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Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle November 2020 | No.207

A fund you can trust

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


It’s a journey...

On the cover This month in Aurora we share stories which reflect some of the virtues the Catholic Church holds as a beacon including faith, hope, charity, fortitude and temperance.

During my early 20s, I was distant from the Catholic Church. There was no particular catalyst; I just wasn’t sure of its relevance in my life.

Featured f Signalling virtue and unmasking vice


f Language of respect unites


f Incarcerating youngsters is no solution


f Dry-land dreaming


f Restraint has its own power


f Cure presents conundrum


f Shelters ready to serve


f Not as cold as charity


f Children receiving twisted messages


f Call of the spirit answered


f F ratelli Tutti: Pope Francis delivers new teaching



f Looking for the perfect match


f Schools can counter pessimism



Despite this, when I had my son at 27 years of age, I knew I wanted him baptised. While trying to find time to meet with the priest and source a baptismal gown, I did pause to reconsider my choice. I wondered, was I just wanting him baptised because it was a family tradition? Is it really worth the effort? It was then I recalled my own experiences as a child, many of which were based around attending a Catholic school and Mass as a family each weekend. As I did, it bought a smile to my face. While I may not have fully realised it then, being raised in a community of faith where a common bond of love united us was such an incredible gift. When I extended my hand to an elderly lady in a sign of peace or raised money for Project Compassion, it gave me a buzz of excitement. I believed I was helping others, and I was, by doing even the smallest of regular good deeds. It was then I knew I wanted my son to experience this joy, and a short time later, he was baptised.

Around the same time, I was considering my next career move. I had been working as an advisor to a Member of Parliament, which came to an abrupt halt when he resigned. In reflecting on what I had enjoyed most about that role, it was visiting community organisations and witnessing their good work. Shortly afterwards, I took on a role with CatholicCare. Knowing I was working as part of a team that was making a difference in people’s lives bought me great joy. I then realised this wasn’t just a career move; it was an opportunity to nourish my soul and little by little, I felt my faith enrich. After a few years, I took on a new role with the Diocese as part of its wider communications team. Here, I got to witness the work of the Church in action across all its agencies and, began attending Mass more regularly. Listening to the sermons as an adult took on a new meaning. Now, as I continue to contemplate the relevance of the Catholic Church in a modern world, I am inspired by stories shared with me by parishioners, clergy and staff. Theirs may not be the type to

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This month in Aurora we share stories of people connected to our Diocese, which reflect some of the virtues the Catholic Church holds as a beacon including faith, hope, charity, fortitude and temperance. Jesus’ chief concern was with right attitudes, from which right acts might proceed. As such, you will also read about how some of these virtues help to guide decisions when faced with ethical challenges. My faith journey is far from over. However, one thing I have picked up is the closer I find myself connecting to the messages of the Gospel; not just through attending Mass but by practising the virtues, the easier it is to navigate this complex world of ours.

Lizzie Snedden is Editor for Aurora

Aurora online

Next deadline 10 November, 2020


make headlines, but that is somewhat the point. What I am learning is that to live an authentic Catholic life is not about grand gestures of generosity, the absence of sin, or preaching from the Bible. Instead, it is about listening to what the Gospel teaches about actively caring for each other; regardless of a persons’ political views, past mistakes or religious beliefs.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

The communion of saints You, Dear Reader, know many things that I don’t. You know, for example, whether Trump won the American election, or at least whether there has yet been a final result. I am stuck in the past, in October. I don’t even know the result of that other first Tuesday race, the Melbourne Cup. You know, but you can’t tell me. Not now, not as I sit here writing. What you know is still in the future for me, still uncertain. Such is the nature of living in time, the future is always uncertain, not entirely predictable, however much we think we know what to expect. Anno Domini 2020 has made that abundantly clear.

deceased person. For many, this is an act of charity, a conscious prayer for the forgotten dead who may have no one else to pray for them. I mention these things thus briefly for those who might read these lines who have never really understood what Catholics are on about in November.

According to some old wisdom, however, two things in life are certain, death and taxes. We may not even be so sure about one of those anymore, but still you are in November, the month of the Christian year when death, or rather the dead, are more in our minds than at other times. The Feast of All Saints begins the month, closely followed by the commemoration of All Souls. We turn our minds to those whose lives in this world have ended, both those who now live in God beyond need of our prayers and those who, at death, were in need of God’s grace and mercy, whom we believe we can help by our prayers.

I don’t want to suggest that we know all about death or what happens to us when we die. St John’s First Letter rightly observes that “... we are already the children of God, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed. All we know is that we shall be like him, for we shall see God as he really is.” The Council of Trent likewise ordered that preaching on heaven, hell, purgatory and so on, should not be too florid and descriptive, as it often had been, or encourage speculations about the afterlife that go beyond what little we actually know. Rather, here we are in the realms of faith, hope and love. Faith that leads us, like Christ, to face death saying “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit”. Hope that, like Christ, we shall be raised to life. Love that, like Christ’s, moves us to want to be with the Father and to want all others to come to that fullness of life as well.

Knowing how imperfect most of us are in life, we presume that the latter group form the vast majority of our dead, so in our parishes our Masses throughout November are offered for the “Holy Souls” collectively, individual parishioners associating themselves with that corporate prayer by requesting “November Masses” as, at other times, they might request Mass for a particular

So, Dear People of the Future, you who know whether Trump won or not, you who cannot tell me in my present what to expect when I get to the first Tuesday in November, we live in time and we are locked into it. When I get to November, I shall know what you now know. So, it is with all those who have gone before me in life. And when I get to November, I will, with all the Church, remember them,

remember that perhaps they need my prayers, remember that their present, the eternal present, is my future. I hesitate to use an expression so bandied about at the moment, but in this whole life-anddeath thing, “we’re all in this together”. People of the past, present and future, living and dead, we’re all caught up in the journey to life. “I believe in the communion of saints, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”

Bishop Bill Wright Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Frankly Spoken "Belief in God and the worship of God are not enough to ensure that we are actually living in a way pleasing to God. A believer may be untrue to everything that his faith demands of him, and yet think he is close to God and better than others. The guarantee of an authentic openness to God, on the other hand, is a way of practising the faith that helps open our hearts to our brothers and sisters. Saint John Chrysostom expressed this pointedly when he challenged his Christian hearers: “Do you wish to honour the body of the Saviour? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honour it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold”. Paradoxically, those who claim to be unbelievers can sometimes put God’s will into practice better than believers." §74, Fratelli Tutti, released on 4 October 2020


Photo: Peter Stoop

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

Dr Sally Cloke discusses public perception of virtues and vices.

Signalling virtue and unmasking vice DR SALLY CLOKE

It is not hard to stand out in a crowd. You don’t need beauty or fame. Just keep wearing your facemask when those around have given up on theirs. If, like me, you’re not convinced that coronavirus has left the Hunter for good, you may find yourself attracting unwanted stares and whispered comments on the bus or at the shops. On my next supermarket visit I feel like wearing a sign as well as a mask: “No, I don’t have COVID-19. I’m not implying you have it, either. And I’m not trying to virtue signal.” "Virtue signalling." British journalist James Bartholomew takes credit for inventing this term in 2015. It describes people who are more concerned with appearing noble or unselfish than actually being so. It’s become a fashionable put-down and it cuts deep. Whether we’re refusing a plastic straw or campaigning to save the koalas, being told we’re only doing it because it makes us look good is an awkward accusation to fight. The more we defend the purity of our intentions, the more we paint ourselves into a corner labelled “show-off” and “do-gooder” – two things Australians seemingly hate. It seems we have an instinctive belief that virtue shouldn’t signal.

We’re not alone. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns his followers not to be like those “hypocrites” who use giving to the poor as a photo opportunity and make sure the microphone is on when they say their prayers. “Those people have received their reward in full,” says Jesus. It’s an interesting comment. It implies that we can expect a reward for being virtuous. Being more patient, charitable or generous isn’t just for the benefit of the people around us – although I’m sure they’d appreciate it. Being good is good for us. Provided we keep it under our hat. But things have changed since Jesus’s day. While we still prefer our virtues done on the quiet, vices can turn the volume up to 11 and signal to their hearts’ content. From “reality” television to presidential elections, nothing seems more important than getting publicity, and nothing gets publicity like appalling behaviour. Lancaster University linguistics professor Ruth Wodak claims we’re living in a “postshame era”. Sadly, we see this most clearly in politics. Until recently, politicians felt obliged to project images of prudence, diligence and humility – even if largely for the cameras. Now, many openly use lies, humiliation, scapegoating and defamation

to stay in power. Far from being ashamed – they flaunt it. And instead of this losing them support, Professor Wodak argues it makes their followers view them as more “authentic”. There’s long been a fascinating glamour to evil – or the image of it. Which is why Darth Vader is a more memorable character than Luke Skywalker and Hannibal Lecter than Clarice. Goodness is less “sexy”: there’ll never be a high-rating TV show called “Virtue Squad” or “Miami Virtue”. The serpent in Eden doesn’t get Adam and Eve to bite the apple by being ugly or unpersuasive. But while eating the fruit puts an end to paradise, it has one silver lining: as Genesis puts it, “it opened their eyes”. The snake is unmasked as a vicious little liar. We need more of this unmasking today. Not literally – I suspect that, whatever happens with COVID-19, the facemask will become a flu season staple, as normal a part of good hygiene as not sneezing in someone’s face. But flaunting greed, pride and lust in public life isn’t admirable proof of being “the real deal” or uncorrupted by the political establishment; it’s pathetic and despicable, on the same level as stealing from a charity tin or kicking a guide dog.

