Aurora - Spring 2023

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St Kevin’s Primary School, CARDIFF

The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is located on traditional lands of Awabakal, Biripi Darkinjung, Kamilaroi, Wiradjuri, Wonnarua, and Worimi peoples. We honour the wisdom of and pay respect to, Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the spiritual culture of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia. We have

Engaging youth in faith

“The church is not dead”, “I am on the right path, as I am embracing God’s will”, “I learned the importance of getting away from all of the noise and being quiet and present with the Lord” –these are just a few of the reflections on World Youth Day from four young pilgrims in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese who travelled to Lisbon, Portugal, last month.

In this edition of Aurora, we share both their experience and Bishop Michael Kennedy’s, who joined them on their spiritual journey, of the most significant event in the Catholic youth calendar.

data from 2021 Census, revealed that the number of young people aged 18-24 who identify as being Catholic declined by 11 percent since the last Census in 2016.

Similarly, the number of adults aged 25-59 who identify as Catholic also declined by 7 percent over this period.

Pope Francis has attempted to address some of these challenges. His emphasis on inclusivity, compassion, and addressing global challenges has resonated with some young people.

Editor: Michelle McGranahan

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Young people are the lifeblood of the Catholic church. Yet, over the last several decades, the number of Australian youths who identify as Catholic has continued to decline.

The Social profile of the Catholic community in Australia, based on

Parents play a vital role in helping nurture their children’s faith, which makes the situation more concerning. But this trend is not isolated to the Catholic church. It is common to all organised religions. So why are fewer young people connecting with their faith? The answer is complex and influenced by a variety of factors, including the rapidly changing cultural and technological landscape, shifts in priorities, and a perception that religious institutions are disconnected from their daily lives and modern concerns.

In his address to youth at the World Youth Day celebrations, he stressed that “the church has room for everyone - the young and old, the healthy and the sick, the righteous and sinners: everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone!”.

The large number of young people continuing to flock to World Youth Day provides reassurance that the church is indeed not dead. I hope the experiences our young pilgrims shared in this edition of Aurora encourage more young people to reconnect with their faith.

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much to learn from this ancient culture. MY WORD - Bishop Michael Kennedy 4 CEO - Sean Scanlon 5 In Brief 6 Listen, Learn, Love 8 Memories of World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 9 Celebrating the momentous legacy 12 John’s journey 14 Growing Minds Inspiring Readers 17 The Innocents 18 Can we rewire our brain? 19 Synodality and the church’s future 20 Breaking the cycle of poverty 21 Tune in to wellbeing 22 Promoting a safeguarding culture 23 Decorate Your Gate 2 On the cover:
Crowd gathers for World Youth Day, Lisbon Portugal Photos: © Bruno Seabra \ JMJ 2023
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A joyful pilgrimage experience

You might be surprised to learn that one of my happiest and enduring memories from our recent Diocesan World Youth Day pilgrimage to the Holy Land and to Portugal is of our group of 44 young Catholics playing games, singing, and dancing together by the pool with childlike joy and enthusiasm on our final afternoon and evening together before beginning the long journey home.

We had spent eight days following in the steps of Jesus around the Holy Land. Visiting and touching with our own hands where Jesus was born, crucified, and rose from the dead. We reflected upon many of Jesus’ teachings and miracles in the very places where he gave and performed them. We prayed where he had prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. We encountered Jesus in the stony villages, along the dusty roads, and by the Galilee lakeside where he, two thousand years before, had encountered many other needy and sinful people just like us.

We had spent a week in Lisbon enjoying the many activities of World Youth Day – which is really a World Youth Week. With one and a half million other young Catholics from around the world we caught the infectious bug of joy which seems to go everywhere Pope Francis goes. We delighted in his presence as he delighted in ours. We listened to and pondered his teachings given to us over several days. We were inspired by the testimonies of other young people, marvelling at the many ways a person can come to God and share the Gospel with others.

We had received catechesis from Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals. Each one spoke differently, yet each one spoke of the love and mercy of God who loves us just as we are and who loves us so much not to leave us just as we are. Throughout the week we had also sang, danced, worshipped, and prayed with Catholic youth from around the world.

We realized that we are far from alone.

We had also visited the historical city of Athens with its crumbling acropolis, and the visionary town of Fatima with its call to a peaceful world order founded on prayer and the love of God. And everywhere we went we prayed together (especially the Rosary) and we celebrated Mass together. These special Masses were usually one of the highlights of each day as recounted by our young people in our evening small group sessions held to reflect upon the day.

All these wonderful things we did were not just individual experiences for our own self-betterment or memories to be stored away like old photos in an album. No, they were things we did together. They were experiences which, as well as developing our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, also united us to each other and built us up as a community of disciples, as

the body of Christ, as the Church. So, on that last afternoon of our pilgrimage as we enjoyed a rare opportunity to relax, I witnessed a group of young adult Catholics who played and laughed together with the innocence and delight of children of God. I saw a group of young adult Catholics who loved and included each other, who were patient and kind with each other, who had forgiven each other the little hurts and annoyances caused along the way. I saw a group of young Catholics who were happy to have endured the heat, the blisters, the lack of sleep, and the crush of the crowds which are part and parcel of every World Youth Day pilgrimage because they had grown in the love of God and love for one another.

May our pilgrimage we call life be just the same!

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Who does the caring?

I recently read an article (Why We Shouldn’t Lose Faith in Organized Religion) which was a discussion between New York Times writer Tish Harrison Warren (an Anglican priest) and Eboo Patel. Patel, a Muslim American, is seeking to improve America’s democracy through cooperation across religious differences. I recommend the article to you but thought that the points they make were worth sharing in our local context.

Patel mentions that when he is speaking publicly about religion, he is usually asked rather negative things such as, “what do you think about the Catholic Church and the paedophile crisis?”. He mentions that these kinds of questions seem to come from people who believe themselves to be (and probably are) welleducated. He goes on to posit that to be well educated you must of course know all the bad things about religion.

However, as Patel goes on to point out “Catholic sisters just keep doing what Catholic sisters do, which is taking care of poor people”. These are not bad things; they are very good things. What he is saying is that faith-based organisations keep doing the things that governments or even secular organisations shy away from doing. Australia is a little different to the United States of America but nonetheless, our society still turns to religious communities to do the caring. Faith-based organisations provide more than two-thirds of the education in NSW. They provide social services and aged care on a huge scale across the country. And many people in the Hunter were born at the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital which was established and still is run by a Catholic organisation.

