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Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle December 2020 | No.208

...Tis a time of preparation, anticipation and hope

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W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A


Tis a time of preparation, anticipation and hope

On the cover Claire is expecting her third child early in the New Year. Pictured at Birubi Beach, Port Stephens.

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle December 2020 | No.208


Welcome to the December edition of Aurora, which is inspired by Advent; a time of preparation, anticipation and hope.

...Tis a time of preparation, anticipation and hope

Featured f Everybody is welcome


f Forum embraces LGBTIQ community


f Silence is golden


f Boomers hungry for work


f Symbol for reconciled future


f Looking at our work with a green lens


f Reflections on 2020


f Josephite tradition will endure


f Life's lessons an inspiration


f A pregnant pause


f Groaning for the Emmanuel


f G ive a life-giving gift this Christmas


f A Christmas like no other


Many of you reading this will be busy getting things ready for Christmas: thinking about sending cards or messages, buying presents, planning meals and trips or get-togethers. I too fall into this category. However, as Bishop Bill points out to us in his column on page 4, we must think about how we get ourselves ready – our heads, our hearts, our spirits – to find real joy and hope in Christmas. During Advent, we can hear readings from the ancient Jewish prophets about the great longings of the human spirit; peace, joy and becoming one human family. The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle; its agencies, clergy, staff and parishioners, continue to inspire me with their passion for seeking such states of being, not just during Advent but throughout the year. Of course, prayer is not enough to change the realities of our world. We must implement changes and have faith that good things will come. To this end, I am delighted to share with you stories that promote such hope.

On page 5 you will read that CatholicCare has recently taken on a five-year lease of a community hall in Hamilton South. There, they will work with the local community to build a stronger, fairer and kinder society. On page 10 you can read how the Diocese is implementing measures to ensure the work of the Church is complete with as minimal impact on the environment as possible. On page 6 you come across very personal stories and read about the establishment of a new forum, which formally promotes the voices and opinions of our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters in this Diocese.

virtually impossible this holiday season. And so, we bring you a special feature on how Parishioners in our Diocese, who are originally from far-flung countries, traditionally celebrate Christmas. I took great interest in reading their stories on pages 16 and 17 and how as people of the same faith we all celebrate Jesus’ coming so differently.

We pay special tribute to the Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar on pages 12 and 13, who have provided such tremendous support and guidance to generations of students and families in our schools over the past 137 years. And as one chapter closes, another one opens, with the Diocese recently welcoming Sisters from the Carmelite Order to our Diocese, which you can read about on page 7.

Best Regional Publication – GOLD, Best Profile Story – BRONZE ‘Mum’s cottage is the place to be’ by Brooke Robinson (May 2019), Best Editorial/ Opinion Piece – GOLD ‘The abortion argument’ by Bishop Bill (September 2019), Best Cover Magazine – SILVER photo of Gary Christensen for White Ribbon Day by Peter Stoop (November 2019) and Best Photography – BRONZE, for a photo of Juliet Hart for ‘Rare books recall our social history’ by Peter Stoop (October 2019). Thank you to everyone involved for making these achievements possible.

Finally, December and January are typically months when many people travel abroad. However, like so many things that are different in 2020, that will be

May God’s grace help you and yours share the joy of a very Happy Christmas. Aurora was recently recognised in the 2020 ARPA Awards across the following five categories:

f Parishioners from around the world celebrate Christmas

Lizzie Snedden is Editor for Aurora


f Airborne ASPIRE swoops again



Contact Aurora

Aurora online

Next deadline 10 January, 2020 Aurora editorial and advertising enquiries should be addressed to:

f First word


f My word


Elizabeth Snedden P 0404 005 036 E elizabeth.snedden@mn.catholic.org.au

f Frankly Spoken


PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300

f Alumni 19

Subscribe E aurora@mn.catholic.org.au

f Care talk

Editor: Lizzie Snedden Graphic Design: David Stedman Contributor: Darrell Croker and Todd Dagwell


f Community noticeboard


f Book talk


f Food talk


Good news! You can still catch up with Aurora online, via www.MNnews.today.

Aurora appears in The Newcastle Herald on the first Saturday of the month, in the Maitland Mercury and in the Manning River Times the following Week. Aurora can also be picked up at IGA’s in Taree, Bulahdelah, New Lambton, Paterson, Karuah, Cameron Park, Wangi, Gloucester, Dungog, Shoal Bay, Boolaroo, Blackalls Park, Woodrising, Stockton, Caves Beach, Rathmines, West Wallsend and Windale. The magazine can also be read at www.mnnews.today

WHEN IT MATTERS It matters to us that your compensation claim is settled fairly and quickly. Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers can win you compensation and secure your future.

The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is located on traditional lands of Awabakal, Biripi Darkinjung, Kamilaroi, Wiradjuri, Wonnarua, and Worimi



peoples. We honour the wisdom of and pay respect to, Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the spiritual culture of all Aboriginal and



Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia. We have much to learn from this ancient culture.

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

The coming Some things need a lot of preparation. I’m sure, for example, that I can’t begin to imagine the complexities of transitioning from one US president’s administration to another’s. How that will work out now, with the incumbent seemingly doing all he can to impede the process, remains to be seen. But it surely won’t be pretty. Our Westminster system, where the politicians come and go but the senior administrators, on the whole, remain in place, seems a lot more stable. We can change governments in a day, but replacing a presidential administration, that takes a lot of preparation. Our Church season of Advent is about preparation. As with so many other things, we picked up the name and notion from the Roman Empire. The “advent” of a Roman emperor was his “coming”, especially for the first time, to a city or province of the empire. Preparing for it took a great deal of work and expense. The roads the emperor would use had to be put in order. The city had to be cleaned up and, quite possibly, the poor and scruffy of the place as well. The food stores had to be laid in to feast the divine emperor and all of his hangers-on for as long as might be necessary. And, of course, a new temple and statue in his honour might be a wise investment. Thus, the notion of the time of the emperor’s advent, or arrival, tended to be extended to the whole season of preparation that led up to it. Hence our Season of Advent as a preparation for the celebration of the coming of Christ. It’s about being ready. As with those Roman cities, we often now have to do a lot of practical things to be ready for what

is expected of us at Christmas. We plan and send cards or messages, buy the presents, prepare the tree and lights, mow the backyard. We get things ready. But our Advent also asks us to get ourselves ready for a new encounter with Christ each Christmas. We prime ourselves for the celebration as we refresh our appreciation of what Christ’s coming into the world has meant to us. The readings at church on Sundays set the pattern. We are asked to imagine ourselves back in the centuries before Christ, the times when the prophets longed and hoped for the change the Messiah would bring. We hear them longing for peace, for a world of justice, for a time of human unity, for the world as God would have it. “On that day…” they say over and over, God’s purpose will be revealed. But they could only wait and long. For us, Christ has come. Indeed, by our reckoning, he came long ago, and we are so used to taking that for granted that we need to remind ourselves of how that changed our experience of being human. We know that we shall not, at our death, slip down into the shadow world of Sheol. The prophets hoped there would be something better “on that day”, but since Christ, we know about resurrection. We know that our sins can be forgiven because Christ has made peace for us. The prophets hoped that God would do something like that, but they didn’t really see how a just God could fail to punish the scoundrels. We know that Christ’s coming as a human being meant all humans could share the salvation he won as our representative.

We know that Christ taught and showed that God cared particularly for the poor, the lost, the despised, the weak. And really no one in the ancient world, even the prophets, saw that one coming. After millennia of Christianity, we take it for granted that decent human beings will look after those most in need, but that view relies entirely on Christ. No society utterly uninfluenced by Christianity seems ever to have seen the world that way. Preparing ourselves to celebrate Christ’s coming begins with recalling that our world, and our sense of our place

in it, would be very different, and so much bleaker, had there never been a Christmas.

Bishop Bill Wright Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Frankly Spoken Advent invites us to a commitment to vigilance, looking beyond ourselves, expanding our mind and heart in order to open ourselves up to the needs of people, of brothers and sisters, and to the desire for a new world. It is the desire of many people tormented by hunger, by injustice and by war. It is the desire of the poor, the weak, the abandoned. This is a favourable time to open our hearts, to ask ourselves concrete questions about how and for whom we expend our lives.” Pope Francis, Angelus, 2nd December 2018


Photo: Lizzie Snedden

W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A

CatholicCare is partnering with other community organisations, including Mission Australia, to provide much-needed services and support to the Hamilton South community.

