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Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle November 2016 | No.163

Hugh Mackay asks, is Australia beyond belief?



Enter the world of prison chaplaincy Noah James: humility + talent = success

Welcom e to Cather ine McA uley Catholi c Colle ge Medow ie!

Does your child go to a Catholic school? For all the good news stories from our schools across the diocese, visit catholic-schools

or connect with us on social media by visiting connect

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

First Word

On the cover Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle November 2016 | No.163

Hugh Mackay asks, is Australia beyond belief?


Enter the world of prison chaplaincy Noah James: humility + talent = success


Welcom e to Catheri ne Catholi McAuley c Col Medowi lege e!

Brandon Christoffersen, Coby Proszkowiec, Christina Buttigieg, Amalie Roesler, Janali Haynes, Jonah Malone and Rhys Telley are Year 3 students at St Brigid’s Primary School, Raymond Terrace and will belong to the first Year 7 class at Catherine McAuley Catholic College. Photograph courtesy of Alyssa Faith.

Featured  Welcome to Catherine McAuley Catholic College, Medowie


 Taree Community Kitchen provides service with a smile 6  The Year of Mercy ends but Mercy endures! 7  Domestic violence: Remember the frog in the pot


 New appointment for fearless advocate 11  Humility and talent lead to success on the field for Noah


 Ministry with survivors of human trafficking 14  New units in Maitland ready for tenants


 Stopping the Boats III: Why resettlement is not the solution to the world’s refugee crisis 18  Sr Christine O’Connor: Heading home from Kununurra


 Beyond Belief: How we find meaning, with or without religion



“Be provocative…build the Church!” One of the keynote speakers at the September colloquium of the Council for Australian Catholic Women, titled “Women as witnesses to the joy of the gospel”, was Professor Maria Harries. Maria is Chair of Catholic Social Services Australia and a member of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council. She was an independent auditor at the 14th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place at the Vatican in Rome last year. Early in her keynote address (which was superb) Maria said, “I’m not here not to be provocative. We are not witnesses if we don’t act. We are not here to preserve the Church as it was, we are here to build the Church.” Being provocative, especially for women, is not always seen as desirable or appropriate, yet who was more provocative than Jesus? In a world with clearly defined roles and expectations for women, Jesus engaged the Samaritan woman at the well and offered her the water of life!

I have thought of Maria’s implied injunction to ‘be provocative’ many times since the colloquium, and it seems to me an appropriate mission for a diocesan magazine. Aurora certainly needs to inform, educate, engage and reflect the community it serves – but I believe she also needs to be provocative, in the best sense. The gospel promises neither comfort nor complacency. Rather, it urges uncompromising fidelity to the demands of the cross. A publication that preaches the gospel must provoke its readers to question, to challenge, to test assumptions. In this edition, the appointment of Fr Frank Brennan sj as CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia is good news indeed. Fr Frank will certainly fulfil the injunction of his Chair of the Board!


Contact Aurora Aurora online

 My Word


Next deadline 7 November 2016

 CareTalk

9 10

 Family Matters


 The Catholic Thing


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

 Seasons of Mercy



 The Way We Were


 Frankly Spoken


 Community Noticeboard


 Last Word



In response to enquiries, may I remind you that Aurora appears in The Newcastle Herald, The Maitland Mercury, The Singleton Argus, The Manning River Times and The Scone Advocate on the first Wednesday of the month and in The Muswellbrook Chronicle on the following Thursday. The magazine can also be read online at – your source for local Catholic news in the Hunter. Subscribe at subscribe. Limited copies are available in churches but the best way to obtain a copy is to buy the paper or subscribe.

The reality of human trafficking and the prevention of domestic violence are just two

 First Word

 One by One

salient issues addressed this month.


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



Fairfax Media Phone 4979 5259

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


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

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My Word

All Hallows E’en Do you get involved in Halloween? If you have children, quite possibly you do. Quite possibly you kitted them out as ghosts or goblins and let them go ‘trick-or-treating’. Perhaps other people’s kids knocked on your door and perhaps you have learned to have ‘candy’ around the place, just in case. So far, I haven’t been involved. I’m of a generation for whom Halloween, like Valentine’s Day and basketball, was something that happened in America, and I’m enough of a grumpy old man to think that its arrival on these shores owes more to traders seeing a commercial opportunity than to anything genuinely traditional or cultural here. ‘Bah, humbug!’ and all that. But whatever else Halloween is, it is ‘the eve of All Hallows’, the day before the Feast of All Saints which, with the following All Souls Day, marks the beginning of November, itself preeminently the season of prayer for the dead. Anyone who has lived in northern Europe has a sense of why minds turned to thoughts of death in November. It is a miserable month when the sun only rises at 10 o’clock and has set by about four. The world itself is dying, as the trees shed their leaves and nothing grows. In the medieval past, too, it was the time when villagers were most likely to face the prospect of death, if the harvest had been bad or Spring was to come too late. So medieval people faced their demons quite literally. As they did with Mardi Gras or the Feast of Mis-rule or the Charivari, they almost taunted the things they feared. They played them out in their streets, almost provoking them to do their worst, and then they celebrated the Christian festivals that proclaimed the new order where, through Easter, All Saints, the good order of Christian society or marriage, the ancient forces of darkness, disorder and death had been overcome.


So there may be something to be said for Halloween, but not for Halloween by itself. To playfully recall the ghosts and goblins, reminding ourselves of mankind’s ancient fears of death and darkness, but then to celebrate the triumph of the saints, which is the victory of Christ and our hope for ‘all souls’ – this may be a useful human dynamic. It’s a bit like the buzz we got as children from briefly pretending not to know it was Dad behind the scary mask so that we could giggle and relax when the mask was pulled away and a laughing father was revealed. Kids will want that game played over and over, even though they know it’s Dad. Somehow we like to play out fear and joy in quick succession. We just do. In any case, in November we remember our dead. But we do not remember them as, perhaps, the world remembers fallen heroes or whatever, who will ‘always live in our memories’. No, we remember them before God. We remember them when we are talking to God, and we ask God to take care of them, just as we might ask another person to pass on our love to some friend or relative who lives where they live. ‘Please say or do such-andsuch to Fred when you see him.’ All Saints and All Souls remind us, if we need reminding, of our ongoing connectedness with those whom we no longer see. On a different note, many Aurora readers will have followed the Royal Commission’s recent public hearing into some cases of institutional child sexual abuse in the diocese and in Marist Brothers schools here. One of the very painful stories was that of Andrew Nash who, as a young boy of 13, died tragically in 1974. Br Peter Carroll, the present Provincial of the Marists, said in his statement to the Commission:

I want to acknowledge today, in public, that I accept on behalf of the Marist Brothers that all the evidence points to Andrew having been sexually abused and the evidence also points to Andrew having taken his own life. Importantly, it is obvious that many things have been said about the circumstances of Andrew’s death, some of which must be corrected. It has been suggested in some places that Andrew’s death was a prank gone wrong involving a family member.... To me, it is obvious that no member of the Nash family was involved in causing his death. Any suggestion that they were is completely wrong and hurtful to the family. These ideas must be totally rejected. Such comments have immeasurably compounded the family’s pain and sense of loss. I am grateful that Br Carroll took the opportunity to make such a clear and strong public statement. On behalf of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, I endorse and reaffirm what Br Carroll has said. I too deeply regret the pain the Nash family has suffered from the circulation of such unfounded accounts of Andrew’s death as those to which Br Carroll referred. The Nash family has borne the loss of Andrew for over forty years. They should not have to bear the additional distress that arises from unfounded rumour or speculation. I also pray, and ask you to pray, for Andrew: Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

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Cover Story

Welcome to Catherine McAuley Catholic College! in Catholic secondary schools, including the demand for Catholic education in Port Stephens.


Bishop Bill has announced the name of the diocese’s newest secondary school, Catherine McAuley Catholic College. Located in Medowie, the new secondary school will open in 2020, with building works set to commence in 2018. This is the second new school name of 2016, following the announcement of St Bede’s Catholic College, Chisholm, in May. The first cohort to commence studies at Catherine McAuley will include students from feeder primary schools: St Brigid’s, Raymond Terrace, St Michael’s, Nelson Bay and St Joseph’s, Bulahdelah. The construction of the new school is among 12 recommendations to emerge from the 2013 study into the Provision of Secondary Education in the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle, ensuring the diocese will be able to meet the future needs of students

The name “Catherine McAuley College” was chosen because McAuley is a strong identity who can speak vigorously to contemporary adolescents and young adults in secondary schools. Further, and importantly, Catherine presents a strong and relevant female face of the Catholic Church. In the Year of Mercy, Catherine McAuley is an appropriate gift of Mercy to the diocesan school system. To understand this special link, we must first understand the great person she was. Dublin-based Catherine McAuley inherited a considerable fortune and chose to use it to build a house where she and other compassionate women could take in homeless women and children, providing care and education. In 1827, on the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, McAuley began managing an institution for destitute women and orphans, as well as schools for the poor. Four years later, she founded a congregation, the Sisters of Mercy, in Dublin. The distinctive feature of this band of spirited women would be works of mercy. Today, 10,000 women worldwide carry on the McAuley tradition. In 1978, the cause for recognition of Catherine as a saint of the church was begun by Pope Paul VI. In 1990, in recognition of

her heroic virtues, Pope John Paul II declared her “Venerable”. The Sisters of Mercy have a strong historical connection to the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle, being one of the foundation congregations ministering in Catholic schools and providing health care. People of the region will be familiar with St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton, and the Mater Hospital, Waratah, as Mercy icons. The Mercy name is strong in the Port Stephens region with feeder schools St Brigid’s and St Michael’s having been established by the Sisters of Mercy. Catherine McAuley Catholic College will be grounded in the Mercy traditions of mercy, justice, excellence, integrity, courage and hospitality. Students attending the secondary college will be nurtured to be courageous young men and women who act compassionately to build community and who are alive with the mercy and justice of God. They will be supported and challenged to be open to new ideas and have the ability to make wise choices, as well as build lives centred on contemplation and action, prayer and service. The school will be dedicated to fostering a commitment to excellence and lifelong learning in the lives of all students and will honour the magnificent contribution of the Sisters of Mercy to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Liam Pietraszek (Year 3) and Robyn Hewitt (Year 1) of St Michael’s, Nelson Bay, will belong to the first cohort of students at Catherine McAuley.

