Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle June 2016 | No.158
Y E STOR
g Inspirinu s n r r e h teac ees g u f e r r fo Learn why we all need to be lovers! Encounter a magic partnership between father and son
For God’s sake, don’t interrupt me!
VIETNAM EXPLORER $2,625
15 Day Tour
U.S.A. & CANADA Dep. March 8 & oct 19 $6,995
4 Week Tour
VIETNAM & CAMBODIA Dep. Sep. 2. ADVENTURE TOUR.
Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of Flying United into Los Angeles & out of New York. Hanoi plus 2 flights within Vietnam. 4 nights Saigon, 12 day tour of western U.S.A. & 15 day tour of N.E. 4 nights Hanoi, 4 nights Hoi An, 1 night Halong Bay U.S.A. & Canada. with cruise.
INSIDE VIETNAM $3,985
20 Day Tour
Dep. Nov 16 & Feb 13
Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of Hanoi. 18 day coach & air tour of Vietnam. For this tour there is no extra charge for travellers requiring a single room.
VIETNAM OVERLAND $3,815
3 Week Tour
Dep. July 25 & Nov 7
Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of Hanoi. 20 day tour of the coast of Vietnam.
VIETNAM DISCOVERY $3,885
3 Week Tour
Dep. Aug 16
24 Day Tour
Dep. Mar 2
Flying into Hanoi & out of Siem Reap with Singapore Airlines plus 2 flights within Vietnam. 18 day Vietnam tour including many hill-tribe areas & a cruise GREECE & THE GREEK ISLANDS on Halong Bay. 4 day Cambodia tour including $5,785 18 Day Tour Dep. Oct 7 Angkor Wat. 1 day Singapore. Flying Emirates into Athens. 11 day Greece tour, 4 SOUTH AMERICA day cruise of the Greek Islands of Mykonos, Patmos, Dep. Oct 9 Rhodes, Crete & Santorini. 2 nights Dubai stopover. $10,995 22 Day Tour Flying Qantas & Lan Airways into Santiago plus BURMA (MYANMAR) 7 flights within South America. 20 day tour of Chile, $5,045 16 Day Tour Dep. Dec 28 Peru, Bplivia, Brazil & Argentina by plane, coach, rail Flying Thai into Rangoon plus 3 flights within Burma. & boat. Optional extensions to Galapagos Islands 13 day Burma tour by coach, plane & boat. 2 night and to the Amazon. Bangkok stopover. Tips included. AROUND TAIWAN
SRI LANKA (CEYLON) $4,520
16 Day Tour
9 Day Tour
Dep. Nov 2
Dep. Nov 22 Flying Cathay Pacific into Taipei. 8 day Taiwan
Flying Singapore Airlines into Colombo. 14 day tour including spectacular Taroka Gorge. Tipping Flying into Saigon & out of Hanoi with Singapore coach & rail tour of Sri Lanka visiting most places included. No single room supplement for solo Airlines plus 2 flights within Vietnam. 20 day tour of of interest in this beautiful country. No single room travellers. Vietnam including 2 days touring spectacular Sapa & supplement for single travellers. Tips included. INDIA 2 day Halong Bay cruise.
THAILAND & THE CHIANG MAI Dep. July 15 FLORAL FESTIVAL
19 Day Tour
Dep. Nov 17
Flying Singapore Airlines into Delhi and out of $4,995 13 Day Tour Bombay. 16 day coach, air & boat tour of India 2 Week Tour Dep. Feb 1 including the Taj Mahal. 2 day Singapore stopover. Flying Qatar Airways into Zurich. 11 day tour of $3,275 Switzerland. Tipping included. Twin share available Flying Thai into Bangkok plus a flight within Tips included. Thailand. 4 days in Chiang Mai for their spectacular for anyone requiring it. LAOS, NORTH VIETNAM & THAILAND MOUNTAIN & BEACHES floral festival. 9 days around Thailand tour. Tipping THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE included.
2 Week Tour
Dep. Aug 3
Flying Thai into Bangkok plus 3 flights within EUROPE IN DEPTH 34 Day Tour Dep. Nov 2 Thailand. Visits Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai & $8,795 Phuket. First class accommodation. Flying Cathay Pacific into London & out of Paris. 31 day European tour visiting 11 countries. 2 nights U.S.A. NATIONAL PARKS Hong Kong. Tipping included.
18 Day Tour
Dep. July 19
BRITISH PALACES, CASTLES & GARDENS TOUR
Flying United into Denver & out of Las Vegas. Visits Deadwood, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, BryceCanyon, Zion & Grand Canyon national parks $8,675 17 Day Tour Dep. Sep 20 and Las Vegas. Flying Qatar Airways (world’s best airline 2015) SCANDINAVIA & THE ARCTIC CIRCLE into London & out of Edinburgh. Inside visits to $7,265 22 Day Tour Dep. Aug 18 Buckingham, Hampton Court, Edinburgh & Holyrood Flying Thai into Stockholm & out of Oslo. Palaces and Windsor, Cardiff, Kenilworth & Ainwick 17 day tour of Finland, Lapland, the Arctic Circle Castles & the Royal Yacht Brittania, plus many & Norway. 3 days Thailand at a beachfront historical sites & buildings with all entrance fees & resort hotel. tips payed.
24 Day Tour
Dep. Sep 1
Flying Thai into Chiang Mai & out of Hanoi. 5 day tour of Golden Triangle, 7 day Laos tour including 2 days cruising the Mekong River, 10 day North Vietnam tour including Halong Bay cruise.
THAILAND SHOPPING TOUR $2,495
10 Day Tour
Dep. Nov 30
Flying Thai into Bangkok. 5 nights Bangkok, 3 nights Hua Hin in centrally located hotels. Tips included. Twin share accommodation guaranteed for anyone requiring it.
VIETNAM HIGHLIGHTS $2,895
11 Day Tour
Dep. Jan 16
Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon & out of Hanoi plus 2 flights within Vietnam. Optional extension to Angkor Wat.
The prices listed mainly include return air fares from Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane, airport taxes & fuel levies, good twin share accom., many meals, all transfers, Australian tour leader & local tour guides.
On the cover Teacher Michael Eccleston is supported by students of St Joseph’s Lochinvar and St Joseph’s Aberdeen as he prepares to ‘run for refugees’.
So much to taste and see!
See story page 5. Photograph courtesy of Emma Blackford.
Featured #3weeks2days 5 Bishops call for a vote for the voiceless 6 Mercy: A caress from God 7 Coming to terms with compassion
Young Adults move forward with renewed confidence 11 Get involved in the 150 year celebrations! 12 How are our Pacific Island neighbours facing climate change? 14 We all need to be lovers!
Spiritual direction: mining for gold
What might ‘being of two minds’ mean? 19 “Her sunlight is like gold”
This month’s cover story recalls our March cover featuring CatholicCare Refugee Service’s John Sandy. The response of teacher Michael Eccleston to John’s story is testimony to the power of a true story – and it is not always the truth that is told where refugees and asylum seekers are concerned. This morning I had the opportunity to hear Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia. With David Manne, Phil was a guest of the Assembly of Catholic Professionals. David Manne is a Human Rights Lawyer and migration agent and Director of the Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre. Phil said that refugees and people seeking asylum are seen through the prism of deficit or disorder, rather than as individuals with problems which can be addressed. People with problems have become the problem. And as the election campaign rolls on relentlessly, David believes “We live in the era of the failure of politics.”
Do read the #3weeks2days story on page 5. On a lighter note, Christine Nossiter responded enthusiastically to Jane Mack’s entertaining exploration of the senior English curriculum. Christine wrote, “I read with envy about the approach of Jane Mack (of All Saints College, Maitland) to English. Why 'envy'? I taught the subject decades ago and as I read her article, it’s even more apparent what I am missing! Can I join a class to appreciate the subject all over again? Indeed, I have no knowledge at all of some of the texts mentioned that Jane offers her students. This had me wondering if there could be classes available for the 'elderly' (a term some journalists have used to refer to the 60 plus year-olds!) − purely to introduce us to what is out there and for us to be led to appreciate and be challenged by film, poetry, speech, drama, novel, television, documentary, exactly as the students are in that school. Classes to enjoy the menu, 'taste and see', to stretch the brain and encourage the interest.
I will definitely use that article to trawl the library's shelves and enjoy the discoveries.” I enjoyed very much attending a local gathering of spiritual directors and learning about the service they offer. One adjective kept occurring to me – the rich experience this diverse group of people holds; the rich opportunity spiritual direction provides and the richness of the image used by one participant who referred to “looking for the gold” in listening deeply to the directee’s story. The winner of Richard Leonard sj’s What are we doing on earth for Christ’s sake? is Joan Stuart of Adamstown Heights. The book is available at the St Laurence Centre Library, Broadmeadow Road, Broadmeadow. Happy reading,
TRACEY EDSTEIN – Editor
Contact Aurora Aurora online
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Next deadline 7 July 2016
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Visiting a detainee By BISHOP BILL WRIGHT
It is a big, new carpark, and in the early afternoon there are a couple of hundred vehicles in the visitors’ section. Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. I’ve come to see an old mate of mine who is awaiting deportation to New Zealand. He is not a ‘boat person’. He came to Australia as an infant, but he is not a citizen. He is, I guess, an ‘undesirable’, being deported for his criminal activities. Back in January he was arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty to malicious damage and common assault, namely smashing a window and shouting a lot of abuse. He has served about three months for those crimes, but that sentence has been added to nine months he served twenty-five years ago and together the periods of incarceration add up to a trigger for deportation. I began the process of visiting ‘Henry’ some weeks before. No-one had told me that he was in gaol, his phone had just gone dead and, from Newcastle, that cut off contact. Then he rang me about his release, could I pick him up from Long Bay on a certain day and hour? So there I was in another carpark at the appointed time, and there I still was three hours later when I received a call from
‘inside’. He was not being released to me, as per my discussions with the parole service, but to Border Force officers, for transport to Villawood pending deportation. The Corrective Services guy had the goodness to sound a little embarrassed that this came as news not only to Henry and me, but also to the prison service and to parole. So now I was at Villawood. Visiting arrangements here are pretty liberal. You can visit any afternoon, seven days a week. There are systems, of course, and as in all systems there are hiccups. The Villawood IDF website had told to submit a request 24 hours prior to visiting. The email link below took me to a blank form, so I wrote a request and sent it off. Fairly shortly afterwards I got an email back telling me to submit the ‘Visitor Request Form’. Another search revealed that this was a few pages down in the Immigration Department’s main ‘Detention’ website, not on the Villawood site at all. So you send it in. There’s no acknowledgement, but when you turn up on the day your name is on the list at visitor reception and all is well. You also have to have a hard copy of the form with you, which you may not have guessed, but you can fill one in on the spot and return to the back of the queue. If you’re an old-timer, you’ve already put your phone and cash and stuff in one of the electronic combination lockers, unless it’s day when they’re not working, in which case you surrender your ID at reception and get a key to an old-style
locker. There can be glitches, then, but it’s all simple enough when you know the routines, and most of the visitors clearly know them, and the fall-backs, very well indeed. Later, inside, Henry introduces me to another detainee waiting to go to New Zealand who has been in Villawood for nine months so far. Once through the scanners and doubledoored ‘air lock type’ exit from reception, the actual visiting experience is pretty good. The visitors’ centre is large and new, well furnished with comfortable chairs and tables. You can take in food and even microwave your meal, and there are tea and coffee facilities. There’s a large outdoor patio/ garden area as well and even a smoking area. You’ve signed up to limiting your physical contact with the detainee to appropriate greetings and farewells, but that doesn’t seem to be a big issue. You can stay all afternoon if you like, form a group with others, sit, stroll. It’s not bad. And, according to Henry, life inside is not bad either. He hasn’t taken to his case officer, but the classes and activities that earn him points for spending money are pretty good and most people are friendly enough. It’s definitely better than gaol. The main cloud hanging over Henry is that, because he’s not agreeing to go to New Zealand, and because he’s not getting many visitors and so doesn’t need to be in Villawood in particular, there is talk of sending him to Christmas Island. I agree to visit as often as I can!
