Aurora March 2020

Page 1

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle March 2020 | No.199

Housing and cash crisis looms | Rocking out with Father Rob | Pride in preservation

A fund you can trust

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


Invitation, Encounter, Witness

On the cover Sr Patricia Whitten is one of the original “walking nuns” to walk the streets of Newcastle visiting people. Photo by Peter Stoop

Featured f Walk the walk, talk the talk


f Hope out of Ukraine


f Journey to Ordination


f Listen to the Spirit


f Housing and cash crisis looms


f Age wearies as years condemn


What a great relief it has been to hear the rain on the roof, and witness brown grass transform once again into lush green lawn. Jacob, who appeared on last month's cover of Aurora, said during our chat that his dad said expected rain soon and he wasn't wrong. I only hope it continues, consistently and in measured amounts, where it's needed most. Speaking of covers, what an absolute delight it was to meet Sr Patricia, the 'walking nun' and other members of the Mercy Pastoral Team as we prepare to mark International Women's day. Make sure you read all about their fantastic work across Newcastle on page 5. As you will read on page 15, this March schools across the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle have been celebrating their strength of community as they open doors to families and friends for Catholic Schools Week.

f Lennan to the lab


f Theology in the face of abuse


f Celibate jungle


f Foundations for success built on play


This years' festivities are inspired by the theme "Drawing from the well. Invitation, Encounter, Witness". It acknowledges the connection of our school communities with Jesus Christ.

f Pride in preservation


My son Archie began his formal education

f Drawing from the well


f Dusted off and ready to roll


Contact Aurora

f Never out of training


Next deadline 10 March, 2020

f Singing his praises


Aurora editorial and advertising enquiries should be addressed to:

f Talkin’ ‘bout my generation



journey this year and is enrolled at a local Catholic school, steeped in Mercy tradition. On his first day of school, I wrote Archie a card, and in it, it said 'the most important things that I want for you during your education, and in life, are not academic success or sporting prowess, for you to be 'popular' or the most handsome. I want you to be happy, to always value your abilities, show compassion and respect, be connected to your community and strive to do your best.' As his first week at school drew to a close, Archie came home with an award from his teacher. He received the award for showing respect and being kind. Reflecting on that moment, really drives home my decision to seek enrolment for Archie in a Catholic school- a place that is much more than just bricks and mortar attached to an old church- but a community of faith, where he will be invited to draw from the Well of God's love and encounter Christ's wisdom. How does one measure if this is the case? A few weeks later, Archie arrived home from school, and his wallet that I place a few dollars in, for an occasional treat at the canteen, was empty. Imagining he

had stocked up on chocolate chip cookies, I asked to be certain. He then whipped out a Project Compassion box he had received at school that day, and it rattled with coins as he passed it to me. Archie explained there are people in this world who need our help, and so he decided to give them his money. I am confident the diversity of learning opportunities Archie is being offered, in a supportive and inclusive environment, will ensure he continues to witness service to others and seek out ways to contribute to his community. To read more about other ways students across the diocese are contributing to those in our community, including residents of St John's Villa, head to page 18. Bishop Bill's column on page 4 is a thought-provoking read, and so, I leave you with this. This Lenten season I hope you can take time to reflect, repent and be closer to God.

Lizzie Snedden is editor for Aurora

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

Elizabeth Snedden P 0404 005 036 E

PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300

f First Word


f My Word


f CareTalk


f Faces and places in our Diocese


f Community Noticeboard


f Last Word


Subscribe E Editor: Lizzie Snedden Sub Editor: Brooke Robinson Graphic Design: David Stedman Aurora appears in The Newcastle Herald on the first Saturday of the month, in The Maitland Mercury, The Singleton Argus, The Manning River Times and The Scone Advocate on the following Wednesday and in The Muswellbrook Chronicle on the following Thursday. The magazine can also be read at

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



When it matters


When it matters, contact Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers.


4032 1700

Level 5, 384 Hunter Street, Newcastle, New South Wales, 2300 Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.


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

Whatever happened to sin? Readers of St Augustine’s Confessions are often bemused by the way he goes on and on about a particular childhood sin. OK, he stole fruit from a neighbour’s orchard. That’s no biggie, a bit of a juvenile misdemeanour at most, so why does Augustine so anguish over it? Well, of course, the great African is not so much concerned with the crime as with human nature, his own nature. Why did he do it? He didn’t particularly want the fruit, but something in him relished the excitement of doing something naughty, of being a bad boy. The existence of that sort of impulse in even a young child helped convince Augustine that we are all a bit out of whack, affected somewhere deep within by original sin, and inclined to favour our own desires over what we actually know is right or good. And so we have Lent, a time of repentance for our sins. I’ve always been rather struck by Augustine’s boyhood sin, because I too was a childish thief. At some stage in Kindergarten or infants classes I pinched chewing gum from a supermarket shelf. Even now, in my mind’s eye, I can sort of see myself doing it. And like Augustine, I don’t know why. Anyway, I got away with it, mummy never found out, the police never came! But I’ve remembered and, as far as I recall, I’ve never again stolen in such a straightforward way. Fudged a bit on whether the pens at the conference were meant to be taken, or the shampoo from the hotel maybe. But not reached out and pinched someone else’s stuff. And that’s another aspect of human nature, that conscience is also part of our make-up, and guilt also shapes who we become. A season of repentance, then, answers

to another human need, that of finding a way to surface guilt and do something worthwhile with it, by way of “making up” for our sins and changing our lives. It’s unfortunate, then, that sin and guilt have had such a hard time of it in recent history. At some point, pop psychology decided that guilt was a destructive emotion, damaging to one’s all-important sense of self or self-esteem. Of course, there is some truth in that when it is a matter of wallowing in guilt, of carrying it around unresolved year after year. It’s really a matter of what you do with guilt. When it is a stimulus to taking responsibility, to confessing that you’ve done the wrong thing, to taking responsibility, apologising, seeking forgiveness, making up for it — to repentance, in short — it’s quite a healthy thing. “There’s nothing wrong with feeling guilty when you are guilty,” as I used to say, and indeed the absence of any feelings of guilt is actually one of the marks of the true psychopath or sociopath. But somehow the other approach, denial of guilt, has become more prevalent. Somehow the self-esteem thing became so strong that my actions couldn’t possibly have been wrong or, if they were, it couldn’t possibly have been my fault. When it’s inconceivable that I could have been in the wrong, there is no guilt, there is no sin. In fact, in many settings we stopped talking about sin as the deliberate choice to do what we knew to be wrong, re-expressing it for children as simply “making a bad choice”, a bit of an error of judgment, a mistake, not really your fault. No need then for repentance.

But Jesus began his public life by preaching “repent and believe the good news”. Our season of Lent picks up that call. And of course, the Good News was that God loved sinners and was “near at hand” with forgiveness and mercy for them. He was going to do a great thing through the Cross, an act of love and goodness that would more than make up for all the evil that humans have done throughout all time. So, we don’t have to rely on our own virtues but on what God has done on our behalf through the man Jesus who is also God’s son. It is an offer of freedom from the guilt of our sins

that is a much more compelling answer to the human condition than pretending that “it wasn’t my fault” or “I’ve done nothing wrong”. Lent is for repenting, and repentance is our salvation.

Bishop Bill Wright Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Frankly Spoken It is good to contemplate more deeply the Paschal Mystery through which God’s mercy has been bestowed upon us. Indeed, the experience of mercy is only possible in a “face to face” relationship with the crucified and risen Lord “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20), in a heartfelt dialogue between friends. That is why prayer is so important in Lent. Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2020

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


Walk the walk, talk the talk BROOKE ROBINSON Inspired by the story of Catherine McAuley and the “walking nuns” of 19th century Dublin who refused to be cloistered away from the needy, in 1997 Hamilton parish priest Monsignor Allan Hart encouraged the Sisters of Mercy in Newcastle to hit the pavement and do the same.

baptismal vows are telling you to do, to go out and love people,” he said.

Sr Patricia Whitten, Sr Colleen Kleinscfer and Sr Bernadette Mills became Newcastle’s first walking nuns, visiting the suburbs of Wickham, Tighes Hill, Maryville, and parts of Hamilton and Broadmeadow.

“We have a rule to not argue about religion, politics or money,” Sr Patricia said. “We don't push religion. We just talk about whatever they introduce. It is really letting them chat and see where we can help them.”

