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Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle December 2018 | No.186


Winners of t he CDF Christm as gift card competition

Year of Youth comes to a close A review of the year 8

Introducing St Nicholas OOSH My time, our place 9

Closer to the cliff edge: Fr Rob Galea writes for Aurora 14

Enrolments still open for 2019!


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First Word


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

The year has flown

On the cover CDF Christmas gift cards on a Christmas tree. Photo courtesy of Jessica Ward

It is hard to believe that Advent is upon us and Christmas is around the corner, which is why I would urge you to have a read of Helene O’Neill’s thought-provoking article about the commercialisation of Christmas on page 6.

Featured f f The winners of the CDF Christmas Card Competition


f f The commercialisation of Christmas


f f What are you waiting for this Advent?


f f The Really Good News of Christmas


f f Plastic Police in Merewether


f f Letter from the Synod Fathers to Young People


f f A review of the Year of Youth


f f Bigger and better than ever


f f My Time Our Place: Introducing St Nicholas OOSH


f f Sharing the Journey


f f St Pius X Adamstown celebrates alumni achievements


f f Back together again


f f The Diocese’s littlest graduates


f f Everest Base Camp


f f How to have a great Christmas


f f The death penalty in the USA


f f People’s hero named Church’s newest saint


f f Pope condemns dishonesty in politics


f f Being Catholic in Australia today


f f All welcome to Simbang Gabi


f f Jesus the Forgotten Feminist


In the same vein, Fr Andrew Doohan’s article about Advent - a season of hope – is well worth a read. Thank you Andrew for this column and for writing it while Bishop Bill is recuperating from his bypass surgery. On that note I am sure all Aurora readers will join all of us here at Cathedral House in keeping Bishop Bill in our thoughts and prayers and in wishing him a speedy recovery. Samantha Cross, the founder and director of Cross Connections, was recently a guest speaker at an Assembly of Catholic Professionals luncheon. She opened her speech with the comment that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by

f f First Word


f f My Word


f f CareTalk


f f Wisdom in the Square


f f Community Noticeboard


f f Last Word


It would be remiss of us in looking back over 2018 if we didn’t have a story about the Year of the Youth. Rebecca Piefke’s story on page 8 is nothing short of inspirational. Equally inspirational are the stories about the St Aloysius reunion that was held in November and St Pius X, Adamstown honouring the achievements of former students on its Wall of Fame. These stories are on page 12. Fr Rob Galea’s story - which reveals how an encounter with Christ’s unconditional love turned his life around - is amazing. Until this encounter, his life had been plagued by addiction and violence. You can read this on page 14. Page 18 features a story on Pope Francis officially naming the Church’s newest saint.

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Aurora online

Next deadline 7 January 2019

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On the following page are the insights from Fr Greg Barker about the thoughts of delegates who attended the recent National Convention of Priests. Greg says that delegates were left with the thought that the call to remember the foundations of a good Christian church are found in Christ not human endeavours. This story is on page 19. In closing, I would like to thank all of those involved in the production of Aurora – the writers, contributors, photographers, the news team, the production team and our advertisers. To all of you and to all our readers, have a blessed Christmas. We will be back in the new year.

John Kingsley-Jones is the Head of Diocesan Communications for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Aurora online, via

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2050 – unless we recycle plastic material. This is what prompted Aurora to interview her for her story on page 7.

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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

Holding fast to hope By the time this column appears in Aurora, we will have commenced our annual celebration of the Season of Advent. Advent is one of those liturgical seasons with which I have an ambivalent relationship. I love that we are preparing for the coming of Christ, both at Christmas and at the ‘end of time’, yet I am not always comfortable at the way in which Advent sometimes gets subsumed into the usual procession of ‘end of year’ events. Not that I begrudge those celebrations – they are the kind of celebrations that allow us to keep forging ahead as human beings – but the liturgist in me sometimes wishes that the end of our civil year didn’t coincide with the end of the calendar year.

Having said that, however, by now, we will have started the traditional marking of the ‘end of the year’, whether that be at school (with the associated ‘graduations’), at work, as a family, or, indeed, as a Church. It is right and proper that we can mark this transition before the arrival of the full height of the Australian summer. These celebrations allow us to look back and reflect as well as forward in the hope of what might be available to us in the new year. And this is where I can usually reconcile the liturgical Season of Advent with the reality of our civil life. Advent is primarily a season of hope when we look forward to the fulfilment of the promise that is gifted to us in the Incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas, and to all that flows from

the coming of Jesus as ‘one-like-us’. This hope is what keeps me going along the Christian path day in and day out.

May the peace of Christ, our Advent and our Hope, be with you and with your loved ones this Advent and Christmas seasons.

It would be all too easy for us to surrender to the gloom that surrounds us as Church, but that is the ‘easy option’. The more profound option, the more Christian option, is about holding fast to the hope that we are celebrating during the Season of Advent and the end of the calendar year. The new year, 2019, holds many possibilities for us as Church – the Plenary Council, our own Diocesan Synod, and the potential for continuing Church reforms at the level of the universal Church – and it is these possibilities that should hold both our attention and our focus as we continue our journey along the Christian path.

Note: Andrew Doohan, our Vicar-General, has very kindly provided this column for this edition of Aurora. At the time of writing, Bishop Bill was recovering from bypass surgery and was therefore unable to write his regular column.

Fr Andrew Doohan Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Frankly Spoken God listens to us and to our prayers, however repetitive they may be. God never grows tired; he is always happy when we seek him. May we too ask for the grace of a heart that listens. I would like to say to the young people, in the name of all of us adults: forgive us if often we have not listened to you, if, instead of opening our hearts, we have filled your ears. Homily - Closing Mass of Synod on Young People, 28 October 2018

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And the winners of the CDF Christmas Gift Card Competition are...... BY BROOKE ROBINSON

To help us get into the festive spirit, the Catholic Development Fund recently held a Christmas gift card competition for all students enrolled at schools across the Diocese, as well as children enrolled at St Nicholas Early Education and participants in CatholicCare programs. Out of the 521 creative entries received, 12 winners have been chosen to have their original designs printed and sold as a gift card pack to help raise money for DARA (Development and Relief Agency). The winners will also receive a CDF Notice Saver Account with a $100 startup bonus.Packs of the gift cards will be sold at schools, St Nicholas Early Education centres and CatholicCare offices, with all proceeds from sales being donated to DARA. DARA identifies, reaches out and supports those in our community who are disadvantaged, marginalised, oppressed or isolated by cultural, ethnic or religious differences. DARA provides practical assistance, an opportunity for socialisation and a pathway to integration via access to educational and vocational programs. Some of the winners are pictured below.

The winning artists are: ffLacey Joyce – St Patrick’s Primary School, Swansea ffFlorence Jackson – St Nicholas Early Education, Singleton ffJamelia Bamblett – St John Vianney Primary School, Morisset ffBrielle Rawnsley – St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar ffViolet O’Brien – St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar ffGabrielle Ray – St Mary’s Primary School, Scone ffAva Smith – St Joseph’s Primary School, Kilaben Bay ffBella O’Connor – Rosary Park Catholic School, Branxton ffMatilda Hooker – St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton ffHarrison Hawke – St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar ffLaura Malone – St Dominic’s Centre, Mayfield ffElla Hill – Holy Family Primary School, Merewether Beach

Brooke Robinson is a Content Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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.


