Aurora April 2016

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Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle April 2016 | No.156

y e stor


nd Father ater daugh m sing fro e the samok songbo How can you support children during separation or divorce? Mercy on wheels arrives at Gresford Catherine Keenan’s building confidence, one story at a time


15 Day Tour



Dep. May 13 & Oct 19 THE BLACK SEA

Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out $5,985 18 Day Tour Dep. Oct 5 of Hanoi plus 2 flights within Vietnam. 4 nights Saigon, 4 nights Hanoi, 4 nights Hoi An, 1 night Flying Singapore Airlines into Istanbul, plus a flight within Turkey. 15 day tour of eastern Turkey Halong Bay with cruise. & the Black Sea coast. Optional extension


20 Day Tour

Dep. June 7 & Nov 16

to West Turkey 7 Gallipoli. Tipping included.

Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of VIETNAM LUXURY TOUR Hanoi. 18 day coach & air tour of Vietnam. For $4,999 20 Day Tour Dep. Oct 10 this tour there is no extra charge for travellers Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon & out of requiring a single room. Hanoi, plus 2 flights within Vietnam. 19 day

26 Day Tour

Dep. Oct 6.

Flying Asiana Airlines into Almaty & out of Tashkent plus 4 flights within central Asia. 22 day land, air & high speed train tour of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan & Turkmenistan. Korea stopovers. Tips included.


22 Day Tour

Dep. Oct 9

Flying Qantas & Lan Airways into Santiago plus 7 flights within South America. 20 day tour of Chile, Peru, Bplivia, Brazil & Argentina by VIETNAM OVERLAND plane, coach, rail & boat. Optional extensions tour of the coast of Vietnam plus the Sapa hill $3,815 3 Week Tour Dep. July 25 & Nov 7 tribe area. Superb 4-5 star accommodation. to Galapagos Islands and to the Amazon. Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out SPAIN, PORTUGAL & MOROCCO Tipping included. of Hanoi. 20 day tour of the coast of Vietnam. $5,195 20 Day Tour Dep. Oct 11

ITALY $6,985

18 Day Tour


Flying Cathay Pacific into Rome. 14 day first class tour of Italy visiting Rome, Pisa, Florence, Milan, Lugarno, Venice, Assisi, Sorrento, the Isle of Caprice, & the Italian Lakes. 2 day Hong Kong stopover.


13 Day Tour


11 Day Tour

Dep. Oct 26

Flying Air N.Z. into Auckland & out of Wellington. Visits 7 outstanding gardens & Taranaki Garden Festival. Tour lead by a gardening expert.


Dep. July 15 $4,385

16 Day Tour

Dep. Sep 19

Flying Cathay Pacific into Madrid. 17 day tour of Spain, Portugal & Morocco. 1 day Hong Kong stopover.


9 Day Tour

Dep. Nov 2

Flying Cathay Pacific into Taipei. 8 day Taiwan tour including spectacular Taroka Gorge. Tipping included. No single room supplement for solo travellers.


Flying Qatar Airways into Zurich. 11 day tour Flying Singapore Airlines into Colombo. 14 day 13 Day Tour Dep. Nov 8 of Switzerland. Tipping included. Twin share coach rail tour of Sri Lanka, visiting most places $6,195 Flying Cathay Pacifi c into Tokyo & out of Osaka. available for anyone requiring it. of interest in this beautiful country. 12 day Japan tour. Nearly all meals and tips THAILAND MOUNTAIN & included. CHINA HIGHLIGHTS

BEACHES $3,275

2 Week Tour

Dep. Aug 3

Dep. Oct 13 INDIA Flying China Eastern into Shanghai & out of Beijing $5,265 $3,290

13 Day Tour

Flying Thai into Bangkok plus 3 flights within plus 2 flights within China. 12 day China tour Thailand. Visits Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Chiang visiting Shanghai, Xian, Hangzhou, Suzhou & Mai & Phuket. First class accommodation. Beijing. No single room supplement for solo


18 Day Tour

Dep. July 19


19 Day Tour

Dep. Nov 17

Flying Singapore Airlines into Delhi and out of Bombay. 16 day coach, air & boat tour of India including the Taj Mahal. 2 day Singapore stopover. Tips included.



Flying United into Denver & out of Las Vegas. Visits Deadwood, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, $5,490 18 Day Tour Dep. Oct 19 $4,590 24 Day Tour Dep. Sep 1 BryceCanyon, Zion & Grand Canyon national Flying Singapore Airlines into Istanbul. 15 day Flying Thai into Chiang Mai & out of Hanoi. 5 parks and Las Vegas. tour of Turkey including Gallipoli & Ephesus. day tour of Golden Triangle, 7 day Laos tour including 2 days cruising the Mekong River, 10 SCANDINAVIA & THE ARCTIC 1 day Singapore. Tipping included. day North Vietnam tour including Halong Bay CIRCLE cruise. EUROPE IN DEPTH


22 Day Tour

Dep. Aug 18


34 Day Tour

Dep. Nov 2 MEXICO & CUBA

Flying Thai into Stockholm & out of Oslo. $8,975 18 Day Tour Dep. Nov 7 17 day tour of Finland, Lapland, the Arctic Circle Flying Cathay Pacific into London & out of Paris. Flying Qantas, American Airlines & Aeromexico & Norway. 3 days Thailand at a beachfront 31 day European tour visiting 11 countries. into Dallas & out of Havana. 8 day Mexico tour, resort hotel. 2 nights Hong Kong. Tipping included. 7 day Cuba tour, Dallas stopover. Tips included

U.S.A. & CANADA $6,995

4 Week Tour



Flying United into Los Angeles & out of New $8,675 17 Day Tour Dep. Sep 20 York. 12 day tour of western U.S.A. & 15 day Flying Qatar Airways (world’s best airline 2015) tour of N.E. U.S.A. & Canada. into London & out of Edinburgh. Inside visits


18 Day Tour

Dep. Oct 7

to Buckingham, Hampton Court, Edinburgh & Holyrood Palaces and Windsor, Cardiff,

Flying Emirates into Athens. 11 day Greece tour, 4 day cruise of the Greek Islands of Kenilworth & Ainwick Castles & the Royal Yacht Mykonos, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete & Santorini. Brittania, plus many historical sites & buildings 2 nights Dubai stopover. with all entrance fees & tips payed.


10 Day Tour

Dep. Nov 30

Flying Thai into Bangkok. 5 nights Bangkok, 3 nights Hua Hin in centrally located hotels. Tips included. Twin share accommodation guaranteed for anyone requiring it.


11 Day Tour

Dep. Jan 16

Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon & out of Hanoi plus 2 flights within Vietnam. Optional extension to Angkor Wat.


The prices listed mainly include return air fares from Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane, airport taxes & fuel levies, good twin share accom., many meals, all transfers, Australian tour leader & local tour guides.

First Word

On the cover Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle April 2016 | No.156



Father and daughter sing frome the samok songbo How can you support children during separation or divorce? Mercy on wheels arrives at Gresford Catherine Keenan’s building confidence, one story at a time

Music ‘encyclopaedia’ Steve Britt and Golden Guitarwinning daughter Catherine are singing from the same songbook in so many ways. See story page 10. Photograph courtesy of Geraldine Williams.

Featured  What’s happening in our cutting edge classrooms? 5  Awards recognise community efforts


 Creating stories that are out of this world 8  Life with a purpose/Pints with a Purpose


 Exhilarating experience of Mercy


 Mercy! Merci! 14  We’re here to create the good news stories 17  The five shilling donation


 Is there room for a child in your home?


 Just because change is normal, doesn’t mean it’s easy



It’s my story and my journey Since the last edition I have been particularly reminded of how Aurora can have an impact in the community – in simple ways like bringing old, but valuable, newspapers to light – and in weightier matters, like telling stories that are hard to hear and harder to live. The honesty of the woman who was a victim of domestic violence struck a chord with a number of readers who contacted me, and the cover story, advocating mercy in our attitudes and actions towards refugees and asylum seekers, was well received. John Sandy, whose story was featured, shared gratifying feedback. He wrote, “Lots of people ring me from the community about my story. People from schools, organisations, the shopping centres, the Nuns of St Joseph, the Sisters of Mercy, colleagues and lots of friends. The clients are all excited to see and read my stories. Honestly I’ve become so popular in the community, and that’s given me more sense of

value and belonging. I am so proud because it’s my story and my journey and who I am.” This month I share my encounter with Catherine Keenan, Australian Local Hero 2016 and the woman who gave birth to The Sydney Story Factory. Her philosophy, and that of Aurora, coincide: stories matter, and giving people opportunities to tell their story matters. I am delighted to report that several readers have donated copies of The Sentinel, the newspaper of the diocese from 1931-1968, following the request in the February edition. While we are yet to unearth two missing copies, October 1964 and May 1968, the diocesan archives have been augmented. Further donations are welcome! Laurie Bowman, John Harrison and Mary Ferry each contacted me regarding the photo of Hamilton Marist Brothers students marching on St Patrick’s Day in Maitland. Accompanying the students is Br Anselm Saunders fms, uncle

 First Word


 My Word


Contact Aurora Aurora online

 CareTalk


Next deadline 7 April 2016

 Two by Two


 Family Matters


 The Way We Were


 The Catholic Thing


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

 Seasons of Mercy



 Frankly Spoken


 Community Noticeboard


 Last Word



of Mary Ferry. It seems that at least some of the students belong to the Leaving Certificate class of 1959. If you have been reminded of photos or artefacts you have that relate to the diocesan story of the last 150 years, you may wish to offer them (on loan) for the ‘pop up’ museum which will appear in Maitland in July. For details, please contact the editor. Do you enjoy reading? Do you have an interest in the broad areas of spirituality and religion? From time to time, Aurora needs book reviewers. If you are interested, please contact the editor. May the new life that the season of Easter promises touch your life.


Good news! You can still catch up with Aurora online, via



Fairfax Media Phone 4979 5259

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My Word

Dying to live the Good News I hope you had a happy Easter celebration in your family and community, and that it was a time of grace as well as joy, especially in this Year of Mercy, as we open ourselves to new encounters with the Risen Christ, the ‘face’ of the loving and merciful Father. The days around Easter make up the greatest Christian festival. They also point us, indeed almost drive us, into consideration of the most profound insights that our faith offers about human experience, because Easter is all about how we see life and what we are to make of death.

be possible, let this cup pass me by.” He did not want to die. His passionate way of living reminds us that just being alive is a great gift of God, and that it entails many other great gifts like friends and home, the beauty of nature, the experience of love and kindness. Death is a massive loss of good things. Death, especially untimely death, is a personal disaster. And yet, Jesus was prepared to die. He said to his disciples once, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” There is more to being alive, then, than just breathing. The word ‘soul’ has a quaint ring to it today, but we still realise that there is something to ‘me’ that makes me the person I am, some ‘self’ that I can lose, can betray, can sell short. Jesus, when the time came, retained his integrity, which is pretty close to the meaning of ‘soul’. He would not deny his life’s work, recant his teaching, back down from his truth. He didn’t want to die, but he believed there really was ‘a fate worse than death’. He would not betray his God, his own beliefs, the truth he had lived by. He would not lose his ‘soul’, even in the face of death.