Let’s call it what it is and stop tuning in to its signal. During lockdown, many of us rediscovered activities we’d once dismissed as dull or had no time for: baking, repairing furniture or playing board games. Or we found we were glad to see the back of things we thought we’d enjoyed, like golf with the boss or after-work drinks. As “normality” returns, it’s a struggle to keep making space for these more wholesome pleasures and not get sucked into old patterns. The virtues are a bit like this. Some people may sneer at them as outmoded or boring, but when we make them a priority, we can see how much good they do us – and those around us. Maybe it’s time to ignore what others think and boost their signal, just a little. Dr Sally Cloke is a Newcastle-based academic who writes about theology, philosophy, social justice and ethics.


When Judy met Mick in 1964 they began dating; however, she was not convinced they would last long. "I was an active member of the Church of England," Judy says with a smile, "and Mick is a devout Catholic." At that time, dating someone belonging to a different faith was a "big deal" says Judy. After a few weeks of courting, the two sat down to address her concerns. While Judy was keen to discuss the differences in their faith and its implications, it was Mick who said "yes, but we believe in the same God”. This sentiment of unity resonated with Judy, and the two continued their courtship. Eighteen months later, they married in the Catholic Church, not long after Vatican II. One of the outcomes of Vatican II was that Mass need not be presided in Latin.

Judy undertook a Bachelor of Arts and later a Dip Ed as a mature-age student, with a view to teaching English and Japanese to high school students. Once their children completed school and Judy had a few years of teaching experience under her belt, she headed to Japan for a year to teach, while Mick remained in Newcastle. It was an opportunity that ignited a passion in Judy, and upon her return, she took up a job with the Language Centre at the University of Newcastle.

"The changes that came with Vatican II: the fact that the Mass was in English made it so much easier for me," Judy says. The weight of the foreign dialect on their union is ironic given that many years later the couple developed a profound passion for languages, which would go on to play a significant role in their relationship.

"Sir, I have a question for you", Mick recalls her saying. "Can you tell me the differences between Australians and Vietnamese? What are your aims? What are your purposes?"

Five months after they married, Mick was deployed to the Vietnam War in an Australian Infantry Battalion. It was then that Judy reflected on a conversation she had with the priest who married them.

"No, I don't think I can," responded a then 55-year-old Mick. "I'd rather talk about what's the same between the two groups, such as our emotions and feelings. My people in Australia, like your people in Vietnam, all love our family and friends."

"When we were preparing to marry in the Catholic Church, he asked that I sign a document that stated that if we went on to have children, I agreed to baptise them Catholic."

Mick's resolution to reinforce what unites us as people, rather than what divides us, once again shone through.

"He said, ‘Judy, I hate asking you to do this, but it's the Catholic law.’ His understanding meant a lot to me," Judy says, and added impetus for her calling to the Catholic Church. "While Mick was serving in Vietnam, I continued going to Mass but also decided to undertake lessons as I thought this would help me to understand the Catholic faith that my children would be involved with," she says, "and when he returned, I was initiated in the Catholic Church." In the years to come, Mick and Judy had two children, and lived in various locations around Australia and in Papua New Guinea due to Mick's work in the army, while Judy carved out a career in nursing and midwifery. Mick left the army in 1985 and took on a public service role in Canberra. He was then offered a position in Williamtown in 1987. The family moved to the area and settled in Dudley, which has remained their base ever since.

Language of respect unites LIZZIE SNEDDEN

A decade later in 1998 after being made redundant, Mick undertook a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) course. Shortly afterwards, he departed for Vietnam on his own to get some valuable teaching experience. Returning to Vietnam was an emotional pilgrimage for Mick, given the last time he was there, locals viewed him as the enemy. On his first day of teaching, the daughter of a government minister asked a question mid-way through his lesson.

Judy says signing the document was a significant moment made easier by the priest's compassion.

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

At the end of his three-month expedition in Vietnam, Mick was invited to the wedding of one of his teaching colleagues. It was a breakfast service at Hoi Chi Min Museum with more than 500 guests. Mick says that partway through the reception, a line of about 100 men of similar age to him started to form. Unfamiliar with local customs, he wasn't sure what to expect, but he soon realised he was at the head of the line. "One by one they all hugged me and said (when translated to English) ‘we are all members of the brotherhood of survivors’," Mick says. The men were former members of the North Vietnamese Army, pegged against him in war 32 years prior, but now lovingly embracing him and expressing their unity. "It is an experience I will never forget; it made me feel absolutely small, but grateful." Shortly afterwards, Mick reunited with Judy in London, and over the coming year they taught to international students in England, France, and Spain. Mick then went on to teach in Argentina for three months, while Judy returned to Australia.


It is an experience I will never forget; it made me feel absolutely small, but grateful.



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

With their love of language and other cultures firmly cemented, Judy returned to her position at the Language Centre, where Mick joined her upon his return. A few years later, Rotary asked Mick to provide English services at a hospital in Chile, an opportunity he cherished. Meanwhile, Judy undertook several more teaching stints in Japan, where the generosity and kindness of the people there continually impressed her. In 2006, Mick retired from paid employment but was restless, and in 2009 he contacted this Diocese to offer his assistance teaching English to newly arrived priests and sisters from India and Vietnam. To this day he still offers this help. However, now Judy has retired, Mick insists she is the main driver. "I always defer to her," he says. Currently, the couple help just one priest, Fr John from the Belmont parish. Judy focuses on pronunciation, reading and writing, while Mick helps him prepare his sermon in English for Mass each week. "I have to be careful I don't influence his interpretation of the Gospel," Mick says, adding the experience has enriched his faith.

Photo: Peter Stoop

"Reflecting on the Gospel as I work with Fr John helps me understand my faith better. It's far more refreshing than looking at the old grey catechism." The couple agree that if their many and varied life experiences have taught them anything, it is that love and respect for each other transcend perceived language, cultural and faith barriers, and can unite people the world over. "Always try to consider things from the other person's perspective, and accept them despite your differences," Judy says.

Judy recalls the kindness and generosity of the Japanese people.

Judy and Mick meet with Vietnamese-born priest Fr John on a weekly basis to practise his English.

Mick describes attending a wedding in Vietnam in 1998 as a humbling experience.


In my mind, this was my time to step up and make a difference in the lives of young people who for whatever reason were “off track” and just needed some support and role-modelling to help them redirect their lives. To say I was underprepared and completely naive to the reality of the range of offences for which young people were incarcerated would be an understatement. Induction training included my first visit to a prison environment. What I saw and experienced shocked me. As I sat through my induction, I was informed I would be working on a team supervising youth detainees who had been charged with a range of offences from minor to extremely serious. At that time, the young people in detention were there for high-level offences including murder, sex offending, armed robbery, car theft and break and enter, and they were mixed with children who were there for low-level offences such as property damage or shoplifting. More alarming to me was seeing children as young as 10 locked up with strong, street-smart, hardened 18-year-old youths. I was only five years older, far from street smart, and I felt intimidated and fearful. I can only imagine how scared the 10-yearold children must have felt as they were processed, strip-searched, and placed in a locked cell with young men who to them must have looked like Goliath. Fast forward 24 years and sadly not much has changed. Last year across Australia, there were more than 600 children aged 10-13 years locked up in youth detention centres. While it is true these young people committed an offence and were processed through the appropriate court system, consideration needs to be given to whether locking children up is the best solution for them now and into their future. This is particularly so if we consider the intersection of social disadvantage and trauma. In its submission to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians asked the commission to “consider the longterm and broad implications of trauma or abuse on the physical and mental health of adolescents”. Its submission highlighted the fact that “adolescence is a critical time for a person’s physical, neurological and psychosocial development, and experiences during this time will profoundly influence the rest of a person’s life”.

Locking up an already trauma-affected child in a youth detention centre can exacerbate their trauma, leading to long-term effects including high levels of recidivism. The issue of trauma on the developing brain is of even more concern for children who have had the dual experience of being part of both the child protection and juvenile justice systems. An Australian Government Institute of Family Studies report shows young people involved in the child protection system are 12 times more likely to also be under youth justice supervision than the general population, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island young people 16 times more likely to be involved with both systems than non-Indigenous children. This is cause for concern and indicates that governments across Australia should strongly consider adopting an early intervention approach to supporting children aged 10-13 who come to the attention of the criminal justice systems.