On the matter of faith-based hospitals, we have recently seen the ACT government take over the Calvary run hospital in Canberra. No doubt the ACT government will run a fine hospital, but the care will ultimately have a difference, because it has to – its reason is different.

Civic cooperation, as Patel calls it, allows people of many backgrounds to work together, even in a space operated by a faith-based organisation. This happens every day, and it works.

Some people would be surprised to know that Catholic schools in NSW have only 56 percent Catholic students. That means the other 44 percent are not Catholic. It works.

I was interested to recently hear Noel Pearson talk about the work he and his organisation are doing. Noel Pearson is not only a proud indigenous man but by his own admission is a man of

faith (Lutheran). He is motivated for his people but without trying to dimmish that he retains his faith.

Religious pluralism is a positive thing. Our society works better with it. Our faith-based organisations have a history of being entrepreneurial in their own areas. In so many places of need, they built hospitals, schools and aged care facilities long before government did. Look around our local area, and you will see it – Catholic, Anglican, Uniting, Adventist and so on.

As a society we can’t keep tearing down faith-based institutions unless there is something better to replace them. Simply focussing on what faithbased organisation get wrong and delegitimising them is a poor model of social change when there is only government left to replace them. That’s not societal change for the better.

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The Diocese’s continued support following the Singleton bus accident

Almost three months have passed since the Singleton bus accident devasted the community, but the Catholic Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle is committed to continuing to support anyone who is suffering.

Grief, loss, and sadness have longlasting impacts on peoples’ lives. Vicar General Father Greg Barker encourages

Making a difference for people in need

With the rising cost of living continuing to put pressure on members of our community, CatholicCare has seen a significant rise in demand for nutritious meals provided by its Community Kitchens.

On average, CatholicCare’s Community Kitchens serve approximately 800 hot and nutritious meals each week across its five locations. However, this winter it doubled– particularly in our

people to speak up and share their grief.

“If people are struggling, they should seek help. We can’t deal with trauma, tragedy, and grief on our own,” he said.

“Singleton and Branxton communities come together as they’ve always done, small communities are just like that.”

“In my years as a military chaplain, one of the things I recognised when dealing with others, is that it’s important not

regional communities like Taree.

To ensure it can continue providing this essential non-funded service, the Make a Difference Appeal was held last month to help raise $8,000.

CatholicCare Director Gary Christensen said donations will go directly to helping the people who need it the most.

“Our programs make a real difference in our local community,” he says.

“Our teams on the ground serve

to bottle things up, but to talk about it and talk about it in appropriate places,” Fr Greg explained.

“Families, community, and churches are part of our psyche and our support. We need all of them.”

If you or your immediate family needs support or to speak to someone about their trauma, please reach out to your local church or parish.

individuals and families who need a hot nutritious meal, and in many cases, have nowhere else to turn.

“For some of the people who visit our kitchens, the meal we provide is the only food they have for that day.

“We can’t do this work without the generosity of our community, and we thank you for your generosity and making a difference to the lives of vulnerable people.”

New names for local schools

Earlier this year the Catholic Diocese of Maitland Newcastle asked the St Pius X High School, Adamstown and wider community to have its say about a new name for the school.

We are pleased to confirm the Trustees of the Catholic Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle have resolved the school name be changed to Trinity Catholic College. The name is intended to change from the commencement of the 2025 school year.

The name Trinity Catholic College is a powerful reminder that we believe in one God, who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The extension of St Dominic’s Centre Mayfield to support students from Kindergarten to Year 12 has also prompted an update to the school name.

The new name ‘St Dominic’s Catholic College Mayfield’, is consistent with other Diocesan secondary schools and the modern evolved approach at St Dominic’s, being at the core of Catholic Education in preparing young adults for life post-school. Keep a look out for other changes to the current identity of St Dominic’s Centre Mayfield including its visual identity to be rolled out over the next few months.

A milestone in palliative care at the Calvary Mater

Last month, the Calvary Mater Newcastle’s Palliative Care Service celebrated 40 years of providing holistic and compassionate care for patients who are approaching or reaching the end of their life, as well as their loved ones.

The Hunter’s first palliative care service was pioneered by Dr Pam Harrison and Sister Mary Brendan (Mary

O’Connor) RSM RN. It was through Dr Harrison’s insight as a haematologist in caring for terminally ill patients that she recognised the need for support services in this area of oncology, to support both the patient and their carer.

Dr Harrison, together with Sister Mary Brendan (Mary O’Connor) initiated and developed the Palliative Care

Service at the Mater in a voluntary capacity and without funding.

Today the Calvary Mater Newcastle operates the largest palliative care service in the region, currently supporting more than 500 patients at any one time in the inpatient and community setting.

Dr Harrison shared, “The reason it succeeded was that Sister Brendan was just the right person. She was experienced with nursing, she had empathy and a sense of humour and she could accept people as they were and if they had no faith she didn’t intrude.”

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Photos: Peter Stoop

ASPIRE continues to inspire young performers

After six months of juggling rehearsals on top of their schoolwork, 150 students from across the Catholic Diocese stepped onstage from 26—29 July to entertain audiences in the original production The Pirate Code.

The Pirate Code, a dynamic production formed under ASPIRE – an initiative of Catholic Schools Office that provides an opportunity for students in the performing arts, to challenge themselves in a creative environment and collaborate with other schools.

This year’s production followed Captain Lucy Dastoor and her crew as they hunt for lost treasure against the backdrop of an over-taxed community under the control of

a greedy governor. To find it they’ll have to sail through storms, fight off the villainous Cutthroat Crowe and defeat the fabled kraken.

Students are involved in all aspects of the production – acting, singing, dancing, playing music, set design, costume design, and even providing input on the script!

Year 12 student Makenzie Thomson, who played the leading role as Captain Dastoor, said “being able to mix and mingle with other people from different schools that are a similar age and have the same passions has been absolutely amazing”.

For fellow cast member, Daniel Smith, who plays the charming Captain Jon Hanssen, this is his second year of

performing in ASPIRE.

“It gives me a platform to showcase my dramatic ability and work I put into creative arts and it’s helped me to form new connections with people that I’ll never lose,” said Daniel.