The Really Good News of Christmas Bible Society Australia has brought a fresh retelling of the Christmas story, especially designed for children aged between five and seven, called The Really Good News of Christmas - for Me! It tells the story of Christmas, using fun contemporary language, in the context of God’s love. Then Mary set off travelling, with Joseph right beside, They walked and talked for miles and miles, till Bethlehem arrived. With a baby inside Mary, who was going to be King, When they finally arrived, there was no room at the inn! Bible Society CEO, Dr Greg Clarke, says the little book reminds children that Christmas is about more than just Santa Claus and presents. “Many children don’t know about Jesus anymore. Their kindergarten might do a Christmas play, but it is more likely to be secular. Christmas hymns are more often than not replaced by songs such as Jingle Bells in shopping centres,” Dr Clarke said. “That is why we want as many children as possible to read this little book. It opens a bigger story. A story that is beyond themselves and the world they see every day. It is a really good news story.” Bible Society is offering individuals the opportunity to order three of these little books for free. To find out more visit


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

The commercialisation of Christmas BY HELENE O’NEILL

I’m not sure how you feel when Christmas is abbreviated to Xmas or when this special time is referred to as the Silly Season? The real meaning of Christmas appears to be commercialised and abbreviated. Advent is meant to be the preparation time for celebrating the birth of Jesus, a season for prayer and anticipation that leads us to joy and hope. Just examine how far commercialisation has taken the Season of Advent. The internet promotes the advent calendar in so many different ways; you can purchase the beer calendar and try a new craft beer each day. Or if you prefer wine maybe a shiraz or a chardonnay variety for each of the 25 days. Or, if there’s children in the family perhaps a Harry Potter or Peppa Pig calendar is appealing? Fortunately, as people of faith, joining a parish group or even conducting your own private prayerful preparation captures the true meaning of the season.

There is no doubt that the highlight for faith communities is to join together for Eucharist on Christmas Day.

others, and remember to celebrate Jesus’ birth as his gift to us. Helene O’Neill is the Family Ministry Coordinator for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

This is a time to not only open our wallets but to open our minds for the goodwill of

What are you waiting for this Advent? In my office, Ashleigh Banks is waiting for the birth of her first child. She is due December 29. Ashleigh says she is “waiting for a new life in our family - waiting to see what the baby’s personality is, what their hopes and dreams will be in their life and nurturing that.” It will be a particularly special Advent for her and her family. What are you waiting for in this season? The word advent means coming, and focuses on Christ’s threefold coming past, present and future. ffWe await and prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. ffWe hope and give thanks for Christ’s presence within us and in the world. ffWe look to the future, waiting for Christ to come again. Every year we have the opportunity during Advent to reflect and to use that time to get ready for Christmas. But the end-of-year season can be so busy

that suddenly Christmas is here and we haven’t set aside time to focus on God. As the Plenary Council has been encouraging everyone to ask What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time, we can stop and ask God individually, “What are you asking of me this Advent?” Maybe this year we could deliberately set aside time to sit in silence or to go on a retreat, even just for a day. It could be to spend more time including God in the busyness of the season, reflecting back on what God has done in your life this year. Or it could be to deliberately go out of your way to do something for someone in need this year. Or it could be kind words and prayers for someone having their first Christmas without a loved one. As Catholics in this season we can be reminded of the strong hope we have in Jesus. In a homily in October, Pope Francis spoke of hope as an encounter with God.


Pope Francis provided an image to illustrate hope - a pregnant woman who expects a child, just like Ashleigh. “She is joyful! Every day she caresses her abdomen to caress the child, she is expecting the child, she lives expecting that child. This image can help us to understand what hope is: to live for this encounter. The woman imagines how her child’s eyes are, how his smile will be, if he’ll be blonde or brown . . . she imagines the encounter with her child,” Pope Francis said. “Hope is concrete; it’s of every day because it’s an encounter. And each time that we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, in prayer, in the Gospel, in the poor, in communal life; each time we take an extra step towards this definitive encounter,” the Pope concluded. May each of us look for and experience those amazing encounters with God this Advent. Brooke Robinson is a Content Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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Plastic Police in Merewether


There will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 unless the world begins recycling the material at a rapid rate, a report by the World Economic Forum found more than two years ago. It is this knowledge that keeps Samantha Cross motivated in her quest to see soft plastics recycled on a large scale. Ms Cross is the director and founder of Cross Connections, a Newcastle-based sustainability consultancy business. In 2015 she began the Plastic Police program designed to help businesses divert their waste from landfill.

Samantha Cross

“In terms of soft plastic - if you can scrunch it, you can save it.” Ms Cross began by trialling the Plastic Police program at her children’s primary school, Biddabah Public at Warners Bay. The experiment was a great success, with over 1000 kilograms of soft plastic collected over 12 months, some of which was used to construct an outdoor bench seat for the school. As a result, Plastic Police now offers a collection service to multiple schools and businesses, such as Hunter Water, Quarry Mining and our own Holy Family Merewether Beach.

The program collects soft plastics, such as chip packets and cling wrap, and recycles them for use in asphalt for roads and other products including outdoor furniture. Ms Cross said the amount of soft plastic generated by her own home, which at that stage could not be recycled, encouraged her to take action.

Holy Family principal Sidonie Coffey said the program had been a resounding success since the school took it on 18 months ago.

“Sixty per cent of soft plastics go to landfill, 30 per cent is incorrectly placed in the recycling bin and only two per cent is going to bring-back schemes,” she said.

“The education process was the most important aspect – teaching the kids what soft plastic is – if they could crunch it in their hands they could recycle it.”

“There is more plastic than we can produce things out of – we need to reduce.

A team of Year 5 students, known as the “Eco Warriors”, are responsible for emptying the specially designated soft plastic receptacles into a large skip bin for collection by Plastic Police.

“My former P&F president, Liesel Allan, and her husband, asked me to look at it and were the main drivers in getting it started,” she said.

“We receive a monthly report from Ms Cross on how much we have recycled. This really gives the kids ownership of the program,” Ms Coffey said. The format perfectly complimented what the school was already doing in relation to environmental sustainability, Ms Coffey said. “We have our own chickens and vegetable gardens, which food scraps go to, and everything we grow goes to the canteen to be sold.” Holy Family’s primary goal moving forward is to purchase outdoor playground equipment constructed of soft plastic and to spread the word about Plastic Police, Ms Coffey says. “It is a very low maintenance program to run - I would strongly recommend it to other schools – the kids and their families have really embraced it,” she said.

Todd Dagwell is the Senior Content Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Year 5 Eco Warriors at Holy Family Merewether Beach

Letter from the Synod Fathers to Young People XV ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS We the Synod Fathers now address you, young people of the world, with a word of hope, trust and consolation. In these days, we have gathered together to hear the voice of Jesus, “the eternally young Christ”, and to recognise in Him your many voices, your shouts of exultation, your cries, and your moments of silence. We are familiar with your inner searching, the joys and hopes, the pain and anguish that make up your longings. Now we want you to hear a word from us: we wish to be sharers in your joy,

so that your expectations may come to life. We are certain that with your enthusiasm for life, you will be ready to get involved so that your dreams may be realised and take shape in your history. Our weaknesses should not deter you; our frailties and sins must not be an obstacle for your trust. The Church is your mother; she does not abandon you; she is ready to accompany you on new roads, on higher paths where the winds of the Spirit blow stronger – sweeping away the mists of indifference,

superficiality and discouragement. When the world that God so loved, that he gave us his only Son, Jesus, is focused on material things, on shortterm successes, on pleasures, and when the world crushes the weakest, you must help it to rise up again and to turn its gaze towards love, beauty, truth and justice once more. For a month, we have walked together with some of you and with many others who have been united to us through

prayer and affection. We wish to continue the journey now in every part of the earth where the Lord Jesus sends us as missionary disciples. The Church and the world urgently need your enthusiasm. Be sure to make the most fragile people, the poor and those wounded by life your traveling companions. You are the present; be a brighter future.



