Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle September 2016 | No.161
Krakow th u o Y d l r o W Day pilgrim reports
Encounter Gail Oâ€™Brien, a woman of grace and mercy Meet Paralympian Christie Dawes Bishop Bill on the Royal Commission
Members of the Diocesan Social Justice Council warmly invite you to join them to launch the Social Justice Statement for 2016-2017
This year, the Australian Bishopsâ€™ Social Justice Statement is titled
A PLACE AT THE TABLE: SOCIAL JUSTICE IN AN AGEING SOCIETY The Social Justice Council will be launching the statement during a Social Justice Marketplace
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On the cover Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle September 2016 | No.161
Encounter Gail O’Brien, a woman of grace and mercy
Krakow h World Yout Day pilgrim reports
Meet Paralympian Christie Dawes Bishop Bill on the Royal Commission
WYD pilgrims (top) James Elliott, Diana & Robert Hyett, Belinda Sketchley, Matthew Perkins, Amie Ward (middle) Petrina Massey, Madelaine Rae, Phoebe Spencer, Meagan O’Brien, Camillus Nwahia (bottom) Jarod Grenenger, Makenzie Baas, Brian FennelFraser.
Featured Local Aboriginal Student of the Year
Satisfaction for a Trove tragic: log on soon! 6 An apology to those affected by abuse
Business student benefits from Director’s experience
Can you plant some seeds for St Dominic’s students?
WYD: A pilgrimage of mercy 14 Fossil fuel divestment and living Laudato Si’ 17 Why stopping the boats does not solve the problem
Come to the market place at the cathedral! 19 Christie’s claiming gold in more ways than one
The challenge of the present
The visit in August of Fr Richard Lennan – ordained as a priest of this diocese in 1983 and Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College – was, for me, a highlight of the celebrations of the 150 years since Bishop James Murray’s arrival. Richard spoke at a variety of gatherings and his trademark profundity, simply expressed, was evident. The Sacred Heart Cathedral Lecture was titled, “Tradition: God’s Future, Our Past, and the Challenge of the Present”. His quote from Canadian theologian and philosopher, Janet Soskice, stays with me, “To stand in a tradition is not to stand still but to stand in the deep, loamy soil that feeds further growth.”
to interview Gail O’Brien, widow of Dr Chris “Lifehouse” O’Brien. Gail is visiting the diocese in October and was gracious enough to welcome me to her home. I felt deeply privileged and while her story evokes sadness, there was much laughter in our conversation too!
A personal highlight was the opportunity
by the family of man.
This month Oliver White of Jesuit Refugee Service reminds us why stopping the boats does not solve the problem. As Frances Roberts’ poem, “Adrift”, insists,
Karen Quant read Max Greive’s story about labyrinth lore in July and alerted me to Boori Boori Labyrinth in Bucca Wauka (near Gloucester). Just google to learn more. May the path you walk reveal pleasant surprises daily.
The true villains in this outcome bask proudly in their stand firm against illegal entry
TRACEY EDSTEIN – Editor
Contact Aurora Aurora online
Next deadline 12 September 2016
The Catholic Thing
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Seasons of Mercy
In the month of Fathers’ Day, Dr Richard Fletcher of the University of Newcastle shares a simple but effective initiative to support new Dads. Please pass on to any new Dads in your world.
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To Krakow and back On the face of it, I shouldn’t have much enjoyed this trip to World Youth Day with seventy others from our diocese. I’m not really made for group touring. ‘On your right… And now on your left… Keep together, please.’ I like to poke around on my own and search out little curiosities that no one pays much attention to, to spend the time as I want. Secondly, the major events of WYD itself are elaborate Masses and prayers with congregations in the millions, and I’ve always preferred my liturgy simple and unadorned. So, in many ways, this time away was not the sort of experience that I’d choose for myself. I did it to be part of a diocesan thing. Let’s say first, then, that it was good and rewarding to be part of a diocesan thing. I loved watching some of our young people as they were fascinated by this or that part of a world, say medieval or renaissance, so different from their own. I loved their questions, their soaking up of a religious culture so different from their own, their curiosity. Some of the conversations I eavesdropped on between parents and kids were the terrific ‘intergenerational’ bridges we’d hoped would happen. It wasn’t all like that – we did have bored kids going through yet another basilica with their headsets plugged into a playlist on their phone rather than the guide’s commentary – but there were enough young people open to lives, thoughts and ways different from their own to make it worthwhile. I should, no doubt, have explained already that we were on pilgrimage in Europe both before and after WYD in Krakow. We landed in Venice for a couple of days and then made our way through Milan and Padua, Siena, Assisi and Cascia to Rome, before flying to Krakow. After
WYD, which is actually a week, we spent a couple of days visiting shrines in Poland before moving on to Vienna and side trips before flying out for Sydney. It was 25 days in all, days 13 to 18 actually at WYD. Highlights? Well, I think Venice. For many it was the first, sudden experience of a different world and, of course, Venice is different. We were pretty touristy in Venice, to be honest, but even the discovery that Italians don’t know how to make ‘proper’ pizza, serve their coffee half cold and have shower controls that require a degree in engineering to operate, along with the noise and bustle and street life, all these things tell you, ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’. Many will remember the impact of Venice. For me, another highlight was the archaeological site below the Duomo (cathedral) in Milan. The ‘modern’ (renaissance) Duomo is all a bit tizzy to my taste, but buried away below is the fourth century baptistery. I didn’t know that, and suddenly finding myself standing beside the baptism pool where bishop Ambrose would have stood, where he quite possibly received Augustine up out of the water, induced that strange sense of place, so hard to describe, implied by ‘sacred site’. For many of our pilgrims, the real sacred site experience came near Assisi, in the Carceri, the hermitage where St Francis retreated to pray. It is, first of all, beautiful, high on the wooded side of Mt Subiaso, looking down across the sweep of the Umbrian hills and plain. But it is also the simplicity, perhaps starkness, of the stone structures clinging to the steep hillside that somehow conveys the sense of this as a place to seek holiness in prayer and austerity. It
was quiet and we had the opportunity to wander a bit and think of il poverello, the ‘little poor man’. Other ‘special’ bits of Italy included the wonderful old centre of Siena, the taste we had of a catacomb, a side trip to Pompeii, of course St Peter’s and thereabouts, gelato and the extraordinary skills of our bus drivers negotiating the laneways to our hotel, which fully bore out guide Salvatore’s comment, “In Italy we don’t park our cars, we abandon them.” To Krakow, then. The Poles, let me say first, did a magnificent job. Accommodating an event for a couple of million people in a middle-sized city like Krakow can’t be easy, but pretty much everything went smoothly and, if there was a particular problem, there always seemed to be a blue-shirted young Polish volunteer on hand to get you back on track with great friendliness and competence. In the mornings the different language groups spread out across their catechetical centres, but in the afternoons and evenings the beautiful centre of old Krakow was alive, not to say crammed, with happy, ebullient masses of pilgrims enjoying being alive and being together from all corners of the earth. I suspect that the real joy of WYD is not in the big events so much as in this informal mixing of young believers, in the shared experience of youth and faith, fun and purpose. The place was happy. For days on end, a city was joyous. And that is as much as I can tell you in one column.
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Diocesan student awarded local Aboriginal Student of the Year Scarlet Avery, a Year 10 student of All Saints College, St Joseph’s Campus, Lochinvar, was recently awarded a newly created prestigious award which has inspired her future path. “She assists and supports her peers and Aboriginal community in a variety of ways, including ensuring cultural inclusivity at all times, as well as balancing her own studies and sporting commitments.” St Joseph’s Principal, Paul Greaves, also expressed the privilege he felt to see Scarlet receive this award and to see her efforts affirmed at a broader community level. By ALYSSA FAITH
On 1 July, in the lead-up to NAIDOC Week 2016, Scarlet became Maitland Local Aboriginal Student of the Year, an award which recognises emerging leaders, rewards students’ commitment to their local communities and connects students to community leaders and role models. Scarlet was one of five students across the Maitland region nominated for this award. Award creator and presenter, Member for Maitland, Jenny Aitcheson MP, commended Scarlet on her outstanding commitment to her studies and community, describing Scarlet as a very “diligent and articulate student who provides strong leadership for the Aboriginal community”. Nominated by St Joseph’s Aboriginal Education Teacher, Zara Francisco, and Principal, Paul Greaves, Scarlet’s displays of leadership and community commitment made her a worthy nominee. “Scarlet is the President of St Joseph’s Junior Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) and has organised or been involved in many events and projects during her time at St Joseph’s,” says Ms Francisco.