The principals of the three feeder Catholic primary schools are eagerly anticipating the opening of Catherine McAuley Catholic College. “The students and parents are excited that there is now the prospect of K to 12 Catholic schooling on the Port Stephens Peninsula,” says St Michael’s principal, Helen Bourne. St Joseph’s principal, Joanne Trotter, also shares the excitement of a more accessible Catholic secondary school. “Our families have often felt disadvantaged by geography, so the new high school at Medowie will provide families the opportunity to ensure their children are able to benefit from a Catholic education close to home,” she said. “The new secondary college will be of great benefit to our local community as our families greatly value being a part of a Catholic school community with supportive education and Christian values at the core,” says St Brigid’s principal, David Palmer. The school will eventually cater for 1,200 students from Years 7 to 12 and will feature state of the art facilities and recreation areas. Gerard Mowbray is Assistant Director, Catholic Schools Office. Initial expressions of interest for enrolment in 2020 or enquiries can be made by contacting Karen Millsteed, P 4979 1223 or by visiting

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Taree Community Kitchen provides service with a smile


Volunteers, donors, staff, Members of Parliament and the wider community all watched with smiles on their face as Rev Brian Mascord VG blessed the Taree Community Kitchen. Their elation was fitting since serving wholesome meals to the public, with a smile, is what the Kitchen is all about. The Taree Community Kitchen had been operating for 30 years under different providers before CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning officially reopened the building recently. The Kitchen builds on CatholicCare’s existing Community Engagement programs including CatholicCare Refugee Service and Community Care Van. “With the generous support of CatholicCare staff, volunteers and donors, the Kitchen opens its doors to the public five days a

week. It is a space where people can feel safe, enjoy the company of others and have access to other relevant services via information and referral,” CatholicCare Director, Helga Smit, said. Some of the kitchen’s major sponsors include Coles’ SecondBite Community Connect Program, Mayo Private Hospital, MidCoast Council, Taree West Plaza Butchery, Lambert’s Butchery, Eddie's Fresh Chicken, Bakers Delight, McGrath Butchers and Solomon’s Fruit & Vegetables.

Tare e Com mun ity Kitc hen volu ntee r Ruth Sum pner.

opening, sharing his thoughts and standing alongside Ms Smit to cut the ribbon to the entrance of the new and improved kitchen. Mr Slater said the grant made the Taree Community Kitchen’s important community service sustainable in a community facing a higher than average unemployment rate and a range of social issues, particularly youth unemployment.

CatholicCare was fortunate to receive a $30,000 donation from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation to provide a much-needed revamp of the Kitchen.

“Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation’s grant recognises the important service Taree Community Kitchen offers, in providing meals to people in a position of disadvantage and as a vital community link to ensure the vulnerable and isolated have access to appropriate services,” Mr Slater said.

Fittingly the Foundation Chairman, Michael Slater, played a key role in the official

Volunteers and donors are the backbone of the Taree Community Kitchen − without

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their support the Kitchen could not operate. Accordingly, when asked to speak about her experiences as a volunteer at the opening, Ruth Sumpner was eager to accept the invitation. “I have found volunteering in the Kitchen to be an immensely enjoyable and fulfilling experience. When you are in the kitchen, it’s like you are there with an extended family. As a volunteer you get so much more out of the experience than you ever give. It is truly heart-warming to see the smiles on people’s faces when you serve them; the human connection brings so much happiness,” Ms Sumpner said. The Kitchen always welcomes additional support. To register your interest in becoming a volunteer or donor please P CatholicCare, (02) 6539 5900.

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The Year of Mercy ends but Mercy endures! face of mercy in order that we will be merciful like God, began. In the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle it commenced with Bishop Bill opening Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Door of Mercy. The Year of Mercy has coincided with the 150th year since Bishop James Murray arrived at Morpeth, travelled to Maitland and claimed St John’s Church as his cathedral, so a number of events have been mercy-flavoured evocations of the past and hope for the future.

By TRACEY EDSTEIN “It’s no use going back to yesterday,” wrote Lewis Carroll 150 years ago in Alice

the Year of Mercy, inaugurated by Pope

While Mercy endures, the Year of Mercy draws to a close in line with the wish of Pope Francis. This will be marked by an ‘Open House’ and closing liturgy on Sunday 20 November at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Newcastle West, to which all are welcome.

Francis as an opportunity to contemplate the

The real challenge of the Year of Mercy is

in Wonderland, “because I was a different person then.” As the Church’s season of Advent approaches, it’s almost twelve months since

for individuals and communities to continue to live as people of Mercy. After all, Mercy knows no bounds of denomination, tradition or time.

There will be opportunities to enjoy conversation with others, receive the sacrament of penance and enjoy live entertainment.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge has said that the time of Christendom is over, and the Catholic Church must recognise its real credential is in Mercy. Calling for Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy to be enacted as a verb, Archbishop Coleridge said the Pope’s vision gives birth to action within the Church and across the global community.

As Pope Francis says, “Mercy exceeds justice; it brings knowledge and compassion; it leads to involvement. By the dignity it brings, mercy raises up the one over whom another has stooped to bring help. The one who shows mercy and the one to whom mercy is shown become equals.”

Participants in the ‘Open House’ and closing liturgy are invited to journey to the cathedral to walk through the doors of mercy for the last time. They are also invited to ‘bring a plate’ for afternoon tea and to bring a gift for the poor to be distributed through the St Vincent de Paul Christmas appeal.

It may be helpful for any one of us to ask, at intervals, ‘Am I a different person from the one I was yesterday? Last week? Last year?’ Whether you are a person of faith or not, Mercy always has currency. Please gather in the cathedral at 3.45pm. For more details, visit

All are invited to the

Year of Mercy open house and closing liturgy to walk through the doors of mercy for the last time Photo: Tomaz Silva/ABr (Agência Brasil) [CC BY 3.0 br (], via Wikimedia Commons. All rights reserved.

Sunday 20 November 2016 Gather from 3pm for 3.45pm presentation in the Cathedral and a 4pm liturgy Diocesan offices, Sacred Heart Cathedral and grounds You might like to: Bring something to add to the table for afternoon tea (Davis Courtyard) Bring a gift for the poor which will go to the St. Vincent de Paul for their Christmas appeal

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Domestic Violence: Remember the frog in the pot Domestic and family violence is one of the most significant and visible contributors to trauma-related mental illness within our community, and can single-handedly create significant behavioural, cognitive and developmental impairment in children.


Research has shown that living in a home where there is violence can have long-lasting negative effects on children’s wellbeing. These effects include social isolation and relationship impairment, poor concentration and hyper-vigilance, presenting similar to ADHD, and risk-taking behaviours with a much higher threat of developing drug, alcohol and mental health issues later in life. One of the most demonstrated and effective ways of reducing these distressing levels of impairment is to reduce the incidence of domestic violence and limit the extent of intergenerational abuse. The task of empowering women to find new paths away from violence, to identify new values for themselves, is the core task of change. CatholicCare’s Brighter Futures recognises that keeping a vulnerable woman and child/ren engaged, particularly as she contemplates change, is the best way of ensuring that when she moves to the action stage, she can be supported and resourced in her decisions. So many times we hear, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave him’ and ‘She keeps going back to him?’ − and so many times we advocate that we, as a community, need to support her and her children in doing so. I challenge this mindset of ‘just leaving him’ with the boiling frog analogy. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is put in cold water which is then brought to the boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. If we understand the grooming process of a domestic violence perpetrator, that there is a ‘wear down’ process by the perpetrator that can involve social isolation, financial control and the woman being stripped of all self 8

worth and esteem, then we can start to work on empowering the woman and her children and support them in seeing their strengths again and implementing safety strategies. It is also imperative that we, as a community, move the responsibility of the violence to the perpetrator and support the woman and her children in recognising new values for themselves and new boundaries. Empowerment is key in working with vulnerable women and ensuring long term sustainable change, beginning with small achievable goals and using strengthsbased language in conversation. Referrals to appropriate services such as Victims Services Counselling and Domestic Violence specialist services (Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, Police Domestic Violence Liaison Officer and Housing specialist services) are a priority in good case management and the aim is to wrap the woman and children in support, violence prevention and service provision; mitigating social isolation and promoting a solid base to which the woman can return. Consider this case study: Natalie and her daughter, Sarah, are referred to CatholicCare by way of Family and Community Services (FaCS) due to the domestic violence in the home perpetrated by Sarah’s father and its impact on Sarah. Natalie had experienced significant physical and emotional abuse at the hands of Sarah’s father, who is now incarcerated, and is now in a relationship with Ben. Ben moved into the home quickly and the relationship developed at lightning speed. Ben is also physically, verbally and emotionally violent and controlling. Natalie has multiple bruises on her face and body and is fearful of Ben reaction’s should she

leave. Natalie has a beautiful attachment to her daughter, Sarah; however Ben does not like Natalie giving Sarah her attention and becomes aggressive so Natalie says she feels guilty for spending time with her daughter. As part of her case management in the Brighter Futures program, Natalie undergoes extensive domestic violence education; exploring the impact of the violence on her daughter and herself and the signs and types of domestic violence and safety planning. The power of language is not to be underestimated when working with women experiencing domestic violence. It’s vital to shift the responsibility to the perpetrator and hold him accountable for his actions by way of ADVO applications.