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 review of the Year of the Youth


As the Year of Youth comes to an end, Rebecca Piefke reflects on the privilege of being ACTiv8 Youth Co-ordinator and how the Year of Youth has impacted her ministry. I am the Youth Co-ordinator for ACTiv8 Chisholm. I attended World Youth Day in 2008 which definitely sparked the flame for me. After that time, I went on to be married and have children but there was always something inside of me that was drawn back to youth ministry. It has always been something close to my heart to work with young people and share the love of Jesus. In 2016 the timing was right for me and my family so I applied to be the ACTiv8 Chisholm youth coordinator. Working in youth ministry is one of the most rewarding things I have experienced. While giving up my evenings sometimes is tiring, the benefits outweigh the negatives. All the activities, friendships and spreading the message of Jesus are things that are going to impact these children and young adults for a lifetime. I love being there not only for the young people but also to be an example to other parents. Walking the faith journey with our young people as they discover their relationship with God is a privilege, and as a result that often helps parents rediscover their faith. We have four youth groups which are all completely different in their own way but still have the same purpose. Each group includes food, games and sharing. We have a youth group at Lochinvar which runs every Monday night. This youth group is made up of around 16 children from primary school. We speak to the children about the upcoming Sunday Gospel and explain it to them in a way they can relate. We often give them little challenges to complete during the week such as a random act of kindness. Tuesday night we also run a primary school aged youth group consisting of around 15 to 25 children. We finish this youth group night with a youth Mass. Children are involved in most of the ministries of the Mass and are always very eager to get to Mass. This youth group consist of a large number of children from state schools who are Catholic and find youth group a great way to have their faith in their life as they don’t get that at school.

Maitland-Newcastle participants at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival

Our Largs youth group consists of children from seven to 16 years. This is an outreach youth group, as most of the children are of no religion. The children are aware it is Catholic youth group and still respectfully join in prayer and reflection activities. We feel we have made an impact on these children and teens though our example of Christ and making them realise the gifts and talents they have to offer to others. We run a senior youth group every second and fourth Sunday evening after the Chisholm Regional Young People Mass. All of our youth group our involved in ministries at the Mass. Afterwards we gather in the Therry Centre for games and dinner. Through the Year of Youth, we have been able to create awareness for the older generations of our parishes that our young people are a valuable and worthwhile part of our parish communities. They are able to bring life and

joy into our liturgies through their energy and talents. I feel like the Year of Youth has opened up many opportunities for young people to take an active role in church ministries and be examples of Christ. It has created awareness of our young people. The Australian Catholic Youth Festival was an example of this, as many teens attended the festival and it reignited their relationship with Christ. The energy at the festival was contagious and left many of them wanting more. The theme of the Year of Youth was to open new horizons for spreading joy, which we hope to build on for many years to come as we encounter, engage with, and encourage active participation with our young people.

Rebecca Piefke is the Youth Co-ordinator for ACTiv8 Chisholm

Soul Food “Whoever is near us and needing us must be our ‘’neighbour’’; it does not matter whether they are related to us or not, whether they are morally worthy of our help or not. The love of Christ knows no limits. It never ends; it does not shrink from ugliness and filth.” St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

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St Nicholas


Bigger and better than ever: St Nick’s Early Education has big plans for the future BY BRITTEN THOMPSON It has been a big year for St Nicholas Early Education with the opening of three new centres in Lochinvar, Cardiff and Chisholm, over the past 12 months. Next year promises to be even more exciting - starting with the opening of St Nicholas Early Education centre Raymond Terrace in January. Brand new early education centres at Branxton and Maitland will soon follow. St Nicholas Early Education Lochinvar was the last centre to open in 2018 and is the largest thus far. Lochinvar is a 124-place centre featuring a dedicated nursery catering to children aged 0 - 2 years. In addition to the nursery, St Nicholas Early Education Lochinvar includes a 30-place two-yearold program, a 30-place three-year-old program and a 40-place preschool program which includes St Nick’s Transition to School Program. Opening in January, St Nicholas Early Education Raymond Terrace is a

77-place centre catering to children 0 - 5 years of age. The centre will feature a dedicated 12-place nursery, a 20-place two-yearold program, a 20-place three-year-old program and a 25-place preschool program which will also include the Transition to School Program which prepares preschoolers for “big kid school”. Open from 6.30am - 6.00pm, St Nicholas Early Education Raymond Terrace will be operating out of what is now Williamtown Early Education and Preschool. St Nick’s plans to continue to offer services currently available to RAAF families as well as the community in Port Stephens. St Nick’s will also be undertaking an upgrade to the outdoor areas at Raymond Terrace. This upgrade will provide St Nick’s kids with the opportunity to engage in more naturebased activities.

Individuality through play is encouraged at St Nick’s

Enrolment for both Lochinvar and Raymond Terrace centres is now open. For more information about either centre, or to begin the enrolment process, contact St Nicholas Early Education at (02) 4979 1119 or by email at

My Time Our Place: Introducing St Nicholas OOSH For the last three years, St Nicholas Early Education has been providing child-led, play-based education to families throughout the Hunter. What began as two centres operating in Singleton and Newcastle’s CBD has grown to five centres, with three more centres scheduled to open in 2019. The growth of the St Nicholas brand doesn’t stop there. This year, St Nick’s has furthered its service offering to include a brand new agency: St Nicholas OOSH which provides Out of School Hours (OOSH) care to children aged five to 12 years. “St Nicholas OOSH is for school-aged children and will be offering programs that extends on their learning and interests,” says Tracey Sweetman, St Nicholas OOSH’s Project Manager. “The objective of OOSH is to engage school-aged children in the planning and implementation of the program,

which supports an interest based approach while also providing opportunities to further develop social skills and other integral developmental skills,” Tracey said. Drawing upon a philosophy which states: “As an agency of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, St Nicholas OOSH is committed to supporting family life as the foundation of society and of the Church,” St Nicholas OOSH recognises the important aspect of this is providing educationally sound and professionallystaffed education services. “We offer the children different areas - there’s a quiet space, so if children just want to come in after a big day at school, they can relax. If they’d like to do their homework, there’s a quiet space for homework. If they want to be creative, we facilitate that,” Tracey said. While St Nicholas Early Education

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


and St Nicholas OOSH are each their own agency, there is consistency between the two services and that is the commitment to putting each child at the centre of their own learning and development journey.

Tracey said: “An aspect of St Nicholas OOSH is also vacation care. Vacation care hasn’t been previously offered at our Glendale site, however, starting in January, we will be offering a vacation care program.”

Speaking of the child-led focus of St Nicholas OOSH, Tracey said: “Each child’s learning and interests are documented which allows us to build on and extend upon that foundation.”

Vacation care provides all-day care and education for school-aged children throughout the school holidays and pupil free days.