“And then they'd give us a flower or a plant. It was lovely,” Sr Patricia said. “And we’d go on, and eventually we were collecting so many things we had to give them away to the next person we met.” Through these simple conversations, the locals would eventually ask “where are you from?”. The sisters responded they were from the Church and that they visited everybody, no matter their religion. “Very soon, because we were good listeners, they wanted to tell us their whole story,” Sr Patricia said. “And then they said ‘you're going to come back and have a cup of tea with us next time’ and things like that. And so, the trust grew.” Newcastle’s warm embrace of the “walking nuns” soon encouraged other people in the Church to ask if they could also join the team. Volunteers were welcomed even though at times it created some confusion as to who in fact was a nun. “The people knew the walking nuns and suddenly we appeared with someone else and they took for granted that the lady would be a nun,” Sr Patricia said. “And then I appeared one day with Bob, who wanted to put on barbecues for them, and some asked Bob, ‘are you a nun?’ It was funny.” Twenty years ago, when the ministry started, the Sisters would meet many people who were not aware of the help available to them. The sisters would share information about Meals on Wheels and Mercy Services and link them to appropriate support organisations. Monsignor Hart encouraged the team to go out and forge a connection with people. “You’re just doing what your

Sometimes the conversation can be quite heavy. “We have been told some horrific stories, but it really just is good for them to get it all out,” Sr Patricia said. Volunteers joining the team are trained in how to approach a variety of conversations and how to really listen. The walking team feel they are being guided as they move through the streets, often showing up at just the right time and place. “If we say ‘now, today we will visit so and so’, and we show up and they have gone to the doctor, for example, then we say, ‘we'll go to this lady across the street’,” Sr Patricia said. “The lady would say ‘oh, how did you know to come? This was just the day I wanted and needed you to come, I need someone to talk to’.”

FE AT URE Sr Patricia Whitten and Bob Frazer. Photo: Peter Stoop

A rewarding comment the team frequently hear is “you have made my day”. There are many lonely elderly people in our neighbourhoods, and Sr Patricia says it's good to let them talk about old times. “Even if they repeat a story every time we go, that's a very important exercise for them and us, to really get more insight as to who they are and what they've done,” she said. “It can help them realise that they can rejoice and celebrate in what they have achieved in the world. We have learnt never to say, ‘we’ve heard that story before’. We learn to listen and hear a different aspect of their story every time.” Sr Patricia said it feels so good to see people’s eyes light up when they come to visit, and many times she has heard of volunteers having a hard day, but still show up to walk, and end up feeling they have received more than they have given. To find out more or become a volunteer with the Mercy Pastoral Team for two hours on weekday mornings, contact Sr Patricia Whitten on 4979 1116.

Members of the Mercy Pastoral team Sr Patricia Whitten, Eleanora Macdonald, Mary Samwell, and Bob Frazer visit Angela Svensek at front.

Photo: Peter Stoop

They had a strict rule not to knock on doors, instead beginning conversations with people in their gardens. Sr Patricia said they wore badges and would approach people and simply say “how are you getting on today?” or “I love this flower”.

The ministry of walking and visiting people in their homes has continued until today under the name of the Mercy Pastoral Team.

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

Hope out of Ukraine BROOKE ROBINSON In what is described as a “miracle” the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has incredibly overcome near-extinction at the hands Joseph Stalin during World War II to show God is faithful and it is possible to rebuild from seemingly nothing. Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the United States, recently shared the story of his Church with Eternal Word Television Network. It includes the harrowing loss of 99% of its faithful when Stalin conquered western Ukraine in 1944 and arrested all the Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops. “He knew the Church was so interwoven with every aspect of Ukrainian society,” said Archbishop Gudziak. “If the Church couldn’t be controlled, the people couldn’t be controlled.” Archbishop Gudziak said the priests were forced to make a choice. Either renounce their Catholic communion and join the Russian Orthodox Church, or be deported to Siberia. More than 800 priests were deported, and the life of the Church came to a visible halt.

“The Soviets thought they had finished the job,” said Archbishop Gudziak. “These 300 priests were so monitored and controlled they may have only been able to serve about 100 people each.” That meant only about 30,000 people out of four million had some limited contact with Church. Ukraine lost the active participation of 99% of its faithful. However, in the past 30 years the Church has grown dramatically. Today the Church has 3000 priests, and 800 seminarians. “This was not a strategy or tactic,” said Archbishop Gudziak. “It was not good management. It was martyrdom, witness and above all, God’s grace. It’s a miracle. In our society today, we have scandals and many issues. But Jesus tells us repeatedly, peace be with you, don’t fear.”

“It was stripped of every thread of its garments,” said Archbishop Gudziak. “No institutions, no resources, and its clergy imprisoned.”

In Australia, we can be discouraged by declining Church attendance. Or we can retain hope that God will continue to lead and grow our Church. In 2018, according to the Official Catholic Directory, Australia was home to 2900 priests, and there were 253 men training in diocesan seminaries.

Before 1939, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church had 3000 priests, but by 1989 after 50 years of war and persecution, only 300 aged priests remained.

It is heart-warming to reflect on the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and recognise that God does not fail or give up even when hope is gone.


Either renounce their Catholic communion and join the Russian Orthodox Church, or be deported to Siberia.



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


Journey to ordination DARRELL CROKER A successful law career in Sydney was never enough for Newcastle-born Graham Fullick. The 56-year-old became the sixth priest to be ordained in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in the past 10 years when he was consecrated on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter, Apostle, at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton, on 22 February.

“I could see the good work, but that was still not enough,” he said. “I wanted to go to the Sacred Heart of the good work: Jesus Christ. Immersed in regular Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession, I finally gave into God and entered Sydney’s the Good Shepherd Seminary.”

Despite 15 years in private legal practice culminating as a shareholder and partner in the well-established and regarded firm Madison Marcus, Fr Fullick came to realise people needed not so much a lawyer as a change of heart. And his heart burnt beyond the law. During his legal career in Sydney he was heavily involved in parish activities.

Back in Newcastle visiting his parents in 2014, life changed forever at Midnight Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral. MaitlandNewcastle’s Bishop Bill had formerly been Fr William Wright, parish priest at Liverpool where Fr Fullick had been a seminarian in a mission team. Bishop Bill “collared” him at that Midnight Mass and said he’d happily ordain him on the spot.

Fifty years before, in November 1964, Graham Charles Fullick was born with his identical twin brother Craig Gregory at Royal Newcastle Hospital. A young curate from St Mary’s at The Hill, Fr Lex Levey, baptised the twins. “We grew up in Cessnock and were educated at St Patrick’s Primary School, where Sr M. Genevieve Henderson RSJ was principal, and I was school captain,” he said. “We continued our education at Marist Brothers’ in Maitland and completed Arts degrees at the University of Newcastle before moving to Sydney in 1986 where I began a Law degree.”

After being collared at that Midnight Mass in 2014 and then a long pastoral placement at Nelson Bay, Fr Fullick was sent to the mature-age seminary Pontifical Beda College (St Bede’s) in Rome, following in the able footsteps of Fr John Lovell. Fifty-five years after Fr Fullick's baptism, Fr Levey presented him to Bishop Bill for Ordination while Sr Genevieve, his old principal, looked on and Fr John Lovell concelebrated. Graham Fullick’s Ordination Mass was on the same day as his mother’s birthday, 22 February. His first posting as an ordained priest will be to Raymond Terrace.

Listen to the Spirit FR ANDREW DOOHAN Reading through the responses from the opening session of our Diocesan Synod, I was not surprised to find certain themes among them. Truth be told, I would have been shocked had they not been present. I experienced the same thing when the responses to the Plenary Council process first came to light: some of the themes there were entirely expected. I was pleasantly surprised, however, and challenged by some interesting themes that I did not expect, and they stood out because they seemed to come from somewhere unexpected — at least to me. Whether any of the themes emerging

from the first session are “of the Spirit” or more an expression of human desire is something that will require careful discernment as we continue the journey of both Synod and Council. How that journey of discernment unfolds will be critical to the perceived “success” of the Diocesan Synod and Plenary Council, and the ability for the outcomes to be received and implemented. My hope for both processes, realistically or otherwise, is that the Church — that is, us — remembers that the task of both Synod and Plenary is about seeking the will of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Then the Church can truly be Church. The

task of discernment is listening to the Spirit present in the Church assembled. Walking the journey of discernment together, listening to each other and to the Spirit as it emerges from expected or unexpected places, is the sine qua non without which our Synod and the national Plenary cannot succeed. My other great hope for both Synod and Plenary is that the Church seeks to engage more broadly with its members. The attendance at the first session of our Diocesan Synod process was impressive, yet there are still more than 160,000 Catholics who were not there. There were also some very clear demographic

groups absent, which should concern us if we are truly seeking to be synodal and walk together. How we reach out to those not present and seek their engagement is something to which we must also be attentive. How we move forward while listening to each other and reaching out to all our brothers and sisters is vitally important to our ability, at the end of the Synod and Plenary processes, to truly say “it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28).