The power of language is not to be underestimated when working with women experiencing domestic violence. Over 18 months, Brighter Futures works intensively with Natalie, supporting her in becoming empowered. Natalie has been introduced to the local domestic violence liaison officer and specialist housing services. She is engaged with a case worker who is supporting Natalie and Sarah at the local women and children’s refuge. Natalie has more confidence in herself and has demonstrated a sound

knowledge of the early warning signs of domestic violence. Natalie enrolled Sarah in child care in preparation for commencing a TAFE course. Natalie is working towards obtaining her provisional licence so she can be independent in transporting Sarah and has moved out of her previous unit which was unsuitable, due to accessibility and locality, and is currently on the priority list for Housing NSW’s Start Safely program. The long term effect of Natalie’s empowerment and service inclusion is that she can now recognise an unhealthy relationship in its early stages and this mitigates child protection concerns for Sarah living in another violent household. Sarah now has a mother who is modelling independence and maintaining boundaries. Should Natalie embark on a violent relationship, she now has the tools and resources to reconnect with the appropriate support services and safety plan. Sarah is thriving in child care and at home and is meeting her milestones. According to Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited (ANROWS) 61% of women who have experienced violence perpetrated against them had children in their care. One in 6 women and 1 in 20 men experience domestic violence perpetrated against them, however it is noted that much of the violence perpetrated against men is by men. Through Brighter Futures, CatholicCare supports both mothers and fathers with young children. Stacey Northam is Family and Domestic Violence Case Manager, CatholicCare Social Services. If you have concerns regarding domestic violence please P CatholicCare Social Services (02) 6539 5900.

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Anticipating retirement Q

By TANYA RUSSELL Registered Psychologist

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

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


I have been looking forward to retirement at the end of this year for so long. I have worked as a school teacher for many years and suddenly I feel lost and fearful. I don’t know who I will be or what I will do if I am not teaching. Can you suggest how to deal with my fears and forge into the unknown with positivity rather than fear? So many of us define who we are by what we do, so when we are faced with a major transition, we tend to question our sense of identity. Hence it’s quite easy to feel lost and without a sense of purpose. I have met many people in circumstances similar to yours; initially they were feeling excited about the potential freedom retirement could bring, but also had mixed emotions relating to fear, a sense of grief and loss and uncertainty about ‘what’s next’? Transitions such as retirement, having a baby, starting a first or new job all signal a new phase in life. But retirement is sometimes viewed as ‘the end’ of something. This is true in many respects but an ending can also bring about new beginnings and many − even exciting − possibilities. Feeling good about retirement will require some reflection. Instead of defining yourself by what you do, begin thinking about defining yourself by who you are and who you would like to be. Clearly, working as a teacher for so long indicates something about who you are, not just what you did. Did you enjoy sharing knowledge

and teaching others? Are you someone who enjoys being around people, adults as well as young people? Did you enjoy the routine and sense of purpose? When you break down what it was that you enjoyed about teaching, it tells so much more than just the job you did. It gives you information about your values – what matters to you. Now is the time to reflect on value domains. Once you have assessed the importance of each, write down a few words that reflect how you would like to be in each area. For example, as a parent, in the “Family” domain, I might write, “to be a present parent”, “to spend quality time with my children”, “to be more involved in their schooling”. Once you have noted some of the qualities that reflect who you would like to be, you can then think about the actions and behaviours that would demonstrate you are beginning to live by those values. Some domains you could begin thinking about may be:

ff Health (physical and mental) ff Personal growth ff Spirituality ff Community and environment. Also, assess and consider the positive opportunities retirement will bring, one in particular being time to dedicate to all aspects of your life. If you decide that you really value being able to help, support and teach others, you could create new meaning and routine in your life by considering volunteering. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy this new phase of your life and be kind to yourself. It really is all right to feel uneasy about the future; you don’t need to talk yourself out of your fears. But you do have the power to decide what actions you will take now, despite your fears. You can do this.

ff Family


ff Leisure



/mnnewstoday @mnnewstoday

ff Social relationships

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One by One

“Today I am a happy priest” The diocese’s newest priest shares something of his story. My name is Camillus Chinenye Nwahia. I am from Nigeria in West Africa. I am the fifth son and the sixth child in a family of seven. My parents are both dead and most of my siblings are living in different parts of Africa. As a little boy, I was very much attached to my mother who never tired of attending daily Masses. Due to my attachment to her, I also attended daily Masses, becoming an altar boy in my home parish. Initially my father did not go to church but this changed at a later stage in his life. As a young boy I had a strong need to be special. This led me to the decision to leave my State high school for a minor seminary, thereby losing two years of high school. Minor seminarians at this time were seen as having a certain status and they were the only ones allowed to serve Sunday Masses. I admit I looked for this respect too; to be honest, there was no thought of becoming a priest at this time. It was during the six years of high school that the idea of becoming a priest was very much considered. I joined the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers where I spent almost nine years, encompassing Philosophy, Theology, Novitiate and Pastoral Year. It was at this time that my father decided to become a practising Catholic as he said he could not be uninvolved while his son was preparing for the priesthood. After the death of my parents in a space of two years, I felt less committed to becoming a priest. I began having crises with religious life and with making decisions. I finally left the Schoenstatt Fathers community. Later, I was being confronted by my family and friends asking ‘Why?’ At this point I needed to take a break. I needed to move away from everyone, I needed to be on my own to live my own life, make decisions, bear the consequences and become independent for the first time. I took a leap in the dark and found myself in Australia where I would not be under pressure to make decisions. Here I completed my Masters in Educational Studies and at the same time reflected deeply about my past, present and future. These were most important years as they led to a decision that will continue to shape my life. I allowed myself to be led by divine providence. I missed my family and friends. I struggled, cried, made new friends, lost some old friends and made mistakes. However, I never lost my Catholic faith. In the midst of all these, the desire to serve God and humanity as a priest never left me. As a university student I came to know some Catholic Chaplains; Fr Dom Carrigan CSsR and Kate Bartlett. They were very helpful to me as they were ever ready to listen and talk to me in my confused and lonely moments. Fr Dom, in whom I confided my desire to be a priest, arranged for a meeting with the Vocations Director and Vicar General,

Every day I ask for the grace to be able to live a life worthy of my vocation. Fr Camillus Nwahia at Wadowice, home of Pope John Paul II.


Fr Brian Mascord, who encouraged me to pray more and create some time for discernment. He guided me through this period and became like a father to me. He invited me to some diocesan functions and introduced me to Bishop Bill and some of the priests. At the completion of my studies in 2013, I made the biggest decision of my life; to join the presbyterate of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Today I am a happy priest. I have been welcomed here with open arms, enjoying the love and support of my bishop, brother priests, parishioners and members of the diocesan community. I am close to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she has taken special care of me since my mother’s death. I believe strongly that “the servant of Mary will never perish”. I was ordained a deacon on 21 November 2015 and a priest on 4 June 2016. Being in a position to bring people to God and to bring God to the people is a great privilege. Every day I ask for the grace to be able to live a life worthy of my vocation. Celebrating the Eucharist for me has been soul-enriching and unites me always with the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ where he gives us himself as the bread of life and spiritual drink. The sacraments I administer reawaken in me that call to discipleship by Christ: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 28:19). The sacrament of penance brings to life the mercy of God. Being ordained in the Year of Mercy has been for me a sign that I am called to be the face of God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is exciting to see people go to confession with the courage to acknowledge their sins and ask for God’s mercy, which is always ours. It gives me great joy to work with young people. As a chaplain at the University of Newcastle, interactions with university students have increased my desire to find a way to bring young hearts to embrace the Catholic faith. My experiences at the Australian Youth Festival in Adelaide last year and World Youth Day in Poland this year have awakened the hunger in me to work with and for young people and to direct them to learn, understand and practise their faith as I see in them great enthusiasm. To encourage and build a strong multicultural Catholic community which could promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life among young people is one of my hopes. I intend to study and develop my skills in the area of counselling to be well equipped to help people who need spiritual, psychological and emotional support. Being a priest is not an end for me, it is the beginning of my mission in life.




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New appointment for fearless advocate


Fr Frank Brennan sj

Chair of Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA), Dr Maria Harries AM, has announced the appointment of Fr Frank Brennan sj AO as Chief Executive Officer of the peak national body for social services in Australia. CSSA represents a national network of 53 Catholic social service providers. “Fr Frank Brennan sj AO is one of Australia’s leading advocates for justice and equity. His record on speaking out on behalf of people who have been ignored and disregarded in our community is unparalleled,” said Dr Harries. “From his earliest involvement in civil rights movements in Queensland, his work towards reconciliation with Indigenous communities in Redfern in 1975 through to the institution of the Native Title Act in 1993,

his tireless advocacy on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers, and his contribution to the development of the Constitution for the people of Timor Leste among many other public achievements, Fr Brennan has held Australia to a consistent standard of upholding the rights, dignity and respect of all people, especially those most marginalised.” Professor Brennan has held significant roles in academia, public policy and advocacy, including Professor of Law at Australian Catholic University, Adjunct Professor at the ANU College of Law and National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Founding director of Uniya, the Australian Jesuit Social Justice Centre, Rapporteur at the Australian Reconciliation Convention, Ambassador for

Reconciliation by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and Chairperson to the Australian Government's National Human Rights Consultation Committee. Fr Brennan studied at the University of Queensland where he graduated with honours in arts and law. He then graduated from the Melbourne College of Divinity with honours in divinity. He was awarded a Master of Laws by the University of Melbourne. Fr Brennan was later awarded, honoris causa, a Doctor of the University from the Queensland University of Technology and a Doctor of Laws from the University of New South Wales. Fr Brennan is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to Aboriginal Australians, particularly as an advocate in the

areas of law, social justice and reconciliation. While Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in East Timor, he was awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal and the Australian Centenary Medal for his service with refugees and human rights work in the Asia Pacific Region. During the 1998 Wik debate, Prime Minister Paul Keating christened him ‘the meddling priest’. The National Trust has classified him as a Living National Treasure. As Director of CatholicCare Social Services in the Hunter and Manning regions, I am delighted that a man of the calibre of Fr Frank Brennan will be CEO of our national body. He brings so much ‘to the table’ and I look forward to engaging with him.