I hope I’m being fair to the system by just describing my experience. That experience is limited and, as to the inner workings, solely dependent on what Henry tells me. The detainees’ chief burdens are that they don’t know how long they will be there and they don’t have a clear idea of the arcane processes that will determine their fate. Your case officer tells you one thing and something else happens. Your psychologist tells you what she is recommending but the decision from officialdom is quite the opposite. The waiting, the not knowing, and the sudden announcement of new decisions, these are the principal problems of detainees. The day-to-day is not too bad, at least here on the mainland and in the city. I have just one further observation on Villawood IDC. It sits in its suburb in utter anonymity. The older parts of the former migrant hostel front two suburban streets, but there is no signage whatsoever to indicate what is behind those walls and fences. There are no street signs anywhere directing you to the centre. When you do find it by the street address, it is half a mile down a dead-end in an industrial estate and is simply a driveway between two factories that bears only the simple sign ‘No through Road’. That may be significant.
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As you can see, I am very passionate about the plight of the marginalised
By ALYSSA FAITH
the class was learning, Called to Act Justly.” In an effort to inform people of the plight of refugees, St Joseph’s Campus, Lochinvar, teacher, Michael Eccleston, is embarking on a Refugee Awareness Run from Aberdeen to Mayfield this month. During the five-day run, he will visit five of the 56 Catholic schools in MaitlandNewcastle, to put into context the threeweek, two-day journey Sierra Leone refugee and CatholicCare Refugee Services (CCRS) Project Officer, John Sandy, took to make a phone call to his wife. “Late last year, I was looking to volunteer my time at the CCRS in Mayfield, a place of welcome and support for refugees and their families, and when visiting the centre, I met John Sandy,” says Michael. “Struck by John’s generosity of spirit and his harrowing story, I learnt more about the CCRS, which then led me to attend the social justice launch at St Columban’s Primary School, Mayfield.” From this day, Michael knew he needed to bring his students (then at St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen), up to speed about the plight of the marginalised, and in particular the plight of refugees. “During this time, I was the Year 8 student co-ordinator and I wanted to create a more selfless student body and believed focusing on the plight of the marginalised would support this,” says Michael. “This also tied in perfectly to Catholic social teachings, and in particular, the religion topic
“Never in my wildest dreams, however, would I have anticipated the learning that would follow as a result of the relationship between St Joseph’s and CCRS.” Last October, 21 of Michael’s students were rewarded with a Social Justice excursion to CCRS to build upon their knowledge of the issues studied in class. The students met with John and Co-ordinator, Tania Kelland, who works with refugees in the community, and she gave the students a great account of their ‘real life’ struggles as they try to settle in to a new life.
for the Syrian refugees who we anticipated would be arriving at Christmas. The presents were a mix of essential items, soccer balls, new clothes, children’s toys, and one of our Lebanese students translated the welcome cards into Arabic.” The true demonstration of the students’ commitment came on the day they wrapped some 200 presents. “It was 44 degrees in the Denman Basketball Stadium (where we wrapped the presents), and not one student whinged because they realised they have a lot to be grateful for,” says Michael.
Visiting Year 8 student, Breanna Cox, was touched by John’s story, explaining, “Listening to John made me realise just how lucky I am and how fortunate I am.
“This was a particularly special day for me as this is something which was not possible for many of these students prior to the work with the marginalised, so I was very proud of them.”
“John’s story had something special, something I have never experienced before. I am so grateful for people like this to bring me back to reality,” said Breanna.
Following this experience and seeing the growth of his students, Michael wanted to share this with students across the diocese, and so the idea of the Refugee Awareness Run was born. The aim of the run is to share the experience and contextualise the three weeks and two days John walked to make a phone call, something we take for granted.
The St Joseph’s students were so inspired by John and his key messages of “nobody chooses to be a refugee” and “be grateful for what you have”, that the discussion amongst the students turned to, “What are we going to do next?” Following the excursion, the students decided more needed to be done, and in December, a second trip to CCRS was organised. “Once back at school, the students started brainstorming ideas for the future,” says Michael. “The students decided to donate presents
“The run is not even 10% of the distance John covered, yet many people will think it is a long way from Aberdeen to Newcastle,” says Michael. “I am hoping the #3weeks2days experience will humanise the plight of refugees which is often politicised with a large focus on negativity. My dream is to help John to be seen as not only a refugee but an
awesome person, great social worker and loving husband.” “As you can see, I am very passionate about the plight of the marginalised,” says Michael. “In the words of St Mary MacKillop, ‘never see a need without doing something about it’ is something John and Tania have helped keep at the forefront of my mind.” CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning Director, Helga Smit, said, “CatholicCare is buoyed that following his visit, with students of St Joseph’s Aberdeen, to CCRS, Michael was inspired to instigate the #3weeks 2days Refugee Awareness Run. The team of staff and volunteers at CCRS continues to work tirelessly with refugees, to empower them to become part of our community. Michael’s run will promote awareness and raise funds for our work, for which we are very grateful.” On his Refugee Awareness Run, Michael will be visiting St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen; St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton; St Joseph’s High School, Lochinvar; St Peter’s High School, Maitland and San Clemente, Mayfield. His journey will begin on Friday, 17 June and finish on Tuesday, 21 June. For more information about Michael’s Refugee Awareness Run or to be involved through running, organising or donating to the cause, visit www.catholiccare. org.au. You can read more about John Sandy’s journey online at mnnews.today/ aurora-magazine/march-2016.
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Bishops call for a vote for the voiceless A statement by the Catholic Bishops of Australia on the election
During the long election campaign there will be much talk about the economy and the need for good economic management at a time of some uncertainty. Both sides of politics will state their economic credentials in a bid to win power.
This leads to what the Pope has called the throwaway culture − a culture of overconsumption where all kinds of things are thrown away, wasted, even human beings. The voices of the thrown-away people will not be heard in the campaign. Their faces will not be seen in all the advertising. Among the people discarded in this throwaway culture are: • Refugees and asylum seekers who are often seen as a problem to be solved rather than as human beings in need of help.
The economy of course is important and there does need to be sound management. But there is also a danger that the economy can become a kind of false god to which even human beings have to be sacrificed.
• Indigenous peoples whose cry for recognition has barely been heard and who suffer injustice at the hands of our justice system.
• • • • • • • •
• Those suffering addiction who can see no way out of the destructive grasp of alcohol or other drugs, gambling or pornography. • The desperately poor beyond our shores
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who look to wealthy Australia for the help they need − often simply to survive − but find our nation less and less generous. Neither can we as Christians afford to be voiceless through this campaign. On all kinds of issues we need to make our voices heard. We hope that this campaign will be a time not of spin and bombast but a time of wise and true speaking that comes from deep and humble listening. Then our vote may be a vote in favour of a community where noone is thrown away, where all the voices are heard and all the faces seen. You can read the full statement at www. catholic.org.au.
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• Those suffering mental illness who seem not to fit in with accepted patterns of social behaviour and are often presumed to contribute nothing to society.
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• The survivors of sexual abuse who have emerged from the shadows and whose voice is now being heard, crying out for redress and healing.
Australians are again going to the polls. We do so, thankful that the electoral process will be free of the violence found elsewhere. Our political system may have its problems but we have a stable democracy, which is not to be taken for granted.
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A caress from God he goes. By JOANNE ISAAC
I met Fr Richard Shortall sj at the Mayfield West parish church on a windy Thursday morning. Settling into a camper style chair, the very one he sits in when listening to people who seek his ear as our diocesan Missionary of Mercy (MOM), I asked him what had been the highlights of his very special ministry so far. “That’s easy − the privilege and the level of trust that people have placed in me in telling their stories. Over and over again I have realised that what Pope Francis had in mind when he called for Missionaries of Mercy around the world, is happening right here,” explained Fr Richard. He feels that Pope Francis was primarily thinking about the sacrament of reconciliation in his call, but Fr Richard has made the ministry his own. “To me the most important thing is to allow the person to speak about something from their past life which is weighing on them, their burden. And what I have seen is that as they tell their story, as they hear themselves speaking and sense that I am listening, their shoulders droop in relief. “People have told me as they have left that they have felt like a great weight has been lifted from them. And when that is spoken by a senior aged person I realise that they will now be able to die a happy death because these burdens that have troubled them for a very long time have been lifted. It’s a moment of grace. So that is the high point for me because that’s what I hoped and it has taken place,” said Fr Richard. Fr Richard has been surprised by the kindness of people around the diocese with so many offers of assistance everywhere
“People offer to do the washing, invite me to dinner or just drop dinner in. A couple I had dinner with this week gave me a bottle of brandy and port to keep me ‘warm in the winter’ and in the rural communities I am never without a fridge full of eggs,” Fr Richard said. The routine in each community is basically the same with Fr Richard arriving on a Saturday, setting up the motor home and then presiding at the Vigil or Sunday Mass. While he’s there the doors of the church remain open, there is daily Eucharist and catechesis and time for one-on-one talks and/or reconciliation. On Thursday nights Fr Richard leads guided prayer for healing and mercy and this feature of his weekly visits has been life-giving. He has also spent a lot of time with students from the local Catholic schools, mainly talking about Pope Francis because “that’s what they want to hear about”. When asked if he has noticed a difference between people’s concerns in urban and rural areas Fr Richard is unequivocal. “Pain is pain, suffering is suffering. People carry the same burdens no matter where they live so the stories they tell are all very similar,” he said. Describing life on the road as ‘taxing’ and sometimes ‘daunting’, Fr Richard is sustained in his ministry by his time of prayer each day, contact with family and friends, his brother Jesuits and “just knowing that I’m being faithful to what Francis wants”. He has also had some short breaks away from being our MOM, which he acknowledges help him maintain his enthusiasm. I ask Fr Richard to define mercy and forgiveness. “In English, if you ask someone to define mercy, many will just give it a legal
interpretation and relate it to justice. So while I do refer to the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I talk about it as being a time when we are focusing on the face of God. Importantly, the words I use are kindness, compassion, welcome, inclusion, being non-judgemental, because these are the words that really help people. “When I was in Rome being commissioned I witnessed Pope Francis leave his vehicle and go to a sick person on a stretcher. He stroked their arm, then their cheek and put the sign of the cross on their forehead. He gave an interview about mercy being like a caress from God and I realised that was what he was doing to the person on the stretcher,” he said. “For me, it’s in the talking about the past, in my listening, that people here experience the caress of God. Many think that they need to be forgiven but, in fact, there’s nothing to forgive,” Fr Richard explained. He hopes that the impact of the Year of Mercy continues into the future. “We cannot underestimate the importance of
Walking for Mercy to Support Pregnant Women in Cambodia When
Monday 6 June to Monday 13 June, 2016
From St Mary MacKillop Chapel North Sydney along Old Pacific Highway to Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton
Parish Priest of Nelson Bay, (Fr) Kevin Corrigan, Contact: 4981 1069 Journeying in prayer with St Mary MacKillop
having someone available to allow ordinary people to tell their stories. There would be no need at the end of the year to sell the motor home because you now have a new model of ministry for a priest and there are many ways it can be used,” said Fr Richard. Our Missionary of Mercy paid tribute to Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries, Teresa Brierley, and Bishop Bill Wright, for their support. “Teresa had the vision and the plan for making this happen and she is very caring to me, which I have needed,” Fr Richard said. So with his mini-herb garden and his motor home, Fr Richard will continue to travel around our diocese between now and November. He will continue to listen to people who need to share their stories and feel that ‘caress of God’. You will enjoy any time spent with this special man, reaching out to our communities in a unique way. To find out when Fr Richard will be in a community near you, please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au
Sp Ple on ase so Being poor in Cambodia is often r! high risk with little access to
health care and a hospital birth.