Everybody is welcome GARY CHRISTENSEN

In Mathew 25:35 Jesus says: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me”. At CatholicCare we believe the onus is on us to ensure that where we see a need we do something about it. This is the ethos that we worked from recently when we made the decision to sign a five-year lease on the Hamilton South Community Hall where we will increase our grassroots, volunteer-led services for people in their local community. In today’s society where many people struggle with loneliness, social isolation, poor mental health and a range of hardships it is imperative that we as an agency of the Catholic church in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle welcome everyone regardless of age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political view. The Hamilton South Community Hall has been part of the local community for 40 years and is a place of welcome for local residents from the high-density housing estate that surrounds the hall. On any given day you can see residents working in the community garden adjacent to the hall as they offer friendship and support to each other while they tend to their garden. There have been a range of excellent social services agencies over the years that facilitated programs out of the

community hall. It is our intention to partner with those agencies, and importantly with nearby residents, as we co-design new programs that will be provided to the local community. The co-design process involves working with the already established Hamilton South Community Solutions Working Group which includes staff from Mission Australia, the Samaritans, NSW Police, Gospel Church and the Hamilton South Baptist church as well as local residents. The intention is to help create interventions, services and programs that will work in the context of clients’ lives and reflect community values and goals. The success of the co-design process lies in the ability of staff from each agency letting go of their professional assumptions and actively listening and learning from what the people living in the community say and do. Each agency’s expertise, professional knowledge and research can then be considered in relation to group input, to add colour to the possibilities of approaching social issues with specific groups. CatholicCare’s food program will be serving hot, nutritious meals from the hall on a weekly basis and the Samaritans’

food pantry will provide groceries at a reduced rate.

We are excited to extend our support to the Hamilton South community.

As a new service provider joining this community, we recognise that we are, in fact, coming to their table and not the other way around. We are conscious that it takes time for people to engage, build trust and develop meaningful relationships with our team.

Whether we are delivering food services to those experiencing homelessness, working with women and children who are fleeing domestic and family violence, supporting refugees and asylum seekers, providing counselling and support to those struggling with mental health issues, working with children and families in care or those at risk of entering care, supporting people with disabilities or walking alongside people who are recovering from addiction, our message at CatholicCare is clear … everybody is welcome.

As with our community kitchens, it is our hope that the Hamilton South Community Hall will be a soft entry point for vulnerable people needing to access services that will support them in line with our vision for inclusive, just, and strong communities where all people feel safe, validated, and are able to have their voice heard. Our first event at the community hall, hosted by the Hamilton South Community Solutions Working Group, will be held on Wednesday 9 December 2020 at 12 noon. This will include a free barbecue lunch and pet vaccination clinic for Hamilton South residents. Reading activities will also be held on the grass outside the hall for children under five years and their families and carers.

CatholicCare, together with its community partners, will celebrate Christmas with the Hamilton South community, from 4pm on Christmas Eve. To attend this event, or to register your interest in volunteering, please email info@catholiccare.org.au, phone (02) 49791120 or visit www.catholiccare.org.au. Gary Christensen is Director of CatholicCare Social Services HunterManning.


Photo: Peter Stoop

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

Nicholas Mowbray, who is supportive of the formation of the LGBTIQ Catholic Forum, pictured with his partner Nat Little.

Forum embraces LGBTIQ community TODD DAGWELL

Coming out as gay more than 30 years ago was a “traumatic” experience for Lawrie Hallinan, not least because he felt rejected by the Catholic Church and alienated from his faith community. “Catholics as a group have a degree of embarrassment around the topic of homosexuality,” says Mr Hallinan. “I have never heard a positive reference to gay people in a homily and in parish prayers. This leads people to form a view that the Church believes only heterosexual relationships are approved by God and everything else is an abomination.” Mr Hallinan says he and other LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer) people of faith experience God’s love because of – not despite of – their sexuality. Nicholas Mowbray experienced similar feelings of isolation attempting to reconcile his same-sex orientation with his Catholic faith. Now 38, he came out as gay five years ago in more accepting social times but has long been disappointed by the Church’s public position on same-sex lifestyles. “I’m blessed with the most loving network of family and friends and in the end my coming out really wasn’t a huge deal, just a huge relief,” says Mr Mowbray. “However, my Catholic faith is so central to who I am as a person and some of the public statements of the Church have not been as welcoming or accepting. “Before he became Pope Benedict, Cardinal Ratzinger said that being homosexual was ‘unnatural’. That is fairly

offensive to someone who believes we are all created in the image of God and have the dignity of being a child of God.” In contrast, Mr Mowbray believes the approach by Pope Francis has been overwhelmingly positive.“Early in his pontificate he said, ‘if someone is gay and wants a relationship with God, who am I to judge them’. I’ve never forgotten that.” Last year, Mr Hallinan and others organised a workshop on building an inclusive Church community. An outcome of the workshop was the establishment of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle LGBTIQ Catholic Forum. The forum’s underlying mission is to promote pastoral care of LGBTIQ people and their inclusion in the life of their Catholic community. “Very few dioceses have a pastoral ministry to LGBTIQ people,” says Mr Hallinan. “Where these ministries aren’t endorsed by diocesan leaders it raises the question ‘are we really welcome?’ Bishop Bill and this Diocese have been very receptive.” Bishop Bill Wright says a forum is classically a meeting place for discussion. “In a forum, people can speak freely and are called upon to listen respectfully to each other, with a view to finding common ground and recognising, despite whatever differences there may be, the things that unite them,” he says. “In a time when too many groups just shout at each other, it is important that in the Church we promote respectful dialogue about the things that matter to us, in shared faith and mutual love. I was pleased to be asked to approve such a forum in this Diocese.”

The founding members of the forum are committed to making the Church a safe space for all and they have pledged to “listen to, learn from and journey with the LGBTIQ people who are members of our parishes and workers within our schools, welfare and other shared services within the Diocese”. Amanda Mohr is a PDHPE teacher at St Pius X High School in Adamstown and says students and their families from LGBTIQ backgrounds deserve a community that openly accepts them, irrespective of their sexual preference and gender identity. “If young people feel isolated in our schools, we miss a key opportunity to support all aspects of their health – social, emotional, spiritual, mental and physical,” she says. “By participating of the forum I hope to demonstrate my commitment to loving and supporting all students who come into my care, without judgment. I also trust it will give our schools greater understanding of the challenges some of our students face, allowing for greater access to equity long term.” The danger of excluding people based on sexual orientation was evident in research released last month that found the mental health of LGBTIQ people is four times worse than the rest of the population. La Trobe University’s Private Lives Survey of 7000 LGBTIQ people found 57 per cent experience high or very high levels of psychological distress, while about 40 per cent report thoughts about suicide. La Trobe University associate professor

Adam Bourne says despite all the legal advancements, a great many LGBTIQ people still experience appalling levels of stigma, discrimination, violence, or abuse. Sydney priest Peter Maher has provided pastoral care for LGBTIQ people for more than 30 years at his inner-city church. He is a member of the Rainbow Catholics InterAgency for Ministry – Australia, which advocates for full equality and for justice for LGBTIQ people in a Catholic context. Fr Maher says he has witnessed a huge amount of damage caused by excluding gay people from the Church over the past three decades but is encouraged by what is happening in the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle. “I’ve seen many gay people who have been excluded and damaged spiritually, physically and psychologically by the Church,” says Fr Maher. “The Maitland Newcastle Diocese has a very positive and inclusive approach towards the LGBTIQ community and has become a shining example for the rest of the Church.” Mr Mowbray believes the establishment of the forum is a major step in the right direction that will benefit anyone coming to terms with their sexual orientation and faith. While it has been a much longer road for Mr Hallinan, he is happy to see LGBTIQ people becoming a visible presence in the Church, just as they are in mainstream society. For more information visit mn.catholic.org. au/church-mission/lgbtiq-forum/


Photo: Peter Stoop

W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A

Sister Jennifer and Sister Jocelyn admiring the beauty of the garden at their new home in Toronto, which was offered to them by the Sisters of Mercy.

Silence is golden LIZZIE SNEDDEN

Teresian Carmelite nuns Sister Jennifer and Sister Jocelyn exchange appreciation for the beauty that surrounds them as they walk through the garden of their new home in Toronto. Their brown robes complete with scapular blow gently in the wind, but it is their kind eyes that capture attention. Ordinarily, the two nuns spend the better part of their day in silence and only leave their home for necessities. Visitors to their new abode are infrequent, and their connection to the outside world comes mostly through watching ABC news in the evening. While many of us struggled with physical isolation brought on by lockdown measures introduced during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, for these two women it was a key component of a life they each sought at seven years of age. It was then that Sr Jennifer first learnt about the Teresian Carmelites. Her maternal grandmother, who was not Catholic, asked her to borrow a book about St Therese of Lisieux from the Sisters of St Joseph at St Joseph’s School Toronto. “I knew then I wanted to be a Teresian Carmelite, and when I finished school at age 18 I joined the Order,” says Sr Jennifer. The Carmelites originate from a group of Christians who, seeking a deeper way of life, settled on Mount Carmel in Israel 800 years ago. In the 1560s, in Spain, St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross began founding new communities of

Carmelite women and men who sought to return to the simplicity and passion of their forebears on Mount Carmel. Sr Jocelyn's journey to becoming part of the cloistered, contemplative order was not quite so straightforward. “When I was seven, I first learnt about monks, and thought that's what I wanted to be in life,” she says. Although Sr Jocelyn attended an Anglican school in Sydney, her family was not religious. Despite this, over the years her fascination with religious life intensified and at age 23, after completing adegree in science at the University of Sydney and while a medical student at the University of NSW, she became a Catholic. Over the next two decades, Sr Jocelyn travelled abroad on many occasions for work and to observe and take part in Carmelite culture. Then, at age 47, after years of waiting for “the call” to join the order, she received a letter from Sr Jennifer informing her of the death of a mutual friend. While the two had never met, it was this letter that reaffirmed Sr Jocelyn’s reflection, and she began the process of becoming a Carmelite. It took six-and-a-half years and throughout this time Sr Jocelyn continued to ponder whether it was the right decision, “but they kept allowing me to progress, so I thought if the Carmelites think I am suitable, I must be”. It was a significant change for Sr Jocelyn, who had spent more than 20 years working as a palliative care doctor.

