Aurora March 2016

Page 1

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle March 2016 | No.155



A survivor shares a harrowing story of domestic violence

A refu story story gee’s being : just alive kept is not a life Could you benefit from family dispute resolution? Easter and Anzac Day: two defeats, one resurrection

Catholic Schools Week 6 -1 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 6

Celebrate with us! Contact your local Catholic school during Catholic Schools Week. Enrolments into Catholic Schools for 2017

will open during Catholic Schools Week – visit to find out more.

Catholic schools are an inclusive, affordable option, open to all and we are looking forward to growing the future of Catholic education in our region. –Ray Collins, Director of Schools

First Word

On the cover Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle March 2016 | No.155



A refug story: ee’s being just alive kept is a life not

A survivor shares a harrowing story of domestic violence


Could you benefit from family dispute resolution? Easter and Anzac Day: two defeats, one resurrection

Former refugee, and diocesan employee, John Sandy, embodies the call of the Year of Mercy during troubling times. Read John’s story on page 5. Photograph courtesy of Geraldine Williams.

Meaning love, perhaps they are a prayer “The word the board holds up is Sanctuary and the road knows that notice-boards make sense


but has no time to pray. Only, up there,

 A Refugee’s Story


 Making the Most of the Journey that is School


Swung on that fatal voltage like a sign

 Gospel Brutality Reborn


 Conversations About Catholics


and meaning love, perhaps they are a prayer.”

morning sets doves upon the power-line.

 Two Stories, Two Defeats, One Resurrection


 The Way We Were


 Mercy-ing App


 Why Learn History?


 One Invitation Leads to Another


Following the February edition, university chaplain David Malcolm wrote, “Michael O’Connor’s ‘Adult Cowboys and Indians’ is superbly written. The point is excellent. And we are not immune.”

These words from the poem “Sanctuary” were written many decades ago by Judith Wright (1915-2000). Today, they hold new resonance as ever more strident calls for churches and other organisations to offer ‘sanctuary’ continue. This month Bishop Bill and I are ‘on the same page’ (metaphorically) in terms of concern for those whom Bishop Bill calls “innocent strangers”. I commend his column to you, and also Andrew Hamilton sj’s words which bring a gospel lens to this dismal state of affairs. In correspondence Andrew wrote, “Would be nice to write a more upbeat column…but the times don’t allow.”

 Look To The Present With Passion 12

 Making a Splash in African Communities 20


Our own John Sandy, featured on this month’s cover, shares his traumatic refugee story and is a shining example of the goodness so many refugees have brought, and continue to bring, to our nation.

Peter Young of Greta felt Michael’s piece vindicated his opinion, writing, “Is it time for a modern day chieftain to lead a revolt against the blaring of trumpets by those galloping towards and focused on the massacre of the Divine Institution of Marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’?”

And as the Year of Mercy unfolds, many of us persist in claiming faith in a God-enfleshedamong-us, who lived on the edge, who knew “that fatal voltage”. Are we willing to be those “doves upon the power-line”, witnessing to what we believe in a society that receives daily encouragement to be fear-filled and wary?

Adele Skardon wrote, “It was refreshing to read Kylie Cooper’s article because we live in a world that has such a contraceptive mentality. I truly wish more people were aware of the benefits that natural family planning has on our health and relationships.”

 First Word


Contact Aurora Aurora online

 My Word


Next deadline 7 March 2016

 CareTalk


 One by One


 Family Matters


 The Catholic Thing


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

 Frankly Spoken



 Seasons of Mercy


 Community Noticeboard


 Last Word



Our very own Missionary of Mercy, Richard Shortall sj, has returned from Rome with many stories of “grace-filled moments”. His role as ‘missionary on wheels’ caught the imagination of many he encountered in Rome and his story has had international media coverage! Travelling in a motor home around the diocese this year is a far cry from the Eternal City, but the self-described “sheep farmer’s son from Colyton, NZ” is clearly anticipating his ministry with relish.


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



Fairfax Media Phone 4979 5259

WHEN IT MATTERS It matters to me that your Motor Accident claim is settled fairly and quickly.


Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers can win you compensation and secure your future. When it matters, contact Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers.

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My Word

Sanctuary of the Church It is a Sunday in late July of the year 399 and you have gathered with a vast crowd in Hagia Sophia, the great church of Constantinople, to see a spectacle. And there he is! The patrician Eutropius, until yesterday the greatest power in the empire after the young Emperor Arcadius himself, and Consul for the year, clings now to the foot of the altar, a fugitive from the emperor’s wrath. “His face,” remarks the preacher, “is no better than the countenance of one dead: and the chattering of his teeth, and the quaking and quivering of his whole body, and his faltering voice, and stammering tongue, and in fact his whole general appearance…suggestive of one whose soul is petrified.”

Why, then, has the offer of church ‘sanctuary’ for asylum-seekers struck such a chord in the community?

The preacher, Patriarch John ‘Chrysostom’ (the ‘golden-mouthed’), spends much of his sermon telling Eutropius, “I told you so! Where now are your cup-bearers, where are they who cleared the way for you in the market place, and sounded your praises endlessly in the ears of all? They have fled, they have disowned your friendship, they are providing for their own safety…” Nevertheless, says John, “I do not abandon you…I protect and tend you. And the Church which you treated as an enemy has opened her bosom and received you into it.” Eutropius had, ironically, just a year earlier tried to impose restrictions on the Church’s right to grant sanctuary. After he had finished lecturing Eutropius on the text “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”, however, Chrysostom turned his remarks to the angry crowd who wished to vent its rage on the fallen man: “Wherefore are you indignant with me? You say it is because he who continually made war on the Church has taken refuge within it….

This is an ornament for the altar. A strange kind of ornament, you say, when the accused sinner, the extortioner, the robber is permitted to lay hold of the altar. Nay! Say not so: for even the harlot took hold of the feet of Jesus…” In the end, Chrysostom proposes that the congregation should “unite to approach the merciful Emperor beseeching him for the sake of the church, for the sake of the altar, to concede the life of one man as an offering to the Holy Table… We shall have the approval of God, who will bestow a large recompense upon us for our mercy. For as he hates the cruel and inhuman, so does he welcome the merciful and humane…” In the event, Chrysostom managed to sway the crowd and the emperor. Eutropius was permitted to leave in safety for exile in Cyprus, though Arcadius did change his mind some months later and then had him executed. What we have been looking at is one of the most celebrated and dramatic instances of ‘sanctuary’. It comes, of course, from a time within a generation or two of the first Christian rulers of Rome. The suggestion is sometimes made that the notion of ‘sanctuary’ was based on the Old Testament ‘cities of refuge’ said to have been set up in Israel by Joshua. But they were for people who had accidentally committed homicide, to save them from vengeful relatives until they could be tried fairly. John Chrysostom, on the other hand, clearly knew that Eutropius was guilty. He granted sanctuary to a guilty man specifically to witness to Christian teaching: “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” We also see in the account, I think, the reluctance of a Christian society to defile a holy place by acts of violence. These two aspects of ‘sanctuary’ feature repeatedly, too, in the far more

generalised provision of ‘sanctuary’ in churches that developed in the Middle Ages in Europe. Often, of course, ruthless kings and barons violated ‘sanctuary’. It nevertheless entered into common law as a period of forty days in which the miscreant could be allowed to save his life by agreeing to go into permanent exile. For certain specified places of ‘sanctuary’, this remained the law of England until 1623. These days, ‘sanctuary of the church’ has no legal standing. Generally these days, people trust the law to deliver justice and don’t see ‘mercy’ as a thing to be much desired in judicial practice, except, of course, for Australians convicted overseas. Neither do people like the Church ‘interfering’ in public life. Why, then, has the offer of Church ‘sanctuary’ for asylum-seekers struck such a chord in the community? Not for the old reasons, I would suggest, that mercy is a good thing and churches are ‘holy’ places. Rather, it is because a good part of the Australian people recognises that in this instance our law is not good, not fair and not just, and thinks that someone, anyone, even the Church, should stand up against it. The people do still have a moral sense about how innocent strangers are treated, and the leaders of our major parties would be wise not to ignore this. For twenty years they have been afraid to appeal to that decency in Australians. Now might be the time. What else can it mean, that so many Australians believe asylum-seekers actually need ‘sanctuary’, sanctuary from our own government?

Stay up to date with news from across the diocese 4




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Cover Story

A refugee’s story: just being kept alive is not a life By JOHN SANDY

I thought Australia was a land of hope, of a fair go and a land to fulfil my longings. My name is John Sandy. I came from Sierra Leone to Australia, as a refugee, in 2011. As a result of the conflict in my country, I was separated from my family, including my wife, for over 12 years. It took six years in the refugee camp in Guinea to process my refugee application to come to Australia – and the application wasn’t accepted. I finally came to Australia on a spouse visa and that process took another six years. Becoming a refugee was not something that I chose and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through, but after all, it made me a stronger and better person today. I can understand how to help other people from refugee backgrounds go through their settlement challenges into Australian society. The situation in the refugee camp was inhumane and horrible; no shelter, no food to eat, no clean water, no clothes to wear − and I experienced the impact of conflict on people, especially women and young people. The young people were heavily traumatised and did not receive any education.

especially with the trauma, the settlement challenges, the Australian way of life, but this organisation and its volunteers assured me they are always with me in heart and actions. Being a refugee in Australia was the hardest thing but with the welcoming love, support and mutual acceptance, I have been able to pursue my dreams. I came from a teaching background, so I applied to further my education at the University of Newcastle. However, I did not succeed because my qualifications were not recognised. Because I wanted to work with young people coming from migrant and refugee backgrounds, I went to TAFE and studied Community Services. I studied Certificates 2 and 4 and a Diploma in Community Services for three and a half years. I did all kinds of unpleasant jobs just to pursue my dreams in Australia, while still volunteering at CatholicCare Refugee Service. My dream was to give back to the community. In 2015, TAFE sent my credits to Newcastle University where I am now studying my Social Work (honours) degree as a second year student. Because of my experience as a refugee and the impact of war on young people, I was so passionate to volunteer and give back to the community.