To donate simply contact Anne or Cath at the Catholic Development Fund 4979 1160
Coming to terms with compassion
By CARMEL TAPLEY
The annual writing competition held under the auspices of the Catholic Schools Office Teaching and Learning Services this year invoked Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy in its invitation to students. The unifying theme was ‘compassion’, perhaps more accessible to students than ‘mercy’, and a series of images – including a fetching shot of Pope Francis surrounded by children – served as stimulus material. A variety of approaches demonstrated the students’ ability to grapple with abstract ideas and consider concepts that might be thought to have been beyond their years. Bullying, the impact of natural disaster and the loneliness of some elderly people all
emerged in the students’ submissions. Judges Roger Brock, former editor of The Newcastle Herald and Tracey Edstein, editor of the diocesan magazine Aurora, selected the following winners: Stage 2 Laura Seston of Holy Family Primary, Merewether Beach Stage 3 Kalani Bates of St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton Stage 4 Dominic O’Brien of St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton Stage 5 Chloe Eather of St Mary’s High School, Gateshead. Head of Teaching and Learning Services, Catholic Schools Office, Kathryn Fox,
presented the winners with a cheque for $100 and their schools each received $250. Roger Brock said, “The competition challenged students to explore compassion − what it means to them and how it is (or can be) expressed and experienced in everyday life. The task also required authors to demonstrate proficiency in spelling, punctuation and grammar. “While standards varied in relation to the latter, the finalists excelled in their imaginative approach to the subject matter. Writing about a subject chosen by others can be difficult, but each finalist embraced the challenge and engaged readers in the story. “Most chose to use a first-person narrative
style (writing as “I”) and did this well. It might be interesting to give the third-person (“They were warned about the cyclone three days before...”, “A shiver travelled down his spine...”) a go, to see how it enables a writer to tell a story from the perspective of several characters. Experimenting with writing styles can be fun and can help authors discover which form suits them best.” Tracey Edstein said that all participants should be commended for tackling a challenging topic and one that highlighted what the world sorely needs. Chloe Eather’s story appears below and the other winning stories can be read at www.mn.catholic.org.au/aurora
Compassion By CHLOE EATHER
Bang! A shiver travelled down my spine as the luggage in the back of the 4WD banged against the side walls of the boot. I had been on edge since boarding the 747 flight from Sydney. My body jerked painfully as the soldier navigated the rocky, dirt road leading to the town of Kobani. Even with two armed military soldiers accompanying myself and two other young nurses, I did not feel safe. Silence filled the lengthy trip. The soldiers were on standby and we held on nervously − contemplating our decision to travel to a country in crisis. I peered out of the dusty window to see the harsh desert of the Syrian terrain that stretched for miles. I clutched my access pass in my hand. It read ‘Cara Sway: volunteer nurse: unrestricted access to medical facilities’. I knew why I had made the decision to travel to Syria, and I was adamant that I could make a difference − but a small
voice inside my head kept reminding me of the danger I was putting myself in. Did I really know what lay ahead? We soon approached the outskirts of Kobani. I anxiously examined my surroundings. It was hard to see through the dusty path ahead, and I squinted, looking for buildings, vehicles or even people. To my horror, the town of Kobani was not a town at all. It was a pile of rubble and decrepit buildings. Lifeless bodies covered in horrendous wounds lined the streets. I did not expect to see such desolation. I was not prepared for the extent of the depressing situation before me. I volunteered for the nursing job as I wanted to help the innocent families trapped in a world of fear. I was truly naïve in my expectations of the situation. The car came to an abrupt halt in the middle
of the ‘town’. We were sternly instructed to stay inside the vehicle while the soldiers searched the immediate area. After we got the all clear, the other two nurses and I reluctantly hopped out of the vehicle. The heat and humidity were stifling. The head soldier spoke forcefully. “Nurses, your instructions are to locate any survivors and provide them with sufficient medical treatment to enable them to be transported across the border. We will bring the medical supplies to you. Go!” I walked quickly towards a small mud hut. I was frightened. Frightened of what may be inside that building. Frightened of what might happen to me. But the adrenalin was pumping and I kept walking. I pushed the wooden door open cautiously and stepped inside.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” I called out searchingly. Silence. As I retreated from the hut I was startled by a sudden crashing sound. A shattered dinner plate had scattered across the floor. Heart pounding, I stepped slowly towards the mess. As I moved closer I spotted a small fist protruded from behind a dusty ornamental pot. It was the hand of a child. “It’s okay. I am here to help.” I reassured the child. His small innocent face told a tale of despair as he emerged from the shadows. His malnourished body was shaking, he was covered in dirt and his clothes had been torn to shreds. The deep cut on his upper right arm looked infected − I knew the boy would not survive for long without proper treatment. Trembling in fear the little boy stood up and reached for my hand.
How to manage change effectively Q By TANYA RUSSELL Registered Psychologist CatholicCare's Counselling Team Leader, registered psychologist Tanya Russell, will address an issue each month. The advice provided is general in nature and does not replace ongoing support and advice from your health professional. To talk to someone about counselling support, P 4979 1172. Call Lifeline 24/7 on 131 114.
Do you have a question for Tanya? Email your question to email@example.com or write to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300.
employer has recently announced big changes within our organisation. This news has greatly affected morale at work My and many of my colleagues seem to have become caught up in negativity. I am also very disheartened by the proposed changes and find it difficult to stay focused on my day-to-day work. How do I get through this time of uncertainty?
There are many factors which influence how we cope with change. Based on my experience of working with organisations through change, there are two big factors which impact the most on employees: how the change is managed and communicated by senior management, and how we, as individuals, perceive change. Our perception of change is influenced by our personalities, previous experiences of change, our ability to manage stress and our personal support networks. We often hear the word ‘resilience’ when we are talking about coping with change or with any life stress. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult times. Resilient people don’t spend too much time dwelling on their mistakes or misfortune; they instead acknowledge the situation, learn from it and move forward in life. Of course, this is easier said than done but the good news is, resilience skills can be learned. According to psychologist Susan Kobasa, there are three main elements of resilience: • Challenge Resilient people view difficulties and adversity in life as opportunities for growth. They try to see
situations as learning experiences, even if the journey is unpleasant. • Commitment Resilient people show commitment to their lives and goals, which gives them many reasons to get out of bed each morning. • Personal control Resilient people assess the situations over which they have control. They spend their time and energy focusing on what they can control and therefore, where they can have the most impact on their lives. This last element of personal control is extremely important. Consider your work colleagues and the negativity you are seeing and feeling at work. Where do you think you and your colleagues have been focusing your/their energy? Are your colleagues openly discussing how bad things are? Do you hear a lot of talk about senior management and how things ‘should’ be different? It doesn’t mean that these perspectives are wrong, but is it helping you to engage in this style of thinking? Remember that negativity breeds negativity; and even generally positive people can end up in a negative cycle. If we
spend time stressing about the things we cannot change, it becomes too easy to end up feeling like a victim – this can be very disempowering. The serenity prayer is helpful to keep in mind at times like these to help you re-focus: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” What we tell ourselves can also impact on our resilience. For example, resilient people are more optimistic and they see ‘bad’ or negative events as temporary rather than permanent. They are also good at separating the negative events in their lives and not allowing one situation to affect other areas. Think about the other areas of your life and consider your overall health and self care – ensure you get as much sleep as you need, eat well and get outdoors when you can. Although my advice here is about how you can deal with change, the responsibility is not yours alone. I hope that your organisation also provides support for employees throughout this process. For further inspiration, I recommend a book titled Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson.
Two by Two
JD and Steve: A magical bond
By MONICA SCANLON
Joel Howlett is a professional magician and his Dad, Steve, is his manager. In 1995, aged five, Joel watched a magician perform at a local shopping centre and was transfixed. Joel announced to his family that he wanted to be a magician and he has never wavered from that goal. He went straight to the local library in search of magic books. By seven years old, Joel was running out of relatives to watch him perform his tricks. He went busking. His Dad Steve wisely told Joel it was dangerous for a seven-year-old to be giving strangers his personal details so Joel used his first and second initials, “JD”, and this name has stuck. JD needs to be a magician. He has the magic in him and loves the thrill of getting up on stage. He cannot imagine doing anything else and the buzz of performance is as strong as ever. As a magician he puts his audience members in a good place, returning them, albeit briefly, to their childhood and giving them a sense of wonderment. He has a self-confessed “healthy obsession” with all things magic and is continually tweaking his shows. Although JD’s flair and passion for performing magic were obvious from an early age, Steve thought that perhaps JD would
change his mind again and again, “as kids do”. Both agree JD’s talents at school were not in the sporting or academic fields. Steve worried that being a professional magician was not something that could be a full-time career but JD proved he was dedicated, focused and determined and could be successful doing what he loved. Steve always encouraged JD to be himself and never pushed him. Steve said the whole family is proud of JD and loves seeing him spread happiness and wonder. JD’s family, including Mum and Dad, Sharon and Steve, and younger siblings Nathan, Monica and Patrick, are often the ‘guinea pigs’ sitting through ‘test runs’ of new effects. If the trick fools them or makes them laugh, that’s a good start and JD tries it out with an audience. He can usually tell in just a couple of shows if a new effect is going well or if it needs to be “cut” from the program. A new piece is always performed between a strong and oft-rehearsed piece, “just in case”.
time to JD’s magic. Steve’s role as manager has included building props copied out of magic books from cardboard and making wands from dowel in the early days. He has created and repaired numerous props over the years such as a top hat big enough for an adult dressed as a rabbit to pull a magician (a young JD) from! Steve has been security guard and watched the hat full of money during busking days. He knows how much air to let out of the unicycle tyre to suit the stage floor and assembles illusions in the carport at all hours of the day and night. Their home has bred doves which have been trained in the shower recess and they have also bred and housed white Netherland dwarf rabbits and parakeets ready for performing.