I have sometimes begun my Good Friday homily with the short statement, “Jesus did not want to die.” It is surprising how often believers find that a novel thought, how often we lapse into the ancient heresy of thinking of Jesus as the Son of God walking around pretending to be like us. But no, he was a young man of thirty-something. He was deeply engaged in life: travelling, teaching, healing, sharing meals all over the place, delighting in company and, at times, in solitude. We see how he observed nature and human foibles, watching the Design of the logo in additional languages And, of course, the message of Easter Day lilies of the field, the habits of farmers, the itself is that Jesus was right. God raised him changes of the seasons, weaving these bits from death. We are not just fragile bodies of everyday life into his teaching as parables. subject to destruction by violence or disease And, of course, he had a great sense of or the sheer wearing out of our flesh and having a mission to complete. Anyway, we bones. We are more than that. And that hear it from him in the garden, “Father, if it

He would not lose his ‘soul’, even in the face of death.

Budowa znaku w różnych wersjach językowych

rys. 1 – włoska wersja językowa

rys. 2 – angielska wersja językowa

Italian version

‘more’, that ‘me’ that is mind and heart and spirit and person, is in the hands of God, whether my body lives or dies. Not everyone can believe this. Not everyone believed it in Jesus’ time, either. But it is the message of Easter, the message passed on by those who, to their great surprise, encountered Jesus again after his death. We live at a time when people question what makes life worth living. We tend to undervalue the things that money can’t buy and to have exaggerated hopes that the things we can buy will one day deliver happiness. We go to extraordinary lengths to make our bodies last a few years or months longer, but we won’t think or talk about death itself, almost superstitiously believing that if we ignore it, it will go away. Yet we are still faced with the ancient human questions: What gives meaning to life? What is a good life? What might be worth dying for? What is death, and is it all there is in the end? Christians believe that the life, death and rising of Jesus are highly significant to our deepest human ponderings. We call his history simply ‘the Good News’.

rys. 3 – hiszpańska wersja językowa Spanish version

English version

Join Bishop Bill Wright for World Youth Day 2016! sygnet




The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is taking registrations for the logotyp sygnet sygnet logotyp World Youthsignet Day 2016 pilgrimage. logotype logotype signet intergenerational For more info contact Brian and Sue Lacey on 4979 1211 or visit Registrations close Friday 8 April.

Follow for all your World Youth Day updates. śdm kraków 2016 4








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What’s happening in our cutting edge classrooms? Learning about technology The current generation of students was born into a highly technological world. These students occupy, navigate and communicate with a society which is both technology-rich and information-rich. Families increasingly use technology for learning, leisure and communication. Technologies are cheaper, more mobile and able to be used by learners of all ages. Our students’ worlds are increasingly shaped by their abilities to acquire, communicate, access and manipulate information using technology, and respond creatively to emerging technologies. Education systems have responded to these needs, acknowledging that ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) capabilities are essential for participation in today’s world. The Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) NSW, whose role includes the development of syllabuses for Kindergarten to Year 12, has included “Integrating ICT Capability” in its new syllabus documents¹. They recognise the fact that students do not just learn how to use technology simply because they have access to it. In the NSW Syllabus documents, BOSTES discusses the idea that the integration of ICT in teaching, learning and assessment in NSW syllabuses can lead to enhanced outcomes for students and assist in the development of the knowledge, skills, understanding, attitudes and behaviours needed to assist students to live and work successfully. Teachers are asked to plan for a variety of opportunities where students are encouraged to develop analytical, organisational and problem-solving skills. Learning with technology In developing its new curriculum, the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority sought to build a “worldclass curriculum for the 21st century” where “students need to develop a set of skills,

behaviours and dispositions, or general capabilities that apply across subject-based content and equip them to be lifelong learners able to operate with confidence in a complex, information-rich, globalised world”². An important consideration in using technology in the classroom is how it can reshape not only what is learned, but how it is learned. John Hattie’s concept of ‘expert teachers’ paints them as those who “see the surface and the deeper understandings of the subjects that they teach, as well as their beliefs about how to teach and understand when students are learning and have learned the subject”³. In the technologically rich classrooms of 2016, this means considering the impact that technology can have on teaching and learning. Following are some examples of how technology is changing the way teachers teach and students learn in the classroom.

Tw o ed uc ato rs, Sh an no n Ha ll an d An dre w Co rnw int o the va rie ty all, off er a win do of tea ch ing an d w lea rni ng ap pro ac co nte mp ora ry cla he s em plo ye d in ss roo ms .

Flipped learning Flipped learning is a form of blended technology, in which the instructional components of the lesson are ‘flipped’, while the lesson time becomes focused on classroom activities. The flipped component can be delivered at home or in class, with the latter solving the problem of teachers having to be in two places at once. The flipped component is usually delivered through the use of online video and other learning technologies. As Cherie Borger of St Pius X High School, Adamstown, indicates, she wanted a “more interactive class environment that encourages students to solve problems and be more creative”. In Cherie’s secondary classroom, ‘flipping’ facilitated this by moving the content out of the normal classroom space and into the homework space, while for others it is about recording content for students to watch while the teacher is focused on helping another group of students.

The schools will program a scientific experiment that will be loaded aboard a rocket to be launched by NASA later in the year.

Blended learning Blended learning involves the delivery of content and teaching and learning activities in the physical classroom and in the digital learning spaces. For many years, teacher and students have been blending learning, most recently with online tools such as OneNote which allows for anywhere, anytime, anyhow learning. Teacher Liz Stokes of St Joseph’s Lochinvar notes that most key learning areas (KLAs) have embraced technology due to its ability to provide, eg, instantaneous feedback and the capacity for students to collaborate on projects. Across the road at St Patrick’s, it’s a similar story where Dennis Nolan is part of a primary school blended learning project using OneNote in Year 4. He notes that the students are “motivated, engaged, focused and enthusiastic”.

Coding, programming and computational thinking Coding is a fairly recent term to refer to those activities long associated with computer programming. Underpinning any form of coding or programming is computational thinking or a method of solving problems or designing systems with computers. In addition to the kind of programming being done in specialist HSC courses, several schools are involved in activities such as the international Hour of Code. Further, students at St Mary’s, Gateshead, and St Joseph’s, Aberdeen, recently received a grant for a Quberider. The schools will program a scientific experiment that will be loaded aboard a rocket to be launched by NASA later

in the year. Students from many schools, such as St Catherine’s, Singleton, and St Pius X, Adamstown, are programming with robotics, using Spheros bots. Meanwhile, at St Joseph’s, Merewether, kindergarten students are learning to count with basic programming of Beetlebots. Maker movement This is a term used to describe a technological and creative movement using new tools and technologies like 3D printing, robotics, microprocessors, wearable technology, smart materials and programming, alongside more traditional tools from sewing machines to jigsaws used to tinker, make, engineer and invent. Students often go through a design process making ‘things’ for a specific purpose and audience. Many schools are designing maker spaces where students can learn to design and create objects and items. St Mary’s Gateshead has a strong maker movement with everything from Makey Makeys to 3D printing to Little Bits. Gamification The term ‘gamification’ refers to applying aspects of game-based play to classroom teaching and learning. An example of a type of gamification – game-based learning – has been the use of Minecraft in a range of subject areas. At St Therese’s, New Lambton, Lynette Barker notes how Minecraft impacts on learning. “They’re excited, they ask questions and most importantly, they collaborate and help each other to solve problems.” Similar excitement can be found at our newest school, St Aloysius, Chisholm. Across our diocese, schools are both learning about technology and learning with technology. With it come opportunities for students and teachers alike. Shannon Hall and Andrew Cornwall are Education Officers (Learning Technology) at the Catholic Schools Office.

1 2 3 p. 25 Hattie, J. (2011) Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising Impact on Learning, Routledge.

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Bishop’s Awards recognise community efforts of young Catholics Six young people, including five from Catholic schools in the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle, were recognised recently at the Bishop’s Catholic Youth Mass and Catholic Schools Week Mass with a Bishop’s Award. The awards, presented in collaboration with, and following an initiative by, the Federation of Parents & Friends Association, seek to recognise publicly the efforts of students and young people within the diocese who have contributed to the community through their parish, church group or church agency. This may include involvement in groups or agencies such as Caritas, Youth Ministries, St Vincent de Paul Society, Mini Vinnies or similar groups. Lachlan Byrnes, from St Pius X, Adamstown (pictured), was recognised for his

in the Chisholm (Maitland) region. Sam

Maitland‑Newcastle contingent.

was also recognised for her work with the

Congratulations to all! For more information on each of the award recipients and a gallery, visit

Diocesan Council for Youth Ministry and her contribution to the organisation of the 2015 Australian Catholic Youth Festival,

Lachlan joined four other students receiving a Catholic Schools Student’s Award, including Rebekah Leslie (St Paul’s, Booragul), Elijah Doherty (St Clare’s, Taree), Clare Melville (SPX, Adamstown) and Johanna Soo (San Clemente, Mayfield). A new category, the Catholic Young People Bishop’s Award, was open to young people from Year 12 up to age 25. Samantha Hill received this award for her involvement in the youth movement with many parishes

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outstanding contribution to the life of his parish and school community. Lachlan developed a program to support the welcoming and training of altar servers including the organisation of rosters and training materials, and is developing an app to enhance training further. Lachlan has also supported the development of initiatives to encourage involvement of young people in his parish. He is a member of his school’s St Vincent de Paul team and a recipient of the Diamond Award at his school for community and parish work.





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Ceremony of Recognition acknowledges teaching staff In an era where career change is common, it’s particularly special to acknowledge and recognise employers who have dedicated their lives to a particular field such as teaching. The Catholic Schools Office in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle each year recognises 25 years of service to education at the Called to Serve Mass. The staff of Catholic schools, the Catholic Schools Office and members of the Catholic Schools Council pledge “to serve the mission of God in the

ministry of Catholic school education”. This year a Ceremony of Recognition for staff who have contributed 35 or more years of service to Catholic schools was hosted by Bishop Bill Wright and Director of Schools, Ray Collins. The ceremony was a wonderful occasion for teaching staff to come together, reminisce and most importantly, be publicly acknowledged for the contribution this group of teachers and teaching staff has made to education and to generations of families. Ray Collins said, “The acknowledgement of the recipients of 35+ years of service recognised the considerable contribution these staff members have made to Catholic schools in the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle and in other dioceses. Such service will have witnessed many changes in the nature of schools and the requirements of teachers. The staff members will have impacted on the lives of thousands of students in that time and we appreciate not only the length of this service but the individual commitment it requires.”