To learn more about Healing & Support Services please contact us at: 50 Crebert Street Mayfield NSW 2304 PO Box 29 Carrington NSW 2294 P 02 4979 1390 F 02 4979 1151 E

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Humility and talent lead to success on the field for Noah By ALYSSA FAITH

Noah James of St Mary’s High School, Gateshead.

Year 10 student at St Mary’s High School, Gateshead, Noah James, is sure to become a household name, sooner rather than later. When he’s not in class you can find him on the field saving goals for Australia. You won’t hear this from him, however, as this talented up-and-coming goalkeeper is as humble as he is talented. Noah holds a place on the Emerging Jets Squad, a talented player pathway development program, and has also recently played for the Australia Joeys. In July this year, Noah made his debut when he was selected to star for Australia’s Joeys in their Under-16 ASEAN Football Federation Championship. In the grand final, it was

Noah’s save in the penalty shootout that led to a championship victory for the team. What sets Noah apart from the country’s other talented budding football players is his attitude. Jets Youth Coach, Clayton Zane, said recently that Noah “ticks a lot of boxes and the important thing is he’s got a great attitude and work ethic”. Assistant Principal at St Mary’s, Peter Antcliff, shares this sentiment, saying that “Noah’s humility about his achievements indicates why I believe he’ll be so successful in the future. “His attitude is excellent, respectful and humble,” says Mr Antcliff.

Whilst in Cambodia for the Championships, Noah and the other Joeys visited the Sunrise Cambodia Kandal Project, seeing how the children of the orphanage are supported with education, healthcare and sport. Noah describes this as a “really good experience” that left him reflecting on the good fortune he has in Australia.

Noah has a good head on his shoulders and through organisation and working hard in class, has found the key to balancing sport and school, despite training and games that take up 75% of his time. He also has an alternative plan in case a career in professional football is not an option.

“We spent a day at the orphanage playing football with the children, sitting in class with them, talking to them, and just trying to put smiles on their faces,” says Noah.

“Everyone needs a back-up plan. I will continue my studies at St Francis Xavier’s and will go for an ATAR in my Year 12 exams so I can study to become a primary school PDHPE teacher if that’s something I would like to pursue in the future,” says Noah.

“I aspire to be a good role model to children who look up to me so they can look up to a good person.”

We look forward to seeing where Noah’s skills and positive attitude take him over the coming months and years.

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Family Matters

Sharing our faith stories with our children − in myself, another person or even God? By MELISSA FENECH In a recent Children’s Ministries newsletter published by the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle’s Office of Life and Faith, I invited readers to think about how they share their personal faith stories with the children in their lives. Why? Because we know that parents have the greatest impact in influencing their child/ren’s personal development. This is because parents are, and always will be, the first and primary educators of their children. In a particular way, parents have the most influential role in developing their children’s moral and religious beliefs. So, the question that comes back to me as one of the diocese’s Family Community Faith Co-ordinators is, ‘How can parents begin to pass on the practice of ‘having faith’ to their children? How do we communicate what faith is, when it can be such a complex issue we are still discovering ourselves. I believe that one effective way we can begin to pass on faith to our children is by sharing our own important faith stories within the family home. So, the first question for us as adults is: what experiences have I had that involved – challenged – invoked − faith? Perhaps there was a nervous, uncertain moment before an important exam was attempted. Perhaps a step of faith was required in order to take a different pathway in a career. Perhaps it was the birth of a child or a grandchild, a moment filled with deep emotion and new beginnings. Did my experience influence me to have faith

The “milestone” moments that occur in a person’s life come with a certain level of faith, since it is from these points that we begin to step into an unknown future – a future we cannot predict or approach with certainty. In my journey to discovering the importance of faith in my own life, I can recall a really clear memory of a story my mother once told me. I would have been about 19 years old when I persuaded my Mum to share this story with me. Her experience had left a lasting impression in her memory, and it is one which I will always remember too, since she has passed it on to me. The experience happened when I was about 3 years old. My family is made up of Mum, Dad, an older brother, a younger brother and me. On one seemingly normal day in my early years, the family had decided to go for a walk. When we were walking alongside a road, my older brother (5 years old) was safely holding Dad’s hand, my younger brother (1 year old) was being pushed along in a stroller by my mother and I had been instructed to hold onto the side of the stroller whilst we walked along. Everything was very normal about the day and nothing seemed amiss. We strolled up closer to the side of the road because we needed to cross. My father judged it safe to cross, so holding my older brother’s hand, started to walk towards the footpath on the other side. Mum tells the story that, having taken a moment to check on her youngest child, she needed to have a second look before crossing with my brother and me. Rising over the top of the crest in the road, she spotted a large truck approaching. My mother wisely decided

that it would be best to hold off crossing the road until it had passed. By this point my older brother and Dad were close to the other side and hurried along. What happened next was the unexpected. My mother shared with me that it was at this point that I must have decided that I wanted to follow Dad across the road too, and so I let go of the stroller and began to run across the street. Mum describes the shock and horror she felt the moment she realised I had begun to cross the street, right into the pathway of the oncoming truck. Despite the sudden burst of adrenaline and fear she felt in that moment, she left her youngest child secured in the stroller on the sidewalk to run after me. Her intention was to collect me in her arms and position herself between me and the oncoming truck. She remembers screaming out my name. She wasn’t going to get to me in time. Mum recalls hearing the truck driver slam on his brakes and sharply swerve away from a distressed mother and her little girl following her Dad’s path across the road. Thankfully, the driver reacted in time and the truck came to a stop without hitting anybody. Mum shares how she remembers the truck driver being in shock when he emerged from the vehicle to see if everyone was all right.

planned for my life, and that I had a God who really did look out for me. Can you see how my mother’s sharing this story, and her belief that a mysterious God was looking out for her and her little girl, helped encourage the development of my own sense of faith; how it would have led me to ask questions and make my own sense of the story? I encourage families to share stories of faith moments, significant or trivial, in our lives, and explore those experiences together. After all, children love a good story! Melissa Fenech is a Family Community Faith Co-ordinator in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

The following books are recommended by the Children’s Ministries team: ff Colin Buchanan Practise Being Godly Christian Focus Publications ff Jan Godfrey & Honor Ayres Who Made the Morning? Anno Domini Publishing/Koorong Books ff Ray Buckley God’s Love is Like Abingdon Press

And it is this moment in Mum’s story which remains imprinted in my own memory: we were so incredibly lucky to have survived what could have easily become a tragic accident, devastating our family. Mum refers to this experience as a miracle because “something or someone, somewhere, must be looking out for my little girl”. Perhaps I survived to fulfil some bigger plan? This story helped me to believe that perhaps something “bigger” was

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Ministry with survivors of human trafficking Tracey Edstein met Sr Margaret Ng at a recent conference. She invited her to share something of her work with survivors of human trafficking.


It was at a Josephite gathering in 2004 that I first heard about the plight of young women and children who had been tricked into coming to work in Australia and had ended up being sold into sexual debt bondage. I felt a strong call then to look at the issue of human trafficking. In 2005 I came to Sydney from Perth to see what could be done to address the needs of trafficked people. This resulted in the establishment of the Josephite Counter Trafficking Project which offers culturally sensitive support to survivors of human trafficking. Arriving in Sydney, I found myself floundering as I had more questions than answers. I attended training courses run by Project Respect in Melbourne, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Union of International Superior Generals (UISG) in Thailand − courses for religious working at grass roots. To familiarise myself with what was happening in Sydney I also attended court cases. I started to develop networks locally, nationally and internationally, with others working on the issue of human trafficking to learn about the needs of those who had been trafficked (mainly from the Asia Pacific Region) while they were waiting for a witness protection visa. It was important for government, nongovernment agencies and individuals to work collaboratively to protect those who had been trafficked to Australia. This occurred with the establishment of the first National Round Table meeting as part of the Government’s consultation process with stakeholders regarding human trafficking. This included issues such as a more humanitarian visa framework, better training for prosecutors, safe, suitable and sustainable housing. Over the years I have made submissions to the Government requesting the renaming of the Criminal Justice Stay Visa for Trafficked people – the same visa given to criminals awaiting deportation.

Since then the contract for support of victims of human trafficking has been given to the Red Cross. Weekly visits have been made to Villawood Detention Centre where I met women who had been trafficked into brothels. I also met men and women who had been trafficked into the labour force. They had been arrested and detained for working illegally in a vineyard. However, most people wanted to return home quickly, to start working. One of the ladies from Villawood Detention Centre was referred to the Federal Police and she has been granted a Witness Protection

Many survivors of human trafficking are traumatised and depressed, often suffering a loss of selfworth as they try to make sense of what has happened to them visa. It was during my visit to Villawood that I discovered women who were victims of domestic servitude. Domestic servitude also occurs in embassies in Canberra.