Incarcerating youngsters is no solution GARY CHRISTENSEN

The #raisetheage campaign is promoting an early intervention approach. Developed by a coalition of legal, medical, and social justice agencies, the campaign is petitioning governments across the country to raise the age at which children can be arrested or locked up from 10 to 14 years. The raise in age needs to be coupled with well-planned early intervention strategies that integrate statutory child protection agencies, the youth justice system and the non-government sector. It would ensure children have access to high-quality supports that address connection to culture and community, childhood trauma, social disadvantage and child protection concerns. It would also allow children living in our local communities to have the best chance to grow into healthy, happy teenagers and adults. Children do best when they are supported, nurtured and loved. For more information about #raisetheage go to

Photo: Peter Stoop

In 1996, I responded to a NSW Department of Juvenile Justice positions vacant advert for the role of Senior Youth Worker at what was then the Worimi Juvenile Detention Centre in Broadmeadow. At that time, I was a 23-year-old youth worker at a Newcastlebased not-for-profit service that provided accommodation to “at risk” young people. I responded to the advert with great enthusiasm and I was filled with excitement when, following my job interview, I was told I was the successful applicant.

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

Gary Christensen is the Director of CatholicCare Social Services HunterManning.


Adolescence is a critical time for a person’s physical, neurological and psychosocial development, and experiences during this time will profoundly influence the rest of a person’s life.


Royal Australasian College of Physicians

Gary Christensen supports the #raisetheage campaign.

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


Many people have felt all at sea coping with the pandemic. But spare a thought for the world’s seafarers. They have been stranded at sea for most of this year.

Dry-land dreaming

Responsible for 95 per cent of all goods and products that come into Australia, seafarers are an “invisible workforce”. In “normal” times they endure tough and lonely conditions and confront genuine threats to their lives. Now COVID-19 has stranded them on board their vessels looking despairingly at one restricted-entry port after another. Newcastle’s Mission to Seafarers Centre, with Stella Maris, contributes to a global network of chaplains offering 24/7 digital ministry. This ecumenical godsend has been keeping the world’s mercantile workforce sane and warm.


Bernadette Barry, Stella Maris Catholic chaplain at the Mission to Seafarers (MTS), says fortitude is the best description of seafarers’ experiences this year. “It’s their inner strength,” says Ms Barry. “Not seeing their families, not getting off the ships, no communication with other people, and concerns over their pay. It’s just been a huge combination of issues that have affected them.” MTS’s Christine Smith, Manager – Administration, says digital ministry has increased in importance. “We’re getting a lot of contact through social media from seafarers wanting to talk, and saying their families need help,” she says.

Photo: Peter Stoop

One seafarer reached out because his wife in The Philippines was suffering from cancer and not expected to live. The Newcastle mission passed his details on to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). He messaged the MTS offering his thanks when he was at the airport on his way home. “Seafarers trust us,” says Ms Smith. “They know they can contact us confidentially.” Under normal circumstances the MTS offers cooked meals, donated clothes, beanies, and access to money-changing and transfer facilities. “We have had to look at other ways to assist them,” says Ms Barry. “We’re now doing about 30 care packs a week that go out to port. We pack in whatever we can. “It’s all donated – magazines, DVDs, CDs, chocolates, beanies, rosary beads, Bibles, hand-written cards, games – we just try to put activity things in because they are telling us they are bored. The care packs have been a great success. We get messages of thanks back from those.” Ms Barry presents a popular online reflection every week that gets a great reaction on MTS social media platforms.

Bernadette Barry, Stella Maris Catholic chaplain at the Mission to Seafarers says seafarers are in need of additional support.

Matthew Couch, an Anglican chaplain at the MTS, also presents an online reflection, and readings. He tells the story of a New Zealand captain who is just moving

between ports in the Pacific and can’t get off anywhere, including the one where he lives. “He says it’s worse than being in prison, and he’s correct,” says Mr Couch. “Seafarers are stuck on the ship, they can’t get off, they can’t have visitors. Many have been on ships since before March. “In terms of fortitude, there’s a limit. People are starting to break.” Ms Barry picks up the point. “We are seeing that,” she says. “There have been some suicides in Newcastle. Seafarers who have had enough and cannot see an alternative. It has a dreadful effect on the crew. There are 23 to 25 people in each crew and they’re all so close. It affects every one of them, and we’re now unable to go to them and administer pastoral care as we normally would.” The shutdown of port access to seafarers also disrupts the change of crews. “If you consider there are 300,000 to 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea,” Ms Smith says, “there are many others waiting to come on. They’re sitting at home, not being paid, waiting for their chance. What are their families eating? That’s the other side. And sadly, those at sea can’t get their money home.” Mr Couch says MTS wants to let seafarers know they are not forgotten. “Even though there is no more face-toface, they know when they come into port they are in a place where people care,” he says. Earlier this year, MTS placed a huge sign on the side of its van – “Seafarers Remember We Care For You”. Seafarers could see it from their ships, but so too could locals. The MTS has received an incredible amount of donated goods during coronavirus. “There has been an outpouring of support,” says Ms Barry. “Parishes, community groups and individuals acknowledge just how difficult it has been for the seafarers. We’ve been overwhelmed. People just want to give something. “We’re planning for our Christmas packs already. All donations for that would be gratefully received. Last year we did 800. There will be a greater need this year and we are pleading with local churches to dig deep. Your generosity will herald the end of a long year.”

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In terms of fortitude, there’s a limit. People are starting to break. Matthew Couch, Anglican chaplain at Mission to Seafarers


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

Restraint has its own power DR DAVID G. KIRCHHOFFER

Virtues are good habits or dispositions. They are ways of being that predispose us to doing the morally right thing. How do we know what the morally right thing to do is? The fundamental criterion is the human person adequately and integrally considered (I am indebted here to the thought of Louis Janssens). The morally right thing to do is that which promotes or achieves things or situations that are good for human beings, or that minimise harmful or “evil” things or situations for human beings, in ways that take the human person holistically into account. There are lots of things that are good for us: food, oxygen, exercise, friendship and so on. But the moral question arises from how and when it is right to choose these things. Too much food stops being good for you. Too much oxygen will kill you. Too much exercise can too. And there may be times when friendship could become clingy and co-dependent in unhealthy ways. So, morally right consumption of food means choosing healthy food, in appropriate amounts, at appropriate times. This example helps us to understand what it means to say that the human person adequately and integrally considered is our primary moral criterion. The human person is not reducible to the desire to eat, even though food is a necessary condition of human life. Being human is not satisfied merely by eating enough.

While it is true that we are miserable without food, it is not true to say that we are truly happy just because we have enough food. And more than enough food would not make us happier in the long term. What is true of the desire for food, is true of all aspects of the human being. We are not reducible to our capacity for rational thought, or free choice (important though they are); we are not reducible to our relationships with others; we are not reducible to our physical appearance, or our biological needs; we are not reducible to our self-perception, or the way others see us, or our role in society. Rather, we are complex wholes constituted by all these things, always already existing in relationship to all that is, and situated in a particular place and time. It is this complex whole, adequately and integrally considered, who possesses dignity or worth. Because we are all complex wholes in this way, we are each unique and all fundamentally equal. Good moral choices (that is free and knowing) are those that promote the holistic flourishing of all individuals in a community of always already interconnected human beings. Temperance is the virtue of self-control. In order to make good choices and do the right thing, we need self-control. Otherwise, we would simply respond to whatever desire presented itself. We would not be able to reflect rationally about what is good or right, and we would not be able to make free choices. The problems

with that are evident. If we responded to every craving for cake we would quickly become unhealthy. Temperance can also apply to emotional reactions, like anger. Temperance prevents anger from becoming rage, with all the consequences that flow from uncontrolled violence. When temperance is applied to sexuality, it is called chastity. Chastity is simply self-control of sexual desire. Why is it necessary? Just as a world where people ate endlessly would be chaotic, so too would a world in which sexual desire was acted on whenever and howsoever. But more importantly, a lot of other good things wouldn’t get done. The virtue of chastity is about developing the habit that allows sexual desire and behaviour to be put into proper perspective relative to other goods. Neither sexual desire nor sexual intercourse are “bad” or “evil” in themselves. Rather, their moral quality is determined by how they occur relative to the criterion of the human person adequately and integrally considered. Sexual desires or actions that denigrate or objectify either another person or one’s own sexuality by reducing them or oneself to “merely” sexual beings are morally wrong. All human beings benefit from chastity because it allows us to choose to channel our sexuality into relationships that respect other people and our own personhood in a way that love flourishes. This in turn enables the relationship to become creative, both in terms of welcoming

children as a gift and in extending hospitality and friendship to others. Chastity is not about making human beings “asexual” or “repressing” our sexual nature. Rather, chastity is about developing habits of thought and practice that allow our sexuality to find its best expression and to contribute to our flourishing and the flourishing of others as multidimensional, irreducible, unique human persons in relation to each other, the world, and God. Dr David G. Kirchhoffer is the Director of the Australian Catholic University’s Queensland Bioethics Centre

Neither sexual desire nor sexual intercourse are “bad” or “evil” in themselves.

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Nicole Murphy recently completed the RCIA process.