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

Housing and cash crisis looms TODD DAGWELL

Skyrocketing property prices, high rents and inadequate pension and Newstart rates have resulted in tens of thousands of Australians facing a housing and cash crisis that will only worsen if the federal government doesn’t act to “fix a broken system”, says Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) deputy chief executive Joe Zabar. “The private rental market is simply not affordable on Newstart and our old-age pension system is based on a premise that pensioners own their own home,” Mr Zabar said. “But, due to the housing boom and a weakened economy, an increasing number of older Australians don’t own a home, and many younger people never will.” Newcastle resident Mary* is 70 and about to retire from full-time work. Having never had the funds to buy a property, she has rented in the private market her entire adult life and is now concerned about her ability to pay market rent in her old age on a part pension and a modest superannuation. “I’d be absolutely terrified right now if I was on a full pension,” Mary said. “After paying the rent and utilities I’d have nothing left. It’s definitely not enough to live on. A neighbour of mine on a full pension had to sell his car to pay his bills.” Although she is fortunate to have lived in the same unit for 20 years, she has only ever been offered 12-month leases and was almost evicted on one occasion because the complex owner wanted to develop the site.

Last year, the Tenants’ Union of NSW released a report that found renters craved security of tenure above all else, that three-quarters of renters avoided reporting problems with their properties, and that the fear of a “no grounds” eviction was a significant source of anxiety for many. “It’s always on my mind that I’ll be renting for the rest of my life and what could happen if they evict me,” Mary said. “A longer-term lease would provide some assurance and peace of mind. Generally, I’m OK for now, but my super is going down and if there was another GFC I’d probably end up on the full pension and would struggle to get by.” Mary’s housing fears were confirmed by Anglicare’s 2019 Rental Affordability Snapshot, which revealed there is zero per cent of affordable and appropriate housing stock available across the Central Coast, Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Great Lakes/Taree region for a single person on an Age Pension and a single person or couple on Newstart. A Productivity Commission report released at the end of last year said renters now make up a quarter of all households and half of all renters are paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent, resulting in “rental stress”. The commission found that Commonwealth Rent Assistance payments to low-income and low-wealth people, such as pensioners, had fallen behind average rents over the past two decades. CSSA’s Mr Zabar said this was having a devastating impact on older Australians in the private rental market.

“It is deeply disturbing that homelessness among people over 55 is rising faster than any other age group,” he said. Recent analysis by Homelessness Australia noted a 75 per cent increase in the number of people on Newstart payments seeking assistance from homelessness services over the past six years. Homelessness Australia Chair Jenny Smith said there really was no point calling Newstart a “safety net” when it didn’t do its job — which should be to protect people from poverty and enable them to have a home. “State and federal governments need to deliver social housing so that people on the lowest incomes can afford a home, as well as increasing unemployment payments and rental supplements so people can afford private rental,” Ms Smith said. Mr Zabar agrees more public housing is crucial but also believes the federal government needs to immediately remove itself from the process of setting welfare payment rates. “The welfare system is broken,” he said. “We urgently need an independent assessment of our welfare payments to ensure people are provided with a reasonable amount to live on. It is reprehensible that so many people are going without food, heating and medicine to pay the rent.” *Not her real name

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



Last year we assisted about 800 people and have noticed a steady increase in the amount of men aged over 60 years who have accessed our service and identified as homeless."

Age wearies as years condemn DARRELL CROKER Karen Soper

The Interim Report of the $104 million Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety released on 31 October last year assesses the sector as being in “a sad and shocking state that diminishes Australia as a nation”. The royal commission’s Final Report is due in November this year and we wonder just how more damning it can be. More shocking stories have been revealed since the Interim Report. The royal commission says many of the issues identified in previous reviews and inquiries persist. It is “difficult not to be critical of successive governments’ failures to fix the aged-care system” it said, but also noted the dependence on other sectors such as health and vocational education and training have added to the difficulty of implementing reform. An ageist mindset persists, undervaluing older people, limiting their possibilities and using disrespectful language such as “a burden” and “an encumbrance” the royal commission concluded. It also expressed concerns about discussions relating to taxpayers’ ability to pay for old people’s dependence.

Photo: Peter Stoop

“The commission describes aged care as fragmented, unsupported, underfunded, mostly poorly managed, unsafe and ‘seemingly uncaring’, due to neglect at all levels.”

lacks fundamental transparency, including around the performance of providers. The regulatory system intended to ensure safety and quality does not deter or detect poor practices.

Meanwhile, life goes on — just — for those “unlucky” enough not to be in care.

Unfortunately, many do not value aged care as an occupation. Often the workforce is under pressure, pay and conditions are poor, innovation is stymied, and education and training are patchy.

St Vincent de Paul’s Karen Soper manages Mathew Talbot Homeless Service in Wickham — which is partially government funded and provides specialist services supporting men and men with children. It also supports rough sleepers in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie areas. “Last year we assisted about 800 people and have noticed a steady increase in the amount of men aged over 60 years who have accessed our service and identified as homeless,” Ms Soper said. “Some of the common reasons for the increase in homeless numbers are relationship breakdown, isolation, unemployment, lack of finances and affordable housing, mental health and addiction.

Nick Mersiades is director of aged care at Catholic Health Australia (CHA), and he says the immediate take away from the Interim Report is “a shocking tale of neglect”.

“The assessment pathways are complex and accessing aged care is a long and arduous process. We would welcome a more collaborative approach to achieve accessible, respectful and quality aged care for the vulnerable in our community.”

“The royal commission concludes that it has heard compelling evidence that the system designed to care for older Australians is ‘woefully inadequate’, that many people receiving aged care ‘are having their human rights denied’, and ‘their dignity not respected’,” Mr Mersiades said.

Life’s clearly tough on the street for the aged. Yet many of those in care are frustrated too, have feelings of despair and hopelessness, and are reluctant to complain, fearing their situation will worsen. The aged-care system

“The aged-care system has not kept up with changing needs and community expectations,” Mr Mersiades said. “Some providers appearing before the commission appeared to be defensive and ‘occasionally belligerent in their ignorance of what is happening in their facilities’, and reluctant to take responsibility.” The Interim Report does not include any recommendations, instead highlighting three areas in need of urgent action. They are the need for additional higherlevel home-care packages to reduce waiting lists, the significant over-reliance on chemical restraint, and the flow of younger people with disability going into aged care. Mr Mersiades said CHA has advocated the final response should also address the financial pressures residential aged-care providers face. “The reform directions the commission has identified will be expensive,” Mr Mersiades said, “and even more so when the baby boomer generation reach their 80s from the late 2020s.”


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

Lennan to the lab Photo: Peter Stoop

Former Novocastrian, Fr Richard Lennan, is one of 70 ecclesiologists and ethicists from around the world to be invited to contribute to a theological “laboratory” focusing on understanding and responding to the crisis of clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Theological Ethics in the World Church, an international network of moral theologians, the event will take place between 11-14 March.

The meeting has been called a “laboratory” to emphasise active engagement of all participants in advancing theological thought, reflection and leadership in response to the crisis, with a view to supporting the global Church in its response.

1. Sin and crimes — punishment and reconciliation: doing justice for victims, perpetrators, and the entire Church.

Co-hosted by The Centre for Child Protection, housed in the Gregorian University in Rome, and the Catholic

The laboratory will consider five areas for discussion.

2. The image of the Church that conveys and betrays Jesus: rediscovering Jesus in ecclesiology. 3. Priesthood — ministry of service vs clericalism: rethinking the sacrament of orders.

4. Sexuality and vulnerability: re-examining sexual ethics and inhibiting abuse. 5. Church and world: the Church’s mission as guiding our reform. Fr Lennan, currently professor of systematic theology in Boston College's School of Theology, will be joined by fellow Australian theologians Fr James McEvoy (Australian Catholic University, Adelaide), Dr Dan Fleming (St Vincent’s Health Australia), and Dr Neil Ormerod (Sydney College of Divinity). Fr Lennan, Fr McEvoy and Dr Ormerod have already contributed essays on the topic of abuse in special issues of the prestigious Catholic journal Theological

Studies. Fr Lennan wrote about the ecclesiological impact of the scandal; Fr McEvoy on the theology of the child; and Dr Ormerod on the impact on the Church of the recent royal commission. Together, they will meet with leading theologians and ethicists from around the world including various European, African, Asian and Latin American countries and strong representation from North America. Dr Fleming and James F. Keenan will be working together to publish the outcomes of the process, with a view to providing a theological resource for the Church as it responds to this crisis around the world.