“Supported by Scarlet’s leadership, there have been significant school-wide initiatives which have promoted Aboriginal culture and identity, with Aboriginal students at St Joseph’s now having an effective voice,” said Mr Greaves. “I am sure that through Scarlet’s example, students at St Joseph’s will be challenged to get involved in school life and share in leadership that makes a difference.” Following this local award, Scarlet was one of 20 NSW students selected to attend the Emerging Leaders Forum in August at Parliament House in Sydney. Of the 70 students awarded local Aboriginal Student of the Year across NSW, only the top 20 are invited to attend the Forum. “I was greeted at the Forum by the Honourable Leslie Williams MP, and later in the day I was lucky enough to meet with Premier Mike Baird who approached me to say that he believed in me and my leadership potential,” said Scarlet. The Forum, designed to give student leaders the opportunity to meet with Aboriginal student, business and government leaders and acquire new skills and knowledge, featured a panel discussion and presentations from inspiring leaders and role models including Teela Reid,
the Hon Ben Franklin Scarlet Avery MLC, George Rose and and Jenny Aitc heson MP. Kirstie Parker who spoke of their background, challenges they have faced and the people they have become. The day also included a tour of the Aboriginal artefacts at the Australian Museum and Parliament House and also featured Legislative Assembly question time. Scarlet’s favourite part of the Forum was the final activity where students were given the opportunity to speak one-on-one with numerous leaders and indigenous workers. “These motivational leaders shared their wealth of knowledge, tips and experiences, as well the highs and lows they were faced with when becoming who they are today,” said Scarlet. “One of the speakers in particular, Mi-kaisha, was very supportive towards my goals and plans for the future. “The leaders we spoke to were all positive role models that I know many young people look up to and I hope one day I can follow in their footsteps.” Winning local Aboriginal Student of the Year and attending the Emerging Leaders Forum are two experiences that have shaped Scarlet’s life and given her new skills to help reach her goals. “From these experiences, I am going to ensure that all members of St Joseph’s Jnr AECG are fully supported in what they have planned for the future,” said Scarlet. “I will ensure that all students might have the confidence and knowledge to stand up for their beliefs and speak out when they see an issue waiting to be raised.”
Frankly Spoken In the eyes of God, the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are absolutely of no concern. He does not care if you are stylish or not. He cares about you. In his eyes you are precious. World Youth Day, Krakow, 2016
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By MARGARET EXLEY
Frances Dunn calls herself a “Trove Tragic”. She believes Trove is a great source for research, especially when you’re ‘growing’ a family tree, as such a wide range of information is available.
search of the diocesan archives, where it was realised two editions were missing − October 1964 and May 1968. Funding was of course needed to proceed with the project.
“Vice Chancellor of the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle, Teresa Brierley, invited me to become involved in the planning for the diocese’s celebration of 150 years since the arrival of Bishop James Murray,” said Frances. “I had two suggestions: a pilgrimage and investigating the possibility of a complete set of The Sentinel being digitised and added to “Trove”. To my delight, both my ideas took off!”
So the word went out in local newspapers, parishes, Aurora – requesting the missing editions. There were many replies but no discoveries.
The Sentinel newspaper was the official organ of the Diocese of Maitland for 37 years, from 1 October, 1931 to 1 June 1938. Next was a
Returning to the archives, Frances looked again − and found the October 1964 edition in the wrong folder! Searches had also been conducted at the NSW State (Mitchell) Library and five other libraries but no complete sets were to be found. With more diligent perusal of the last two editions on record (April and June 1968) it was noted
that the June text followed April logically, so the conclusion was that there was no May edition. Manager, Business and Community Engagement, Barry Unwin, announced in March that project funding had been secured. Adam Dixson from Catholic Church Insurance had generously agreed to fund totally the OCR Digitisation with a grant of $12,000. Frances takes up the story: “On 28 July, I met with Wan Wong and Hilary Berthon, Director and Assistant Director of Digitisation & Photography at the National Library in Canberra, to hand over the missing edition and watch the digitisation process begin. I was given a tour and was shown a large screen on the Trove office wall capturing actual numbers and location of Trove
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users at any point in time. Amazing! “Now the State Library and the diocese’s archive each has a complete set.” Trove was happy to accommodate the request to have The Sentinel online on 1 October 2016, exactly 85 years since the first edition went to print. A ‘Widget’, soon to be found on the diocesan website, will enable direct connection to The Sentinel. Please connect to Trove on 1 October, making a spike on the Trove dial. Use the Widget or www.trove.nla.gov.au – don’t forget to click on Journal. For more on the diocesan pilgrimage on 29 October, see page 21.
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An apology to those affected by abuse As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is now underway, Aurora reprints, with permission, an extract from Bishop Bill Wright’s statement to the commission.
By BISHOP BILL WRIGHT
In my five years as Bishop of the Diocese, this is the second commission of inquiry before which I have appeared. There is a very considerable difference in scope between the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (‘Royal Commission’) and the Special Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to the police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Nevertheless there are haunting similarities for me, inasmuch as I am once again called upon to bear witness to a terrible and shameful chapter in the history of this Diocese. I am called to account for how the Diocese meets its obligations to provide support to those who remain affected today by their abuse, and called to demonstrate how we are committed to ensuring that what happened in the past cannot happen again today.
the children who should have been his primary concern;
In 1975, Mons. Cotter responded to a further report and promptly removed Ryan from ministry and sent him for treatment, but these acts were vitiated by subsequent failures to monitor or check whether Ryan had received any meaningful treatment;
There is some evidence that deceased priest Vincent Casey was told something of Ryan’s prior abusing. There is also
Ryan is a priest incardinated to the Diocese who committed multiple acts of sexual abuse against innocent boys beginning as early as 1972;
Ryan was a sexual predator who used his status as a priest and the power that gave him to gain access to boys, to convince their parents and other responsible adults that he was safe, and to conceal his abuse;
As early as 1974 deceased priest Mons. Cotter was told something of Ryan’s abusing and he abjectly failed to do anything meaningful to protect
The attitudes held by some in the Diocese put the perceived good of the Church before the safety of a child and this was fundamental to Ryan’s being able to continue to abuse for over 20 years; and
The harm inflicted by Ryan may have been aggravated by the Diocese when certain victims sought redress for their harm through a contested court process.
As Bishop I humbly offer an unreserved apology on behalf of the Diocese to all those men who have suffered and continue to suffer as a consequence of Ryan’s abuse and the actions and omissions of members of the Diocese
To bear witness to this sad and terrible history I must first acknowledge the facts as I know them. I acknowledge that:
who were abused have also taken their own lives;
evidence suggesting that Bishop Leo Clarke may have known of Ryan’s abuse. Before his death, Bishop Clarke denied knowledge of Ryan’s history, but if he were aware of what had occurred, then he failed to make further enquiries and subsequently placed Ryan in positions of responsibility, with access to children, across the Diocese for a further two decades;
Some of those men who were harmed as boys have managed to live stable and fulfilling lives, others have struggled to simply remain alive and continue to battle their demons on a daily basis. We also acknowledge that some of those
As Bishop I humbly offer an unreserved apology on behalf of the Diocese to all those men who have suffered and continue to suffer as a consequence of Ryan’s abuse and the actions and omissions of members of the Diocese. Through those failures and omissions, the Diocese failed to act according to the Gospel. I apologise to the parents and siblings of those boys whose innocence was stolen by an evil presence who was allowed to remain amongst us by flawed and failed leaders. I apologise to the spouses and children of those men for any shadows that reach out from the past to affect your lives together today.
I renew my commitment, and that of the Diocese, to support fully the work of this Royal Commission generally, and particularly its inquiries into the Diocese’s response to allegations of child sexual abuse made against Ryan. I have said previously that one of the most important and lasting benefits of holding public inquiries into these criminal and tragic stories, is that this can and should change public awareness of child sexual abuse and allow those affected to tell their truths, often for the first time publicly, with a sense of safety and acceptance. I have seen how these inquiries have significantly broken down the remaining walls of silence in the wider community and thereby reduced the sense of isolation and shame that has been one of the many burdens carried by those who were abused. I expect that the days of this case study committed to Ryan will show the Diocese in its worst aspects. Nevertheless it is an unambiguously good and important thing that those whom Ryan has harmed are given this opportunity to give voice to their truths and I acknowledge their courage and strength in doing so. As the representative of the Diocese in which they were abused, I owe these brave men my respectful and humble attention. Although the Royal Commission has only asked me in this statement to address the matter of Ryan, I acknowledge that devastation and hurt has been caused by other priests who have sexually abused children in the Diocese, and I extend my apology to those affected, their families and to the community as a whole.
