Aurora February 2019

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Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle February 2019 | No.187

St Nicholas Early Education Raymond Terrace opens its doors 8

Outstanding achievements from our students: How Catholic schools excelled in the HSC 13

Time is running out for Plenary Council submissions: Act now to have your say 18


DARA’s Van delivers dign ity

Enrolments still open for 2019!


Schools Office


Find out more at

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Welcome to the first edition of Aurora for 2019

On the cover Baden Ellis & DARA’s Van. Photo courtesy of Jessica Ward.

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle February 2019 | No.187

First Word


The reality of domestic violence for children: How CatholicCare is raising awareness 9

Outstanding achievements from our students: How Catholic schools excelled in the HSC 13

Time is running out for Plenary Council submissions:


DARA’s Van gives dignity

Act now to have your say 18

Featured f f DARA’s Van gives dignity......


f f Following Catherine McAuley and the Tradition of Mercy


f f Two new priests for our Diocese


f f Why the Cross?


f f St Nicholas Early Education Raymond Terrace opens its doors


ff John Sandy - Australian Citizen


f f Outstanding achievements from our students


f f Gerard Mowbray pays tribute to teachers and families of HSC students


f f Sean Scanlon CEO


f f Developing the student voice at St Bede’s Chisholm


f f To be or not to be …


f f Reflecting on the value of education


f f Tune in to Catholic radio in Newcastle for inspiration


f f Taking 20 minutes in ’19


f f Illegal dumping at Vinnies


f f New Vinnies opens in Scone


f f Don’t delay - Plenary submissions close


f f Aurora Book Giveaway


f f Religious Protection Laws


f f Short term pain making a difference


The lingering question over the adequacy of religious protection laws in Australia will remain unanswered until at least this May after Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared it would be a significant issue at the next federal election. That said, with the Federal Parliament resuming this month, we can expect further debate about the issue of religious freedom. When the Ruddock Review was released in December last year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote to religious organisations to explain the Government’s position on possible amendments to the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act (SDA). He closed this letter by writing: “Please rest assured that the Government will continue to defend the right of religious bodies to teach and act in accordance with their faith.” In our article on page 20, we detail the views on this issue of Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, the Law Council of


f f My Word


f f CareTalk


f f Wisdom in the Square


f f Community Noticeboard


f f Last Word


In terms of the work the Diocese and its agencies do to help the vulnerable, the story on page 9 about John Sandy - who came to Australia as a refugee, and who was helped by the Development and Relief Agency (DARA) – is worth a read. John says that DARA changed his life forever and he has dedicated many years of his life volunteering at DARA. He is now employed by the organisation as its lead Project Liaison Officer. In the same vein, we have a story about DARA’s Van

Aurora online

Next deadline 13 February 2019

Good news! You can still catch up with

Aurora editorial and advertising enquiries should be addressed to:

on page 5. The van is looking for more volunteers to help with its good work. On the education front there are several stories including one on the new St Nicholas early education centre at Raymond Terrace. That’s on page 8 Kurri Kurri historian Brian Andrews, a former delegate of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, has written over 170 historical texts. However, in his latest book he has unearthed some distinctly Catholic scandal. You can read about this on page 22. Last but not least, a date for your diary. The Ordination to the Priesthood of Rev Anthony Coloma and Rev John Lovell will take place on 16 February 2019 at Sacred Heart Cathedral at 10am. You can read about them on page 7. John Kingsley-Jones is the Head of Diocesan Communications for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Aurora online, via

PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300

f f First Word

One can only wonder if the debate about religious protection laws has become part of any of the submissions being made to the Plenary Council. Time is running out to make submissions and more details can be found on page 18.

Contact Aurora

John Kingsley-Jones P 4979 1192 E


Australia, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Schools NSW and Fr Frank Brennan, a member of the Religious Freedom Review chaired by Philip Ruddock.

Subscribe E @MNnewstoday Aurora appears in The Newcastle Herald on the first Saturday of the month, in The Maitland Mercury, The Singleton Argus, The Manning River Times and The Scone Advocate on the following Wednesday and in The Muswellbrook Chronicle on the following Thursday. The magazine can also be read at

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My 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

Clear out the unimportant Partly to avoid the worst of the heat of the Australian summer, I spent some of ‘down time’ in January sorting through filing cabinets rapidly approaching the point of overflowing, and boxes that seem to have not moved since I arrived in my present home. It was a very cathartic and therapeutic experience. It was amazing, and at times embarrassing, to look back over things that I have put in a filing cabinet or a box because I thought at the time they were important to keep. The passing of years – and a decade in some cases – provided a different perspective on what I considered important ‘back then’ as compared to now, and so the recycling bin was the beneficiary of many things that I realised that I no longer needed to keep. They joined the duplicates of many things I had gathered over the years because they were very important to keep at the time – and every time I came across them! Needless to say, I now have less unmoved boxes and much more space in my filing cabinet. No doubt the unused space I have created over the summer will be filled soon enough with new things that I will believe at the time to be important to keep, and so will find myself repeating the summer clean out again in the next few years. The task of clearing unimportant things from my filing cabinet and boxes reminded me that there is sometimes the need to do the same thing with other parts of my life. It can be difficult to let go of things that I hold to be precious and of great value, yet there is a certain freedom that comes from letting go of things that have become more of a burden than a source of joy. Getting the balance correct is the challenge. I believe working out what is a burden and what is a source of joy requires two tasks. Firstly, there must be a rigorous, almost brutal, assessment of the item, whether

it be material or some aspect of my life. I have to put aside emotional attachments, the “I’ve always thought that” syndrome, and any thought that I must do this or that, keep this or keep that. Unless I do this, there is no possibility of being sought one thing from another.

the decision correct every single time. Such perfection belongs to God, not to me. But I did make decisions, and those things which I have kept, whether material or not, are now those things which will become the source of joy, either immediately or in the longer term.

The second part, just as difficult, is to assess as to whether that which is under consideration is a positive or a negative at this particular point in my life. Again, emotional attachment and other considerations must be put aside so I can reach a decision. And reaching a decision is what I must attempt. I must either keep something or be prepared to jettison it, just in the same way I filled the recycling bin with discarded material recently.

This process can also apply to the Church. In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis went to great lengths to challenge all Christians to jettison those things that get in the way of being able to renew our personal encounter with Jesus Christ. When we seek to make that a priority – and Pope Francis encourages us to do exactly that – there will be things that will help, and there will be things that get in the way.

I do not think for one minute that I got

The process of ‘getting our own house in

order’ is a challenge. It always has been and, I suspect, always will be. But we can do it, with God’s help, if we are prepared to be open to a realistic assessment of what falls into both of those categories, of keeping and strengthening the first, and rejecting or converting the latter. So I’m going back to my clean up, of my filing cabinets, my boxes, and myself. I hope and pray that I might not be alone.

Fr Andrew Doohan Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Frankly Spoken Every one of us has, hidden in our heart, the capacity to be surprised. May we be surprised by Jesus. Pope Francis Homily December 2018

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DARA’s Van delivers dignity ...... From remembering names and having conversations to offering practical solutions to hunger, the DARA’s Van team members provide much-needed outreach in and around Newcastle. Team members, the bulk of whom are volunteers, provide not only food but also hospitality and friendship to the vulnerable and the marginalised in our community – the homeless, the socially isolated and/or the financially stressed.