When I came to Australia as a refugee, the first place I visited was the CatholicCare Refugee Service (formerly known as Penola House), in Newcastle. This place has changed my life forever. Without this amazingly welcoming place, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Without this place, I would be scared to be different. Without this place, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to move on with my life, to make new friends and to pursue my dreams. The support I received from the volunteers has shaped me and changed me and I will never be able to show my gratitude enough.

Understanding the situation with people smugglers to some extent, I can understand the reasoning of the politicians; however the situation of refugees and asylum seekers is utterly harmful to people’s wellbeing, it is so dehumanising. The suffering of the people in Nauru has come to our attention as a nation because a few Australians who have seen their plight have alerted us.

My arrival in Australia was very hard for me,

I feel disappointed, distressed, upset, outraged

Compassionate Australians, and especially new citizens who were once refugees, believe that we ought to respond and care for people who need it.

and disgusted that we Australians have let this happen. It goes against all that we hope Australian stands for – a fair go for everyone. The families at Nauru are not criminals, nor have they been condemned by our justice system as criminals, yet they are being treated like criminals…so they have to feel oppressed, helpless, hopeless and in despair watching their children lose their enthusiasm for life. The bad behaviour that has emerged in the camps is a product of their inhumane situation and in that situation, the strong prey on the weak − often women and children. As a result of so much dislocation of people around the world, nations are becoming increasingly multicultural and so many people are becoming more globally conscious. Many young people in western nations do a lot of travelling and so become attuned to people of other nations and other cultures. Thus a proportion of the nation is conscious that we have a responsibility to care for people in need wherever they are, so as Australians we are definitely responsible for the refugees we have incarcerated on Nauru. I feel so disappointed. I thought Australia was a land of hope, of a fair go and a land to fulfil my longings. We can see that Australia is providing for these people food, housing, medical care, but as a fellow human being, however, this is not enough for their souls. Just being kept alive is not a life, it is not what these people have dreamt, have hoped for, have planned for their children. Their hearts are broken. To imprison people with no hope, no choice and no power, even while feeding and housing them, is not enough. It is never enough. We have no right to sacrifice their lives for policy. John Sandy is a Project Officer at CatholicCare Refugee Service.

What can I do to help? To help refugees, follow the ten steps recommended by the Australian Social Justice Council. 1. Listen to refugee and asylum seeker stories. 2. Allow yourself to be touched by these stories. 3. Get the facts from reliable sources. 4. Pray regularly for refugees and asylum seekers. 5. Envision a new way of responding humanely. 6. Work to raise awareness in your parish, schools and communities. 7. Join or set up a support group for asylum seekers and refugees in your parish. 8. Support agencies assisting asylum seekers and refugees (in our region you could volunteer with CatholicCare Refugee Service or donate money, goods and services). 9. Challenge your political representatives to take a stand. 10. Join in 2016 events: Refugee Week and Refugee and Migrant Sunday. You can read the 2015 Social Justice Statement at

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Making the most of the journey that you adjust to this change so chat with them about your concerns.


As Term 1 proceeds, Parent Liaison and Resources Officer, Cath Garrett-Jones, offers answers to some questions commonly asked by parents and carers. Q I am worried my child will struggle to make friends. Is there anything I can do? A Stay positive! Modelling friendship-building skills and talking about these might help your child too. Remember, friendships take time to develop and your child is just starting on his or her school journey – there are lots of new experiences ahead. Give it time and remember your child’s teachers are there to help both of

Q I can’t afford a new uniform or the ‘branded’ backpack my child wants. Will my child be left out or picked on as she fears she will be? A Schools gather together children and young people from many backgrounds with many family traditions. All children are valued and if any child feels targeted or challenged, teachers are well placed to address this. Remind your child that his or her value is not measured by the bag carried or the new uniform worn; rather, by who he or she is.

love her work ethic and desire to work, I don’t want it to interrupt her studies. Should I encourage her to do both or focus only on the HSC this year? A Again, it depends on the child. In my experience, some part-time work encouraged a measure of independence as well as developing time management skills. As a parent, you know when the pressure your child is feeling becomes overwhelming and you are the best judge of whether or not the part-time work is sustainable.

Q How long does it take for a child to settle in to school? A It depends on the child. Some children take to it smoothly, others can take a little longer. There is no set time. If you have concerns that your child is taking a little too long to settle in, chat with the teacher.

Q How often should I allow my child to buy something from the canteen? A This is a family choice. Some families may rely on the school canteen for a daily salad sandwich for their child while others may view it as a special treat. The choice is yours. Encouraging your child to eat lunch before buying a treat such as an icy-pole is also something to keep in mind.

Q My child is sitting her HSC this year – and she has a part-time job. Whilst I

Q As a parent, how can I best handle negative social media issues, whether

l e Al om c el w

Bishop Bill Wright invites you to join him at the

HAPPY HEXHAM Home to Ossie the Mossie

Chrism Mass

or not they are linked to school-based issues? A Social media is a source of a great deal of communication among young people. Setting boundaries for the use of social media – including making yourself aware of the legal age limits for the use of certain sites − is a must. Check out for great resources and help handling cyberbullying and negative aspects of social media. If your child speaks to you about any concerns with social media and school friends, please ensure you contact the school. Q How can I be more involved in my child’s school and get to know other parents better? A Schools offer many opportunities for engagement with parents. You might like to volunteer to assist with reading, be a canteen helper, and assist with art and craft as well as attending liturgies, assemblies and parent information evenings. All of these events put you in touch with other parents and staff. Parents and carers are also warmly welcomed



7pm Tuesday 22 March 2016

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Sacred Cathe Heart Hamiltdral, Follow on. refresh ed by ments in the D Courty avis ard

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is school at their school’s Parents & Friends Association meetings. At these meetings you will hear the latest news about happenings around the school as well as have the opportunity to work with others to support P & F activities. Q We love our child’s Catholic school, but don’t know how to connect more with our parish. Do you have any advice? A Does your parish offer family groups or opportunities for you to volunteer, eg proclaimer of the Word or welcomer? Your parish family would appreciate your assistance and this is a great way to meet others whom you may not have otherwise encountered. Children’s liturgy or sacramental programs often need helpers too so keep an eye on the parish bulletin or chat to your parish priest for ideas. Please visit




St Joseph’s, Lochinvar.


e stl ca t w es Ne W

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

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Gospel brutality reborn in our harrowing of refugee children Consulting editor of Eureka Street, Andrew Hamilton sj, places current issues concerning detainees in a wider perspective.

By Andrew Hamilton sj

The High Court decision on detention in Nauru was brought down just before the Christian season of Lent. It left the government free and determined to deport many young mothers and children to Nauru. For the mothers and children, deportation will bring new trauma with renewed threat to their already precarious mental health. For the Australian public it again makes us ask what brutality, even to children, we are ready to tolerate. The pain of the children and the savagery of their treatment are suitable subjects for Lenten reflection. Religious feasts, like Lent and Ash Wednesday which introduces it, are often linked to significant public events, particularly those which are catastrophic, violent or shameful. We speak, for example, of the Tet offensive, of the Easter Uprising and Bloody Sunday in Ireland, of the Yom Kippur War, of the Ash Wednesday bushfires. Such seasons of reflection also encourage us to be more sensitive to the large public events which form their context. This year violence in the Middle East and the vast


number of people forced from their own nations to seek protection where they can find it are a sombre background to Lent. They also fit: Lent begins with the ashes of illusory hopes, leads to the cynical torture and execution of Jesus and the apparent failure of his movement, and ends in the new hope of Easter day. Australia’s harrowing of refugees and their children fits uncomfortably well with Lent’s universal evocation of suffering and torment. Their flight from persecution and violence in their own nations, their incarceration on Nauru and Christmas Island, their brief hope when brought to Australia to bear and rear their children, and the snuffing out of that hope with a return to Nauru where their children will find no flourishing of life, echo the journey of Jesus in Passion Week when, too, the crowd applauded each new humiliation. We might hope with powerless sympathy that those brutally treated will find in their experience and their own religious traditions intimations of the hope and strength associated with the Christian Easter.

The association between public life and the foundational religious stories is not merely descriptive. The stories and their characters also map an ethical framework for interpreting public events.

The story also warns the government of

Brutal Herod, doubting Thomas, vacillating Pilate, treacherous Judas, scheming Caiaphas and enduring Mary enshrine for Christians ways in which people should and should not act. They are images that help us evaluate what is done in our times and also assess our own prejudices, actions or failure to act. They represent a call to personal judgment.

Herod or similar monsters, they may lose the

But the naming of events can also shape the capacity of a society to respond to new challenges. The events of Bloody Sunday, for example, made it difficult to promote just and harmonious relationships between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Island. Naming it Bloody Sunday, with its religious reference and ethical weight, made it even more difficult.

need strong moral capital and support from

For the deportation of children and their mothers to Nauru, the story with most resonance is that of Herod’s murder of the children around Bethlehem for dynastic, and so security, reasons.

judgment that no one will care.