ASPIRE is immensely popular and this year more than 600 talented students tried out for an opportunity to secure a highly sought-after role.

Whilst the curtains have closed for 2023, the ASPIRE team is already planning for next year’s production. For those keen to get involved, auditions are planned to be held in Weeks 3 and 4 of Term 4 with students informed of the outcome by the end of the school year.

Catholic Community Fund gives back to the community

In recognition of the crucial role that CatholicCare plays in supporting vulnerable members of our community, the Catholic Community Fund recently donated $5,000 to help further their efforts.

This is in addition to the $40,000 invested to CatholicCare’s Community Kitchens and Social Enterprise programs to assist with the purchase of equipment for the Martha Café and the upgrading of the kitchen facilities at the Hamilton South Community Hall.

Executive Director and Fund Manager

Jenny Chung acknowledged this assistance was made possible through the support of the Fund’s members.

“Our members through their support, really are making a significant difference in our community and the lives of others,” said Ms Chung.

“The Catholic Community Fund has been serving the community, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, and its agencies for over 60 years.

“In the last 10 years, we have given back more than $50 million to support the charitable works of the Diocese and its agencies including CatholicCare.

“The Fund has also provided loans for residential accommodation for CatholicCare

clients and facilities, including The Rosewood Centres at Hamilton and Maitland.”

In 2023, the Catholic Community Fund has donated an impressive $500,000 to support the great work of CatholicCare and, with the support of its members, aims to increase this to $1,000,000 in 2024.

“Investing in the Fund is investing in the community, while supporting your financial future,” said Ms Chung.

For more information on the Fund including our Disclosure Statement visit:

To read more Catholic news from across the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle and around the world visit or scan the QR code below. There, you will also find links to upcoming events, important dates for your diary and to live stream Sunday Mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral.

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Photos: Peter Stoop

Listen, Learn, Love

For more than 80 years, the Australian Catholic Bishops have recognised Social Justice Sunday by releasing a statement aimed at fostering Catholic Social Teaching and inspiring the Catholic community to engage with contemporary social, economic, and ecological issues.

In 2023, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) Social Justice Statement is “Listen, Learn, Love: A New Engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples”.

The new Social Justice Statement arrives in a critical year for Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and, indeed for the entire nation. During this time Australians will be casting their vote on a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander Australians by incorporating a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution. Whilst the origins of the statement are unrelated to the referendum, it acknowledges the great challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face and proposes ways in which the unacceptable gaps in measures like health, education and employment can be addressed.

Significantly, a large part of this year’s statement was written by members of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), who speak directly about the injustices their people have faced and the pain it has caused.

At the heart of this year’s statement is a call for all the People of God to embrace a new engagement with

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, an engagement that involves a commitment to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to learn from them. This listening and learning and the actions which flow from them must be grounded in a spirit of love if there is to be a change for the better.

As with elections, the Bishops won’t be encouraging Catholics and others to vote Yes or to vote No, but to be informed – by their own conscience, but also by the richness of Catholic social teaching. This includes supporting the dignity of every human person and seeking the common good, so every person may have the opportunity to flourish.

Together, the Bishops and NATSICC invite all Australians to reflect on the concluding message of the statement:

“We, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, invite members of the Church to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this year of great possibility. We hope for an end to the pain, the hurt and the injustice that has burdened the First Peoples of this land for far too long.

Let us commit ourselves to fostering a civilisation of love in Australia. Let’s come together in friendship and love to show all that love can not only change individual lives, but that it can change society for the better.”

To access a copy of the Social Justice Statement, visit the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

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“Lights shining brightly” Memories of World Youth Day Lisbon 2023

World Youth Day (WYD) is a global event, bringing together millions of young people from all over the world to celebrate their faith with the Pope. It is a Pilgrimage, a celebration of youth, and an expression of the universal church.

This year’s theme, “Mary arose and went with haste” (Luke 1:39), was a call for young people to rise and be the light of the world. And with 1.5 million young people in attendance, their light certainly shone brightly.

44 Pilgrims from across the MaitlandNewcastle Diocese, including Bishop Michael Kennedy, eagerly departed Australia on 22 July, bound for the first stage of their pilgrimage – a 9-day journey through the Holy Land - before heading on to Lisbon for a week of celebrations, followed by a period of reflection.

We followed the journey of four of these Pilgrims: Josh Latimore, Summer Harrison, Ellen Morgan, and Rory Dinnen-Griffin – and share their highlights here.

Journey through the Holy Land

Following in the footsteps of Jesus. the Pilgrims started their journey at Bethlehem, his place of birth, before heading to other sacred and historically significant sites: the Dead Sea, Jericho, Galilee, Nazareth, Cana, Mt Tabor, Caesarea Philippi, Mt of Beatitudes, Haifa, Mt Carmel, Caesarea Maritima and finally Jerusalem.

At Galilee, the pilgrims set out on a traditional ‘Jesus Boat’ to the middle of Lake Galilee for a private Mass. Unlike when Jesus calmed the storm, the Sea of Galilee was peaceful and restful, allowing the pilgrims to float quietly, reflecting on the miracles of Jesus.

“Galilee is an absolutely gorgeous area” and many parts of the visit to Galilee became highlights of the journey, including watching “the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee,” shared Pilgrim Rory Dineen-Griffin.

The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth was another significant site with its linkage to the WYD theme: “Mary went with haste”.

Pilgrim Josh Latimore reflected, “We got to meditate and contemplate Mary’s ‘yes’, which really is the most powerful ‘yes’ that has been uttered throughout history. It’s a really good time to take a moment to reflect on

how we can say ‘yes’ to God every day.”

“I am in utter awe”, said Summer Harrison, of their visit to Nazareth, “and usually we refer to awe as one of the charisms to do with nature, but I am in such awe of the place as Jesus lived about 500m northwest of where I am standing right now and that is just amazing. He lived in these exact same streets that we are walking on right now”.

At the Jordan River the Pilgrims renewed their Baptismal promises.

Ellen Morgan shared, “It’s absolutely wild that we’re here in the same area that Jesus got baptised by John the Baptist”. Their arrival at Jerusalem marked the end of their journey and as they departed the Holy Land for WYD celebrations, the Pilgrims were filled with awe, wonder and spiritual enrichment.