St Nicholas OOSH utilises a framework for school-aged care in Australia called My Time, Our Place which states: “The Framework acknowledges the importance of play and leisure in children’s learning and development and that their learning is not limited to any particular time or place. Developing life skills and a sense of enjoyment are emphasised.” Expanding on the philosophy and Framework behind St Nicholas OOSH,

St Nicholas OOSH currently operates a centre in Glendale at 30 Oakland Street and a centre in Chisholm at 24 Heritage Drive. A third centre in Branxton is planned for February 2019 at 28 - 44 Station street. To learn more about St Nicholas OOSH, contact Tracey Sweetman at tracey.

Britten Thompson is the Digital Team Leader for 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 do I manage my grief? This will be my first Christmas without my husband of 40 years. He passed away not quite a year ago and my grief is strong leading up to the festive season. How do I put on a brave face for my children and grandchildren as they would worry if they see me so sad?

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.


Your husband will always be a part of your family and it is understandable that special occasions during the year such as birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas will be more difficult. These times are family oriented and strong reminders of our loved ones that are no longer with us. It sounds like you have a caring family as they would be concerned about you if they saw you sad. If you can, talk to your family before Christmas and be honest about how you are feeling. This may not be easy but if you will be attending a family gathering at Christmas time, they will at least understand if you need some time out for yourself. You may also take this opportunity to let them know what may help or not help you. Many people do not know how to respond to grief and although intentions may be kind, some people may try to cheer you up. Have a think about if this is what you actually want. In trying to cheer you up, family and friends may try to distract you from the precious memories that have caused your heartache. Of course, this is not deliberate; they may just want to see you smile. Think about making room for all of it: your grief, sadness, loss, as well as the happy, funny and frustrating memories

you may have about your husband. All of these memories and emotions can find a balanced place in your life, alongside all of your current experiences involving family and friends. All of these past memories can live together with new memories and milestones in your life such as your own new experiences, the birth of a grandchild, a grandchild’s success in school and life, a wedding and so much more. In making room for both life and death experiences, this means you don’t need to pretend to be happy all the time. There is no right or wrong way to move forward from the death of a loved one but here are some tips that may help you live life and cherish your memories: ff include your husband in discussions at the Christmas celebrations. Talk about your sadness but also fun times with him. Encourage your family to share the experiences they had with your husband, and their father and grandfather; there may be tears as well as laughter. As different as each person’s experience of grief is, sharing memories with family is a common thread that will keep you connected to your husband’s memory

In making room for both life and death experiences, this means you don’t need to pretend to be happy all the time. ff consider creating new rituals at Christmas time in memory of your husband. Look through photo albums by yourself or share them with your family. Light a candle in his memory or play a song on Christmas day that has meaning to your relationship with him ff be kind to yourself and if you don’t feel like doing too much, then don’t. Decide how much you want to contribute to the family feast and don’t put yourself under pressure to “perform” ff take some time for yourself when you need it but also try to stay connected with people who care. Christmas may not be the same ever again but it can still be special.

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To arrange a visit or for more information on services near you call 1800 222 000 or visit Continuing the Mission of the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary

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Sharing the Journey



The reality is that one in five Australians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives.


Mental Health Month is October every year and provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around mental health issues.

Journey, Noeleen Osborne courageously shared the story of her mental health experience, including the care she received and her recovery.

The aim of this is to break down taboos and better enable people to access support as early as possible. The reality is that one in five Australians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Such an issue can negatively impact on all aspects of well-being, including: physical health, relationships, employment, and realising one’s true potential.

Her story provided a powerful insight into the burden of mental health, while her determination and resilience both inspired and moved the audience. Marcus McDonnell, a pastor who also managed an in-patient drug and alcohol facility on the Central Coast, shared his knowledge on the rehabilitation journey and the impact it can have on family and carers.

There is a strong chance that you, or someone you know, may have already been affected by mental health, highlighting the need for a whole of community approach to the issue. This year the theme of Mental Health Month was Sharing the Journey, so we took our annual event to the Upper Hunter. This is an area which, due to drought and a downturn in the mining sector, has faced significant challenges in recent years. We hosted a morning tea and panel discussion at St James Primary School in Muswellbrook. In the spirit of Sharing the

Kelly Pavan, psychologist and manager of CatholicCare’s counselling service, spoke about her experience supporting people with mental health issues and the services CatholicCare offers to anyone in need, at any stage of their journey. Our first visit to the Upper Hunter for Mental Health Month drew only a small crowd but one which was enthusiastic in its participation. The event has already led to new partnerships being formed to link our vulnerable Upper Hunter community residents with mental health services they would not have otherwise had access to.

Kelly Pavan is Manager Counselling Clinical for CatholicCare Hunter-Manning

A big thank you to: St James Primary School in Muswellbrook, all guest speakers, Teresa Brierley, Alyson Segrott and the Diocesan Social Justice Council for their organisation of the event and dedication to the community.

This is an area which, due to drought and a downturn in the mining sector, has faced significant challenges in recent years.


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

St Pius X Adamstown celebrates alumni achievements Every five years, St Pius X High School, Adamstown formally acknowledges the accomplishments of some of its most inspiring alumni by adding them to the school’s Wall of Fame. This year, seven graduates who have achieved at an exceptional level in their chosen field of endeavour were chosen for this honour. They are:  Rear Admiral Mark Campbell – Head of Navy Capability  Dr Terry Mernagh - B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D University of Newcastle  Kailani Craine – an international ice skating star  Bishop Brian Mascord – Diocese of Wollongong

Back together again


Colleen Fenn left St Aloysius Girls High in Hamilton in 1965 and Newcastle in 1970 but refused to say a final goodbye to her classmates.

 Ryan Callinan – a surfing champion  Tony Archer – one of the best known referees in the National Rugby League (NRL)  John Gralton – District Police Commander “In its almost 60-year history, St Pius has educated many young people who have subsequently made a significant contribution to our community and our nation,” said Robert Emery, principal at St Pius. “These individuals have achieved at an outstanding level in their chosen field of endeavour. Our Wall of Fame is an honour roll of such high achievers and exists both to honour and recognise the contribution to society made by our inductees and to provide examples of excellence to our students, our young women and men of the future – examples of what can be achieved by students of St Pius with vision, hard work and persistence. “Each of our Wall of Fame inductees has let their particular light shine in this world. They have honed their God-given gifts and shared their talents with the world, to make the world a better place in particular ways.” Photo below: Robert Emery (Principal), Cathy Murray and Mrs Archer (sister and mother of Tony Archer), Stephen Craine (father of Kailani Craine), Gemma and Joseph Mernagh (niece and nephew of Dr Terry Mernagh), Commander John Gralton and Ryan Callinan.