Cure presents conundrum BERNADETTE TOBIN

The prospect of a vaccine against COVID-19 raises our hopes for a recovery from the hardships and inconveniences of living with a pandemic. However, it also presents us with some ethical questions worth careful thought. Let me mention just two. First, if a vaccine becomes available, who should receive priority access to it? Second, should we make vaccination compulsory? On the question of priority of access, there is wide agreement that healthcare workers come first. We owe them a debt of reciprocity: in their fidelity to their professions they have put their lives at risk for the rest of us. We should return good for good. In addition, putting them first will conduce to the benefit of the whole society. That said, further questions abound. How wide is the category of healthcare workers? Does it include all healthcare workers? Healthcare administrators on whose policies the safety and the efficacy of our healthcare system itself depends? Hospital cleaners? Those who care for the elderly? As for making vaccination compulsory. Recently, in the Sydney Morning Herald, Tim Smartt from the University of Notre Dame Australia argued that it might be reasonable to do so. He gave two ethical reasons. One was “self-centred” – accepting vaccination will greatly lower my

chances of contracting the virus. One was “other-centred” – I have a moral obligation to put the well-being of others ahead of my own and giving up my freedom to choose is a way of making a small sacrifice for the sake of the health and well-being of others. In considering the pros and cons of a “mandatory” policy, Dr Smartt rightly acknowledged governments would have to anticipate some people would refuse to comply with the policy and find a solution to that. Xavier Symons of Australian Catholic University’s Plunkett Centre for Ethics agued a different view in the Australian Financial Review. Dr Symons accepted the intuitive appeal of Dr Smartt’s argument but suggested that a policy of making vaccination compulsory could backfire. Australia, unlike the US, is a highly vaccinefriendly society. Compulsion might make some people wary, distrustful, hesitant. Dr Symons argued that the really challenging ethical question is how we should respond to the concerns of that minority of Australians who are “undecided” about whether they would choose to be vaccinated. Such vaccine “hesitancy” has various sources. Misinformation about the safety of vaccines is one source. Infectious diseases experts recommend empathetic engagement with people who have medical reservations: detailed, reliable data patiently conveyed is

likely to be more effective than a combative style. Concerns about the source of the vaccine also creates hesitancy. In the US, some people are said to be reluctant to accept a vaccine derived from the so-called HeLa cells, that is, from cells originally derived in the early 1950s from a sample taken from Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman being treated for cancer whose cells were given to a laboratory without her knowledge or consent and later commercialised. Some people fear that accepting the benefits of the use of vaccines derived from her cells makes them if not complicit in the health inequities suffered by poor people in their country then at least blind to the continuing mistrust of healthcare institutions among people of colour. In the same way, some Australians may be hesitant to accept a vaccine the vector for which was originally developed in the 1970s from cell lines that derived from a deliberately aborted foetus: they fear this makes them if not complicit in the deliberate destruction of human life then at least blind to the growing social acceptance of this practice. On this question, Archbishop Anthony Fisher gave good advice. He said in the Catholic Weekly: “I, for one, do not think it would be unethical to use this vaccine [that is, one derived from cells from an aborted foetus] if there is no alternative available.

To do so would not be to co-operate in any abortion occurring in the past or the future.” In saying this, the Archbishop helped me to make up my own mind on this ethical issue. That said, as a strong advocate of vaccination, the Archbishop urged the government to pursue an ethically uncontroversial vaccine. The hardships and inconveniences inflicted by the pandemic have not been equally shared. The burdens have fallen on the less well off, those who live on their own, those who have lost their jobs, those whose jobs are such that they cannot “work from home”, and those who don’t have holiday houses to which they can escape. As we turn these ethical challenges over in our minds, should not each of us try to find a way of easing a burden on someone who has fared less well in the pandemic than we have? Bernadette Tobin is Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney and Reader in Philosophy at Australian Catholic University.


Timor-Leste is one of Australia’s closest neighbours, and it is also one of the least-developed countries in the world, with low levels of basic health, literacy and household income. The majority of East Timorese live in rural areas, which means they have little access to basic services, and most households report they don’t have enough food year-round. It is especially challenging for rural women living with violence to escape their situation as there are limited domestic violence services and few opportunities for women to learn the new skills needed to transform their lives. Gender-based violence is a serious global issue, with about one in three women experiencing violence in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In Timor-Leste, about 45 per cent of women have reported violence by their husbands or partners. Before she sought refuge at the Uma PAS shelter, Martina was working in other people’s gardens, as well as collecting firewood and stones to earn money. She was regularly worried that her children did not have enough to eat. However, after Martina found sanctuary at a domestic violence shelter, she was able to heal and rebuild her life in a safe and supportive community. The Uma PAS shelters are supported by Caritas Australia and are a vital lifeline to women and children, providing sanctuary, education and empowerment. The name Uma PAS means “ready to serve” in Tetum, and the shelter provides food, accommodation, counselling and legal assistance, as well as referrals to other services, including health and education. Training and support enable vulnerable women to develop livelihood skills, such as cooking, sewing and gardening that help them earn their own incomes as they reintegrate into communities. At the shelter, Martina also received basic financial training, learning how to best manage her money and save towards setting up a small business. By learning a new skill, she was able to gain confidence in her own abilities to build a better future for herself and her children. This healing process helps stop the cycle of violence and supports women in the shelter to envision a more peaceful future. Martina has been able to take the training she received and use her new skills to start a women’s savings and loan group in her village. Her small business is successful, and her children are thriving. Martina’s children now have more hope for the future as well. “Before, there was always violence at our home,” says Delfina, Martina’s eldest

daughter. “My mother suffered so much, but she maintained her strength to look after us. Through the support she received, my mother found the courage to rebuild her life.” “Each person comes to our organisation with their own dignity,” says a counsellor at Uma PAS. “The 260 women that I have given counselling to have realised that they are not alone. They see there are people here who want to listen and are ready to help. “The Martina I know today is the confident Martina, who stands up and says, ‘This is me you see; this is Martina.’ She’s confident to go forward.”

Shelters ready to serve JESSICA STONE

Martina says her life has changed completely. “Before, I was living in fear and darkness with no one to help me,” she says. “The support I received gave me the strength and the opportunity to rebuild my life and, most importantly, to be able to provide a better future for my children.”

Photo credit: Richard Wainwright

For women living with violence, maintaining hope can be tough. Yet Martina, a mother of eight in Timor-Leste, was able to rebuild her life after escaping domestic violence.

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With the support she received form Uma Pas, Martina and her family were able to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and violence and are now looking forward to a safer, brighter future. In Laudato si’, Pope Francis tells us: “Hope would have us recognise that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems.” Jessica Stone is the Communications Coordinator for Caritas Australia


The support I received gave me the strength and the opportunity to rebuild my life and, most importantly, to be able to provide a better future for my children.


Martina picking cassava leaves from her home garden that she sells to market traders and also cooks as a vegetable with coconut oil.

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A young man in a wheelchair told me how, some years ago, he was sitting outside a picture theatre waiting for his girlfriend to arrive for the movie. As he waited, a group of pedestrians walked past and one flicked the young man in the wheelchair a gold coin, saying "there you go – add that to your collection". Understandably the young man was offended that he was perceived by this passer-by only as an object of charity. Secondly he was disappointed he was thrown only a $2 coin. The phrase "as cold as charity" was coined from that sort of off-the-cuff benevolence. I give from my abundance what I will not even miss, if I think you deserve it, especially if it makes me feel good about myself. Of course, this type of giving often presumes that I know what you need, without even asking you. Not all charitable giving is like this. Many charities achieve a great deal of good in the community because those who can give, do give what they can afford and sometimes very regularly and generously. These charities also develop strong relationships with their recipients helping them identify where, when and what type of help they require. Sometimes charitable giving can be inhibited by notions of the "deserving" and "undeserving poor"; judgments about who are "innocent victims" or not. We need to recognise and address the social or structural factors that cause and perpetuate disadvantage and poverty. It is too simplistic to blame an individual or a minority group and it is difficult to untangle and challenge vested interests and the imbalance of resources across and within communities. The word "charity" (Latin "caritas" and Greek "agape") means "love". If we are true to the word’s origins, our charitable giving will be an act of love, not pity, nor a way to give off the excess we no longer need or want. This act of giving engages the giver and the receiver in a relationship of sorts, even when the giving is anonymous. Helping others from a motivation of empathy has a strong foundation in our Catholic tradition going back to Jesus. Through his active care and concern for the poor and marginalised, Jesus demonstrated the care and concern of a loving God. “Love your neighbour as yourself.” remains a radical invitation. Who knows where that could take you? The Apostle Paul encouraged people to live God’s love above all else. If you like a challenge, substitute your own name for the word "love" is Paul’s description of love in action (1 Cor 13:4-7). A major undertaking of Paul’s mission was to encourage well-off Church communities to take up collections to support struggling and emerging communities (2 Cor 8:13-15; Romans 15:25-27). Pope Francis said recently: “…charity finds expression not only in close and intimate relationships but also in macro


relationships: social, economic and political.” [Fratelli Tutti: 181] This tradition of charitable support between churches continues today. Our Diocese is connected through relationships of various kinds to developing missionary churches around the world. Each year, our Catholic Mission Appeal contributes to the Pontifical Missionary Societies for this very purpose. While love compels us to do so, we could also be motivated by a sense of givingback. The first bishop of Maitland, James Murray, requested funds from the Pontifical Missionary Societies in the late 1860s for his fledgling Diocese. Monies paid clergy stipends and to bring from Ireland the Dominican and Mercy sisters to establish our first schools. It is our responsibility and privilege to now support missionary communities around the globe. Catholic Mission projects support the emerging Church through relationships of love and reciprocity. We give, but we also receive. Our partner missionary communities allow us to share God’s love; add to our understanding of who we are called to be as Church; broaden our vision of what charity can achieve; affirm the dignity of all people and encourage deeper trust in God.