The story gave rise to a feast remembering the children killed — the Holy Innocents. Story and feast stand as an assertion of the dignity of each human being, especially the smallest and most vulnerable, and as a condemnation of political brutality.

for the people, particularly children, who are

unintended consequences. If public outrage at the brutality involved in the deportation of children to Nauru leads government leaders and ministers to be identified with King moral authority and respect they will need to carry through difficult decisions. In times favourable to them this may not be a disaster. But at a time when the challenges facing Australia demand strong leadership and policies that will inevitably anger powerful interests, government leaders will across society. The obloquy that may follow from pursuing mothers and children to despair and diminishment could strip the government of its moral authority and so of its capacity to lead change. On the other hand, of course, government leaders may be right in their Either way Lent invites reflection, even on what is in the government’s self-interest. But for those who enter Lent on its own terms, it invites us to hold in our hearts and cry out dragged along the way of the cross. This article was originally published in Eureka Street. Please visit

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CareTalk: Good leadership begins with me Q

By TANYA RUSSELL Registered Psychologist

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

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


I’m a new manager in a fairly large organisation and I’ve taken on a team that seems to be in constant conflict. I am sure the members have the skills to communicate better with each other, but I feel I need to begin with myself and work out the skills I need as a manager in order to help them. Where do I start? You are starting in the right place – yourself. Improving a team culture requires some change at all levels of staff but culture change should start at the top – management. Your willingness firstly to reflect on your own skills indicates that you already possess an awareness of yourself and the needs of your staff. This awareness places you in a positive position to enhance your capabilities as an emotionally intelligent ‘leader’ – not just a ‘manager’ of a team. Emotional intelligence has been a popular topic of research in the psychological field and the general conclusion seems to be that emotional intelligence is a better predictor of success (personal and work-related) than general intelligence (IQ). Possessing effective emotional intelligence skills means you are able to assess your own emotions and those of others, creating the potential for positive work and home environments. There are also increased physical and mental health benefits associated with strong emotional intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is not fixed from a young age, as is general IQ or even some personality traits. This is good news, as the aspects of emotional intelligence can be learned at any time. The four main aspects are:

 Self Awareness: the ability to recognise your

own emotions and understand their impact on thoughts, behaviours, strengths and weaknesses.  Self Management: the ability to manage

your emotions and behaviours and adapt to changing circumstances.  Social Awareness: the ability to understand

others’ emotions and their impact on thoughts, behaviours, strengths and weaknesses.  Relationship Management: the ability to

foster positive relationships, communicate effectively, inspire and influence others. The idea is to ‘connect’ before you ‘correct’. Empathy for others lays the foundation for collaborative problem-solving and supportive workplace relationships. To develop strong emotional intelligence:  Find ways to quickly calm yourself during

times of intense stress. Having the ability to balance your emotions ensures you do not make hasty decisions or comments that may impact negatively.  Connect with your emotions. Develop

an awareness of your inner experiences

throughout your work day − notice what is happening emotionally for you at different times.  Pay attention to your non-verbal

communication. People pay attention not only to what you say but also to how you say it. Good verbal and non-verbal communication helps to increase trust between you and your staff.  Use humour when appropriate to deal

with challenges. A good laugh helps to relieve stress, lighten life’s difficulties and elevate mood.  Resolve conflict positively. A good leader

seeks ways to solve the problem rather than lay blame. Once you feel more confident in the other aspects of emotional intelligence, resolving conflict will not be as difficult, as you have built trust and positive relationships with staff. To develop further your leadership and emotional intelligence skills, a number of organisations now offer coaching for managers as well as Emotional Intelligence Leadership workshops. A Google search should point you in the right direction.

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One by One

How much rain did you get? By LESLEY NIXON

Lesley Nixon shares something of her Upper Hunter life.

Life here is not so much difficult, as different. Our property is eight kilometres from Merriwa, a town of about a thousand residents, some two hours’ drive from a “big” town - Dubbo, Tamworth, Maitland or Newcastle. Life on the land is unpredictable and full-time. We are more carers than owners, on call for emergencies (“disasters”) any day or night. A vital fence broken must be fixed; a heifer “in trouble” calving must be tended to; a bent gate must be forced shut (lay it on the ground and run it flat with the truck); stock must have water (“cows have broken the float valve again”); fires must be contained (“just going outside to check for smoke” - every day); family, friends and neighbours must be helped. At other times, life proceeds at the pace of a new-born calf’s walk, or the season changing, or a farmer making plans. You plan for centuries when caring for the land. You start projects which may not mature in your lifetime. You are paid two or three times a year. You step back and take time together when you can, knowing there may be no leisure in the next week − or months, if something goes wrong. The whole family is affected, all plans and expectations have to be adaptable to sudden change. Safety is a constant consideration. It’s a good training ground for life skills, if only you can last the distance. The Weather is in control. It can stop any project; change any plan; prevent your leaving home or strand you “up the paddock”; cause anxiety, heartbreak and death − yet bring life, joy and beauty to the world. I moved here from Port Stephens 18 years ago when I married Martin (who moved from his childhood bedroom to the one next door). My childhood was in the suburbs, with beach, boats and Lake Macquarie. I attended the University of Newcastle and worked in the Lower Hunter. My grandparents all came to Australia (on boats!) from Northumberland 10

or Wales, and rebuilt their lives in the Hunter Valley coalfields. Martin had been to school in Sydney, university in Armidale and in the UK, worked in Canada, then served on Merriwa Shire Council, managing the farm as his father grew older. The Nixons put down roots here in the 1850s, with a land grant in the mountains behind Cassilis (“22 gates, 16 miles of black soil and 16 miles of gravel to get to town”) and later, nearer Merriwa. I was told “even the fenceposts grow at Merriwa” when I moved onto 823 hectares of fertile, gentle, black soil country, formed from Warrumbungle basalt lava flows. In the nearby Sydney Sandstone basin the soil turns light brown and ironbark trees take over from grey box and kurrajongs. Our horizons are the distant sandstone cliffs lining the Goulburn River valley, forested hills above Broke and Pokolbin and a line of afternoon cumulus clouds sitting above the invisible ocean. We breed Angus cattle for the local and export markets, with about 270 cows and their calves and a rotating population of about nine bulls; “the boys”. They like showing off and are very accident-prone.

Some weekends we have advance notice of scheduled blackouts of six hours for maintenance of the network. These make accidental blackouts far less common but we still fill a hot thermos and water jugs if a storm is approaching. I love the wildlife. This summer the heavy, rushing sound of wings at night was a family of fruit bats coming to feed and throw eucalypt twigs and blossoms onto the ground. Bats are often here at dusk, flicking by in the corner of your eye, microbats smaller than a sparrow and more delicate than a mouse. I know this because a friend found one sleeping in the freshly washed sheets one morning. A tiny bat once flew through our living room. A few minutes of hesitation and sidelong glances; “Did you see that? Good. So did I.”

At night everything disappears except for the moon and stars.

We are two kilometres from our nearest neighbour. At night everything disappears except for the moon and stars. Taking in washing from the clothesline is problematic − could something be hiding in the dark? Our daughters would sing the “Bob the Builder” theme continually, as a distraction. Sometimes we run short of water and must restrict washing and shower times. During electricity failures we have no drinking water at all because the pump stops.

A one-metre tall wedgetail eagle landed near the house and ate our handraised fluffy white silky bantam rooster. We picked up every feather and fragment before the girls came home from school. A wombat has ploughed through the house fence. Echidnas burrow and hibernate near the hot water service, upsetting the dogs. A starving kangaroo moved in to the garden (the ‘house yard’ of two acres), sharing the heat-stressed calves’ feed and water, and sleeping under the fruit trees. His front paws were bigger than my hands and he was two metres tall. We (especially the children and the dogs) treated him with great respect as he rested and gained weight. He moved on when the rains came. A (relatively) tidy lawn and garden is essential protection from summer grass fires. We all

know how to use a fire-hose, and where to meet up “if the house goes”. Rabbits have helped renovate a cottage by undermining the concrete floor of the entire bathroom and laundry. I rarely see a snake but always make noise and check where I walk - the snakes don’t seem to like the goanna that visits regularly for fresh eggs. Once a black snake coiled around the porcelain toilet in a guest cottage. I called a snake handler who said, “Yeah, he’ll really like it there, nice and cool.” Everything is changing so rapidly and we adapt to survive. Merriwa Shire was (involuntarily) amalgamated with Scone and we still have no household garbage collection service. Our Federal electorate is changing. Our long serving State member has retired. We use internet banking instead of delivering cheques, missing the news update while walking around town. I no longer drive to town to park on a hill to retrieve my phone messages. The NBN has come to Merriwa − but not to our farm. Our wireless internet is too slow and too expensive for ‘streaming’, but better than dial-up services (or no service). The banks have closed but the credit union has expanded. The post is still slow, but email, skype, text and smartphones keep people in touch. Television and some radio are received via satellite but vital weather and market information are all online. Our beloved kelpie has arthritis and sleeps most of the day, but is still Boss of the younger dogs. The stars compete with the light of coal mines 25km away. In town, cowboy hats, jeans and riding boots persist, beside ‘hi-vis’ shirts. The younger generation is running family businesses but the old guard still helps out. The Sisters of St Joseph have left our convent but St Joseph’s Primary continues. The congregation at St Anne’s is smaller, and older, but people still linger and talk outside on summer evenings. Friends can go for espresso and toast at the bakery after morning Mass. Especially if it has rained. “How much rain did you get?”