After all, magic is a reminder of the wonder that makes life so wonderful!
Steve has selflessly devoted a great deal of
Steve has spent countless hours loading and unloading the car, setting up props and driving JD to competitions and performances. An example is when Steve drove JD to Sydney when he was performing at Harry Potter book launches, night after night. Sharon continues to do all his administration and paperwork. JD’s siblings have sold programs and merchandise
Steve assists JD prepare for another gig.
and sometimes been part of a live show. The Howletts have welcomed magical friends, colourful characters and visitors to their home. Having a professional magician in the family has taught them that being different is OK. JD has had many career highlights, sometimes including the whole family travelling with him. In 2000, JD was awarded the community service award and was the Australian representative of the Millennium Dreamers. All the Howletts were flown to Disney World Florida. He met other children from all around the world as well as “Superman”, Christopher Reeves, who gave a motivational talk to the award winners about being a ‘hero’. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. As a young teen, JD made his way into a grand final competition in Sydney after weeks and weeks of Steve driving him to previous rounds. Sharon was due to give birth to Patrick on the same date as the grand final. JD went on to win the competition and luckily, Patrick waited until it was over to be born. Mother Teresa wrote, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” I feel this sums up how JD lives his life − a generous heart and a great love of making others happy. JD says he gets as much joy from visiting the folk in the local aged care facility as working at a glamorous, prestigious, event. JD has learned to be versatile and offers a wide range of services such as being a consultant and assistant director to theatre groups, conducting team-building workshops, facilitating large corporate events, guest lecturing at international magicians’ conventions, running circus workshops, roving balloon twisting and regular work as a wedding MC. JD has given magic courses and lectures at Magic Clubs and conventions but generally doesn’t share the secrets as it takes away the feeling of wonder that he tries so hard to create. JD says, “After all, magic is a reminder of the wonder that makes life so wonderful!” When asked about JD’s future, Steve believes JD can set his mind to whatever he wants to do and achieve. This has already been proven again and again by a young man who has made a five-year-boy’s dream a reality.
JD and Steve studying magic lore. 10
To contact JD, E jdandfriends@dodo. com.au or P 4942 3593.
Young adults move forward with renewed confidence
By ELIZABETH SNEDDEN Two young locals can look back with satisfaction on a year-long journey into adulthood. Mark Potts of Cardiff, 18, transitioned from foster care to CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning’s (CatholicCare) Supported Independent Living (SIL) program a year ago. Mr Potts had been in foster care since he was five, moving a couple of times before living with one carer for 12 years. Mr Potts is very appreciative of the support provided to him through SIL, saying “My caseworker has helped me in learning how to manage my bills and rent, and has helped me with work opportunities. “Since finishing a Certificate II in Automotive Servicing Technology at TAFE, CatholicCare has helped me get some work experience with a motorbike mechanic.
49 Boo 79 k tod 13 ay 70
“I hope one day to find full-time employment, own my own house, start a family and be closer to my existing family −
I just have to convince them to move up to Newcastle from Sydney first! “The SIL team has been supportive, helpful and informative. I have achieved a lot over the past year and am looking forward to what the future holds,” Mr Potts said. Katrina Young of North Lambton is also 18 and has overcome a great deal of adversity to study a Certificate III in Business Medical at Hunter TAFE with an eye to securing fulltime employment.
“From three to 16 my great grandmother was my foster carer, until she was diagnosed with dementia in 2014. My older brother then passed away which left me in an unstable living environment and later homeless, while still studying at high school. “I became involved in CatholicCare’s SIL Program in March 2015 and since then I have received support from a caseworker who has helped me with work and study and supported me to understand more about my Indigenous heritage. I’ve developed essential
skills and now feel more confident living independently.... I’ve also regained contact with family members, which has been very important to me. “I am proud that despite some setbacks in the past 12 months I have completed my Higher School Certificate and a Certificate II Traineeship with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy. I was also thrilled to be accepted into the University of Newcastle “Live, Learn, Grow” program,” Ms Young said. CatholicCare Director, Helga Smit, said the SIL Program is changing the lives of countless young people. “The SIL Program provides housing and support for young people aged 16-18 years who have been living in Out of Home Care (including foster care) and are now ready to commence their transition to more independent living arrangements. SIL encourages young people to develop independent living skills, make their own decisions and work towards developing and achieving their life goals. We place a high value on empowering individuals to achieve their full potential and we are incredibly proud of Mark and Katrina’s achievements, especially in such a short period of time,” Ms Smit said. Please visit www.catholiccare.org.au
Expecting a new baby? The next Bringing Baby Home workshop commences 4 June. Limited places available!
Learn what to expect during the transition to parenthood. Strengthen friendship, intimacy, and conflict resolution skills. Learn about co-parenting with your partner.
Contact us today for more info or to reserve your place, phone 4979 1370 or email firstname.lastname@example.org | 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 | W W W. M N N E W S . T O D AY / A U R O R A - M A G A Z I N E
Get involved in the 150 year celebrations! By GERALDINE WILLIAMS
In 2016, the diocesan community is commemorating the 150th anniversary of becoming a diocese. Celebrations were launched with the opening of the Door of Mercy at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday 13 December 2015, and will conclude on 6 November 2016 with the official opening and blessing of St John’s Chapel, former Cathedral of Maitland, showcasing the restoration project. All diocesan agencies are participating in events to celebrate the 150th anniversary, including social services and schools. During May, Stage 2 and Stage 3 students from St Aloysius Primary, Chisholm; Our Lady of Lourdes Primary, Tarro; St John the Baptist Primary, Maitland; St Joseph’s Primary, East Maitland; St Paul’s Primary, Rutherford and St
Patrick’s Primary, Lochinvar, are participating in a ‘parish life’ history competition. Students are interviewing their grandparents and senior parishioners to gather information and artefacts relating to parish life, the history of Maitland and St John's connection to other parishes. The projects will be judged and the winning entries displayed at St John’s Hall, Maitland at the ‘pop up’ museum in June and July. The diocese is commissioning an historian to document a history of the people of the diocese as part of its 150 years commemoration. Expressions of interest for the role have now closed and applications are currently being reviewed. The 150th commemoration events also include a run to raise funds and awareness for refugees and migrants and the contribution
Rest orati on of St John ’s Chap el, Maitl and, cont inues apac e! Phot ogra ph cour tesy of Kurt Dale y.
and diversity they bring to the MaitlandNewcastle community (see cover story). Inspired by the story of CatholicCare Refugee Service’s John Sandy, teacher Michael Eccleston will be running from St Joseph’s, Aberdeen, to San Clemente, Mayfield, from Friday 17 June to Tuesday 21 June. Local school communities will back the initiative by joining John during his journey and helping to raise awareness and funds. On 29 October, a one-day pilgrimage commemorating Bishop James Murray’s arrival in the diocese will depart from Morpeth and conclude in West Maitland, including ‘stations’ along the way highlighting aspects of the history of the diocese. Registrations for the pilgrimage will open in the coming weeks, with further pilgrimage information
available in the July edition of Aurora. To conclude the 150 year celebrations, Bishop Bill will preside at Mass at St John’s Chapel, Maitland, and all will be welcomed. The community will be able to view phase one of the Cathedral Precinct project, including the full interior and exterior renovations to the church. Meanwhile, the restoration is progressing with exterior boarding being disassembled shortly, as the new St John’s emerges. The next step before completion in October will be refurbishment and landscaping of Bishop’s House. The diocese welcomes all to participate in commemoration events. To learn more, visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/ stjohns or P Alyson, 4979 1117.
Teacher’s back story leads to children’s picture book
By GAVIN MCCORMACK
Author and teacher, Gavin McCormack, shares the experience which led to a delightful children’s picture book. You can win a copy – see below! Are These Your Glasses? is a picture book for primary-aged children. The book was designed to eradicate bullying through isolation and exclusion in the classroom and playground. As a primary school teacher for almost 18 years, I have witnessed this scenario first hand and I believe that the solution to this problem is not educating the victims, but educating the perpetrators in how it feels when you are socially excluded. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. Mum was a single mother who ran a market stall and found it very hard to manage. My grandfather tried his best in a role he knew nothing about, and on those long summer days he would tell me great stories. Most of them were probably fiction but they taught me great things. Later, I too would become a storyteller. The stories taught me never to stop believing, but more importantly they taught me never to stop trying. These are two of the great lessons my book teaches children.
real friends. We were all victims of bullies and it made us stronger. We would look out for each other and the fact we had each other’s support made it easier to cope with the continuous torment of name-calling and physical violence. Everyone tells you to tell a teacher but when you’re in the thick of it, you feel trapped and helpless. We began volunteering at the youth club during the evenings and this was a huge stepping stone to where I am today. By this stage I was 16. I saw that working with children was a pure delight. Time would fly and the nights, instead of being filled with loneliness and the dread of the following day, were filled with laughter and the cacophony of children’s voices. Secondary school passed quickly and it was time to start thinking about the future.
Teaching seemed to be the best profession for me. I really wanted to make a difference
Soon it was time for me to go to school. I’ll never forget my first day: nerves, excitement and pink custard. Primary school was a blur, but primary school soon became middle school. I plodded through with limited interest and a friendship group that could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Soon it was time for high school which encompassed the worst − but most influential − years of my life to date. My mother had moved to a small village where the demographics favoured wealth and education rather than street crime and drugs. But along with the wealth and the class came the feeling of isolation and inferiority. We weren’t rich, I had low selfesteem and I was still wearing the patchedup trousers my mother had bought me three years earlier. Children would take it upon themselves to get me in a headlock, pull my hair, steal my lunch, steal my money and make fun of me. I seemed to be able to handle this and in a way it made me understand how it feels to be bullied. I found strength in helping other children and this is how I made my
My mother suggested that because I loved working with children, I should be a primary school teacher. I respected her and that turned out to be the greatest advice I would ever receive. I completed the documents and it was time to go to university. Teaching seemed to be the best profession for me. I really wanted to make a difference. The children loved to hear stories and would often request I tell them a story at the end of each day. When I suggested we read a book together, they would insist I tell them a story from my imagination. I have taught children from all over the world − in France, Spain, the UK and Australia, where I taught at a Muslim school in the western suburbs of Sydney. Through all those fantastic years, there was one constant. No matter what grade I taught and no matter where I worked, there was always the child who said, “Nobody will be my friend, I don’t have anyone to play with.” As a teacher who really knew how it felt to be left out, I made it my mission to give teachers the tools required to tackle this issue through early intervention. I wrote Are These Your Glasses?, which tells the story of Sergio, a penguin who lives in Antarctica. He is left out because he’s a little bit different. The story is loosely based on my childhood and educates both the victims of bullying and the bullies themselves. Sergio lives with his father in a small house by the ocean. At school, he doesn’t have many friends because he is different from the other ‘children’. With his father as a
guide, he learns some valuable lessons as he grows. These lessons help him to show great determination and strength as he tries to find true friendship. The book has been designed to inspire deep conversations within the classroom and home to educate children about how it feels to be excluded. It explains how we can overcome challenges in life by sheer determination and a great deal of care and love.