Not as cold as charity MARK TOOHEY

So, next time you see a person who you think is begging, why not say "hi", or ask "how are things?" If the person should ask for help please consider giving generously and give with love. Help Catholic Mission make a world of difference. Visit www.catholicmission for more information. Mark Toohey is the Diocesan Director for Catholic Mission in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.


The word "charity" (Latin "caritas" and Greek "agape") means "love". If we are true to the word’s origins, our charitable giving will be an act of love, not pity, nor a way to give off the excess we no longer need or want.


Bishop Kike has been leading the Church in Battambang, in Cambodia’s north-west, for more than 20 years with assistance from Catholic Mission donors.

Photo: Peter Stoop


Children receiving twisted messages DARRELL CROKER

Enough studies confirm sexualised advertising has a negative effect on children, and much of it revolves around the routine sexualisation and objectification of women. Among many issues, two stand out – pornographic imagery, and adultification. Today’s world can sometimes seem like one giant porn theme park. Children are exposed to explicit images that send distorted messages about their bodies, sexuality, and even their gender roles. The term ''adultification'' applies to these sexualised messages combining with the commercialisation of childhood to constrict these formative years. Kelly Pavan, Manager Counselling Clinical for CatholicCare Social Services HunterManning, says children are particularly vulnerable to advertising and marketing until they develop critical thinking skills and scepticism to evaluate their social world. Adolescent health experts documenting the negative physical and mental health outcomes of premature sexualisation of children in marketing say they include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, eating disorders, body image dissatisfaction and poor academic performance. Girls especially are affected. The advertising industry runs on selfregulation. A 2008 Senate standing committee examined the issue and reported ''the onus is on broadcasters, publishers, advertisers, retailers and

manufacturers to take account of these community concerns''. But without government and regulatory bodies demanding real change, it has remained an advertisers' free-for-all. For the past 12 years, campaigns have been waged against corporations exploiting the bodies of women and girls for profit. Critics of self-regulation point to a weak code of ethics, the voluntary nature of the code, a lack of pre-vetting, the Advertising Standards Board's lack of power to order removal of advertisements and meaningful penalties, and lack of consultation with child development experts. Under pressure for tougher standards, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) recently released its updated Code of Ethics. Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) spokesperson for women and children, Wendy Francis, notes the new code prohibits the use of overtly sexual images in outdoor advertising or shopfront windows. “This would be commendable if it was enforceable,” Ms Francis says. “A classic case in point is Honey Birdette, which has no less than 20 ads banned by Ad Standards, yet it continues to run sexualised ads in shopping malls. “A significant minority of advertisers flout the AANA’s self-regulation code for

financial gain, knowing there is no serious consequence. The wellbeing and safety of Australia’s children is at stake. Families cannot trust a system of self-regulation. This new code needs to be enforceable, with fines imposed for those who ignore it.” Megan McEwin is AANA’s Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs and acknowledges some companies and advertisers have flouted the self-regulatory regime. She concurs with Ms Francis’s comments about the lingerie company. “Honey Birdette is one advertiser that refuses to comply,” says Ms McEwin. “Wicked Camper was another.” AANA sought help from the government over the ads on the vans. “When Wicked Camper was running offensive ads on its vehicles, there was nothing we could do,” Ms McEwin says. “Now it’s tied in with vehicle registration. Any offensive display results in a loss of rego.” Ms McEwin says with the exception of Honey Birdette, the self-regulating system has an enforcement compliance rate of 99 per cent, and AANA is negotiating with shopping centre owners to bring all tenants into line to comply with the new regulations. “TV stations, digital platforms, newspapers, and the outdoor billboard industry are all signed up to the system,” says Ms McEwin. “They will take down ads that are found to breach the code.

“In relation to Honey Birdette, we are working with Westfield and other shopping centre owners to make compliance with ad standards a condition of their lease. We believe this step would bring all retail tenants into line. It will be great if we can get Westfield on side.” Those refusing to self-regulate will face either their landlord, or the government. AANA members and industry associations were last month invited to an online training session relating to the refreshed Code of Ethics and what they mean to the creation of new ads. Issues covered included gender stereotypes, and overtly sexual images in outdoor advertising or shopfront windows. Honey Birdette Managing Director, Eloise Monaghan describes herself as an “absolute feminist”. “We are a lingerie company and unfortunately for some people that means showing images of women wearing our lingerie,” Ms Monaghan says. “The limits being put on what we can and can’t show now is getting out of control. It feels like the Middle East.” The ACL wants all levels of government to strengthen their enforcement of the AANA code to force advertisers to swiftly remove or amend offending ads, and ultimately stop producing them in the first place.


Photo: Lizzie Snedden

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Nicole Murphy recently completed the RCIA process.

Call of the spirit answered LIZZIE SNEDDEN

"It felt like coming home." Nicole Murphy describes her experience of completing initiation into the Catholic Church 36 years after being baptised. "After my baptism as an infant, I was raised in another Christian denomination," says Ms Murphy. "Both sides of my extended family and many friends remained in the Catholic Church, so I had the pleasure of both a strong Bible-based upbringing, but also attending Mass and other Church celebrations throughout my teenage years." Ms Murphy and her husband continued family traditions and had their two children baptised Catholics as infants. "I believe this was the start of my spiritual calling back to the Catholic Church, even though I didn't realise it at the time," she says.

RCIA is a process for adults and older children who seek Jesus and feel drawn to the Catholic faith. It is a journey into an ever-deepening love of God that introduces receivers to the Catholic community and the Catholic way of life. "As a follower of Jesus, I felt comfortable but somewhat of a novice regarding many traditions and rituals within the Catholic Church," says Ms Murphy. She only recently was Confirmed and received her First Communion. "I found the RCIA provided a wonderful, fulfilling, and supportive environment where I could have my questions answered and open myself to the abundance and grace of God," she says.

However, Ms Murphy felt the call deepen when their children started at the local Catholic kindergarten and she witnessed the spirit of the school community.

"It provided an opportunity to come together as a group, led by a support team, to explore the connection between the Gospel, and daily life. I found this particularly helpful in relation to our parenting, work practices and how we engage with the community and think about issues.”

Shortly afterwards, Ms Murphy commenced teaching in a Catholic school and began to discover the connections between her faith practice as a child and life as a Catholic.

Ms Murphy says this reflection reinforced many of her existing approaches, but also provides a soft place to fall spiritually and emotionally when she encounters stressful situations.

Within weeks of starting at St John's The Baptist Primary School, Maitland, Ms Murphy began the Rite of Christian Incitation of Adults (RCIA).

"I was reminded of messages of grace and understanding, which as adults we provide to children in our care, but the Gospel prompts us to understand that they're

there for us too," she says. Ms Murphy’s formal involvement in the RCIA process lasted a year and concluded in October. "Spiritually, I had been enjoying the celebration of Mass each week,” she says. “However, now I am able to join the community in receiving Holy Communion, I feel genuinely part of St Joseph's parish," she says. One of the most profound gifts of the RCIA process Ms Murphy encountered was the humility displayed by members of the St Joseph's parish support community. "We would often hear them say, ‘We are all still on our journey. We never stop learning.’ "This expression of humility was my initial introduction to the St Joseph's parish and continues to be a guiding principle." Having completed her Initiation into the Catholic Church, Ms Murphy is only too aware this is the beginning of the next stage of her faith journey. "Lifted in prayer by our support team and parish community, I now look forward to continuing along my long path of discovery and learning as I move into life as a full member of the Catholic faith," she says.


We would often hear them say, ‘We are all still on our journey. We never stop learning.



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Fratelli Tutti: Pope Francis delivers new teaching MARIA POWER

Pope Francis has delivered a message to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and people of goodwill everywhere which aims to soothe the fear caused by the coronavirus pandemic and unite communities riven by racism, inequality and climate change. Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers) was signed on 3 October in Assisi, central Italy. It is the third encyclical since Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio took the name Francis on his election to the papacy in March 2013. He has always wanted to make it clear that his papacy is one of action – placing the needs of the poor, marginalised and disenfranchised at the centre of his ministry. As a community of believers, Catholics are expected by Pope Francis to mobilise and become agents for change in the world. This action was to be based upon the canon of Catholic social teaching that had built up since the late 19th century and was, until recently, known as the church’s “best kept secret”. Francis was going to make sure that Catholics put that teaching into action by providing a road map for change – and, in doing so, invited all people of goodwill to join him. While Laudato Si’ (Praise to You, 2015) implored the world to “care for its common home”, Fratelli Tutti offers teaching devoted to the concepts of fraternity and social friendship based upon the example of St Francis of Assisi who “wherever he went … sowed the seeds of peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast, the least of his brothers and sisters”.

