies and was all fired up with enthusiasm for


Two scripture passages were read, the first, Micah 6:8 ‘What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God’. The second was the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. Dr Jennifer Barnes sang of God weeping, in words of Shirley Murray. ‘God weeps at love withheld, at power misused.’ After the period of prayer, Sr Monica Sinclair rsm introduced Fr Frank Brennan sj, quoting Paul Keating’s phrase, ‘meddling priest’, Kevin Rudd’s ‘ethical burr in the nation’s saddle’ and indicating Fr Frank’s long involvement in issues of justice. She summed up his role as ‘shining the light of the Gospel into the dark and messy corners of our world’. Fr Frank took as his title, ‘A planet to heal’, the title that revered former Jesuit Superior General Fr Arrupe gave to his ‘Reflections and Forecasts’. His address moved from Fr Arrupe, Fr Arrupe’s experience of the bomb, to Frank’s sister’s words, to the two way impact on both indigenous and non-indigenous of Australia of injustices inflicted, to the world political scene, with America, North Korea, and Richard Flanagan’s address in the current Garma festival. Typical of Frank’s presentation, his clear, calmly spoken words were not an academic exercise, but, in a conversational, wide-ranging yet cohesive style. It cut to the heart of what our humanity asks of us, here and now, in the big issues, in the light of the Gospel.

what the future of the church might be. It was about that same time that the sexual abuse of priests first became public knowledge and the effect on our church was shock and disbelief. Undaunted by the scandal, Richard continued to draw upon the wisdom of the Catholic tradition and apply it to our present predicament and bravely speculate as to the future. He reminds us that in truth there has been no ‘golden age’ of the church, no time that we can go back to for certainty or assurance. In fact he challenged us with the assertion that we are the first and only Christians to try to live faithfully in this place and this time. I understood this to mean we are called to a unique response to God which has not been seen before nor will it be repeated. Richard actually began the address by defining faith as ‘befriending God who wants our company’. This simple and

It cut to the heart of what our humanity asks of us, here and now, in the light of the Gospel. Frank, as the earlier prayer did, called us to ownership of our identity as children of God. There was a quiet power in Frank’s address. He noted that the only way to guarantee the non-use of atomic weapons again is to ensure their non-existence. He noted too the white-anting by our government of the dignity of all persons, whatever their nationality. Frank’s address can be found online at The final part of the ceremony was a lighting of candles for peace and a

profound thought was qualified by the constant warning not to limit God, not to try to contain or define God. God says Richard is ‘bigger and other than us’. Our faith response is to simply ‘allow God to love us.’ Now that can’t be that hard can it? Of course it can, because faith is not just between me and God, it involves everyone else. This is where faith gets messy, because we have to deal with our present community and with the tradition that has handed on faith to us. Like each of us both our community and the tradition are limited, imperfect and sinful. According to Richard in need of conversion, transformation, improvement. Despite all he knows about the failings of the church, Richard professes hope that in faithfulness we will have a future in relationship with God and with the world in which we love and live today. I took great encouragement from Richard’s frank, honest and learned approach to

concluding blessing from Rev G. Garnsey. Afterwards all shared a friendly chat and supper. This article was first published on the website of the Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar

Sr Jan Tranter is a Sister of St Joseph, Lochinvar.

Sr Jan Tranter is a Sister of St Joseph, Lochinvar.

the question of faith. At a time when we are coming to terms with our past transgressions and are being challenged to listen to what the Spirit is saying it is heartening to hear a balanced voice of faith and reason.

John Donnelly is Director of Office of Life and Faith in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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St Nicholas

The philosophy behind St Nicholas Early Education BY BRITTEN THOMPSON

Curiosity drives infants and toddlers to explore and experience the world around them. It is this innate curiosity which inspires a child’s interest in developing an understanding of their surroundings and their place within life. With the importance of curiosity in mind, it is essential to nurture the desire for discovery and expanded horizons in all children. This understanding of the innateness of curiosity is at the heart of the St Nicholas approach to early education. Reggio Emilia inspired learning The curriculum at all St Nicholas Early Education centres is built upon a Reggio Emilia inspired approach to early education. The Reggio Emilia Approach is a philosophy surrounding a child’s education through preschool and primary school. It is a childfocused pedagogy which values each child as strong, capable and resilient while asserting children are filled with an intuitive wonderment of the world around them.

Each St Nicholas early education centre is designed with child-centric learning in mind


Now Open!

Cardiff and Lochinvar!

Following World War II, Italy was a nation craving change and a new beginning. It was in this social climate the Reggio Emilia Approach to early education and childhood learning was born. The name Reggio Emilia is borrowed from the Italian city in which Loris Malaguzzi, the psychologist who conceived of and developed the approach, lived. “There is an inner voice that pushes children on, but this force is greatly multiplied when they are convinced that facts and ideas are resources, just as their friends and the adults in their lives are precious resources. It is especially at this point that children expect – as they have from the beginning of their life adventure – the help and truthfulness of grownups,” says Loris Malaguzzi in the catalogue of the exhibit The Hundred Languages of Children.

upon what it truly means to be a teacher. It fosters the belief the child, parent, community and natural environment are all essential to the learning process. Reggio Emilia inspired early education “Each St Nicholas early education centre is designed with child-centric learning in mind,” says Sean Scanlon, CEO of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

The Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange (REAIE) describes the centres utilising the approach as mirrors, “not a model.”