That was 20 years ago. Now they live together in a community of six Carmelites, with another Sister taking up residence in a nursing home located nearby. Sr Jocelyn describes their move to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle during the pandemic as being “absolutely providential”. Before moving, the group lived on the outskirts of south-west Sydney in a monastery that included more than 100 rooms and a chapel and was set on a 4.5-hectare block. Once brimming with a large community of nuns, as their numbers began to dwindle and the needs of the remaining cohort grew with their age, it became impractical for the Sisters to remain in the former monastery.

spread of Christ's kingdom. “Although we no longer have a chapel where people can come and pray with us, we continue to pray for others. Our prayers are informed by what we see on the news, the emails and letters we receive, and hopefully, phone calls too when our lines are back up and working,” says Sr Jennifer. Overall, they describe the move to Toronto as life-giving. “It has allowed us to live more contemplatively,” says Sr Jennifer, who, as with all Teresian Carmelites, holds Mary the Mother of God as a special companion and guide. She explains.

“It was tiring,” says Sr Jennifer, describing their life in Varroville. “The upkeep of the house and its sheer size exhausted us and took away from our contemplative life.

“Many people think we are on our knees all day,” she says, “and they ask us what it is that we actually do. But our focus is on ‘being’, rather than doing’.”

“Then, earlier this year, we went to a Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) event and the organisers asked what our top priority was,” she says. “Finding a new home was at the top of our list.”

The Carmelite mission is in the service of the Church and of all humankind. Their prayers and contemplation are directed to the support, welfare, and apostolic fruitfulness of all those engaged in the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Member congregations of CRA offered four options, one of which is their new home in Toronto that is owned by the Sisters of Mercy, who had otherwise been preparing it for sale. As with any move, the Carmelites’ relocation has been a catalyst for change, including to their daily routines. However, their charism remains the same, and they continue to devote themselves to the

“Our life is simple, but it has a lot of depth,” says Sr Jennifer.


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

Paul Nixon was recently employed by mining support business, Aletek, who value his decades of experience in leadership.

Boomers hungry for work DARRELL CROKER

Ageing population is an unprecedented global phenomenon and carries substantial social, economic, and ethical implications.

department,” she says. “It was originally for three months and my job was to digitise information in preparation for a restructure.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg wants older Australians to remain in the workforce to help buffer the economy from the impact of our ageing population. Mr Frydenberg says there will be fewer workers to pay for the demands on health, aged care, and pension systems.

“The contract was continually extended, and I was given greater responsibility. Many of the staff moved on because of the impending restructure. The department I worked in originally employed eight people, but in the end only two remained – me and another contractor. We were continually told we were doing good work.

But the workforce has been no country for old men, or women. The structures were designed when lives were shorter and different. There has been no recalibration. This year’s federal budget delivered significant initiatives in the areas of pensions and aged care. However, the exclusive focus on job creation for younger workers missed the opportunity to address the disproportionate impact of economic downturns on mature-age and older workers. Being 60-something or older today is not the same as it was for earlier generations. We are better educated, healthier, more interested in diet and exercise, and have access to improved healthcare. Ageing bodies can still, mostly, keep the appointments their minds make. Nicole*, aged 68, was born and bred in Newcastle and her working life, starting at age 15, includes 40 years with the one company as well as successfully operating a family business. “In the latter part of my working career I was contracted to a government

“Finally, as part of the restructure, all positions were advertised. Me and the other contractor applied and were not even granted an interview. We had been running the department. I was 55 at the time. I had been there about three years and still felt I had a lot to offer. To be not even granted an interview was a real slap in the face.”

were long days, and she was totally exhausted, but she needed the money. Nicole knows she is a good mentor and has an excellent work ethic, but despairs at the attitude of employers. The reluctance to use older workers is baffling. Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates says employer attitudes will have to undergo a major culture change. “At least 30 per cent of employers told the Australian Human Rights Commission last year that they would not recruit workers over 50, which is morally reprehensible and entirely illegal,” Mr Yates says.

Nicole was then alerted to casual work with another government department.

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference Social Justice Statement of 2016-17 was titled “A Place at the Table: Social Justice in an Ageing Society” and noted: “… governments and employers must recognise the true capacities of older people.”

“The hoops you have to jump through are ridiculous,” she says. “Debates and role plays over two days – I went along with that and was then granted a one-on-one interview.

Fortunately, there is some hope. Aurora’s August alumni Nadene Barretto, managing director of Eight Recruitment, says employers have approached her in the past few years seeking older workers.

“When I was phoned back and informed I’d missed out, the reason given was that I’d sworn during the interview. It was complete rubbish. I was gobsmacked. The interviewer must have mixed me up with someone else. I was so deflated. You feel as if nobody wants you.”

“One employer said to me, ‘I need some grey hair around the place’,” she says. “I connected him with Paul Nixon, in his early to mid-50s, and his mentoring abilities are really well-respected.”

Nicole then commuted to Sydney for casual work for two years before coronavirus brought an end to it. They

That employer was Hamish Leitch, who in his mid-20s had taken over as general manager of the family owned and operated mining support business Aletek. Mr Leitch realised the operation needed

an experienced business leader and coach. Mr Nixon had spent 20 years with Wesfarmers before taking a redundancy. “I complement Hamish because of the age difference,” says Mr Nixon. “Aletek could have hired someone younger, but the demographic works very well. It’s about life skills, not just specific business skills.” Baby boomers (born 1946-1963) are the first generation of retirees in history to have witnessed their parents’ retirement and ageing. Previous generations of parents did not grow old as we now grow old. *Not her real name


Governments and employers must recognise the true capacities of older people.


Photo: Liz Baker

Photo: Peter Stoop



Photo: Peter Stoop

W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A

St Nicholas Early Education in Cardiff has recently developed its own Reconciliation Vision Statement.

Symbol of reconciled future ADETTE SMITH

There is an art to embedding culture. In working to further ingrain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, the St Nicholas Early Education Centre in Cardiff has established strong connections with the local and wider community. We have reached out to organisations such as Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre, and Speaking in Colour. To develop the children’s understanding of the traditional owners of this land, we engaged with local Wonnarua artist, Saretta Fielding. During workshops with children early last month, Ms Fielding explained Aboriginal symbols and semiotics, local landmarks, and highlighted on a map all the Aboriginal nations. She also showed them a real emu egg and explained how it could be used in art. The children then used acrylic paints and wood to create their own art using colours to reflect the sand and the ocean, and incorporating Aboriginal symbols. Ms Fielding built on what the students have been learning about Aboriginal and Awabakal culture during group time. It was good to have her perspective. They were engrossed when she explained the symbolism and provided different techniques. They were also happy to see their own finished artworks. Yuna, 5, says she likes learning about Aboriginal culture. “Saretta taught us about emu patterns made in the sand, which point to a place where mums could have babies,” Yuna says.

“I used white, blue yellow and red for my painting. The circle meant (represented) the woman, and the stick meant the boys. “Aboriginals are important people. The Awabakal people made our land. They are the traditional owners. They tell us we need to respect the land, take care of it and be careful with it,” Yuna says.

sector to provide quality culturally inclusive environments that support and expand on the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. St Nicholas, Cardiff, was one of 20 services selected in NSW for this training opportunity.

The children participate in Acknowledgement of Country each day, and it is something they look forward to.

Charlotte Nichols is one of the educators involved and says the Deadly Teachers program informed her on how to best instruct the children about Aboriginal perspectives.

Adelaide, 5, says at group time we say: “Here is the land, here is the sky, here are my friends and here am I. We thank the Awabakal people for the land on which we play. Hands up, hands down, we’re on Awabakal ground.”

“The program has given us greater insight into our local nation, including loads of information about the Awabakal people,” Ms Nichols says. “It is great to have that specific training – rather than just Aboriginal culture as a whole.

St Nicholas, Cardiff, has also commissioned Ms Fielding to create an artwork for our centre that reflects our vision and philosophy, and our community journey of reconciliation. It will include the same symbolism the children learnt when they were guided by Ms Fielding to create their own artwork.

“There are so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander nations and they all have individual traditions. Even the family and kinship structures differ between each nation. That needs to be respected.”

We have a long way to go on the journey towards a reconciled future, and the development of our centre’s reconciliation action plan will assist us to guide students’ learning and respect for differences. All St Nicholas Early Education centres have made the commitment to develop their own reconciliation action plan. Over the past four months, four of our educators have participated in the Deadly Teachers Solid Jarjums program. This assists the early childhood education

In collaboration with our families, children, and educators at Cardiff, we have developed a reconciliation vision statement, see right, that clearly outlines our ongoing commitment to embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. The vision statement is important as it helps embed an understanding of Indigenous culture early, so that children will develop lifelong understanding and respect. Adette Smith is the Centre Director at St Nicholas Early Education, Cardiff.