COVID encyclical It is inevitable that this encyclical will be known as the COVID-19 encyclical – and Francis himself acknowledges in paragraph 7 that this 45,000 word tome was written during the first wave of the pandemic. But he sees the questions regarding the purpose and meaning of life that many asked during the lockdowns as an opportunity to reset a pattern of catastrophic systemic failures that has created an unequal and polarised world. As he states in paragraph 33: the pain, uncertainty and fear, and the realisation of our own limitations, brought on by the pandemic have only made it all the more urgent that we rethink our styles of life, our relationships, the organisation of our societies, and, above all, the meaning of our existence. The pandemic has taught people and society that “no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together”. The coronavirus has presented the world with an opportunity for real systemic change – Francis suggests that to believe we can carry on as before is “denying reality”. Through Fratelli Tutti, Francis offers a new vision of society in which human dignity and the human rights of all are respected. He believes that actions based on the common good – the concept that everyone should be able to contribute meaningfully to society – must form the bedrock of politics and that people must acknowledge and respect everyone as their equal. Further that social and economic policy must be based on long-term planning rather than short-term populist soundbites.

Francis addresses this invitation to all people of goodwill – not just Catholics. But he takes pains to point out such a transformation will not be easy. Rather, it will be a process without an endpoint, something to be continually worked at, an action rather than a goal. Fratelli Tutti is an encyclical which above all teaches that complacency is the enemy of a peaceful and just society. Dark clouds But in order to engage in action, the problem must be diagnosed so that people know where to direct their energies. There can be no doubt from the first chapter, “Dark clouds over a closed world”, that Francis understands the complexity of the crisis facing the world. As well as the existential crisis that has led to the disintegration of communities and social relationships, he paints a grim picture of a world undergoing what he calls a “third world war fought piecemeal” which – along with hunger and human trafficking – presents a sustained attack on the dignity of the human person. He also understands the need for nuance and contextualisation in creating a new vision for humanity. So, for example, there are oblique references to Brexit, the populist politics that have led to “hyperbole, extremism and polarisation becoming political tools”. He also observes the resurgence of racism, and the disintegration of intergenerational relationships – all of which demonstrate the innate individualism, lack of empathy and aggressive nationalism which lies at the heart of the global crisis.

Decisive commitment The solution to this crisis “demands a decisive commitment” from individuals and from politicians and religious leaders in particular. Politicians need to reorient their mindset away from individualism towards a commitment to the common good and what the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has termed “social love”. This is, he notes, “a force capable of inspiring new ways of approaching the problems of today’s world, of profoundly renewing structures, social organisations and legal systems from within”. Politics needs to become a vocation of service, charity and generosity rather than a means to exercise power. Religious leaders need to engage in dialogue with one another in order to “reawaken the spiritual energy that can contribute to the betterment of society”, and to prevent the distortion of religious beliefs that lead to violence. Ultimately, this is an encyclical which teaches that we are dependent upon one another to thrive and reach our full potential as human beings. As Francis puts it “if only we might rediscover once and for all that we need one another, and that in this way our human family can experience a rebirth; with all its faces, all its hands and all its voices, beyond the walls we have erected.” Maria Power is the Human Dignity Project Director at the Las Casas Institute for Social Justice, University of Oxford. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence.

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Jennifer encourages everyone to consider becoming a bone marrow donor.

Looking for the perfect match HELEN ELLIS

The gift of blood can mean so much to so many. For Jennifer Boulton, it is the decision to go one step further and become a bone marrow donor that can be a truly life changing choice and one she encourages people to make. In March 2018, 56-year-old Jennifer, from Cessnock, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a disease she previously knew little about. For Jennifer the diagnosis came as a "bolt out of the blue". She started the day at the grand opening of a new hair salon, an exciting joint venture with her daughters, but following a call from her GP, the very next day she was admitted to Calvary Mater Newcastle. For the next six weeks Jennifer didn’t go home or step foot in her new salon. Instead, she spent the time in one of the hospital’s isolation rooms, or as Jennifer affectionately named it, the “igloo”. In between treatments, Jennifer kept herself busy setting up many of the new business systems and the hospital became somewhat of “a hair salon headquarters”. As she says with tongue in cheek, “a good row with Telstra always helps fill in the time”. Jennifer desperately needed a bone marrow transplant but a match couldn’t be found for her. “I thought, it can’t just be me that there is no donor for. AML is so much more prominent now.” Each year in Australia, more than 3,700 people are diagnosed with a form of leukaemia. Sadly, AML is one of the most common types of acute leukaemia in adults, with about 1,050 people diagnosed each year.

She continues, “We need more awareness about the disease and how people can make a difference, particularly within our Indigenous communities," she says. "Our younger generation need to be aware and know how they can make a difference. It affects them too.”

undergo the procedure once, regardless of the outcome. “Out of the five people I knew who underwent the process, two made it and three didn’t. It’s a huge undertaking but thanks to the generosity and kindness of another person at least that opportunity was afforded.”

Jennifer’s grandmother was tragically part of the stolen generation. Born in Cobar NSW, Jennifer discovered she was part of the Ngiyampaa people. “It has taken time to try and find my tribe," she says. "There was talk in my family but no one seemed to talk about our family history. When you are faced with a blood disorder you really need to know who your blood family is and knowing your family history for a sense of belonging is so important.”

In March 2020, Jennifer received the devastating news her AML had relapsed and she had come out of remission. For now she continues to receive supportive chemotherapy and is concentrating on the important things in life, spending time with her beloved family – her husband and four children.

It is because of Jennifer’s passion for the cause that she is now urging people to sign up and become part of the bone marrow register. She says with tears in her eyes, “It’s such a generous gift to give. It takes no time, or money, just a bit of effort.” Jennifer was fortunate that her eldest son was found to be a 50 per cent bone marrow match, so in July 2019 she went to Westmead Hospital for her transplant. Her son gave blood and bone marrow was extracted from this collection. “He felt tired and had a slight headache after the blood was taken but that was about it.” Jennifer spent more than 100 days in the Westmead Leukaemia Unit. At first it seemed that the transplant had not worked, but thankfully after a couple of weeks the new cells kicked in. Such are the gruelling effects of the transplant for the recipient that most people only

Cancer treatment usually comes with a rollercoaster of emotions; the gift of another chance at life from a bone marrow donor, often a complete stranger, can never be repaid. Bone marrow donors need to be specifically matched to the patient and so finding a donor for those with rare tissue types can be very difficult. Only one in 1,500 donors will be asked to donate for a patient requiring a transplant in any given year. A blood marrow type can now be easily determined when blood is donated. To enrol as a bone marrow donor visit or complete the form next time you give blood. “My children and their friends now all give blood and get such a ‘buzz’ knowing they are helping other people. They signed up to the register as well on the off chance they can help someone else in my position.”

When you become a bone marrow donor, your donation is often the last chance for life for someone with a serious illness. Jennifer is grateful she was afforded that chance. “This is my story to tell. If a few people decide to join the bone marrow register from reading this story then I’ll be happy.” Helen Ellis is the Public Affairs & Communications Manager at Calvary Mater Newcastle


It’s such a generous gift to give. It takes no time, or money, just a bit of effort.



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

Catherine McAuley Catholic College staff plan to create personalised learning opportunities to inspire hope in students.