As Josh Latimore reflected on the journey, he shared that his highlight was ”absolutely the Holy Sepluchre”.

“That was such a special experience being able to be in the tomb that our Lord rose from, and being there in that prayerful space was really special to me and I don’t think I will ever forget it,” said Josh.

World Youth Day

Arriving in Lisbon, Portugal with a renewed sense of purpose, the pilgrims embraced the electric atmosphere with excitement.

Over the next six days, they began each morning with prayer, reconciliation, and mass. Days were then filled with youth

Ellen Morgan & Sr Mary at Church of the Nativity

festival events, featuring music, dance and dramatic performances from all around the world in small and large stadiums and venues across the city.

As Pope Francis arrived in Lisbon, the mood intensified with the sound of Pilgrims chanting ‘Esta es la juventud del papa!’ - this is the youth of the Pope.

The pilgrims immersed themselves in infectious atmosphere and the scorching temperatures did not deter many from walking the 11km journey with Pope Francis for the Way of the Cross.

The Vigil on Saturday evening was a time to come together with Pope Francis in prayer and song, to reflect on their faith, and to prepare for the closing Papal Mass. It was a powerful and moving experience that was a highlight of World Youth Day for the pilgrims.

Finally, on Sunday morning, Pope Francis celebrated Mass with over 1.5 million young people from all over the world. His message was clear: “No tengan miedo”do not be afraid. He urged young people to be bold in their faith and to spread God’s message to the world.

The journey concluded for the pilgrims with a retreat in the Porto region, allowing the pilgrims to rest, unwind and process the amazing days of the Pilgrimage and World Youth Day events.

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Top row: Ellen, Michael, Summer, Curtis, Joseph. Bottom row: Ryan, Makenzie, Olivia & Melissa at the post WYD retreat.

“Coming here I thought I would find God more in the physical such as nature or the sacred sites we are visiting”, shared Summer Harrison, “however, I found out that God is really revealing himself through the people we have met and different Pilgrims”.

Ellen Morgan added “I have learnt that the Church is not dead”. She reflected how there were 1.5 million people at the Saturday night vigil, one of her highlights of World Youth Day.

“I learnt about the importance of prayer, and the importance of taking time just to get away from all of the noise and just be quiet and present with the Lord”, shared Josh Latimore. “I will be able to share my experience with others by giving personal testimony and witness of the things I saw”.

“One of the questions coming onto this was am I on the right path in my life. And I think I have learnt that I am on the right path, as I am embracing God’s will,” said Summer.

She encourages “Every young Catholic should at least go on one youth day. There are other young Catholics out there, and you are never alone in your faith”.

“If you are considering going to World Youth Day, definitely do it”, said Rory Dineen-Griffin. “If you have the opportunity, say yes”.

As the lights go down on a World Youth Day journey the pilgrims will never forget, we know that their personal lights will continue to shine brightly.

Lisa Matzanke, Rory Dineen- Griffin & Matthew Cook at Via Dolorosa
One of the questions coming onto this was am I on the right path in my life. And I think I have learnt that I am on the right path, as I am embracing God’s will, ”
Latimore & Bishop Michael Kennedy at the Sea of Galilee To read the full story and watch video diaries recorded by our four pilgrims scan the QR code.
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All photos Ollie Levido

WYD 2023 Lisbon Portugal

To Lisbon

Haifa Cana


Sea of Galilee

Caesarea Maritima


Tel Aviv


From Australia



Dead Sea

Jonothan Lethbridge & Summer Harrison at the Jordan River.
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Celebrating the momentous legacy: 140 years of the Sisters of St Joseph at Lochinvar

140 years ago, four courageous young Sisters of St Joseph embarked on a momentous journey from Perthville near Bathurst to Lochinvar. Traveling by train, boat and horse-drawn carriage, they had a noble mission – to bring a quality Catholic education to children living in the remote parts of the Diocese, thereby nurturing their Catholic faith and opening doors for a better quality of life.

Arriving on 2 September 1883, they wasted no time and, the very next day, founded their first school and convent in a former inn, and warmly welcomed their first border soon after.

In the years that followed, the Sisters worked tirelessly, establishing schools and convents across the Diocese. Lochinvar became their ‘mother house’, accommodating more than 200 borders at one point, and that first modest school grew into St Joseph’s College, now a thriving co-educational high school with almost 1000 students.

The Sisters of St Joseph is an Australian congregation founded by Julian Tenison Woods and Australia’s first Saint - Mary of the Cross MacKillop. The Order was born in response to the genuine needs of the communities they served. Embodying the instructions of their founders - ‘never see a need

without doing something about it’they selflessly embarked on journeys where no religious congregation had ventured before, enduring hardships and harsh conditions as they established new ministries.

“The work, though arduous, was a privilege when one remembers why we were there, to spread the Gospel to children and people out of reach, those who would have been deprived of this opportunity,” said an early Sister of St Joseph, encapsulating the sense of purpose that guided their endeavours.

Beyond the classrooms, the Sisters dedicated their energies to assist people in every way possible. They reached out to the families of their pupils and offered care to the sick in their homes. Preparing children for sacraments, they were instrumental in fostering their spiritual growth.

Central to the Josephite education was instilling a love of music with their students.

“Music elevates the mind and enables it to form grander conceptions of God and holy things,” said Fr Tenison Woods.

The humility and compassion of the Sisters inspired generations of young girls to join the novitiate and continue their mission, leaving an indelible mark on the history of the Diocese.

Over the last 140 years, they established an impressive network of 50 parish primary schools and 10 secondary schools, leaving a legacy of education and service that continues to touch countless lives.

As lay teachers assumed positions in Catholic schools in the 1960s, the Sisters redirected their efforts to adult faith formation, outreach to migrants and refugees, parish pastoral care, spiritual direction, pastoral planning at the diocesan level, and compassionate care for those affected by HIV-AIDS. The Sisters of St Joseph’s impact has been profound.

Reflecting on the early Sisters, Sister Patricia Egan said “they arrived at a significant time when the government had recently withdrawn funding for religious schools.”

“Catholic schools would not have existed up to the 1960s except for the Sisters and Brothers who entered Religious Orders and staffed the schools.”

“The Sisters have always aspired to live the ‘spirit of the institute’ which was exemplified by Mary MacKillop and devotion to St Joseph. Students no doubt followed in the early Sisters’ footsteps because they were inspired by their example.”