The St Aloysius Girls High, Hamilton, Year 10 class of 1965, at their first reunion in 2010

Despite living outside of NSW for most of her adult life, Ms Fenn has, for a decade, been one of the key organisers of St Aloysius reunions at various locations around Newcastle. Her ‘Forms’ recent reunion was held on Saturday, 24 November at the Duke of Wellington Hotel, New Lambton and was attended by about 60 people. “I really didn’t like school when I was young but I made such great friends and although I now live in Melbourne it’s great to come back and catch up with everyone,” she said. St Aloysius in Parry Street, Newcastle, was opened as a co-educational, Year 7-10, school by the Sisters of Mercy in 1915. It later became a single sex girls’ school after the Marist Brothers’ High School for boys opened in 1928. “Our class had its first reunion 10 years ago, then another one five years ago and now we are attempting to hold them every three years,” Ms Fenn said. Social media and the establishment of a St Aloysius Facebook page had been an enormous help in tracking people down and bringing them together, Ms Fenn said. Fellow classmate and close friend, Janice Seiver, co-organises the larger reunions with Ms Fenn and also arranges smaller St Aloysius gatherings every three months. “The girls from my class come together every few

months for lunch. We sometimes discuss the nuns and how things have changed – they had the cane back then of course,” Ms Seiver said with a laugh. Their 1965 class was the first year to sit for the school certificate and then go on to complete the higher school certificate. Ms Fenn said class sizes were much bigger back in the 1960’s with three classes of about 45 girls making up a year of roughly 150 students. Asked to call recall some of their fondest memories from their St Aloysius days, Ms Fenn and Ms Seiver said it was all about the beach, the pool and the dances. “We absolutely lived on the beach in those days, up at Nobby’s and South Newcastle mostly, and we also loved Lambton Pool and attending YCW dances,” Ms Fenn said. Ms Seiver and Ms Fenn also attended St John’s Primary School, Lambton, together and now organise regular reunions for that class as well. “The girls keep saying ‘I’m just so glad you got us all back together’ – we have such a great time,” Ms Seiver said. For more information about these reunions please contact Colleen Fenn 0412 321 740 or Janice Seiver 49540 276.

Todd Dagwell is the Senior Content Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

St Aloysius Girls High, Hamilton, Year 10 class of 1965 (class 4)


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The Diocese’s littlest graduates


Students from St Patrick’s Primary School, Cessnock and St Columba’s Primary School, Adamstown recently graduated from the University of Newcastle’s Children’s University. The Children’s University, supported the UON’s Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education, offers superior educational experiences for students aged between seven and 14 years. It also offers volunteering opportunities outside of school to those aged between 15 and 18. The program, which began in 2016, is child-led which means the students participate on a voluntary basis and choose for themselves which activities they would like to participate in. It aims to provide students with a chance to develop their confidence, self-efficiency and appreciation of learning through experiences outside the classroom. Each participant receives a Passport to Learning from their school which they use to record their 30 hours of extra-curricular learning, before attending a graduation ceremony at the UON’s Great Hall to celebrate their achievements. The activities and opportunities are provided by educational and learning activity providers across the Hunter,

St Patrick’s students graduating

Newcastle and Central Coast regions. These include places such as council facilities like libraries, pools, and art galleries, sporting clubs, dance schools, museums or music teachers. Students can also visit places, such as Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, during their holiday breaks and write reflections to earn further hours. Each activity however must relate to a university course in some way. The hours continue to roll over from year to year, allowing students to further build their hours and earn higher awards. Just like University graduates, students can

earn Honours, Masters, Doctorates and Fellowships. Cessnock and Adamstown were two of 44 Central Coast and Hunter primary and secondary schools that participated in the 2018 program, with this being the second year Cessnock has had graduates through the program.

maypole, make damper, play the ukulele and have fun learning in each other’s company.” “Children’s University is an exciting extracurricular initiative our school has taken part in for the first time this year,” said Justin Hutchens, principal of St Columba’s Adamstown.

“The inclusion of Children’s University for St Patrick’s has been an enjoyable experience for the students,” said Michael McKenzie, Teacher Librarian at St Patrick’s Cessnock.

“While it is about learning new skills, we feel the real value of the program lies in the possibilities it offers students – in giving them the mindset that learning is lifelong.

“Along the way, students have learnt how to sew on buttons, dance round a

“Children’s University gives young people a unique perspective into what learning can lead to post-school and allows them to visualise themselves as tertiary learners. “After talking to the students who took part, we are impressed with how the program has raised their expectations in regards to learning and has challenged them to consider new things,” Mr Hutchens said. “It would be wonderful if more Catholic schools got on board for 2019,” said Michael McKenzie of St Patrick’s. “It only takes one member of staff to organise activities and to keep the lines of communication open with parents and students. It would be a wonderful experience if one night of graduation was predominantly made up of Catholic schools to get together and to enjoy each other’s company.”

St Columba’s graduating students

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

Wisdom in the Square


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It was there, when I had reached the end of myself that I had an encounter with Christ’s unconditional love.

Closer to the cliff edge


Fr Rob Galea performs with his band at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival

I have spent my late teens, young adulthood and adulthood working tirelessly to point teens to Jesus. Not Jesus as a historical, religious figure, but Jesus the risen Christ who still changes hearts and lives. He is the Christ who gives hope, provides belonging and true and fulfilling purpose. I have given my life to this cause not because of a sense of responsibility, but because I just have no other reasonable option. I cannot not talk about Jesus. As a young teen I was plagued by a life of addiction and violence. At the age of sixteen, suffering from depression, I sought to take my own life. It was there,

The only difference now is that this takes a whole lot more out of me than it did ten or fifteen years ago. Not because I am getting older, but because the people are apparently more resistant to hearing about religion or anything associated with it.

when I had reached the end of myself that I had an encounter with Christ’s unconditional love. It was a lifechanging moment to say the least, but my first reaction to this encounter was not to bask in this incredible love, but rather my heart was suddenly filled with an urgency to tell others about this love which I had experienced. This initial encounter happened over twenty years ago, but now that urgency to create opportunities for encounters with Jesus is greater than ever. The only difference now is that this takes a whole lot more out of me than it did ten or fifteen years ago. Not because I am getting older, but because the people are apparently more resistant to hearing about religion or anything associated with it. People have changed. For this reason, the way we proclaim Jesus and His unchanging Love and Truth needs to change. This change, I believe, will cost those who are proclaiming Christ more and more. It will require us to step closer to the cliff edge. To set sail into deeper and more dangerous waters. And not only that, it will require more authenticity, more vulnerability, more of us, more of our hearts held out to people who could hurt it. It will require more of our humanity, allowing people to recognize that we do not have it ‘all together’, yet God loves and accepts us and calls us to follow Him, as He did to St Peter.

Gary Pinto and Fr Rob Galea

It will, in many cases, require persecution and being misunderstood. Criticism. Hatred towards us and at times, even violence against us. But in all this… let it be done out of an overflow of our honest and vulnerable love for Jesus in prayer, through the Sacraments and our Catholic community. People are lost, hopeless and dying out there, there is no time to waste. It may cost you everything, but really, if you have truly encountered, and continue to encounter Christ, you have no real choice.

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Everest Base Camp It was an easy decision at the time. When my mate Baden asked me if I’d like to trek to Everest Base Camp, I jumped at the chance for adventure. I was no stranger to putting myself outside my comfort zone, and love both walking and camping to remind myself of the beauty of God’s creation. But come to a few weeks out from the trip and I was having some serious doubts such as: “I’m not even a proper hiker”, “Do I have enough equipment?” “How will I fare at altitude?” “I hate the cold!”. Thankfully my stubborn nature made me dig my heels in and take the risk. The decision was rewarded as early as the beginning of the journey, as our party of three joined another 13 of the most adventurous, friendly and enthusiastic companions I’ve been blessed to meet. Each brought with them a wealth of different experiences and personalities, with ages ranging from 25 to 72. The group’s enthusiasm had us in good stead for the 13-day hike, bolstering our




spirits on the first three warm-up days of short hikes. Everyone’s positive attitudes really came to the fore on the fourth day as at 3,400 metres, our party began to struggle with altitude. Thankfully, we had a day to acclimatise in the scenic, cultural village of Namche Bazaar. This and the preparedness of our guide allowed us to get back on track. Over the next four days we had several 600-metre rises, along with attacks of gastro, migraines and Acute Mountain Sickness. Nothing could dampen our spirits though; everyone was prepared, excited and most importantly, thankful for the challenge. We reached Gorak Shep on day nine and set off for the final trek into Base Camp. It was during these final hours that disaster struck and Baden went down with a rolled ankle. However, as Baden always manages to do, he picked himself up unceremoniously and continued the slow march until he achieved the inevitable; arriving at Everest Base Camp.