Katrina Dawson Foundation scholarship Katrina Dawson was a highly-respected barrister and a loving mum and wife, but is remembered by most Australians as one of three people killed in The Lindt Café siege of December 2014. To honour Katrina’s memory and ensure something positive emerged from tragedy, the Katrina Dawson Foundation was established by her family and former Governor-General, The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD, CVO. The foundation is about “finding, funding and mentoring inspiring young women” and, through a scholarship program, aims to remove barriers and create opportunities for exceptional young women to fulfil their potential. This year, one of the recipients of the first Katrina Dawson Foundation scholarships is the current Dux of St Joseph’s High School Aberdeen, Kate Field. In the 2015 HSC, Kate received an ATAR

of 97.95 and was recently named one of the diocese’s top five high achievers (pictured in March with Bishop Bill Wright). She was chairperson of St Joseph’s Student Representative Council, a National Ambassador for OzGreen and Lions Youth of the Year in 2014 and 2015. This year, Kate plans to use her scholarship to study at The Women’s College and the University of Sydney to help her complete a Bachelor of Architecture & Environment which, she says, will combine her “passion for the environment with my personal ambition to reinvent urban design in Australia, developing more sustainable and eco-friendly cityscapes”. Aurora looks forward to following Kate’s journey.

Enrolments now open for 2017!

Contact your local Catholic school or visit to find your nearest school. Catholic schools are an inclusive, affordable option, open to all and we are looking forward to growing the future of Catholic education in our region. –Ray Collins, Director of Schools

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Creating stories that are out of this world

By Tracey Edstein

For many years journalist Catherine Keenan was writing other people’s stories. Now, as 2016 Australian Local Hero, she is the story. Her passion gives young people the tools to tell their stories. Tracey Edstein visited Catherine’s ‘baby’, The Sydney Story Factory. You enter The Story Factory at Redfern through the portal of The Martian Embassy; “Only earth children and committed creative brains allowed past this point.” If you qualify, you enter an enticing world of flying saucer repair kits and birds’ nests, manual typewriters and weird alien stuff – and books, books and more books! The Story Factory owes its origin to a renowned TED talk by novelist Dave Eggers (see below) about 826 Valencia, a writing centre for young people in San Francisco founded in 2002. Catherine recalls, “I thought it was fantastic − I sent it to my mate Tim and we started thinking about whether there was anything like this in Sydney. There wasn’t, so we started asking people what they thought. We went to San Francisco, adapted the model of 826 Valencia and brought it back here.” Hence The Story Factory was born. Since that time, the centre has operated according to its mission. Every day, we set out to:  Run innovative and fun creative writing

programs, with expert teaching and one-onone tutoring.  Encourage young people to communicate

ideas, giving them more confidence in their skills, themselves and each other.  Create and sustain a vital contribution to the

community, by respecting and giving voice to the stories around us. The focus of a small number of staff and an enormous number of volunteers (1200 and counting) is young people from marginalised backgrounds: foster children, children of refugees, indigenous young people, children in institutional care. “We find we get a lot of kids here who are not 8

considered to be good at writing, and they don’t like writing. Then they come here and all of a sudden, it’s − oh, this is much more fun than I thought it was and it turns out that I’m a much better writer than I thought I was”, says Catherine.

“The second thing is that we provide this amazing space. The students are not being assessed and they’re given the freedom to write about things they’re interested in. It’s very hard to write about something you’re not interested in. Here they have that creative freedom.

She recalls her own classroom experience. “I always enjoyed writing and I had a couple of teachers who identified that as something I was good at and that made a big difference to me.

“Finally, at the end of every program, whether it’s a two-hour workshop or every week for a term, we give the students back their finished piece of writing. All those black binders you see are students’ work. It’s something they can hold on to and be proud of.”

“I always read and I always wrote. I read indiscriminately. Not ‘capital L’ literature as a child - Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton….Mum said I had the annoying habit of reading street signs aloud!” While Catherine acknowledges that the classroom can’t always allow the one-to-one process that brings optimum results, she is confident that every student has many stories to tell. “It’s not hard to get them to tell those stories, you just have to give them the freedom and it will come. “There are three big things that make a difference. The first one is the volunteers. Normally a student would work ‘one on one’ or maybe in a group of two or three with a volunteer. Writing is hard, and there are lots of points where writers get stuck − you don’t know what to do and you’ve lost a bit of interest − but here is a volunteer who says, ‘I really like what you started here with this guy and I want to know what happens next.’ You have a conversation and the student continues the story. In a classroom, when they get stuck they often stop, because of course the teacher can’t talk individually to every child every time. The volunteer – and they range from retired journalists to uni students − is someone who’s really interested in their ideas and that’s such a positive, empowering thing.

Indeed the Story Factory includes the Martian Embassy Library which stocks published student works as well as plenty of young adult fiction.

Catherine Keenan’s dream of promoting the joy of storytelling has led to opportunities for thousands of children. However, as she says, “The downside of running a creative writing centre is that I write a lot less than before!” Enter the amazing world of the Story Factory by visiting




/mnnewstoday @mnnewstoday

To encourage a young person to write:  Ask lots of questions.

The programs are offered to class groups at school and to individuals after school, on Sundays and during holidays. There are programs for teachers and special projects involving film, radio, dramatic monologue, photography and community writing.

 Listen to the story they are telling you

When I visited, there was a constant stream of would-be volunteers being interviewed by experienced volunteers.

 Remind them that all writers, especially

Lenard Gadil, a student in the final semester of his Bachelor of Arts/Education degree, hopes to become a history teacher. His motivation to volunteer encapsulates the mission of the Story Factory. “What attracted me is the same thing that attracted me towards a career in education: a chance to make a positive impact on the community and inspire young people to learn, think and ultimately hope. It’s a chance to be the person I needed when I was younger. Someone capable of inspiring others to realise that the world isn’t what we are given but what we make of it…we have the power to write our own stories. It took me a long time to learn that.”

now.  Encourage them to write it down.  Don’t worry too much about spelling

and grammar. the very good ones, edit – revise – rewrite. There can be a temptation to think that when the first draft is finished, it’s finished – and it’s not!  Come back to the story...”I’ve been

thinking about...tell me more....” The more you talk to the writer about the story, the better the story will be.  Type the story, design a cover, present it

to family and friends, honour it.  Read to children, have books lying

around, join and visit libraries, and share stories, oral and written.  Driving presents an opportunity to

create or refresh stories, all in your own Martian capsule!

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Read the signs of burnout and compassion fatigue Q

By TANYA RUSSELL Registered Psychologist

CatholicCare's Counselling Team Leader, registered psychologist Tanya Russell, will address an issue each month. The advice provided is general in nature and does not replace ongoing support and advice from your health professional. To talk to someone about counselling support, P 4979 1172. Call Lifeline 24/7 on 131 114.

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


I have worked as a senior nurse for the past 15 years and have mostly enjoyed it. However, over the past 12 months, I have become increasingly frustrated as there are petty workplace issues that are unresolved. Also, I feel I care too much, and sometimes I carry my sadness and frustration home with me. One of my colleagues suggested I might be “burning out”. I don’t think I am depressed but I find it increasingly difficult to go to work each day. Could ‘burnout’ explain what is going on with me? Two terms come to mind when I read or hear about situations similar to yours: burnout and compassion fatigue. Nurses are particularly vulnerable, due to their intense working environments and the fact they are required to provide compassionate care, on a daily basis, to people who are ill, in pain, vulnerable or dying. Burnout and compassion fatigue share similar features but develop slightly differently. Burnout arises over time and is related to stress and conflict in the work environment. Factors could include high workload, lack of resources, team conflict, dissatisfaction with salary, long hours. People may go through different stages before reaching burnout: enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration and finally, apathy. Burnout can give rise to decreased empathy and withdrawal, and many people end up resigning. Compassion fatigue can build up over time or be caused by one incident. Compassion fatigue is directly related to the emotional aspect of a caregiver role. Nurses witness

patient tragedy, trauma, injury, sickness, life and death. This necessary compassion also extends to families, further engaging nurses in the emotional world of others. Compassion fatigue can result in continued “giving” despite increased suffering for the caregiver/ nurse, blurred boundaries and finding it difficult to balance empathy and objectivity (ie making ‘emotional’ decisions rather than fully professional and ‘objective’ decisions). Many people also leave their job, even if they love what they do. Burnout and compassion fatigue can involve a variety of symptoms, features and behaviours across all personal and professional domains. Symptoms include anger, irritability, apathy, low mood, preoccupation with work issues and patients’ issues, concentration difficulties, weakened attention to detail, lack of energy, physical exhaustion regardless of sleep pattern, social withdrawal, loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, loss of spirituality or questioning your purpose in life, absenteeism, desire to quit and making errors at work.

The impact of burnout and compassion fatigue can extend to the wider team, organisation, the caregiver’s family and even patients. It is important to know your triggers and to be aware of the signs of burnout and compassion fatigue. You do not have to manage this alone – there are personal steps you can take to look after yourself, but your organisation should also provide some support as well. Find small ways to replenish yourself – be a little bit selfish. Reflect on the healthy things you are no longer doing that made you feel calm and relaxed and start doing something small for yourself daily. Also, talk to your manager who can provide you with advice on workplace support. Your workplace may have an Employee Assistance Program (free counselling for staff and/or family members) and your manager may be able to come up with some practical ways of improving your working conditions as well. Do not ignore your feelings – you know that something needs to change and now is the time.