DARA’s Van in action

DARA’s Van Co-ordinator, Baden Ellis, began working for the Development and Relief Agency (DARA) in October 2017. He says he was attracted to the position because “I have a background in hospitality and an interest in youth and social work. DARA’s Van combines all of these, which made it the right fit for me.” Baden says that while the service provided by the DARA’s Van team members is a small part of the solution to the problem of homelessness in the area, its real value lies in its focus on giving dignity and a bit of practical help to those that are in difficult life situations. As Baden reflects on the way DARA has made an impact, he shares a memory about a family of four. “Last year a single mum of three regularly visited the van. Around Easter time, we served fish. After the meal, she came up to me, bawling, gives me a hug and says ‘That’s the first time my kids have had fish. I’ve never been able to afford it for them’”. Her eldest child was 12 years old. Baden says that every week is different with the van which makes his job unique. Although providing food plays a large part of it, the real job is conversation listening to and talking with the friends that attend.

“When I first volunteered I overthought things and stayed in the van because I didn’t know what to say. Now I’m so busy talking, I sometimes need to be told to get back in the van to serve food!”

Baden has been told by friends of the van that sometimes the only people that will talk to them are DARA’s Van volunteers. “They may not even hear someone say their name for a week - until I or one of the volunteers greet them,” Baden said. DARA has over 200 volunteers and one of these is Emily Vu Doan. She has been a DARA’s Van volunteer in Maitland for over six months. “Volunteering teaches you about yourself,” she said.

Just as dignity is given to the friends of the van through volunteers remembering their names and talking with them, for Emily a highlight of her work is being remembered by the DARA Van’s friends. She earned the nickname as ‘the caramel slice girl’ when she first started volunteering due to her delicious cooking. Now she is known by name. DARA’s Van served 5,500 meals in 2018. Of these, 3,600 meals were prepared by students from St Francis Xavier

Hamilton, St Paul’s Booragul, St Joseph’s Lochinvar and Cardiff High School. DARA’s Van visits Maitland, Islington, Nelson Bay and Raymond Terrace. In 2019 the plan is to add more locations. This growth means there is a need for more volunteers, so if you are interested in volunteering or would like to make a donation - please go to

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.



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

Following Catherine McAuley and the Tradition of Mercy BY MARK SPENCER

For the 39 people from our Diocese, a recent pilgrimage to Ireland - to discover more about Catherine McAuley and the Tradition of Mercy - was the trip of a lifetime. Just as important was the realisation that while a pilgrim in the 21st Century does not face the perils of ancient times, there is one element of a pilgrimage that remains - it is a spiritual journey.

town of Glendalough Valley of the two lakes.This renowned place of pilgrimage was the site of the monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin – a man of noble stock.

The elements of generosity, adaptability, flexibility and a positive attitude are all primary prerequisites if there is to be a joyful conclusion to all travel.

Coming here to be alone as an ascetic contemplative monk, his prayerful inspiration ironically attracted many others and thus the community of Glendalough springs from a hermitage.

As we journeyed together we took time, to pray, to reflect and to care for one another. The spirit of mercy, compassion, respect, justice, reconciliation, hospitality service and courage were reflected upon each day in our journeying together. On day one of our pilgrimage as we went to Coolock House and then on to Georges Hill and later to Baggot Street, Mercy international House in Dublin, we discovered that Catherine McAuley’s desire to serve the poor was grounded in her reading of the Gospels and her desire to imitate Jesus Christ. Even though concern for her family and her neighbours eventually drew her to a concern for the world beyond Baggot Street and Dublin, Catherine knew that the poor people needed help immediately and could not always wait for the completion of grand charitable designs. Personal, often simple, service was a necessary component of her desire to live as Jesus lived. Catherine provided examples of the sort of compassionate, sensitive, cheerful, and generous service that should characterise all Christians. Our pilgrimage continued on to the holy

From a simple beginning, the site grew to become famous as a centre of learning throughout Europe. Standing for 600 years it was destroyed in 1398. The remains at the upper site are simpler and more in fitting with his life as a hermit, whereas the lower one has the more famous monastic monuments – one of Ireland’s best preserved Round Towers, a roofless Cathedral, St Kevin’s kitchen and the diminutive Priest House over the Saint’s tomb. This was made very special for our group as we had Mass, On The Run celebrated by Fr. Peter Rodgers and our own chaplain, Fr. Andrew Doohan. All the pilgrims were very moved by this experience and the beauty of Glendalough. The pilgrimage continued through Wicklow, birth place of Bishop Murray via Kildare where we visited the healing well of St Brigid and St Brigid’s Cathedral. Later we travelled to Waterford, home of the world-famous crystal, and the place where the Christian Brothers began. Continuing on the pilgrimage we arrived at the foreboding Rock of Cashel, an

impressive great rock rising abruptly from the plain of the Golden Vale, on which stands Ireland’s first Romanesque Church (11th century). St. Patrick visited the rock in 450 AD, while Brian Boru was crowned the first high King of Ireland here in the tenth century. We then continued on to the Nano Nagle Centre at Ballygriffin. Nano Nagle, was the founder of the Presentation Sisters, where Catherine McAuley completed her noviciate.

a greater understanding of the troubles of Northern Ireland. The amazing Titanic Belfast exhibition which is housed on the site where the Titanic was built, gave the pilgrims a further deepening of what shaped the spirituality of Northern Ireland as we explored the Titanic story.

In Knock we celebrated Mass at the Marian Shrine in the Church of Apparition where Our Lady appeared in 1879 on a wet rainy night. We all enjoyed a tour of the shrine’s highlights.

“Mercy is a way of life not an act of kindness” Maria McGinnis RSM

In Belfast, Northern Ireland, we were given

On our final night of the pilgrimage we enjoyed a special celebration dinner with all pilgrims expressing a deep gratitude for being on pilgrimage.

Mark Spencer is Education Officer (Primary RE & Spirituality) for the Catholic Schools Office

Soul Food “When God wants to take charge of the world or the Church, he does not send in the tanks. Instead, he sends in the poor and the meek.” Mark O’Connor fms

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Anthony’s deaconate ordination June 2018



Deacon John with his brother Mike in St Paul’s Basilica

Two new priests for our Diocese The Ordination to the Priesthood of Rev Anthony Coloma and Rev John Lovell will take place on 16 February 2019 at Sacred Heart Cathedral at 10am - and all are welcome.

Lord working in and through all these wonderful people. I feel privileged and am really thankful for the opportunity to be part of all this.”

Deacon John felt a definite call to the priesthood when he was 52 years old. He studied for four years at Beda Pontifical College in Rome (a college for late vocations) from 2014, before being ordained a deacon and based in the Chisholm region of parishes.

Deacon Anthony has been based in St Benedict’s parish since arriving in Newcastle from the Philippines in November 2016. He says of his upcoming ordination:

John said of his journey: “It has been a really rich and fulfilling time for me and I’ve been amazed by the way everyone has welcomed me and the commitment of not only the clergy but also the office staff and parish teams to their various ministries. I can really see the Spirit of the

Why the Cross? The Cross is the earliest and most widely used Christian symbol. But, did you realise that different Christian denominations have different understandings and depictions of the Cross? The first event of 2019 for the Diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Council will be an Ecumenical Conversation called Why the Cross? It will be held on Thursday 21 February at 6pm at Adamstown Uniting Church, Brunker Road - and will

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve in the Diocese. Without the kind generosity of Bishop Bill and, the then Vocations Promoter, Bishop Brian, I do not think I would ever reach this side of the globe. I am deeply grateful too to St Benedict’s Parish, headed by Fr Andrew Doohan, for welcoming me in their midst — warts and all.

“My ordination to priesthood is an affirmation of what I have reckoned in prayer. I have been grippingly convinced that God called me into this ministry to serve God’s people. I can only give my all to whatever, wherever, and whoever God sends me to.” To read about Deacons Anthony and John’s ministry in the diocese, and find out more about their journey to priesthood go to

BY BROOKE ROBINSON include supper and viewing artwork of the Cross. Guest speakers include Uniting Minister Rod Pattenden, who will focus on artistic reflections of the Cross, and Brian Brown, who will present on progressive theologies. The Ecumenical and Interfaith Council ran many events in 2018 around the topic of Our Faiths and will be continuing that theme in 2019.