Photo of Mt Everest by Shaun Serafin

This made for one of the highlights of our journey, him and me walking to 5,300 metres elevation together. The overall encounter afforded us a special insight to a culture and landscape so different to ours. I walked away with a renewed gratitude for the richness of experiences we are graced with during our time on Earth. All of our fellow travellers had a variety of reasons they had joined the expedition; to challenge their current lifestyle, to remember a loved one, or to fulfil a childhood dream. And all walked away feeling a sense of fulfilment and achievement. My takeaway message was clear challenge yourself, and go and enjoy the life that God lovingly gave you!

Shaun Serafin has grown up in the Diocese of Maitland Newcastle and is a former member of the Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young People

It was during these final hours that disaster struck and Baden went down with a rolled ankle. However, as Baden always manages to do, he picked himself up unceremoniously and continued the slow march until he achieved the inevitable; arriving at Everest Base Camp!



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How to have a great Christmas (without breaking the bank!) BY CATHOLIC SUPER

There’s nothing in the world quite like the look of joy you get when your loved ones open the perfect pressie. Christmas truly is a wonderful time. If the stress of gift giving is bringing you down, here are a few things you can do to calm your Christmas nerves and let you refocus on the joy of the season. Set a budget Before you get into the swing of the season and start hunting for the perfect gift for everyone on your list, it might be good to take a step back and look at the total amount you’re willing to spend during the entire holiday period. Things to watch for: ffdon’t set a budget too tight. You might have good intentions to save money, however unrealistic expectations can return that stress that you’re trying to get rid of in the first place ffwhile gifts are usually the biggest and most obvious expense, little costs, like travel, charitable donations and other activities, can quickly add up. The sooner you set yourself a budget and separate out your holiday funds, the easier it’ll be to keep track of where your money is going.

Start new traditions with your family Christmas doesn’t have to be about how much you spend, rather the time you spend together. The memories you build together will last longer than any gift. Joining your friends and neighbours at a Christmas event, like your local carols concert, is another great way to spend time with your loved ones and it doesn’t cost a thing. Baking Christmas treats is a great way to spend time with your loved ones. Best of all, in the end you’re left with delicious snacks to dig into. Also, I’m told that the calories from treats that are baked with love don’t count! (That last bit might not be completely accurate.) Give the gift of goodness Doing things for others is incredibly rewarding. Doing it with your family can help bring all of you closer together. Rather than getting into a present-buying frenzy, consider purchasing gifts for anonymous recipients, like kids who are in need. Picking out an outfit and toys to donate can be a great bonding experience and help your kids focus on service and giving, rather than merely receiving. You can find Wishing Trees at most shopping centres across the country.

Planning for your future needs Get a jump on your plans for the holidays to help reduce the stress and strain, letting you focus on the things that matter most during this blessed season. Having a chat with a financial adviser can help you take a holistic look at making the most of your money.

look at the total amount you’re willing to spend during the entire holiday period. Learn more about all of your options by giving us a call on 1300 654 776 or visit us anytime at

We have seminars coming up in your area! Let us answer your questions about super and your future. Register now to reserve your seat at

Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Port Macquarie, Sydney, Townsville

PO Box 656 Burwood, NSW 1805





The death penalty in the USA


In August Pope Francis announced that the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the death penalty had been updated, stating: “The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” and that the Church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide”.

Chris Cull has visited prisoners on death row in the USA and is passionate about seeing an end to the practice: The US is the only Western country to still support the death penalty. There are two reasons why we should be concerned; first, taking a life in any circumstance is wrong and more so when the state kills people it is supposed to be protecting; secondly, the punishment has nothing to do with crime as I will explain. The Past There is a line that traces back to the end of slavery in the US when the Southern states moved through the post-Civil War years and Reconstruction period. The conservative white population began feeling increasingly threatened by the (now) free blacks. As a reaction they resorted to lynching and persecution as forms of intimidation. The early 20th century saw the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Lynching was outlawed, and the electric chair was invented. With its use, the states legitimised the process of intimidation. Numbers were high – in 1933 Alabama executed 55 people in just one year.

The Present The death penalty is still used predominantly against underprivileged people and nearly exclusively men who are black, poor, mentally impaired, and live in specific locations. Geography matters. In Louisiana for example, where the state supports the death penalty, only two jurisdictions - Caddo and Orleans Parishes - sentence people to death. Problems with the death penalty As a deterrent to crime and justifiable punishment, the death penalty fails on every count. The facts are as follows:

ffIt is arbitrary - those who can afford to engage an experienced lawyer never go to death row. Prosecutors only seek this punishment when they know they have a good chance of winning and so seek out those who don’t have the resources to mount any form of effective defence ffJuries are biased towards the death penalty – those who are opposed cannot serve ffThe method used is deemed ‘a cruel and unusual punishment’. Lethal injection is a brutal death that takes about half an hour - ending in a chemically-induced heart attack

ffMost murders are crimes of passion carried out without planning or consideration of the punishment. Even the police admit the death penalty does not act as a deterrent

ffThe process brutalises all involved and traumatises families of both victims and prisoners for years

ffThe process around it is expensive costing around $10 million dollars on average (in Florida the cost is $28 million). This is due to the cost of appeals, retrials, additional security, and the length of time prisoners are held before execution – often around 25 to 30 years

The death penalty in the US is slowly coming to an end. The number of executions since 1977 (the ‘Modern Era’) have fallen from 98 in 1999 to 23 in 2017 and will probably rise to above 30 this year. There is a huge anti-death penalty movement supporting those on death row

The Future

Editorial credit: Rainier Ampongan /

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There is a huge antideath penalty movement supporting those on death row (approximately 2,800 people) and actively seeking its removal. (approximately 2,800 people) and actively seeking its removal. States are becoming less supportive as the number of exonerations increase and botched executions come to light. Individual governors are refusing to sign death warrants and only recently Washington State passed legislation outlawing the process. Useful information can be found at the Death Penalty Information Centre.

Chris Cull is a retired company director with a lifelong interest in human rights



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People’s hero named Church’s newest saint BY TODD DAGWELL

Pope Francis officially recognised one of the towering figures of the 20th century Catholic Church when he canonized martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, at St Peter’s Square on 14 October this year. In front of more than 70,000 faithful, including delegates from the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis singled out Archbishop Romero as a man who rejected wealth and devoted his life to helping the poor, reported the Associated Press. According to Caritas Australia, Romero was born into a large family on 15 August, 1917 in El Salvador. Romero’s parents couldn’t afford to send him to school after the age of 12. Instead he became an apprentice carpenter but was already determined to become a priest. He entered the seminary at just 14 and was ordained a priest in 1942 aged 25. In 1977, Romero became Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital city. The political situation in El Salvador was deteriorating rapidly and Romero refused to remain silent.

Editorial credit: giulio napolitano /

The military were killing the Salvadorian people - especially those demanding justice such as teachers, nuns and priests – including Romero’s good friend, Fr Rutilio Grande. Thousands of people were disappearing. Romero demanded that the President of El Salvador thoroughly investigate the killings, but he failed to do so. The number killed in 1979 alone, rose to over 3000 a month.