Questions such as these can really help to address bullying: What does the word “bullying” mean
to you? How would you describe a bully? Why do you think people bully? Who are the adults you trust most
when it comes to things like bullying?
Children find it hard to explain their feelings. To tackle this, we designed the book so that the great southern lights, Aurora Australis, change colour and shape depending on the mood of the main character. This allows children to really understand what it feels like when we are isolated and, similarly, the elation and joy we feel when we are welcomed by a group and included. The book comes with free teaching guides for both parents and teachers and a mood colouring book can be downloaded free.
Have you ever felt nervous going to
Talking directly about bullying is a crucial step in understanding how the issue might be affecting our children. Children must feel safe and confident to be able to talk openly. They must know there are no right or wrong answers, but it is important to encourage children to answer honestly. We can assure children they are not alone in addressing any problems. I found it helpful for the children to know that as a child I was bullied and I understood how it felt to be excluded and isolated.
make somebody happy? How does it make you feel when you make somebody sad?
As adults, it is sometimes hard to understand how it feels to be bullied. With social media and messaging apps in high demand, group chats, group invites and clicks are happening on the internet, away from the eyes of teachers and parents. We must remember that bullying through isolation and exclusion leaves no bruises, there are no visible scars or harsh words said. From my experience it is one of the hardest forms of bullying facing children today. It leaves them feeling low, lacking confidence, and deprives them of the mateship we all need.
school because you were afraid or upset? How could we help you to feel better? Have you or your friends left other kids
out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not? What do you think we should do if
we see someone with nobody to play with? How does it make you feel when you
to hold hands with on your way to class and nobody will share with you at playtime. The devastation can last a lifetime and seriously affect future confidence. As a teacher, I’ve seen it a thousand times. We can stop this bullying that is so harmful to so many individuals each day, but we must act together. We must educate children from a young age about how it feels to be isolated − and how it feels when we are the ones who help another person out. If we can begin to understand what our children are going through by building a safe environment for children to share their problems, we can help to tackle issues before they develop into scenarios that may have detrimental effects in later life.
Imagine for one minute that as an adult, you’re sitting at home wishing there was something to do but it seems like it’s going to be a quiet night in, alone. You check Facebook and all your ‘friends’ are having dinner somewhere − but you weren’t invited. As an adult you feel upset, but you get over it. You can justify not being included. Maybe they forgot? Maybe you were invited but you didn’t see it? More often than not it is an innocent mistake. Now imagine you’re six and nobody wants to play with you; you never have a partner
Gavin McCormack is the senior teacher at Inner Sydney Montessori School, Balmain. Please visit www. aretheseyourglasses.com To win a copy of Are These Your Glasses? send an envelope with your name and postal address to the editor before 10 June.
How are our Pacific Island neighbours facing climate change?
By JILL FINNANE
While the full impact of climate change and sea-level rise will happen in the future and will happen globally, the persistent discharging of green-house gases by the industrialised world today means that island nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu already suffer daily difficulties. They are scattered over the vast Pacific Ocean and are all but ignored by the big polluting nations. So what do nations that are made up of small far-flung atolls rising no more than 3 or 4 metres above sea-level do as they begin to experience the destructive effects of climate change?
of people within the islands to find places that can provide them with fresh water.” They try to relocate internally and it leads to over‑crowding.
Since 2006, the Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP) has worked alongside Kiribati and Tuvalu climate campaigners trying to call the Australian and world communities to face up to the challenges and dangers of climate change. PCP has led numerous joint delegations to UN climate conferences and taken key leaders to Kiribati and Tuvalu to give them a deeper understanding of what is happening. Each year, PCP brings two young leaders from Kiribati and two from Tuvalu to Australia for the Kiribati-AustraliaTuvalu Exchange Program (KATEP), aimed at providing them with opportunities to develop their skills, experience and confidence in climate change advocacy.
Women build food gardens to supplement their family’s reliance on processed food. When a huge storm surge overruns the gardens with waves of salt water they feel disheartened. M, a middle-aged woman, lives in a heavily populated part of Kiribati. Her house, food gardens and well now fill with rubbish, sand and manure more often. Some of the wells and some of the gardens are beyond fixing. M and others in her community are desperately worried about the costs of feeding their families.
I would like to give you a glimpse into the human struggle of our neighbours by sharing some of the thoughts and feelings they have shared with me.
Drought affects the education of young women. A 16-year-old Tuvaluan girl spoke sadly to me about life in a drought. “We can have one bucket of water only a day. So we could use water only for washing dishes and for cooking.” She spoke of how awful it was going to school without being able to bathe. She and her friends decided it was preferable not to go to school.
Besides an overwhelming fear of loss, Islanders are also frustrated. A member of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network (TuCAN) told me in 2011, “We are tired of consultations. Our land needs protecting now! It is disappearing now! How can we protect it by planting trees when the waves keep coming
in? We need to stop the waves.” Everywhere in the Pacific, there is a strong determination to preserve the cultures that weave together family and community with food production, fishing, music, song, dance, and celebration by fighting climate change. Tiiringatea from Kiribati told Australian communities in 2015, ‘I am 20 years old, I love my country. I love and respect my culture. I don’t want to move to another country. Without my culture I am nothing. I have every right to stay in my country and practise my culture. A precious part of my culture is dancing. I love to perform my traditional dance because it is not just about entertaining people but it is also our way to show people that this culture is very important to us.” One of the most important and effective strategies Pacific Island nations have employed to safeguard their future is to develop courageous and inspirational leaders. Pelenise Alofa, Executive Director of the Kiribati Climate Action Network (KiricAN), is an example. She addressed the Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2015 saying, “Mr President, we have three recommendations to the Human Rights Council this morning. First, to recognise the adverse effects of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights; (2) to establish
the position of a special rapporteur on human rights and climate change at the UN office; (3) to launch a work program to ensure that human rights are integrated into all aspects of climate actions….” Tong, who has just retired after 12 years as President of Kiribati, was nominated last year for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts. In 2012 in his address to the UN he said, “Whether or not we are willing to acknowledge it, climate change and sea level rise are a result of the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. Economic growth at all costs must not be our mantra, particularly when it is those who will benefit the least from this growth who will pay the ultimate price. The earth is not ours to do with as we please - we are merely trustees for future generations. We ignore this reality at our peril.…” Jill Finnane co-ordinates ERC’s EcoJustice campaign and is co‑convenor of the Pacific Calling Partnership. She is an active member of the CLRI (NSW) Social Justice Committee and previously worked for Action for World Development where she was a foundation member of the World Development Tea Co-op. To learn more and become involved, please visit www.erc.org.au and http:// pacificclimatewatch.com.au/wp/
They want a safe future yet already they are beginning to experience bigger storms and waves that increase coastal erosion, knock over coconut, banana and pawpaw trees and make wells brackish. Merineta explained to Malcolm Turnbull and other politicians when she came to Australia in 2015, “I am the mother of a seven-month-old baby and I am worried about his future and his life. All of the children of Tuvalu have a right to life – a right to an environment with good quality. They are all part of this world and they want to have a normal life like other Australian kids.” They try to adapt but it is not so easy to respond to the longer droughts that damage and sometimes kill the huge, abundantly productive breadfruit trees, lower water levels in wells and dry out rainwater tanks. Linda from Kiribati explains the difficulty, “Yes, we accept that we must do what we can to protect our coasts and water resources threatened by thoughtless pollution, but serious and sustained adaptation is a great unknown – it requires major funds and some of the world’s finest minds to point the way.” Reverend Tioti Timon from Kiribati explained, “From losing our fresh water we are ending up with more problems….the relocation 14
Patrick Dodson and other Australian Indigenous people planted mangroves when visiting Kiribati.
The Catholic Thing
For God’s sake don’t interrupt me By TONY LEON fms
Marist Brother Tony Leon shares some of the wisdom of what is formally called in the Catholic world ‘consecrated’ or ‘religious’ life. Everything was going well. All according to my plan. Then it happened… I was interrupted. How often does this happen to our best laid schemes of mice and men, when we discern our options, choose our action, follow through and unexpectedly, a person or event interrupts our organised life? Such interruptions vary from the mundane ordinary setbacks (ie caught in traffic, lost document...etc) to major life disruption (illness, accident…etc). There is a poignant irony in the realisation that oftentimes such interruptions can produce better outcomes than first planned. With the hindsight of my own story, I have come to appreciate that it is during life’s interruptions that I am invited to recognise the Divine. God may not be the actual interruptive influence but there is a divine profundity in the way I choose to respond. The blessings in my life occur when things don’t go according to my plan. I was privileged to have taught Visual Arts at St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, in the late 90s. The creative process in creating HSC major works frequently included interruption to the plans of students and teacher. The Art Room taught us the greater art of vulnerability.
This is when “Is this possible?” becomes “Let’s try it!”
The blank canvas at the beginning of the creative process offers countless possibilities. The many grand ideas are tempered with the reality of the capabilities of the students (and teacher). It is not unusual for art teachers to be de facto counsellors when the students experience the clash of idealism and reality. When this happens, plans are interrupted and the opportunity for a deeper student-teacher conversation can arise. These moments demanded the humility to let go, as well as the courage to move onto unfamiliar paths. This is when “Is this possible?” becomes “Let’s try it!” In recent years, my ministry as a Marist Brother has changed several times since the classrooms of SFX. Each new appointment
was an Annunciation moment for me. These were the times when I echoed Mary’s sentiment of being greatly disturbed and wondered what these words meant (Lk 1:29). My appointment to the Marist Brothers General House in Rome was a profound Annunciation experience. “How can this be?” Yet, similar to the creative process with my former students at SFX, my life is likened to the unfinished work which has been offered new direction. It was an invitation which required the surrender of the familiar, the established and the secure. With discernment, my “How can this be?” became “Let’s do this!” Three years later, the interruption of the Roman appointment has taught me other ‘inter-’ lessons: Inter–Cultural: The artful practice of living and working in a community of many languages, cultural values and practices (Brazilian, Italian, Mexican, Rwandan, Scottish, Spanish, Sri Lankan). The more relaxed irreverent Australian outlook is now more mindful of how different cultures value other approaches. Inter–Relational: The call to live creative communion of brothers and lay Marists in our institute. As the Marist Brothers celebrate the bicentenary of our Institute in 2017, we are looking into our third century of being brothers in new ways. Such possibilities inform how we may create new expressions of Marist communities to reflect the Marian face of the Church.