Coming up in June, Our Faiths and helping those who have no home, and in September, Our Faiths and Rituals in the Home. All people from different churches and faiths are welcome to come along, to learn from each other, and build friendships. Contact Jenny Harris or 02 4979 1111 if you would like to attend.

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

St Nicholas


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 Nicholas Early Education Raymond Terrace opens its doors BY ALEXANDER FOSTER St Nicholas Raymond Terrace opened its doors to families for the first time in January with General Operations Manager Kerri Armstrong on hand to tell us about the latest addition to the portfolio of St Nicholas centres.

As with its sister centres, Raymond Terrace features the Transition-to-School Program, which is designed to build a child’s confidence and resilience in order to give them a positive start at their new school.

“The facility we have now is a 77-place early education centre which we are hoping to expand next year to become a 103-place facility.” The centre boasts a dedicated nursery for children aged 0 - 15 months, a generous toddler program, a two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half year-old program and a preschool program catering to children aged three-and-a-half to five years. As with its sister centres, Raymond Terrace features the Transition-to-School Program, which is designed to build a child’s confidence and resilience in order to give them a positive start at their new school. Of the program, Kerri says having St Nicholas Raymond Terrace so close to St Brigid’s Primary School provides children with the opportunity to visit the school and adjust to the environment before entering kindergarten the following year. Kerri says that, despite sharing elements like this with its sister centres, St Nicholas Raymond Terrace has several features that set it apart from others. “The centre here at Raymond Terrace is unique in that we have refurbished an existing building. As our outdoor play area, we have an expansive veranda environment into which we

have incorporated a mud kitchen for the children. “There are also sandpits, water play opportunities and a loose parts area. We are really encouraging the children to add to the loose parts area, things from their own backyards so they will end up with an area they have constructed – with the only limit being their imaginations.”

St Nicholas Raymond Terrace is the first of three centres to open in 2019. Other centres are planned in Branxton and Maitland – and these are due to open in October. “The growth of St Nicholas means we will have more opportunities for new educators to come on board and for existing educators to transfer between our centres,” Kerri said.

Enrolments Now Open Lochinvar & Raymond Terrace

While there are limited spaces available, St Nicholas Raymond Terrace is still accepting enrolments. Contact 02 4979 1110 for more information about enrolling. Alexander Foster is a Digital Officer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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He wasted no time, setting off on foot and walking for 23 days with no food or water bar what he saw on the road along the way, in the scorching African desert.

John Sandy Australian Citizen BY LIZZIE SNEDDEN John Sandy with Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

John Sandy is a man whose determination is as strong as his beaming smile and caring heart. After a turbulent process that commenced over two decades ago in his homeland of Sierra Leone, John finally believes he belongs and is welcome in Australia. In an official ceremony led by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes on Australia Day 2019, John Sandy was declared an Australian Citizen. “I am very grateful,” John said, “I am very proud.” John is a humble man who, through his kind nature, has amassed a strong following of supporters and loyal friends in Newcastle and across the Hunter. He has shown an enormous amount of courage in the face of adversity. A war in Sierra Leone in 1991 meant he became displaced, living in inhumane conditions in a refugee camp in Guinea where he was no longer able to continue his career as a teacher and most unbearably, torn apart from his wife. It was in this camp that he learned his wife had been transported across the other side of the world, to Australia, as a refugee. John knew he had to make contact with her and after he heard that a man, in a refugee camp thousands of kilometres away in Ivory Coast had a mobile phone, he stopped at nothing to make a connection. He wasted no time, setting off on foot and walking for 23 days with

no food or water bar what he saw on the road along the way, in the scorching African desert. In this time he walked the distance between Adelaide and Sydney and eventually found the man, with the phone, and made a call. Sadly, that wasn’t the end of John’s hardship. In total, the refugee camp in Guinea took six years to process his refugee application to come to Australia – and the application wasn’t accepted. John then resorted to requesting to come to Australia on a spouse visa, a process which took another six years. In total, John and his wife were separated for 12 years with incredibly limited contact during that time. They eventually reunited in Newcastle in 2011. “Becoming a refugee was not something that I chose and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, but after all, it made me a stronger and better person today,” John said. “When I came to Australia as a refugee, the first place I visited was the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s Development and Relief Agency (DARA) (formerly known as Penola House). “DARA changed my life forever. Without this amazingly welcoming place, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Without this place, I would be scared to be different. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to move on with my life, to make new friends and to pursue my dreams.”

John Sandy with DARA friends and signatories. Sadly for John, even after moving to Newcastle, he continued to experience violence at the hands of another. In July 2018 John was punched, kicked, threatened and verbally abused in a racially-motivated attack by a stranger in Mayfield East. John and his wife were also verbally threatened, and he says the experience evoked the trauma of fleeing his war-torn homeland. “I was shocked this could happen to me in Australia. Other places in the world yes, but not here. Though, I remain firm in my belief that this single man’s behaviour is not a representative of the entire community; a community who has supported me and that I have come to count as my own” John said. The University of Newcastle Honours student did not allow this horrid experience to deter him from forging ahead with his application to become an Australian citizen. John says as an Australian; his dream is to ‘support other refugees and give back to his community.’ For many years John has dedicated his time volunteering at DARA and is now employed by the organisation as its lead Project Liaison Officer, where he

has mentored hundreds of refugees and assisted them to settle into the Australian way of life. Additionally, John has used his growing presence in the community to advocate for better treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, particularly at Nauru. Following the Official Australia Day Ceremony at Newcastle City Hall, John headed to Islington Park as he does every Saturday afternoon, where he was joined by volunteers to serve meals to approximately 100 vulnerable and homeless people. Though on this occasion, it was a little more special. The community was invited to celebrate John’s citizenship with him, sharing a BBQ, lamingtons and a sponge cake adorned with the Australian flag and the words ‘Congratulations John.’ While we can all agree that John’s journey to Australia has been far from a ‘piece of cake,’ the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle community for one, is incredibly proud of his achievements and contributions. He is a remarkable Australian, and we could all learn a lot from him.

Lizzie Snedden is the Team Leader Content 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

The grief of miscarriage My husband and I have been trying to have our second child for a few years now and I have just had my third miscarriage. Although my husband has been supportive, we are both struggling to cope with our grief over losing these babies. I feel so alone, as counselling has never been suggested by my GP and medical professionals have referred to our lost dreams for a family as “early pregnancy loss”. But for us, they were our future babies and with each miscarriage, I struggle more and more. How do I get support and open up to someone who understands the loss of more than just a “pregnancy”?

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.

I’m so sorry about the loss of your babies. You are dealing with something that has been, and is still, so difficult to get through as a mother; and you have been challenged with professionals who are often not sure how to deal with such a sad loss. In fact, in writing my response, it was challenging to ensure that I give my response the respect that you so deserve within such a limited forum. Miscarriage grief is absolutely real and if you seek information in relation to miscarriage you will often see phrases such as “the loneliest grief of all” and “carrying grief alone”. Unfortunately, when you do open up, people with the best intentions may try to make you feel better by saying things like “at least it was only very early”; “you can try again”, “you’ve at least got one child” and “miscarriages are so common”. Sadly, miscarriages are common but discussions around miscarriage and the impact on those experiencing this loss is still kept quiet. Individual perspectives and coping strategies are different for everyone but to not offer you support when you are suffering can feel very invalidating. Additionally, partners can be forgotten about and often partners try to put their grief aside to be strong for the family. This has the potential to add to the already challenging time of trying to get

through each day as a couple. This is a time for couples to go through this grief together, even if there are differences in coping strategies. There’s also no timeframe to put on any kind of grief – it just is what it is. At some stage, when families welcome a healthy, living baby, it’s still OK to grieve over lost children and dreams as these lost babies still existed as individual hopes and dreams, despite the happiness a healthy new life brings. Talking to a counsellor who is experienced in supporting families after miscarriage could be a positive next step for you. Opening up to a stranger can be daunting for anyone but because you haven’t had the support you were seeking, do some research and ask questions of whoever you contact in relation to counselling. Consider the type of counsellor you are hoping to connect with; would you prefer a female of a certain age or life experience? Would it matter to you if this counsellor has had children, or is your preference for a counsellor who has not had children? Even if you are not sure about post-natal depression, perhaps you could ask if the counsellor is experienced in this, as this is unique to women and partners who have gone through pregnancy regardless of whether their pregnancies result in parenting a baby later.