Theology in the face of abuse SEAN TYNAN On 16 January, the Catholic Outlook published an article on the involvement of Australian theologians in a “laboratory” exploring aspects of the Church’s child sexual abuse crisis. I had been vaguely aware of a “summit” planned for theologians and ethicists but that was about as much as I knew. The piece made me curious and then a few days later, Chris Lamb’s article in The Tablet, “Rome summit to examine clerical sex abuse”, really got my attention. The Office of Safeguarding is contributing locally by working with the Diocese to

strengthen safeguarding policies and practices and instil them into our daily activities. This process was begun before the 2010s but became politically charged, and the subject of public scrutiny, following the establishment and reporting of the Cunneen Special Commission and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. On the national scene Catholic Professional Standards Ltd and other Church bodies are helping develop and shape our operational responses. Equally, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

and other Vatican bodies are working internationally to promote a safer and more accountable Church. However, the changes affected are restricted to conscious thought and behaviour. I believe the upcoming “theological laboratory” being held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, from 11-14 March, is part of the more challenging and deeper work that is vitally important. As noted by Hans Zoller in The Tablet article − the abuse crisis has been under discussion in the Church for 35 years but there has been “very

little attempt to do systematic theology” on it. This is the foundational work that, done right, will change our Church for generations. I will be paying attention to what comes of this theological laboratory. If you are interested in learning more or submitting a question that could contribute to the “laboratory”, go online to:

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


Celibate jungle TODD DAGWELL Pope Francis has disappointed progressives in the Catholic Church by rejecting a proposal to ordain married men in remote areas of South America. The centuries-old celibacy debate was reignited last year when an overwhelming majority of bishops from nine countries in the Amazon basin called for the ordination of married men in order to address a shortage of clergy in the region. In an eagerly awaited document released last month titled "Beloved Amazon", Pope Francis ignored recommendations by the Amazonian bishops regarding celibacy, and instead focused on the South American environment, social good and protection of indigenous people. ABC Radio religion expert Noel Debien, speaking on the Religion and Ethics Report, said Pope Francis has long been concerned about exploitation of the land, illegal logging, rapacious business practices and vested interests in the Amazon region. “While he said nothing much at all about married clergy, he says very powerfully that this is a worldwide document and he wants everyone to pay attention to these issues,” Mr Debien said.


The Pope’s decision to ignore the celibacy issue was not particularly surprising when placed in papal context, Mr Debien said. “I would say this is something you would expect a pope to do as opposed to changing the celibacy rules, which is not something you’d expect him to do,” he said. Instead, the Pope urged bishops to pray for more priestly vocations and to send missionaries to a region where faithful Catholics in remote areas can go months or even years without Mass. "This urgent need leads me to urge all bishops, especially those in Latin America … to be more generous in encouraging those who display a missionary vocation to opt for the Amazon region," Pope Francis wrote. The marriage proposal sparked a fierce debate that has resulted in a widening gulf between liberal and conservative factions within the Church. Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright says opposition came from those already fearful of Pope Francis’s “liberalising tendencies” who saw allowing this plan to proceed as setting a precedent that could lead to the general relaxation of celibacy rules. Bishop Bill said he, like Pope Francis, favours obligatory celibacy

… the Pope urged bishops to pray for more priestly vocations and to send missionaries to a region where faithful Catholics in remote areas can go months or even years without Mass"

but he sympathises with the South American bishops who cannot provide Eucharist to their people. The factional rift was exacerbated by a book published in January by conservatives defending the tradition of priestly celibacy. From the Depths of Our Hearts was written by conservative Cardinal Robert Sarah, with a contribution from former Pope Benedict XVI. However, the Pope Emeritus recently dissociated himself from the project and requested his name be removed as coauthor. In the book, Cardinal Sarah makes a radical theological argument that celibacy is more than just a Church rule that may be changed but is, in fact, divinely ordained and must remain mandatory. Vatican officials said Pope Francis completed the "Beloved Amazon" document on 27 December before From the Depths of Our Hearts was completed and the book had no bearing on his decision to reject the married clergy proposal. The Pope’s sidestepping of the issue has angered many liberal organisations, such as Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW), but conservatives appear to be extremely

relieved. Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the Vatican's former chief doctrinal official and a leading conservative critic of the Pope, called it "a document of reconciliation". Mr Debien, however, does not believe the proposal to ordain married men in certain circumstances has been completely settled. “This (the celibacy question) is not over yet,” he said. “The Pope has accepted the final document of the Amazon synod. It’s on record and there for debate and there will be more to follow.” In 2018, the National Council of Priests of Australia backed lifting obligatory celibacy to allow mature married men to become priests in Australia. The proposal formed part of the council's submission to the historic Plenary Council to be held in October this year. Married priests are allowed in Eastern Catholic Churches loyal to the pope, and Anglican priests who convert to Catholicism can remain married after ordination. The issue of celibacy has also been discussed in other countries with a shortage of priests, including developed ones such as Germany.


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

Making the transition from preschool to school is traditionally a huge step for children and parents alike, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Foundations for success built on play KIM MORONEY

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

Kindergarten students across the MaitlandNewcastle Diocese are taking part in a new project, Successful Foundations, and it is proving the secret to learning really could be as simple — and complex — as child’s play. Successful Foundations is a positive, play-based action research project that transitions early learners to school and helps establish collaborative relationships between children, families, teachers and the community. As Education Officer (Early Learning) for the Catholic Schools Office (CSO), I developed Successful Foundations along with education consultant Dr Cathie Harrison, formerly senior lecturer in Early Childhood education at Australian Catholic University. Successful Foundations supports the CSO’s Early Learning Policy and strengthens classroom practices. This year, another eight schools are adopting the program after it was piloted with great success at 11 schools in 2019. The strength the Diocese places on relationships underpins the program. “Relationships are everything in teaching and the Successful Foundations Action Research Project really helps to build relationships and understand the Kindergarten child and what they know,” said Suzie Monks, a teacher at Holy Name Primary School, Forster, which began implementing Successful Foundations for the first time this year. Sarah Dormand from St Francis Xavier’s Primary School, Belmont has also begun implementing the project in her Kindergarten class for the first time.

“Successful Foundations is about developing a healthy respectful relationship with the children and us as teachers,” Ms Dormand said. “It’s a two-way process and the most important takeaway is that we are agents of change. “We are at a precipice where we are really getting to shift the way we are approaching education because we’re right at that foundation level, and the significant thing for all of us, the community, parents, educators, to keep in mind is that play is research.” In the first five weeks of school, Kindergarten students were given a learning block at the beginning of each day to engage with a variety of openended, play provocations. The hour of play learning provides students with the opportunity to actively demonstrate their funds of knowledge, build relationships and become familiar with the context of the school. It also provides opportunities for teachers to become familiar with students and their families. “This bridging process is where we as teachers and researchers are learning to realise and acknowledge that the child is a unique, curious, independent, capable, competent natural researcher and that’s how we’re viewing them and that has been our approach,” Ms Dormand said. When children immerse themselves in play, it provides a powerful tool for learning and wellbeing. Our educators set up meaningful provocations such as dramatic play, which might be a florist’s shopfront, or building environments or


outdoor spaces. These are designed to engage the students and provide us with a pedagogy of listening, observation and documentation. We step back and observe students so we can see all their capabilities. We’re seeing their interests and all the things they can do — not just literacy and numeracy — but socially and through problem-solving, collaboration and creativity. It’s all there in Successful Foundations. Tania Kranias from St John the Baptist Primary School, Maitland said the professional learning provided to staff had been a useful prompt to consider learning from the students’ perspective. “Children go from playing eight hours a day at preschool and day-care, having five weeks’ holidays and then jump in and are told ‘here’s your books, here’s your pencils, let’s get writing and here’s a reader, let’s start reading, and here’s some maths questions’,” Ms Kranias said. “Some children are just not capable of doing that straight away. Some children are keen, some have no interest … This whole process is allowing us to open our thinking and our minds and get to know the children.” Cathy Hogan from St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton agreed with Ms Kranias and said “children learn at different speeds so taking into account all the children’s previous experiences is important”. After piloting Successful Foundations last year, I carried out extensive pre and post surveying of teachers and principals and

had conversations with students and their families, all of whom reported positive outcomes. The project works well because of the collaborative approach of working alongside children and teachers. Mary-Anne Jennings, principal at St Kevin’s Primary School, Cardiff, is buoyed by the potential the Successful Foundations project will have on students’ learning in Kindergarten and beyond. “As the name Successful Foundations suggests, Kindergarten sets up children for the rest of their educational journey, if not for life,” Ms Jennings said. “If we have a foundation where they have driven their own learning, they’ve developed a growth mindset in that ‘I learn through play, I learn through making mistakes, I learn through doing what I’m interested in’. And their visible learning — ‘I’m here, but I have to go there, and that’s how I’m going to get there’. It sets them up for the rest of their life, so they are never afraid of failure. “In hindsight, Successful Foundations is actually returning to years ago when I first started teaching Kindergarten where play was such an important part of the curriculum, which wasn’t overburdened with academia. The children grew and developed at their own level. It was fantastic. Successful Foundations is coming full circle, a 360-degree turnaround.” Kim Moroney is Education Officer (Early Learning) for the Catholic Schools Office in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Photo: Peter Stoop