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By Tracey Edstein

Community promotes ‘Conversations about Catholics’ For a second year the parish and school communities of St John Vianney, Morisset, have participated in the “Conversations about Catholics” program during the first four weeks of Lent, coinciding with the beginning of term. Each year it has been the parents of the incoming Kinder children who have been the focus of this initiative. The first gathering held in the Callinan Centre was focused on ‘Who we are’ and ‘Why we are here’ as participants heard each other’s personal faith journey. It is this shared conversation that raises questions, with responses from one or other of the group, be it Leadership Team Member, Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) participant, the school’s

Pastoral Care Worker or previous participants in Conversations about Catholics. It’s a very informal gathering over a cuppa! In the second week, everyone gathers in the church to explore together areas not often seen by a parishioner, a behind-thescene look at vestments, sacred vessels, liturgical books and so on. A ciborium and chalice were just two of the sacred vessels introduced into the conversation. Such a conversation helps ‘cradle Catholics’ too, not always familiar with the intricacies of church language. One participant shared a family conversation. “My sons were asking about the cross and it

The Parish of Morisset has no resident parish priest but is well served by a highly committed and active leadership team. Team member John France said, “We are fortunate to have committed volunteers who are willing to help fellow parishioners grow their faith. It is in sharing that we deepen our own understanding.” To learn more about the Catholic faith, please visit

Ciborium Vessel usually metal, to hold consecrated hosts ie the Blessed Sacrament or Body of Christ. Pyx Small metal container used to carry the consecrated host to the sick or housebound. Paten Shallow dish on which the consecrated host rests during Mass. Chalice Vessel usually metal, which holds the consecrated wine ie the Blood of Christ, during Mass.

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wasn’t until I thought about it....I realised and explained that a cross with Jesus’ image on it is called a crucifix, otherwise it’s a cross.”

Photographs courtesy of Rachel Pether

Way of the Cross

3pm Sunday 20 March 2016 Led by Bishop Wright in the g Bill rounds of St Jo s e p h ’s Confer ence C entre, 140 Wa ngi Ro ad Toronto

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Look to the present with passion*


I’m standing here at Groves House and surfacing in my memory are snatches of a conversation from some years ago between my wife and Sister Jane Frances Schumacher rsj who was formerly her principal at St Anne’s High School, Adamstown. Cathie: Sister, you look wonderful! What’s your secret? You really have looked after yourself. Sr Jane: [With a wink] No dear...the secret, you know, is to try to look after others. I’m to meet Sr Jane. Spritely and energetic, she belies her 91 years and takes me on a guided tour of Groves House, Cardiff. Run by the Christian Brethren Community, it is a non-denominational nursing home with special services in palliative care and dementia care. I’m introduced to many people, both residents

and staff; the warmth of their greeting and the mutual respect between them and Sr Jane is immediately apparent. Obvious too is her pride in, and love of, this ‘house’ in which she has identified a need. Indicating the foyer walls, she brings two things to my attention: a quote from Corinthians 2, “Christ’s love compels us” and a world map on which are pinpointed the overseas birthplaces (from Zimbabwe to the Philippines) of 28 percent of staff members; a diverse mix of people working towards a common purpose. “The world the way it could be,” remarks Sister. This place challenges my preconceptions regarding aged care facilities. There is a palpable sense that here, top priority has been given to maintaining the residents’ dignity.

June Cork, Heather Ballantyne, Sr Jane and Gerard Cork enjoying poetry therapy.

I see it in the gentleness of a nurse’s smile, in a striking resident-painted mural, in the many areas where visitors can be met and entertained. Its overall design speaks loudest: wonderful views of bushland sweeping down Elermore Vale and visually integrating ‘Groves House’ with a precious natural environment. Sr Jane has been coming here for five years. Her sister Heather, and a dear friend also of that name, are residents whom Sister visits. She has also been conducting what are termed Poetry Therapy sessions, open to all residents. She aims to share her own love of verse with her ‘friends’ starting with humorous pieces and narrative works (Henry Lawson’s “Ballad of the Drover” for instance) that often evoke emotional responses. Sometimes, poems that might engender deeper, more

spiritual understandings are read. As she puts it, “Poetry is probably next to prayer.” This is, however, not about the teacher and the taught; Sr Jane regards it as a two-way means of communicating; friends sharing some of their deep inner-richness – a sharing that affirms how essential aesthetic sensibilities are to human wholeness. For the twelve or so Catholic residents and others who wish to come, Mass is concelebrated monthly by Fathers Gordon and John. Sr Jane organises and assists. “...the secret, you know, is to try to look after others.” I feel privileged to have seen these words so beautifully transformed into action. “Passion” is intrinsic to this “secret”! *Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis to all Consecrated People on the Occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life (2014)

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Be Grow Show

AnnuAl retreAt for young Adults

18-20 March 2016

St Joseph’s Conference Centre Toronto

Blessed Are the merciful

Phone 4979 1111 12

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Family Matters

CatholicCare offers practical support for separating families

By Anjali Rastogi

The emotional toll for separating families is high. The process becomes increasingly complicated when trying to negotiate future arrangements for children and their parents. There are people who can help. Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) also known as family mediation, offers a practical and costeffective way for separating families to sort out these arrangements. The FDR practitioner can help by assisting communication between the parents, facilitating discussion of issues, looking at options and documenting agreements. The family law system mandates that separating parents attempt Family Dispute Resolution before going to Court. Aurora spoke with one of CatholicCare’s FDR practitioners, Anjali Rastogi, about FDR and how it can help those in need. Anjali is a solicitor, a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner registered with the Attorney-General’s office and a Nationally Accredited Mediator. What is Family Dispute Resolution? Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a process whereby separated couples are assisted by a specially qualified practitioner to discuss their issues in a safe and non-threatening environment with a focus on the best interests of the children and minimising conflict. Agreements can be reached regarding the children’s future living and ‘spending time with’ arrangements including, but not limited to, hours of care, mode of transport and travel of children, education and extra-curricular specifications, arrangements around special occasions and access to medical records and school reports. What should prospective clients expect?

FDR commences with each party having a private session with the practitioner to gain information about the process, get to know the mediator, discuss his or her specific needs and concerns, identify possible obstacles to mediation and determine the best way to conduct the mediation. Following the initial private sessions, the FDR is scheduled to occur at a mutually suitable time. Mediations can be conducted with the parties either as a direct negotiation with each other, a shuttle negotiation where the FDR negotiates on behalf of the parties, or a combination. The practitioner assists the parties to explore family issues in an objective manner, focus on the needs and best interests of the children, generate and ‘reality test’ options, resolve specific disputes and document any agreements reached in a Parenting Plan. It is important that clients are aware that FDR practitioners are impartial and do not take sides. The mediation is conducted in a businesslike manner and focuses on courtesy and communication between both parties. Unlike counselling, FDR does not focus on the emotional side of relationships but rather the future needs of the children and parents. What happens to any agreement reached at FDR? Any agreement reached at mediation can be recorded by the practitioner in a Parenting Plan which is signed by both parents. The agreement can include mechanisms to change arrangements and resolve disagreements. Parenting plans can be renegotiated over time, if necessary.

To make the Parenting Plan legally binding, the parties can then apply to the court to have the agreement made into a consent order. This can be done by the parties or with the assistance of a lawyer. What are the benefits of mediation? Mediation is a self-directed, confidential and empowering process that enables clients to voice their concerns, issues and ideas in a non-threatening environment. It can be an immensely satisfying and rewarding process and highly beneficial for the children. How do you customise your services? The style of communication during the session is customised according to the needs and wants of clients. We understand that some separated parents are not comfortable being in the same room. This is not an obstacle to mediation as successful communication can be facilitated by the mediator with the parties in separate rooms. Alternatively, parties may commence mediation in the same room and then choose to continue discussions from different spaces. We provide an environment for communication that suits the parties’ individual and changing needs. Who can attend? The people having the disagreement need to be involved in the FDR process. If needed, support persons can also attend. FDR is not limited to separating parents. Mediations can also be conducted between parents and grandparents, foster parents and birth parents and significant adults in a child’s life. Do you ever not reach an agreement between parties?

For some couples, coming to an agreement can be a lengthy process and ultimately not something that either party can agree to in a FDR setting. Where no agreement is possible, a registered FDR practitioner can provide the parties with a 60I certificate. A 60I certificate is a legislated prerequisite to court proceedings in most cases. Does FDR include counselling or legal advice? FDR practitioners are not counsellors and do not provide legal advice. Clients engaged in FDR are encouraged to seek their own legal advice. CatholicCare Social Services can provide counselling sessions to one or both parties. However, counselling is not part of the FDR process. About CatholicCare’s Family Dispute Resolution CatholicCare’s Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are fully accredited by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department under the Family Law Act 1975 and are skilled practitioners with extensive experience. Sessions are confidential and are privileged under the Family Law Act 1975. Exceptions to confidentiality apply if there are concerns about a child’s physical or psychological welfare, or threats made to any person or property. CatholicCare Social Services can offer appointment times outside business hours if required. Fees are based on your income and an hourly rate applies. CatholicCare’s aim is to provide an affordable and timely FDR service. Contact us for up to date information about our current fees. Please P 4979 1172 or E

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Two stories, two defeats, one resurrection


The artwork featured right was hand-stitched by Pastoral Care worker, Lorraine Pearce-Adams, and is currently on display at Holy Spirit Primary School, Kurri Kurri.