Sadly, miscarriages are common but discussions around miscarriage and the impact on those experiencing this loss is still kept quiet. And importantly, when you meet with your counsellor, you have to feel that you can work together regardless of the counsellor’s experience. You may decide that you and your husband attend counselling together for grief counselling and/or one or both of you may choose to access individual counselling if losing a baby has opened up old wounds, or new wounds. You can discuss this further with your counsellor. But whatever steps you take now, please don’t put pressure on yourself to just be ok – it’s ok to not be ok and time and the right support will get you through this. CatholicCare can offer counselling support for you. Please call us on 02 4979 1120 to be matched with a counsellor who may be right for you.

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Phone: 1800 222 000 |

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Outstanding achievements from our students


Last year proved to be an outstanding year for student achievements in the HSC and there were some major milestones too.

“In recognising the magnificent achievements of our students, it is important that we honour all HSC teachers. Taking a HSC class is both a privilege and a challenge. I well know the commitment such staff take to walk such a journey with their students over two years to ensure they effectively manage assessment and the exams. The hours of preparation, marking and overall individual support for each student’s needs is something that at this time of year it is so important to recognise. Famke McCallum, winner at the 2018 Hunter Young Business Mind Awards

At the end of term last year, the Virtual Academy students shared their completed projects with their Virtual Academy peers and parents.

Clayton Carlon from All Saints’ College, St Mary’s Campus, Maitland achieved First in Course in New South Wales for Industrial Technology.

Phoebe Lawrence of St Therese’s, New Lambton designed a vertical village to reduce the environmental effects of urban sprawl while Ethan Hudson of Holy Name, Forster researched how the influx of tourists increased rubbish and impacted garbage collection. He also designed a garbage bin - in the shape of a wave - to be placed on Forster beach. This is to encourage people to clean up their rubbish.

Other students in the Top Course Mark in the state were:

Their efforts attracted the attention of the Newcastle Herald which late last year produced an article about their projects.

ff S ydney Slade of All Saints College, Maitland – eighth in Geography

Another student who attracted the Herald’s attention was Year 6 student, Famke McCallum from St Mary’s, Warners Bay. Famke won the Port Stephens Council for Social Enterprise Award at the Hunter Young Business Mind Awards. The awards challenge students to come up with an idea or invention and make a two-minute video explaining the idea and why they are passionate about it. Famke won her award for her mobile app and hearing device that delivers positive messages to users in an attempt to counteract and prevent mental health issues. Her invention was inspired by the work of the Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation which, among other things, brings children to Australia who have with medical conditions that cannot be treated by their local doctors. The device, similar to that of a hearing aid, is fitted into the wearer’s ear. The device senses changes in body temperature to detect the wearer’s mood and delivers quotes and advice into the ear of the wearer when it detects a negative mood. It aims to keep the wearer remain calm and stimulate a healthy mind by reducing stress and anxiety. As the youngest entrant, Famke took home $1,000 for her winning entry. On the HSC front, students from our schools in the Diocese achieved some outstanding results in 2018 - with one of our students in the First in Course list, seven in the All Rounders list and 146 in the Distinguished Achievers list.

Gerard Mowbray pays tribute to teachers and families of HSC students Gerard Mowbray, Acting Director of the Catholic Schools Office, had this to say about the results:

In 2018 the Gifted Education program continued to provide gifted students with appropriate learning opportunities, including the implementation of the Virtual Academy. The Virtual Academy provides a flexible online platform that can be accessed 24-hours-a-day and gives students units of work that go beyond what is provided in a regular classroom. As part of their work the 35 students in the academy were tasked with completing a research project. Students chose either a local or global issue or challenge - and then designed a solution.


ff B radley Montroy of All Saints College, Maitland – second in Engineering Studies ff A lex Vaughan of St Catherine’s, Singleton – fifth in Industrial Technology ff S ophie Derkenne of All Saints College, Maitland – fifth in English (Extension Two)

ff M atthew Parvin of St Clare’s in Taree – ninth in Industrial Technology. On the All Rounders list there were five students from All Saints’ College, Maitland and two students from St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton. They were: ff Lily Cains - All Saints’ College, Maitland ff Clayton Carlon - All Saints’ College, Maitland ff Sophia Derkenne - All Saints’ College, Maitland ff Bradley Montroy - All Saints’ College, Maitland ff Sydney Slade -All Saints’ College, Maitland ff Jasmine Sullivan - St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton ff Hannah Hickey - St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton. On the list of students who achieved Band 6 results there were: ff 29 students from St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton ff 34 students from All Saints’ College ff 37 from St Francis Xavier’s College ff 21 from St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen ff 21 from St Clare’s High School, Taree ff 17 students from St Paul’s Catholic College, Booragul.

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

“It is important, also, to recognise the love, support and patience of family through the HSC period. Families are amazing support networks at such a demanding time and we celebrate the role they have played. “Every student and their families should have a serious sense of pride in their individual accomplishments.” Gerard said that the HSC is a stepping stone for all students, adding: “I congratulate every student who has completed his or her HSC. This credential is a rigorous and challenging one and requires serious commitment and persistence to successfully navigate it. “It is important that students realise the HSC is just a pathway to the future. Its importance is in allowing each student to create a purposeful next step in their lives and careers. It is also vital to understand that there are many pathways towards that next step and it is vital that students seek that appropriate advice to access the right next step for them,” he said. “I am confident that our students who have completed their HSC will have bright futures. “Research released earlier this year showed that those who went to Catholic schools seem to have an advantage in the jobs market.” The Australian Bureau of Statistics examined people who were in Year 11 or Year 12 in 2011, and then tracked what they were doing in 2016. There were 514,000 Year 11 and 12 students in 2011 and most had a job in 2016. The research showed that those educated at a Catholic secondary school were more likely to be employed five years later (with 76.7 per cent in a job) compared with 68.5 per cent for public schools and 71.9 per cent for non-Catholic private schools.



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CEO a product of our Catholic schools BY JOHN KINGSLEY-JONES

Sean Scanlon, who was recently appointed the first-ever Chief Executive Officer of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, is very much a born-and-bred Novocastrian. He is also the first person in any Catholic diocese in Australia to have the title of CEO. Prior to being appointed to this new role, Sean was Vice Chancellor Administration. He is also a product of our Catholic schools. Q: Which Catholic schools did you attend? I attended St Patrick’s Primary School Cessnock and then Marist Brothers Maitland which became St Peter’s when I was there. Q: Why did your parents choose Catholic schools for you? My parents had attended Catholic schools and we were part of the Catholic community so that’s what we did. I did attend a local state school for kindergarten because I was very young but the sisters relented the next year

and I started in Year 1. That change was tough but it worked out well. Q: Are your children attending Catholic schools – if so, where and why? Both of my children attend St Joseph’s, Merewether. It’s a great school with excellent teachers and staff as well as a great community who are very sociable and involved with what’s happening. This was not even a decision for us, so we didn’t have to think about the ‘why’. They were always going to a Catholic school because that’s who we are, it’s what we believe and the children love it. Q: What do you consider to be the main benefits and/or lessons learned as a result of your Catholic education? I heard someone recently talk about independent thought and I believe that this was something I developed during my Catholic education. I think it was also encouraged by my parents, so the education I received complimented this. I think a lot of people learnt independent thought through their Catholic education which is probably not what others might naturally believe our education system

supports, but it does. Q: How has this helped you in your career and how will this help you in your new role? Sometimes independent thought can get you into trouble. It probably makes you a bit outspoken but in the end that willingness to seek out the truth or be prepared to challenge the status quo is what allows you to take the lead on an issue or a problem and that’s critical to being able to make a difference. I think it also gives you a clear moral basis which can guide you in decision making. That comes from family as well but the thing about our Catholic education is that it supports the things you gather from family, from the community and the church and makes you a well-rounded person. Q: Have any of your classmates from your school days surprised you in regard to the successes they have achieved in their chosen fields of endeavour? Can you name them and detail what they are now doing? The power of Facebook means it is reasonably easy to keep in touch with people these days. My Year 12 group