Would you like a woman from your community to be recognised for making a difference? Nominations for the Magdalene Award close on 1 November 2016 To download your nomination form or for more information, visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/MagdaleneAward
CatholicDiocese OF MAITLAND-NEWCASTLE
Contact the Council for Australian Catholic Women Patricia Banister - Telephone: (02) 4932 5601 Mobile: 0409 300 192 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Catholic Thing
Mary Magdalene widens the space for incisive female presence in the Church By VIVIEN WILLIAMS
In the Catholic Church many have been honoured for their distinctive way of living the gospel by being formally proclaimed ‘saints’. This is the call to all of us, of course. They are accorded a special day on which their memory is celebrated. Some of these celebrations are optional; others essential – such as for those entitled ‘apostle’. Here it is usual for us to think of the twelve key male followers of Jesus, to whom we attribute the beginnings of the church. Until this year Mary Magdalene – a highly recognisable name – belonged to the ‘optional’ group of saints. But something quite remarkable has been happening across the pontificate of Pope Francis. He has recently declared that it is “necessary to widen the space for more incisive feminine presence in the church." This sounds more compelling in Italian: "È necessario ampliare gli spazi di una presenza femminile più incisiva nella Chiesa." 1 In June Francis began to put flesh on this intent, enabling St Mary Magdalene to claim her rightful and significant place as ‘apostle’. She has now been accorded the highest honour, the implications of which deserve pondering. Vatican Radio (10/6/16) has declared that “she has been raised from the dignity of an (optional) memorial to being on par with the apostles”. Those who have for years been honouring her day, believing she could inspire the current generation, are now rejoicing. Mary Magdalene was a prominent leader in
the early Church. But in a patriarchal society her role and memory diminished as that of the male apostles increased. Simultaneously details of her ‘memory’ became conflated – an interweaving of different stories of gospel women and not a little legend, straying from the remarkable facts the gospel reveals. We have probably believed some of these tales. Mary’s story, instead of enabling her – and women – to grow in prominence, became a mixed, diminished and even derogatory one. We could say she fell victim to ‘tall poppy syndrome’! The facts are that Mary did experience a major frailty – reputed as being cured by Jesus of her ‘seven devils’ (Luke 8:2) – whatever that implies. Many in our times share with her the price paid for what was probably awful and alienating suffering. Once healed, however, she was unequivocally a key follower. Perhaps she even had means, from which she and other women disciples could provide for Jesus’ itinerant life. She is attested as one of the few who could endure the devastating pattern of his final hours, standing by the cross until his last breath. Undeterred, and with only a few women (in John’s gospel she is the only one) she came to the tomb, awaiting the hour at which she could anoint his body. Like everyone, she believed she had experienced the end of his living. Confronted by the seeming failure of his mission, she was resigned to honouring in his death the one whom she had loved and followed in life. As we read John’s gospel we are drawn into her perplexity and then her overwhelming realisation that the task she expected to effect was, in an instant, turned on its head (an experience we also know well). New insight and clarity emerge through the encounter
with Jesus, risen from the dead: the unique moment of human history. Then, giving her neither time to drink in this astounding reality, nor go and bring back to him one of the male leaders, he immediately passes on to her the baton of proclaiming what is now good news. It is too urgent to delay. “Go and tell,” he urges. Go and tell everyone that the horror of fallible human judgement will never again have the last word. Death has been put to flight. The living God dwells in the messiness of our human struggle – for all time. Entrusted with such a remarkable task some of the early church fathers thus called Mary the ‘apostle to the apostles’ – a testimony that did not always sit well. But the revival has come! Contemporary gospel scholarship has urged us back to our sources, plumbing the culture of gospel times. It is for us, now, to be able to distinguish fact from legend to understand how Jesus intended women and men together to complement each other in discipleship. Mary has been rescued as an historical treasure, for who she was and was called to be. And with this recent official ‘reframing’, something has overtly shifted. The cloud of mystery has been lifted to reveal her true identity as a woman sent forth with dignity to proclaim the message we believe lies at the heart of the world’s hunger: being a follower of Jesus is VERY good news. We now hear of another of Francis’ initiatives: a commission to explore the possibility of women being ordained deacons. Diaconate is a ministry of service, one very true to Francis’ belief that all people called to minister need to be focused on service, not status, attuned to people’s suffering, reaching out to those on the periphery. It’s an ancient ministry, with
considerable evidence in favour of its reestablishment. For men, this has happened. For women in the Roman tradition, not yet. Yet many women are currently engaging in ‘diaconal’ service – in hospitals, parishes, pastoral care, industry – taking the good news where it might be heard. Perhaps these ministries will be formally recognised, enabling them also to baptise and to preach the gospel? Mary Magdalene, given her authority to serve the early church by Jesus himself, will surely inspire this new and formative development in our age. Each Sunday Catholics proclaim in the Creed a Church that is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Now the focus is sharpened, broader, inclusive, authentic. Mary, the first of the apostles, stands alongside the twelve, as we acclaim with joy their co-foundational role. Her restored identity ‘shines a light on the special mission of this woman who is our example and model for every woman [sic] in the church’ (Vatican Radio, 10/6/16). Surely, then, the implication for us, just as for this gospel woman, is that the God of history will break into our time and surprise us beyond our current imagining; a new day is dawning for the leadership gifts of both women and men. The space is being truly widened. Mary Magdalene grounds our hope! Vivien Williams is Adult Faith Formation Officer, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/ church-community/women-in-the-church/ council-for-australian-catholic-women
The Way We Were:
Remember Catholic United Services Auxiliary? By JOHN MINER I was rummaging through some books the other day when a couple of photographs fell out of one old tome and onto the floor. I picked them up and after a few seconds, realised I was looking at photographs of my mother, looking young and vital and wearing a uniform. The photos were taken in 1943. It also took me a little time to recognise just what the uniform represented. It was a button-through dress with a belt and she wore a felt hat on her head. I recalled that the dress was dark green and the hat almost the same colour. I also recalled that it was the uniform of CUSA, the acronym for Catholic United Services Auxiliary. I have tried hard to recall just where the CUSA rooms were located. I have the idea
they were in King Street, Newcastle, either behind Winns or Scotts; perhaps someone can put me straight about the exact location and whether there was a building actually called CUSA House? CUSA was a great organisation run by Catholic women to care for servicemen and women who were strangers in the city. The women wrote letters for soldiers, gave them necessities like warm socks and soap, cooked soup and biscuits and other homely fare and ran regular dances for the younger people. Young girls from the parishes attended the dances which were supervised by the older members of CUSA. The CUSA meeting place was a home away from home for many a homesick soldier training locally,
or waiting for transport for embarkation overseas. There was a number of branches of CUSA in Sydney, but whether it was Australia-wide, I don’t know. There would undoubtedly be something in our archives, somewhere, and there might be a parishioner like myself, who had a mum who gave her services in such a wonderful voluntary capacity, as my mother did. One of the funny things that also came to mind was the fact that when the acronym CUSA was written, a cross was inserted just above and between the “U” and the “S”, so instead of CUSA, it appears GUTSA! Eventually, it was used as a term of endearment.
Achieving the elusive work-life balance 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 email@example.com or write to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300.
I work in a very demanding job and am finding that due to the high workload, I have to take work home with me. I feel like this is a never-ending cycle and it is having an impact on my family. I feel resentful sometimes when one of my kids has an issue I need to deal with that takes me away from work and I know this is wrong. I love my family and actually like my job too but don’t know how to achieve a good balance between the two. I’m sure many people can relate to what you are saying – balancing work and life can seem like an impossible feat. However, once you start making some changes, even small ones, it gets a bit easier. I’ll begin with what may seem obvious. If your workload is high, are you being supported in managing this? Have you spoken to your supervisor about solutions such as delegating some of your work, reviewing priorities and other factors that may be part of this problem? Regularly communicating with a supervisor ensures there is an awareness of your situation and also assists with future planning. Also: ff Ask yourself: “Who do I want to be in life? What do I stand for? What do I want to be known for?” There is no right or wrong answer here. Do you want to be known as someone who is hard-working and also makes time for family? Will you be known as someone who spends more time on work than is healthy? These questions don’t just relate to work and home life.
Contemplate everything that is important and valuable to you and ask yourself if you are travelling in the directions you would like to be. You can be successful in work, home and health but now is a good time perhaps to reconsider what you thought “success” or “survival” has been and “should” be. ff Once you have identified what is important to you across the various domains, set yourself very small goals that demonstrate you are starting to move in the right direction. Set yourself goals as well as boundaries, particularly in relation to work. When I have made this suggestion to some of my clients, they might say: “I will lose my job if I do less”, “There is no one else to do my job or help me” or “If the work doesn’t get done, I will let many people down.” Is there some truth in some of these statements or are these partly expectations you might have created yourself? Can you be creative about how you go about achieving your tasks? Is it
possible to come to work a little earlier and leave later on some days to avoid taking work home? Then, on other days, can you deliberately leave on time so that you can plan activities for yourself and your family? ff Every single day, despite how busy you have been at work or at home, do something just for you. You don’t have to leave your home for this; it could be a night routine which helps you to switch off for the day. Even if you are exhausted, can you promise yourself that you will read a chapter from a book, read a magazine or watch your favourite TV show? Make sure the last thing you think about is not work. This also means no looking at electronic devices attached to work. ff Also review how you structure your work day and identify possible areas for enhancement. If you do a Google search using the words “working mindfully” the articles related to this may give you some more ideas.