A cartoon once showed two bored Roman soldiers standing guard with upright spears. Between them was the lower part of a crucified figure. One soldier said to the other, “Nothing ever really happens around here”! For Christians, the crucifixion of Jesus was one of the most significant moments in human history. Leading to his resurrection, it is the very cornerstone of the Christian faith. Christians refer to the day Jesus died as Good Friday and the day of his resurrection as Easter Sunday. Charles Bean, the official Australian historian of World War I, wrote, “In no unreal sense it was on the 25th of April, 1915, that the consciousness of Australian nationhood was born.” (Peter FitzSimons Gallipoli p 243). The landing at Gallipoli happened just fourteen years after Australia became one nation. It is Australia’s most sacred day. Last year we celebrated the centenary of Anzac Day. Anzac = Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Easter and Anzac Day are inextricably intertwined. Anzac Day always falls in the Easter season. They have marked differences, yet have much in common. Both deal with suffering, sacrifice and death. At Gallipoli in Turkey, thousands of soldiers on both sides suffered terribly and died for their

causes. At Calvary, Jesus, the Word of Godbecome-man, suffered terribly and died on a cross as a sacrifice for the world. At Gallipoli, the Australian and New Zealand troops rejoiced that they were going to war. They wanted to test themselves internationally on the battlefield. At Calvary, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that the ‘cup’ of suffering would be taken from him. Yet each faced the future with courage and conviction. At Gallipoli, there were tens of thousands of soldiers and, in general, a tremendous spirit of mateship. At Calvary, Jesus was deserted by his own disciples (except for a few, mainly women) and felt completely abandoned.

the withdrawal of the troops. It was feared in Britain that they would ‘lose 25,000 men and many guns’ in the withdrawal (FitzSimons Gallipoli p616). In fact, unbelievably, there were no fatalities in the withdrawal. Calvary was seen as a defeat for Jesus and his followers. Instead it turned out to be the necessary way to his victory. Jesus had said to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26).

As always, there will be observances of the 101st year since the Gallipoli landing. At Easter, millions of Christians will celebrate the triumph of Jesus over sin and evil and death.

At Gallipoli the soldiers had rifles, bayonets, guns, as well as other instruments of war to wound and to kill. At Calvary, Jesus was defenceless. He had even told Peter to put away his sword (John 18:11). Gallipoli was a military defeat, yet it was regarded as a victory for the Anzac spirit as well as for the brilliant way Australian Brigadier-General Brudenell White organised

As always, there will be observances at Gallipoli and around Australia and New Zealand, of the 101st year since the Gallipoli landing. At Easter, millions of Christians will celebrate the triumph of Jesus over sin and evil and death. Let us honour both celebrations and rejoice in the reconciliation that has occurred since the original Anzac Day and Easter. It can be summed up in the following: Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the

soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well. This inscription appears on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Anzac Parade, Canberra. For though the human race is divided by dissension and discord, yet we know that by testing us you change our hearts to prepare them for reconciliation. Even more, by your Spirit you move human hearts that enemies may speak to each other again, adversaries join hands, and peoples seek to meet together. By the working of your power it comes about, O Lord, that hatred is overcome by love, revenge gives way to forgiveness, and discord is changed to mutual respect. From the Preface of Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation 11. Redemptorist Dom Carrigan is priest in residence for the parish of WallsendShortland and a university chaplain.

The Way We Were: Influence of Sisters of Mercy endures Contributed by Des O’Hearn I began my education with the Sisters of Mercy at St Patrick’s, Millers Forest, in first class, there being no pre-school or kindergarten. Two of the Sisters crossed the river by punt in a horse and sulky, and later in an early model car. They taught in two rooms, separated by a partition. We had a large wooden altar in an elevated platform and the priest came over to say Mass on first Fridays. Parents came too and supplied a beaut lunch with special treats like packets of ‘Iced VoVos’ supplied by the late ‘Blue’ Pat Hughes’ Mum, Nita. 14

Kids arrived from farms on foot or on horseback, and there was a yard at the bottom of the school ground for the ponies. Sometimes a farmer would come to the school before the end of the day to collect a son for milking or other farm duties. These were happy and carefree times with the girls and boys enjoying simple fun together. I progressed to 6th class and under the guidance of Sr M Veronica, I was able to win both a Bishop’s and a state bursary, enabling me to go to St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill. Another

scholarship to the University of Sydney led to a Science degree. I will be forever in debt to the grounding I gained from the gentle and kind Sisters. My wife of over 60 years, Robin, studied with the Sisters in the ‘Big Room’ and the ‘Little Room’, in what is now the parish hall, opposite St Brigid’s Church. The association with the Sisters continued with our four children, with two of our girls helping the Sister-sacristan regularly. When the girls moved on, Robin took on sacristan duties

with the Sisters until they left the parish. Only when her mobility was restricted did she retire from these duties. Each of our children followed professional careers after the grounding they received from the Sisters of Mercy. Des O’Hearn is a parishioner of Raymond Terrace. He is 8th in back row in photo.

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The Catholic Thing

The Rich Legacy of Pope Francis

This month’s “The Catholic Thing” acknowledges the third anniversary of the papacy of Pope Francis, a man who embodies ‘the Catholic thing’ in word and deed.


He has shown the world the face of a beautiful disciple of Jesus Christ. Please God, no sudden heart attack will take Pope Francis away from us. But if that did happen, how would I sum up the legacy of his three years as head of the Catholic Church (March 2013 - March 2016)? Eight themes shape my summary. Almost all of them appear in The Joy of the Gospel, an apostolic exhortation issued by Francis in late 2013. One of the most remarkable spiritual documents of modern times, it reveals so much of what he cherishes and has set himself to do. First, Francis is obviously driven by what he calls “a passion for Christ and his people” (The Joy of the Gospel, 268). The love of Jesus and desire to follow Jesus is the golden thread that runs through The Joy of the Gospel and his entire ministry. As he told a group of educators in September 2013, “…stay with Jesus. Learn from Jesus. Allow Jesus to warm your hearts.” Second, Pope Francis takes seriously what the Second Vatican Council said about the Church being “both holy and always in need of purification” (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 8). Christ “calls the Church to that constant reformation which she invariably needs” (Decree on Ecumenism, 8). In a long interview he gave in August 2013, Francis began by identifying himself as a sinner. In The Joy of the Gospel he writes, “I must think about the conversion of the

papacy.” He adds, “the central structures of the universal Church also need to hear the call to pastoral conversion” (32). At a preChristmas 2014 meeting with the members of the Roman Curia, he castigated the sins of the Church’s central administration and specified fifteen ailments that can plague its members. In his final speech at the recent international synod in Rome, he admonished “the closed hearts” of those bishops “who frequently hide behind the Church’s teaching and good intentions” (24 October 2015). Third, Francis has set his face against an “excessive centralisation”. He insists that bishops around the world are responsible with him for teaching and leading the Church. The Joy of the Gospel repeatedly quotes what conferences of bishops in the five continents have taught. Less than a month after his election, Francis showed his desire to make the governance of the Church truly global. He appointed eight cardinal archbishops (now nine, the G9) drawn from every continent to advise him in his decision-making and reform of the Roman Curia. Francis has begun creating more cardinals from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, where well over 50% of Catholics live. In 2013, Europe and North America provided over 60% of the cardinals eligible to vote at a papal election. The college of voting cardinals has not represented fairly the Catholic world. Fourth, Francis constantly protests against the immense economic inequalities that disfigure human society and leave millions hungry and without proper housing and medical services. He denounces “the globalisation of

indifference” (The Joy of the Gospel, 53-54). He also proposes learning from the poor, who have “much to teach us” (The Joy of the Gospel, 198). In Laudato Si’, his 2015 encyclical on ecology and climate, the Pope has called all human beings to practise justice towards our fragile planet and care for it as our common home. Fifth, Francis has set himself to promote the wellbeing of marriage and family life. He does so in a realistic way. On 14 September 2014, he celebrated a wedding in St Peter’s Basilica for twenty couples. Many of them had already been living together, and the daughter of one couple was in attendance, and so too was the eight-year-old son by a previous relationship that one bride brought along. All twenty couples were surprised with joy at the Pope’s loving concern for them. Sixth, the Second Vatican Council initiated “dialogue” with other Christians, but called them “separated brethren”. For Francis they are “fellow pilgrims”, from whom we may have much to learn (The Joy of the Gospel, 244-46). Seventh, the Second Vatican Council broke new ground with Jews and encouraged fresh relations with them. Francis insists that “as Christians, we cannot consider Judaism a foreign religion. Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples” (The Joy of the Gospel, 247‑48). Eighth and finally, where the Second Vatican Council stressed truth and goodness, Francis has added what he calls “the way of beauty”. He writes of “the goodness and beauty” that

“shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel” (The Joy of the Gospel, 167-68). Shortly after he was elected head of the Catholic Church, Francis continued the papal tradition of washing feet on Holy Thursday. He did so in an unprecedented way. He visited a prison for young offenders and washed the feet of twelve inmates, including two women: a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic. In July 2013, he made his first official journey outside Rome by visiting the island of Lampedusa. Shortly before he arrived, a boat carrying 165 asylum seekers from Eritrea pulled into the harbour of that tiny island. Francis celebrated the Eucharist in a sports field which serves as a reception centre for thousands of desperate people fleeing across the Mediterranean. After Mass he laid a wreath in the harbour to remember all the adults and children who have drowned trying to reach Lampedusa. Pope Francis is at his eloquent best on “the way of beauty”. He could have been talking of himself when he wrote of the “beauty that shines forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel”. He has shown the world the face of a beautiful disciple of Jesus Christ. Australian Jesuit priest, Gerald O’Collins has published 65 books, the latest being the third volume of his memoirs, From Rome to Royal Park (Connor Court).