Sometimes independent thought can get you into trouble. It probably makes you a bit outspoken but in the end that willingness to seek out the truth or be prepared to challenge the status quo is what allows you to take the lead on an issue or a problem and that’s critical to being able to make a difference.

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I attended St Patrick’s Primary School Cessnock and then Marist Brothers Maitland which became St Peter’s when I was there.

Andrew & Matthew Johns during Matthew’s last home game for the Knights.

All Saints’ St Peter’s Campus Maitland today.

had a school reunion recently (30 years) and it was a great night. I see a lot of people are working in areas that make a difference in their communities such as medical and education areas ranging from locally to various parts of the world. Some are even leaders in their fields or business leaders. I have seen some of the guys playing in NRL grand finals and am aware of many others working in third-world countries and feeding starving children. Q: Do you ever run into any of your old teachers, if so, who are they and what are they doing now? I have run into many of my former teachers. Plenty of them are still teaching. A certain Mr Mascord was one of the teachers at Cessnock and he’s now Bishop of Wollongong. I showed an old school photo to some primary teachers recently and they said my Year 5 teacher Michael Caesar was still teaching. I often see Richard Rocca at the CDF. He was a great chemistry teacher and I still rattle off the periodic table to amuse my children thanks to him. I learnt English from Tracey Edstein who edited Aurora until recently. She also had the misfortune of teaching me Religious Education – but look where I ended up! Q: If you look back over your career at the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, what do you consider to be your major achievements? The Diocese has been going through a lot of change in the time I have been here. I gained a great sense of satisfaction seeing the schools opening at Chisholm, having been on that journey since day one. I have also

Billy Peden.

enjoyed turning around the CDF following the GFC in 2008. It is now a strong part of the Diocese that supports the work of the church in a significant way. Perhaps the one area I have felt the greatest sense of achievement is with St Nicholas Early Education. That started as an idea and we now have six centres with more on the way. However, whilst I have played a role in many of those things, it has been through the hard work and dedication of many people that they have been delivered. What I like is that the things we do as a Diocese are about our Catholic community and they leave a lasting legacy. Q: As the new CEO, what do you see as being the major challenges the Diocese faces in 2019? 2019 will certainly start to show how the church has responded following the Royal Commission, we will need to prove that things have changed. As a Diocese we will be consolidating on changes we have made over the past couple of years. This will improve governance and decision making and prepare the Diocese for the years ahead. We still have new schools to build and early education centres to develop but, more importantly, the question is: How do we rebuild the place of the Church in our community through the actions we take? This means making a difference to the lives of the people in our communities through parishes, community activities like the Development and Relief Agency (DARA) as well as education and care agencies. Rebuilding trust with our community is the real challenge.

CEO a Knights fan Our research tells us you are a keen Newcastle Knights fan. I believe quite a few of them, like you, are products of our Catholic schools? Yes, there’s Andrew and Matthew Johns who both went to St Peter’s in Maitland as did Billy Peden, Alex MacKinnon went to St Joseph’s in Aberdeen, Mark Sargent was at St Pius Adamstown, Mark Hughes went to St Peter’s and St Mary’s in Maitland while Robbie O’Davis, Owen Craigie, Danny Buderus and Adam Muir were all at SFX – to mention a few that spring to mind! I like footy and knew a few of these Knights players before they were famous - it’s kind of natural to see where they have gone. Those Johns brothers from Cessnock were both characters but great players even as kids. Apart from the Johns’ boys, I really enjoyed seeing Bill Peden do well. I never would have thought he’d score two tries in an NRL grand final but he did and it was well deserved.


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Developing the student voice at St Bede’s Chisholm BY AMY THEODORE

The student community liaison officers from St Bede’s Catholic College, Chisholm have all been given a crash course in communications. The course was the result of the St Bede’s student leadership committee – which has a number of teams being appointed to provide leadership in the college in 2019. One member of each team in the committee was given the title of Community Liaison Officer and that person is responsible for providing communications around the work of their team by producing newsletter articles, social media content and an article for the school magazine. To help these officers develop their capacity to be a voice for what is happening at college, I ran a short communications workshop with the five students.

The session covered a number of communication and writing basics including the purpose of communications, writing for different audiences, how to use images effectively, writing for social media, the editing process and more.

something to refer back to as they develop their ideas and complete their stories throughout the year.

Throughout the session students were given the opportunity to practice the skills on their provided activity sheets.

“It was a wonderful chance for them to get some real-life insights into the communications process.

Each student grasped the various concepts quite quickly and certainly excelled in each activity.

“Our Community Liaison Officers enjoyed the opportunity to work with Miss Theodore immensely,” said Andrew Cornwall, Studies Coordinator at St Bede’s.

“They felt far more equipped to take on their role in writing articles for the school newsletters and magazine.”

The students were also provided with a summary sheet of everything covered in the workshop to give them

To be or not to be … BY AMY THEODORE Oliver Crawford, Aspire star and a student of St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton has been awarded one of three 2018 John Bell scholarships. As one of 120 students who auditioned from regional schools across the country, Oliver impressed the judges with his Hamlet monologue. As part of his scholarship, Oliver will receive a week of training and an ongoing mentorship at Bell Shakespeare HQ in Sydney. During his week of training Oliver will have the opportunity to attend acting masterclasses with Bell Shakespeare

artists, watch rehearsals and a live performance of The Miser and perform his winning monologue for Founding Artistic Director John Bell, Artistic Director Peter Evans and a Bell Shakespeare cast. Founded back in 1990 by John Bell, Bell Shakespeare is an Australia theatre company that specialises in producing and performing Shakespeare’s famous works in a contemporary style while providing aspiring actors the opportunity to develop their dramatic skills through their education and community programs. “Receiving this scholarship is an

extraordinary privilege which I never would have dreamed of,” said Oliver. “To be able to spend a week with the company will help me work on my acting skills and grow as a performer while also immersing myself in the wonderful world of Shakespeare.” “I am absolutely thrilled for Ollie and so proud of him,” said Anna Kerrigan, Artistic Director of Aspire. “He is an incredibly hard working young actor and is always eager to learn, improve and challenge himself with different roles and genre’s. He is so deserving of this accolade.”