“This means, from the rooms and play areas to the highly-trained educators and management support, the St Nick’s philosophy is to focus on the individual and holistic development of each child,” he says.

“When we look in a mirror we see ourselves and when we look at the practice and pedagogy of the Reggio Emilia schools we find a provocation to challenge our assumptions and question our practices,” the REAIE website says.

“Last year St Nicholas provided a conference for all educators to unpack the Reggio Emilia curriculum and the theory behind adapting early education to this approach,” said Kerri Armstrong, the General Operations Manager at St Nick’s.

The Reggio Emilia Approach provides the framework for reflecting upon the image of a child and necessitates reflection

“We invited Kirsty Liljegren to present to us an incredible day of learning and influence to our curriculum. Our program

at St Nick’s now includes the inspiration of the child’s image and our role as educators in support of this. With a focus on the natural child and child-led learning, St Nick’s educators focus on facilitating each child’s innate and unique drive to learn, explore and experience. “Our centres feature all-natural play areas; purpose-built outdoor areas landscaped with age-appropriate play equipment. We feature areas of challenge and risk mixed with spaces to create and pretend. Our sand pits and mud pits provide valuable time to explore natural elements and our veggie gardens provide a great introduction to gardening,” she said. To learn more about St Nicholas Early Education centres, visit the St Nick’s website. You can also arrange a tour of St Nicks’ facilities by phone on (02) 4979 1110 or by email to

Britten Thompson is Team Leader Digital, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.



155 students from 27 Catholic schools across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle performed to record audiences in the ASPIRE production, Dark Matter from 1 to 4 August.

A U R O R A C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E


Community Noticeboard

Community Noticeboard “Before We Say I Do” 2018 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 Friday evening and Saturday as advertised and the FOCCUS group program is three Monday evening sessions. Marriage and Relationship Education Course − (FOCCUS) at the Toohey Room, Newcastle, 3 and 10 September. 5.15-7.30pm (Session 3 to be confirmed). Marriage and Relationship Education Course – Before We Say I Do at Singleton CatholicCare, 19 and 20 October. Friday 5pm-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. Marriage and Relationship Education Course – (FOCCUS) at the Toohey Room, Newcastle, 29 October and 5 November. 5.15-7.30pm (Session 3 to be confirmed). Marriage and Relationship Education Course – Before We Say I Do, 23 and 24 November at the Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. FOCCUS Individual Sessions by appointment only.

We also have a wait list for our Bringing Baby Home Workshop which assists couples transition to parenthood. For further information on all our courses please contact Robyn Donnelly P 02 4979 1370 or E

Council for Australian Catholic Women The diocesan contact group for the Council will meet on the following Saturdays, 9am for 9.30am and all are welcome. Dates are 27 October, 24 November (Christmas gathering; time may change slightly). The group meets at St Benedict’s Centre, The Chapel (entrance through driveway), 25 Farquhar Street, The Junction. Further information P Ellen Hazelton 0407 513 813.

Mater Graduate Nurses Association 72nd Annual Reunion Sunday 11 November. RSVP by 27 October 2018. For further information, please contact Carol Scotman P 0408 756 418 or E

St. Aloysius Girls High School Reunion Looking for past students of St. Aloysius Girls High School, Hamilton, Forms 1-4 (1962-1965) for a reunion at the Duke of Wellington Hotel New Lambton on Saturday 24 November, contact Colleen 0412 321 740 or Janice 4954 0276.

For your diary

Mums’ Cottage Invites grandparents to Grandparent and Toddler day, every Wednesday during school terms from 10am-noon at 29 St Helen’s Street, Holmesville. Enjoy some companionship with other grandparents while children play. Mums’ Cottage offers a range of services, programs, workshops and family events and would love to welcome you at any time. For more information, P Mums’ Cottage 4953 4105, E or visit

Youth Mass On the last Sunday of each month, the 5.30pm Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Macquarie St, Wallsend, has a youthful flavour. Everyone is welcome.