Schools can counter pessimism SCOTT DONOHOE

Hope is God’s gift to us. But because it is a virtue, it is a gift that has to be cultivated, nurtured and practiced … Paul J. Wadell, 2016 in Hope: The forgotten virtue of our time

Recent Gallup polls have identified that our young people are becoming less hopeful about their future as they move through the education system. These polls in recent years have consistently found that less than half of students surveyed could be described as hopeful about their future, coupled with a declining engagement with their school. These are alarming statistics considering hope is a significant predictor of individual wellbeing. Schools have a wonderful opportunity to inspire hope-filled individuals. Catherine McAuley Catholic College will open to students in Medowie next year, inspired by our Moral Imperative to empower a Mercy community of confident, agile and reflective learners. At Catherine McAuley our mission is to co-create learning environments where faith, purpose, fulfilment and joy are experienced by all. At the heart of this are our values: Hospitality, Compassion, Courage and Faith in Action, inspiring our learners to lead purposeful lives and contribute to a changing world. A new school provides a wonderful opportunity to reimagine education as we prepare our young people to be hope-filled individuals who are both life-ready and career-ready. Central to this will not just be knowledge, but also the development of essential skills and capabilities necessary to thrive. Our learning approach will honour the uniqueness of each child and their exclusive strengths, as we commit

to offering choice in the curriculum, and meeting individual passions, interests and needs in a faith-filled environment. Students and their teachers will work collaboratively as co-learners, developing, designing and engaging in learning experiences together. We seek to cocreate learning experiences that fuse the best of traditional practice with innovative and emerging pedagogical approaches. Our aim is to foster high levels of learner engagement and achievement through thoughtful and precisely designed learning experiences. If we are to increase engagement and foster hope in our learners, we need to provide greater individual choice. Supporting student agency, leadership in learning and passion is central to our learning philosophy. Our unique Core + program is a genuine point of difference for our college community, providing students with choice, agency and ownership throughout their learning journey. Core + gives students permission to explore and develop their strengths, passions and interests. They will have numerous choices covering traditional subjects to bespoke college-developed courses and online learning opportunities. myARC is the College Wellbeing for Learning Framework that seeks to fulfil our Moral Imperative of empowering agile, reflective and confident learners. myARC provides students with the opportunity to engage in learning in a deep and profound

way as they are encouraged to bring their own experiences and life knowledge to the learning process. Every student has a story to tell. A child’s experiences, innate abilities and dispositions, along with their aspirations inform their story – their own personal arc. Our stage-based House structure will be the foundation of learning and wellbeing, a place of belonging and a “school within a school”. Our Houses have specific links to the Worimi people, the custodians of the land on which the college sits. Next year, Wati Discovery House will be a home for our Years 7 and 8 students where camaraderie is forged, joy is experienced, and hope is inspired. The ultimate aspiration of Wati Discovery House is to have students develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their faith, along with their purpose as a learner. Pope Francis calls us to be people of hope: “However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew; it rises transformed through the storms of history.” Strategically positioned at the heart of our college is the chapel – a place in which our community can both nurture and develop their faith. The chapel is very much a sign of hope to all of us who travel the path of faith and continue the work of Christ through our lives. Scott Donohoe is the Foundation Principal of Catherine McAuley Catholic College

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Moments to cherish Photo: Peter Stoop


Erin Gehrig has always loved children and being a witness to their growth and development. As a teen, she undertook voluntary work experience at an early education service and following this set her sights on working in the industry. Erin began working for St Nicholas Early Education at its Chisholm centre in 2018, before joining the Maitland operation when it opened its doors earlier this year. She draws on almost a decade of experience in the industry to mentor her colleagues on St Nicholas’s programs and practices. What Catholic school/s did you attend? St Paul’s Primary School, Rutherford, and All Saints’ College, St Peter’s and St Mary’s campuses in Maitland. Why did your parents choose a Catholic education for you? For the core values it promotes, such as respect and integrity. What attracted you to working for St Nicholas Early Education?

Erin Gehrig chose to work at St Nicholas Early Education due to its commitment to supporting staff development.

The professional growth St Nicholas Early Education offers its educators throughout their career. St Nicholas places a high value on professional development and supporting educators in achieving their career goals. I was also impressed by the modern facilities St Nicholas offers, along with its authentic approach to documentation.

What do you wish more people knew about supporting children’s growth and development? The biggest insight I wish more people recognised is the value of play in children’s lives. By engaging in play, children are not only exploring, negotiating, and discovering the world around them, but developing the foundation for lifelong skills. As children engage in play-based learning, they are immersing themselves in activities they enjoy by using their natural senses, which ignites their curiosity for the environment around them. What do you find most rewarding about your job? I really value the relationships I develop with the children and their families. It is so rewarding seeing their smiling faces of a morning and being able to support their growth and development. I cherish being a part of children's lives and becoming their champion. I love witnessing children’s “I did it” moments where they experience the satisfaction of mastering a task they have worked hard at. They are beautiful moments to watch and be a part of. What career goals do you hope to achieve? I want to continue to grow in my role at Maitland as we gain occupancy, finish my university degree, and one day become a director of a service.

Are you home alone? Struggling to find a helping hand, or just need someone to talk to? Hello Hunter is here to support you. This free service is available to make a friendly call, deliver essentials, assist in finding specialised help, or pray with you on request. Hello Hunter can be accessed by any person needing support or experiencing hardship. Call now on 4948 6837, send a Facebook message to @HelloHunterHelp, email HELP@HELLOHUNTER.ORG.AU




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

Care talk

Emotional rescue CLAIRE WOOD

Much of the research and many of the public education campaigns relating to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) focus on males and children, which results in a great deal of misconceptions about the experiences of women who have the condition. CatholicCare’s registered psychologists address a new issue each month. The advice provided is general in nature and does not replace ongoing support and advice from your health professional. To talk to someone about counselling support, call CatholicCare P 4979 1172 or Lifeline 24/7 on P 131 114.

While research is still relatively new in the area of female high-functioning autism, recent media presentations in hit shows such as Love on the Spectrum have been helpful in representing how these women navigate intimate relationships. More and more women, many in longterm relationships, are now pursuing a diagnostic assessment for autism. This process can help these women foster a positive sense of identity, provide them and their loved ones with useful advice to manage intimate relationships, and gain a better understanding as to why traditional therapies may not be working for them. Women with high-functioning autism commonly face relationship misconceptions.

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

One is that people with autism are not wired to experience emotions. This assumption that autistic people are unable to feel love (and get married) is attributed to an inability to feel empathy. Their capacity to respond to the thoughts/ feelings of others is reduced. Women with ASD are challenged with confirming

or expressing (verbalising) emotional understanding beyond a black/white mindset and only they can provide closure. Women with ASD also struggle with eye contact and reading their partner’s (and others’) faces. However, this does not mean women with ASD are unable to feel sympathy or care towards others. Women with ASD require time to process information. Also, because their orientation is towards logic, it is their actions that reflect love and other positive emotions. A second misconception is that people with autism don’t want friends. Most neurotypical adults see friends as vital to happiness. They prefer a large friendship group. Women with ASD can be challenged with interpreting the subtleties that socialising entails. They may read/misread the social context differently, sometimes to their partner’s embarrassment. Their difficulty in responding to social conflict/aggression – such as gossip or being suddenly cut off by a friend – can make them vulnerable. We now appreciate that in their desire to belong, women with ASD are adept at masking challenges, including loneliness. Their efforts can be exhausting. Some women with ASD experience social anxiety as a result of these social challenges. However, contrary to perceived ideas, women with ASD value friendships. Their social networks differ to neurotypical women in their size, and women with ASD

focus on a few intense friends. They value sharing their thoughts and emotions with friends. As one woman with ASD says: “I can tell them anything at all and they listen.” A third misconception is that people with autism are unable to develop romantic relationships. It is well researched that people with autism are considered isolated individuals. It is assumed that challenges with reciprocal (two-way) conversation including limited understanding of unspoken romantic innuendos (reading between the lines) and uncomfortable sensitivities to touch (hugs) means they are unable to sustain a romantic relationship. Contrary to this misconception, we now know that ASD women report romantic relationships of similar lengths and levels of seriousness as those of neurotypical women. Women with ASD also note that a romantic relationship is important. As the woman with ASD quoted earlier says: “My husband is all-consuming.” Maintaining any relationship requires extra unique attention after the initial “heady days”. Women with ASD (diagnosed and undiagnosed) need validation, information and advice. Their partners benefit from empathy and understanding.

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YOU ARE INVITED TO BE A PILGRIM ON THE AMEN CAMINO! Using intervals of the Great North Walk, this five-day pilgrimage commences in Maitland and concludes in Newcastle, with participants walking via the Watagans, around Lake Macquarie and beautiful Hunter beaches. The aMeN CaMiNo is a response to a desire to be in communion with each other and our sacred Earth. It is an opportunity to pause from routine, immerse yourself in reflection, contemplation and to provide a moment of space for each person to be conscious of God’s gift of Grace. It will stretch your body, mind and spirit and provide an opening for transformation. The aMeN caMiNo is for everyone. It will be run in May, June, and July-August 2021. To find out more and complete an expression of interest form by 30 November, visit:

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: PRESENTED BY THE FORMATION AND EDUCATION TEAM Wednesday 11 November, 7pm- 8.30pm (free, online event) Are you interested in relationships and the research around why they are successful, or what happens when personal dedication erodes? This event, led by experienced relationship educator Robyn Donnelly, is for all adults; those who are single, dating, engaged, in a committed relationship, preparing for their first child or married. Ms Donnelly will draw from international research to provide participants with an understanding of patterns of behaviours that drain our emotional bank accounts and can cause relationships to go into meltdown or erode connection. Participants will reflect on seven areas that create strong and sound relationships, allowing people to remain connected during times of disagreement or conflict.