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

Amy Theodore (CSO Marketing Officer), Erika West and Charlotte Black (St Bede’s students)


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Reflecting on the value of education




At the outset of the school year, it is an appropriate time for us all to reflect on the golden opportunity a good education is. In having the privilege of witnessing some areas of the globe that have impoverished communities or emerging economies, or as we nightly view areas of our world that suffer dysfunction and crisis, the intense focus on the quality of accessing education is so clear. In the slums of Mumbai or Johannesburg, in refugee camps, in many of our Pacific neighbours’ emerging economies, the focus on the value of education as the means to a positive future has a priority that is, perhaps, lost on many who enjoy the privileged life we have in our own country. For many, access to quality education at early learning, primary, secondary and tertiary stages is a given. I hope this accessibility does not diminish the sense of privilege we have in obtaining a great education. Schools today are so much more focused on learning that differs in format and style to meet the range of needs

My wish is that we have families talking up the opportunities this year brings, so each and every student can achieve their personal best – and that all students grab the opportunity their school provides to offer them purposeful, holistic education.

of students whose abilities, interests and aspirations are so diverse. What I would ask of parents and carers, as well as students themselves, that they see the year ahead as a golden opportunity to be their best selves. We recognise that in all the students in our schools there are a huge range of abilities, and schools find such wonderful ways of supporting and developing all students. My wish is that we have families talking up the opportunities this year brings, so each and every student can achieve their personal best – and that all students grab the opportunity their school provides to offer them purposeful, holistic education. Is it not a timely reminder also to truly value the role educators play in our community? I look with great envy at cultures, seen for example in Denmark and Singapore, two of the highest-performing educational systems on the world stage, where the status of teachers is deeply celebrated. While I believe those who work in education are truly valued, are they afforded the respect, support and appreciation they so deeply deserve? I see teaching and support staff in all sectors providing such tireless and selfless commitment to the students in their care. Take the time to appreciate and thank our educators and support staff. So, perhaps two resolutions for the new school year: reevaluate what opportunity this year provides and truly be appreciative of those who are engaged in education. Finally, in terms of the Catholic education system in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, 2019 is a year with much

to look forward to and celebrate. The Catholic education system continues to be in an exciting phase of growth and development. This year 19,627 students are enrolled in our schools, which now number 59 schools across the Diocese. It is a landmark year at St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead and St Joseph’s, Lochinvar as their inaugural HSC class will graduate. Our newest school, the St Laurence Flexible Learning Centre, Broadmeadow, commences this school year. We commence the school year still reflecting on the depth and breadth of our outstanding HSC results in all of our schools at St Francis Xavier’s, Hamilton, St Paul’s, Booragul, All Saints College, Maitland, St Catherine’s, Singleton, St Joseph’s, Aberdeen and St Clare’s, Taree. Construction will commence this year for our newest secondary school, Catherine McAuley College, Medowie, as well as a St Nicholas Early Learning Centre on this precinct. We have much to anticipate in this exciting new year.

Tune in to Catholic radio in Newcastle for inspiration BY BROOKE ROBINSON Did you know, 99.7 Rhema FM plays a Catholic radio program on 6.30pm Sunday nights? Created by the Diocese of Wollongong, the program is called The Journey and it is aired on a growing number of Christian Radio Stations around Australia.

The show also has inputs on Healthy Christian Living from Trish McCarthy, Pete Gilmore encourages us to Live the Gospel and Marilyn Rodriguez shares her secrets on parenting. Each week, there is a reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading.

The Journey includes a variety of weekly inputs including Wisdom from the Abbey with Sr Hilda Scott. Bruce Downes the Catholic Guy inspires you to dream, and Byron and Francine Pirola from SMARTloving give great tips for vibrant marriages. The program has previously featured our own Bishop Bill, and Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries, Teresa Brierley.

Add to that some great music and interviews with people doing amazing things right around the globe and you’ve got a show that is all about faith, hope love and life.

Other participants include Sam Clear from walk4one who shares his passion for Christian unity and there are brilliant stories from Fr Dave Callaghan from the Missionaries of God’s Love.

Tune in to 99.7 Rhema FM on Sundays 6.30pm, or listen to the program online at

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



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Taking 20 minutes in ’19 to get your super into shape BY CATHOLIC SUPER There never seems to be enough time, but the new year is a great opportunity to get a fresh start on your finances and take a look at getting your super organised. We all make New Year’s Resolutions with the best of intentions. It is important to remember that the resolution is a destination and, as with all journeys, starts with some simple steps. Getting into shape doesn’t mean that you have to go out and run a marathon on 2 January. It might mean going for a walk or short jog. The same is true for taking on your financial goals. Now that the rush of the holidays has passed you might be able to find a bit of time to take care of a bit of finance housekeeping. Here are some things you can do that should take less than 20 minutes but get you set up for a significantly stronger financial future. Best of all, they don’t involve working up a sweat! Consolidate all your accounts If you’ve had more than one job in your life, you likely have more than one superannuation account. That means you’re paying duplicate fees and have insurance that you might not actually want or need. Bringing all of your super into one fund can make managing it a lot easier. Plus, you might find some accounts that you’d forgotten about! You can get that money invested and growing, either in

LifetimeOne or by selecting your own investments. You don’t have to know where that super is being held, either. Our Supermatch system automatically searches for accounts held in your name and can take care of the consolidation process as well. Getting started takes just a few minutes. Check it out at consolidate Time required*: 6 minutes Nominate a beneficiary Nominating a beneficiary for your super essentially tells us what to do with your super and insurance benefits if you pass away. We hope this isn’t an issue for a long, long time. Taking care of it now, however, takes only a few minutes and can ensure that your future needs are looked after. There are two different types of nominations, a binding nomination, which lasts for three years and leaves your fund with no choice as to who receives your death benefit. A non-binding nomination has no expiration however is not, as the name would indicate, binding. The trustee may still decide who receives death benefits, particularly if the person you nominate isn’t a financial dependant. Getting either of these done should take just a few minutes and can be started by

logging in to your superannuation account. Time required*: 5 minutes Start contributing a little extra Making extra contributions like salary sacrifice to your super is a great way to grow your balance while providing potential tax savings. Win/win, right?

Let us give you a hand Each of these small steps should take just a few minutes, leaving plenty of time to start training for that marathon!

The best part is that getting set up can take just a few minutes and it could provide benefits for years to come! There are a couple of different ways to get extra money to your superannuation. You can make a lump sum contribution (get in touch and we’ll send you the form) which is a great option if you’re looking for a way to use money from an insurance payment, tax rebate or inheritance. If you haven’t met your pre-tax contribution cap of $25,000, you can also claim some of the taxes paid. For many people, making regular, small

pre-tax contributions from their salary is an easier way to get in extra contributions. Talk to your employer about making extra contribution or provide them with a copy of a pre-tax contributions form to get started. Time required*: 8 minutes

Of course, not every solution is right for every situation. We can review your situation and help you make the right decisions around consolidating, insurance, and contributing to your super with a quick chat over-the-phone. Give us a call to find out more about what we can do by calling us on 1300 658 776 or visiting *Time required is a guide only.

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



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Illegal dumping at Vinnies BY TODD DAGWELL Prosthetic limbs, ashes, false teeth, alive and dead animals, rotting meat and a shark’s carcass are just some of the strange and unpalatable items Hunter Valley St Vincent de Paul volunteers have had to contend with recently in their charity bins. Vinnies’ Events & Engagement Coordinator, Jennifer Barrie, said people dumping rubbish, in and around Vinnies’ charity bins, had already cost the not-forprofit organisation thousands of dollars this holiday season. “The bins have been full so people have been dumping bags all around the bins, which is illegal,” Ms Barrie said. “Unfortunately, many of the items being dropped off should have gone straight into home rubbish bins, while goods that may have been usable had been ruined by rain or stolen before volunteers could retrieve them,” Ms Barrie said. “Many people don’t want to pay the tip fees, others are just lazy but we’re asking people to use some common sense – if the bin is full wait until it’s empty. “Our volunteers should not have to go through people’s rubbish. If it is not in good condition and sellable do not bring it to us.” Illegal dumping, including the removal of lounges left in front of stores and the disposal of hundreds of kilograms of wet and ruined clothes, cost Newcastle and Maitland Vinnies over $100,000 last financial year. “We don’t yet know what illegal dumping will end up costing this holiday season but it is very expensive for us to remove the rubbish and that is less money we have to help vulnerable people in the community,” Ms Barrie said.