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

Pride in preservation DARRELL CROKER The email from the Department of Communities and Justice on 19 December last year to those from the Hunter involved in the state government’s Family Preservation Program (FPP) was a lesson in great communication — succinct and powerful.

support to assist their own emotional wellbeing.

Hi All

Over the period, there were many improvements including better interactions between family members, safety when in the presence of “unsafe” adults, good engagement with health services, and improved speech for the young family member. With the help of caseworkers, the family secured stable accommodation, and the children started school and preschool.

Recently one of our local efforts in FPP was featured in the regular Partnering Newsletter. Thanks to CCHM for their continued efforts. This article was aimed to highlight that locally we had the first successful case closure in the State, due to a reduction in need! Kind regards Photo: Peter Stoop

$500 Gift Cards To Be Won

Authorised under NSW permit: LTPS/19/41177

Join A League To Win 

Join A League at Raymond Terrace Strikezone and become eligible for the ��00 prize.

You have until April 20 this year to join one of the many leagues.

There are day and night leagues - singles, doubles triples - most with handicaps

New Leagues - Join Now

Galaxy Singles - Mondays at 10am All Sorts Mixed Triples - Fridays 6.30pm Tumbleweeds Mixed Pairs - Tuesdays 9.30am Have A Ball Mixed Pairs - Wednesdays, 7pm.

1 Leisure Way Raymond Terrace

Ph 02 4987 7544

CCHM is CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning and “the first successful case closure” related to a program that resulted in a Maitland family’s children being safe in the home and the parents no longer in need of intensive support. The state government’s Permanency Support Program (PSP) offers wraparound services to children and young people at high risk. In 2018–19, 190 new PSP Family Preservation Packages were allocated across the state to be delivered jointly for up to two years between Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) caseworkers, and partner caseworkers. The focus is on putting funding into earlier intervention to enable children to live with their family and/or maintain the family structure. CatholicCare was granted partner status for the Hunter region, and together with three Community Services Centres (CSC) it works with up to 14 families at a time. One of the families referred had accumulated multiple risk of significant harm reports, experienced a child death in the family, and was subject to a series of interventions across NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The parents had challenges supporting their children’s growth and development because they were managing their own emotions and grief surrounding the loss of a child. Merrin Dimmock, CatholicCare’s Earlier Intervention Operations Manager said the family needed additional help to meet those needs while they were engaged in counselling and other

“The family was referred in January 2019 and the case closed in AugustSeptember,” Ms Dimmock said. “The goals were around educational support, children’s health and parenting support.”

Natalie Cowper, CatholicCare’s Family Preservation Team Leader based in Singleton, said all her referrals relating to risk of harm reports come from the DCJ. “Children are in the home with their parents, and our role is to come in and support the parents for increased safety and wellbeing for their children,” Ms Cowper said. “This was the first successful closure under the program. The family’s casework goals were achieved. It was jointly decided between the family, CCHM and DCJ that intensive support was no longer required.” The PSP is significant in its offering and Ms Cowper’s team are passionate about the program. “The intensity of the work we do makes it unique along with the frequency of home visits and direct face-to-face support with families,” Ms Cowper said. “A lot of the parents we work with did not have that opportunity as a child. They were assumed into care. This is significant for them to be able to keep their children in their care and break that generational cycle.” CatholicCare was “well celebrated” for the initial state-first closure, and since that time has had two more successes. “All the agencies involved work closely together,” Ms Cowper said, “and we all experience the same successes, the same challenges, and we all try to make sure this program is successful. We share information among us.” Including congratulatory emails.

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


Drawing from the well of faith Catholic Schools Week 2020 BERNADETTE GIBSON

Catholic schools draw their inspiration and hope from the Jesus of the Gospels. This nurtures a deep commitment to, and underpins our understanding of, why we do what we do. In a deeply secular country such as Australia, Catholic schools offer a different choice for parents — a choice where,

like the Samaritan woman at the well — children are met as people of inherent worth. All aspects of school life are drawn from a well of faith — faith in the goodness of life, faith in the ability of humanity to seek to be its best, faith in every child’s ability to learn and excel, faith in a God who suffers and rejoices with us in both consolation and celebration. In a Catholic school, children encounter opportunities to grow in personhood and knowledge. We prioritise education for indigenous students, lay solid foundations for early learning, provide a Virtual Academy, and encourage our young people to ask questions, to become

advocates for justice and active citizens of the world. They are invited to drink deeply of knowledge, to pursue truth and be filled with a lifelong love of learning. Catholic schools strive to build a community, not just an economy. They are challenged to view the world as hopefilled and are charged with a response to go and make a difference. To do so is to give witness to a life that flourishes into the fullness of its potential — the human person made in the image of God. Bernadette Gibson is Religious Education Co-ordinator.



Drawing From The Well

Dusted off and ready to roll TONY PETERSON

For at least the last five years, there has been consistent murmuring about the state of the playground at St Joseph’s Primary School in Merewether. The school year would often commence with the oval displaying a nice covering of grass, but this would quickly deteriorate after daily use by close to 300 children. With no chance for recovery during the school year, the playground would quickly become a dust bowl and the P&F and school leadership were regularly approached for a solution. At the start of 2019, with new principal Karen McGinlay on-board, the school community was mobilised to create a field of dreams. We revitalised the playground, transforming it from dustbowl to verdant turf, combining a variety of spaces that invite students to use their imaginations, stimulate their curiosity and learn through play.

The project was ambitious, considering we would consult, design, fundraise, tender and construct all before the start of the 2020 school year. But we now have a fantastic all-weather, diverse playing area that is being enjoyed by all children from Kindergarten to Year 6 and in time, by the broader community, including sporting clubs and charitable organisations. We were successful in achieving our goal through the hard work of an amazing group of parents and teachers, who gave large amounts of their personal time to design a suitable area, arrange and host numerous fundraisers, prepare submissions for grants and ultimately oversee the installation of what we have today, namely turfed soccer and netball fields, a dry creek bed, a bridge, an open space and a very inviting mound.

A key aspect of the whole process was consultation. All students were given opportunities to contribute to the design, as well as the teaching staff and parent body. On returning to school this year, one of the students was overheard saying “our playground has been transformed into an amazing oasis for us all,” and was backed by a fellow parent who declared “so green, so clean, what a dream.” But it was Mrs McMillan, one of our school’s teachers, who nicely summed up the benefits of everyone’s collective work when she said “the playground has transformed our teaching and learning. This amazing space has been a collaborative task, achieved with an entire community's support. Our families, siblings, playgroup children and our

primary school students can discover, encounter and learn together in a visually enhanced environment. This space has lifted our spirits and our minds for growth every day.” Our achievement is a shining example of what a community can do if they pull together for a common cause. Tony Peterson is the P&F President at St Joseph’s Primary School, Merewether.

Photo: Peter Stoop

The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle celebrated Catholic Schools Week from 1 March to 6 March. This marked a time of celebration and joy for the lives and learning of 20,000 young people enrolled from Kindergarten to Year 12 across 58 Catholic schools. Maitland-Newcastle is the fourth-largest Diocese in NSW.