St Nicholas, Cardiff Reconciliation Vision Statement: Our vision of reconciliation at St Nicholas, Cardiff, is to recognise and respect the traditional owners of our land and embed this in our educational program and practices. We recognise the past and have a commitment to move forward together. We are committed to making a better future for generations to come by breaking stigmas and barriers and we hope to work to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-indigenous Australians. We will do this by educating children about the traditional owners of our land (the Awabakal people) and by embedding positive practices. We will share Aboriginal culture with our children, as shared with us by Aboriginal people. We commit to strengthen relationships between Aboriginal educators, Aboriginal families and the Aboriginal community and to build strong community connections and reciprocal relationships with the Awabakal people. We commit to ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators, families, children and community members are respected and welcome in our centre.


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Feedback provides compost bins and collects the waste to use in its FoodCycle program, which turns this waste into compost to use on urban farms for local communities.

Looking at our work with a green lens

After already partnering with Oz Harvest to receive food donations, CatholicCare’s food programs are now sorting their waste into new bins to ensure both ends of the food cycle are sustainable. The federal government’s 2019 National Food Waste Baseline Report revealed Australia wastes more than 7.3 million tonnes of food each year, which equates to 298kg of food per person.


CatholicCare’s food programs deliver more than 500 meals to vulnerable people in our community each week. The Diocese’s newest school, Catherine McAuley Catholic College in Medowie, will bring quality education to close to 300 students in 2021. The newest St Nicholas Early Education centres in Muswellbrook and Gillieston Heights will provide care for up to 248 children each day, combined. When you consider the breadth of the Diocese’s work, it is clear our strong connection to the community positively impacts a significant number of people each day. But, have you considered how the work of the Church might also impact our environment? Ray Bowen, Head of Property Services in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, says considering the environment is not a new concept for the Church. However, he believes the Diocese's recent appointment of a sustainability manager will ensure a more strategic approach to its diverse range of environmental and sustainability initiatives.

“Kevin Jackson was recently appointed to the property team in this new role and brings with him 13 years of international experience from various sectors and has spent the past four years working in Australia,” Mr Bowen says. “We’re excited by the skills and experience Kevin brings to the role as he focuses on the key areas of waste, utilities, design and social impact.” Mr Jackson says he was drawn to work for the Diocese due to the appeal of producing sustainable business models that promote positive or neutral environmental impacts in the community. “Sustainability isn’t only about reducing waste and utilities consumption,” Mr Jackson says. “We also need to consider design, both buildings and natural spaces, as well as the human and social capital required to help us achieve our goals and educate the younger generations in our schools, showcasing the positive social and environmental impacts we are contributing to community and planet.” The creation of this role highlights the diocesan commitment to minimising the impacts of its activities on the environment,

a commitment that aligns with Pope Francis’s Encyclical letter on ecology, Laudato si’ (2015). In Laudato si’, Pope Francis encourages us to protect the earth and care for our common home. The methods and philosophy Mr Jackson employed in previous roles will provide a link to many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and national and international environmental accreditations, such as Green Star and ISO sustainability management systems. “It’s important to frame the diocesan strategy within international standards and initiatives but what’s really key are the outcomes – what are we going to achieve here that helps our environment,” Mr Jackson says. Already there are tangible results and initiatives such as the CatholicCare's food program are just the start. This gives us hope that small changes can make a difference and remind us that the investment we make today impacts our future sustainability. Liz Baker is Communications Projects Advisor for the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle.

Baden Ellis, CatholicCare’s food programs coordinator, said the nature of the program meant nothing that could be used is thrown out but now it is even more effective. “The volume of waste can change each week so we have been working with our Sustainability Manager and team to embrace this new partnership with the FoodCycle program and also work with a local farmer who takes scraps that cannot be composted,” Mr Ellis says. “It has definitely reminded me that once the systems are in place it’s really easy to make changes that better impact the environment. It does make you think about your own impact too – can I recycle more myself? I find I am more conscious when I put things in the bin now. I think it often comes down to convenience and this partnership has made it really easy, plus it’s a great thing to do. “It’s not just organisations that can make changes like this. I’d encourage everyone to think about how they can recycle more and minimise their food waste.”

Photo: Liz Baker

In just one month, CatholicCare’s food programs have diverted about one tonne of food waste from landfill to recycling. The changes have come from a new partnership with local organisation, Feedback Organic Recovery.

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Reflections on 2020 SEAN SCANLON

Just keep going. That has been the way it has felt this year. Keep moving, and just manage what we have in front of us. At the start of the year, following a long and damaging bushfire season, we then were faced with the prospect of having to close everything due to COVID-19; churches, schools, early education centres, OOSH services, parishes and our offices. But we forged ahead, and where it was safe and possible to do so, we kept our doors open to serve those who, amidst the turmoil, needed us to keep going. It seems there is only one way to really determine resilience, and that is, to test it. That is what 2020 provided; a complete test of the resilience of the Diocese; its parishioners, agencies, services and people. In reflecting on the year, I think we passed that test. As we came out of lockdown, there was a sense we had achieved a great deal. CatholicCare had continued to work with the many people who needed support. The dedication and commitment of staff meant that the Beyond the Gates program continued to help young people and also to expand to support schools, students and families in the Upper Hunter and Manning regions; the Permanency Support Program restored children to their families or entered into open adoption or guardianship arrangements, and; with the generous support of volunteers and donors, the social services arm of our Diocese served more meals than ever before through our community kitchens and food programs ensuring no one went hungry.

Despite significant challenges, teachers, principals and staff across Diocesan schools managed to provide remote learning to thousands of students, while simultaneously continuing to support children of essential workers on school grounds. Our focus on education was strengthened, as we explored new ways to engage students. As restrictions began to ease and face-to-face learning resumed, I am sure many of our staff were still concerned about COVID-19, but they showed up to support our students. They demonstrated genuine commitment in adversity, and for many, faith formation was sustained. I am pleased the Diocese was able to support more than 2,500 families with school fee relief as a direct result of the pandemic. It has always been our priority to ensure that no child is denied a Catholic education because of a family’s genuine inability to cover the fees, and 2020 has been no exception. Despite restrictions to traditional modes of worship, Bishop Bill Wright became adept at live streaming mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral. Hearing the word of God on a Sunday morning in isolation became a beacon of hope for many; and this online broadcast enabled our Diocese to connect with the community in a new way, including reaching out to people who tuned in from around the world. And while the second session of the Diocesan Synod was postponed, work has continued with plans for next year now taking shape. Perhaps it was fortuitous to allow more time for discerning and planning? Our St Nicholas Early Education services saw some families reconsider the need

for OOSH and early education centres as parents faced an uncertain future. Despite the turmoil, we managed to open new early education centres in Branxton and Maitland and continue to keep our before and after school care services open; welcoming new families who were turned away from other services when they needed care. Staff showed great flexibility and made sure we remained ready for children to be cared for in a nurturing environment despite what was happening around them. We also opened a St Nicholas Pathways training facility in Maitland, which has already seen the program and particpiants recognised with multiple awards. Amidst lockdown, the Office of Safeguarding launched the provision of online compliance training, ensuring we were able to continue to put in place stringent practices to protect vulnerable children and adults. This process led to significant efficiencies and communityfocused outcomes, as did the successful launch of the Alternative Dispute Resolution program in our schools, and later in CatholicCare. We are incredibly fortunate to have skilled professionals working in the Diocese who ensured that technology was ready for work to continue online, that staff were paid during a period when job security was paramount, and that work could continue on construction projects such as Catherine McAuley Catholic College in Medowie. Our communications team made sure people heard the important messages, and somehow an amazing group of people across every facet of the Diocese ensured that we could be there for our community

in a time of crisis and need. New staff joined at the start of the pandemic and were soon making a difference. As I reflect on what was a very challenging 2020, it may seem that the New Year is very welcome. However, the strength shown throughout the year has left me with a sense that we have grown closer, despite being apart. The sentiment of Pope Francis in Laudato si’ that we should not only care for our planet but pursue a simpler life has resonated with me, and perhaps with others. This year, we have seen what is important and what we value. As it turns out, we seem to value relationships with the people around us, those close and those who we may not have appreciated until recently. We value spending time close to home or going out sharing a meal. I hope that in 2021 we will strengthen those connections that we came to appreciate in 2020. I want to thank my colleagues across the Diocese in a public way. What you achieved this year was beyond expectations. The work and commitment you showed through extremely trying times is testament to the values we hold close as a Catholic community. Keep going! Sean Scanlon is the Chief Executive Officer of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.


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Sister Patricia continues to meet with students at St Joseph’s College in Lochinvar, despite not having formally taught in schools since the 1970s.