Continuing to speak out, Romero became known as a champion of the poor and a crusader for justice. On 23 March, 1980, after reporting the previous week’s deaths, Romero spoke directly to the soldiers and policemen: “I beg you, I implore you, I order you... in the name of God, stop the repression!” The following evening, while saying Mass in the chapel of Divine Providence Hospital, Romero was assassinated. Pope Francis has cited Romero as a source of inspiration on many occasions and during the canonisation ceremony he wore the bloodstained rope belt Romero wore when he was gunned down. More than 30 years after his death Romero remains a powerful symbol of hope in a country that has suffered poverty, injustice and violence. His elevation to saint of the Catholic Church was long overdue.

The political situation in El Salvador was deteriorating rapidly and Romero refused to remain silent.

Todd Dagwell is the Senior Content Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Editorial credit: WitR /

Pope condemns dishonesty in politics Pope Francis has used a recent homily to condemn governments and political leaders who use the media to smear and discredit their opponents. Labelling the practice, “the sin of whispering”, the Pope said blatant dishonesty was particularly damaging in politics as it poisoned relations in families, parishes and dioceses, according to ABC News America.

name, the Pope did single out dictatorial governments as being notorious for taking control of the media “to diminish anyone who represents a threat”, reports ABC News America. Earlier this year, Pope Francis described “fake news” as evil and encouraged journalists to make searching for the truth their primary mission, reports the Daily Mail.

“The sin of whispering…when a government isn’t honest and seeks to sling mud at its adversaries with whispers, defamation, and calumny,” he said.

He asked reporters to speak the truth with a journalism that is “truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines”, the Daily Mail reports.

While not mentioning any country by

The Vatican recently announced the


Pope will dedicate his next World Day of Peace message, given on 1 January 2019, to promoting political engagement as a duty and an act of charity that all people should take part in, reports Crux. Celebrated each year on the first day of January, the World Day of Peace is accompanied by a message from the Pope which is sent to all world foreign ministers. His previous messages for the event have often offered bold advice at both a political and pastoral level, pushing for an end to the arms trade and the death penalty, according to Crux.

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Being Catholic in Australia today


As we head towards the end of the calendar year, there have been a number of events in the past 12 months that will make many of us pause and reflect on what it means to be a Catholic in Australia today. This was the very title of a recent convention Being Catholic in Australia today - after the Royal Commission and before the Plenary Council. Fr Greg Barker, one of 17 delegates from the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, spoke to Aurora about the National Convention of Priests which was held in Canberra in September. “First of all, I am delighted that our Diocese had the largest presentation of all attendees at the convention. “Second, all the delegates were seriously impressed by the quality of speakers. “Third, there were some standout conclusions from the convention,” said Greg Barker. The list of speakers included: ffBishop Vincent Long of Parramatta

ffDr Geraldine Taylor Robinson who was the Clinical Director of Encompass Australia and is a clinical psychologist and consultant ffLana Turvey-Collins is currently the face for many parishes of the Plenary Council 2020 ffRobert Fitzgerald who was a commissioner on the Royal Commission in Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse and ffFr Frank Brennan sj CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia Little wonder that Greg says what impressed delegates was the credibility and experience of the speakers but also the courage of the speakers in naming issues and seeking to offer solutions. “I was also hugely impressed by the willingness of participants to hear, to listen and to speak out on the issues,” he said. Greg said that delegates were left with the thought that the call to remember the foundations of a good Christian church were founded in Christ not human endeavors.

“Delegates were also left with the view that it is very important to have a commitment to speak out in the face of abuse or victimization. It can never be business as usual because if nothing changes, nothing will change.” Delegates were also left well aware of the corrosive nature of clericalism. “Interestingly enough, clericalism was the subject of an article in National Catholic Reporter way back in April 2013,” said Greg. He pointed out that the article highlighted that: “Clericalism is contagious, breeding a kind of mentality that revels in ecclesiastical ambition, status and power. For some, especially those attracted to the episcopacy, it often leads to indifference toward the experiences and needs of ordinary Catholics. It encourages the creation (or repetition) of teachings and regulations worked out in ivory-tower isolation from the real world.”

Greg says that delegates were left with the thought that the call to remember the foundations of a good Christian church are founded in Christ not human endeavors. Photo: Deacon John Lovell, Fr Greg Barker, Fr Anthony Nguyen, Deacon Graham Fullick, Fr James Odoh, Fr Thomas Chirackal, Fr Paul O’Neill, Fr Camillus Nwahia, Fr Peter Street, Deacon Anthony Coloma, Fr Kevin Kiem, Fr Joseph Figurado and Fr Geoff Mulhearn at the National Convention of Priests

For Aurora readers who would like to see the article, entitled New Pope’s real target – clericalism, it can be found at: new-pope-s-real-target-clericalism

John Kingsley-Jones is the Head of Diocesan Communications for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.



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All welcome to Simbang Gabi BY ANTHONY COLOMA

The Simbang Gabi is a Filipino tradition brought by the Spanish Friars in the Philippines in 1669. It is a series of novena Masses in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Expectant Mother of God, and serve as a preparation for the commemoration of the Birth of Our Lord and Saviour. Simbang Gabi is generally held before the break of dawn, but for pastoral reasons anticipated evening Masses are celebrated here. The Simbang Gabi are nights of celebration, communion and acts of solidarity. Last year, we witnessed the first Simbang Gabi in Newcastle. The first of the masses was presided over by Bishop Bill Wright. On the nights that followed, the Eucharistic celebrations were led by Frs. Andrew Doohan, Geoff Mulhearn, Gordon Quinn, Matthew Muller, William Burston,

Robert Searle, and Gerard Mackie. The then Bishop-elect for Wollongong, Brian Mascord, led the people on the last Simbang Gabi. Music was organised by the Filipino Choir of Newcastle which included members from the Tongan community. The celebrations gathered an average of 170 to 200 people every evening for nine days. Fellowship followed after every Simbang Gabi. Australian and Filipino families from the Diocese and various social groups based in Newcastle brought scones, pastries, pasta, bread, cakes, spring rolls, rice noodles and Filipino delicacies. The events not only satisfied the people’s spiritual needs, they filled tummies too! The Dean of the Cathedral, Andrew Doohan, allocated all the money collection

from last year’s Simbang Gabi to the Mission to Seafarers. With the Dean’s permission, another collection was made during one of the evenings to provide support to an Australian lady of Filipino descent.

Simbang Gabi is generally held before the break of dawn, but for pastoral reasons anticipated evening Masses are celebrated here.

Her family was badly affected by a super typhoon that hit the Philippines in mid-December 2017. Their two-storey home was inundated by mud and - in one evening - her family lost all their belongings. To make matters worse, the super typhoon caused the death of four of her nephews and nieces. This year, we will be holding the Simbang Gabi at St. Joseph’s Merewether from December 15 - 23, 2018. Mass starts at 7.00 pm and fellowship follows after the Mass. All are welcome.

Anthony Coloma is a deacon in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Jesus the Forgotten Feminist: a book review “The story told between the covers of this book is a tragic one for all true believers.

that the answer to the question is no. We definitely have not “had more than enough by now”.

“Such hope turned to ashes, and so quickly. A dazzling vision for the future reduced to a grey monotone within a few generations. A brave new world undermined and forgotten.”