One by One
All Amy’s world’s a stage Aurora invited local thespian Amy Hill to share something of her story, on and off stage. By AMY HILL I have been involved in local theatre for the last sixteen years. This may not sound particularly impressive, but when you consider that I am only 28 years old, 16 years is almost two-thirds of my life! Theatre has become more than just a hobby, it’s one of the great passions of my life, alongside books, cats and the visual arts. It seems incredibly appropriate that while I write this, I am waiting in an online queue to buy tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on a stage in London next year. Such is my obsession with both theatre and Harry Potter. My involvement with theatre is entirely my brother’s fault. When I was younger, around 7 or 8, Martin was involved in a production of The Turn of the Screw at Maitland Repertory Theatre. I think this was the first non-musical production I had seen. My mother is a fan of musicals and I had been raised on a steady diet of Singin’ in the Rain, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She had taken us to see Cats and Joseph (the live sheep on stage was my favourite part) but this was something else entirely and while I’m sure I could barely understand what was happening, I remember loving it. Soon after, my brother began attending classes at Young People’s Theatre (YPT) in Hamilton and I, in my infinite small child wisdom, decided I would like to join. Until this point I was determined I was going to be a ballerina, despite having neither the talent 10
nor the physical attributes. I can’t remember exactly what prompted this change – I think it was just seeing how much fun my brother and other YPT kids had during classes and the productions the theatre staged. Ballet classes were never that fun. I began YPT classes when I was 12 and since then, YPT has become a permanent fixture in my life. It became a second home – a sanctuary of sorts, from the parts of reality that were too difficult. I was always a pretty shy kid and did not make friends too easily until I got to YPT. There is an ongoing joke amongst theatre kids that you end up involved in theatre when you don’t fit in anywhere else. While it sounds horrible, the truth is that it makes community theatre groups, like YPT, some of the most welcoming and supportive places in the world because at some point everyone who does theatre has been ‘that weird kid.’
who were not interested in being on stage were encouraged to be part of productions in other ways, whether it be backstage moving sets, setting up the lights or helping with costumes. There was always a place for you if you wanted to help. I have since branched into other local theatre companies but this is something I cherish. Everyone counts and everyone is worthy. It has been seven years since I last performed on a stage. My involvement with shows has moved completely behind the scenes into direction and design. This switch began while I was studying drama for the HSC at St Mary’s Campus, All Saints College, Maitland. Directing makes more sense to me than acting ever did. There are no lines to learn and no remembering when to move where. It is putting pieces together, like a jigsaw puzzle, or working out the composition of a painting. Two women at YPT, Wendy Leis and Barbara Delaney, themselves institutions in local theatre, provided me with numerous opportunities to learn how to direct with them and constant encouragement and support when I began working on my own. I owe both these ladies so much – they taught me everything I know about storytelling, staging and working with actors.
It is putting pieces together, like a jigsaw puzzle, or working out the composition of a painting.
It is this inclusiveness and sense of equality that has made my time with YPT truly special. While participating in classes and doing shows, it never really mattered that, truth be told, I’m not actually great at acting. Every child involved in YPT gets an opportunity to be on stage and to shine, no matter how appalling they might be. Kids
I am often asked, ‘Why theatre?’ Why do I do it and why do I give so much time to something voluntary? It’s a hard one to answer without just resorting to the obvious, ‘Because I love it.’ And I do love it beyond
words. There is nothing more magical than watching something you have worked on for four months come to life or seeing how much the audience enjoys what you have created on a stage in front of them. But it is more than that. It is the act of creation itself; taking words on a page and turning them into a living, breathing, moving entity that has the ability to make people think and feel. No other experience is comparable with watching live theatre. It speaks to us and allows us to tell stories in a unique way. Through theatre I am able to express and explore different and, at times, difficult, ideas in a way that we rarely get an opportunity to do off stage. I am able to question things that I don’t understand, and show others the things that I believe in. And it is an absolute privilege to give my time to do these things. Most importantly though, it is the people who keep me coming back. I have made friends with some truly wonderful and glorious people whom I would never have met if not for theatre, including my partner. It is these people who make local theatre something truly special. It makes me forever glad to see the number of opportunities that are now open to young people, through places like YPT and the emergence of ASPIRE in local Catholic schools, that allows them to thrive and find a place where being ‘the weird kid’ is the norm.
Business student benefits from experience of CatholicCare Director By KOMAL PINGLE Lucy Mentoring Program is an innovative leadership program focusing on women studying business, commerce and law. The program communicates to women the diversity of opportunities available to them in the private and public sectors and the personal advantages of achieving job satisfaction. The main aim of the program is to allow women to work with senior business and professional managers to improve and encourage their active decision-making in terms of their careers. This program was initiated by the New South Wales Premier’s Department’s Office for Women in 2004 and since 2007 the University of Newcastle has been participating in the program. ‘Lucy Mentoring’ places the student mentee under a mentor in the workplace for 35 hours where she has the opportunity to learn more about the corporate environment.
I was placed under Helga Smit, the Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. As a Master’s student in Business Administration at the University of Newcastle, these 35 hours with Helga were very valuable for my future career growth. During my time with Helga, I learned a lot about how an organisation works and how it is managed. Attending the different executive meetings, I understood the importance of each department in the organisation and how departments are connected. The most crucial understanding I gained from Helga was the importance of teamwork and communication. The smooth functioning of any organisation needs a firm base of teamwork amongst the employees and different departments as well. It is vital that everyone gives 100% to achieve the goals and aims of the organisation. Also significant is the management of all the employees to establish firm teamwork and maximise results. I learned from
Helga about how to work with different personalities and situations in the workplace and gain the desired outcome which benefits the organisation and minimises conflict among team members. This is a very creative thing which individuals develop as they accumulate experiences from life. Helga has held various senior management positions and lived and worked in different countries. She has learned to adapt in an evolving industry and her experiences and insights helped equip me for the challenges I will need to face in my future. The most important thing I learned is to trust myself and never be discouraged by a difficult situation because every day, I am becoming stronger and more able to face the challenges of life. My mentee experience with Helga has taught me to believe in myself and to persevere.
Helga Smit and Komal Pingle at CatholicCare’s
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relying on the mother to guide them. The truth is, of course, that the mother is fully engaged figuring out her own role. This can leave dad with a big information gap. Here is another post, this time by a dad.
By DR RICHARD FLETCHER
This scenario is not unusual. Being unable to settle a crying baby is frustrating and if you have a mother nearby, why wouldn’t you hand the baby over? Dads in an earlier era were probably no better at soothing a new baby, but there was a crucial difference; a generation ago that wasn’t expected of them. Community values have changed. Noone is surprised to see a dad wheeling his infant or toddler around the shopping mall. Advertisers, one group which needs to judge correctly the mood and wants of the community, are targeting fathers as never before. And the tone of the ads has changed. Dads comically trying to change a nappy have gone. Everyone from Lego to Volvo to Ford is pitching their promotions to fathers who want to be with their babies and their children. Dads today are spending more time at home when the baby is born, but exactly what to do with their paternity leave is not always clear. When dads attending antenatal classes are asked what they will do with their two weeks of paternity leave, the most common answer is “Whatever she tells me to.” Now some may see this statement as according the mother her rightful place; after all, she is the one who is central to everything to do with their new baby. But it suggests to me that these fathers, who also state how much they wish to be connected to their baby, don’t have a clue how to be a dad and are
I’m just coming back from being over in Iraq and my daughter, who is only 6 and a half months old, doesn’t stop crying whenever I hold her. The moment my wife is out of her sight she starts crying and the longer I’m holding her the worse she gets. My upstairs neighbours said it sounds like someone is trying to kill her. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried holding her and letting her cry until she stops, but like I said her crying just gets worse. I want for us to re-bond so bad that every time she cries I cry. If any of you guys can give me any advice I’m more than happy to take it. Any nurse and most mothers would have a fair idea about the way that babies become scared of unfamiliar faces in the latter part of the first year. The fact that this dad has been away for a considerable proportion of this baby’s life means he has a lot of contact to build up. Dads in non-military jobs face something of the same dilemma. Most men work extra time around the birth to maintain the family income. What they trade off for meeting their financial goals is the time it takes to really get to know your new baby. Not only that, they miss out on the support that comes with attending clinics and knowing where to go to get help when things go wrong. At the Family Action Centre we have struggled with the dilemma of busy dads who need to be connected to their little ones for
some years now. We’ve conducted antenatal classes, father-child classes and groups for dads when the mums have depression. But in every case, it’s a struggle to get dads to come. Now we are trying a new way to get information and support to dads before and after the birth. SMS4dads will send text messages with tips, information and links to services for new dads through their mobile phones. The tips in the texts will help dads connect with their baby but they will also help them be a support for their partners, the mums. Some texts will remind the dads to take care of themselves. For example, a dad may get a text saying… Babies cry. That’s how they talk. Did you know that baby crying peaks at about 6 weeks after birth? Or he may see… Touch helps keep the relationship on track. It doesn’t have to be sexual. Touching each other even briefly can make you stronger together. Every three weeks the dads will also receive a ‘How’s it going?” text. Dads can reply with Awesome or Cool or OK or Shaky or Bad. Dads who respond ‘bad’ will be asked if they would like someone to call them who is a specialist in talking to men with distress. SMS4dads is available for all new dads. They can enrol from three months into the pregnancy until three months after the birth. He’ll get messages every week at different times until his baby is six months old. The project has already shown that dads appreciate the texts. In the last six months more than 500 dads have enrolled in
SMS4dads from all states. Because it is so easy to opt out, by texting ‘STOP’, the low rate of dads exiting (only 11%) shows that the texts are acceptable. The feedback when men finish is also encouraging. Not only do they appreciate the information and reminders but they say that the text messages start conversations with their partners. One text says, “Now is a good time to tell her she’s doing a terrific job.” Dads report that this reminds them to encourage the mum who is the one giving birth breastfeeding. One dad, when he received the text, went straight in to his partner and said, “You’re doing a terrific job.” She looked up at him and said, “That’s not you.” When he ‘fessed up they had a giggle about it. “It was a winwin,” he said. The Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle has been funded by beyondblue and Movember to conduct the SMS4dads research. This Fathers’ Day, pass on the SMS4dads web address to a new dad. www.sms4dads.com Dr Richard Fletcher of the Fathers and Families Research Program is Convenor, Fatherhood Research Network and Associate Professor, Family Action Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine The University of Newcastle.