Josephite tradition will endure LIZZIE SNEDDEN

When much-loved and respected Sr Bridgette Davoren rsj retires from her position as pastoral care worker at All Saints’ College in Maitland this year, it will mark the end of era. Sister Bridgette is one of more than 400 women to have been professed as Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar, and the last to formally serve in a Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle school. A humble woman with a call to serve others, Sister Bridgette seeks no fanfare as she walks out of the school gates for the last time in her official capacity. In her wake she will leave behind a 137-year tradition of Josephites selflessly supporting our school communities. “Our Sisters came to the Diocese in 1883 when the Church’s great need was for more religious Sisters and Brothers to staff Catholic schools,” says Sr Patricia Egan, a member of the Congregational Leadership Team. “They joined the Dominican Sisters and Mercy Sisters, who came from Ireland in 1867 and 1875 respectively to work in the Diocese. Sr Bridgette’s retirement marks the end of the era of the formal involvement of Josephites in the Catholic school system.” As with Sister Bridgette, Sister Patricia started out in a teaching role before taking on administration duties. Sister Patricia taught religion, maths, and science for 18 years during the 1960s and ’70s and says that while the Josephites’ presence in our

schools has been declining since then, the Sisters have continued their mission of responding to the needs of people wherever they encounter them. “Some of the Sisters continue to have a good deal of involvement in the life of school communities in less formal ways,” she says. Director of Catholic Schools, Gerard Mowbray, says the Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar, have deeply influenced his own faith and work, and agrees with Sister Patricia that their legacy will continue in our schools long after Sister Bridgette’s retirement. “I feel a profound sense of gratitude to the Josephites,” Mr Mowbray says. “I also feel a sadness that these women are no longer a regular presence in our schools; but not a sense of loss, as the Josephite spirit will be ever-present in our schools. The Josephite tradition will see a determined spirit of service, lofty expectations associated with rigour, an unswerving search for what is just, a commitment to meeting the needs of our students and staff and a wonderful spirit of hospitality, all done in a spirit of humble service and prayer.” In reflecting on the Josephites’ long and valued history in delivering education, Bishop Bill Wright says they were a new and dynamic force in Australian life from their inception in 1866.

“Embracing evangelical poverty in real daily life, very much according to the mindset of Fr Julian Tenison Woods, they were risk-takers, heading off to the remotest of places with the minimum of resources to be where people and especially children were most in need of teachers and religious instruction,” says Bishop Bill. “Many times, the risk-taking backfired, but often enough they struggled through and opened a path in the wilderness for learning and faith. “When the Bishop of Bathurst basically insisted that the Sisters submit to his rule and perception of how things should be done, most Sisters left the Diocese. Those who stayed, did so, I think, not out of any particular affection for Bishop Quinn, but because they felt a great duty to the place and the people who needed them. In due course, they established the house in Lochinvar (1883) and committed themselves in the same spirit to this Diocese and its people. And that is one of the great marks of our Sisters, that they have been thoroughly part of this place and its Church. “They have never just done their own thing. They have brought the best of Josephite life into our parish communities, schools, and ministries. They’ve not just been in the Diocese; they’ve been part of the Diocese. And for that, our Church, our parishes, priests and people hold them in the highest regard and owe them a great debt of thanks.”

Sister Lauretta Baker is Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar. “In effect, in these days, God is shaping our Church and religious life anew and freshly,” she says. “We have no deep-seated regrets that our time as school educators is at an end. We have done what we were founded to do. We’ve played our part in the development of an authentically Catholic and strong education system and, with Sister Bridgette’s departure, we gladly complete the process of handing on to others. And so, we rejoice and give thanks and look to the future with courage, for our next challenge”. Plans are underway for a 2021 community celebration of gratitude for the Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar.


They have never just done their own thing. They have brought the best of Josephite life into our parish communities, schools, and ministries. They’ve not just been in the Diocese; they’ve been part of the Diocese.



Photo: Peter Stoop

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Life’s lessons an inspiration DARRELL CROKER

The congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar grew out of the sisterhood that had gathered around Reverend Julian Tenison Woods and St Mary of the Cross MacKillop at Penola in South Australia in 1866 and which spread to Perthville, near Bathurst, NSW, in 1872. The founding four Sisters of the Lochinvar congregation came from Perthville in 1883. They arrived in Lochinvar on 2 September 1883 and began school the next day. Lochinvar was the first Josephite school established in the Diocese, at the inn where the Sisters lived. Ministry in some 60 other schools followed, not only through the length and breadth of this Diocese but “across the border” in the Lismore Diocese and Sydney Archdiocese, as well as, at times, in Canberra, Townsville and Papua New Guinea. The Sisters established schools mainly in far-flung rural areas and workingclass suburbs. They were able to do that because as Josephites they had the flexibility to live in twos or threes in small cottages, rather than in large imposing convents. As well as parish primary and secondary schools the Sisters established boarding schools for girls in Lochinvar, Taree, Denman, and Port Macquarie and for small boys in Aberdeen, Cundletown and Wauchope. At times they were also involved in “motor missions” to rural areas and Religion by Correspondence for

children in remote areas without Catholic schools. When the first Sisters came to Lochinvar in 1883, NSW had just withdrawn state aid for denominational schools. Catholic schools would not have existed without religious Sisters and Brothers to staff them. When the Sisters opened their first branch house school in Merriwa in 1885, the parish could not afford to pay them, but families agreed to support them in kind. One family promised to supply bread, another milk, another eggs, another vegetables, and another meat. This continued for generations. Strong bonds of mutual support and friendship grew between the Sisters and those they served. Parents helped coach sports teams and take children to interschool carnivals and excursions. With no ancillary staff, the Sisters and the pupils worked hard to ensure they did well in their public exams, and kept the schools spotless. Parishioners who taught in local state schools often passed on “secondhand” resources they no longer needed. In the early 1960s, protests against the injustice of Catholic taxpayers not receiving any government aid to educate their children resulted in state aid being restored to Catholic schools, enabling them to employ lay teachers. Religious took the Second Vatican

Council’s call to aggiornamento (update) and ressourcement (return to the sources) seriously and this influenced the Sisters’ way of life. The change from the traditional religious habit and veil was a visible sign. As the role of the laity in the life and mission of the Church was emphasised more – a young Catholic did not now have to become a Sister or Brother to teach in a Catholic School – the numbers entering religious life began to decline. With these changes in religious life after Vatican II, separation of convent life and the management of the Sisters’ affairs became essential. In 1992, St Joseph’s, Lochinvar, amalgamated with St Peter’s and St Mary’s at Maitland to form All Saints’ College. In 2010, the drive to extend the Lochinvar campus of All Saints’ College to Year 12 gathered momentum. More of the Sisters’ land was being sought to cater for the bigger campus, and in 2018 it returned to its former, single identity of St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar. Faithful to their strong commitment to education, and facing the reality of their own frailty and decreasing numbers, the Sisters negotiated with the Diocese over the transfer of the land and the buildings they occupied. These negotiations were completed in October 2016 and one year later, in late-November 2017, the congregational administration centre moved to Warners Bay.

Today, most of the Sisters live within the Greater Newcastle area, and maintain a presence in the Maitland, Upper Hunter, and Manning regions. Eight Sisters continue to live in community at Lochinvar. They are deeply involved in parish life, warmly welcoming of anyone who comes knocking at their door, and still have a good deal of informal involvement in the life of St Joseph’s College. Many of the Sisters’ students have carried on the work of Catholic education initially established at Lochinvar. They share the Josephite charism and the Sisters of St Joseph are grateful for the efforts they make to ensure the values they cherished continue to characterise the schools that carry their name, especially the tradition of caring for the most needy and disadvantaged children and their families.


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“A mother’s love is unconditional,” says Maitland-Newcastle diocesan employee, Claire, who along with her husband, Shane, is preparing to welcome her third child into the world early in the new year. Claire describes pregnancy and motherhood as a gift, filled with precious moments and indescribable highs. However, she admits there are challenges too. Claire’s first two pregnancies, and indeed children, are wildly different. Their eldest daughter, Macie, was in a rush to enter the world, arriving six weeks early. While she has never been too fond of sleep, Macie’s determined spirit and sense of adventure inspire Claire daily. Meanwhile their youngest daughter, Eleonora, arrived on time and with no complications. She breezes through the day, barely causing a stir, affording her parents ample opportunity to soak up her quiet glory.

Photo: Peter Stoop

A pregnant pause The realities of pregnancy and parenting are great resources in helping us understand what it means to be people of faith. In the rush of the Advent season, take a moment or two to reflect and be encouraged as you experience the journey of faith – joy, pain, hope, uncertainty, admiration, discomfort, love, and unpredictability. And everything in between. There is a lot to be learnt from pregnant women. As Claire will attest, new life is not generally the neat and orderly affair we would like it to be – and that’s an amazing, incredible gift. May the blessings of this season of hope, anticipation and preparation be with you all.