Instances of human trafficking

One weekend I received a phone call from a cook who had come on a 457 skills visa. He worked long hours, was underpaid and had not received wages for three months. He had burnt his hand but his employer refused to let him go to the doctor. He was referred to me by a friend who had been in Villawood and knew about my ministry. I referred him the very next day to the Immigration Department and to the Fair Work Ombudsman in Brisbane. He and his wife returned home and have received their back pay.

One Easter a penniless mother and child were placed in a motel with no cooking facilities. I cooked for them over the long weekend. This was an issue raised at the annual advocacy visit to Canberra to address parliamentarians and government agencies.

Many survivors of human trafficking are traumatised and depressed, often suffering a loss of self-worth as they try to make sense of what has happened to them. Their passports are taken away, ostensibly for safe-keeping. Guilt and shame prevent them


from speaking of their experience to their families. I am often asked, “Why has this happened to me?” Some resort to self-harm, alcohol or drug addiction. One lady showed me a scar on her wrist telling me that she had cut herself to take the other pain away. Endorphins alleviate the other pain. Vulnerable women and mothers are targeted by traffickers who visit market places or villages to entice them with offers of a good education and a better life for their daughters, money to feed the family and good jobs. Why don’t they leave? They are in a foreign land, unaware of their rights and often don’t speak English. They are not free to leave because of fear of threat or harm to them and/or their families. A student thought that she could soon buy a car for university. She was sold into a brothel for $15,000 and was told that she had to work to repay a debt of $45,000. Her passport was taken away and she could not leave because of her fear for her father’s safety. He had signed the contract and the traffickers knew where he lived. Another lady was lured with the promise of a good education and $100 a week to help pay bank debts. Her father died when she was 12 and she left school and worked to provide for her siblings and her blind grandfather. As Co-ordinator of Josephite CounterTrafficking Project (JCTP), it has been a privilege to journey with men, women and children who are survivors of human trafficking, accompanying and providing services such as informal English classes and enculturation programs. I enjoy working in partnership with the Salvation Army which provides safe accommodation for trafficked women. I visit weekly, providing culturally sensitive support. Mentoring occurs incidentally as we share stories of how things are done in each one’s country of origin. My ability to speak Chinese, Indonesian and Bahasa Malaysia, albeit at an elementary level, is helpful. During my visits to the Safe House we celebrate our diversity through food and sharing of cultural expectations. When trust is established the women feel free to express their frustrations and needs, knowing full well this is held in confidence. Their experience is validated and they are encouraged to speak to

their case managers, should the need arise. Most people will not believe that slavery exists today, or could exist in Australia. Lately in the media, you may have been watching more exposé stories of modern day slavery, taking place all over the world and even here in Australia. It is real and in recent years there is growing awareness of the serious issue of forced marriage for young girls or boys and women in Australia. They have to obey their parents and some are in danger of physical harm. The biggest loss for the individual is that of being disowned and estranged from family. I have travelled across Australia giving talks to schools, parishes and in the community to raise awareness of human trafficking in Australia and the impact of our demands for goods and services on the lives of children who are sold into slavery, eg in the cocoa, textile and seafood industries. Parish Against Trafficking of Humans (PATH) in Enfield was established by a dedicated group of parishioners in 2015 to try to eradicate human trafficking through prayer, advocacy, awareness-raising activities and support for trafficked people through fundraising. Today, as members of the global village, we are challenged to look at what we can do to ensure that men, women and children are Slaves No More But Brothers and Sisters in Christ (Pope Francis). The plight of children who have been exploited and abused is poignantly encapsulated in the following poem by Professor Eddie Mhlanga. I cried when Mama died There was silence I cried when we were thrown out There was silence When will you be silent? Till I be silent? Do you love me? You told God you care about me! How can we be silent and not act? Together we can make a difference.




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The Catholic Thing This is the statue of St Dominic at St Mary’s Campus, All Saints College, Maitland, the first Dominican school in Australia, established in 1867.

Truth-seeking for 800 years and counting This year the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) is 800 years old. Fr Kevin Toomey op shares something of its spirit and mission.


Salamanca is a jewel of a city, sitting on the fertile plains of north western Spain. There in early September I attended a congress of the Order of Preachers (commonly known as the Dominicans) to which I belong. Two hundred of us, sisters and brothers from 50 different countries, came together for a Congress dealing with human rights. I can hear you thinking! Why go there? What’s so important? Because we were celebrating a part of our tradition which arose in Salamanca: looking back at a group of Dominicans who had made a difference within the sixteenth century Spanish Empire. We were there also to renew our commitment to this tradition, still very much alive in our day. The first of this celebrated group was Bartolome de las Casas, a Spanish Dominican who was among the first to follow Columbus as his mercenaries conquered the Carribean, then Mexico and further south. Following his Dominican principles, las Casas, with a few others, saw that the Spaniards were stripping away the human rights and dignity of the local people: enslaving them, putting them to heavy work in silver mines while supposedly bringing the truths of Christianity to them. They died in the millions (yes, the millions!) from disease and ill-treatment. For the next 50 years, las Casas worked as their human rights advocate. He searched for the truth in complex situations and placed this before Kings Charles V and Philip II. He sought to change the Empire’s policies so as to gain justice for these peoples. Sometimes he

succeeded, sometimes not. But the memory of las Casas’ efforts is never forgotten. As he himself put it, he had seen “Jesus Christ, our God, scourged, afflicted and crucified not once but millions of times” by his own people. The second notable figure was Francisco de Vitoria, a leading professor of theology working in Salamanca. (Yes, that’s why we were there!) Vitoria listened carefully to what las Casas and his brothers were saying, and began to articulate new and stunning political ideas. He wrote a rudimentary code of ethics for nations like Spain, which was making its first contact with non-Christian nations – people in what is now the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Mexico. In a nutshell, he said such independent groups must be free to govern themselves, to possess their own land, unhindered by attacks from outside. These were rights given them by natural law. The Spanish King was not pleased by such political ideas. But subsequent events have upheld their value and truth. They have become the basis of global International Law. A bronze bust is kept to Vitoria’s memory at the United Nations building in New York, so influential were his thoughts. Las Casas, the man on the ground, and Vitoria, the academic, were two sides of the one coin, seeking and advocating for the truth of the situations they faced. Human dignity mattered as much then as it does today.

from very different parts of the world. The first was Father Emmanuel Ntakarutimana, a Dominican friar from Burundi. He is part of a group helping to negotiate a solution to the present crisis in his country caused by the desire of the President to extend his term in office beyond what is allowed by the Constitution. New tensions have arisen similar to those that caused the genocide in 1993. Emmanuel’s gifts as a mediator come into full play. With other like-minded people he is working to sustain the rights of his people and maintain a fragile peace. Another speaker was Madonna Gay Lumina Escio, a young lay Dominican human rights lawyer from the Philippines. While there are good laws set up to protect human rights specifically, there are also laws favouring the Filipino elites. It seems that these laws are more invoked when dealing with the setting up of very large mining operations, while those dealing with human rights are somehow under-utilised or conveniently forgotten − when rivers become polluted or indigenous people are summarily evicted from their land. To stand up for these and similar causes often led to torture and extrajudicial killing. Madonna had been involved with many such cases personally. It takes great courage for human rights advocates to continue the work of defending those struggling for their rights − to have the truth upheld in law and adequate redress given.

It was important therefore for us to engage with some contemporary Dominicans working for human rights today, and coming

What about Australia? There are Dominican sisters in each state who are working with refugees and asylum seekers, seeking to

uphold truth again in a difficult political climate. Those working in immigration detention centres like Villawood have helped people to be released into the community, have advocated for them within the detention system and provided companionship in situations which seem impossible to solve. Others have set up houses to give refugees a home; given English language classes to both men and women refugees, but especially to the women. The older Dominican sisters, especially, have been human rights advocates with groups such as Amnesty International through letter writing. Why do they do this? Because they are following the truth-seeking which was at the heart of Jesus’ life, and has been an integral part of Dominican life from its beginning. I have focused here on truth-seeking in regard to human rights. I am grateful to have been strongly reminded of this golden thread through our Congress in Salamanca. That Dominicans all over the world, male and female, continue to push for these values in whatever way they can, is a sign that the Order of Preachers is alive and well. To learn more of the Dominican presence in Australia, please visit www.opeast. and




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Seasons of Mercy

No cell is so isolated that it can keep the Lord out Mercy in prisons, you must be joking! Lock them up and throw the key away, that’s all they deserve.

morning. He said that he was going to do what he knew best and that was to stab him.

was that it was not necessary as he had forgiven this man!

and thongs and carried a small, clear plastic bag holding all his belongings.

He broke down and sobbed, saying he didn’t want to resort to this but didn’t know what else to do.

I was blown away. This man gave his testimony the day before his release testifying to the fact that at his lowest point God had shone light into his darkness and had changed him from an angry scared man into a person of love and hope. That’s the mercy of God in action.

He was an inmate who had just been released. He must have been freezing. I decided that I needed to put a better system in place to help men when they are released.

I asked if I could pray with him, that God may lift his fear and allow him to sleep through the night. He agreed, saying he would do anything in order for things to get better. By DEACON GERARD MCCARTHY As Christians, we beg to differ, knowing that mercy is the heartbeat of God, embodied in Jesus. I have experienced this mercy and long to share its truth with prison inmates. My hope is to empower them to live in a more merciful, forgiving way while incarcerated and to prepare them for a more positive lifestyle upon release. So how can this come about in a prison where some individuals ruthlessly use power and resources to frighten and hurt others? I have until recently been Chaplain at St Heliers Correctional Centre, Muswellbrook, and am currently based at Cessnock’s Correctional Centre. My role, which has been both challenging and rewarding, includes support of both prisoners and prison officers. Perhaps contrary to the expectations of some, there have been many occasions when Mercy has triumphed, among and through inmates. One morning an agitated inmate came into the chapel. He said he didn’t know where else to go; he wasn’t a Christian but needed to talk to someone he could trust. He had hardly slept for the past month, he was exhausted and at the end of his tether. He and other inmates had been bullied, stood over, threatened and had food stolen from them by a huge ‘strong man’. He had concocted a plan to take this guy down that 16

After a simple prayer, I sent him away. I was concerned and asked him to come and see me next morning. He met me at the chapel door and told me how much better he felt, having slept all night. He asked me to give him some more of my magic! I laughed, handed him a bible and told him this was the medicine he needed to take every day. Over the following weeks he read the bible from cover to cover and began coming to chapel services.