A pilgrimage of mercy When we left the diocesan offices on Thursday 14 July to travel to World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow, Poland, I knew all my fellow pilgrims’ faces, but I didn’t know anything about them.
By JOANNE ISAAC
By the time we landed in Venice, 32 hours later, the wonderful people I had shared that never-ending journey with were my treasured friends. And 27 days later, I feel like the bonds we have forged are simply unbreakable. This became especially evident one day during WYD week when our diocesan pilgrimage group attended one of a number of catechesis sessions under a big tent. These sessions were wonderful – we enjoyed fantastic music, singing, dancing and talks from a couple of cardinals and an archbishop from different parts of the world. At one point I found myself emotional; I had tears in my eyes and I wasn’t sure why. Later, I wrote in my notebook, “the infinite capacity of the heart to love”. At that moment, as well as many more throughout the journey, I was overwhelmed with love for my fellow pilgrims; we had become family to each other. The realisation just stopped me in my tracks. I wasn’t expecting this to happen. Pope Francis, in his address to pilgrims at the WYD welcoming ceremony at Blonia Park, went straight to the heart of this feeling. 14
“To say that Jesus is alive means to rekindle our enthusiasm in following him, to renew our passionate desire to be his disciples. What better opportunity to renew our friendship with Jesus than by building friendships among yourselves,” he said. Our diocese chose to make our pilgrimage an inter-generational one and I believe this was an inspired decision. It’s called World Youth Day and it’s absolutely aimed at young people beginning their adult faith journey. As one of the more ‘vintage’ members of the group, however, I believe that World Youth Day should always be for everyone, regardless of age. I realised that I have only ever had a small glimpse into my faith. It’s always been important to me, but I haven’t actively nurtured it beyond the obvious. This pilgrimage made me want to learn more, to be more, to give more of myself, to connect the dots between who I am and my faith. God, who is ‘hopelessly hopeful’, as Pope Francis put it at the final Mass, has big plans for all of us regardless of what decade we happen to be in. We all have so much to offer and so much to gain from an experience such as this. In many ways, I feel
like I was at a point in my life that allowed me to be open to everything; with the maturity to understand the subsequent whisperings in my heart. I know I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. A pilgrimage is not a holiday; we spoke about this a lot before we left. It should have purpose and meaning. It should include prayer, reflection and opportunities for worship at places that hold significant meaning for our faith. When we embark on a pilgrimage we should be opening ourselves up to a closer relationship with God. We should return transformed. Ours was all this and more. Our time in Italy, walking in the footsteps of the saints and bonding with each other, really allowed us to get the most out of WYD in Poland. I was reading a blog about pilgrimage recently and the author really summed up how different a pilgrimage is from a holiday. “On a pilgrimage you get outside yourself and your own little world. You expand your horizons…visit holy sites and pray. You hear Mass and join your life with the life and prayer and faith of your brothers and sisters
in another culture and another land. You learn about the trials, traumas and triumphs of those who came before and those who live differently to you. Your heart is opened. Your mind is opened and your life is opened.” (“What’s the point of a pilgrimage?” Fr Dwight, Patheos Catholic 10 Nov 2015). There were many times throughout the journey that experiences and memories, locked away within me from years ago, were suddenly illuminated. I felt blessed every day to have been given the opportunity to explore my faith, to share such rich and moving encounters with friends, to remember who I am and to have time to meditate on where God is leading me. I believe we were all transformed by the experience. The trick will be how we leverage that transformation and keep moving along our pilgrimage path now that we’re back. I miss my fellow pilgrims. On the interminable plane rides on the way over, we were moaning and groaning, but filled with excitement. On the way home, the mood was entirely different. We were exhausted and subdued. It was similar to a lazy Boxing Day with your own family when you’re just
This pilgrimage made me want to learn more, to be more, to give more of myself
Je ss ic a e B a a s, M a ke n zi ill ia m s, W il. h g a vi n e r, H a n u ri n g th re n e n g e a sl ic k d Ja ro d G Abby C sk i a n d w o zk c La
ly. in Si en a, Ita Ra y Co llin s Br ien an d O’ n ga ea M Le o Wals h,
at the Fr Camillu s, Bishop Bill and Deacon James Coloss eum in Rome
Dioces an pilgrims getting into the spirit of WYD Week at the Aussie Gather ing in Krakow, Poland .
Cl are M elv ille , Ta yla Pe nn ell , Em ily (e nj oy in g ge Gr an t, Bi sh lat o) an d Fr op Bi ll Wrig Ca m illu s Nw ht ah ia in As sis i, Ita ly.
E ri n M c C o rt , B e lin d a S ke F ra n c is ’ tc h H e rm it a g e in A ss le y a n d S in é a d B ra d y a is i. t St
ica M ajo r Ba sil e St M ar y ou p ou ts id gr e ag rim pi lg Ou r en tire in Ro m e.
Sta ff of St Pau l’s Prim ary Rut her ford , Ma tthe w Per kins , Ste ph Wil son , Sue Lac ey and Pho ebe Spe nce r at St Pau Ou tsid e the Wa lls l in Rom e.
Michael Turton and Bernadette Gibson joined 2 million pilgrims from around the world to listen to Pope Francis at the vigil.
wal k to set ting off on the Joh n Lea o bef ore WY D. Joh ann a Soo and and fina l Ma ss of l vigi the for iae Cam pus Mis eric ord
lounging around in a companionable stupor! At one point I saw Des Thomas holding a baby, allowing her weary parents a little rest, and again I got tears in my eyes and had to go to the bathroom to splash my face. Seeing him with that little one made me think of my own dad, himself gone for more than half my life, a man who never knew the joy of holding his own grandchild. I thought of him a lot while I was away and felt very close to him. I could feel his pleasure that I was there. I’m sure all 71 pilgrims had their own meaningful, personal encounters just like this one. Our busy lives at home don’t generally allow the space for this kind of introspection, but we have to make time for it. The theme for WYD was ‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy’ (Mt 5:7). We witnessed and bestowed mercy daily, in big and small ways. I could never list them all, but here are just a few examples. It was the emotion of our pilgrim, John Leao, when he met a priest he had long admired. And the joy he displayed upon arrival at the vigil site after walking for eight hours without a sole on his shoe. It was the love shown to all the school students on the pilgrimage – through the constant supervision, late nights and lack of downtime for their wonderful carers, Bernadette Gibson and Erin McCort. They
always went the extra mile, often to their own detriment. And all the other pilgrims who so willingly lent a hand to make sure the students stayed safe. It was Salvatore and Silvio, our Italian guides, who made the Italian leg of our journey so memorable. “Why not?” is our new favourite rhetorical question. It was the laughter, the companionship, the conversations and the friendship. It was the hand on the shoulder, the random hug, the braiding of hair, the way we could read each other. It was the care of our sick. It was discovering new places, sharing meals and enjoying them together. It was being in places with over a million people and feeling safe; enjoying the harmony and peace. It was Lucy and her mum from a little village on the outskirts of Krakow who opened their homes to a sea of pilgrims to rest their legs and use the bathroom and the smiling man with a hose who showered pilgrims with refreshing water as we shuffled by; a sweating, heaving mass of humanity. It was the chants and the smiles and highfives of people from around the world; the joy of seeing those flags and ponchos – a sea of colour.