Groaning for the Emmanuel FR ANTHONY COLOMA During a recent school visit, I asked a group of Years 5 and 6 students what they had been praying for. Some said “good health” for their grandparents, others remarked “a happy life” for their loved ones. But one student shared that he has been asking God to punish those who have brought COVID-19 to our world. Some of the students found his response inappropriate. A few suggested we ought “not to speak ill of others”. I sensed from that student just how disconcerting life has been during the past few months. The virus did not only bring snuffles, it brought about separation anxieties, job losses, and a high incidence of domestic abuse among other things. A check of the Johns Hopkins University

website shows the number of people dying daily due to the coronavirus. COVID-19 has changed our lives – we will never be the same. Amid this pandemic, the cry goes out: “What can we actually hope for?” A vaccine, a better future, an extension of JobKeeper? All these are necessary to maintain our sanity and our financial safety. However, Christian hope is not about a better future nor a better economy. It is more than that. It is about placing our all in the God who promised to take care of us through thick and thin. Our faith reminds us that God has never ceased at looking at us – our anxieties and dreams, our fears and desires, our lives – with the eyes of love. Our sufferings will never end in futility. We will make that

turn around, but our hope is not based on the possibility that things will be better. Our hope is in Christ who has loved us and who will always be with us. We keep our minds, our hearts, our whole being focused on God. That same God who continues to whisper in our ears: “Do not be afraid; I am with you! And, I have loved you with an everlasting love!” In the season of Advent, we cry and groan like an expectant mother for God’s presence to come out from our lives. That amidst the insecurities and uncertainties, the Emmanuel, the God-with-us, emerges from our spent bodies and refreshes and revives our withered spirits. The virus has changed our lives, but we are a people who sings: “Veni, veni Emmanuel!” As a hope-filled people, we

can take courage and possess boldness amid all the challenges thrown to us. Yes, we will never be the same. As women and men of hope, we will be more like the Emmanuel who has come to fill our lives with the presence of God. Yes, we will never be the same. As people of hope, we will be more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving and more life-giving for others. As hope-filled individuals, we will be the face, the hands and the feet of the God whom we have been beckoning, “O come, O come Emmanuel!” Rev Anthony Coloma is the Assistant Priest for the Singleton Parish.

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Medicine for two children

One textbook for a child

Train lay volunteers

$62 Carpentry tools for training

Give a life-giving gift this Christmas LIZZIE SNEDDEN

While you may not be able to fit another person around your table for Christmas lunch, you can demonstrate real inclusion by purchasing a life-giving gift from Catholic Mission to support those in need. Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Director of Catholic Mission, Mark Toohey, says purchasing a Life-Giving Gift from Catholic Mission’s online catalogue, will help fund programs around the world that support children, communities and Church leaders. “There are a wide range of Life-Giving Gifts to choose from, which will boost

much-needed projects in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, education and social enterprise,” he says.

cherished donation will be given in their name, to someone else who really needs a helping hand,” says Mr Toohey.

Gifts available to purchase range from $10 for a guinea fowl that will help a family in Ethiopia to generate an income through breeding, $30 for a stationery pack for children enrolled at school in Myanmar, or $62 for a set of carpentry tools that can be used in vocational training in Ghana.

To purchase a Catholic Mission Life-Giving Gift visit catholicmission.org.au/gifts or call 1800 257 296. You can choose to receive printed cards or online cards to pass on to your loved one, and either option can include a personal message for the recipient.

The gifts featured are representative of the life-changing projects around the world supported by Catholic Mission. These gifts support children and community projects such as food and water, health, education and social enterprise.

“Life-Giving Gifts are perfect for those in your life who have everything they need, and will get a lift from knowing that a

A Christmas like no other FR ANDREW DOOHAN VG

The celebration of Christmas can have some very romantic overtones, even here in Australia. There can be a lot of focus on the “nice” things that come once a year, meals with family, the exchange of Christmas presents, the singing of carols, large crowds at Christmas Masses, and so on. These are the things that we expect to be part of our annual time of festivity and celebration. But not in 2020. Our celebration of Christmas this year will take on a completely different feel, imposed upon us by circumstances beyond our control. Many people will not be able to remember

a time when a Christmas celebration was as sombre or stripped of all the things that might be considered intrinsic to a “proper” Christmas. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions that attend it, will doubtless require the absence of communal singing of carols, something that many people, including me, look forward to. The combination of limits to the number of attendees and the potential need to register in advance (it is advisable to check with your local parish well in advance, for details refer to page 21), could mean the usual large crowds at Christmas

Masses might not be present. Even family gatherings, again facing limits on the number of attendees, could be radically different, and the possibility of gathering large families from across the country and around the world will be significantly restricted. Simply put, this Christmas will be unlike any Christmas we have faced in living memory. Yet there is something that remains unchanged this Christmas, regardless of the circumstances that surround its celebration. Christmas is that time when we celebrate the Incarnation, the Divine taking human form and living among us.

And that reality is the source of all our hope as Catholics, as Christians, and as human beings. Our celebrations will look different this year, but Christmas will be celebrated. We may be in smaller groups, maybe at home with family, gathered around the family Christmas crib. We might need to simply and prayerfully dive into the Scriptural accounts of the Incarnation, of the first Christmas, reflecting together on the significance of Christmas from a different perspective than we have before. Fr Andrew Doohan is Vicar General of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.


POLAND Dariusz and Elzbieta Alterman arrived in Australia from Poland 11 years ago with a five-month-old baby, Julian, who was born in New Zealand, and five-year old boy, Kacper. In Poland, we believe that Christmas Eve is unique as it determines the coming year; the better and friendlier way you celebrate it, the more generous the upcoming year will be. We also decorate the Christmas tree that day. We await the first star in the sky, which symbolises the Bethlehem star, to commence a Christmas Eve meat-free dinner, complete with 12 handmade dishes. Each dish symbolises the disciples and brings luck for each of the months in New Year. The most important tradition is to share oplatek (little flatbread that has a picture of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus engraved on it). We open our presents

and sing many carols and leave one free place at the table, complete with plate settings, for an unexpected guest who may knock on the door looking for a cozy place, just as Mary and Joseph did. Hay is placed under a white Christmas tablecloth to commemorate baby Jesus's birth in a stable. After the supper, everyone attends midnight Mass, called Pasterka. On Boxing Day, children dress up in nativity shepherd costumes and visit neighbours singing carols and collecting coins for treats; this is called Koleda. Since arriving in Australia we continue to keep the majority of our Christmas traditions, including attending Pasterka (which is at 10pm here), and many Poles gather at The Polish House in Broadmeadow a few weeks before Christmas to celebrate our tradition.

ITALY Olivia D'Accione is a secondgeneration Australian-Italian. Her grandparents, Anna and Filomeno Matano, arrived in Australia in 1961 from Palermo. Anna and Filomeno came to Australia without their family so the tradition of Christmas started small and then as the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren came along, the traditions were passed on and Christmas became more and more special. This will be the family’s first Christmas without Filomeno (Nonno), who loved the festive season so much that he would deck the whole house with Christmas lights. One of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in Italy is the nativity

crib scenes, which are traditionally put out on 8 December. The figure of baby Jesus isn't put into the manger until the night of 24 December. During December, we also eat a traditional Italian cake called panettone. Christmas Eve is a special time for our family. We spend the whole day and night together, eating a feast and attending midnight Mass. On Christmas Day the festivities continue, and our family has adopted the Australian way of opening presents on this day. However, we continue to leave our Christmas tree up until 6 January, the Feast of the Epiphany. On the eve of Epiphany, La Befana visits all the children to fill their socks with presents if they have been good, or a lump of coal if they have been bad.  

SPAIN Francisco and Maria Gonzalez arrived in Australia from Spain in the mid1980s, before starting a family of their own. They now have three adult children, and their first grandchild was born in October. In the Canary Islands, Christmas Eve is the major event for family and religious traditions. The day revolves heavily around food including traditional Spanish holiday treats “turron”, and lots of family. Every town, church, and business clears space to create their own belen (nativity scene); some are small, and others can model entire villages. Christmas Day lends itself to recovery, rather than a day of gifting. The

commercialised side of Christmas, the exchanging of presents, occurs at the end of the holiday period. On 5 January, Three Wise Men typically parade through the streets on camels and deliver gifts to be opened on 6 January, replacing the tradition of Santa Claus elsewhere around the world. Since arriving in Australia we have continued to make Christmas Eve the focus of our celebration; our children and their partners continue to come to our home to enjoy a traditional Spanish feast of seafood, and we now exchange gifts on Christmas Day.

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Parishioners from around the world celebrate Christmas

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KOSOVO Prena and Hil Prekpalaj arrived in Australia from Kosovo in 1988 with four children. Leading up to Christmas, at least two days beforehand, we make sure that we have attended confession. On Christmas Eve we fast, abstaining from meat and dairy. Instead, we make a special meal called pite, which we eat as a family. It is a tradition to leave the table without clearing it; this is said to welcome Jesus to your home. We then attend midnight Mass; the whole village gathers to walk to the church together. On Christmas Day we feast on a baked meal; there are also four masses on Christmas Day and the church is filled with celebration. Following this, all the neighbours gather, and we go from house to house to wish a “merry Christmas”. We do not give gifts; however, all the children are gifted new clothes to wear to church on Christmas Day. Since arriving in Australia we still fast on Christmas Eve and attend midnight Mass as a family. We have adapted our Christmas lunch to be a barbecue and all our family gather to celebrate; we also give presents here.