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

Never out of training BRITTANY GONZALEZ Phil Cox’s early career spanned more than 20 years in the maritime and transport industries. However, an itch for something different resulted in a move north where his significant period with TAFE NSW began. Working across the state, Phil held multiple leading roles including senior executive at the North Coast Institute, deputy director at the Sydney Institute and institute director/ chief executive of both the Western Sydney Institute and Hunter Institute. Despite retiring in 2015, Phil remains a strong supporter of regional economic development and continues to work closely with local industry to identify and help plan for their future training needs. He holds directorships with the Hunter Valley Training Company, the Lake Macquarie Foundation and the Honeysuckle Community Group. 1. What Catholic school/s did you attend? Do you know why your parents chose a Catholic education for you? St Joseph’s Primary at Carrington, which is no longer there. It was a tiny, local community Catholic school where nuns were the teachers. Following this, I went to St Pius X, Adamstown. My mother was from a strong Catholic background and she and her mother had attended Catholic schools. Mum decided on the nurturing and caring side of the Catholic school system for her children. My dad was not Catholic, but he agreed. 2. What drew you to the VET sector? What has been the most memorable or rewarding moment in your career? My wife and I wanted to do something different. I am a qualified accountant and had been working in different roles in Newcastle for 20 years. The children were still young, and I accepted a role as director of finances with TAFE NSW based at Port Macquarie. I threw myself into understanding the business and it blew me away just how fantastic an organisation it was and the opportunities it presented. Within 18 months I was acting as the institute director and from that point I progressed through the TAFE NSW system and went on to have a very rewarding career in VET.

3. During your time with TAFE NSW you implemented an alumni association. Why do you believe this is important? I'd seen through other organisations the impact alumni can have and was astounded we hadn’t recognised or capitalised on the vast array of our past TAFE students. Many had gone on to achieve career and life success, which could be harnessed to inspire our current and future students. Take for example chefs and cooks. There were so many famous chefs, in Australia and working overseas, and just about all of them had been trained through the TAFE system. They have that inbuilt energy to be what they want to be, but the practical training and bringing the best out of them is a big part of what TAFE does. We found a lot of our alumni wanted to come back and help our current students. 4. As a strong supporter of regional development and having experienced first-hand the value of higher, vocational and career training, what advice would you have for students planning their career path? Everyone wants their child to have the best career possible and many see a university education as the best way to achieve that. But not every young person, or adult, are suited to the university environment or what it teaches. TAFE has a significant variety of career pathway options and I do not believe we promote them enough. It's surprising the number of people who, after completing university degrees, aren't happy with what they are doing and then come to TAFE. So, my advice is: try to look at all the career options and pathways and see what attracts you. Don’t lock yourself in to a life-long career. There are always other opportunities if you're not happy with what you're doing. 5. Is faith a big part of your life? If yes, how has it helped? No. I went through the Catholic school system, was baptised and went to Church for my mother’s sake. I haven't had the depth of faith she had. My mother suffered with cancer and I think her faith carried her through years of additional lifespan.

A full version of this story is published online at

Photo: Peter Stoop

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


Singing his praises NATALEE BONOMINI

If the Lord can move mountains, a mother’s faithful prayer can turn a troubled teen to singing priest. Fr Rob Galea is an ordained Catholic Priest currently serving in the Sandhurst Diocese, Victoria. He calls Australia home, but it was his troubled past as a teenager growing up in Malta, his home country, that brought him into the seminary 18 years ago. His destructive and reckless lifestyle as a teenager, which included drinking, clubbing and joining a gang, eventually led him into despair hiding in his bedroom fearing for his life from fellow gang members. It was through God’s grace that he was invited to a youth group at Church that helped turn the troubled kid once kicked out of the school choir, into a creative, musically gifted and talented singer-songwriter who uses his natural, God-given talents for evangelising. He is a priest first, then musician with an established international fan base. He has performed with numerous renowned artists including Guy Sebastian and has worked with the industry’s best in creating and releasing contemporary Christian music. In 2015, he appeared on The X Factor and now has a Hollywood

film deal, with the possibility of Ryan Gosling playing him in the movie. He ministered to more than 1.4 million people last year and does not intend to slow down. For someone who has amassed nearly 56,000 followers on social media, Fr Rob is aware of the dangers of focusing only on what is portrayed online. “Following Jesus is not about having a good life, it is about being real,” he said. “Social media promotes the ideal life and the amazing lifestyle. They are all extraordinary moments but there are many ordinary moments that lead to the extra ordinary, the brokenness. But that often doesn’t make it to social media. “I think it’s my responsibility as a human being, not only as a priest but as a follower of Christ, to let people know that following Jesus is tough. It doesn’t mean that you are not going to have suffering and not have pain, but the amazing thing is that through the suffering and pain there is going to be a God there who is walking with you, there is going to be a community walking with you.” Fr Rob is visiting Maitland this month and you are invited to his concert on 31 March.


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

Talkin’ ’bout my generation LIZZIE SNEDDEN Members of the “silent generation” are typically characterised by their discipline, gratitude and appreciation of life’s simplicities. Attending school in the 1930s and ’40s, ink wells lined their wooden desks, and spinning tops, marbles and jacks were the toys of choice. It's a far cry from the experiences of gen Z, the youth attending school today, who learn with the aid of devices and are lauded for their multi-tasking abilities and environmental conscience. Yet despite the two generations' apparent differences - age being only one of them - a nursing home in New Lambton has done a remarkable job in bridging the divide. For years St John's Villa has been blending the generations with its activity sessions. Its residents look forward to weekly visits from students attending nearby schools including St Columba's Primary School, Adamstown, St Therese’s Primary School, New Lambton and St Pius X High School, Adamstown. St John's Villa activities co-ordinator,Deb Cornell, has witnessed the improved health and wellbeing of residents who take part in the activities centred around intergenerational contact.

"The students' visits assist our residents in restoring connection and reminding them of the many skills and abilities they possess," Ms Cornell said. "Even hours after the students have gone for the day, you can see our residents smiling as they recall memories from their childhood, which are triggered by the visits." The concept of the young and elderly mixing socially is nothing new. In previous years it was not uncommon for homes to have three or four generations living under the one roof. However, as our social fabric continues to evolve, the tendency for family members to live significant distances apart has increased, and opportunities are missed for children to bond with their elders. St Columba’s Primary School Religious Education co-ordinator, Lisa Matzanke, said visits to St John’s Villa provide students with an opportunity to live out their school's Mercy values of compassion, justice, hospitality and respect in the wider community "Having the opportunity to interact with the residents has enhanced our students' appreciation of the elderly,” Ms Matzanke said. “Many hadn't been to a nursing home

before, and the experience builds their confidence." The shared activities between St John's Villa residents and the students vary but include breeding quolls in an incubator, planting succulent gardens and caring for guinea pigs. Interviews for a short story collection have taken place, as have painting portraits of each other and answering a multitude of questions in a scavenger hunt with a twist. The latter was especially helpful as a conversation starter. "Students get to hear some extraordinary stories from the residents about their experiences, which are so far removed from their own life," Ms Matzanke said. "It's beautiful to watch the students and residents connect, and I'm so proud of the patience, respect and compassion the children show."

to establishing pen pals," Ms Matzanke said. "The friendships they are forming are genuine and heart-warming." Sharon Cashen, whose mother is a resident at St John's Villa, wrote to St Columba's Primary School supporting the project. "Thank you for taking your beautiful children to St John's Villa today. The visit by your staff and students brought a tear to my mother's eye and a huge smile to her face as she was telling me about it this evening. "We can't thank you enough for teaching your students to care for the elderly. Kindness makes a huge difference in this world, and these children have it in spades."

The connection doesn't end with the visits, with many of the students coming up with ideas for other experiences they can share.

Building on the success of the program, residents are making reciprocal visits to schools. They recently watched a play at St Therese’s Primary School and took part in an afternoon of line dancing with students at St Columba's Primary School. All had a ball.

"Last year, our students asked to make the residents personalised Christmas cards that they could gift them when they went to listen to carols together. Now, we’re on

"The program goes to show that friendships really can transcend age," Ms Cornell said. "We've all got something we can learn from and share with each other."

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


CareTalk My sister recently had her first baby. She has a supportive partner and family around her, but she confided in me that she just can’t seem to bond with her baby. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone about this as she said she’s afraid of admitting such a terrible thing. How can I support her but also encourage her to seek help? I hate to see her suffer in silence.

CatholicCare’s assistant director and registered psychologist Tanya Jarrett, addresses an issue each month. The advice provided is general in nature and does not replace ongoing support and advice from your health professional. To talk to someone about counselling support, call CatholicCare P 4979 1172 or Lifeline 24/7 on P 131 114.