/mnnewstoday @mnnewstoday

Frankly Spoken It is not by chance that in the prayer taught by Jesus, the Lord’s prayer that summarises all the essential questions for our life, we find the expression “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Acknowledging our errors and being willing to restore what has been removed – respect, sincerity, love – makes one worthy of forgiveness.…If we are not capable of apologising, it means we are not capable of forgiveness either.…Many hurt feelings, many lesions in the family begin with the loss of those precious words: “I am sorry.” In married life there are many arguments…but I advise you never to let the day end without making peace. And for this, a small gesture is enough. General audience, 13 May 2015.

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Seasons of Mercy

Keeping our spirits bright This story, remarkable for its honesty and insight, remains anonymous at the request of the writer. I was born into a family with a strong Catholic faith and my childhood was filled with love, laughter and happiness. I was a gentle, kind and caring young girl with a spirit that burned bright from the joy that I had for life and the love that I had for those around me. In my early twenties I met a handsome, adventurous and fun young man who enjoyed the company of his friends and family and loved to explore the world, as I did. He had a good sense of humour and was confident and knowledgeable, traits that I admired. So when he eventually asked me to marry him, I was filled with excitement, anticipating all that our future together would hold. We married and rejoiced with our friends and families as we set up a home together. We both had good jobs and worked hard, while also holidaying and travelling around Australia and overseas. On the outside, we looked like a happy, successful, loving young couple. On the inside, cracks had started to form. My husband was a heavy drinker, but I never spoke to anyone of my concerns. A different side of my husband’s personality emerged when he drank. He would be angry towards me and I came to dread occasions such as weddings or parties, never sure what he’d say, or do, or how I’d be treated. My husband started to put me down early in our marriage. It began with casual remarks, passed off as jokes, but escalated to personal attacks about my beliefs, the way I looked, what I said or did and what he felt I didn’t do. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” When you are criticised often enough, it does hurt and it also impacts on your self esteem and confidence. My husband was well respected in his workplace, coming across to colleagues as talented and fun-loving. I found this impossible to understand − he was able to behave and be respectful to others but behind closed doors, he was a bully. One night when our first child was about six months old we were on holiday. My husband had been drinking since lunchtime so was well and truly intoxicated by nightfall. I had just finished breastfeeding and changing our baby’s nappy when my husband began a torrent of verbal abuse, demanding my attention. These kinds of outbursts had occurred over the years, especially when he had been drinking heavily. The abuse, language and demeaning comments continued until he eventually stumbled into bed, finally falling asleep. The next morning we had breakfast and talked about our plans 16

for the day. I didn’t dare bring up what had happened the night before; I’d learned over the years just to pretend it never occurred because I’d be blamed and the situation would only escalate further. My husband would be ‘nice’ for a while and life would go along − until the cycle started again. This cycle of abuse became more frequent, and with young children witnessing their father’s behaviour, the protective mother in me kicked in. I began googling ‘my husband is a heavy drinker’, ‘my husband puts me down’ − and then deleting the sites so he wouldn’t question me. The words ‘domestic violence’ kept appearing and I was in total disbelief when I realised the way I was being treated was a form of domestic violence characterised as emotional abuse. This was before 2015 Australian of the Year and domestic violence survivor, Rosie Batty, raised public awareness by campaigning and speaking of her own experiences. I found contact numbers for helplines and I’d phone the hotline while my husband was at work, telling the counsellors how he was behaving and treating me. I never spoke to my family about it all, only to the counsellors who told me to phone 000 immediately if ever I felt in danger. There did come a time when I felt that my children and I were in danger. My husband’s rage was terrifying as he told me I could no longer see my family. I stood up to him, telling him that he could not stop me. He had been unfaithful and this had caused a huge strain on our marriage. He had been angry and unpredictable in the weeks leading up to this night and I knew I couldn’t suffer in silence anymore. I phoned 000. The operator reassured me that help was coming. I feel such sadness thinking how my young children must have felt. This was the catalyst for change. A male and female police officer attended, the male officer somewhat frustrated as this wasn’t the first domestic violence callout of the night. “All these blokes need to do,” he said, “is let their wives enjoy time with their friends and family.” I remember apologising to the male officer for the washing in laundry baskets as he followed me from room to room to collect belongings. Now I know he wasn’t looking at the washing, he was looking at the man in front of him with a wife and small children, wondering how he could treat his young family in this way. The female officer said, “We see women in your position

all the time, you are smart – don’t go back!” With the help of the officers I strapped my children into the car and we left. I will never forget the feeling of freedom as I drove away. With the children safe in their seats, I could breathe again. The next morning, tiny pieces of me felt like they were scattered everywhere. My family carried me while I was too broken to carry myself. With love and support from family, friends and networks in the community, I did find the strength to put the pieces of my broken self back together and the courage to face my next challenge, starting over as a single mother. My psychologist said, “Like Dory in Finding Nemo, just keep swimming.” I was starting to feel good about myself again. Raising my children in a safe environment and being the best mother I could be was paramount.

I am still working on myself while supporting my children and I’ve become a much stronger person away from my ex-husband’s influence. Talking about my feelings and allowing myself to cry when I feel overwhelmed has helped me to deal with the grief. I hope that by telling my story I am able to encourage others in a similar situation to seek the help that is available. It is possible to leave abusive relationships and become stronger and happier. I am grateful for the love of my family and friends and for the support networks in the community such as Carrie’s Place, Domestic Violence Liaison Officers and police who all do a wonderful job supporting victims of domestic violence. My faith in God has helped me through this difficult experience and I know that God is always with me and my children. I am determined to raise my children to be emotionally intelligent and to keep their spirits − and my own − burning bright.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, P 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), 24/7. Lifeline’s 24/7 number puts you in contact with a local crisis service: 131 114. For emergency police or ambulance, P 000.

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Daily reflection and prayer app to support you during Year of Mercy


Mercy-ing is a new free app developed for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

This thought-provoking app provides users with a morning inspiration and evening reflection to help frame the day, attentive to the events, interactions, relationships and circumstances of each day within the context of ‘being Mercy’. The app also includes the daily repetition of a consistent mercy ‘mantra’, as well as an inbuilt timer to assist with reflective process. Drawn from a wide selection of sources including scripture, contemporary theology, activists and thinkers, the app’s content uses ‘Mercy’ as a verb, capturing the sense of movement inherent in the heart of Mercy. Mercy Ethos Educator of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea, Natalie Acton, shares her excitement

about the new app and the ease of integrating daily reflection into everyday life. “The idea of the app came from a group discussion looking at how people could integrate a reflective practice centred on Mercy into their everyday, busy lives,” says Natalie. “Everyone in the working group had a sense that there were many lay people who would find it useful to have a daily practice, supported by a portable tool such as an app, to help people to reflect on the many ways that mercy is manifest in our everyday lives and to heighten our attentiveness to this.” The app’s title has a direct connection with Pope Francis, who, when translating his

motto from Latin to Spanish, coined the word misericordiando, which translates to ‘Mercy-ing’.

action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible.”

“We all have so many competing priorities today, so having the app on your phone with a set timer provides a manageable way for people to make space to do their reflections, as they go about their daily lives,” says Natalie.

“The app gives us a piece of reflection, and then asks us to engage with it, helping us to really put ‘mercy’ into action,” says Natalie.

“I do it in the car or at my desk when I need a quick break. One night I even did my reflection at a restaurant whilst waiting for my friends to arrive!” In the Papal Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis reflects on looking at mercy as a verb saying, “Mercy is a key word that indicates God’s

The app was funded by the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea, and was developed with the support of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, and Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa, Sisters of Mercy New Zealand. Mercy-ing is now available for download on itunes or on google play.