It was the singing, the music, the dancing in the streets, on the trams and at bus stops! It was sitting in a circle at the end of the day and sharing our moments of grace or sadness. It was Fr Greg Barker’s gentle voice leading us in reflection. It was celebrating Mass together in venues both majestic and humble. It was in watching our priests break open the Gospel and their hearts, and the intensity of the Eucharist. It was in the fact that we were hugging each other at the Sign of Peace by the end of the journey. It was watching pilgrim parents with their pilgrim children, becoming ever closer as they shared this experience. It was pilgrims offering support (physical and emotional), walking for three hours to collect food, carrying heavy packs for each other, running across car parks in a thunderstorm and soldiering on with love and laughter despite an almost broken ankle! It was the teachers and CSO staff amongst us who referred to their students as “my kids”; who were all wonderful, devoted role models for our children in Catholic schools. It was the support from our family, friends and the wider diocesan community. It was seeing younger pilgrims with older pilgrims, talking and sharing their stories; drawing energy and inspiration from each other.
Mass of WYD. A sea of colour and flags at the Openin g
It was the dedication of our leadership team who made it all seem easy despite the years of planning, challenges and surprises along the way. They led with compassion, care, a good sense of direction and a much-needed sense of humour. It was Pope Francis, the ultimate rock star and social activist; challenging, entreating and reassuring us. “Today’s world demands that you be a protagonist of history because life is always beautiful when we choose to live it fully, when we choose to leave a mark,” he said. And everyone was listening. The next World Youth Day will be held in Panama, Central America in 2019. To read the pilgrimage blogs and see galleries of photos visit mnnews.today/ world-youth-day-2016/ To read the observations of some of the pilgrims like ‘MNnews today’ on Facebook. To watch video blogs of the journey like ‘Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Youth Ministry’ on Facebook.
Seasons of Mercy
Seven years on – in many ways, seven good years – she says, “It was a gift in many ways, even though it was horrendous.”
By TRACEY EDSTEIN One of the many titles on Gail O’Brien’s bookshelves is Julian Barnes’ The sense of an ending. An important part of Gail’s life has been the journey she shared with her adored husband, Dr Chris O’Brien, from the diagnosis of a brain tumour in late 2006 until his death on 4 June, 2009. From that awful moment when “the world [had] tilted off its axis” to the state funeral and a more intimate parish Mass to honour and remember Chris, Gail O’Brien was all that Chris needed her to be and more: a supportive and fiercely protective wife, organiser of what she later described as “a rollicking household”, mother of Adam (baptised Christopher Adam), Juliette and James, daughter, sister, in-law and friend. Gail was also the one who determined to investigate every avenue that might help prolong Chris’ life or offer comfort and hope. Clearly, these endeavours did not work in the way the O’Briens would have chosen, but they did provide alarming insight, for a doctor and a doctor’s wife, into what it was to be a critically ill patient and the alltoo-informed wife of a critically ill patient. Yet, in Juliette’s book, This is Gail: Life with and after Chris O’Brien, Juliette quotes her parents’ conversation: “You know, it’s been such a terrible year… But I wouldn’t have been without it.” After a few seconds of silence, he responded, “Neither would I.”
Reflecting on the time when “She was just going through the motions, trying to be part of a life to which she felt no connection”, Gail says, “I’ve always been a coper.” Her natural energy and strength returned, and she says, “My raison d’être after Chris died was just to keep them together.” This task became all-consuming. As she had said to her young adult children, “Dad would not have left us…. He loved us too much to leave us. And I’m going to find him.” Gail’s search took her down many roads, to all manner of wisdom people, therapies and spiritualities. These were not alternatives to the Catholicism she had embraced earlier, the faith in which Chris had been raised and educated. Rather, they were her way of wrestling with a tough reality, one which will resonate with many bereaved people. It’s significant that Juliette’s book is titled, “Life with and after Chris O’Brien”, since Gail is convinced that he has not left her and their children. “It’s definitely not life without, I still have a relationship with him. He knows everything that’s going on!” she insists. This means then that Dr Chris is well aware that the project he initiated before his diagnosis, which became the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, continues to be his tangible gift to the nation. It was very much born of the struggle the O’Briens undertook, “a translation of what we experienced and what other people have experienced in a fragmented system…” As the vision developed, Gail did not see herself as being actively involved, although her profession was physiotherapy. However, as the harsh reality of creating a new model dawned, she realised her role as guardian of the original
vision was crucial. In fact, she’s the guardian angel of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, which she describes as “a place based on compassion. We are absolutely committed to the original vision….we have an army of volunteers….120 clinical trials going on, 127 beds….We offer surgery, chemotherapy, radiation oncology, complementary and alternative medicine, social support, including support for the staff working there…”
Gail continues to worship in her parish
Gail is a valued member of the Board, and regularly speaks about the work of the centre, highlighting its integrated approach. “I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but there’s just this sense of community and family and love….it’s bringing love into a healing space.”
Gail’s favourite photo of Chris, which he
The need to ‘bring love into a healing space’ was heartbreakingly real when Chris and Gail’s eldest child, Adam, died at 29 after a seizure following the sudden onset of epilepsy almost two years after Chris’ death. Juliette wrote, “My mother kept her faith. She did not believe that Adam was with Dad; she knew it to be so….She bears all this, all of them, folding them within.” Nothing can assuage the pain of losing a son, but perhaps all Gail’s explorations following Chris’ death strengthened her to face life after − not without − Adam. “The search doesn’t end just because you’ve written a book about the search – but I’m much more at peace about what I believe. If you stop searching you’ve reached the end of the road. You’ve got to develop the spiritual part of you constantly…if you want to be refined spiritually, you have to practise and practise…” She says, “I don’t believe any of it’s been unfair”. After a long silence, I realise that for her, it’s not about ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’, it just is, and it must be lived.
of Hunters Hill, and is a member of the choir. She has taken the enormous step of ‘downsizing’ from the family home, a task perhaps made easier by the conviction that her beloved Chris and Adam are with her always. There are many family photos, including Adam being held as a baby by Gail’s Dad, and as an angelic schoolboy. signed for her in a hand left unsteady by cancer, holds pride of place. Juliette O’Brien recounts that Gail is the daughter of Grace Bamford, and was born in Baggot Street, Dublin. Some will recognise the street as the place of the first house of Mercy built by Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy. Gail O’Brien laughs a lot, and it’s a laugh bigger than she is. She says, “I function on intuition a lot, and many women maybe do…” She intuits that she has a lot more life to live, and it’s clear to me that her life is being lived in ways that keep alive Chris’ vision and the warm memory of Adam, that sustain Juliette and James, that are open to the sense of new beginnings, that mark Gail Bamford O’Brien as a child of Grace and Mercy. Juliette O’Brien This is Gail: Life with and after Chris O’Brien Harper Collins Sydney 2016. Read it, and please visit http://www.mylifehouse.org.au/
Fossil fuel divestment and living Laudato Si’
By THEA ORMEROD
A push for Catholic divestment from coal, oil and gas extractive industries is now well under way. A boost was given at World Youth Day via a letter signed by over 120 youth organisations delivered to Pope Francis. He was urged to support fossil fuel divestment and asked to ensure the Vatican cuts its ties with extractive industries.
Decisive action must be taken now if we are to prevent the world as we know it from disappearing. Many schools have embraced energy efficiency and solar power, and other organisations are advocating for enlightened legislation. Transparency about an institution’s investment in fossil fuels is a positive step taken by Catholic Super.
The Global Catholic Climate Movement has begun encouraging organisations to divest as a way of implementing the values of Laudato Si’.
Fossil fuel divestment is about aligning the way we use our money with our Catholic values. In Bill McKibben’s words, “If it’s wrong to wreck the climate then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”
The initiative was launched in June with a joint announcement by four Australian Catholic Religious Orders that they were committed to fossil fuel divestment. Over 100 other faith-based organisations worldwide have done the same. The earth’s destabilised climate is bearing down most heavily on vulnerable communities such as those in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Haiti and the Carteret Islands. That the climate crisis is threatening human survival has been acknowledged by scientists and institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as well as by Pope Francis.
Decisive action must be taken now if we are to prevent the world as we know it from disappearing However, the real power of fossil fuel divestment comes from its challenge to the social licence of fossil fuel industries. For an organisation to make public its commitment to divest is a prophetic action.