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

Regardless of how much information is now widely available for new parents, many still feel the burden of expectation about how pregnancy, childbirth and parenting “should” be. Sadly, many new parents do not want to admit to any negative feelings following the birth of a child, but this can place increasing pressure on families, and many continue to suffer in silence. The possibility of developing post-natal depression is all too common in situations like you have described and seeking help in some way is essential for your sister’s (and baby’s) wellbeing.

f panic attacks (a racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically “detached” from your surroundings)

f loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities

f persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of baby

If your sister is not yet ready to talk to someone in person, I recommend the following resources for her to at least explore. The support available to her is amazing.

By confiding in you, clearly your sister trusts you, even if she doesn’t feel ready to take the next steps. Perhaps she is not aware of the different options available to her. I encourage you to keep talking to her, letting her know you can help in any way, including practical help; but give her information to help her find the support that will work for her.

f sleep problems unrelated to the baby’s needs

In a media release in May last year, Beyond Blue reported some of the most searched Google data that could be indicators of anxiety and depression during the perinatal period (during pregnancy and after birth). Some of these include: “Does my baby love me?” “Am I a bad mother?” “I don’t love my baby.” New mums may not feel it or believe it, but they’re not alone and many attempt to seek answers in the anonymous online world. According to PANDA (Perinatal & Anxiety Australia), some of the symptoms of postnatal depression include:

Will you help build a stronger, fairer and kinder society?

Become a foster carer today. FREE INFO


Maitland 10 March Belmont 5 May

Call 4944 0700 to register or Visit for more info

f the development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours f increased sensitivity to noise or touch f changes in appetite; under or overeating

f extreme lethargy: a feeling of being physically or emotionally overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands of chores and looking after baby f memory problems or loss of concentration (“brain fog”) f loss of confidence and lowered self esteem f constant sadness or crying f withdrawal from friends and family f fear of being alone with baby f intrusive thoughts of harm to yourself or baby f irritability and/or anger f increased alcohol or drug use

f thoughts of death or suicide.

f PANDA website: PANDA has extensive information and support including a national 24-hour helpline. Its number is 1300 726 306. f Beyond Blue website: www. au. In 2019, Beyond Blue launched a perinatal depression and anxiety campaign. The website has resources, a helpline and online forums to support families. The helpline number is 1300 224 636. f CatholicCare runs a program called Bringing Baby Home. This program supports new parents who are expecting, or who have a new baby; particularly supporting healthy relationships and the transition to parenthood. For more information, visit or you can call 4979 1370. At some stage, after discussing all the options with her, your sister may be willing to consider attending counselling or talking to her doctor. CatholicCare can help with counselling. Call us on 4979 1120.


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

Faces and places in our Diocese Schools in our Diocese welcomed excited new Kindergarten students in February. Here are some photos of their first day at big school.

Jeanne Nyandora, David Gisore, Brian and Gabriella at Our Lady of Victories Primary School, Shortland

Nadia, Natalia & Oliver Woolford at Our Lady of Victories Primary School, Shortland

Jayden, Lachlan and Pinn Tongue at Our Lady of Victories Primary School, Shortland

Aimee, Callum and Russell Walsh at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Tarro

Jed (Yr 6 Buddy) Christopher, Natash, and Ethan Lowe at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, Tarro

Baxter Cleaves with Learning Support Aide Emily Munro at St Patrick’s Primary School, Cessnock

James Cherry, Alan Cherry and Lindy Gatt at St Joseph's Primary School, Charlestown

Summer and Adam Reynolds at St Joseph's Primary School, Charlestown

Anna, Beau and David Glenn at St Joseph's Primary School, Charlestown

Kevin Riboldi, Whitney Zakrzewski and Logan Riboldi at St Kevin’s Primary School, Cardiff

Nadine, Poppy and Sam Harman at St Kevin’s Primary School, Cardiff

Justin Tuagalu, Jaimee O’Rourke, Ivy and Zion at St Kevin’s Primary School, Cardiff

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


Community Noticeboard Diocesan Synod notes now available

Sisters in Faith

Following the Diocesan Synod held 23 November 2019, all responses have now been collated and are available in the document Diocesan Synod Celebration – Responses. You can view the report on under Pastoral Planning.

The Sisters in Faith Dinner will be held on Tuesday 17 March at 6pm at Victor Peters Suite, 841 Hunter St, Newcastle West. An opportunity for all women of faith to join together. A love offering towards the dinner will be appreciated. RSVP by 9 March at Contact Alyson Segrott, or 4979 1117 for more information.

You can also watch the keynote presentations from Fr Richard Lennan and Lana TurveyCollins, and download resources such as PowerPoint presentations from workshop speakers. If you would like a printed copy of the responses, please contact your local parish. Taize Prayer services in the style of Taize are held at Adamstown Uniting Church, 228 Brunker Rd at 5pm on the second Sunday of each month. Tea/coffee available from 4.30pm. Upcoming services are 8 March, 10 May, 12 July, 13 September and 8 November. See for more information. Facebook: Taize Newcastle — Australia Leading for Mission: Faith and Formation in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, in partnership with the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at Australian Catholic University, invite you to attend an information session about the Graduate Certificate in Mission and Culture (GCMC). The session will be held Tuesday 10 March, 5pm-6.30pm in the Toohey Room at Cathedral House, located at 841 Hunter St, Newcastle West. The GCMC is an innovative and integrated formation and educational program designed specifically to support the leadership development needs of the Diocese, and to enhance participants’ understanding of the Christian and Catholic context in which they exercise leadership.

Marriage and relationship education courses 2020 Marriage education is a vital part of planning for a life partnership. CatholicCare offers a selection of courses for married and soon-tobe married couples. Couples are advised to attend a course about four months before their wedding. Book early, as some courses are very popular. Before We Say I Do is a group program held on Friday evenings and Saturdays, as advertised, and the FOCCUS group program is three Monday-evening sessions. Before We Say I Do, 15 and 16 May, Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5pm-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. Marriage and Relationship Education Course — FOCCUS, Murray Room, Newcastle, 21 and 28 July. 5.15pm-7.30pm, (session three to be confirmed). Before We Say I Do, 21 and 22 August, Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5pm-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. Marriage and Relationship Education Course — FOCCUS, Murray Room, Newcastle, 13 and 20 October. 5.15pm-7.30pm, (session three to be confirmed). Before We Say I Do, 6 and 7 November, Toohey Room, Newcastle. Friday 5pm-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm.

For more events please visit

share something of her story. Morning tea and lunch provided. RSVP essential by 20 March to, 0421 879 221. Fr Rob Galea Concert Activ8 Youth – Concert with Fr Rob Galea will be held 31 March, 6.30pm-8pm at All Saints' College, St Mary’s Campus, 16 Grant St Maitland. Tickets $13. For tickets go to and type “Activ8 Youth – Concert with Fr Rob Galea”. For more information about Fr Rob see www. Christian Formation Course The 2020 Christian Formation Course will commence on 28 April. Participants can choose to attend on Tuesday evenings at CatholicCare, Mayfield or Wednesday mornings at the Corcoran Centre, Morpeth. If you would like to enrich your faith, be better equipped to participate in conversations with friends or colleagues about issues of faith, or join a class of like-minded people wishing to explore their faith, see the flyer available from your parish office or the Adult Faith Formation page on Healing after abortion Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, Sydney offers healing retreats for those who have experienced an abortion. A retreat on 1-3 May offers a sanctuary in which to renew, rebuild and redeem hearts broken by abortion in a safe, supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment. See or call the confidential voicemail number 0400 092 555 or email Annual TWEC Dinner

For further information on all our courses, including costs, please contact Robyn Donnelly, 4979 1370, or

The TWEC Dinner will be held on Friday 8 May at 6.30pm for 7pm start at the Therry Centre, New England Hwy, East Maitland. Special guest Aaron Kearney, multi-award winning broadcaster, journalist, sports commentator will speak on personal connections, universal stories. Ticket information out soon; call 4979 1111 for more information.

National Biennial Liturgy Conference

Catholic women keeping the faith

Our community needs you

Liturgy: Forming a Prayerful and Eucharistic Church, will be held on 12-14 March at the Novotel Sydney, Parramatta Hotel.

The Council for Australian Catholic Women contact group for the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle invites you to Keeping the Faith, on Saturday 28 March at 9.30am at Parish Hall, Lake St, Forster. $10. This event is an opportunity to meet new friends, hear diverse voices, share your story and be informed about the Plenary Council. Principal of Holy Name Primary School, Forster, Brooke Stephens will

St Vincent de Paul Society invites you to join us in service to the disadvantaged and vulnerable members of our community by giving just a few hours of your time per week as a volunteer/or conference member.