“We’re asking people to please be responsible and if they’re in doubt about an item, wait until a shop is open and ask the volunteers if it is suitable to donate.”

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

New Vinnies opens in Scone After a five year search St Vincent de Paul has found the ideal location for its new shop in Scone - and now begins the hunt for volunteers to help run it. The grand opening of the shop, located next door to the Post Office at 185 Kelly Street, was held on 14 January and attended by a large crowd of enthusiastic locals. Vinnies is currently looking for female and male volunteers aged 16 years and over to assist at the new location.

Many people don’t want to pay the tip fees, others are just lazy but we’re asking people to use some common sense – if the bin is full wait until it’s empty.


So if you love fashion, antiques and collectables or if you would like to learn new skills, meet new people and donate some spare time then volunteering with Vinnies is the answer as it provides the opportunity to learn valuable skills whilst giving back to your community. There are currently Vinnies shops in Singleton, Muswellbrook and Murrurundi, so the brand new Vinnies Scone will be a welcome addition in the Upper Hunter region and will offer good quality pre loved clothing, Manchester and household items.

Vinnies are also seeking good quality donations which can be dropped off at the Scone shop, Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm and on Saturdays 10am to 2pm. All funds raised at our Vinnies shops provide financial assistance to those experiencing disadvantage in the local community. For further information or to register your interest, please call 02 4967 6277 or email maitland.



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Don’t delay - Plenary submissions close soon


Time is running out for submissions to be made for the Plenary Council. Individual and group submissions must be made by 6 March answering the question “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?” Ash Wednesday, 6 March, will mark the end of stage one - the Open Listening And Dialogue stage. The second stage will begin after Easter, with Easter Sunday on 21 April. The Plenary Council Facilitation team will discern the emergent themes from all of the stories that have been shared during the Open Listening And Dialogue stage, and then move into Dialogue And Discernment. In early 2020, the draft Plenary Council papers written during the discernment stage will provide an opportunity for the final stage of preparation: Dialogue And Formation. In this stage Australians will read and learn, speak with one another, reflect, take time to listen deeply to the emergent questions and themes, and continue to grapple with what future God is calling us toward. The stories shared during the Open Listening And Dialogue stage will have shaped the program and the discernment of the Plenary Council. These three steps of preparation lead up to the Plenary Council, which will begin with the first Council session in October 2020.

Topics that have been frequently raised in submissions so far include leadership and governance within the Church, the place and role of women, the importance of young people, the living tradition, liturgy and music, the priesthood and other vocations, inclusion and welcome, the sacramental life of the Church, ecology and creation, and social justice.

people in Australia that still need to have their say. Don’t let the opportunity go by! Contact your parish to join a group led by an animator, or make your own submission online at

At the end of 2018, over 31,000 people had already shared their stories with the Plenary Council. There are many more

Aurora book giveaway

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

At the end of 2018, over 31,000 people had already shared their stories with the Plenary Council. There are many more people in Australia that still need to have their say.


Aurora is giving away a beautiful prayer journal called Vox Dei, which means ‘God’s Voice’ in Latin. The pages are filled with beautiful illustrations of flowers in pastel colours, accompanied by verses of Scripture, the Trinity Prayer and space to journal. The introduction to the journal says: “A lot of people wonder why God was so silent in biblical times but now seems so silent. God is not silent. God’s voice is just as chatty today as it was in biblical times and many modern-

day Christians can attest to the voice of God in their lives. God speaks to us. God speaks to us every day, every hour. The question is not whether God speaks - it’s whether we are listening. It really comes down to whether we can find the ‘pause’ in our busy schedules to wait in silence for God’s voice to manifest in our awareness.” The journal was designed by Francine Pirola, who shares: “The prayer journal came about through a personal search for an effective resource to assist me in my battle with busyness. In a world

saturated with fascinating distractions readily at my fingertips, I’m like a magpie – transfixed by the ‘bling’ and compulsively distracted by it. “My intention with this journal is to create a portable and beautiful space into which I can retreat for quiet conversation with God. A space where worldly distractions are displaced by the present beauty in my hands.” You can win this stunning journal by sending an email titled ‘Journal giveaway’ to by 15 February 2019. The journal can be purchased at

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The lens through which we view the world Nowadays if you were to define the word “deacon” you would immediately think of the church, ordination, and in the Catholic Church, a man. Go back 2,000 years ago and the word had a much broader meaning. The actual etymology of the word “diakonos” is unknown, although one school of thought suggested it is derived from a combination of “dia” and “konos”, literally “through dust”. We do know it was used as a catch-all term for servants and service. Ordinarily, at the time of Jesus Christ, the word used for servants would be “daikon”. The use of “diakonos” appears to place the service in a specifically Christian context. We do know it was not originally a gendered word. Paul frequently described the disciples, Jesus and Phoebe as “diakonos”. Often in reading the scriptures today it is all too easy to assume that a woman engaged in service was making meals or setting the table and a man engaged in service was performing ministry. We unintentionally use our own context as the lens through which we look at another. What would the Holy Scriptures say if

we could hear them spoken by the 12 disciples? What would they say if we lived in 33AD? It’s a question that is impossible to answer. We are only human after all and we cannot erase 2,000 years of memories, of wars, cultural changes and technological advances. We can no more return to the world in which a human Jesus lived than we can see into the future. Yet the question remains; What did the scriptures say 2,000 ago? Language is a slippery beast; the minute it is written the interpretation will change. Each person who reads a piece of text will interpret it differently because each will see it differently. We’ve all heard the old adage about walking a mile in another’s shoes but I admit I often find myself at a loss as to how to do this. Many people have attempted to place the Scriptures within their own context. Some have been very entertaining, albeit with a clear twenty-first century influence, like the television show AD The Bible Continues that chronicles the events immediately following the crucifixion. Feminist interpretations of the bible have also grown in number. These began with The Women’s Bible in 1895 written by

Wisdom in the Square


There are many books that offer an attempt to show a different perspective on our sacred texts... They give us the chance to peek through a different lens, to see a new perspective of Christ’s teachings. Elizabeth Stanton and have led to a new publication last year titled Une Bible Des Femmes. This book, written by Elisabeth Parmentier and Lauriane Savoy, strives to return the Scriptures to their rightful historical context and encourage the reader to question the assumptions they each make.

ever be able to sit at the feet of Jesus Christ and hear his words for ourselves, but every new interpretation we read extends our own knowledge and understanding. By sharing our views and hearing the perspectives of others we get ever closer to discovering what it was that the New Testament was telling us.

There are many books that offer an attempt to show a different perspective on our sacred texts. While feminist readings of the Bible are near and dear to my heart, it occurs to me that these books give us a far greater gift than simply elevating the status of women in the New Testament. They give us the chance to peek through a different lens, to see a new perspective of Christ’s teachings.

As a Christian community, our greatest gift is to hear the stories of others, and to learn to see God through the eyes of others. It is through this connection that we journey ever closer to that moment two thousand years ago. We may never quite reach it, but we can move ever closer to our God.