this be?” became “Let’s continue on.” In early May, we had the placement of my father’s ashes in his resting place and there was a different ambience, compared with the funeral several months earlier. It seemed less ‘disastrous’ and there was less ‘sting’. The verb for such placement of ashes/dead body in the ground/tomb is ‘inter’ (with its Latin roots in terra - into the earth). For me, the concept of ‘inter’ has a Paschal relevance with the concept of inter-ruption. When our plans are interrupted and we focus solely on the prefix as a self-contained word, ‘inter’, then all is lost and we bury the deceased idea, plan, remains. However, if we view the prefix ‘inter-’ as incomplete, a prefix awaiting an ending, it is an unfinished artwork awaiting resolution. The prefix ‘inter-’ means ‘in between, shared amongst two or three’. This simple prefix echoes Matt 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.” Jesus’ words to Peter changed the boundaries of his presence amongst his followers. There is more to the divine presence than originally believed. The boundaries or our relationship with others and with nature are transformed when we realise that we are inter-dependent. The frontiers of our identity as members
Inter-Congregational: The former rivalry amongst brothers’ congregations on the football field has moved to greater collegiality, such as “The Fratelli Project” in Lebanon. This is the shared ministry of the De La Salle and the Marist Brothers, addressing the inter-faith needs of displaced refugee children in areas of education and pastoral care.
of humanity shift when we enter
Perhaps the greatest interruption in life is death….for the particular person as well as for the person’s family. This was an interruption my family experienced last Pentecost when my father passed away. For me, “his going away did seem like a disaster and death did have a sting”. The life of my family was profoundly interrupted. Yet in the midst of this experience, courageous conversations were had and our “How can
I will not be interrupted by their plights if
inter‑congregational, inter-cultural and inter‑faith conversation. We are reminded that we are all brothers and sisters…and Jesus is in our midst. Today, countless lives continue to be interrupted, by conflicts in foreign lands or by violence and poverty on our own shores. they are not within my plan; however, if their plights do interrupt my familiar, established and secure sensibility, it may be an invitation to encounter our God and be part of the divine plan, which is for good and not for disaster and to give us a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) That is worth any interruption.
Seasons of Mercy
A way of Healing and Hope after abortion By Frs PETER MAHER and JOHN BOSMAN
Women and men sometimes experience pain after an abortion. They can be confused by the experience and the circumstances around the abortion. They can feel grief and loss because they have no baby and can experience guilt and shame for their part in the decision. Rachel’s Vineyard Healing Retreat is designed to address this confusion and pain through a healing process that acknowledges what has happened and invites women and men into a safe space to tell their story, acknowledge their child’s life and find self forgiveness, God’s forgiveness and love. The retreat offers encouragement to see things through the eyes of Jesus’ love for them. Just as Jesus loved the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well and the woman with the haemorrhage, Jesus loves all people and especially those who are hurting and in pain. Through the sacraments, participants are invited to address their pain and take action to restore their lives to full health. They are invited to become aware of themselves and their place in the world, to respect themselves and others and to honour their child as a member of God’s family. A Participant’s Experience Retreat participants normally experience a sense of healing and connection to God, themselves and their baby. Here is ‘Clare's’ story. Raised in a very active Catholic family, I never could have imagined that I would
one day have an abortion; but it did happen and from that dreadful day I believed myself to be lost forever in the eyes of the Church and worse still, in the eyes of God. I felt resigned to silently carrying a heavy burden of shame and guilt for all time, never being able to forgive myself or be forgiven by others for the awful thing I had done. The turning point for me was reading about the founder of Rachel’s Vineyard in Australia, Julie Kelly. Hearing her story helped me to see that forgiveness was possible, that there was hope beyond the seemingly gloomy horizon. The retreat was a wonderfully liberating experience when I told the story of my abortion for the first time, publicly named my lost child and honoured him in ritual and song. I began the long journey towards healing through my encounter with the healing Gospel stories of Jesus, carefully guided by compassionate people who showed me the merciful face of God. Hearing the stories of other retreatants was also a very privileged experience and assisted me to begin to make sense of my experience and to chip away at the burden of guilt and shame. Some years after my retreat I still carry feelings of regret and sadness. Grief never really ever goes away completely, but I have been able to forgive myself and the others in my story, and to turn my terrible experience into a positive one by helping
others in their journey of grief and shame. My lost child is an important part of my life that I hold within, and Rachel’s Vineyard has enabled me to bring dignity and acknowledgement to his life. Never fully healed, but well and truly in a much better place with the knowledge that my God understands, loves and forgives.
St Paul says that “sharing one another’s burdens is the perfection of the Law”. In word and silence, in symbol and the bare,
Reflecting on a Sydney retreat
eloquent facts of our lives, we did that. We
John Bosman msc reflected on his experience of a recent retreat.
listened and found words for the stories of
Within every pain is a truth. Where two or three are gathered there, something, someone special, happens. Hearts are softened and transformed. At the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat at Mount St Benedict’s in Sydney, we entered the stillness of our hearts. Together we entered those hidden recesses, harbouring loss and regret, rejection and shame-filled isolation as well as tenderness and hope. We listened and understood in words and gestures that sometimes were, and at other times were not, our own. They were from beyond us. The process of the retreat is gentle and effective: naming our hopes and fears, thus fleshing a gentle, urgent invitation to go through and beyond the portals of darkness to new togetherness and belonging. The mothers named themselves to be mothers and thus named their children with compassion, even joy. Contacts once broken grew into deeper union.
our hearts. We discovered not condemnation but acceptance and forgiveness and a throbbing resilience. We found that ideals or expectations must not be burdensome, but rather inspirational. We experienced healing in voice and face and attitude. We welcomed the space and time for healing in heart-filled prayer, silent and aloud, in ritual and reflection. We came to realise that we are loved and cherished. We have nothing to fear. “For everything is well and all kind of manner is well.” Peter Maher, a Sydney priest and John Bosman, MSC priest, are members of Rachel’s Vineyard Healing Retreat Team, Sydney. The next retreat will be 22-24 July, 2016. Please visit www. rachelsvineyard.org.au. Anyone who may benefit from a retreat or support after an abortion can also P 0400 092 555 or E email@example.com.
Too many times you have not been welcomed: forgive the closure and indifference of our society that fears the change in lifestyle and mentality that your presence asks for. Treated as a burden, a problem, a cost, instead you are a gift. To refugees, 19 April 2016
We all need to be lovers! Regular contributor Michael O’Connor explains the fundamental role of love in becoming whom you are meant to be.
By MICHAEL O’CONNOR
A child needs to be loved. Obviously. Children experiencing love are on the way to becoming whom they are meant to be. They develop self-esteem, confidence, resilience, and the many qualities we identify as healthy in human beings. Poorly loved children can be known by the paucity of these qualities. Inadequate love in childhood can result in life-long emotional deficits. One of the dismaying things I encountered in a career in child protection was the parent who had a child for the purpose of being loved, who expected an infant to give him or her the love they craved. It was unrealistic, and dangerous for the child.
in this are not inwardly mature even though presenting as fully developed.
ourselves at our best and realising, ‘Yes, this is the real me. I was made for this, nothing less.'
The love I mean is not the sort that concentrates on your own benefits from relationships, the advantages and satisfaction you get from others. It’s the kind of love that will sacrifice to promote the other, having the good of that person in mind ahead of what you get for yourself – especially when there’s no feeling of natural liking.
This, I believe, is why Jesus commanded us – yes, actually ordered us – to love. He was insistent, not only for the benefit to others, but for our own very best outcome. He wanted our complete fulfilment. His ultimate word on the subject at the Last Supper in John’s Gospel was the command to love one another as he loved – to be like him in service, and so also in fulfilment.
Christianity adopted the Greek word agape (ag‑up-ay) to embrace this meaning. The word 'love' is commonly used to mean many other things – from liking something, to admiring, to friendship, to romance, to sex. Agape love may include any of these, but goes beyond to stress the selfless, sacrificing style of love displayed by those who go out of their way (and out of themselves) for someone who cannot or will not return their generosity. Parental love for a severely disabled child very clearly typifies this.
When everyone loves, everyone is loved.
These were adults still seeking the love they had needed in childhood, who struggled to pass on what they had not experienced. No one can give what they haven’t received. An adult needs to be a lover. Perhaps not so obvious, but adults need to love to become whom they are meant to be. The ability to love is probably the defining element of human adulthood. Adults deficient
So, why do adults need to love generously, selflessly, fully? Because that’s where fulfilment lies. Loving, forgetting self while engaged with the needs of others, provides us the experience of knowing
This was just after he washed the feet of those who would betray, deny and desert him. It was just before he sacrificed himself and died for them. He set the bar very high, and told us to love as he did.
one thing necessary for us to do. We would not have been commanded if we couldn’t choose to love and didn’t absolutely need to.
Jesus knew what he was about. He knew – from his own experience of agape-love as Godmade-man; as humanity’s designer and maker; as the human blueprint and model – that the only way for us to share his completeness was by loving. Because we impulsively and doggedly think we will complete ourselves and find happiness in self-centred activity, Jesus insisted we turn around our thinking and behaviour, and love selflessly.
So here is the consummate command. Love! Not a random, senseless, despotic, imposition by a capricious deity, but rather the ultimate teaching directive from God who is love, who creates us in God’s image and likeness and who knows that agape, and nothing else, will provide fulfilment.
Jesus could not command us to be loved, and we can’t just decide to be loved. But we can decide to love. It is an ability we have been given. It is in our power, by God’s grace. And it is the
Best to heed that ‘commandment’. God is pleading rather than imposing. God is beseeching us to embrace our only path to fullness of life. God, the Lover, knows.
Our ultimate destiny – eternal life already underway – is as lovers. Heaven surely consists in giving love and being loved. When everyone loves, everyone is loved.
Spiritual direction: mining for gold By TRACEY EDSTEIN
Why would three social workers, a preschool director, a speech pathologist and artist, and a doctor gather together one evening a month in a cosy city living room for several hours? The answer is that each one is a spiritual director, and they meet monthly for group supervision. These men and women of varied ages and backgrounds (and three more who couldn’t be there the night I joined them) first met six years ago as they began formation to be spiritual directors. Each had experienced being a spiritual ‘directee’ and been enriched by the experience, and they wanted to be in a position to share it with others. It’s important to note that just as not every student is meant to be a teacher, so not every directee is called to be a spiritual director. A thorough discernment process preceded each individual’s participation in this ministry. So just what is spiritual direction, and who might benefit from it?
“It’s something like the discipline of prayer,” says Matt Lamont, social worker. Juleen Partridge, Bev Rigby and Elizabeth Reynolds were unable to be there and no doubt each would add her own insight. The term ‘spiritual direction’ obviously suggests a God-dimension – doesn’t it? Not necessarily. The directors can share experiences (anonymously; confidentiality is paramount) of directees who would not call themselves theists, yet seek spiritual companionship. Perhaps John captures it best when he says that when an individual undertakes spiritual direction, “It’s a practical outcome of feeling the yearning for something more.” I believe this ‘something more’ is the key. Spiritual direction is not counselling, psychotherapy or confession! “It’s not bringing a problem to be solved but an experience to be contemplated,” says Matt, and it’s clear from the rich conversation that spiritual direction is firmly grounded in experience.
It’s about listening to experience, and waiting for the ‘gold’ to reveal itself
“It’s a companioning role that asks us to listen to another’s story and invite them to contemplate their experience for its deep meaning or direction,” says Gail Doolan, social worker (retired) and meditator.