Volunteering with Palms Australia Palms is seeking qualified and experienced Australians to assist in various missionary and development activities. There are opportunities in a wide range of areas, from teaching in Timor Leste (pre-school, primary and secondary) to assisting with the development of a brass band in Kiribati; from plumbing/building in Papua New Guinea to English/Science teaching/ mentoring in Samoa. Whatever your skills and experience, there is a place for you! To learn more P 9560 5333 or E

September 2

National Child Protection Week begins


Marriage and Relationship Education Course (see opposite)


St Teresa of Calcutta


International Literacy Day


Child Protection Sunday


World Suicide Prevention Day Marriage and Relationship Education Course (see opposite)


International Day of Peace World Alzheimer’s Day


St Vincent de Paul


Social Justice Sunday

October 1

International Day for Older Persons


International Day of Non-Violence


Feast of St Francis of Assisi

For more events please visit and

Immediate and Permanent Foster Carers are needed FREE INFO SESSIONS

19 September 4 Cardiff 20 September 4 Taree 26 September 4 Maitland LIGHT REFRESHMENTS PROVIDED

Call 4979 1120 to register or Visit for more info


W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A - M A G A Z I N E

Last Word


A U R O R A C AT H O L I C D I O C E S E O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C A S T L E

Be still awhile along the track Just glancing at the contents pages of Jim Quillinan’s Be Still Awhile Along the Track is enticing. Dip into “A lesson from ants”, “The angels in our lives”, “Time for tomatoes” and “Running on empty?” This book is a handy compilation of Jim’s fortnightly articles covering matters theological, scriptural, pastoral and playful. Having read and kept the columns, I have learned that when a particular type of reflection is desired, it will be there – it’s just a matter of looking. Each short chapter addresses a topic from the mundane to the magnificent, followed by a related piece of scripture or other wisdom (often from Pope Francis), some questions to spark thought or conversation, and finally, a prayer.

Chef Bartholomew Connors, Cathedral Café.

Ingredients ff 1 egg ff 4 yolks ff 1/4 cup honey ff 1/4 cup castor sugar


On FoMO – Fear of Missing Out – Jim has this to say: “Anxiety can be a terrible thing; people worry about just about everything. Some are more prone to that than others. The idea that someone, somewhere, is having a better time, making more money, or leading a more exciting life can cause great anxiety in some. For those who are more prone towards such feelings, smartphones and social media have made it easier than ever to track what others are doing. According to a survey in 2014, social media users were motivated by their need to socialise and connect with others, to escape boredom, but also to monitor their friends’ activities – what is called by some, ‘surveillance gratification’. “…Comparing our life to another’s is not helpful. That may make you miss out on

Chocolate and honey semifreddo This month’s recipe would be the winners choice by Willy Wonkas Umpa Lumpers. With this dessert, think: creamy, silky, Tobleroney, chocolatey, smooth, cool and velvety! The adjectives are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the flavour journey you’re about to send your mouth on. Best of all, this yummy dessert is easy to make! Have fun and enjoy.

ff Tablespoon of brandy


ff 2 cups of thickened cream, whipped

In a heat-proof bowl over a hot water bay, place eggs, yolks, honey, sugar and brandy to make a sabayon (like you would a hollandaise sauce).

ff 200 GMA dark cooking chocolate, melted

With a balloon whisk, whisk well until it increases in volume and forms a ‘ribbon‘ consistency (5-10 minutes). Melt the chocolate and have the whipped cream at the ready. Fold in the chocolate then fold in the cream. Pour into a loaf tin lined with cling film. Cover air-tight with cling film so no air can enter. Place into freezer for a minimum of 4-5 hours.

what’s in front of you for fear of missing out on what other people are raving about. Relax, enjoy and appreciate what you have instead of always looking at what others appear to have. The reality is, we can’t have it all. We have to say no to some things in order to say a meaningful yes to others.” Jim Quillinan of the Diocese of Sale is the author of the fortnightly newsletter Along the Track and has published two previous books: Along the Track and Further Along the Track. Be Still Awhile Along the Track was published by Morning Star Publishing 2017.

Tracey Edstein is the former Editor of Aurora Magazine, 2002-2018.

Chef Bart’s culinary gifts can be enjoyed at Cathedral Café, 843 Hunter St Newcastle West, 9am–1.30pm, Monday to Friday. P 4961 0546.

Marriage & Relationship Education Before We Say I Do / Foccus / Prepare Enrich Marriage Education is a vital part of planning for a life partnership. CatholicCare offers a selection of courses for dating, soon-to-be married and married couples to assist them in preparing for, and maintaining, their commitment to one another.





3 & 10 September 5.15-7.30pm

19 & 20 October Friday 5pm-9pm Saturday 9am-5pm

29 October & 5 November 5.15-7.30pm

23 & 24 November Friday 5-9pm Saturday 9am-5pm

(Session 3 to be confirmed)

(Session 3 to be confirmed)

*All workshops can be customised as individual sessions by appointment only, please call our office for further information.

For further information on all our courses please phone 02 4979 1370 or email

Lovedale Rd 10mins Anaconda Amart Toys R Us

New England Hwy

Anambah Rd

Opal Nursing Home (Under Construction)

Newcastle 40mins Newcastle Airport 40mins Sydney 90mins

To Hunter Valley

Domayne BCF Harvey Norman Ten Pin Bowling

Rutherford Shopping Centre

Medical Centres Woolworths, Coles, Chemist, IGA, Aldi

To Newcastle

01950 22399

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