God...had changed him from an angry scared man into a person of love and hope. I had noticed a massive change in this man so I asked him to attend the next Kairos Journey Day. This involves people from different denominations who visit prisons, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and their own testimonies. He was excited to be included. When the Kairos Day arrived I noticed that the inmate who had been causing all the grief, the one my friend wanted to ‘take out’, was also on the list. I immediately called the original complainant and offered to remove ‘the bad guy’ from the list. His reply to this

On another occasion a young man came into my office to introduce himself. He was a friendly bloke and proceeded to tell me that this was his first time in prison. He shared his life story including the issue of drugs which led to imprisonment. He also told me that he was a Christian and had attended Church for a couple of years but then stopped. The inmate told me he was angry with an officer who had been very rude to him and who was holding back an item of his property. He had approached the officer on two occasions to retrieve his property, only to be rebuffed. I reminded him that he was a Christian and suggested he go back to the officer and ask once again, calmly, and quietly bless the officer before and after the event, irrespective of the final outcome. He left my office, returning a short time later laughing with excitement at what had happened. He said that when he approached, the officer dismissed him and walked away. He prayed for the officer and soon the officer returned − with the property − and handed it to the inmate – with a smile! This example of prayerful mercy boosted this inmate for a while. He began attending chapel services with enthusiasm but over time drifted away and has since been released. One frosty winter’s morning as I drove through Muswellbrook heading to St Heliers I recognised a young man walking down the footpath. He wore a tee shirt, board shorts

From that day, with the generous support of the St Vincent De Paul Society at Muswellbrook and private donors, I filled a cupboard with good quality new and used clothing to enable inmates to be released from prison with suitable clothes and some dignity. I recall an inmate trying on clothes to prepare for release. He broke down and cried, because “it was great to feel normal again”. I am privileged to play on God’s Mercy team.

Pope Francis has asked that a Jubilee for Prisoners be celebrated during the Year of Mercy on 6 November 2016. The Bishops’ Delegate for the Australian Catholic Prisoners Pastoral Care Council, Bishop Terry Brady, said, “Pope Francis shows us the importance of accompanying one another in the ups and downs of life. We all stumble; make mistakes; fail others and ourselves. But we are all capable of loving and of experiencing hope.” Recognising and valuing the human dignity of prisoners, Pope Francis said, “no one is beyond the reach of God’s mercy….the task of a chaplain is to let the prisoners know that the Lord is inside with them. No cell is so isolated that it can keep the Lord out. He is there.” To learn more, please visit www.




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/mnnewstoday @mnnewstoday



New units in Maitland ready for tenants Recently the diocese completed the latest in its affordable housing developments, with nine brand new two-bedroom units ready for tenants within the Maitland city centre. Building on its existing affordable housing developments, including Mayfield (completed 2014) and the recently announced former Empire Hotel site in Newcastle West, the latest development at Maitland continues to provide access to quality housing for people throughout the Hunter region. Offered under the State Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme, the units will be offered at reduced rates to low to middle income earners who may struggle to pay market rental. Those who may previously have been excluded from new developments will be given the opportunity to access brand new, quality accommodation in Maitland, perhaps for the first time. Located on Little Hunter Street, the affordable housing development is close to Maitland’s High Street shopping district and a short walk from ‘The Levee’, the new precinct recently opened in Maitland city centre. Each unit features: ff ff

two bedrooms + study built in robes

ff ff ff

single lock-up garage air conditioning fully fenced and low maintenance garden.

The newest of its affordable housing developments, the Maitland site sees the diocese deliver on its commitment to mission and outreach throughout Newcastle and the Hunter, as confirmed by Bishop Bill Wright in May of this year: “The church has, and has always had, a big role in assisting people to make better lives for themselves in the community, whether through education, medical services or the welfare and community services people need. “We understand that today there’s a serious need for secure, affordable housing among a variety of sectors in society…(and) we’re keen to expand our support and continue to offer more opportunities for people to access quality, well located rental accommodation throughout the Hunter region,” Bishop Bill said. Managed by Community Housing Limited, the Maitland development is now accepting tenant applications. Prospective tenants must meet eligibility criteria. To learn more, please P Martina on (02) 6691 0100 or 0437 764 294.

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Why resettlement is not the solution to the world’s refugee crisis


Every minute of every day in 2015, some 24 people were displaced from their homes. That’s 34,000 people per day, worldwide, who were forced to seek refuge elsewhere. These large numbers of newly displaced persons further swelled the 16.1 million refugees in the world who, according to the UN Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), were already displaced. The minute a person becomes a refugee, he or she is plunged into a world of uncertainty: most cannot return home because of continued conflict, wars and persecution. Many seek protection in neighbouring countries, but often lack legal status or fail to have their unique set of needs met. Unable to return home or remain where they are, these people have only one viable solution: resettlement in a third country. The UNHCR identifies and refers refugees for resettlement. However, so small is the number of countries participating in the UNHCR’s resettlement program that at the current rate, it would take 150 years for all refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate to be resettled. In 2015, there were only 107,000 places for 16.1 million refugees, meaning that resettlement was an option for only 0.66 per cent of all refugees. The remainder is left in limbo. Some countries, including Australia, have increased their resettlement quotas and a further six countries have agreed to join the UNHCR’s resettlement program. While this

has helped somewhat, the number of people in need of resettlement far surpasses the opportunities for placement in a third country. Moreover, the program is not accessible to everyone, since resettlement is determined by refugees’ individual circumstances (family reunification, women at risk, medical needs, unaccompanied minors) rather than length of time as a refugee. Whilst it is necessary to assist the most vulnerable, those without special circumstances can remain in limbo for years, with no idea of when they might be resettled. The international refugee crisis was highlighted recently when global leaders met at a special summit in New York. Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull pledged to increase Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake to 18,750 people per year. The government boasted of this increase, but in fact it is down from the 20,000 intake announced in 2012-13.

United States – largely in an effort to reunite with family already resettled in those countries. Why, then, would Australia look to include this group of refugees in its resettlement quota when the urgent resettlement needs of refugees nearer home – Rohingya unable to return to Myanmar, Afghani Hazara stranded in the Indonesia region – are not being met? While global responsibility-sharing is to be encouraged, this willingness to accept refugees from outside the Asia Pacific region while punishing those on its doorstep appears tokenistic rather than a serious commitment to resolving the world’s global refugee crisis. At the same summit, the Prime Minister promoted Australia’s ‘success’ in preventing asylum seekers from reaching the country by boat, and argued that the ‘stop the boats’ policy has allowed the government to increase its refugee quota from abroad.

Peculiarly, Mr Turnbull included in this annual quota a small number of Central Americans from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala currently stranded in a resettlement centre in Costa Rica. There was no mention of the more than 2000 recognised refugees stranded on Nauru and Manus with no prospect of resettlement in Australia or elsewhere.

However, such a statement conflates resettlement with asylum; the right to seek asylum (which those people now languishing on Nauru and Manus Island have done) is enshrined in the Refugees Convention as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is no mention in either of these documents about states’ obligations to resettle refugees.

The majority of refugees from Central America seek refuge in Mexico and the

A concerning trend has emerged whereby countries such as Australia attempt to

trade off their obligations to those refugees arriving without authorisation or proper documentation (as is their right under international law) against a promise of increasing resettlement places for so-called ‘genuine refugees’. A too-heavy focus on resettlement as the ‘only durable solution’ can undermine the principle of asylum. The commitments made by Mr Turnbull at the New York summit conceal the paltry contribution Australia makes to the refugee crisis, despite presenting itself as one of the most generous resettlement countries in the world. In 2015 Australia recognised or resettled 11,776 refugees – just 0.48 per cent of the global total. While resettlement remains an important and effective measure for a very small number of people in need, the UNHCR is increasingly focusing on how complementary pathways such as humanitarian visas, family reunion and scholarships could help bridge the gap. Australia can play an important role in this work. In addition to increasing its humanitarian intake, it should make a concerted effort to expand beyond the traditional resettlement program and to provide alternative safe pathways for those in need of protection. Oliver White is Assistant Director, Jesuit Refugee Service. To read his earlier articles in this series please visit

The Way We Were:

Dancing in the rain on St Patrick’s Day By EILEEN CHALINOR This photo of the St Patrick’s Day march was taken in 1959 in High Street, Maitland. I’m the banner bearer as I was school captain at Our Lady of Mercy School, Campbell’s Hill. It was an intermediate school with a primary school attached at Monte Pio. Our family has a St Patrick’s Day story, as many families do. I believe it occurred in 1952 as Mum was expecting a baby in April. Our father, who was a dairy farmer, had to take us to the march along with a maiden aunt. The display involved dancing at the showground. The girls from Morpeth Catholic School were dressed in long white frocks with large shamrocks made of green crepe paper stitched around the hem. All was going well – until rain began to fall and the green crepe shamrocks ‘ran’ all over the beautiful white dresses. Our mother loved telling the story of how we looked when we finally arrived home, wet and bedraggled! Our father was more than distracted.


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Sr Christine O’Connor: Heading home from Kununurra Sr Christine on First Communion Day for Junior with grandparents Agnes and Thaddeus.