Having said this, divestment is actually beginning to move significant sums of money from fossil fuel extraction, and the movement is growing. In December 2015, $3.4 trillion had been marked for some form of divestment. Moving institutions onto a more ethical footing is complex but it has been done by dozens of Australian entities. As renewable energy becomes increasingly pricecompetitive, whether your priority is ethics or maximising returns, the reasons to divest from fossil fuels are multiplying. One objection is that it seems more Christian to “stay at the table” with fossil fuel companies to urge them to improve their performance. However, decades of faithbased shareholder advocacy with fossil fuel companies has borne little fruit. As US-based United Methodist Rev Jenny Phillips writes, “the advocacy needed isn’t like convincing Nike to stop making shoes in sweatshops. It’s like convincing Nike to stop making shoes.” It is also argued that people in developing countries need fossil fuels to lift them out of energy poverty. The truth is that developing nations can skip building coal power
stations and grids and go straight to easyto-install energy solutions like solar and wind energy. People in the developing world need ethical investment to bring them clean, decentralised, sustainable energy solutions. Individuals’ largest investments are in superannuation. An effective line of action is to question your superannuation fund about its investments in fossil fuel extraction and/ or switch to a fossil-free fund. This can be done through the Market Forces’ Super Switch page, www.marketforces.org.au/ campaigns/super/ For organisations, it’s time to break with the easy choices and make the hard ones, as people of faith have so often been called on to do. Thea Ormerod is President, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. To read a longer version, visit http:// mnnews.today
Why stopping the boats does not solve the problem can find safety. In May a boat with 12 Sri Lankans was intercepted off the Australian territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Within two days the group had been returned to Sri Lanka. In fact, since Operation Sovereign Borders began in 2013, 26 boats have been intercepted, and 708 people returned to the countries from which they fled.
By OLIVER WHITE
Austria’s foreign minister recently suggested that people seeking asylum in Europe should not be allowed to enter the continent, but should be held on offshore islands instead. Sebastian Kurz said that the principles of the “Australian model” should be applied to Europe, and went as far as to suggest that people who entered Europe “illegally” should lose their right to apply for asylum. At first glance, the “Australian model” may seem attractive to European politicians: this uncompromising and unapologetically militarised solution seems to have brought order to what had been a period of unregulated arrivals of thousands of people. In the words of the former commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, “The Australian government has introduced the toughest border protection measures ever…If you travel by boat to Australia you will never make Australia home.” However, if Minister Kurz looked more closely, he would see the unforeseen and potentially catastrophic consequences of Australia’s tough border policies. The harm Australia’s policies have caused to the people stranded on Nauru and Manus Island, those detained in mainland detention centres and nearly 30,000 people seeking asylum and living in the Australian community is well documented. With the return of a Coalition government, it’s timely to ask, is ‘stopping the boats’ a successful, sustainable approach? If stopping the boats and securing Australia’s borders are the goal, then it appears the government has succeeded. The boats have stopped arriving on Australian shores; however, they have not stopped leaving Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. While the number of boats attempting the journey to Australia has been dramatically reduced, people have not stopped trying to make their way to a country where they 18
What about those who would have boarded boats headed for Australia, but have not because of its current policy? Has a ‘stop the boats’ policy resolved the global challenge of forced migration? A recent paper by Caroline Fleay and Lisa Hartley evinces that “Australian policies are having disturbing impacts beyond our borders.” The authors describe how the Australian government’s direct collaboration with Sri Lankan security agencies has prevented the departure of people in fear of persecution who would like to seek asylum elsewhere. The paper also outlines how the government’s policies restrict the ability of people seeking asylum to move beyond transit countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and effectively ‘warehouse’ them in countries that deny them access to health services, education and the labour market; these people also have little or no prospect of resettlement.
for refugees (UNHCR) Global Trends Report 2015. The report finds an unprecedented number – some 65.3 million people, or one in 113 − was displaced by conflict and persecution in 2015. The overwhelming majority – 86 per cent – of those displaced reside in developing nations. They are there not because those countries have formally agreed to resettle recognised refugees through the UN resettlement program, but because those countries have kept their borders open and offered much-needed refuge. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has said, “At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year; on land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders. Closing borders does not solve the problem.” As conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan continue, the UNHCR is desperately urging neighbouring countries to keep their borders open. Australia’s policy of shutting its doors to people in need of protection undermines UN requests and completely ignores the plight of thousands of people stranded across the Asia Pacific region.
Countries have the right to protect the integrity and security of their borders and to regulate movement across those borders.
Alarmingly, the paper cites community members in Malaysia who claim that, because the route to Australia has been blocked, “those seeking safety and protection from their home countries are now undertaking longer and more hazardous journeys to Europe”. This troubling development points to an uncomfortable truth: because people are not drowning en route to Australia does not mean they are not dying elsewhere. The complacency in Australia about the fate of those who can no longer arrive here by boat can be summed up as ‘out of sight, out of mind’. The publication of this research coincides with the release of the United Nations agency
However, a border policy that is completely open is not the alternative to Australia’s ‘stop the boats’ policy. Countries have the right to protect the integrity and security of their borders and to regulate movement across those borders. That right, however, cannot be allowed to render void the right of people seeking asylum to cross borders according to international law. It also should not countenance the return of people to countries where they may face persecution, harm and violation of their human rights or where their asylum claims cannot receive a fair and timely hearing. Greater efforts must be made to reduce the need for people to take dangerous and irregular journeys. Rather than pouring valuable resources into returning boats and forcibly repatriating irregular migrants, Australia’s efforts should focus on engaging our regional
neighbours to strengthen co-operation, address the causes of forced migration and develop the region’s protection infrastructure. Historically, states in Asia Pacific have viewed protection as something that happens elsewhere, often in industrialised countries such as the US, Canada and Australia. Assisting our neighbours to develop and co-ordinate asylum procedures could lead to refugees receiving the same treatment no matter where they go. One key consequence of increasing protection for asylum seekers in transit countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia would be the reduction of onward movement to countries such as Australia. The Australian government’s current strategy of preventing people from fleeing persecution in their own countries and restricting people from leaving transit countries where governments are unable or unwilling to provide protection is causing people to take longer, more dangerous journeys to Europe and other places. If Australia’s approach was universally adopted, the entire global protection regime would grind to a halt. If you could not flee to another country without that country’s prior approval, there would be a global catastrophe: millions of people would face harm and death in places from which they cannot flee. ‘Stopping the boats’ is a simplistic solution to a complex problem: people moving irregularly in search of safety and security. Forced migration is a challenging problem with no simple solution. In the short to medium-term, countries need to work together to manage the challenge. Australia’s current plan – to deter, deflect and ignore – is prohibitively expensive, inhumane and ineffective in addressing the global challenge of forced migration. Crucially, a unilateral policy of closed borders fatally and comprehensively undermines the architecture of the global protection regime. Oliver White is Assistant Director, Jesuit Refugee Service. Please visit www.jrs.org.au.
Come to the market place at the cathedral! Sunday will be celebrated on 25 September. To me, social justice in the Australian vernacular is all about giving a person a ‘fair go’ and that principle applies to everyone in the human bazaar. By SHIRLEY MCHUGH I think we could all agree that the world is a bazaar. One could almost say it’s a ‘bizarre’ bazaar – a mélange of people – fat and thin, short and tall, black and white, brown and yellow, healthy and unhealthy, a world of justice and injustice – a world where Christ, two thousand years ago, preached from the hillsides and in the market places – to come and follow him and to learn how to love one another. In the world of the Church, Social Justice
This year, the annual statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops is titled A Place at the Table: Social justice in an ageing society. It will explore growing old, being old, caring for the aged and loving the aged – giving the old a respected place in society – giving them a ‘fair go’ with love and understanding. Social Justice Sunday will be celebrated locally under the auspices of the diocesan Social Justice Council, with the “Market Place at the Cathedral” event. Representatives of diocesan agencies serving the aged will offer information and
answer questions. There will be a lawyer in attendance to answer all those vexing questions about wills, powers of attorney and enduring guardians. There will also be a psychologist to remind us how to care for the infirm with respect, consideration and love – in the manner of Christ. The event will be opened at 1.30pm by Bishop Bill Wright in the grounds of Sacred Heart Cathedral and will conclude with his presiding at the 5pm Mass at the cathedral. As with many Church initiatives, we preach to the converted and the converted come along, but everyone is welcome! This is for ‘the whole bazaar’! Age affects all of us, sooner or later. So all members of the community are welcome at our table, welcome to utilise our services, welcome to our friendship – just welcome.