Lochinvar holds a special place in the hearts of the Sisters, where more than 270 of their beloved members have found eternal rest, a testament to the enduring impact of their dedication and service.

On Saturday, 2 September 2023, the day this edition of Aurora is released, the 59 Sisters of St Joseph still living, will celebrate their 140 year anniversary in Lochinvar.

It will be marked by Mass at St Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Charlestown during which the jubilees of profession of some Sisters will be celebrated - a joyous occasion to honour their years of devoted service.

Additionally, on Monday, 4 September, the Sisters and the community of St Joseph’s College Lochinvar will come together to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving, including the ringing of the school bell – one ring for each year of service.

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MICHELLE MCGRANAHAN Photo: Peter Stoop Sister Patricia Egan Original school and convent founded on 2 September 1883 Superior Ambrose Joseph Dirkin - one of the four founders Sisters of St Joseph, 1957 - all ex-students Sisters travelling to school on Swansea Channel Sisters arriving in Merriwa
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‘Mother house’ at Lochinvar

John’s journey from escaping war to graduating university


For regular readers of Aurora, John Sandy is a name you will likely recognise. And it’s for good reason too – his story is worth thousands of words; one article would never be enough to capture it. We share his latest milestone below.

When John Sandy walked across the Great Hall stage at the University of Newcastle in June it was an emotional moment.

For the last six years, he has been studying a Bachelor of Social Work with a dream of helping more people.

For John, it’s an incredibly encouraging achievement – when he was escaping war in Sierra Leone in 1991, he wasn’t sure what would come next.

“It’s so exciting and empowering – I’ve achieved something that I was hoping for in my future,” he says.

“It’s been a long journey, I started in 2016 but I’ve actualised my potential by gaining a Western education.”

John added the pain and hardship he has suffered has made his academic achievement so much more satisfying.

“My journey to Australia was a long, very complex, and very traumatic journey,” he says.

“I became a refugee as a result of war, it was not something that I chose.”

When the war broke out in Sierra Leone, John became displaced and forced to live in inhumane conditions in a refugee camp in Guinea. He was torn apart from his wife, Mary, who he later learned had been transported across the world, to Australia, as a refugee.

To reconnect with Mary, he had to walk for three weeks and two days to another camp to find a man with a mobile phone.

Once he made contact it was another six years until they were finally reunited.

“The migration experience was really traumatic, I was rejected three times but eventually I got a visa to join her in 2011,” he says.

John and his wife were supported by the Catholic Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle and CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning throughout the entire process.

After reaching Australia, John dedicated his time to volunteering with the organisation’s Disaster and Relief Agency and now, he works

at CatholicCare’sRefugee Hub supporting hundreds of refugees settle into the community.

John’s arduous path to Australian residency, and later citizenship, has made him uniquely qualified to assist those in desperate need of support.

John hopes his story and new qualifications inspire people to follow their dreams.

“I want young people to see me as a role model – as someone who has mastered their trauma and been successful,” he says.

“I have used my trauma as a strength, not as an identity or something to put me down.”

When it comes to what’s next for John, the answer is simple. He wants to keep helping people in any way he can –he’s planning on using his degree as a stepping stone to further study.

“When I was sitting in the Great Hall on my graduation day, I just felt like I needed to learn more,” he explains.

“I want to study more to gain more power and knowledge around how to support people who come from those traumatic backgrounds.

“I want to see how I can inform policymakers, especially within the context of community organisations for people to be trauma aware.”

He adds that he’s already using what he learned from the degree through his work at the Refugee Hub.

“I apply it every day in my practice, in my writing and my engagement with people,” he said.

“I am very mindful of their background and want to make them emotionally safe to ensure they don’t experience any traumatization.”

His life advice is something we could all learn from.

“Appreciate what you have, seek support, and have the courage to share your vulnerability,” John says.

“We are all social beings, we all need help, but it doesn’t mean we can’t follow our dreams. Don’t give up.”

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I want to study more to gain more power and knowledge around how to support people who come from those traumatic backgrounds.
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Photo: Peter Stoop

The Growing Minds Inspiring Readers project is part of the Catholic Schools Office’s L!FT initiative (Learning Impact From Teaching) and the work of our Academic Partner Emeritus Professor Beverly Derewianka.

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Growing Minds Inspiring Readers


Education is not just about memorising facts and figures; it is also about nurturing creativity and fostering a student’s innate curiosity and imagination.

Growing students’ minds through creativity plays a pivotal role in shaping well-rounded individuals, empowering them to express themselves, think critically, and approach problem-solving with an open mind.

Inspired to offer a unique learning experience for students, St Pius X Primary School, Windale invited local author and illustrator Sami Bayly to lead them on a special journey of creativity and self-expression.

St Pius X Primary School Principal, Steve Pryde, said, “Our school is unique, as 38% of our students identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and we’re extremely proud of that connection”.

“We wanted to do something that helps students embrace their rich connections with Country through the traditions of storytelling and art.”

“And we wanted students across all years to get involved, and Sami provided that opportunity.”

Over five consecutive days, Sami worked with students from Kindergarten to 6 to co-create their own children’s storybook titled Stolen Heart

Set to be launched in early September, Stolen Heart is the story of the school’s totem animals – dingo, kookaburra,

pelican and eagle – who work together to restore the heart of the moon at Belmont Lagoon. It references the Awabakal Dreaming story, ‘When the Moon Cried and Formed Belmont Lagoon’.

Under Sami’s guidance, the students learned the art of weaving compelling narratives, bringing characters to life, and conveying emotions through illustrations.

“The students did everything themselves – the storyboarding, the writing, all the artwork and pictures, editing, the cover, the title, you name it”, said Sami.

“They so easily and quickly came together and said ’yep we like that’ and ‘no let’s ditch that’ and ‘let’s incorporate it this way’.”

Teachers were heavily involved in the process, acting out the scenes with the students so they could visualise how the storyline was coming together.

Throughout the process, they discovered the power of words and images to transport readers into vibrant worlds of their own making.

The book not only showcases the artistic talents of the students but also highlights the invaluable skills and newfound confidence they acquired throughout the project.

As they took ownership of their ideas and transformed them into tangible creations, their belief in their abilities grew exponentially.