“It’s based very much on the contemplative model,” says Max Grieve, social worker. “It’s learning to listen for God,” says Christine Cavenagh, speech pathologist (retired) and artist.
The formation the directors completed over four years was an initiative of four qualified, well established and experienced spiritual directors – Rev Malcolm Drake, Rev Nerida Drake, Sr Lynette Pearce rsj and Sr Colleen Carney rsj. They are grateful to their tutors. Being a director requires also having direction oneself, as well as regular ongoing individual supervision, so the commitment these women and men have made is not a small one. Meanwhile, Director of the Office of Life and Faith, John Donnelly, reports that “Young
people engaged in the Pastoral Placement Program are taking time to discern their baptismal call to service of the people of God through the Catholic Church. As part of this year of training, formation and work experience they are offered the opportunity of individual spiritual direction as well as group theological reflection to assist in their discernment of God’s particular call to them as disciples in this time and place.”
magic but it offers the opportunity to sit with one’s experience, play with it, stir it up perhaps, and see what emerges. Why not give it a go? To learn more about the opportunities available and commensurate costs, please P Tracey Edstein 4979 1288 or E firstname.lastname@example.org.
John and Christine Cavenagh have accepted an invitation to direct the eight participants in this year’s program. The scriptures are a rich resource for spiritual direction although not in a prescriptive sense. As I listen to these wise people, I feel that the experience each one brings – as directee and director – is a gospel in itself, and the dividends of engaging deeply with that story are many. Jenny shares her delight in gaining a deeper understanding of her Aboriginal husband’s ability, even need, to take time simply to sit and contemplate. “Now I get it!” she says. Spiritual direction has long been part of the Christian landscape, although perhaps under different names, and traditionally, spiritual directors have been religious sisters or priests. As in so many areas, the people of God are stepping up to minister in ways that are new and life-enhancing for all concerned.
Image courtesy of http://magnoliastarphotography.com.au
“It’s about listening to experience, and waiting for the ‘gold’ to reveal itself,” says Jenny Moylan, mother of two young children and a pre-school director.
Spiritual director, Judi Taylor, writes in the journal,Terra Spiritus, “Being with people in spiritual direction is a privilege, we are on holy ground, a place of tenderness and delicacy as we explore this sacred space, perhaps for the first time.” The accompanying photograph captures something of the notion of companionship in walking the journey that is life. Spiritual directors have been called spiritual companions and spiritual mentors. Max describes spiritual direction where one reflects on one’s experience as “a rich fertile cauldron” and there’s something captivating about this image. Spiritual direction is not
The Way We Were: Blessed is the peacemaker MICHAEL O’CONNOR
Saint Therese’s, New Lambton, at the start of the Sixties. I was in ‘Sixth Class’.
challenged, and it was on.
a fight. It happened to be the day Mum was
We fought hard and there was blood. I can’t
on tuckshop. Sister Clare – my beloved best-ever teacher, now Sister Dorothy Kelly
I now have to accept that I was a bully. Not,
remember if it was his or mine, but it made
however, out of malice. My ego insisted that
a mess of our clothes. For a skinny kid I
whom I love to visit in retirement at Waratah
I be the toughest kid in the playground. And I
was a tough fighter and didn’t know the
– hauled me to the tuckshop.
was. Everyone knew it because I had fought
concept of throwing in the towel. The contest
In front of my mother, in a very serious
them all and won.
ended when I managed to throw him over a
manner, Sister Clare gave me the most
Then two brothers enrolled mid-term. The older one was a ‘Fonzie’ type character with cool clothes, slicked hair, and attitude. He
fence into a vacant block behind the school buildings. I couldn’t have picked a worse day for such
Many years later Mum revealed to me that, after I was sent off, Sister Clare confided to her, “I’m glad Michael did that. That boy needed to be taught a lesson.” Such wisdom.
experienced. She then sent me back to the
My lesson came later. When I went to Marist Brothers, Hamilton, I went with the same attitude. I was going to be king. My first challenger took boxing lessons. He decked me with one punch. A king hit.
I arose from the ground a pacifist.
complete dressing down I had yet
What might ‘being of two minds’ mean? The University of Newcastle’s Professor Rob Cowdroy posits an intriguing theological concept.
By ROB COWDROY
Sometimes, we just cannot make up our minds; we dither, we procrastinate, or we “put it off”. If it’s an important matter we might say that we are “of two minds”, generally meaning that we alternate between two opposing points of view: “yes, I’ll do it” and “no, perhaps I shouldn’t”, then back to “perhaps I should after all” and so on. They are often referred to as “heart or head” decisions. Occasionally we suddenly, unexpectedly, remember that name we have been trying to remember for hours or days, or unexpectedly remember some long-forgotten experience, or we might suddenly, impulsively, decide to move the furniture around or buy something extravagant. The mysteries of sudden thoughts or memories, procrastination and impulsive behaviour have been wondered about for thousands of years, at least as far back as Socrates and Aristotle, which is about as far as reliable anecdotes extend. Since then, many great minds have been applied to searching for explanations. Nevertheless, throughout the ages, a persistent fall-back belief was that all thoughts were implanted by “the spirits”. Since Freud and Jung introduced more analytical approaches to the mind, there has been growing
acceptance that we do in fact have two mental states − conscious thinking and unconscious thinking − but many recent attempts at “scientific” explanation of unconscious thinking have failed. Now, however, a unique research program into decision-making and procrastination, undertaken here in Newcastle, and attracting select researchers from Europe and Canada, has provided irrefutable scientific explanation of unconscious thinking and of how our conscious and unconscious mind-states function separately enough to qualify as “two minds”. This is a world first, of great importance to political agendas of innovation, creativity, education and smarter business, and is attracting a lot of interest. But what is its relevance to Aurora? Read on… Without going into a long-winded scientific explanation, the notion of unconscious thinking is clear enough. Many of us experience dreams when we are asleep and we only know they have occurred if we remember them later. The dreams were unconscious thinking at the time, even if remembering afterwards was conscious. Sudden thoughts and impulsive occurrences are evidence that some serious thinking, even
decision-making, has been going on without our being aware of it. That, too, is unconscious thinking. And our procrastination and “being of two minds” is shown conclusively by this research to be a battle between our conscious and unconscious mind-states; our conscious mind providing a rational perspective while our unconscious mind provides intuitive opposition. The research also confirms at least part of the ancients’ notion that we have no control over thoughts coming from our unconscious mind, and these can include great intuitive insights, spontaneous solutions to perplexing conundrums, and emotional states associated with the heart. They can also include thoughts that are unpleasant or shocking that we would rather not have, and even thoughts of which we are ashamed, perhaps profoundly ashamed. But despite “rising” into our conscious mind, they remain just our own private thoughts and evaporate quickly unless
way. If they provide a new positive insight that we want to adopt, then we must respond immediately to capture them before they evaporate. If they are frightening or shameful, we can let them go. They will be gone in seconds. That is, while we have no control over the arrival of such intuitive thoughts, we can control what we do with them: adopt and run with them or let them go. So does this provide an explanation for the ancient notion of original sin? If we cannot control the arrival of unwanted thoughts, can we be held accountable? Or are we only accountable for those we adopt? Just a thought…. Rob Cowdroy is Director of Radical Research and a Conjoint Research Professor at the University of Newcastle, focusing on intuitive decision-making in business, and assessing creativity and brilliance in education.
R FO NT ER E IST M G L RE RO EN
Are you looking for care and education for your child?
we respond consciously (intentionally) in some
St Nicholas Early Education, Newcastle West is now open. Register your interest for enrolment now at www.stnicholasmn.org.au. Or phone 4979 1110 for more information. Employment opportunities also available. Visit www.stnicholasmn.org.au to register your interest now.
“Her sunlight is like gold” Madeleine Therese Sobb 21/11/1989 – 22/05/2015 Daughter, sister, partner, friend and disability advocate By MARGARET SOBB
Where do I begin to the tell some of the story of our beautiful and amazing Madeleine? Twelve months have now passed in our lives without the physical presence of Madeleine. We hold onto the belief that she will always remain in our hearts and as part of our family forever. As one of Madeleine’s friend’s often remarks, “She continues pulling those strings from heaven and having an influence in our lives.” Madeleine was born with an unusual bone disorder. From the very beginning she challenged the medical profession regarding her slow growth. Madeleine has continued to challenge the world on many fronts. She had extreme short stature which meant her physical world had to be adapted continually to meet her needs. To quote Madeleine, “People with disabilities are actually disabled by their environment. If you give us physical support, equipment, accessible buildings and transport, then we are able to have the same opportunities and make positive contributions to society just as any other Australian.” As you may have realised, Madeleine was a staunch advocate for people with disabilities. As a family, we endeavoured to help enable Madeleine to have the opportunity to live a fulfilled and happy life, in whatever form that might take.
During Madeleine’s school years she enjoyed extra-curricular activities which included jazz ballet and horseriding with Riding for the Disabled (RDA), Raymond Terrace. Madeleine loved the feeling of freedom when riding a horse and being so tall! Dressage was one of her loves. Madeleine’s achievements at RDA saw her win many awards at State Dressage level. After leaving school, Madeleine engaged in many endeavours and study including a Millinery Certificate and Design Fundamentals completed in 2008, followed by Small Business Management in 2009. In 2014 she attained a Bachelor of Applied Science in Disability Studies. Madeleine displayed many qualities which included kindness and generosity of heart. From September 2009 until June 2010 Madeleine was the Intake Volunteer at Disability Advocacy NSW (Newcastle). Determination was exhibited when Mad Hatter Millinery opened. The business was established by Madeleine with assistance from her millinery friends as part of 'Renew Newcastle', which brings transitional buildings to life in the CBD.
So many aspects of Mad’s life demonstrate the thoughtful, caring, adventurous and amazing woman she was. It seems fitting to continue to share her with others
Madeleine attended pre-school and progressed to mainstream primary and secondary education within the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, obtaining her Higher School Certificate in 2007. While in primary school, Madeleine underwent spinal surgery which was successful; however, she required many months of recovery and absence from school. The staff and students of St Therese’s, New Lambton, provided much-needed support during Madeleine’s
convalescence and eventual return to school. Frequently during her younger years she struggled through many respiratory illnesses, often requiring hospitalisation.
Jarrod shared many happy times which included seeing the play Once. The title of this article is a lyric from the song “Gold”, by Glen Hansard from the play and movie. I would like to quote the June 2015 Newsletter of the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (the peak body and leading policy advocate on young people’s issues in Victoria).
Made leine Therese Sobb , 1989 -201 5
“On Friday, 22 May, 2015 we sadly lost our much loved friend and colleague Madeleine Sobb after a short illness.
disabilities. Her kindness and generosity to others was felt by all who knew her and she will be very sadly missed.”
Madeleine joined the Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) steering committee in 2011 and headed up the first ever National Youth Disability Conference in 2012 as the conference co-ordinator. This was a massive endeavour and demonstrated Madeleine’s impressive talents and her passion for raising youth and disability issues on a national stage.
Madeleine has two wonderful sisters, Emilie and Julia. The bond they share is immeasurable and unending. Life without Madeleine for them and for Tom and me is very difficult, however we give thanks for the gift of each other and our supportive family and friends.