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Two by Two


The school counsellor’s daughter Golden Guitar winner, Catherine Britt, and her father, Steve, were rivals when I first viewed them together in 2008. RocKwiz was the arena. The SBS program pits two teams of three against each other, competing for supremacy in their knowledge of the popular music scene. Catherine was the celebrity centrepiece of one team. Max Merritt headed the other. The remaining four spots were allotted to audience members with a flair for rock history. Steve was one. The show’s producers set Catherine and her father on opposing sides. Catherine anticipated a trouncing. She knew her father’s encyclopaedic knowledge of all things musical. Steve’s passion helped launch Catherine on her trajectory to star status in the country music world. But Steve revelled in all areas of popular music. By contrast, they were relaxing side by side when I interviewed them recently. Not rivalry, but a comfortable and affectionate father and daughter relationship was before me. This was at the house Catherine shares with husband, James, in a suburb of her home town, Newcastle. I know Steve through his important contributions to adult faith formation in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. His skills as psychologist are especially valued in programs of the Tenison Woods Education Centre. His day job is school counsellor. What part did Steve play in Catherine’s rise to prominence as singer/songwriter in the Australian and American country music scenes? Importantly, she didn’t get her voice from Steve. Nor from Anne, her mother, or elsewhere in the family. Steve seems perplexed, but proud. “How did Catherine get to have one of the best voices in Australian 10

country music? It came out of nowhere.” In childhood Catherine was exposed to much and varied music. She tried several musical instruments, until parental wisdom recognised that the perfectly pitched instrument she possessed was the one to foster. Catherine was the designated singer in primary school days at St Joseph’s, Charlestown. She was called upon to render “Happy Birthday” regularly − a far cry from her 2012 recording “Charlestown Road” which laments her long-gone family home. Nowadays Catherine solos in grander settings like Tamworth’s Australian Country Music Festival where this year she collected a fourth Golden Guitar – her third as Female Artist of the Year. Why country when Steve had introduced various musical styles?

birthday. Steve was born on the actual day Hank died. Some channelling, perhaps? Catherine’s success was rapid. Elton John heard her, loved her voice, championed her, made connections. She had a record contract with a top American label before setting foot in the US – an Australian first. Whisked to the States with Steve in tow, Catherine recalls, “it was the craziest five days. I was in high school, then I was in America.” Auditioning, recording, meeting and working with ‘greats’ in the game – even a specially arranged performance on the hallowed stage of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. For Steve, too, it was “overwhelming and exciting”, and quite surreal to be in a café and look over to see Kenny Rogers at another table. Afterwards came the dawning reality: “Catherine could end up moving to America.” This realisation ached in a father’s heart.

He inherited from his mother, and has in turn passed on to Catherine, a pragmatic approach to any challenge...

On a family holiday, aged 9 or 10, Catherine was greatly moved by The Coal Miner’s Daughter, the film about Loretta Lynn. Others, like Dolly Parton, came to inspire her as well. “Or was it that my voice was country-sounding?” she muses. The voice had told her parents it was the talent to promote. Now the character of that voice was telling her which style was her natural fit. The ladies first inspired Catherine, but it was Hank Williams who became, and remains, her favourite. Why? “I don’t think there’s ever been an honesty like his…not to that extent. People hold back.” Holding back on honesty is not Catherine’s way either. A sampling of her performances available on the internet makes that apparent. There are other fascinating connections between Catherine, Steve, and Hank. Catherine and her father share the same

She did move, of course. Catherine’s career has her dividing time between the United States and Australia – Nashville and Newcastle. “America is a second home,” says Catherine, “but very much secondary.” Her home town has been the stage for Catherine’s recent well known challenge. Breast cancer has been comprehensively treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation at Calvary Mater Hospital. The daring bald woman who received her Golden Guitar in January boldly displays that baldness in her video clip “We’re All Waiting”, filmed around Newcastle’s foreshore. Devastated and in shock for some days after diagnosis, Catherine then switched gear.

Steve shared his daughter’s reaction. First he was overwhelmed. He, too, switched gear. He inherited from his mother, and has in turn passed on to Catherine, a pragmatic approach to any challenge: “This is the situation. What are we going to do about it?” The best wide-ranging treatments have resulted in Catherine feeling positive and well. The return of her hair signals hope for complete wellness. She hasn’t been stopped, just slowed a bit – and only for a short while. Nine days after surgery Catherine was back touring in Queensland. As well, she and James recently celebrated their marriage in Newcastle. And, as if that was not enough to occupy them, the family has become owner of the music magazine Rhythms. Each is now responsible for an aspect of a full-on publishing venture which embraces the music scene so central to their identity. What impact has the encounter with cancer had on Catherine? “My outlook on life is completely different,” she volunteers. Steve elaborates: “She’s much more mature in the way she looks at things. Now she doesn’t get upset easily.” Catherine nods in agreement. In light of this current picture of parent/child harmony, you may be wondering how things turned out when father and daughter were rivals on RocKwiz. Steve’s encyclopaedic recall was impressive. Catherine, however, was heading up a team including a man whom Steve assured me was autistic, providing an unfair advantage. From this human hard-drive data storage and retrieval system came quick-fire answers. The show ended with the closest of scores. Catherine was victorious and jubilant. PS. Anne and James don’t feature in this Two by Two story, but figure greatly in real life.

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News Batt. Fr Morgan Batt is a priest of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.


Life with a purpose/Pints with a Purpose On the first Monday night of each month Pints with a Purpose hosts talks by a variety of speakers to encourage thoughtful discussions and a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith. The venue is The Northern Star Hotel, Hamilton. Pints is free and encourages all adults, particularly those 18-35 years, to come along and listen to guest speakers, meet new people and discuss issues and ideas in an informal atmosphere. Arrive at 6.30pm and get some pub grub prior to the talk which kicks off at 7.30pm. This month, May 2016, Pints hosts Fr Morgan

Fr Batt was ordained a Catholic priest on 29 November 1991. His appointments have been to several Brisbane parishes with extra appointments to Bishop’s Committees for Youth and Education. Fr Batt was also Parish Priest of St John’s Richmond and Port Arthur, Tasmania, during the 1996 massacre which has been a life-changing time for him. Fr Morgan also served as chaplain to the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane for six years. He has studied in Spain, Belgium, Palestine and USA. On 11 March 2002 Morgan Batt enlisted in the Army Reserve as Chaplain. His first posting was to the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, Brisbane. After three years, he was asked to enlist full-time. His postings have been to Darwin 1st Armoured Regiment, then to the 5th and 7th Royal Australian Regiment (RAR), and 2008 posted to the Warrant Officer and NonCommissioned Officer Academy – Northern Territory Wing and later the 1st Aviation Regiment. He has served on two deployments: Australian Stabilisation Forces in Timor Leste in 2006, and Overwatch Battle Group 3 (West) Iraq and the Middle East in 2007. During his time in Iraq he worked closely with the USA troops and was awarded the US Army Commendation Medal for his services − the first Australian Army

Chaplain to receive this medal. Currently Fr Batt is the Army Headquarters Staff Chaplain for the Queensland Region.

Fr Morgan Batt abseiling into view at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival, Adelaide, late last year. Photo courtesy of Geraldine Williams.

Fr Morgan is also a well-known outdoor adventurer. He is a noted international alpine mountaineer, having summited the North Face of Everest and climbed on thousands of mountains around the world. His aim in mountaineering is to summit the highest peak of every nation and major territory in the world. The list of mountains has seen Fr Morgan visit every continent in the world and to date he has summited 176 of his 268 countries and territories. Fr Morgan Batt has also been entered as a magistral chaplain in the Sovereign Military Order of St John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta. Today Fr Morgan’s ministry is as Vocations Director of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Director of Discernment Canali House, and Holy Spirit Seminary Director of Pastoral Studies. As a priest for 25 years, an Army chaplain, and a mountaineer, there are some great stories to be told that will touch the human heart and soul – he will make you laugh and make you cry! In this Year of Mercy, Fr Morgan tells the tenderhearted story of his life with a purpose at Pints with a Purpose.




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Exhilarating Mercy experience


With the great foresight of Bishop Bill Wright and the wisdom and guidance of our Missionary of Mercy, Fr Richard Shortall sj, Gresford Parish has personally experienced Pope Francis’ Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy first hand. Our MOM (Missionary of Mercy) has left us a lasting spiritual legacy. I must declare I have an interest in this country parish; it has been my home for the past 27 years. The MOM’s task is to visit each parish within the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle without a resident priest, a significant challenge with many merged and outlying parishes within our geographically spread borders. He generously gifted himself to these communities for ten months to carry out this unique papallyendowed ministry.

In preparation for his visit, Sr Maureen Salmon rsj travelled to Gresford to explain Pope Francis’ document through a visual presentation of his reasons and hopes for this Year of Mercy. Sister outlined the document’s main paragraphs and presented parishioners with a booklet and prayer card, with the distinctive Year of Mercy logo. St Helen’s, Gresford, and Sacred Heart, Summer Hill, were the second churches blessed to experience Richard’s enthusiasm and dedication, his mobile home parked close to St Helen’s church for all the locals to see. The parish has not had a ‘live-in’ parish priest for many years, so it was with joy and expectation that we greeted Richard warmly for his six-day ‘residency’. On the morning of his arrival it was discovered

Richard Shortall (second from left) with parishioners at Gresford.

that our historic parish cemetery had earlier been vandalised. Naturally many locals were upset and angry. Father visited the cemetery two days later with parishioners, offering special prayers as he walked with us and sprinkled holy water throughout the sacred grounds, blessing the graves of our ancestors. It wasn’t on his original agenda, but his actions have helped us heal. He encountered us during daily Mass at St Helen’s or Sacred Heart. Many availed themselves of Father’s offered private time, wherein, “He listened with his ears, as well as his heart.” Richard led a deeply expressive and reflective Guided Prayer of Healing and Mercy. He visited the housebound and sick and presided at an Anointing Mass. It was an amazing coincidence that many of the readings

centred on mercy. Naturally, many meals and morning teas were shared throughout his stay, allowing extra opportunities to continue our conversations. The week passed far too quickly and we farewelled Richard with some sadness. The opportunity to have a priest actually living within our midst had been a huge bonus, a time we will remember for bringing our parish together in such a profoundly holy and meaningful sense. Parishioners described his stay as “enriching”, “uplifting” and “life giving”. Fr Richard Shortall is the epitome of the Face of Mercy; in offering his services to Bishop Bill and our diocese he has undertaken an arduous journey. Pope Francis would be full of pride that this particular MOM is personally “demonstrating the love of Christ”.