Students discovered that their words and illustrations held the power to captivate and engage others, instilling in them a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Year 6 student, Love, said she “learned so many new techniques like how to draw and paint clouds, backgrounds and how to structure pictures using watercolour”.

“My favourite part was when we became artists and also when we watched Sami’s amazing skills when she created artworks.”

“It feels like I have achieved something amazing, I did a great job and we all did it together. I’ll always remember it,” added Love.

“I feel wonderful and so proud of myself and the entire school”, echoed Year 2 student Aubrey.

“I learned how to make a book. You need illustrations to help tell the story and you have to think of describing words when writing the story.”

Principal Steve Pryde said the learning outcomes from this experience go beyond storytelling and illustration.

“This project not only nurtured the students’ artistic talents but also instilled in them a sense of resilience and determination,” he said.

“They learned to overcome challenges, embrace feedback, and refine their work through continuous iteration.”

“The transformation they underwent, from hesitant storytellers to confident authors and illustrators, serves as a testament to the transformative power of collaboration, creativity, and self-expression.”

With overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and teachers, Stolen Heart may be just the first of many student-led storybooks to come from St Pius X Primary School, Windale.

For a behind-thescenes video of the creation of Stolen Heart, scan the QR code.

Georgia Kirkland is a Year 5/6 classroom teacher and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Teacher at St Pius X Primary School, Windale. Georgia has worked at St Pius X Primary School since 2014 and is passionate about fostering the growth of students at St Pius X Primary School, Windale.

The students did everything themselves the storyboarding, the writing, all the artwork and pictures, editing, the cover, the title, you name it ”
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The Innocents

Each year on 15 September we pause to remember the trauma and devastation inflicted on victims of child sexual abuse by clergy and other Church personnel in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Known as the Perpetual Day of Remembrance, it also acknowledges the impact on victim’s families and the community as a whole.

This past year I have had the privilege of being part of the process to create a piece of music to commemorate this significant day, and the equally important Clergy Abused Network (CAN) Day of Remembrance on October 22.

The idea for the piece, titled The Innocents, was proposed by Elizabeth Seysener, a survivor of clergy abuse and deputy chairperson of CAN.

“Music has always been a powerful tool to tap into emotions and also to regulate emotions when I feel the need to change my mood,” said Elizabeth.

“I envisage this piece being used in supportive settings with survivors and supporters.”

Perpetual Day of Remembrance Sunday

Resources to support the community’s prayer response on The Perpetual Day of Remembrance (15 Sept) and Perpetual Day of Remembrance Sunday (10 Sept) are available on the diocesan website.

The range of resources enables everyone to participate in whatever way is most authentic, from lighting a candle and perhaps saying a prayer in your home, to joining with others at Mass on Perpetual Day of Remembrance Sunday.

The project was financed by the Bishop’s Healing Fund, an annual allocation of funds established by Bishop Bill Wright in 2020 to assist in promoting the healing of those affected by child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Knowing the importance of finding ‘the right’ composer for the piece, Elizabeth suggested David Banney, the wellknown and respected Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral and the Newcastle Music Festival, and the Artistic Director of the Christ Church Camerata in Newcastle.

David’s process began by discussing, with Elizabeth and I, the complexity of survivors’ emotions and experiences. We agreed that the music needed to be reflective while also hopeful.

“Music is a language that at once says nothing and everything - it says nothing specific, and, perhaps because of that, can communicate and reach people when words fail,” said David.

To respect and reflect the emotions and experiences of those directly affected, David tried to avoid giving the piece a ‘church music’ feeling.

“The piece opens with a simple chord progression, played on beautiful electronic instruments, preparing for the solo violin,” he said.

“The middle section is more melodic and goal-directed, but frequent changes of harmony and rhythm reflect the many and varied emotions that may be experienced by survivors of abuse.”

“This section reaches a climax, and the opening music returns, leading to a final phrase in which the violin soars slowly upwards, offering some kind of peace at the end.”

Elizabeth said she loved the way the music changed pace and took you on a journey of your own choosing.

“The wonderful thing about this piece is you can decide what you want or need from it - whether it’s to tap into an emotion like grief, regret or gratitude or just simply to be still for a moment,” she said.

“Wherever it takes you and whatever it evokes I hope that, as the violin soars upwards at the end, it lifts you to a positive place of peace and perhaps a place of healing and hope as well.”

David admitted having to communicate

on behalf of survivors was one of the most challenging commissions he had ever received.

“I regularly considered, what might I even possibly know and understand about what it is like to be a survivor?” he said.

“In a way, I have tried to avoid sending listeners away with a specific message, but perhaps the ethos of the music is respect, complexity and hope.”

“Apart from whatever solace the music may bring to individuals, I hope that the act of listening can remind us that each of us has a responsibility not only to embrace survivors of abuse, but to ensure that abuse within the church stops right now.”

I hope it’s experienced as a beautiful moment to reflect, acknowledge, be grateful to survivors for everything they have taught us about keeping children safe, and to never forget.

If this story raises any concerns for you, you can contact the Zimmerman Service by calling 02 4923 0636 or email,au

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Can we rewire our brain?

The human brain is incredible. Did you know that pathways in our brain have the ability to change and grow?

We can essentially rewire our brains to function in ways that it wasn’t able to perform before, such as developing the ability to pay attention and concentrate or to relax on command.

Neurofeedback Therapy or Training

(NFT) is an evidence-based intervention that harnesses this amazing ability.

NFT rewards the brain for changing its patterns through a learning process. Electrodes placed in specific locations on the head allow practitioners to monitor small and usually unperceivable brain activity, which is strengthened on an amplifier and viewed on a screen. This tangible feedback helps participants to learn how this activity can be influenced.

Katrina Sweeny, a Registered Psychologist from the Rosewood Centre said, “Once the brain has learned new patterns, we can access the desired behaviours at any time

in the future, if it has been properly trained and retained”.

“That’s why it takes between 30 and 40 sessions, usually two per week, to achieve a lasting result.

“While this seems like a lot of sessions, the benefits can be life-changing and participants don’t need to do it again,” she said.

NFT is mostly used to treat symptoms of ADHD, but also in other areas such as Insomnia, cognitive performance, sports performance, and anxiety.

So who is suitable for NFT? When delivered by qualified allied health professional, such as a psychologist or occupational therapist, it can be a safe treatment for children over 6 years old through to adults . In particular, it has been proven to be effective for children and people who do not respond to traditional medication management for ADHD.