We can never return to 33AD, we won’t

Emma Clarke is Legal Clerical Officer for the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle



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

Religious protection laws an issue The lingering question over the adequacy of religious protection laws in Australia will remain unanswered until at least this May after Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared it would be a significant issue at the next federal election – which must be held before 18 May this year. According to The Australian, Mr Morrison said he would campaign for a religious discrimination act at the yet to be announced poll to ensure religious prejudice is treated as seriously as racial or sexual discrimination. A religious discrimination act was the key recommendation of the highly anticipated review into religious freedoms, by former Liberal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. Mr Morrison said he was accepting Mr Ruddock’s recommendation because religion and faith were central to the lives of millions of Australians, their families and their communities. “Australia is a secular democracy but that does not mean that Australians are a godless people,” Mr Morrison said. “Australians have a diversity of faith and religious backgrounds and these should all be respected ... protecting freedom of belief is central to the liberty of each and every Australian.” Draft legislation is expected to be released early this year and will include a provision for the creation of a “freedom of religion” commissioner to sit within the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said he supported the introduction of a religious discrimination act because society had changed. “Australians used to be ‘live and let live’ on religious matters. Our neighbours could have a different religion to us,” he said. “We gave each other the space to be different. But lately there has been a hard-edged secularism that wants to stamp out religion from public life. So that’s why I think there are calls today for religious discrimination legislation.” The Law Council of Australia, however, has urged the Federal Government not to rush the introduction of a new bill until it effectively balances the competing rights of freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination. The Federal Government has also referred the issue of gay students within religious schools to the Australian Law Reform Commission for review, after the Federal Opposition introduced a bill last November to repeal the exemptions for religious schools in section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act.

The Opposition has claimed the exemptions in the act allowed teachers and students to be legally discriminated against. In response, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference spokesperson on religious freedom, Archbishop Peter Comensoli, said Catholic schools did not use these exemptions to expel students for their sexual orientation or gender identity but rather to safeguard teaching in the Christian tradition. Catholic Schools NSW Chief Executive Officer, Dallas McInerney said Catholic education had never sought the right to expel students or refuse to hire staff based on their sexuality. “We did not seek concessions to discriminate against students or teachers based on their sexuality, gender identity or relationship status,” Mr McInerney said. “All that we expect is that, once employed or enrolled, people within a Catholic school community adhere to the school’s mission and values.”

Craig Stevenson, Head of Technology Services for the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle, has just bought a bike and is riding 1,000 kilometres for a very worthy cause.

These will be followed by a big qualifying ride in August where 65 riders work as a pack.

The ride will raise money for Camp Quality which supports children impacted by cancer.

“I just bought a bike and decided to try and make a difference to someone less fortunate than myself.

Craig began training in January trying to get 100kms a week of riding in, saying: “For an inexperienced rider it’s pretty much train, train, train.” Before the ride in September he will need to complete some qualifying races:

This is the first time Craig has attempted something like this.

“There’s no bigger motivator than knowing children are struggling, and my short term pain will make someone’s life a little easier.” If you would like to sponsor Craig and help kids impacted by cancer, you can donate at

ffLoop the Lake in March (86 kms) ffThe Mail Run in April (100 kms) ffThe Century Challenge (120kms) ffBingleburra ride in June (55kms against the clock)

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

Australians have a diversity of faith and religious backgrounds and these should all be respected ... protecting freedom of belief is central to the liberty of each and every Australian.

Short-term pain to make a difference for others

The 10-day ride will start at Movie World in the Gold Coast on 6 September and finish in Warners Bay.


Brooke Robinson is Content Officer 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 Annual Catechist Mass Annual Catechist Mass will be held on Friday 15 February at 2:00 PM at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 841 Hunter St, Newcastle West. Ordination to the Priesthood Ordination to the Priesthood of Anthony Coloma and John Lovell will be held on Saturday 16 February at 10:00 AM at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 841 Hunter St, Newcastle West. Ecumenical Conversation Dialogue Why the Cross? Ecumenical Conversation Dialogue - Why the Cross? will be held on Thursday 21 February at 6:00 PM at Adamstown Uniting Church, 228 Brunker Rd, Adamstown. Triduum Take 3

Before We Say I Do, 8 and 9 February at the Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm.

For further information on all our courses please contact Robyn Donnelly

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).

P 02 4979 1370 E

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.

Triduum Take 3, The Passion of the Lord, Good Friday Conversation and Workshop will be held on Saturday 23 February at 9:30AM – 1:00PM at the Toohey Room, Diocesan offices, 841 Hunter Street, Newcastle West. Participants will be engaged in conversation about the many pastoral and liturgical issues parishes face regarding Good Friday.

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).

Marriage and Relationship Education Courses 2019

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).

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, 23 and 24 August at the Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm.

2019 Magdalene Award International Women’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday 10 March with the presentation of the annual Magdalene Award. Please gather for Mass at 9.30am celebrated by Bishop Bill at Sacred Heart Cathedral and then enjoy morning tea with the nominees for the 2019 Magdalene Award, their families and friends. All are welcome!

For your diary February 8

International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking


World Day of Prayer for the Sick


Called to Serve Mass 6.30pm at Sacred Heart Cathedral


Annual Catechist Mass (see opposite)


Ordination to the Priesthood of Anthony Coloma and John Lovell (see opposite)


World Mission Sunday


World Day of Social Justice


Ecumenical Conversation Dialogue – Why the Cross? (see opposite)


Triduum Take 3, The Passion of the Lord (see opposite)


Day of Prayer for the unemployed

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, phone Mums’ Cottage P 02 4953 4105 E Youth Mass

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.

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.

For more events please visit and

Stay up to date with news from across the diocese




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

Meet a Kurri Kurri historian Kurri Kurri historian Brian Andrews has written over 170 historical texts but his latest book has unearthed some distinctly Catholic scandal.


Sacred Heart Cathedral c1960s

In A Hunter Valley Catholic History, Mr Andrews outlines the story of the Catholic Church in Maitland, Scone, Dungog, Raymond Terrace, Hamilton, and other remote parts of the Hunter from the 1830s to the 1960s. Mr Andrews said the Catholic Church in 19th century Australia was defined by hardship, perseverance, determination and a fair degree of controversy. “One of the more interesting stories I discovered was of the Maitland priest who was accused of and charged with fathering a child in the 1880s,” Mr Andrews said. “He was tried in court and eventually found to have done nothing wrong but his reputation never recovered.” Mr Andrews also uncovered a significant amount of bigotry towards Catholics, particularly in the Upper Hunter. “A number of landowners, who were generally English, only wanted Protestant convicts to work on their land and wouldn’t take the Catholics.”

Aurora on tour Aurora on tour with Catherine Waters in Rabaul Papua New Guinea

Chef Bartholomew Connors, Cathedral Café.

Ingredients Serves 4 ff 1 x 200g fillet fresh salmon ff ½ cup dry white wine

The enormous size of the dioceses in those times meant the priests had to be highly proficient on horseback and travel vast distances across the state to say Mass, Mr Andrews said. “Wollombi parish was in the Sydney diocese for years, which meant very long journeys for the priest.” The generosity of very poor people was another common theme in Mr Andrews’ book. “Despite having little money and suffering great adversity like the Depression and the Maitland floods, people were still determined to raise funds to build schools for the kids and churches, “ he said. “Hunter people really were very generous to the Church in the early years.”

This is a constant visitor to our dinner table and is always welcomed. It’s something both the adults and kids love, and is healthy and easy.


ff 150g piece of speck

Place salmon fillet into a pot and cover with cold water. Add half a cup of dry white wine and 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar & a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil. Turn off the heat. Put lid on the pot and place to the side for 5 -6 minutes. Remove salmon and allow to cool, then flake apart.

ff 2 bunches of blanched trimmed asparagus ff 1 packet baby tomatoes

Dressing ff ½ cup whole egg mayonnaise ff 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar ff Salt and pepper to season

His historical books can be purchased by emailing

Salmon, Asparagus and Spec Summer Salad

ff 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar ff 1 packet washed cos lettuce

Brian Andrews is the former curator of the Edgeworth David Museum and a former delegate of the Diocesan Pastoral Council appointed by Bishop Michael Malone.

Cut speck into bacon like strips. Cook in frypan until crispy and place on a paper towel. To make the dressing mix 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with a tablespoon white wine vinegar. Whizz together with salt and pepper. Arrange components onto a plate similar to photo and drizzle with dressing.

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.

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