Kaylene Maretich arrived in Australia as a child from India with her parents and siblings in 1980. She now has a family of her own, including husband John and their two children Mila and Dominic. Christmas celebrations in India always started with the church choir visiting homes to sing carols on Christmas Eve, before everyone headed to midnight Mass. After Mass, the whole family would go to my grandparents’ home for Indian sweets. On Christmas Day we would return to my grandparents’ home to exchange gifts and share in a big family

lunch that consisted of biryani, various curries, and naan; plus, there was always traditional Christmas cake and more Indian sweets. The traditions our family brought to Australia include large family gatherings with many Indian sweets, though our meal has changed to roast turkey, barbecue fish and all the trimmings. The main difference between an Indian and Australian Christmas, aside from the warmer weather here, is the involvement of the community in the life of the Church, which is far more prominent in India.

THE PHILIPPINES The Diamoy family are from The Philippines and arrived in Australia in 2008 after first spending four years in New Zealand. In The Philippines, Christmas is a prolonged festive season, which includes sporadic fireworks. As early as September you will hear the first Christmas carols. Homes will start decking up with colourful lights and wreaths and the very iconic parol or Christmas lanterns. Children with their homemade gongs and bells knock at doors to sing carols in exchange for lollies, and well-rehearsed groups serenade people at home. Simbang Gabi (night or dawn Mass) is a Christmas tradition distinctly celebrated by Filipinos, but not unique to The Philippines. It is a series of nine dawn Masses that start on 16 December and end at midnight on 24 December, when a vigil Mass is held for Christmas. Through the years it has evolved and been

celebrated in newer ways, including the time of Mass. At this time too the nativity scene known as belen, which shows the baby Jesus in a manger with Mary and Joseph, and the Three Wise Men with their gifts, is displayed in most homes and churches. Local delicacies at Christmas include bibingka, puto, puto bumbong, suman, pandesal (breakfast rolls and rice cakes) served with hot chocolate or coffee. Christmas Eve is known as Noche Buena and this is often when a fiesta (festive celebration) occurs, which is bigger than the Christmas day celebration. Lechon (whole roasted suckling pig), is shared by everyone. A lot of Filipinos have carried on with the same Christmas traditions in Australia, but without the festive neighbourhoods and fireworks. It is the time of year when Filipinos miss “home” the most.

SAMOA The Fidow family moved to Australia from Samoa via New Zealand 15 years ago. At Christmas time we gather our extended family together, including our grandmother Malia-Lita, who holds an honoured and respected place in our family and in our Samoan culture. We prepare a big feast in traditional Samoan ways, which includes an “umu” where the men cook the meat and taro outside. The women prepare many diverse cultural dishes inside such as different seafoods with coconut cream and vegetables. Church is a big part of our day where we celebrate the birth of Jesus with our community. We sing hymns in Samoan and prepare and perform traditional dances.

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Photo: Peter Stoop


Students helped to make ASPIRE costumes, which will be showcased in their original production, The Pecking Order.

Airborne ASPIRE swoops again ANNA KERRIGAN

he Civic Theatre FOR school holidays

"This is it; it's my turn. It has to be." Munch the magpie is desperate to be leader of the flock, but it seems as if everyone else is always selected ahead of her. So, when members of the flock start to disappear, will Munch have what it takes to save her friends? Featuring a host of colourful characters of both the avian and human variety, ASPIRE's 2020 production The Pecking Order explores the concept of leadership and encourages the audience to embrace uniqueness. It is an original show, scripted

with input from students, which will appeal to the young, and young at heart as it taps into what twitchers have long observed and often pondered; the ability of flocks of birds to change formation and direction at lightning speed. The story masterfully unfolds as you take in the highs and lows of kookaburras, magpies, cockatoos, budgies, peacocks, lorikeets, ducks, and minor birds sorting out their “pecking order”. In the end, once the ingenuity of our feathered friends becomes unearthed, it may lead you to

question why we aren't looking to the natural world more for instruction on how to navigate these often politically turbulent times. ASPIRE has a strong track record for receiving industry accolades, a testament to the high-energy theatrical performances displayed at the majestic Civic Theatre. The Pecking Order, although delivered in a prerecorded format this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, will be no exception. In that vein, as creative director of ASPIRE, my most sincere admiration goes out to this

The Pecking Order Screening Bookings through Civic Theatre Newcastle www.civictheatrenewcastle.com.au

years’ cast and crew which includes more than 150 students from schools across the region who are involved with everything from composing music and designing sets and costumes, to singing, dancing and acting on stage. The ripple effect of the pandemic triggered a six-month delay to the execution of the production, as well as most workshops and rehearsals moving online. However, this has not deterred their spirit. Instead, their aptitude, creativity and resilience have shone. So, be prepared to hold onto your seats as students take flight.

Sunday 7 February 2021 - 1pm and 6pm Adult: $35 Concession/Children $25 Group: $30 Family Ticket: $75



Photo: Peter Stoop

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Kate Latham recently visited All Saints’ St Mary’s campus with her son, Harry, to show him where she attended high school.

History repeats LIZZIE SNEDDEN

Having descended from a long line of

What Catholic school/s did you attend?

distinguished educators, it is easy to

I started my schooling at St Mary’s Infants School, Greta and St Brigid’s, Branxton (now combined as Rosary Park). I commenced high school at St Joseph’s, Aberdeen when living in Merriwa and when we moved back to Maitland I completed Year 10 at St Joseph’s, Lochinvar. I then moved on to Years 11 and 12 at St Mary’s Campus, All Saints’ College. I completed high school in 2004.

assume Kate Latham felt some pull towards teaching as a career choice. Instead, the successful product of Hunter Valley Catholic schools chose law but with a particularly noble focus – assisting those less fortunate in the community navigate and access the justice system. Having completed a combined degree in law and economics at the University of Newcastle in 2010, Ms Latham now works for Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers as a personal injury solicitor specialising in serious motor vehicle accidents, public liability and superannuation. Guiding people through the complexities of the Australian legal system, during what is often the most distressing time in their lives, motivates Ms Latham every day. On top of her busy work schedule, Ms Latham and her husband Tristan are parents to two small children, Harry, 7, and Lucy, 5, with a third baby due early 2021. The family live in Lorn.

Do you know why your parents chose Catholic education for you? Mum’s parents were both teachers in the Newcastle area, later in his career my grandfather lectured in Economics at the University of Newcastle. Dad was a principal and mum is currently a primary coordinator in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Mum and Dad’s siblings have all been principals or teachers in the Diocese. My parents valued the holistic education provided to a child and the value placed on spiritual, emotional and social development. My mother taught my siblings and me in our Kindergarten year at St Mary’s, Greta. It would be fair to say Catholic education was highly valued in my family. What is your fondest memory from your schooling years? My life-long friendships. I am very lucky that my close group of friends were forged from Kindergarten and have been maintained to this day. In regard to my senior schooling years, I was definitely afforded teachers with a vested interest in

my academic endeavours. The academic support and guidance provided was above and beyond expectations and facilitated my love of both economics and the law. Do you have any special memories of the Sisters of St Joseph Lochinvar, from your time at school? Even though the nuns were not a physical presence when I went to school at St Joseph’s, Lochinvar, their spiritual presence, and the teaching traditions they established, were an integral part of experience at the school as a student. Why did you choose Catholic education for your children? My husband Tristan and I chose Catholic schooling for our children as we value the education that we were both provided within the Catholic system. My husband and his siblings also went through Catholic schools in the Diocese. It was also reassuring to know that some of the teachers we both had were still teaching. In particular our son Harry has been fortunate to be at a school taught by teachers that we remembered fondly. What do you find most rewarding about your job at Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers? I feel a great deal of satisfaction in my work at Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers being able to help those in the community access justice in the legal system. I enjoy meeting community members and guiding them during what is usually a difficult and stressful time in their lives.

How will you and your family be celebrating Christmas this year? Christmas this year will be spent celebrating with our immediate and extended family at home. We thoroughly enjoy slowing down and spending quality time with each other around our pool enjoying the summer weather and relaxed home cooked food together.


The academic support and guidance provided was above and beyond expectations and facilitated my love of both economics and the law.




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Care talk

We can hope for better days GERARD OGLE CatholicCare’s registered psychologists address a new 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, call CatholicCare P 4979 1172 or Lifeline 24/7 on P 131 114.

As we wind down the clock on 2020, many individuals within our communities may be filled with uncertainty. The impacts of the year are overshadowing the season of festivities and celebrations. What is normally a joyous time spent celebrating with friends and loved ones has in many instances been replaced with emotions such as fear, anxiety and loneliness. Many individuals may find their mental health under strain, having deteriorated as a result of all they have experienced this year. But despite these challenges, we can hope for better days, and, with mindful planning and preparation, approach this Christmas season filled with hope and optimism.

Do you have a question for us?

Indeed, this festive season can herald the advent of a new dawn for our mental wellbeing.

Email your question to aurora@mn.catholic.org.au or write to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300.