In December, one of our Lochinvar Josephites, Sr Christine O’Connor, will return to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle after spending the last seven years in the Kimberley town of Kununurra. I was privileged recently to visit Christine and experience a glimpse of what her ministry involves. Christine worked in many ministries in Maitland-Newcastle, including MacKillop House, Special Religious Education and a ministry of presence and hospitality living in a housing commission unit in Hamilton South. Like many Sisters of St Joseph, Christine had also trained and worked as a teacher. As much as she loved her various ministries, Christine always felt the call to work with our indigenous brothers and sisters. She discussed this with the late Fr Tony Stace who was well known and highly regarded for his work with indigenous peoples, both within the diocese and in the broader community. Fr Stace spent some time with Christine and one day said that she would be very well suited to work with our first peoples.

Christine always felt the call to work with our indigenous brothers and sisters. The opportunity to do so presented itself when Christine saw an advertisement placed by the leader of the Central Josephites,

Sr Anne Derwin rsj, calling for people to work in the Kimberley. Christine underwent a thorough discernment process in 2009 and moved to Kununurra in January 2010. Feeling a little overwhelmed and wondering where to begin in her early days there, she heard Fr Stace’s words urging her to go to where the people gathered, to sit with them and listen to their stories. That is precisely what Christine did. Christine’s ministry in Kununurra is and has been wide-ranging, very much in keeping with St Mary MacKillop’s call to see a need and fill it. In addition to sitting and listening to the people, meeting them where they were, Christine volunteered at the blue school – as the locals called Kununurra District High School – the state school catering for children from Kinder to Year 12. Shortly afterward she also commenced volunteering at the green school – St Joseph’s Primary School. The local names for the schools reflect the colour of the uniforms. Later, Christine was asked to join the staff of the green school as a teacher’s assistant and by 2014 was working there four days a week. Not only was Christine helping to teach the children and running Seasons for Growth sessions, but also after school care, including cooking classes. Christine was also kept busy sourcing and providing shoes for children for whom bare feet were the norm. Christine was also asked to be on team at a Drug and Alcohol Intervention program run at Warmun, a further two hours drive from Kununurra. Christine took part in 13 programs until 2014, in many instances looking after the children who accompanied the men and women undergoing the

rehabilitation program. An experience that Christine very much enjoyed was working on the Werlemen program. This provided opportunities for teenage girls, who, for various social reasons, could not attend high school. Indeed, the word “Werlemen” means ‘setting girls on a straight path’. Methods used included academic subjects as well as many cultural activities such as bush craft, sport, cooking and painting. The girls also produced beautiful hand-made cards which they later sold at markets. This not only encouraged the girls’ creativity but also gave them opportunities to relate to others they may never have met otherwise. Christine has been involved in preparing people for sacraments, including couples for marriage and running Seasons for Growth programs. It is sad that so many from the school communities were dealing with the pain of deep grief and loss issues. In Kununurra and particularly in the smaller community of Warmun, Christine came to know a large percentage of the population through these programs. Working in the Kimberley has been a huge learning experience for Christine. Even in the short time I spent there it was clear that there were two communities, coexisting – not always happily and with a large gulf between them. Whilst Christine has been involved in many programs and given generously of herself in each of them, I believe her greatest impact has been through the ministry of hospitality and acceptance she lives each day. Each day I was there many visitors arrived at the convent. Many were children who received fruit, a glass of water and an icy pole as

well as a chance to tell their story and feel unconditionally accepted and loved. Adults too could arrive at any time, sometimes seeking food or shelter or again, the opportunity to tell their stories. One such visitor arrived saying he had just made his way from Mackay in north Queensland. He had no family or friends in Kununurra and had not eaten for a couple of days. To me this speaks of the reputation that the convent has of being a place of sanctuary and assistance in an often harsh existence. It is a sanctuary offering food, clothing, showers, emergency accommodation – filling as many needs as possible. Asked to reflect on what she will remember most and take with her from the Kimberley, Christine speaks of the incredible spirituality of the peoples and their ancient, timeless land. She smiles as she talks of how Napang, the Creator God, is so visible within the people and what a deep joy it has been to share in that spirituality. Indeed, it was a powerful experience to share in Eucharist at the Holy Place. This is a weekly event where Mass is held in a place reserved within a local Kununurra community. Christine is too humble to name her legacy to the northwest but I believe she has striven to span the gulf between the indigenous peoples of the land and non-indigenous Australians and other visitors. Not only has she spanned it but she has also taken every opportunity to fill that gulf with the unconditional love of people and of God which she carries so faithfully. Welcome home Christine! Kate Bartlett is a former chaplain to the University of Newcastle.

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Beyond Belief: How we find meaning, with or without religion By HUGH MACKAY

Globally, religion is on the rise. Almost threequarters of the world’s population identify with one of the great world religions − Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism − and the graph is pointing upwards. By the middle of this century, 80 percent of the world’s population will be identified with one of those four religions. And Australia? In the last census, 61 percent ticked “Christian”, and it was a long way to the second on the list - Buddhism (2.5 percent), then Islam (2.2 percent).

faith in something larger than ourselves is the one essential prerequisite for developing a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. Our fastest-growing religion is Hinduism, currently below 2 percent but likely to overtake both Islam and Buddhism, as it already has in New Zealand. Two recent national surveys show that about 68 percent claim to believe in God or “some higher power”, so you’d have to say Australia is a generally theistic society, and strongly Christian, at least in its heritage. But when it comes to churchgoing, the picture is very different: only eight percent of Australians now attend church weekly, about 15 percent

attend once a month or more often, and 25 percent at Christmas and Easter. So most never attend church − not even for a wedding (70 percent of our weddings are now conducted on non-church premises).

the power to inspire and move us. For Christians, there are all the Old Testament stories, plus the virgin birth, resurrection and miracles that are central to the culture of Christianity.

Anyone looking at those figures and drawing the conclusion that religion is on the way out would be ignoring the lessons of history. Religious observance may wax and wane but, in every culture, every civilisation in human history, religion has played an important − and often a central − role. (Even in contemporary Australia, enrolments at church schools have been skyrocketing.)

Some people choose to regard those stories as being literally, historically true; others respond to the metaphorical power of the stories − the truth in the stories, rather than the truth of the stories.

That’s because of what religion offers people − and not just better health, though there is plenty of research that demonstrates the health benefits of religious faith and practice. Actually, the reported health benefits point to one of the three great attractions of religion − the power of belonging. We know that being part of a functioning community is one of the most important contributors to mental health, and the powerful sense of belonging engendered by membership of a faith community is a prime example of that. But there’s also the power of faith itself. “Faith can move mountains,” we’re told. Perhaps it can’t literally move mountains, but it can certainly inspire and motivate people to do all sorts of remarkable things. The prominent positive psychologist, Martin Seligman, has long argued that faith in something larger than ourselves is the one essential prerequisite for developing a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. Then there’s the power of those grand narratives that are central to every religion − narratives that, like faith itself, have

Either way, such stories continue to be told, from generation to generation, precisely because they contain “inner meanings” − beyond the literal − that carry the core messages of the Christian faith. Given all the benefits that flow from religious faith and practice, why has religion been in such sharp decline in countries like Australia? Three reasons: first, the culture has been bombarding us with propaganda that says we are all entitled to be rich and happy, so the messages of religion about the need for self-sacrifice, kindness and compassion have been rather swamped by the messages of materialism and individualism. Second, churches have not always behaved well − not only on an institutional scale, but at the local level as well. Many people have left because they felt insulted, bored, ignored, excluded or judged (or, for many women, because they were still being treated as second-class citizens). Third, the churches’ emphasis on dogmatic beliefs has created a barrier between a more educated and sceptical society and the imaginative possibilities of faith. Many people have been turned off by the prescriptive, institutionalised nature of so many beliefs promoted by the churches as essential to faith.

But the search for meaning goes on. Inside the churches, many Christians are rethinking their attitude to religious dogma and, indeed, their understanding of God, often moving away from the supernatural and external, towards a more internal and spiritual idea of God as the spirit of lovingkindness within and among us. Beyond the churches, we are seeing the rise of the SBNR movement − “spiritual but not religious” − among people who, while rejecting institutional dogma, still wish to nurture their spiritual lives. For them, the very essence of spirituality is that, because we are all part of a greater whole, we should therefore treat each other only with kindness and respect. Those journeys may be different, but their goals are the same. Beyond specific beliefs, we may discover that people of good will, whether on a religious or SBNR pathway, all want a better world and have remarkably similar views about how to achieve it. Everyone is entitled to believe what they choose, but perhaps we should be focusing more on the common ground that unites us, rather than the dogma that divides us. Hugh Mackay is the author of many books, most recently Beyond Belief. You may wish to visit au. Aurora has a copy of Beyond Belief to give away. Post an envelope with your name and postal address on the back to The Editor, “Beyond Belief”, PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300 before 11 November.






Frankly Spoken How many foreigners, including persons of other religions, give us an example of values that we sometimes forget or set aside! Those living beside us, who may be scorned and sidelined because they are foreigners, can instead teach us how to walk on the path that the Lord wishes.” Mass, Rome, 9 October.


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Community Noticeboard Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle 150 year Celebration Dedication of St John the Baptist Chapel This will be held on Sunday 6 November at 2pm. All are invited to attend the Mass of Dedication at the Chapel, Cathedral Street Maitland, followed by afternoon tea. The Chapel, formally St John’s Church, is the original cathedral of the diocese, and has been undergoing major exterior restoration. All welcome. For catering purposes, please RSVP 4979 1173.