Geraghty’s book draws upon his early experiences growing up in a Catholic family, attending Catholic school and lecturing students in theology and liturgy. These lectures feature a hefty dose of forensic analysis - carefully honed during his time spent serving as a district court judge in New South Wales.

These are the poignant opening lines written by Chris Geraghty in his new book arguing Jesus practiced a radically inclusive approach to women that the Church has failed to follow. In the introduction, Geraghty writes: “Not another book about Jesus! Haven’t we had more than enough by now?” After completing my initial read (and I say initial because this is a book that begs to be reread, my highlighted sections and notes in the margin confirm this) of Jesus the Forgotten Feminist, I’ve concluded

After raising the important question: “Did Jesus himself only choose men for ministry?” - Geraghty provides enthralling insights and witticisms to again and again drive home the answer. No, Jesus did not limit ministry to men. Jesus was a lover of women. He walked with them, stood beside them, raised them up and brought them dignity. In Jesus the Forgotten Feminist, Geraghty reminds us of the compassion,


kindness and inclusivity of Jesus - the Jesus of the Gospels who spoke out against the discriminatory beliefs of the culture and time he was born into. This book demands that the modern day Church reframes its view of men and women and begins treating them as equals, just as Jesus did. I would strongly recommend this book not only for Catholics or those of the Christian faith. I would recommend it for those who find fault in Christianity as a religion and label it “sexist” or “misogynistic”. As Geraghty eloquently points out, the inequity that exists between men and women is not in line with the way Jesus treated women. Chris Geraghty, Jesus the forgotten feminist, Garratt Publishing 2018. Britten Thompson is the Digital Team Leader for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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

Community Noticeboard


Community Noticeboard Sacred@Seven Adoration will be held at St John’s chapel, Maitland on Wednesday 5 December at 7pm. Join us for music, gospel reflection and silent Eucharistic adoration. P 4979 1288. Simbang Gabi In preparation for the Solemnity of the Lord’s birth, novena Masses will be celebrated at the St. Joseph’s Merewether in the evenings of 15 December to 23 December 2018. The Christmas novena Masses, also known as Simbang Gabi to Filipinos, is a long tradition brought by the Spanish Friars in the Philippines in 1669. The novena Masses are in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Expectant Mother of God, and serve as a preparation for the commemoration of the Birth of Our Lord and Saviour. All are welcome and the Eucharistic celebration promptly starts at 7pm. Marriage and relationship education courses 2019 Marriage Education is a vital part of planning for a life partnership. CatholicCare offers a selection of courses for married and soon-to-be married couples. 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. Before We Say I Do, 8 and 9 February at the Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. Marriage and Relationship Education Course − FOCCUS at the Toohey Room, Newcastle, 25 February and 4

March. 5.15-7.30pm (Session 3 to be confirmed). Before We Say I Do, 5 and 6 April at the Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. Marriage and Relationship Education Course – FOCCUS at the Toohey Room, Newcastle, 6 and 13 May. 5.15-7.30pm (Session 3 to be confirmed). Before We Say I Do, 7 and 8 June at the Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. Marriage and Relationship Education Course – FOCCUS at the Toohey Room, Newcastle, 29 July and 5 August. 5.15-7.30pm (Session 3 to be confirmed). Before We Say I Do, 23 and 24 August at the Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. Marriage and Relationship Education Course – FOCCUS at the Toohey Room, Newcastle, 28 October and 4 November. 5.15-7.30pm (Session 3 to be confirmed). Before We Say I Do, 22 and 23 November at the Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. We also have a wait list for our Bringing Baby Home workshop which assists couples transition to parenthood. FOCCUS Individual Sessions by appointment only. For further information on all our courses please contact Robyn Donnelly P 02 4979 1370 or E

For your diary

Mums’ Cottage


Invites grandparents to Grandparent and Toddler day held 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 you are most welcome to attend. 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.

Mass of Commissioning of Chaplains, 9.30am at SHC 3

International Day of Persons with Disabilities


Sacred@Seven Adoration (see opposite)


Chisholm Region Volunteers Mass, St John’s Chapel, Maitland Feast of St Nicholas


2nd Sunday of Advent


Human Rights Day


Christmas Message Event, 9.30am, St Dominic’s School Mayfield

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

1st Sunday of Advent


3rd Sunday of Advent

15-23 Simbang Gabi at St Joseph’s Merewether (see opposite) 18

International Migrants Day


3rd Sunday of Advent


Christmas Eve


Christmas Day


Feast of the Holy Family

For more events please visit and

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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

Book Review: Disorderly Women and the Order of God: An Australian Feminist Reading of the Gospel of Mark BY TRACEY EDSTEIN

My favourite section of Michele Connolly’s Disorderly Women and the Order of God: An Australian Feminist Reading of the Gospel of Mark is her use of an incident in Australian history to issue a warning to women reading Mark. In 1965, Ro Bognor and Merle Thornton chained themselves to the bar of a Brisbane hotel to protest the fact that public bars were men-only zones. Women belonged in the ladies lounge. What has this got to do with the Gospel of Mark? A post-colonial feminist reading of Mark indicates that it too is, to a significant extent, a ‘men-only zone’. It could be said that this reflects the culture of the time in which Jesus lived – except that the purpose of the Gospel is to proclaim a new way, the Kingdom of God, in which the abundance of God reaches all.

Connolly writes, “No Australian woman today needs to stake her independence on walking into the public bar and ordering a beer. However, any woman walking innocently into the opening chapter of Mark needs to recognise the environment as being profoundly male-marked as was the Queensland public hotel bar - invaded by Bognor and Thornton.” Connolly is a committed Australian Christian feminist and her gift in this book is to illuminate the Gospel by drawing analogies from significant moments in Australia’s history. Central to her analysis is the fact that the world of Jesus and our world both claim imperial-colonial origins. The women who came to Australia on the First Fleet (and on successive fleets) are presented as grim examples of the limited, stereotyped and largely voiceless

lives of women in imperial-colonial societies. Connolly is scathing in her assessment of the Anzac Legend saying: “The Anzac figure is a sexist, imperialist fiction. Despite the reality of the contribution that Australian women made to the war effort, the Anzac Legend celebrates the male only. It takes a post-colonial feminist critique to discern this.” There is so much more, and yet, the Lochinvar Josephite Sister concludes that in spite of this, the resurrection is promised to all – women and men. Michele A Connolly rsj, Disorderly Women and the Order of God: An Australian Feminist Reading of the Gospel of Mark, Bloomsbury London 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.

Chef Bartholomew Connors, Cathedral Café.

Christmas ice cream Merry Christmas to all my culinary friends.

Ingredients ff 100 g sultanas ff 100 g raisins ff 50 g glace cherries ff 100 ml dark rum ff 5 egg yolks

I tried this with my own mix of ingredients to suit our family’s tastes. The great thing about this recipe is you can add your favourite fruits, sweets or savouries. It’s quick and easy to put together and enjoyed by all around the Christmas table.

Method Soak the fruit overnight in the rum.

ff 6 tablespoons golden syrup

Line a baking loaf tin with cling film.

ff 1 tablespoon honey

In a mixer place the egg yolks, golden syrup, honey and vanilla essence.

ff 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whip until thickened and ribbon-like (about 5 mins).

ff 600 ml thickened cream ff 150 g diced rich fruit cake ff Lindt sumptuous orange dark chocolate or other to top

Add cream and whip until looks like whipped cream (about 2 mins). Fold in the cake pieces and fruit, and pour into cake tin. Envelop with the cling film and place into the freezer for a minimum of an hour.

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