The Rosewood Centre notes that the therapy is not appropriate for everyone, and the underlying causes of inattention,

hyperactivity or sleep difficulties may vary from one person to the next. That’s why an assessment is necessary to determine suitability and the best treatment plan.

Research shows that three out of four people respond to a full neurofeedback program. It has also been found that improvements were continuing for those who respond to treatment, even six months after therapy sessions have finished.

“Neurofeedback is a scary sounding word but it is a safe, non-invasive way for people to learn how to use the power of their own brain to re-train it,” added Katrina.

“It’s been around for a long time and is a proven way we can help people increase their ability to pay attention and then shift their ability to being able to rest and recover. It’s that flexibility to be able to shift that is important,” she said.

“Once you have finished the program, your brain has learned to develop those new pathways and it will continue to grow and develop and use its own

wonderful ability with neuroplasticity in order to keep those changes happening as you also grow and develop.”

The Rosewood Centre is offering neurofeedback sessions in Taree, Maitland and Hamilton. Find out more at

Kelly Pavan is the General Manager of The Rosewood Centre.

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“ Neurofeedback is a scary sounding word but it is a safe, non-invasive way for people to learn how to use the power of their own brain to retrain it, ”

Synodality and the church’s future

The future is always unchartered territory. The fact that “the future” does not yet exist means that we cannot describe it with the same precision that we apply to an object we can hold. Despite this limitation, most of us tend to spend time pondering the future: What will life in fifty years be like if climate change continues at its current rate? What might schools, banks, and public transport be like in the year 2050?

To answer questions about the future, we tend to draw trajectories from our present experience: “If X continues on its current path, then Y and Z are likely to be the outcomes.” Applying this strategy to the future of the church can be discouraging: our present experience as Catholic Christians is far from rosy, so the prospects for the future appear bleak. Still, passivity and hopelessness are our only options as a Christian community. Approaching our future with both hope and creativity is possible if we build that future on the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the gift that we all share through our common baptism. The role of the Spirit’s grace is twofold: to draw us more deeply into a relationship with God’s love made visible in Jesus Christ (John 16: 13-15); to guide the church on its pilgrimage through history to the fullness of life in Christ.

In our present moment of history, grace is especially evident in the process

of synodality that Pope Francis has championed with great energy and enthusiasm. Synodality gives flesh to who we are as a community sharing the one faith and called to the one mission. In his many addresses and writings on synodality, the one word that, more than any other, expresses Pope Francis’s understanding of the process is “listen”.

What we are to listen for, Pope Francis stresses, is the Holy Spirit. It is no accident, then, that Australia’s Plenary Council sought to ensure that its deliberations and decisionmaking about the future of the church in Australia have their foundation in listening to the Spirit.

Two obvious questions about this listening: What might we hear from the Spirit and how are we to listen? Here, happily, a whole range of interconnected answers present themselves:

• our individual and communal prayer, which both proceed from the gift of the Spirit we receive through our baptism, draws us to Christ and to living as Christ’s disciples;

• spending time with Scripture and participating in the church’s liturgy also open us to the presence of the Spirit guiding the church;

• listening to other members of the community of faith at parish,

diocese, and national level; this process invites us to trust that the Spirit, moving in and through the community of faith whose members, from the youngest to the pope, share the one baptism, draws us to choose Christ-centred ways of living;

• listening to our world—its sufferings, hopes, and challenges to the church highlight where we fail to practise the justice and compassion we profess and where we need conversion;

This listening can guide our creative responses to the challenges we face as a church. Clearly, this is not a magic bullet or a “join-the-dots” process to melt every obstacle. It is, however, a process that has deep roots in the church’s history. Being attentive to the Spirit enables us to engage our present and future with hope, imagination, creativity, and courage as we seek “what has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15: 28).

Richard Lennan is a priest of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, ordained in 1983. He is the Professor of Systematic Theology in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College, USA

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Breaking the cycle of poverty


It takes bravery to overcome hardship, to fight against all odds to make change for yourself and your family.

Women and girls, particularly those living in poverty, consistently face gender discrimination, inequality and economic hardship. This year alone, there are estimated to be 388 million women and girls worldwide living in extreme poverty (UN Women, 2022).

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the cycle of poverty continues when women have no choice over their life decisions. Ongoing conflict, limited access to education and gender-based violence are all contributing factors to the lack of autonomy in their lives.

Caritas Australia’s partners in the DRC have been implementing programs to help women and girls break the cycle of poverty, secure employment and income, and create a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

In recent decades, a staggering number of children have been violated of their rights and used as child soldiers. Rosalie was only 14 years old when she had to drop out of school due to the financial constraints of her family. She had little options and became a child soldier.

In the army, Rosalie found herself forced to transport munitions to soldiers on the battlefield while facing the constant

threat of violence inside the military camp. She had to continue to work as a soldier, even after she married and had children because she had no other option – and it was the only life she knew.

“I was in the battlefield with my baby on my back,” Rosalie recalls. “I walked with a child in my left hand, a box of ammunition on my head and another child on my back. I also had a weapon on my right shoulder. The chief commander had no mercy on me, even though I had my baby on my back.”

When Rosalie was finally demobilised from the army after six years, she was eager to start a new life, free from violence. But with her childhood and education cut short, she had missed out on developing skills that would help her to find secure employment. She struggled to earn a sustainable income to provide food for her children. There was also prejudice towards excombatants in the community and she struggled to settle into ‘normal’ life. Rosalie was determined to turn her life around and set a new path for herself and her family. She joined the Protection & Re-Integration of ExCombatants program, supported by Caritas Australia, and its local partner organisations, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and Caritas Bukavu. Through the program,

she gained essential skills in generating an income while gaining a sense of belonging and community spirit.

“I can eat, dress, maintain my health and help others. My children study and manage to eat twice a day,” Rosalie says.

“The program allowed me to break out of my ways of just thinking about myself and I have learnt to work hand-in-hand with other members of the community. Really, there is more joy in sharing with others.”

Thanks to the generosity of Caritas Australia supporters, along with the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), over 2500 people have benefitted from this program so far. Rosalie has become an entrepreneur and a respected community leader. She is helping other women to save and to start up their own businesses.

“May the Australian people continue to help others as well, so that they can also take care of themselves,” Rosalie says. “A really big thank you.”