The Gathering of our Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People Having a voice in the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle All are invited to attend a meeting on Sunday 20 November commencing at 2.30pm. Afternoon tea will follow at 4pm at the Diocesan Offices. Mass will follow in the Sacred Heart Cathedral at 5pm for those who wish to attend. For catering purposes, RSVP by 16 November, P Denyse Potts 0419 464 979.

Before We Say I Do Program Course 6: 5 and 12 November, Newcastle. All courses are on Saturdays, 9.30am-4.30pm. Please P Robyn 4979 1370.

Reflection Day This will be held on Thursday 24 November from 9.30am-1pm. Hope springs eternal... an opportunity to explore your personal core of hope through scripture, spiritual writers, art works, poetry. Hope is patience with the lamp lit... Facilitator Val O’Hara rsm, cost $20. Mercy Spirituality Centre 26 Renwick Street, Toronto, details/bookings P 4959 1025, E mercytoronto@

Private Retreat An invitation to “come aside and rest awhile” to be held from Friday evening 11 November. The retreat can be for two to six nights. It is a time of silence for personal reflection with an option for shared reflection each evening facilitated by Anne Ryan rsm. Cost $80 per night (minimum of two nights). Mercy Spirituality Centre 26 Renwick Street, Toronto, details/bookings P 4959 1025, E 70th Mater Graduate Nurses Reunion Mass at 9.30am on Sunday 13 November at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton, followed by lunch in the Victor Peters Suite. P Colleen 0427 327 611 or Chris 4991 1879 for lunch bookings. Companioning Training Children and Young People’s training in Newcastle 16-17 November. This training is essential for those wishing to facilitate the Seasons for Growth program with children/young people or adults.

Mass to Remember Deceased Nurses Sacred Heart Cathedral on Friday 25 November at noon, everyone welcome to attend. Concert by Bright Sparks Bright Sparks (St Columba’s Drama Group) will present a comedy, “Away from the Manger”, on Sunday 27 November at 1.30pm in the school hall, Lockyer Street, Adamstown. There is a ‘popup’ café to serve guests tasty snacks and luscious desserts between acts. P Christine Williams 4943 3824.

Seven@Sacred Heart The next gathering will be on Wednesday 16 November at Sacred Heart Cathedral at 7pm. For enquiries, P Brooke, 4979 1111. All welcome!

Dutch/Australian St Nicholas Celebrations at Marmong Park All invited on Saturday 3 December to celebrate the official arrival of St Nicholas, the Patron Saint of children. Entrance in George Street, Marmong Point. Free admission, with food and drinks for sale from 11am. From noon there are games for young and old. St Nicholas arrives in the afternoon. Booking essential. To learn more, P Joop de Wit 4954 5227 or E concordianewcastle@gmailcom.

St Brigid’s Markets, Branxton These monthly markets assist the parish and wider community at Branxton. Held every third Sunday, (next 20 November) the Old School Grounds, 9am-2pm, stbrigidsmarket.

Multicultural Christmas Choral Concert On Sunday 11 December the Newcastle and Hunter multicultural Choral Society presents the 39th Annual Christmas concert at Sacred Heart Cathedral from 7pm to 9.45pm, including community singing. A collection plate will cover

P Jenny or Benita 4947 1355 for enquiries. Enrolments for training are completed at


costs of the evening. P Joop de Wit 4954 5227 or E Ecumenical Prayer Service in the Spirit of Taizé The next Service is 11 December at St Columban’s Catholic Church, Church Street, Mayfield 7pm-8pm, followed by light supper, gold coin donation. P Anna and John Hill 4967 2283. 2017 Columban Art Calendar After almost 95 years the Columban Calendar still supports the activities of Columbans working to bring the Good News to poor communities and to make our local Church more missionary. The 2017 Calendar will be available at your local church, or can be purchased for $11 including GST and postage. P (03) 9375 9475 or E Newcastle City Choir This choir needs an accompanist to begin in 2017. An honorarium is paid. Rehearsal is Wednesday evenings and there is a performing schedule. Enquiries to Callum Close, Musical Director, Volunteering with Palms Australia Palms is seeking qualified and experienced Australians to assist in various missionary and development activities. There are opportunities in a wide range of areas, from teaching in Timor Leste (pre-school, primary and secondary) to assisting with the development of a brass band in Kiribati; from plumbing/building in Papua New Guinea to English/Science teaching/mentoring in Samoa. Whatever your skills and experience, there is a place for you! To learn more P 9560 5333 or E Mums’ Cottage Invites grandparents to Grandparent and Toddler day, every Wednesday during school terms from 10am-noon at 29 St Helen’s Street, Holmesville. Enjoy some companionship with other grandparents while children play. Mums’ Cottage offers a range of services, programs, workshops and family events and would love to welcome you at any time. For more information, P Mums’ Cottage 4953 4105, E au or visit Youth Mass On the last Sunday of each month, the 5.30pm Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Macquarie St, Wallsend, has a youthful flavour. Everyone is welcome.

For your diary November  2

All Souls Day

 4

Day of prayer for Anglican − Roman Catholic

Reconciliation  6

Bishop Bill’s gospel reflection Rhema 99.7 FM

 7

Deadline, December Aurora

 9-11 Student Leaders Retreat with Bishop Bill.  11 Remembrance Day, commemorating the end of World War I in 1918.  13 Bishop Bill’s gospel reflection Rhema 99.7 FM  14 World Diabetes Day  17 World Philosophy Day  18-20 Bishop Bill’s visitation to Newcastle Parish of St Benedict  20 Christ the King  21-25 Bishop Bill participates in Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.  25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Prayer for deceased bishops and priests, Sandgate Cemetery, 6pm, all welcome.  27 First Sunday of Advent Bishop Bill commissions chaplains at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 9.30am Mass

December  1

World AIDS Day

 2-4 Bishop Bill’s visitation to Myall Coast Parish  3

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

 4

Second Sunday of Advent

January  7

Deadline, February Aurora

For more events please visit and

The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle invites you to the

Ordination to the Priesthood of James Odoh by The Most Rev William Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle

Saturday, 10 December 2016 at 10.00am Sacred Heart Cathedral, 841 Hunter Street, Newcastle West

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Last Word

Aurora on tour Fortunately the lion sleeps while this edition is being read on safari in Africa.

Soul food An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God. – Srinivasa Ramanujan, self-taught mathematical genius.


“Being young is hard” is Grace Halphen’s opening line. Whether by chance or design, it is fortuitous that in an attempt to help herself, Grace Halphen will help many others through their teenage years through her book Letter to my Teenage Self. This book presents the advice 54 prominent Australians − from politicians to sports stars, television and film actors, authors, musicians and entrepreneurs − would give their teenage selves. The book came about through Halphen’s experience of what she describes as a very difficult transition into her teenage years. She recalls her feelings of unhappiness and discomfort − like “leaving a wound open for more bacteria and dirt to get inside”. Remarkably, at the age of 15, she contacted well-known Australians to ask their contributions on what advice they would give their teenage selves and hence, the book emerged. Many common themes surface − take every opportunity, accept that you’ll make mistakes, remember that persistence pays off and there is always someone who will listen. The accounts are sometimes expressions of faith, always honest and

uplifting, giving the reader an insight into personalities we thought we already knew. This book, although written with teenagers in mind, would appeal to a cross-generational audience. The contributors come from many walks of life, are of varied ages and offer stories with which the reader can identify. Reading this book encourages an improved outlook on the world. I was motivated to think of the teenagers who are part of my world. We each have a role in making our world, and the world of young people, a positive place. Older readers may find Letter to my Teenage Self cathartic and may think of the advice they might give their own teenage selves. Teenage readers will no doubt benefit from the book’s wisdom and realise they are not alone. All profits from the sale of the book go to the Reach Foundation which helps to improve young people’s wellbeing and resilience so that they are able to meet life’s challenges and fulfil their potential. Letter to my Teenage Self is a beautiful read, edited by an inspiring young lady. Letter to my Teenage Self is edited by Grace Halphen and published by Affirm Press, 2016.

Chorizo and Sicilian Olive Spaghettini This is a quick and easy weekday meal that’s ready in 20 minutes and is packed with flavour.



f f 1 x 500g packet spaghettini

To make the croutons, tear a 2-day-old sourdough or similar loaf of bread into small cubes. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt over cubes then bake at 135oC for about 20 minutes.

ff Excellent quality extra virgin olive oil f f 1 chorizo sausage, sliced f f 4 anchovy fillets f f 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped f f 1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped f f 16 Sicilian green olives, pitted and sliced f f 1/4 cup chopped parsley f f 1.5 cups homemade croutons f f 1/2 cup Reggiano parmesan f f Salt and pepper.

Cook pasta according to packet instructions until al dente. Add a dash of oil to a pan and on medium heat, cook and crisp the chorizo for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add 50ml olive oil, anchovies, garlic and chilli. Do not burn garlic. Allow ingredients to infuse slowly for 5 minutes.


Chef Bart’s culinary gifts can be enjoyed at The Cathedral Café, 843 Hunter St Newcastle West, 10am–1.30pm, Monday to Friday. P 4961 0546.

Add the pasta, a dash of pasta water, olives, parsley, croutons and parmesan. Toss through and serve. Sprinkle with extra parmesan.


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Have you considered becoming a foster carer? CatholicCare is a relationship-based organisation that places a strong emphasis on family. We recruit, train and support foster carers, empowering them to create positive lifelong outcomes for children in care. To find out more, register for our next Foster Care Information Night visit or call 4944 0700 /CatholicCareHM @CatholicCareHM

Profile for Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Aurora November 2016  

Our cover story updates you on plans for the new Catholic secondary school to be built at Medowie. CatholicCare’s Stacey Northam writes on p...

Aurora November 2016  

Our cover story updates you on plans for the new Catholic secondary school to be built at Medowie. CatholicCare’s Stacey Northam writes on p...

Profile for diomn

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