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Family Matters


Supporting children and young people through separation and divorce Emma was finding it hard to cope. Her parents had separated earlier in the year, and her father was making plans to move again – this time with his new partner. Emma’s mother was doing ok, working full-time again but holding it together, and her parents could have sensible conversations with each other about Emma and her little sister, Lucy – so Emma wondered why she felt this way. At 15, shouldn’t she be able to cope too? In Australia nearly one in two marriages ends in separation and divorce. This directly impacts many children and young people in our schools, our communities and our own families. Coping with the changes that result can be challenging for all involved. Having some understanding of what children and young people are dealing with can help us to provide the right kinds of support, when and where it helps. Children’s reactions to separation and divorce are as unique and varied as kids themselves. These responses can be more easily understood if we look at separation and divorce as a process rather than a single event. Children’s ages and personalities, their life experiences, the families and friends around them, and how their parents are managing all affect how children react and cope. Emma’s experience reminds us that the comments below are only a general guide. Every child’s experience is unique, even within the same family. Paying attention and noticing how each child manages change is a very important role adults can play as they guide and support young people. Children in the preschool years may notice they are seeing one parent less frequently or differently, and they may imagine fearful outcomes. Young children can regress in some areas, such as toilet habits, language

and play, and may also show feelings such as anxiety and fear through their actions, including clinginess and tantrums. Children in the primary school years may understand more but may still hold unrealistic fears about the future and possibly blame themselves. Children can also experience change physically, with sickness, headaches or tiredness and show their feelings in a range of ways, being overly co-operative or lashing out in anger. Young people in the secondary school years may feel a sense of loss similar to other adults involved. They might worry about finances, and experience changes in their family as unique, so feel different and alone. Young people can be unwilling to be a part of family arrangements they feel don’t suit, and may feel angry, anxious, sad and overwhelmed. Some might engage in risky behaviours as a way of dealing with their feelings. Children and young people often feel caught in the middle. Even though it can be hard and confusing, it is good to know the majority of children cope with the help of family and friends, and adjust to their changed lives. Young people can also be encouraged to try the following:  read picture books and novels or watch

appropriate movies that feature family separation and divorce, to understand they are not alone and other children are dealing with similar issues  talk to their parents about their feelings

and experiences  talk to interested, supportive adults and

friends about how they are feeling  visit child-focused websites for relevant,

child and youth-friendly information about separation and divorce.

How can parents help? Parents may be just coping with the changes and losses and can feel overwhelmed in supporting their children. There is no one ‘right way’ as each family has unique needs and circumstances. Children are different too, and what will work for Emma at 15 might not work for Lucy at ten. Through trying different approaches, parents will work out what is best for their children. One of the best things parents can do is look after themselves – parent wellbeing is key to children coping well. Parents can also help by:  finding time and space to spend with

their child/ren  letting children and young people have

a say in decision-making  maintaining routines that are constant,

warm and reassuring  ensuring children are eating and

sleeping well and exercising  notifying the school so other adults can

support their child  working to parent co-operatively, post-

separation  accepting help from others (whether to

mind the children for some parent time out, someone to laugh or cry with, or a trusted adult for children to turn to). How can other adults help? There are often many adult care-givers in a child’s life, including grandparents, relatives, family friends, teachers and other school staff. Each can play a role by:

 helping children and young people feel

competent and in control  maintaining expectations and consistent

rules and consequences  keeping lines of communication open  responding appropriately, with

understanding, if behaviour issues arise. Schools and family support agencies may also offer small group support to children, young people and their parents. “Seasons for Growth” is a loss and grief education program that promotes the social and emotional wellbeing of children, young people and adults as they manage family change and loss. The program is delivered in small age-appropriate groups by a trained “Companion” – a teacher, counsellor or parent volunteer. See story on page 20. A new program, the Seasons for Growth Parent Program, is now available too. The program has two separate components, one for supporting children following separation and divorce, and the second for supporting children following the death of someone they love. These short parent programs consist of 2 x 2 hour sessions, and take the children’s perspective – what is going on for them? This allows parents to explore and learn about how best to support their children through these lifechanging events. Melinda Phillips is General Manager, Good Grief Ltd; For more information about Seasons for Growth please E Co-ordinator Benita Tait, or P 4979 1355.




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 providing security and support

References (2013). Fact Sheet: Dealing with Divorce and Custody. Retrieved on 160513 from Graham, A. (2014). Seasons for Growth Parent Program: Supporting your child following separation and divorce Companion Manual. Good Grief Ltd. Gray, B.P. (2001). Supporting Children and Families in Times of Stress. Texas Women’s University for Texas Child Care. http://www. (2013). Hot Topic: Separation and Divorce. Retrieved on 230513 from Leon, K and Spengler, L (2005). Helping Children Adjust to Divorce: A Guide for Teachers. University of Missouri.

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Mercy! Merci! or her own wretchedness in the presence of a loved one’s mercy and forgiveness. By MICHAEL O’CONNOR

Napoleon is a great historical figure. He was so great he crowned himself Emperor. Our parish priest, Father Tony Brady, tells a story about his true greatness. A mother approached Napoleon begging for mercy, a reprieve for her son facing execution. Napoleon looked into the matter. He came back saying her son was justly condemned and did not deserve mercy. The woman responded, “If he deserved it, it would not be mercy.” Napoleon spared her son. I don’t know if this story is true. If so, it is the greatest thing I know about Napoleon. For us humans, justice is one thing and mercy is something else. In God’s take on reality, I suspect that justice and mercy are one and the same. I suspect a profound encounter with mercy brings true justice to bear in one’s heart. The experience can be excruciating for anyone confronting his

Perhaps divine justice is exacted through the anguish experienced in the initial, devastating confrontation with Mercy – before the recipient of pardon is engulfed in gratitude and joy. For us creatures, who distinguish between justice and mercy in daily life, the relationship between the two is complex. Both are forms of love, justice being the lowest level. Anything less than justice is not love. If I pay less than a just wage I fail to love. Mercy goes in the opposite direction. The more you give to another, beyond what they deserve, the more you love freely, soaring above the restraints of strict justice. Some thoughts come to mind in this Year of Mercy. I think of times past (if only!) when tribes destroyed enemies mercilessly as vengeance for injury to one of their own. I then consider the ancient Jewish advance in morality when they accepted “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” as just payback. This

was revolutionary progress for humankind, retribution restricted to exacting only equivalent damage and suffering. Then I ponder the hyper-revolutionary teaching and example of the God-man, Jesus, who declared “You have heard it said, ‘an eye for an eye…’, but I say to you: turn the other cheek; go the extra mile; forgive seventytimes-seven times; welcome home the prodigal degenerate; Father, forgive them…; Be merciful….” He commanded us to love as he did, not just be just. Mercy doesn’t make sense to the legalistic and self-righteous. It is wisdom and joy for those who know themselves to be weak and fallible, imperfect and in great need – and who know that everyone else is just the same. Perfect people in a perfect society would not need mercy. Real people in this world do. I find it encouraging that Luke records Jesus telling us to “be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful” rather than Matthew’s more static “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. I feel more attracted by mercy than by perfection, both as qualities of God and qualities to seek in myself and others.

Mercy is essential in relationships, more realistic than perfection, and more likely to achieve perfection. Forgiveness proceeds from mercy and is love in action. “I am sorry” and “I forgive you” are three-word variants of “I love you”. Mercy begets gratitude and, in turn, pays mercy forward. Regard the mercy paid forward in Les Misérables. Jean Valjean was radically changed by experiencing the mercy of Bishop Myriel whose hospitality he had violated by stealing his candlesticks. Instead of being destroyed by Javert’s (and life’s) remorseless condemnation, Valjean was graced with conversion and redemption. His life found its fulfilment as he re-gifted mercy and love to Fantine and Cosette. The mother who rejoiced at Napoleon’s mercy would have been devoted for the rest of her life to the ultimately humbled Emperor. She would earnestly have desired for him, not the just exile and inglorious death exacted by the victors, but that which he had gifted her boy – the fullness of mercy. “Merci, mon Seigneur! Thank you, my Lord!”

The Way We Were: Sr Margaret rocks Contributed by John Murray Have you ever had the experience of beginning kindergarten − twice? In 1969 I was employed by the Sisters of Mercy to teach at St Aloysius’ Girls’ High School. I was young, energetic, determined to make a difference − but almost totally ignorant of the nuns alongside whom I was to teach. I was to come to marvel at the faith, hope and love which marked their service. Regarding the Parry Street site, how was one to cope with a school for 400 students that covered a mere .68 of an acre? And having been using with great enthusiasm the spirit duplicator purchased to run off lesson aids at home, how was one to convince some of


the Sisters that one was not a drunkard?

rocking ever‑so‑slightly on its carapace.

These were some of my apprehensions − and one remains indelibly in my mind.

What does one do? The voices of my upbringing are screaming at me to be the gentleman, to lift...

School assembly. I’m at the rear of the hall. Sr Margaret enters via the back door. Two students on a bench observe Sister’s approach and shuffle sideways, leaving space for her. Their consummate good manners mean that as Sister descends, the students simultaneously arise in respect. Gravity makes no distinction between saints, sisters or sinners. Down goes Sr Margaret, avoiding injury but landing upon her back and remaining in the undignified attitude of a pious black and white tortoise,

All students momentarily turn to the source of the kerfuffle and my hovering, ineffectual presence. Now Sr Aquinas, who is conducting the assembly, uses her eyes to miraculously reassert control until the students’ attention is again riveted upon the stage. Time stretches impossibly into an eternity of red-faced inertia. Sr Margaret rocks on...beads of perspiration pop from my forehead. Then the impasse is broken! A smile flickers

across Sr Aquinas’ face... student heads swivel towards the circus at the rear and the hall reverberates with giggles and guffaws. All my indecision falls away and I flee the scene, to seek advice on how one should handle holy personages. How poor Sr Margaret was returned to the upright world remains unknown. I could never bring myself to ask. I had much to my second kindergarten.

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The Catholic Thing

Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’: Hope for our Common Home By DENIS EDWARDS

Earth is our common home, to be shared by humans and other creatures, a home for future generations. Every time I read Laudato Si’ I discover fresh insights into the relationship between God and the planetary community of life on Earth, our common home. I find myself renewed in hope, taken by joy at the beauty of Francis’ vision, sobered by the challenges we face and summoned again to see my life as an ecological vocation, radically committed to Earth and all its creatures. This encyclical represents a new moment in Catholic social teaching. Since the 1980s Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have made important contributions that call the church and the world to an ecological conversion. But with this far more developed work of Pope Francis, the protection of God’s creation is now formally and permanently brought to the centre of Catholic social teaching, along with the church’s long‑standing commitment to inter-human justice and peace. In what follows, I will highlight some key theological positions taken by Pope Francis.

but one we have treated with violence. In particular Pope Francis offers a careful analysis of major issues, particularly pollution and global warming, the looming crisis of fresh water and the loss of biodiversity, along with a decline in the quality of human life, the breakdown of society and global inequality.

wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in affection with brother son, sister moon, brother river and mother earth” (par 92). Francis tells us that the risen Christ is already present to the whole creation, bringing it to its final fulfilment.

The way of dialogue

Integral Ecology

A striking feature of Laudato Si’ is that it consistently puts into practice the way of dialogue advocated by the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. The encyclical is fully dialogical in both structure and content. Pope Francis writes, “Now, faced as we are with global deterioration, I wish to address every living person on this planet…In this encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (par 3).