She also became well-known for holding an Australian airline to account over their discriminatory practices towards people with disabilities with a disability discrimination complaint and a social media campaign that forced the airline to improve accessibility.
“She has done so many incredible things, been a wonderful friend, family member and grown into a very talented woman who wasn’t afraid to stand up for her beliefs. Even at the end she gave the ultimate gift to others.
In 2010 Madeleine informed us she was thinking about applying to undertake a Health Science degree in Disability Studies; however the course was only available in Melbourne and Adelaide. Yes, in 2011 Madeleine moved to Melbourne!
In 2014 Madeleine commenced her role as YDAS Project Officer at the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria as she completed her Bachelor of Applied Science in Disability Studies. In 2014, Madeleine also headed up the protest against the axing of ABC Ramp Up, a national platform for disability news and opinion which was edited by Madeleine’s close personal friend Stella Young.
Here she developed a full and wonderful life − making many friends, having fun, studying, building a career − she blossomed with independence. Madeleine and her partner
Madeleine will be remembered as a fearless advocate for disability rights and her work to increase the social recognition and political representation of young people with
Recently one of our friends wrote this:
There are so many aspects of Mad’s life that demonstrate the thoughtful, caring, adventurous and amazing woman she was. It seems fitting to continue to share her and her incredible life with others.” On behalf of Madeleine, our family and Jarrod consented to organ donation. We have recently been informed that the recipient of Madeleine’s kidney is well and has returned to work. Madeleine’s generosity lives on. We love you, we miss you, we admire you, we pray for you and we thank you for being you.
Community Noticeboard Before We Say I Do Program Course 4 23 and 30 July, Newcastle (Toohey Room, Diocesan Offices, Newcastle West)
who have had a significant impact on our world. 23 June 9.30am-1pm (light lunch included) $20 Facilitator: Val O’Hara rsm.
Course 5 10 and 17 September, Newcastle
Weekend Retreat: The Freeing of God and the Freeing of Us This retreat led by Patrick Oliver will help to remind us that the Gospel speaks to the heart of being human and its aim is to help those present to discover their own life held within the sacred story. Friday evening 1 July – Sunday afternoon 3 July. Residential $250 Non-residential $150.
Course 6 5 and 12 November, Newcastle All courses are on Saturdays, 9.30am-4.30pm. Please P Robyn 4979 1370. Fr Rob Galea in Concert Fr Rob is a singer-songwriter who works with young people. He will visit Taree Parish on 2, 3 and 4 June and will perform at the Manning Entertainment Centre on 3 June at 8pm. Everyone is invited! Tickets $5 students/$15 adults. P parish office 6552 1084 or E email@example.com. Celebrating Unity in Diversity Join Australia’s First Nations People, Refugees, Migrants, Asylum Seekers, all cultures and religions on Sunday 5 June. Walk from Newcastle Museum at 11am to Civic Park for live music, performances, food stalls. Ecumenical prayer in the spirit of Taizé The next service will be held on 12 June at St Columban’s Catholic Church, Church Street, Mayfield, 7-8pm, followed by light supper, gold coin donation. P Anna & John Hill, 4967 2283. Seven@Sacred Heart The next gathering will be on Wednesday 15 June at Sacred Heart Cathedral at 7pm. St Brigid’s Markets, Branxton These monthly markets assist the parish and wider community at Branxton. Every third Sunday, (next 19 June) at the Old School Grounds, 9am-2pm, www.facebook.com/stbrigidsmarket. Mercy Spirituality Centre Events Seminar: Trauma and the Separated Spirit: We know that trauma can result in short or long-term physical, mental and emotional impact. We can treat the physical person, but what can we do to reach the broken place and sit beside it faithfully until it can believe again? Mercy Spirituality Centre 26 Renwick Street Toronto, Tuesday 21 June 7pm–9pm. $30. Presenter, Sue Collins. Women of Mercy Who are the modern and postmodern Women of Mercy? Explore what mercy is through the lives of some remarkable women
Reflection time: Celebrating the Sacred in the Ordinary How often do we look and wish we had the time to be with those moments that catch our breath – that could take us to a ‘different place’, a place of peace and celebration, knowing that what is, is beautiful, sacred and enough! Friday 29 July and Saturday 30 July, 10am-3pm (light lunch included). These sessions of input, silence and sharing of insights are an invitation to reflect on the ordinariness of The Elements; The Seasons; The Interconnectedness of our Universe; The Artist. Cost $60, facilitator, Anne Ryan rsm. For all these events at Mercy Spirituality Centre, 26 Renwick Street, Toronto, details/bookings P 4959 1025, E firstname.lastname@example.org. Woman: the Way of Mercy The Council for Australian Catholic Women and Catholic Women’s League, Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle, are hosting a Day of Reflection led by Anne Ryan rsm on Saturday 23 July, 9.30am3.30pm at St Laurence Centre, Broadmeadow Rd, Broadmeadow. Cost of $20 includes soup and sandwich lunch. Rsvp 1 July at latest, P Patricia Banister 4932 5601 or E pabanister@ dodo.com.au. Seasons for Growth Companioning Training Children & Young People’s training Taree 2627 July, Metford 1-2 September (DET only) & Newcastle 16-17 November. Adult training Newcastle: 17-18 August. This training is essential for those wishing to facilitate the Seasons for Growth program with children/ young people or adults. Please P Jenny or Benita 4947 1355 to find out more about becoming a Companion. Enrolments for training are completed at www.goodgrief.org.au.
Exploring the Seasons of Grief small group program Using the metaphor of the changing seasons this 2-day program assists individuals to understand their grief experience as a normal and natural response to change and loss. Calvary Mater Hospital is running this small group for the bereaved on September 7, 14, 21 & 28. For more information on this group P Carolyn 4014 4687 or E Carolyn.Nichols@calvarymater.org.au. Please P Jenny or Benita 4979 1355 for other opportunities to attend the adult small group. For more information about this program please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/agencies-services/ seasons-for-growth. Attention pilgrims! As part of the diocese’s 150 year celebrations, there will be a guided pilgrimage in the footsteps of Bishop James Murray who arrived in Maitland in 1866. The pilgrimage will occur on Saturday 29 October, 8am-3pm, over 12.4 kms for average ability walkers. The route will begin at Morpeth, head to St Joseph’s East Maitland and end triumphantly at St John’s Chapel. Pilgrim registration required for safely and hospitality; there is no charge. Watch this space! Mums’ Cottage Invites grandparents to Grandparent and Toddler day, every Wednesday during school terms from 10am-noon at 29 St Helen’s Street, Holmesville. Enjoy some companionship with other grandparents while children play. Mums’ Cottage offers a range of services, programs, workshops and family events and would love to welcome you at any time. For more information, P Mums’ Cottage 4953 4105, E email@example.com. au or visit www.mumscottage.org.au. Youth Mass On the last Sunday of each month, the 5.30pm Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Macquarie St, Wallsend, has a youthful flavour. Everyone is welcome. Council for Australian Catholic Women Colloquium “Women as Witnesses to the Joy of the Gospel: developing a more profound theology for women, by women.” 16-18 September at North Sydney. Please visit regularly opw.catholic.org.au.
For your diary June 3-5 Bishop Bill’s visitation, confirmation and first holy communion at Raymond Terrace. 5 World Environment Day. 4 Ordination to priesthood of Camillus Nwahia at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 10am. All welcome. 6 Pints with a Purpose, Northern Star Hotel, 6.30pm. 7 Ramadan begins. 11 Bishop Bill confers confirmation/first holy communion at MacKillop Parish. 15 Bishop Bill confers confirmation at Toronto. 18 Bishop Bill commences leave including attending World Youth Day. 19 Migrant and Refugee Week begins. Bishop Bill’s gospel reflection Rhema 99.7 FM 6pm. 25 Day of the Seafarer. 26 Bishop Bill’s gospel reflection Rhema 99.7 FM 6pm. 27 Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, patroness of Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle. 29 Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
For more events please visit mn.catholic.org.au/calendar and mn.catholic.org.au/community.
Aurora on tour Aurora was spotted at Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas.
Review By Fr KEVIN KIEM
The foreword of Child, Arise! is written by pastoral theologian David Ranson. David pulls no punches and it’s worth noting some of his points: • Child, Arise! is a most important book and is desperately needed to assist those abused and ignored by elements of the church to be healed and transformed. • institutional responses have been inadequate.
Soul food Glory be to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we could ever ask for or imagine. Ephesians 3:20
• we must move beyond seeing sexual abuse in our church as relegated to various incidents to seeing them as cultural in character, part of a dysfunctional church. • the principal challenge is twofold: conversation and conversion.
God, particularly through accessing God’s Word. Part I is written to help survivors listen to the narrative of their story from the perspective of a loving God. The author deals with the notion of the “angry” and “punishing” Old Testament God, which is often held by survivors. There are scriptural reflections to be slowly reflected upon. Part II is written to assist survivors consider their issues with a loving God. It contains 26 topics to be worked through thoughtfully, eg, Panic attacks – Quiet! Be still!; Being gentle with self; Anger, channelling it for good. Apart from being impressed by what Jane has done, I believe her book could be helpful in group work, spiritual renewal and development and in dealing with other experiences of trauma.
The author, Jane N Dowling, has been a member of an international Catholic missionary community for 22 years. From early childhood to teens, she was sexually abused by a family relation and then by a Catholic priest.
I wholeheartedly concur with Dr Jennifer Herrick, “This spiritual handbook is welcome, constructive and unique, written by a sexual abuse survivor for fellow survivors, responding at a pivotal moment when the Australian Royal Commission....is revealing the nature and extent of this deep societal issue.”
Child, Arise! was written after experiencing the trauma and after-effects of abuse. It’s an attempt to share experience of the powerful, transformative and healing love of
Child Arise! The courage to stand – a spiritual handbook for survivors of sexual abuse by Jane N Dowling. David Lovell Publishing, Melbourne, 2015.
Moroccan Lamb and Chickpea Casserole
Ask butcher to dice the lamb shoulder in 1-inch cubes or do so yourself. Discard the bones.
1 lamb shoulder
2 white onions, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1/2 red capsicum, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 small chillies
1 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper
250 ml veal or beef stock
4 tablespoons Ras El Hanout*
Bunch of coriander
1 tin chick peas, washed and drained
In a bowl, coat the lamb in the Ras El Hanout.
BARTHOLOMEW CONNORS Chef - Cathedral Cafe Chef Bart’s culinary gifts can be enjoyed at The Cathedral Café, 843 Hunter St Newcastle West, 10am–1.30pm, Monday to Friday. P 4961 0546.
In a large heavy-based casserole dish, heat a dash of oil and sweat off the onion for 5 minutes. Add other vegetables and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add garlic and chillies. In a separate frypan, heat some oil and brown the lamb cubes. Add the lamb and curry powder to the vegetables. Add the stock to the frypan, deglaze the pan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat then pour stock into the casserole dish. Add extra water if needed. Simmer for 1.5 to 1.45 hours. Allow to cool slightly and serve with freshly torn coriander and couscous.
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