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Why learn his-story, her‑story, your‑story, my‑story? Each of the people depicted in this photo of Marist Brothers Hamilton students participating in a St Patrick’s Day procession in Maitland would have a slightly different ‘take’ on the event. If you recognise an individual, please contact the editor. Recently, I was sorting through some old family photos. Most are uncaptioned in terms of people, places, events and dates and so I found myself asking questions of them in order to try to clarify their content and significance. The questions were obvious: Who are these people? Were they known to me, or, at least, familiar? (Check faces). What was the occasion? (Check location, dress, posture, positioning of subjects, facial expressions, props). When was the photo taken? (Check features of location, dress and apparent age of subjects). Why was the photo taken? In some cases, answers were forthcoming. In others, the interrogation of these photos generated further questions and a need to undertake some research. An examination of old family photos is just one way we are reminded that each of us has our “story” – our personal history. A camera that I still own, but for which I can no longer buy film, is a further reminder that the way my personal history is recorded today, and will be preserved for the future, has changed radically as a result of developments in the technology of storing and reproducing information. However, what doesn’t change is the desire of human beings to record their history, by whatever means are available, and to preserve it for themselves and for future generations. Our personal history provides us with a context through which we can establish our identity and sense of belonging in contemporary society. From an early age we become aware that our personal journey is moulded by, and entwined with, that of our parents and family, our school, our suburb or town, our state, our nation and our world. As individuals we are formed through the influences of the past, live our lives in the company of others who share our contemporary world and eventually pass on our influence to future generations. 18

History – personal and otherwise – comprises not just one story, or version, but many. Think for a moment of the different perspectives that are brought to one single event such as a child’s first day at school. There is the perspective of the child itself, as well as of its parents, and of the teachers who will receive the new student. Each will view this event in different ways. Yet it is the same event. These different perspectives deepen and enrich the meaning and significance of the event itself as well as our individual and collective responses to it. Last year, Australians commemorated one hundred years since the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli. This significant event in our national life can be viewed from many perspectives: the participating soldiers themselves on each side, their families, their military generals and tacticians, contemporary national leaders, historians and so on. In 2016, we view this event from a perspective formed through our knowledge of the event one hundred years after it occurred and its various historical interpretations. In addition, the influence of popular culture (feature films, documentaries, plays, ANZAC Day ceremonies), our own society’s views on the desirability of war as a means of solving conflicts, nationalism, patriotism and so on all work together to guide our contemporary perspective.

its historical interpretations are a result of formally studying history at school. For people of my generation this meant an emphasis on the historical narrative; in other words, the “facts”. The teaching approach was centred on students learning historical content from a textbook. The author of such textbooks was regarded as the single authority when it came to interpreting such content. As students we were encouraged to “learn the facts” and to be able to reproduce the content and its authorised interpretation in written form, usually an essay. As a result, we know our historical facts (dates, people, places, movements, battles, revolutions and so on) pretty well and can write reasonable essays. In my case, I enjoyed my historical study at school to the extent that I pursued studies in history at university and went on to become a teacher of English and History.

what doesn’t change is the desire of human beings to record their history, and to preserve it for themselves and for future generations

For most of us, our knowledge of an event and

Students who study history at school these days have a very different experience. Of course, they still have to master “the facts” but the analysis of the significance of those “facts” is within the framework that there is never one uncontested version. They learn that history is all around us and that useful historical information can be found in physical, as well as written, visual and other evidence − such as the old family photos I was looking at recently. They learn how to interrogate these various sources, how to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to

appreciate the historical context which led to their creation. Students of history today are involved in investigating history, using skills and knowledge which encourage inquiry and research, and communicating their findings in a variety of different and appropriate ways. For many reasons, learning history adds value to our lives. History connects us with our past, and through that connection, helps us to make sense of our present as well as to appreciate the ways we can influence the future. There are lessons we can learn from history, individually and collectively, that help us to live more authentic and positive lives and avoid the mistakes of the past. History stimulates our curiosity and gives us skills in analysis, critical thinking and research which are useful in leading productive and fulfilling lives. These skills empower us to be useful citizens and contributors to society in our daily living, to think more about the motives behind the actions of others and the context influencing them, to frame an informed argument using appropriate evidence and to understand why change is a necessary part of life. Occasionally, they help us to unlock some of the secrets of old family photos, identify what still remains to be found and the means to find answers. Peter Hill teaches in the School of Education and in the English Language and Foundation Studies Centre at the University of Newcastle. For many years he taught English and History at St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton.




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One invitation leads to another for young local woman

 Jessie Cairns at Be, Grow, Show 2014.

It’s generally accepted that as one matures, it’s important to establish one’s own identity as an individual – part of, but differentiated from, family, friends, colleagues and others. For a young person raised in a family of faith, establishing one’s own path is a challenging, but necessary, task. Brooke Robinson shares one such path. Jessie Cairns of Waratah attended local Catholic schools and was a member of the New Lambton Antioch group. Antioch is a ministry for young people, supported by a parish community and finding its foundation in the gospel of Jesus. The name ‘Christian’ was first given to the followers of Jesus in Antioch. When some of Jessie’s Antioch friends became involved in Theology on Tap, she went along, looking for “a different perspective”. It was a continuation of the faith formation she had experienced in her school years. From there, Jessie began attending Seven@ SacredHeart, a monthly gathering for prayer and contemplation at Sacred Heart Cathedral, followed by fellowship. There Jessie heard

about the “Be, Grow, Show” retreat. “There was a period of time between moving on from Antioch and reconnecting with my faith at ‘Be, Grow, Show’ because, postAntioch, I had not once asked the question: do I believe only because it is something that has been a part of my life since the day I was born − going to Mass every Sunday with my Mum and having attended Catholic schools? “I needed to ask, is this something I genuinely believe in? Is it important to my existence and sense of balance? At that point I really didn’t know so I ‘took time out’ from my faith to give myself time to figure it out. I think being invited to participate in ‘Be, Grow, Show’ really answered my questions.” Jessie was sponsored by a member of the

diocesan community to go to ‘Be, Grow, Show’ (BGS) at Camp Elim, near Forster in 2014, and describes it as “an element of my life that I hadn’t explored for a really long time, and I realised that weekend how much I actually missed it. “It was something I needed in my life at that time. The Lord felt that it was something I really needed, because I’d been approached by someone who was going to create the opportunity for me to go. I am so grateful for that opportunity. ‘It was a sensational weekend, and I just felt like I was missing something. I needed to be in a situation where all I could do was reflect on my life at that time.” Jessie is now a member of the Spirit and Truth

Band that will be providing music at this year’s BGS Retreat. She loves to sing and is looking forward to providing the reflective experience for others that she had at Camp Elim. Jessie will be inviting a friend to come with her this year, to pass on the same opportunity. Being involved in the ministries of the Diocesan Council Ministry for Young People has given Jessie the “opportunity to create so many beautiful and exceptionally meaningful friendships that mean so much” to her. “Be, Grow, Show” will be held 18-20 March at St Joseph’s Conference Centre, Toronto. To learn more and register, please P 4949 1111, E youth.ministry@ or visit

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Making a splash in African communities

 Children gathered to watch the installation of a “Project SPLASH” irrigation system in a community in Kenya last year.

Aurora invited an alumnus of our Catholic schools to share a project that is dedicated to bringing innovative solutions to under-served communities around the world to improve basic quality of life, create income-generating opportunities, and promote sustainable internal development. Following my graduation from St Francis Xavier’s College in 2010, I travelled to the United States of America to complete my undergraduate degree in Political Science at St Olaf College in Minnesota. In the summer of 2014, two of my college roommates, Daniel Lilly and Nicholas Hopkins, spent a summer in Kenya working on an irrigation project sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While there, they recognised many of the huge problems rural farmers in developing countries face, especially being off the power grid, and were determined to use solar technology to help. They returned to the United States fuelled by the belief that they had the ability to improve the lives of thousands of people around the world. Given my interests in international development and international relations, my colleagues asked me to join them in their project, and along with Daniel’s father Brian, an engineering professor at the University of Illinois, we founded Project SPLASH. Daniel and I spent a week in Washington DC, during which time we met with several members of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to listen to their advice and expertise on international not-for-profits. Despite spending the second half of 2015 as a Language Assistant in El Puerto de Santa María, I have been working on the Board of Directors of Project SPLASH for the past six 20

months, and we are hoping to launch our foundation in a big way in 2016. One of the primary goals of Project SPLASH is to bring solar irrigation technology to lowincome communities that need our help. 65% of Sub-Saharan Africans are subsistence farmers who depend on seasonal rains and often laborious irrigation methods to provide for themselves and their families. The particularly strenuous labour associated with farming often falls on the women and children, whom my colleagues witnessed manually irrigating by drawing buckets from shallow wells − for up to six hours a day. We recognised that if we could find a way to make a low-cost, easy to operate, portable irrigation system, there would be enormous demand. Such a system could reduce the backbreaking labour these often sick women were putting their bodies through, while also increasing income. This would allow them to pay for medicine as well as school fees for their children, as there is no free education in Kenya. My colleagues developed what became known as the ‘MajiPump’ - a small-scale solar-powered irrigation system that fits in a backpack. They travelled back to Kenya late last year to test our pumps in communities around Nairobi, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Our system

eliminates labour, while providing far more water per day than can be achieved manually. The system is already transforming lives. Farmers love how simple it is to operate, and the cost is much lower than any comparable motorised system. It is also completely green, as it is solar-powered and needs no battery. We want to continue to bring these systems to people in the most need, as it gives lowincome families the chance to improve their lives. These pumps have potential application throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and South America, as well as Asia. We have been co-ordinating with Malawi’s Department of Irrigation in recent months and it’s expressed interest in our program. As we look for new ways to use technology and innovation to help meet basic human needs, while promoting sustainability and internal development, we are also implementing the ‘Young Engineer Initiative’. By giving young people first-hand exposure to engineering skills such as drawing, drafting and modelling, we hope to ignite an interest that will produce the next generation of innovators. We aim to provide formal lessons in engineering drawing, both on paper and using AutoCAD on the computer. In schools with no access to computers, we will provide solar-powered laptops to help students take advantage of the opportunities provided by technological literacy and ability. The ultimate

goal is to get the students involved in our solar technology projects upon completion of the coursework in order to give them a chance to apply the engineering skills they learn. The lesson plans for this initiative are currently being developed in a collaborative effort with the University of Illinois, and we look forward to implementing the program in classrooms starting in the northern summer of 2016. My colleagues and I are travelling to Africa in June to spread our irrigation pumps and to implement our Engineering Program, and in the meantime are attempting to raise funds so that we can bring our system to as many people as possible, as well as take as many children as we can into the engineering program. If you are interested in learning more or wish to contribute, please visit We appreciate each donation we receive, and will be transparent in allocating donated funds. One way we do this is by allowing you to decide which of our projects you would like to support with your donation. We truly believe that we have the technology to improve the quality of life for thousands of communities around the world, and would love you to get on board with our project.