Integral ecology is at the centre of Pope Francis’ encyclical. Ecological commitment and commitment to our human brothers and sisters, above all the poor, are held together in one vision. These two commitments are united as aspects of one ecological vocation. Our response to the crisis we face will need to be holistic, based on a broad vision of reality that involves not only plants, animals, habitats, the atmosphere, rivers and seas, but also human beings and their culture. We find inspiration for this kind of integration in St Francis of Assisi, in his love for the poor and his love for the other creatures of the natural world.

The Universal Communion of Creation In his second chapter, Pope Francis turns to the Bible to articulate a theology of the whole of creation as one interrelated community before God. Here he offers us a new theology of the natural world, involving three aspects. Firstly, he insists that other creatures have meaning and value not simply because of their use to human beings, but in themselves. They have intrinsic value. Why? Because God is present to each of them, God loves each of them, and each has a future in God.

A theology grounded in what is happening to our ‘common home’

Secondly, each creature is a word of God to human beings. Creation is a kind of revelation, a manifestation of God, a book of God alongside the Scriptures. “Nature is filled with words of love.”

Laudato Si’ begins with a clear-eyed discussion of what is happening to our planet. Pope Francis sees Earth as our common home, to be shared by humans and other creatures, a home for future generations. It’s a home we are meant to care for and protect,

Thirdly, human beings are part of nature, and together with other creatures we form a sublime communion in God. As St Francis has shown, other creatures are our kin. “Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a

From his first homily as pope, Pope Francis has made this same link clearly and strongly, calling us to protect creation and our human brothers and sisters; above all, those who are poor and excluded. In his new encyclical he writes, “Everything is interconnected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society” (par 91). An integral ecology involves love and respect for animals and plants, but also for human history, art and architecture. Integral ecology involves protecting the cultural treasures of humanity. It involves respect for the cultures of indigenous peoples, “They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed. For them land is not a commodity

You are invited to be a part of a dialogue on how to incorporate Pope Francis’ ecological vision and challenge into our everyday life.



Featuring keynote speaker, Catholic eco-theologian Father Denis Edwards

but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values (par 146). Political and Personal Action Pope Francis prophetically engages political leaders in dialogue, asking them to accept responsibility for protecting the environment and calling them to support international agreements to lift people out of poverty, limit carbon emissions and protect biodiversity. He also points to the fundamental importance of “civic and political love”, including the indispensable role of ecological education in our families and schools. He insists on the importance of embracing ways of acting, “such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumptions, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights” (par 211). Pope Francis calls us all to an ongoing ecological conversion, to a spirituality of love and respect for animals and their habitats, for the land, the seas, the rivers, in the one community of life on Earth. All of this culminates in our Sunday of rest and in the Eucharist that embraces all creation and is a source of light and motivation. Rev Denis Edwards is a Professorial Fellow in Theology at Australian Catholic University and a priest of the Archdiocese of Adelaide. His teaching is in the areas of God the Trinity, Christology, Ecclesiology and the Theology of Faith and Revelation. He has been engaged in the dialogue between science and religion and in contributing to the developing field of ecological theology.

REGISTER YOUR INTEREST TODAY! Mark Toohey, Diocesan Director Catholic Mission – Maitland-Newcastle Telephone: (02) 4979 1141 Mobile: 0408 020 511 Email:

Saturday 14 May 2016

St James’ Primary School, Vista Pde, Kotara South

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Seasons of Mercy

Passing by As the Year of Mercy unfolds, John Murray shares a lyrical recollection of a journey to a place infused with the immanent God.


From the time I was quite young, I loved the magical story of the prophet Elijah who, having fled for his life from Queen Jezebel’s wrath, was hiding in a cave on Mount Horeb. Accordingly, Yahweh “passed by”, the visitation being accompanied by earthquake, wind and fire. Apparently confounding Elijah’s expectation, Yahweh was “in” none of these manifestations but was found in the following lull, in “a still, small voice”. Here was the voice of silence speaking to Elijah and directing him. I was charmed by many aspects of this encounter: by the notion of the Lord “dropping in”, as it were; by Yahweh communicating with humanity as a friend; by the God of Truth emanating from the propitious silence and either reaching into, or coming from, the very depths of the prophet’s personhood. And this God was not a thundering wielder of All-Power but a nurturer, a gentle leader beckoning a follower; a kind of conscience. I love the notion that there exists such a God of gentle persuasion. I dared to think and hope, as I still do, that such a being might dwell close to all who seek him. Some time ago my wife Cathie and I spent several days in Cornwall, near Land’s End. Our accommodation was a stone cottage, a kilometre or so from Tintagel, near steepling cliff-faces where the on-rushing lunge of Atlantic breakers revealed a raw power. A westward view over the ocean stretched, unimpeded, towards the Americas. Here were wild waters and buffeting winds, awesomely beautiful turbulences, in a place where such elements were best lived with, for they had not only endured down the ages but had imposed their will upon the treeless 16

slopes. This is a place riddled with almost inaccessible coves, evocative of smugglers, pirates and ghostly schooners that came sailing out of those childhood images seeded by Robert Louis Stevenson; a place where your back, pampered and caressed one instant by sun as you shelter behind a roughly-hewn wall of slate, was cruelly carved by freezing gusts and driving rains the next. Wonderful! An escarpment high over Trebewith Cove held my senses captive; a precipitous place where my vulnerability and utter smallness were accentuated; a place in which the mighty power of creation must surely obliterate all other distractions. Its words came reverberating as if the whole cosmos was about to descend. Yet the feelings of trepidation and wonder were soon enough reduced to familiar obscurities; the cataclysmic intimidations to mere mumbles on the winds. I found myself lost in an earth-bound world of a hedge-row in close-up: in a tangle of briar, gorse, green tussocks, stone and soil revealing occasionally a patch of sky − a patch of fractured light.

of Iona − no random destination. Years prior, I had gone there and found the experience indelible, its call mesmeric. The curious sense of being welcome there was beyond reason but undeniably real. When my feet touched the quay, my excitement and anticipation resolved into an abiding calm; the profound serenity of the place, in contrast to its location, again enveloped me. Iona’s western coast is a jagged razor, constantly gouged by rearing, spuming seas. Some 1500 years ago, St Columba and his band of monks drove a sea-lane through the ocean’s jaws to make landfall here. Its eastern shore looks over the Sound of Mull which, like a massive ironclad serpent, rips out its channel far and away to the outer isles. Iona has a granite spine, hatched that morning by constantly changing patterns of shadow and light. On its lee side, facing east, the soil is somehow life-sustaining, the climate moderate and there is the luxury of flowers. White cottages and daffodils dot the gentle slope that undulates towards the monastery.

Here the majesty of the created world loomed like a gigantic postcard.

Such was Land’s End, one of those places that stimulates all sorts of romantic notions and so many emotional responses. Here the majesty of the created world loomed like a gigantic postcard. We stayed. We saw. Then, we passed by, crossing the Tamar River heading northwards. Our journeying ended on the Scottish isle

Iona is old; the medieval monastery may well be upon the site of St Columba’s original church. Nearby is a graveyard which might be the last repose of several ancient Scottish kings. Saint Columba himself is believed to be buried on Iona. In what remains of the Augustinian nunnery, some of the dreaming stones of old stand; others, like those holy women, gone without

trace. Historical uncertainties abound. That morning of our arrival, as the sun wrapped shoulders like the arm of a celestial friend, these perplexities arose. What was the secret power of this place? Why, having been drawn here, did I have a sense of homecoming? A thought arose that I cannot label random. The story of Elijah came into focus, at least, that part of the story, a key point, which I had glossed over. Elijah was fleeing from his God! And it was his God who found him. Perhaps, in my very insignificant and ‘unprophet-like’ life, there was a ‘God moment’ imminent; a moment in which the Spirit might choose to pass by. Minutes later, in a pamphlet near the Argyll Hotel, was an explanation concerning the meanings and origins of the names ‘Iona’ and ‘Columba’. The former in Hebrew, meant ‘dove’, as did the latter in Latin. In the instant the clouds of morning burnt anew with clarity: the two were one, inseparable and indivisible. The good man whose remains lie here is that beneficent spirit, the bringer of that aura of peace, which, as a matter of knowing and acceptance rather than of reasoning or of etymological proof, will dwell deep in this place till the end of time. These precious knowings became so beautifully apparent: in the world there is a special, and, in the deepest sense, ‘sacred’, place – Iona. Island of Peace. Island of the Dove. Warm heart of the nest.




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We are here to create the good news stories th e Yo ut h ch pic tu red at d Me lis sa Fe ne an ill Ne O’ e He len Sa ma nt ha Hi ll, rch . Ma ss on 5 Ma

In 2012 the role of the Parish Family Liaison Officer was conceived. The overall objective was to provide support to families in the Blackbutt region by connecting them to the liturgical lives of their parish and their school community. This objective would lead to the initiation of new forms of family ministries as well as co-ordinate and strengthen existing family networks which would lead to deeper relationships between parishes and schools. The 12-month pilot scheme enjoyed a degree of success and was expanded to include the City region. Fast forward to 2015 when a Catholic Schools Office (CSO) Stakeholder Consultation Report received from the Council of Priests identified a perception that the Catholic school as an instrument of the church was “a community in its own right”. Further, it was reported that Catholic schools were “not badged as a work of the

Regular contributor Helene O’Neill updates readers on a diocesan initiative linking families, parishes and schools. By HELENE O’NEILL

church and the connection between parish and parents was missing”. Moving along to 2016, when the role of Family Community Faith Co-ordinator was born, encompassing the Parish Family Liaison role I had held and expanded to include Melissa Fenech and Samantha Hill as team members. The diocese was divided into three areas with one assigned to each member. My summary of the ministry is that we are here to create the good news stories. Melissa Fenech was born and raised in Sydney and relocated to Maitland three years ago where she worked as a youth ministry co-ordinator for the Chisholm Pastoral region. Her particular focus and interest area is assisting volunteers to be an integral part of the church where lay leaders administer the parish. Mel views her role as “a wonderful opportunity to

connect with and support the Catholic parishes and schools in the Myall and Watagan Deaneries. I am enjoying learning from the parishioners and leaders of each parish and Mass community I visit. I am trying to carry the spirit of Mary MacKillop with me in my travels and ‘never see a need without doing something about it’. The Hunter Deanery is supported by Samantha Hill, former Youth Group co-ordinator in the Chisholm Pastoral region. Sam epitomises the country lifestyle and appreciates the tyranny of distance of her region as well as having an understanding of the strong camaraderie that exists in smaller communities. “The breadth and diversity this role brings are exciting. I’m enjoying the challenge and am looking forward to the continued engagement with the Hunter Deanery,” she adds. Meanwhile, I cover the coastal regions of the

Newcastle Deanery stretching from Stockton to Swansea, where the predominantly city lifestyle influences faith and its practice in a secular culture. “The challenge is to meet the people where they are and parallel their lifestyle with faith practices.” Despite the uniqueness of each deanery and each team member, the desired outcomes are the same. We strive to explore new models and embrace existing ideas to support a shared mission across the diocese. We will each face significant challenges but we are there to support (not take over!) parish ministry. The key to our roles is to connect − perhaps reconnect − using strategies to support parents as primary educators in faith of their children and to enhance the faith life of parents, schools and parishes. Our ministries in the field challenge us to maintain the spirit of our work.