Here are some useful tips to ensure you feel less overwhelmed and are able to enjoy the holidays celebrating with those you love. Think of them as a roadmap for creating joyous memories.

f Remember; you don’t have to do everything on our own. As you plan for those family and friend celebrations, it is important to share the responsibilities and ask for help when you need it. The old saying “many hands make light work” couldn’t be more appropriate and could potentially be the difference between you feeling overwhelmed or being able to enjoy the company of loved ones as you create new memories. f Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Who doesn’t love to have that special party with just the right amount of everything? But pulling that off often comes with a large dose of pressure, and if you’re already feeling the strain after this challenging year, just remember the desire to host that “perfect” celebration shouldn’t aim for unrealistic standards. Just do your best. f Set a budget and stick to it. We all know that once the celebrations are over, the New Year will come and there will be financial responsibilities to be met. One of the best ways to ensure we don’t start 2021 experiencing financial pressure and

feeling overwhelmed is to set a budget and to stick to it. Financial discipline can save you from a great deal of pressure as you head into the New Year. f Let your values guide you. As the advertising ramps up and the pressure to please mounts, it is easy to let our emotions influence us. The pressure to compete with what we see others doing on social media, or the pressure of our emotions jerking us around, can cause us to commit to actions that are out of character. Always allow your values to guide you. Simply ask, what is important to me? What do I value most? You can use these reflective questions to help guide your decision making rather than being swayed by big emotions such as guilt or frustration. Finally, be mindful of those around you who are lonely and in need of company, or just doing it tough. Kindness towards others can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things you do this season.

W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A

What liturgical growth needs fostering?

ns stio e g e sug hav al t a u ic Wh o yo liturg ture d ur u o e in f r fo ons s? p crise res


What were the liturgical challenges and opportunities you experienced during COVID-19?


What did you find l? helpful? Unhelpfu

Wha t lit insigh urgical ts a ques tions nd have do y o your as a resu u lt expe rienc of e?

It's time to have your say

What could we let go of?

LOUISE GANNON SJ The COVID-19 pandemic has brought enormous challenge and pain, as well as unexpected opportunities and new life. It could be said that the pandemic has “pivoted” us all out of our old ways and more towards God’s ways. Such conversion is at once exhausting and energising. In such unprecedented times the Diocesan Liturgy Council (DLC) recognised the importance of harnessing the collective wisdom and liturgical energy and creativity that was let loose by the pandemic. The wisdom of all the faithful is necessary to discern the path

forward and to develop a “Liturgical Crisis/Pandemic Plan” for the next time we are faced with lockdowns, closed churches and the suspension of the public celebration of liturgy. Since July, the DLC has been working with Dr Miriam Pepper from National Church Life Survey to develop a study that will enable us to listen to the diverse experience and reflections of the whole Catholic community. I heard a medical professional say recently that we are only in the beginning phase of this pandemic. That said, at

CHRISTMAS MASS Due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the limited space available in some churches, some parishes may require you to register your intention to attend ahead of time. To find out Christmas Mass times in your local parish, as well as information about restrictions, please visit mn.catholic.org.au/places/ christmas-mass-time-maitland-newcastle/ The 5pm Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, the midnight Mass and the 9.30am Christmas Day Mass will be livestreamed from the Sacred Heart Cathedral. You can watch the livestream at mn.catholic.org.au/ Places/Live-stream

PRAYING THE GOSPELS THROUGH ADVENT Parishioners from across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle are invited to connect and pray with each other from your own home this Advent. God speaks to us through the words of the Gospel and through artists images of the Gospel message. Each Wednesday: 5.00-5.45pm You and your friends are welcome online. Please contact Rose McAlister for more information, or to register. Email Rose.McAllister@mn.catholic.org.au

this point we have a range of experience to reflect on, and considerable insights that will help us discern our path in the months and years ahead. So now seems the right time for you to speak, and us to listen. What were the liturgical challenges and opportunities you experienced during COVID-19? What liturgical insights and questions do you have as a result of your experience?

What could we let go of? What suggestions do you have for our liturgical response in future crises? To complete the survey click on the link: www.surveymonkey.com/r/mn-liturgy If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, phone Sharon Murphy on 4979 1134 for a hard copy. Louise Gannon sj is the Manager of Worship and Prayer for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

What did you find helpful? Unhelpful? What liturgical growth needs fostering?

CHRISTIAN FORMATION COURSE 2021 Are you wanting to know more about Christianity? The Christian Formation Course (CFC) is a face-to-face learning experience that allows participants to explore their life’s journey and their faith within the Catholic Tradition. This one-year course introduces participants to scripture, theology, church history, sacramental life, and liturgy. The course runs across 12 months and comprises eight units. Commencing on Tuesday 2 February, 2021, no prerequisite formation or qualification is required to enrol. All who complete the course are awarded a diocesan Certificate in Christian Formation. If you would like to enrol in the Christian Formation Course in 2021, go to bit.ly/ChristianFormationCourse202

CARITAS GLOBAL GIFTS Are you looking for meaningful Christmas presents? Give a Global Gift. These cards will bring hope and joy to the world’s most vulnerable and smiles to your loved ones. You can buy a Global Gift by visiting globalgifts.org.au/#buy

2021 SESSIONS OF SYNOD Session 2- 22nd May 2021 Session 3- 20th November 2021 For more information, please visit our website www.domnsynod.com.au

For your diary DECEMBER 3

International Day of Persons with Disabilities


The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary


International Migrants Day


Christmas Day

27 Feast of the Holy Family

For more events, please visit mn.catholic.org.au



The Great Realisation – Tomos Roberts A treasure trove of hope and optimism, Tomos Roberts’ inspiring poem The Great Realisation is a perfect reflection on 2020. Filled with messages of kindness and strength in difficulty, it ushers in the spirit of Advent as we anticipate something greater to come. First performed online as a response to the C0VID-19 pandemic, Roberts' heartfelt poem has been viewed more than 60 million times and translated into more than 20 languages. Roberts has turned his virtual tale into a bound book to be read by parents to their children, or anyone, to reflect on the year that has been and the possibilities our “new normal” may bring.

Photo: Peter Stoop


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

Written in the form of a bedtime story, this simple rhyming tale evokes the classic charm of The Princess Bride. “Tell me the one about the virus again,” a little voice pipes in at the start, launching listeners into a pre-pandemic life and taking on heavy themes of corporate greed, familial

alienation, the pandemic, “a world of waste and wonder, of poverty and plenty”, which falls apart when the virus hits. Yet, as with all bedtime stories, there is a happy ending. The pandemic initiates something better: a society in which people are kinder and more mindful, where they yearn to spend more time outdoors and with their families than on screens or at the office. It is a celebration of many things from simple acts of kindness, to applauding the heroic efforts of key workers, and recognising how a global crisis brought us together.

time where the outlook often seems bleak. The Great Realisation is peppered with wry lines that evoke Roald Dahl. “Why did it take a virus to bring people back together?” the little voice asks toward the end. “Well sometimes you get sick, my boy, before you start feeling better.”

It captures, with magical resonance, the feelings of millions in lockdown adapting to a new way of life, finding joy in unexpected places, casting aside old habits, and reflecting on what truly matters.

The Great Realisation is a great memento of the “unprecedented” year 2020 has been. It is a narrative for any reader who dares to dream of a brighter future and a fairer, kinder, more sustainable world. In this Advent season it is a timely reminder that even during our most challenging moments, there is always hope. “May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

A fairy tale of sorts, it provides a catalyst for discussion with children and presents a more optimistic view of the future in a

*The Great Realisation is available to borrow from the DoMN Library, or purchase form major bookstores.

Nothing but good in the mix Christmas is a time for celebration, hospitality, and of course the traditional pudding. This Christmas, the Adamstown Pudding Kitchen celebrates 45 years of producing delicious gourmet puddings. Don’t take our word for it. The most recent Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide recognises them as “the best commercially made puddings in Australia”. A member of the Adamstown Uniting Church started this Newcastle institution as a thanksgiving gesture in response to the safe return of her brother from the Vietnam war. In a few short years the church had to build a dedicated commercial kitchen due to its growing popularity and now each year

nearly 10,000 kilograms of pudding are produced and sent all around the world. The Adamstown Pudding Kitchen has retained its community-based links and draws on volunteers to help pack and post puddings. Some of the profits return to local community programs and some go to development projects in the Third World. One local program is The Dungeon youth music space at Adamstown, which has developed over the past three years and now hosts regular all-age music events, and offers mentoring for young musicians. Third World support includes assistance to a project in the Pacific preparing local responses to climate change and major

weather events. As a charity-based organisation producing a great product that benefits the wider community, Adamstown Puddings now carries the kicker line “Tastes Great, Does Good”. Alongside the puddings there is also a range of sauces, pickles and jams. Our new range of Angel Bars come in three varieties of chocolate infused with the complex flavours of Christmas pudding. Stocks are limited this year due to COVID-19. Purchase from the Adamstown Uniting Church, 10am to 2pm each day, or order online: adamstownpuddingkitchen. org.au

Photo: Peter Stoop

Make these school holidays a time your children will never forget St Nicholas OOSH Vacation Care • • • •

From Taree and Forster, to Morisset, out to Denman and many places in-between Activities include laser tag, a colour run, a magic show, a visit to Oakvale Farm and plenty more Early starts and late finishes available All eligible families are entitled to receive the Child Care Subsidy*

Programs available now at stnicholasoosh.org.au | Operating between 17 - 22 December and 4 - 27 January Excludes Australia Day, 26 January | *Enrolments with St Nicholas OOSH must be confirmed with Centrelink


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