Since 2013, our dedicated Women for the World community have made remarkable strides, changing countless lives of women in poverty worldwide. Donate today to help women and girls around the world who are facing conflict and violence.

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Tune in to wellbeing

A Mission Australia survey completed by close to 20,000 young people across the country revealed that despite our ever-changing world, one constant remained - the primary source of support for many 15 to 19-year-olds during times of hardship was still their family.

While many parents and carers will be reassured that their children feel comfortable turning to them, the rise in modern technologies means the context in which this sage advice is received by today’s youth is often worlds apart from the era their knowledgeable elder came of age in.

Only a generation ago, many young people only learned about the “birds and the bees” as an abstract concept when they reached high school, but alarmingly nowadays children can be exposed to sexualised content online, and in some cases as young as 10 years.

Similarly, not all that long ago, bullying was often confined to the school playground or local park during daylight hours. Yet, in 2023, this anti-social behaviour often extends well into the cover of the night in harmful exchanges over social media platforms that many

parents or carers have never even heard of.

It’s not to say these are every young person’s experience, but being informed about online safety can help protect children from harm online.

Recognising the important role that parents and carers play as the first and most important educators in their child’s life, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has secured SchoolTV for each of its 58 school communities. SchoolTV is a webbased platform with an extensive range of wellbeing resources geared towards helping families co-navigate modernday challenges.

Importantly, it complements initiatives already underway in schools across the Diocese, particularly the Catholic Schools Office’s Student Wellbeing and Pastoral Care Policy and the “Wellbeing Together” Student Learning and Wellbeing Framework.

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Chief Executive Officer, Sean Scanlon, is a father of two children who attend the only high school in the Diocese that already hosted SchoolTV prior to the

Diocesan-wide rollout. For the past few years, St Pius X High School, Adamstown has promoted the evidenced-based information and practical strategies within the platform to build parent, carer, and educator knowledge and confidence across a range of mental health and wellbeing topics.

Having seen the platform in action, Mr Scanlon was well placed to support the Catholic Schools Office’s desire to ensure all Diocesan school communities benefitted from the resource.

“SchoolTV provides our schools with an opportunity to further strengthen the school-family partnership through regular communication and support with the common goal of better wellbeing for all students,” Mr Scanlon said.

The Diocesan Federation of Parents & Friends Association’s President, Bev Bailey, said many parents and carers often seek advice on a range of topics that SchoolTV covers including cyber safety, mental health, and positive parenting.

Ms Bailey believes SchoolTV will be a valuable resource and commended the Catholic Schools Office for making it

available to all schools. She said it was a positive step in ensuring everyone had the same opportunities to receive relevant information from credible resources, regardless of where they live, their education level and socioeconomic status.

“Parenting is full of surprises, and you never know when you might be in a position where you want access to professional guidance to help navigate a challenging time in your child’s life,” Ms Bailey said.

“We all hope that when our child comes to us for help, we will be able to give them relevant and timely advice. So, one of the many benefits of SchoolTV is that you can watch it pre-emptively or as the need arises, from the privacy and convenience of your own home, either by yourself or, as a family.

“Knowing that the staff at my child’s school will also be familiar with the research available on SchoolTV, means that we’ll all be able to speak the same language and partner together more effectively in supporting our children’s learning, safety, and wellbeing.”

Lizzie Watkin
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“SchoolTV provides our schools with an opportunity to further strengthen the school-family partnership through regular communication and support with the common goal of better wellbeing for all students,”

Promoting a safeguarding culture

The Catholic Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle has an abiding commitment to promote and uphold the safety, welfare, and wellbeing of each child and every vulnerable person with whom we interact in the name of our church.

Since July, the Diocese has been participating in an audit to measure its compliance with the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS). This audit is an opportunity for the Diocese to demonstrate it has heeded Pope Francis’ call to action and assumed responsibility for preventing cases of abuse.

Based on recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the NCSS creates a framework for Catholic entities to promote the safety of children and adults at risk.

The audit will be overseen by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd. (ACSL), and is being conducted in two phases:

• Phase 1 involves lodging evidence of compliance online, which is to be completed by 15 September

• Phase 2 involves the on-site auditing of the Diocesan Curia and a sample of parishes and three schools, which is taking place between 6-17 November. The Diocese has been working towards high levels of compliance with the safeguarding standards over a number of years, with the support of the Office of Safeguarding.

Director of Safeguarding, Sean Tynan, said “We work to promote safeguarding practice in all the Diocese’s mission and outreach and with all those who work

for the Diocese, including employees, volunteers, clergy and religious, contractors, and people in vocational and other training.”

“To amplify the safeguarding message in the local community, ‘promoters of safeguarding’ have volunteered in most parishes. We have established a Promoters of Safeguarding Network to provide specialist and peer support, promote best practices, share successful local initiatives and facilitate sharing the latest legislative, regulatory, and other developments in the safeguarding space.”

At the end of 2022, the Bishop’s Office established a new position, Parish Support Worker, to provide guidance and support to parishes to meet a range of regulatory compliance

expectations. For the period of the NCSS audit, the Parish Support Worker will work with parishes obtain the highest possible level of compliance. Additionally, safeguarding training is mandatory for all people who work for the Diocese to ensure they have the appropriate level of knowledge, skills, and awareness to keep children and vulnerable people safe.

The audit results will be published by ACSL once the audit report has been signed off by Bishop Michael Kennedy and approved by the ACSL Board.

Decorate Your Gate

If you walk past a Diocese Catholic school or St Nicholas Early Education Centre or OOSH Service from 3-9 September, you may notice something different!

After an overwhelming response last year, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is again recognising National Child Protection Week 2023 through the ‘Decorate Your Gate’ initiative.

This initiative aims to put our commitment to upholding the dignity and rights of children front and centre – literally – by encouraging our Catholic schools and St Nicholas Early Education centres to decorate their gate, fence, or alternative space in line with the theme, ‘Where we start matters’.

Last year students and children came up with diverse and creative ways to showcase the theme so keep an eye out for this year’s efforts!

National Child Protection Week is coordinated by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) –

CatholicCare is looking for foster carers to help nurture and support children and young people who need a safe place to call home. With your help, we can give them a safe and loving environment to heal from their past and grow into their future.

To find out more, visit or call 1300 590 898

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