Live stream Mass every Sunday at 9.30am at

For your diary NOVEMBER 1: The Feast of All Saints


REVEREND NICHOLAS KING SJ PRESENTS: BRINGING THE GOSPEL TO LIFE AND MARK THE STRANGEST GOSPEL This November we are blessed to have Father Nicholas King SJ, assistant Catholic chaplain at Oxford University, lead a two-part presentation on Gospel readings and their relevance to modern society. Wednesday 4 November, 6.30pm-8pm (free, online event) Many people these days think the Bible is “old-fashioned” or dead. In this session Fr Nicholas will discuss ways in which it is possible to find the Gospel as a source of life, looking at some passages from Paul, Matthew, Luke and John. Wednesday 18 November, 6.30pm-8pm (free, online event)


COMMUNION OF SAINTS Four-week series, Thursdays 5-26 November, 6.30pm-8pm (free, online event) Join the Diocese’s Formation and Education team on a four-week journey as they discover the origins and meaning of the Communion of Saints, why is Mary so deeply connected, and the Saints who expressed an active witness to the Catholic faith. Participants will engage in a range of activities that will allow them to discover the beauty of the Communion of Saints through Church teachings, art, music, and story. Participants will be required to engage in some prereading before each session.


At Advent we turn our focus to the Gospel of Mark and the way in which it presents Jesus as a man of actions rather than words, a man of power and miracles. Mark’s clear purpose was to encourage those enduring persecution and for them to know who Jesus was.

Wednesday 25 November, 6.30pm-8pm (free, online event)

In his second presentation Fr Nicholas will present “Mark: The Strangest Gospel”. This talk will examine the shortest gospel, and that which was almost certainly the first to be written. In that sense, Mark invented the gospel form. The session discusses the oddity of this remarkable text.

Join him as he invites you to explore questions about making moral choices in a contemporary society, where there are varying views on major issues such as war, marriage, immigration, sexuality, politics and religion.

REVEREND DR MICHAEL SMITH SJ PRESENTS: WHY PILGRIMAGE? Tuesday 17 November, 7pm-8pm (free, online event) What makes us embark on a pilgrimage? It usually starts as a personal call, an invitation to leave our comfort zones. Depending on our age and experience, there can be a feeling that we need to be reconciled with our past. Sometimes it involves a question about the future: what do I really want? Sometimes the call to pilgrimage is the recognition that we need to change. Sometimes it's about facing an unresolved crisis. Sometimes we walk because life has slowly dried our souls.

Fr Anthony Coloma answers some difficult questions about moral choices, sin and forgiveness.

Fr Coloma will also discuss confession and sin, particularly where there are varying opinions on what “sin” means, as well as if the sacrament of confession actually “wipes the slate clean” and makes you “right” with God. Event registration To register for any of these events, go to Adult Faith Formation page on the Diocesan website: AdultFaithFormation

DATES FOR THE DIOCESAN SYNOD Second session of Synod – Discernment is on 22 May 2021 Third session of Synod – Implementation is on 21 November 2021

For some, the motivation for pilgrimage is a thirst for life, a thirst for God, a thirst to encounter Jesus Christ, a thirst for the inner guidance of the Spirit. Life wounds all of us, and pilgrimage can be a means of healing and reconciliation. The desire of the pilgrim is to be reconciled and to return home healed and ready for new adventures knowing that life itself is a pilgrimage.

ANNUAL REUNION AND MSS FOR DECEASED NURSES The Mater Graduate Nurses Association Committee wishes to inform all members that due to COVID 19 restrictions the Annual Reunion and Deceased Nurses Mass will not be held this November.

10: World Science Day for Peace and Development 15: World Day for the Poor


20: Universal Children’s Day

Access Online publications including La Croix and The Tablet an extensive eBook Religion Collection and the Religion & Philosophy Collection database.

21: Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 29: First Sunday of Advent

For more events, please visit

While the DoMN Library catalogue can be searched anonymously, registration is necessary for access to member privileges such as: borrowing books, audio visual resources and kits, for access to the eBook collection, periodicals and magazines and for access to the databases. Registration is an extremely simple process via the registration link on the library homepage. Once registered, an email confirming logon details makes members set to benefit from the array of resources – both physical and electronic. All physical resources will be made available for collection at the library desk in the Diocesan Offices reception area at 841 Hunter Street, Newcastle West, or by arrangement. All resources should be returned to the Diocesan Offices as well. To help navigate the sites many features, handy “How to” videos, with step-by-step instruction to many frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) are provided at the click of a mouse. There is also a Book Club which all are welcome to join. Link to DoMN Library:




THE SOCIAL DILEMMA (NETFLIX 2020) BEN VAN DER WIJNGAART “My kids don’t use social media at all.” “We are zealots about it.” A couple of helicopter parents? No, Alex Roetter, former Twitter senior vice-president, and Tim Kendal, former Facebook executive, Pinterest president and Moment chief executive, respectively. The Social Dilemma producer Tristan Harris makes the point: “Notice that many people in the tech industry don’t give these devices to their children.” Harris is the former Google design ethicist, who with many former executives from Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apple, Palm, TikTok and more, contribute to this deeply disturbing rug-lift on the all-pervasive social media industry. This well-produced docu-drama does not ignore the original good intent and benefits of this industry but it’s difficult to walk away after seeing it without profound concerns about the effects on not just those addicted to their little screens, but society as a whole.



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

It suggests our modern society has subscribed to a dangerous addiction to technology that surreptitiously gathers vast amounts of data from the observation of people’s most intimate habits, preferences and weaknesses. This data is used to make gradual, imperceptible changes in the behaviour and perceptions of its users. Harvard University professor Shoshana Zuboff says these changes use “what it knows about you, against you” and are aimed at “monetising” or selling product. Among the cited side-effects of this manipulation are a “gigantic rise in depression and anxiety … self-harm … and suicide”. Equally concerning is the “weaponising” of data held on these sites by malevolent forces to potentially influence national elections and sow social discord. Data scientist Cathy O’Neil wrote about this in her 2016 book Weapons of Math Destruction.

Internationally recognised ecumenical teacher Richard Rohr says Thomas Aquinas and C.S. Lewis taught that the triumph of evil depends entirely on disguise. “Our egos must see it as some form of goodness and virtue so that we can buy into it,” says Fr Rohr. “When St Paul talks about the ‘devil’, he uses words such as ‘powers’, ‘principalities’, and ‘thrones’ (Colossians 1:16). Can there be any doubt Paul was referring to those organisations that capture our minds to the point of idolatry?” The Social Dilemma foretells a disturbing future of civil war, destruction of civilization, failure to meet the challenges of climate change and the ruination of the world economy as the inevitable consequences of inaction against social media technology forces. Hyperbolic? Watch it and be your own judge. I don’t think so. I think this is just what St Paul was cautioning us about.

WOK AND/OR ROLL Many parents and carers face the question of what to do with their children when the school day finishes but their workday hasn’t. Juggling the demands of modern life isn’t always easy; however, it can be made simpler with a little help from St Nicholas OOSH. An agency of the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle, St Nicholas OOSH provides safe, affordable and reliable out-of-schoolhours care to students ages 5-12 at more than 25 locations across the region. In addition to delivering high-quality education and care, each service prepares nutritious and delicious food for students to enjoy.

At St Nicholas OOSH, The Junction, butter chicken, fried rice and tacos are a firm favourite with the students after school. “When the children come to our service in the afternoon, they’re usually hungry after a full day of school,” says Olivia Goodwin, one of the responsible people in charge at The Junction. “We always have a fruit and veggie platter ready for them to graze from,” she says, “as well as a rotation of wholesome meals that provide them with enough energy to get them through a few action-packed hours of playing with their friends and our educators.” Ms Goodwin says some of the meals have

FRIED RICE Ingredients 8 cups rice half an onion 3 garlic cloves 1 cup finely cubed carrot 1 cup peas 1 cup corn (removed from cob) 4 rashers of bacon (cut to small pieces) 1½ tablespoons soy sauce salt and pepper ½ tablespoon oil

Method 1. Using rice cooker or stovetop method, cook the rice and place in fridge to cool. 2. Cut up bacon, onion, carrot, peas, corn and garlic. 3. Add onion and bacon to frypan and cook on med-high heat until aromatic. 4. Add garlic and other vegetables to heat, stirring until vegetables are tender. 5. Add rice, salt and pepper, and continue to stir until well combined and warmed. 6. Add soy sauce, stirring until well combined. 7. Serve and eat.

been so popular, parents have asked for copies of the recipe. “We’ll often have parents ask how we get their children to eat vegetables,” she says, “I’m not entirely sure what the difference is.” “Often, we involve the students’ help in designing the menu and chat with them about what ingredients we could add to meals to make them colourful, tasty and healthy. “I think this involvement helps, as well as sharing the meal with their peers.”

Could you stay the distance? Become a foster carer and help a child to heal.

We are looking for people interested in providing a loving, supportive and predictable home for children. Through no fault of their own, many children are not able to live with their birth families. Our carers are crucial to providing children with the stability and nurturing when they need it most. There are various types of care you could provide that would make a difference: • Short term: such as providing regular weekend care • Medium term: typically six to twelve months while families work to have their children restored to them • Longer term: typically two to five years or longer Can you commit to helping a child? We invite you to join us for an information session to find out more, please go to for dates and details. Or alternatively, call Di Walters on (02) 4944 0711.

Enrolments now open for 2021