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Community Noticeboard Christian Meditation Community Day Saturday 5 March, 10am-3pm at St James’ School Hall, Vista Parade, Kotara. Theme: “Into Silence with Music and Poetry”, presented by Dr Anne Millard-Daugherty. Morning tea provided, byo lunch. To rsvp, P 0407 436 808 or E International Women’s Day Since 1911 International Women’s Day has been celebrated as the global day connecting all women. This day is an opportunity to reflect on the dignity and role of women, in the family, society and the Church. International Women’s Day will be celebrated at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton, commencing with Mass at 9.30am on Sunday, 6 March. Morning tea and sharing by a panel of local women speakers will follow in the Toohey Room. An invitation is extended to all. For further information P Patricia Banister, 0409 300 192 or 4932 5601. St Catherine’s College Singleton Reunion This event will be held at the College for the class of 1970-75 on 4-6 March. Please P Joanne Paget 0438 671 959. Chrism Mass Bishop Bill Wright warmly invites everyone to the Chrism Mass on Tuesday 22 March at Sacred Heart Cathedral Hamilton at 7pm. Supper to follow in the Davis Courtyard. 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. Lenten Reflections Mercy Spirituality Centre, 26 Renwick Street, Toronto, is offering times of Lenten reflection on Wednesdays facilitated by Sr Helen Baguley rsm. Reflection commences at 9.30am and concludes with lunch at 1.00pm. Themes are The Season of Lent − to see or not to see! An invitation to ‘look again’ at our lives in God and with God; We are OF God: our place in the grand scheme of things; The humanity of Jesus calling us today. Cost is $20 per session and bookings are required. P 4959 1025 or E Mums’ Cottage Invites grandparents to Grandparent and Toddler

day, every Wednesday during school terms from 10am-12pm 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 or visit The Great Jubilee of St Dominic – celebrating 800 years As part of the great Jubilee, the Dominican Sisters invite you to discover how the scriptures shaped Dominic and his preaching charism. Dr Michele Connolly rsj will lead the reflections. Cost is $20 for full day, byo lunch; half days $10 each, tea/coffee provided. To be held at Del Monte School Hall, 59 The Boulevard, Strathfield, enter from Carrington Ave. To rsvp, P 9744 9511 or E Series 1: Letters of St Paul on 5 March 9.30am/10am-3.30 pm; 2 April and 4 June 9.30am/10am-12.30pm. Series II: Gospel of St Matthew on 2 July: 9.30am/10am3.30pm. 3 September and 12 November: 9.30am/10am-12.30pm. Before We Say I Do Program Course 2 12 and 19 March, Maitland Course 3 14 and 21 May, Singleton Course 4 23 and 30 July, Newcastle (Toohey Room, Diocesan Offices, Newcastle West) Course 5 10 and 17 September, Newcastle Course 6 5 and 12 November, Newcastle All courses are on Saturdays from 9.30am4.30pm. Please P Robyn 4979 1370. Seasons for Growth Companioning Training: Children & Young People’s training, Newcastle 16-17 March, Taree 26-27 July and Newcastle 16-17 November. Adult training, Newcastle 27-28 April and 17-18 August. This training is essential for those wishing to facilitate the Seasons for Growth program with children/young people or adults. P Jenny or Benita 4947 1355 to find out more about becoming a Companion. Enrolments for training are completed at Divine Mercy Sunday Divine Mercy Sunday (second Sunday of Easter), 3 April, will be observed at St Patrick’s Church,

Macquarie Street, Wallsend from 10.30am – 4.00pm with prayers and devotions. Byo lunch, tea and coffee provided. P Kel Nash 4955 0448. Exploring the Seasons of Grief small group program Using the metaphor of the changing seasons, this two-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 6, 13, 20 and 27 April and also on 7, 14, 21 and 28 September. To learn more E or P 4014 4687. Please P Jenny or Benita on 4979 1355 for other opportunities to attend an adult small group. To learn more visit Living Waters Meditation Centre Offers a four-week course, “Christian meditation: contemplating the face of Christ” on Mondays at 5.15-6.15pm on 4, 11, 18 and 25 April (latter may need to be negotiated). Cost $20.00. The topic will be approached in theory and practice. E Carmel Moore or P 0412 122 297. Ecumenical prayer in the spirit of Taizé These services are held on the second Sunday of every second month; 10 April, 12 June, 14 August, 9 October and 11 December at St Columban’s Catholic Church, Church Street, Mayfield, 7-8pm, followed by light supper, gold coin donation. Everyone is welcome. P Anna & John Hill, 4967 2283. Private Retreat Mercy Spirituality Centre From 4-11 April you are invited to “come aside and rest awhile” − a time of silence for personal reflection for 2-6 nights. Fully catered, $80/night. For further details P 4959 1025 or E Sacred Spaces Fine Music Concert Series Sisters of Mercy Singleton The next in the series is Cafe of the Gate of Salvation: an afternoon of foot-stompin’ gospel featuring Australia’s premier gospel a cappella choir, Sunday 17 April in the stunning Convent Chapel, Queen Street Singleton at 2pm. Tickets $25 include afternoon tea, $5 school students. P 6572 2398 or E

For your diary March  1 International Death Penalty Abolition Day  4 World Day of Prayer; theme: “Receive Children, Receive Me”  6 Fourth Sunday of Lent Catholic Schools Week begins. Clean Up Australia Day  8 Catholic Schools Week Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral International Women’s Day  13 Fifth Sunday of Lent  15 Aurora deadline for April edition  17 Feast of St Patrick  19 Feast of St Joseph  20 Palm Sunday Ecumenical Way of the Cross at Kilaben Bay  21 National Harmony Day  22 Mass of the Chrism at Sacred Heart Cathedral.  24 Holy Thursday  25 Good Friday  27 Easter Sunday

April  2 World Autism Awareness Day

For more events please visit and

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Last Word

Aurora on tour


On a sunny day in London, what would you be doing if not reading Aurora?

Soul food The pulpit from which we preach is sometimes in church, but it can also be

As a young lad, I remember listening to stories of how the Catholic pioneers of NSW kept the faith alive, despite few clergy and the perfidy of the authorities. For example, Fr Jeremiah O’Flynn stood up to Governor Macquarie and refused to be deported for ministering to his flock. He was returned to England, leaving behind the Blessed Sacrament to be venerated until the arrival of Fathers Therry and Conolly in 1820.

ride to NSW in 1817, arriving without any credentials and demanding the right to serve the Catholics. Macquarie was not totally antiCatholic but wary about a loose cannon firing amongst his troublesome Irish Catholics. He insisted O’Flynn leave but events conspired to prevent this so he was allowed to stay, his ministry restricted, until he was finally deported in 1818.

Having now read Paul Collins’, A very contrary Irishman: the life and journeys of Jeremiah O’Flynn (Morning Star Publishing, Victoria, 2014) − well, another one bites the dust.

The lack of Catholic reaction to his deportation exposed the indifference of many of his countrymen and women to religion as a whole. He should have been a priest of the people because he had so many of their traits: lack of education; resentfulness of authority; a propensity to dream and a willingness to move to greener pastures.

Collins is generous. He believes O’Flynn was well-intentioned, just a little wayward. I see him as completely mad and a disaster for the colony. O’Flynn was born in 1788, had a rudimentary education and a few years of pre-seminary training, joined a Trappist Monastery, was persuaded to minister to Canadian Indians and then was ordained with almost no theological training.

our lives. –Ann Willits OP, Sinsinawa Dominicans (United States)

He was booted out of the West Indies, went to England and Rome and hitched a

In the rush to leave, he left a number of things behind, but Collins shows that the Blessed Sacrament was not among them.

O’Flynn made his way to the West Indies, then to the US where the Philadelphia Diocese finally granted him faculties to work as a priest. He died, aged 45, in 1831. Like Collins, I think Fr O’Flynn was trying to be a good and faithful servant of the Church. But he was clearly unsuited. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the Australian Church.


When the editor tasted this dish on an unusually cool summer day, she was delighted! Fresh crusty bread is a great accompaniment.



 2 brown onions, diced

Heat a little oil in a large heavy-bottomed casserole pan. Add the onions, leek, celery, carrots, caraway seeds and garlic. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until they start to soften.

 1 leek, diced  1 large celery stick, diced  2 carrots, diced  2 tablespoons caraway seeds  6 cloves garlic, finely chopped  1kg chuck steak, cut into

bite-size pieces  4 tablespoons sweet paprika  1 tablespoon hot paprika  200 ml tomato purée  2 parsnips, diced  3 bay leaves  4 litres chicken stock  3 potatoes, diced and blanched  Salt and pepper  Sour cream to garnish  Parsley

22 2

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.

Increase heat to medium. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until browned. Add sweet paprika and hot paprika and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomato purée, parsnip and bay leaves then pour in the chicken stock. Stir well and simmer for at least 1¾ hours until the beef is starting to get tender. Remember to skim off impurities. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a good sprinkling of chopped parsley. | C AT H O L I C D I O C ESE O F M A I T L A N D - N E W C AST L E | W W W . M N N E W S . TO D AY / AURORA - M A G A Z I N E

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