The course provides participants with the necessary higher-level skill sets to think theologically around their organisational leadership practices and to develop skills in the promotion of a Christian and specifically Catholic culture. RSVP at Y7PAX. For more information, contact Jenny Harris,

This conference aims to provide those working in liturgical ministry in parishes, schools, and other communities with enriching opportunities for liturgical education, prayerful celebration, professional networking and fellowship. Go to for more information.

We also have a wait list for our Bringing Baby Home workshop, which assists couples transition to parenthood. FOCCUS Individual sessions by appointment only.

Vinnies Maitland/Newcastle region is looking for people of all ages — 16 and

For the latest news & events in our Diocese You can download the Diocese phone, iPad or tablet app

over to assist 1-2 days per week. This is a great opportunity if you are looking for volunteering work to meet Centrelink requirements, or looking to connect with like-minded people wanting to have a positive impact on the lives of others. Volunteer work provides renewed energy, motivation and a real sense of purpose by giving something back to others and the community. Put volunteering on your New Year’s resolution list. To find out more and register your interest contact Rachel 4967 6277 or email Youth Mass On the first Sunday of each month, the 5.30pm Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Macquarie Street, Wallsend, has music and readings led by the youth of the parish. Everyone is welcome. Wild and Wonderful Wednesdays Wild and Wonderful Wednesdays 10am at Mums’ Cottage, 29 St Helen Street, Holmesville, is an opportunity for women to gather for fun and company. Each Wednesday is different, with possibilities including games of Scrabble, sharing stories, singing karaoke, or watching a movie together. For more information contact Mums’ Cottage on 4953 4105, email or visit Garage sales A garage sale is held in the Mums’ Cottage grounds every second Monday at 10am. For more information contact Mums’ Cottage on 4953 4105, email au or visit

For your diary March 8

Taize (see opposite)

International Women’s Day Mass 9.30am at Sacred Heart Cathedral


Leading for Mission information session (see opposite)

12-14 National Biennial Liturgy Conference (see opposite) 17

Sisters in Faith dinner (see opposite)


Catechist Mass 2pm at Sacred Heart Cathedral


Catholic women keeping the faith (see opposite)


Way of the Cross 3pm at 140 Wangi Rd, Kilaben Bay


Fr Rob Galea concert (see opposite)


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

Sweet surprise Each Thursday morning of the school term students studying hospitality at St Paul’s Catholic College, Booragul, operate a café for staff and their senior classmates. The opportunity allows our students to gain “on the job” experience of café operations. At our café we offer for sale a range of sweets for purchase, including this raspberry chia slice. As part of their course our students also cook for a variety of functions including morning teas, lunches, graduation and award ceremonies as well as evening functions.

Photos: Peter Stoop

We chose to share our chia, raspberry and coconut slice recipe as it showcases the possibility of using healthier methods to prepare traditional foods that are labelled “bad”, such as sweets and slices. Ordinarily, a raspberry coconut slice is high in sugar, and made with commercially prepared sugary jarred jam and desiccated coconut. Our version uses fresh raspberries instead of jam from a jar, and chia seeds, which add to its nutritional value. It’s also a great recipe for our students as not only does it introduce them to ingredients that are “trendy” at the moment such as chia seeds and coconut flakes, it allows us to teach them basic cooking skills (such as creaming, baking, and simmering). Michelle Anderson is Hospitality and Food Technology Teacher at St Paul’s Catholic College Booragul

Chia, raspberry and coconut slice 20 min preparation, 40 min to cook, serves 16 Ingredients 2 ½ cups (375g) frozen raspberries, thawed ¼ cup (50g) chia seeds 1 tbs lemon juice 90g butter, softened ½ cup (110g) caster sugar 1 egg

Step 1 Place raspberries in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 mins or until the raspberries break down and release their juices. Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds and lemon juice. Set aside to cool. Step 2 Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease an 18cm x 28cm slice pan and line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang. Step 3 Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and egg in a bowl until pale and creamy. Stir in combined flour. Press the

ALEXANDER FOSTER negative to arrive at a place where they can encounter God. For us, this means acknowledging and reflecting on our Church’s dark history in order to move forward both individually and as part of a faith community.

A Time for Hope was birthed as a series of retreats for priests, but evolved into a book for all Christians. Much like retreats, it is intended to be experienced slowly and in partnership with reflection.

But A Time for Hope is not about rousing despondency. Castley acknowledges the anguish and loss that surrounds us as people of the Church, but reframes our experience through the lens of hope, which only Christ can provide. As he puts it, “it doesn’t matter how often we stray, Christ will come after us”.

Castley draws contrast between optimism and hope. Hope, he says, involves an individual’s honest recognition of the

As we make our way from cover to cover, we are invited to look beyond our concerns about the Church; to notice

/3 cup (100g) plain flour


/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour

2 eggs, extra 2 1/3 cups (115g) moist coconut flakes ¼ cup (55g) caster sugar, extra 1 tbs chia seeds, extra


A Time to Hope Paul F. Castley MSC It’s a difficult time to be a part of our Church community. So many of us are feeling disheartened and hurt by the horrific cases of child sexual abuse that have so deeply affected our friends and families. Keeping faith can be challenging, but through his book A Time to Hope, Paul F. Castley suggests this is the time we need our faith the most.


our feelings, distractions, experiences, memories and hopes through meaningful prayer. It is suggested that by surrendering our need for control and success, we can “make space for God’s plans to be poured into our hearts and to illuminate our minds and energise our wills”. Is it enough, though, to surrender everything to God in such trying times? The will and inspiration of God, Castley says, can only enter our hearts after deep prayer and lamentation. It is what we choose to do with that will and inspiration that comes from our own spirit. A Time to Hope, Coventry Press 2019

mixture over the base of the prepared pan. Spread the raspberry mixture over the top. Step 4 Use a fork to whisk extra eggs in a bowl. Stir in coconut and extra sugar. Spoon over the raspberry mixture. Sprinkle with extra chia seeds. Step 5 Bake for 35 mins or until top is golden and set. Set aside to cool completely. Cut into pieces to serve.

Enrolments Now Open Branxton & Maitland

Book your tour



1- 11



soon tages d s e r u t Fu elease to be r

Priced from $365k - $460k, join our growing community, already home to over 250 residents.

Our Homes

Our homes are spacious architecturally designed, single level, 2/3 bedroom freestanding villas and duplexes of brick and tile construction. There are 4 different floor plans to choose from with either double or single garages with remote control doors. Each home features modern decor, are very low maintenance, energy efficient and are fully landscaped and fenced.

• • • • • •

Gym Library BBQ area Club house Kitchen & Bar Billiards room

Lovedale Rd 10mins Wine Country Lovedale Rd 10mins Restaurants Golf etc

Wine Country Restaurants Golf etc

Anaconda Amart Toys R Us

New England Hwy New England Hwy

• • • • • •

Workshop Putting green Bowling green Cinema room Visiting GP’s room Hairdressing salon

Opal Nursing Home Opal Nursing Home

Anaconda Amart Toys R Us

Anambah Rd

Located close to transport, shopping and medical facilities, within minutes from Maitland Hospital and only 10km to the Lovedale Wine & Art Trail. We are a safe, secure gated community manned 24 hours, 7 days a week with a 24 hour emergency call system. A GP visits the resort on a weekly basis. The NBN Internet is available for connection. The property is set on a level site with beautifully landscaped gardens. We are pet friendly and have many organised outings and activities for our residents.

Our Stunning Facilities

Anambah Rd

Our Location & Features

• • • •

Beautifully heated pool Men’s Shed Caravan/Boat storage area 6 seater buggy for transport within the resort

Newcastle 40mins Newcastle 40mins Newcastle Airport 40mins Airport 40mins Sydney Newcastle 90mins Sydney 90mins

To Hunter Valley To Hunter Valley

Domayne BCF Domayne Harvey NormanBCF Ten Pin BowlingHarvey Norman Ten Pin Bowling

Rutherford Rutherford Shopping Centre Medical CentresShopping Centre Woolworths, Coles, Medical Centres Chemist, IGA, Aldi Woolworths, Coles,

To Newcastle To Newcastle Maitland HospitalMaitland Hospital Chemist, IGA, Aldi

Call us today to request your FREE information pack on 1800 422 155 2350

14 Denton Park Drive, Rutherford NSW 2320 | |

Winner of the Hunter Aged Care & Disability Achievement Awards 2016 Retirement Village of the Year

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.