Do you enjoy writing? Are you considering journalism or communications as a career? Would you like to be published in an award‑winning monthly magazine and online? Then contact the editor of Aurora on 4979 1288 or




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The five shilling donation By FRANCES DUNN It all began with John Edmonds’ donation to St John’s Building Fund in 1843, and it ends (hopefully not literally!), with his great, great granddaughter, currently a volunteer member of the working group planning celebrations around the 150th anniversary of Bishop Murray claiming St John’s Church as his cathedral, and the restoration of St John’s. And therein lies my family story, from Edmonds to Edmunds to O’Byrne to Dunn. Five shillings doesn’t sound like a huge sum, but the recorded donor, John Edmonds, was a newly ‘ticket of leave’ convict, a Protestant on arrival in the colony aged 16, and at the time of this donation, married to another newly ‘ticket of leave’ convict, Rosina Smith. These two lives, both presumably forged in dislocation from English roots were both (presumably) attempting to rise above that unforgiving stain, ‘convict’. John and Rosina were my great, great grandparents. Rosina at 16 had been transported, noted as Protestant, but in her short time at the Parramatta Female Factory had come into contact with the first five Sisters of Charity beginning their ministry. Records hint that it was here Rosina became a Catholic. From their 1841 marriage onwards, nine of their ten children were baptised at St John’s Maitland, most married at St John’s, one grandson became Fr George O’Byrne, parish priest at Carcoar, and a granddaughter entered the Sisters of Charity. Down the succeeding years my family tree became festooned with teachers in both systems, Catholic and state.

So let’s surmise that this donation constituted one of John and Rosina Edmonds’ early connections, within their means, to the Maitland Catholic community, bringing their growing family into its fold, and maybe gaining some respectability. Records show that John Edmonds in 1846, now with three young children, also donated one shilling to the Irish Relief Fund. A picture emerges for me of John and Rose established, prospering and belonging in Maitland. For me, the most important fact was that their eldest child, Esther, married Gerald O’Byrne, a newly-arrived Irish free settler. Trained at the Irish National Board of Education in Dublin, he and his brother had responded following connection with John (Dean) Grant during recruiting drives aimed at encouraging both religious and lay to emigrate and take up the challenge of improving education standards in the early Catholic schools. Following the 1866 arrival of James Murray to take up the bishopric of Maitland and the imminent end to financial aid for Catholic schools, a more insistent call was made to Irish and English congregations, resulting in Bishop Murray’s legacy to the Maitland Diocese. For the religious congregations indeed came, striving with sacrifice, wisdom and courage to build lasting foundations of education. They made a difference, but that’s another story. Gerald’s unfolding story is yet another, typical for Catholic lay educators of the day. Gerald had arrived in 1858, and taught within the Catholic system for short periods at Aberglasslyn, then Morpeth in 1861, and, following marriage to Esther Edmunds in St John’s Maitland in 1862, became head master of St Mary’s Cathedral Model School,

Sydney. But the writing was on the wall. The end of government financial aid followed closely upon the Public Instruction Act of 1880, giving lay educators little choice but to leave Catholic education. Gerald certainly did. After acting positions within the state system he eventually settled in Wagga, becoming the State Inspector of Schools. Here twelve O’Byrne children were raised, with the third child, George Henry, being my grandfather. Gerald died in Wagga in 1893 aged 63; my only photo is of unknown date, but the family resemblance down the male line is unmistakable From Wagga, this son George somehow ended up in Wellington, married Johanna Clements, and their eldest child, Gerald, was my father. So, skipping over the 100 years from Gerald in Wagga, there I find myself, all of 19 years, fresh from St Joseph’s Teachers College, Sydney, in 1963 the first lay teacher at St Mary’s Erskineville and one of the early wave of lay educators into Catholic schools following the reinstatement of financial aid. Skip another umpteen years, to my husband, Kevin, and I, retiring from Sydney lives, becoming parishioners of St John Vianney, Morisset, and my accepting an invitation from the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle to belong to the working group alluded to above. Then that memorable moment − one document − ‘Donors to St John’s Building Fund’ − one entry stood out: John Edmonds – he just had to be my great, great grandfather! Full circle indeed, from St John’s, Maitland to lay educators, and back to St John’s, Maitland! If you have any diocesan memorabilia or copies of The Sentinel to donate or offer on loan, please contact the editor.

Frankly Spoken

I do not know if I truly love Jesus. I try to love him, but I am sure that He loves me. I’m quite certain of this. To children in Rome February 24.


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Is there room for a child in your home?

CatholicCare believes that every child deserves a loving, caring home and is currently seeking carers to ensure children in the Hunter-Manning get just that. Aurora spoke with CatholicCare’s Foster Care Recruitment and Support Manager, Kim Creigh, to learn more about Out Of Home Care (OOHC). Tell us about CatholicCare’s foster care program Foster care is required when children and young people are unable to live with their own families for a variety of reasons. Caring for vulnerable children can be both challenging and rewarding. It does not require the perfect parent but certainly requires dedication and energy. CatholicCare provides training and carer and financial support, enabling carers to make a real difference for a child. What types of care are available? Respite care supports and provides relief to full-time carers, their families and children in care. A respite carer cares for a child, for example, one weekend per month or in holidays. People who would like to assist children but cannot commit to medium or long-term care can make a difference through

respite care. During these periods carers might take the child on outings or teach him/her a skill or hobby. Short to medium-term care is usually provided for 6-9 months. The child may then return to living with family or move into long-term care. Long-term care is provided to children who can no longer live with their parents or family and need a family until their family’s circumstances change or they turn 18. What are the day-to-day responsibilities of a carer? Carers are required to provide day-to-day care for children including health, education, identity, family and social relationships, emotional and behavioural development and self-care skills. Do carers have any say in whom they would like to care for?

Carers can make choices about the age and gender of the children. We have a particular need for families available to care for groups of siblings and for older children and young people.

carers. We will introduce you to the reasons

Are there selection criteria for carers? Carers can come from all sorts of backgrounds and we accept applications from all, whether married, single or de facto couples. Applicants may be employed full or part-time, must be in good physical and mental health and have adequate and safe accommodation.

be asked to begin training and commence

What is the process for becoming a carer? Becoming a carer involves several steps and you can withdraw at any time. We will send an information pack and ask that you return a Registration of Interest form. You will then be invited to attend a session, where you will have an opportunity to meet staff and experienced

to know. You will need to undertake checks, including health/medical, background/ criminal and personal references. You will competency-based assessment interviews. We will prepare recommendations for the panel and if successful, you will become an authorised carer. The process is designed to ensure children are placed with people who will provide sound care and that carers are well prepared and supported. To learn more, P 4944 0700 to speak to a member of the CatholicCare Recruitment and Support Team, E or visit


Are you looking for care and education for your child this year?

children need OOHC and what families need

St Nicholas Early Education, Newcastle West opens mid 2016. Register your interest for the waitlist now at Or phone 4979 1110 for more information.

Employment opportunities also available. Visit to register your interest now.

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Just because change is normal, doesn’t mean it’s easy I began working at St Peter’s Campus, All Saints College, Maitland as a clerical assistant in 1994. In 2008 I undertook a new direction and became a Pastoral Care Worker for the College, under the National Schools Chaplaincy Program. One of my first challenges in this role came when I undertook training to be a Companion in the Seasons for Growth Program. Seasons for Growth is for those who have experienced a significant change and loss in their lives and are dealing with grief. It is based on the belief that “change, loss and grief are a normal and valuable part of life”. However, just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Before becoming a Companion, I needed to participate in a Seasons for Growth Adult Program and I understood the reasoning for this. I had lost my little girl, Danielle, to cot death in 1985 when she was just three months old. In my head, I knew that I needed to recognise and own my feelings and emotions about her death before journeying with our young people through their grief, so I went along very confident that I would be revisiting my little one’s death and the grief I went through. Instead, what surfaced was totally unexpected. Two years earlier, I had travelled to Sydney with my family to farewell our son as he left for England for two years. It was an exciting adventure and one we wholeheartedly supported. After waving him off, we drove around to the domestic airport and said goodbye to our youngest boy who was flying to Queensland to study film at university. Our eldest son was staying in Sydney as he had joined the NSW Fire Brigade. I was upset driving home but I knew 20

the boys were all doing wonderful things and in my head, I knew that this was right. These boys were experiencing life in the best way. However, two weeks later I became sick and I struggled, mentally, emotionally and healthwise, for some weeks. Seasons for Growth brought me to the realisation that I had been grieving! The significant changes, although good for my boys, meant that my role as a mother had changed. We experience change all through life. Life does not stand still, nor would we want it to, but change can bring loss and loss can cause grief. I learned that grief can be experienced in many different ways, including sickness.

We begin with Autumn. We spend autumn getting to know each other, sharing what we know about the seasons and talking about the changes in nature and change in general in our lives. Winter is a time when we sit with our stories. We listen; we share; we learn about possible reactions to change and loss and how others experience these. Spring is often referred to as a time of hope, so our task here is to develop skills to assist us in processing our grief.

We listen; we share; we learn about possible reactions to change and loss and how others experience these.

The Seasons for Growth program is grounded in J William Worden’s grief theory and further developed around the imagery of nature’s seasons. There are so many wonderful elements to this program. It provides a safe environment where you can share your story. Listening to others’ stories gives you a sense that you are not alone; that there are effective ways of coping, new ways of thinking. It helps you identify feelings and gives you a language to describe all of this. It looks at the big question: how can we learn to live with these experiences and then how can we grow through them? Seasons for Growth has adapted Worden’s tasks and, following a wonderfully illustrated, beautifully written handbook, we journey through the seasons.

And in Summer we look at ways we can move forward.

This process is based around peer groups of six to eight students. It runs for eight sessions, although my sessions may run longer depending on the needs of the young people. It is tailored for different age groups, from infants pupils through to senior students. There is also an adults’ program and a program for parents who are separated or divorced. I work with high school students in stage 4 of the program. Students are identified and referred to me but I also promote the program at school assemblies. I find sending an invitation to all students, so that everyone is writing their name and ticking a box − ‘yes’ to attend a group or ‘no thank you’ − allows students to come forward themselves. Sometimes we are unaware of the difficulties

young people are facing. Death, suicide, divorce and relocation are some of the causes for grief in our groups. Being sole carer for an ill parent is another. I have had many beautiful testimonials from young people telling me that Seasons is what got them through the year. One student joined a group but didn’t share his story until we were well into Spring. When he finally opened up, it was like a dam had burst! The other students just opened their hearts to him and the relief on his face was heart-breaking to see. One group of Year 10 girls was very unhappy at school. They were disconnected from the other students and were struggling in so many ways. They were definitely not going to the Year 10 dinner dance. However, after spending time together, listening to each other’s stories, talking about their struggles, they no longer felt disconnected. They felt supported and more importantly they felt like they weren’t alone. They all turned up at the dance and thoroughly enjoyed their special night together. We finish our sessions with a Celebration and the promise of gathering again in a later reconnector. Companioning young people through Seasons for Growth is an honour and a privilege. Catherine O’Brien is the Pastoral Care Worker at All Saints College, St Peter’s Campus, Maitland, and St Joseph’s Campus, Lochinvar. Please visit change-loss-grief.

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Community Noticeboard Living Waters Meditation Centre Offers a four-week course, “Christian meditation: contemplating the face of Christ” on Mondays at 5.15-6.15pm on 4, 11, 18 and 25 April (latter may need to be negotiated). Cost $20. E Carmel Moore or P 0412 122 297. Private Retreat at Mercy Spirituality Centre From 4-11 April you are invited to “come aside and rest awhile” − a time of silence for personal reflection for 2-6 nights. Fully catered, $80/night. For further details P 4959 1025 or E Ecumenical prayer in the spirit of Taizé These services are held on the second Sunday of every second month; 10 April, 12 June, 14 August, 9 October and 11 December at St Columban’s Catholic Church, Church Street, Mayfield, 7-8pm, followed by light supper, gold coin donation. Everyone is welcome. P Anna & John Hill, 4967 2283. St Patrick’s Women’s Guild The Guild at Singleton will be celebrating 50 years of ministry on 16 April with Mass at St Patrick’s Church at 11am, followed by lunch at Singleton Diggers. Tickets $25, P Elaine Thomas, 6573 2966 or 043 2870 012. Sacred Spaces Fine Music Concert Series The next in the series is Café of the Gate of Salvation: an afternoon of foot-stompin’ gospel featuring Australia’s premier gospel a cappella choir, Sunday 17 April, Convent Chapel, Queen Street, Singleton at 2pm. Tickets $25 include afternoon tea, $5 school students. P 6572 2398 or E

daily sessions with director Colleen Rhodes rsm. Cost $540. Seminar: Does God sneak into your dreams? Tuesday 10 May 7-9pm at Mercy Spirituality Centre, 26 Renwick Street, Toronto. Presented by Sue Collins. An engaging and interactive evening encouraging us to stop and listen to the guidance we can discover in so many ways. Cost $30. For the two events above, P 4959 1025 or E Come and Journey with L’Arche L’Arche supports in community people living with intellectual disability. Share time together on 30 April from 2-5pm, Diocesan Offices, 841 Hunter Street Newcastle. The program includes Sharing your Journey – Storytelling. Rsvp 21 April. P Kath Bourke 0447 696 505 or Bev Rigby 0404 654 155 or E For Mercy’s Sake… …continuing the conversation with those who have come across the seas. NSW Association of Pastors, Pastoral Associates and Parish Workers will hold a conference on Tuesday 3 May at Lidcombe to which all are invited. Keynote speaker is Maryanne Loughry rsm AM, a highly qualified voice for refugees and asylum seekers. To enquire, P Greg Byrne 0427 918 568 or E greg.byrne@ Register at Before We Say I Do Program Course 3 14 and 21 May, Singleton Course 4 23 and 30 July, Newcastle (Toohey Room, Diocesan Offices, Newcastle West) Course 5

10 and 17 September, Newcastle

Course 6

5 and 12 November, Newcastle

A day of seminars with Fr Richard Leonard sj Thursday 28 April Fr Richard will present three seminars at St Joseph’s School Hall, 140 Wangi Road, Kilaben Bay. Cost $30 per seminar or $70 for three. Seminar 1: 10-11.30am Making the Best Choices in my Life in the Light of Faith; Seminar 2: 1-2.30pm What are we doing on earth for Christ’s sake? Seminar 3: 7.30-9pm From Darkness into the Light: Holding to faith through the tough times. To book or enquire, P Sr Anne Ryan 4959 1025 or E

Fr Rob Galea in Concert Fr Rob is a singer-songwriter who works with young people. He will be visiting Taree Parish on 2, 3 and 4 June and will perform at the Manning Entertainment Centre on 3 June at 8pm. Everyone is invited! Tickets $5 students/$15 adults. P Parish Office 6552 1084 or E

Directed Retreat 2-9 May This retreat will allow for quiet, contemplative time with one’s God and

Walk the Camino! Catholic Mission’s pilgrimages from Leòn to

All courses are on Saturdays, 9.30am-4.30pm. Please P Robyn 4979 1370.

Santiago de Compostela balance walking, simple hospitality, silence, reflection and prayer. Walk 5 May-3 June or 15 September-4 October. Small groups will be led by experienced guide, Sr Veronica Rosier OP. P Sr Veronica 0451 387 901 or visit The Francis Effect II You are invited to a colloquium on Laudato Si’ on Saturday 14 May, 9am-4.30pm. For details, watch this space! See story on page 15. TWEC Annual Dinner The annual dinner of the Tenison Woods Education Centre will be held on Friday 17 June, Therry Centre, East Maitland. The guest speaker will be former Governor of NSW, Dame Marie Bashir, AD CVO. Further details coming! Grieve Writing Competition You are invited to enter. Write a 500 word story or a poem up to 36 lines, entries close on 26 June. To enter visit Seasons for Growth Companioning Training: Children & Young People’s training, Taree 26-27 July and Newcastle 16-17 November. Adult training, Newcastle 27-28 April and 17-18 August. This training is essential for those wishing to facilitate the Seasons for Growth program with children/young people or adults. P Jenny or Benita 4947 1355 to learn about becoming a Companion. Enrolments for training are completed at See story on page 20. Attention all Pilgrims! As part of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s 150 year celebrations, there will be a guided pilgrimage in the footsteps of Bishop James Murray who arrived in Maitland in 1866. The pilgrimage will occur on Saturday 29 October, 8am-3pm, over 12.4 kms for average ability walkers. The route will begin at Morpeth, head to St Joseph’s East Maitland and end triumphantly at St John’s Chapel. Pilgrim registration will be required for safely and hospitality; there is no charge. Watch this space!

For your diary  6 International Day of Sport for Development and Peace  8 National Youth Week begins.

Bishop Bill confers confirmation in parishes of Dungog and Gresford.

 10 Third Sunday of Easter  17 Fourth Sunday of Easter World Day of Prayer for Vocations  18 World Heritage Day  23 Confirmation/first Holy Communion at Beresfield with Bishop Bill World Book and Copyright Day  24 Fifth Sunday of Easter  25 ANZAC Day  29 – 1 May Bishop Bill visits parish of East Lake Macquarie. May  1 Sixth Sunday of Easter St Joseph the Worker International Workers Day  3 World Press Freedom Day

For more events please visit and

April itinerary

2-7 April - MURRURUNDI 10-14 April - ABERDEEN 16-21 April - MERRIWA 23-28 April - DENMAN Welcoming all to come in and have a chat.

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Last Word

Aurora on tour Aurora was snapped at Petra, a renowned archaeological site in Jordan’s southwestern desert, dating to around 300 BC.

Soul food To be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and


Issued in 1965, the Vatican II document Perfectae Caritatis laid down principles on which would be based renewal and adaptation in religious life. Perfect Charity, published in 2014, tells the stories of 14 women from across ten religious congregations whose post-conciliar ministries embody those principles in a remarkable way. From her formative years as a Missionary Sister of Service in Tasmania, the renewal of a ‘Caravan Sister’ led her through outback Australia to Peru, East Timor and to Australian Catholic Religious Against the Trafficking of Humans. Seeing the pastoral needs of her congregation, a Presentation sister suggested an inclusive governance structure suited to its ageing communities. A Mercy sister helped her congregation move from near-monastic enclosure in a rural setting to an eco-justice outlook that embraced the whole of creation. When Blessed Sacrament Sisters did away with the grille, they took their founder’s charism to a wider eucharistic way of life. A Loreto sister’s renewal led to an enrichment of the liturgical life of the Church through her internationally acclaimed musicianship. From a novitiate “almost bereft of intelligent discussion at any level”, a Sister of Charity went on to teaching theology and ministry in a prestigious overseas college as well as in Australia. In 1957, a sixteen-year-old Irish girl boarded a ship, bound for a Josephite religious life in Australia.

salvation is, in fact, the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self. Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation 1949.

It was she who became the first woman president of the Canon Law Society of Australia/ New Zealand. One of its sisters helped set up BASP, her Brigidine congregation’s asylum seekers support project. A Good Samaritan sister responded to the laity’s hunger for faith development courses. When a practising psychologist entered a Benedictine contemplative order, she found a depth of silence that prepared her for a new listening, not only to God and to her community, but to the cry of the world for prayer and guidance. The book gives much fuller accounts of the ministries of these and other Sisters, and provides the reader with a short history of their respective congregations. The Sisters researched and revitalised the charism of their founders. They fostered the Church’s initiatives in biblical, liturgical, dogmatic, pastoral, ecumenical and social matters. They read the signs of the time in the spirit of Perfectae Caritatis. Perfect Charity does well in recognising their significant contribution to the adaptation and renewal of religious life. Perfect Charity: Women Religious Living the Spirit of Vatican II is edited by Mary Ryllis Clark, Heather O’Connor & Valerie Krips (Morning Star Publishing 2014).

Asparagus and bocconcini frittata Ingredients

Method Preheat oven to 140–150°C degrees.

 12 eggs  75g parmesan cheese

Crack eggs into a bowl and mix with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parmesan, asparagus and parsley.

 1 bunch asparagus, chopped

Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof non-stick 22cm frypan over low-medium heat.

 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Pour in the egg mixture and cook until it starts to form a light crust. Place bocconcini balls evenly throughout the pan. Place carefully into the oven for 30 minutes. If mixture is still not firm, cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the pan for 20 minutes.

 15 ml olive oil  3 balls bocconcini

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

Invert frypan and tip frittata onto a serving plate and allow to come to room temperature. Slice and serve with your favourite salad.

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