This Market Place at the Cathedral is a beginning, but the Social Justice Council wants to go further into the ‘real’ market place. A kit full of information and ideas will be sent to parishes where markets are held. Amongst our generous volunteering community, parishioners will come forward, go to the markets, set up their table and distribute to the milling crowds the principles of Social Justice with particular emphasis this year on Age. It’s good for people of all ages to recognise the part our aged have played in the formation of the character of this wonderful country as well as their commitment to faith over their long lives. Shirley McHugh is the Chair of the Diocesan Social Justice Council. Please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/churchcommunity/social-justice and www. socialjustice.catholic.org.au
Christie Dawes training for the Paralympic Games. Photo courteasy of Priscilla Scanlon.
the lake with friends and attending the local primary school. But she was forced to change schools following the accident due to accessibility issues. Christie was also a victim of bullying.
By HELENE O’NEILL
I first met Christie Dawes (née Skelton) back in 1994. I was a judge on the NBN Television Sports Star of the Year panel and Christie received the Rising Star Encouragement Award. We shared a table at the presentation dinner and whilst she was a relative newcomer to wheelchair sport, I sensed that a long, illustrious career in the sport lay ahead. Fast forward to 2016 and Christie is now competing in her sixth Paralympic Games. I’ve seen Christie over the years being put through a gruelling training regime around Hamilton, which circumnavigates Broadmeadow Racecourse. I often cycle past and she always acknowledges my presence, sometimes with gritted teeth through sheer exhaustion. As the Paralympic Games open in Rio I’m happy to be able to share her story. En route to a family holiday at Evans Head, Christie’s life changed forever. In very heavy rain, a dog ran out in front of the car at Rainbow Flat. The brakes were slammed on and in a devastating outcome, Christie was deemed a paraplegic. Christie had always been interested in athletics and was by her own admission “a tomboy”. Her life, growing up at Booragul, was an adventure – hanging out around
But life took a turn for the better when St Mary’s High School, Gateshead, threw her a lifeline. The school offered accessibility and the care and compassion needed to overcome the pain of being bullied as Christie learnt to cope with her ‘new normal’. She describes the Catholic school system as ‘the best thing that happened at that time’. Christie moved on to St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, and vividly recalls her teachers’ caring natures. Christie was selected for her first Paralympics in 1996 in Atlanta. She didn’t record a podium finish but was named ‘Young Paralympian of the Year’. Following the completion of her HSC, Christie moved to Sydney in 1998 to train full-time with one of Australia’s greatest wheelchair athletes, Louise Sauvage. She enjoyed squad training under coach Andrew Dawes and was subsequently selected for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Despite the suggestion there was no balance in her life in Sydney, I surmised there had been one distraction in her training – coach Andrew Dawes, who proposed in 2001. Following their marriage in 2002, Christie enrolled at Belmont TAFE, undertaking a Diploma in Community Services. Her training program continued under ‘Dawsie’ and the balance that had evaded Christie previously was now achieved. (Dawsie also coaches Kurt Fearnley). Christie furthered her studies at the University of Newcastle, graduating with a Bachelor of Education (primary) in 2006. She competed in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens but with little success. However, Beijing in 2008 was a memorable moment in Paralympic history with the rerun of the Women’s 5000m event. Some will recall the footage of the crash on the track with Christie heavily involved. Fortunately she recovered to take her place in the 4x100m relay and claim a silver medal.
In Sydney she had a disastrous meet. She realised that the Sydney experiment was only about eating, training and sleeping. There was no balance in her life, hence the poor results.
But life wasn’t only about training with her coach and soul mate Dawsie. In 2011 they became parents to a beautiful boy, Charlie. What a character he is too! Charlie heads off to school next year and you can see Christie’s joy as she anticipates sharing Charlie’s school days.
A move back home was inevitable if she was to achieve further in wheelchair sport. But before returning home, Christie gained a Certificate 3 in Childcare at Crows Nest TAFE, planning for life after the track.
She added to the trophy cabinet in London in 2012 with bronze in the 5000m event which was satisfying after Beijing. Completing marathons in Boston, London, Chicago and New York each year is part of life.
Christie still tweaks her style and position in the chair to keep on doing what she loves as was evident in this year’s Gold Coast marathon when she smashed the race record. She recorded an A time which was an automatic qualifier for the Paralympic Games in Rio. What about Rio? She’s contesting the marathon, 5000m, 1500m, and 4 x 4 relay events – an exhausting schedule but her eyes light up at the thought of the challenge. I get the feeling that the balance that eluded her in the early days of wheelchair sport now frames her life. She eats well, a ‘cheese and crackers girl’ which provides fuel for the 12-14 sessions she puts in each week. Both families provide the support network that enables Christie to continue pursuing her dreams. Where to after Rio? Christie admits she’s “a homebody” – Sundays in PJs is the perfect day! As a family they love the beach, coffee on Darby St and chasing Charlie “who has a better social life than his parents”. Dipping her toe into interior decorating is the next venture Christie plans to complement her interest in property investments. A cruise with friends will provide a welcome diversion from training and they have acquired a new family member in Debby, the greyhound. Christie lives her life to the full and sees any adversity as a challenge and an opportunity. Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you imagine. But when it comes to acceptance and achieving your goals, Christie Dawes claims the gold medal.
Community Noticeboard Seasons for Growth Exploring the Seasons of Grief small group program Using the metaphor of the changing seasons, this 2-day program assists individuals to understand their grief experience as a normal and natural response to change and loss. Calvary Mater Hospital is running a small group for the bereaved on September 7, 14, 21 & 28. For more information P Carolyn 4014 4687 or E Carolyn.Nichols@calvarymater.org. au. Please P Jenny or Benita 4979 1355 for other opportunities to attend an adult small group. For more information please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/agencies-services/ seasons-for-growth. Understanding change, loss and grief seminar This 3-hour seminar provides the opportunity for participants to examine the meaning and types of grief, explore grief reactions and different styles of grieving as well as strategies for empowerment and the importance of support networks. Dungog 8 September. For registrations P 4992 1644 or E firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/agencies-services/ seasons-for-growth. Parent Program: Supporting your child following separation and divorce This short program offers parents the opportunity to explore ideas and strategies that might assist in supporting their child/ren through the changes happening in their family. Kahibah Public School 12 & 19 September, 6-8pm. To register P 4943 4501. Mercy Spirituality Centre Events A Way of Presence: Residential Retreat weekend A time of silent reflection and prayer to explore meditative and creative processes for care and tending to your soul life. From Friday evening 9 - Sunday 11 September, 2.00pm. Facilitator: Anne Ryan rsm. Cost $250. Women of Mercy: “Sitting with the sick, hanging out with the poor, caring for the ‘least ones’, sharing the tenderness of God”. By popular demand Val O’Hara rsm will present this time of reflection again on Thursday 29 September, 9.30am-1.00pm. Cost: $20, light lunch included. Enneagram: Helen Baguley rsm will facilitate this workshop from Friday evening 7 - Sunday 9 October. Cost: residential $250,
non-residential $150. For all these events at Mercy Spirituality Centre, 26 Renwick Street, Toronto, details/bookings P 4959 1025, E email@example.com. Before We Say I Do Program Course 5 10 and 17 September (Toohey Room, Diocesan Offices, Newcastle West) Course 6 5 and 12 November, Newcastle All courses are on Saturdays, 9.30am-4.30pm. Please P Robyn 4979 1370. Council for Australian Catholic Women Colloquium “Women as Witnesses to the Joy of the Gospel: developing a more profound theology for women, by women.” 16-18 September at North Sydney. Please visit regularly opw. catholic.org.au. Community Christian Meditation Day Action from Contemplation: “A sustainable journey of justice.” Saturday 17 September at St Patrick’s Hall, 11 Macquarie Street, Wallsend. Guest speaker is Donna Mulhearn; activist, writer and meditator. Cost $10, morning tea provided, byo lunch. To rsvp, P 0407 436 808 or E firstname.lastname@example.org. St Brigid’s Markets, Branxton These monthly markets assist the parish and wider community at Branxton. Held every third Sunday, (next 18 September) the Old School Grounds, 9am-2pm, www.facebook.com/ stbrigidsmarket. Celebration of Religious Life As part of the diocese’s 150-year celebrations, a liturgy celebrating the contribution of religious to the diocesan story will be held at St Mary’s Campus, All Saints College, Maitland, on Wednesday 21 September, 10.30am for 11am. The liturgy will be followed by a light lunch and all are welcome! Seven@Sacred Heart The next gathering will be on Wednesday 21 September at Sacred Heart Cathedral at 7pm. For enquiries, P Brooke, 4979 1111. All welcome! Australian Catholic Historical Society Inc “To and From the Antipodes: Catholic Missionaries Over Two Centuries”. To be held on Saturday 24 September at the Australian Catholic University, 40 Edward
Street, North Sydney. Keynote speaker is Dr Ennio Mantovani svd, Lector Emeritus at the Yarra Theological Union. E www. australiancatholichistoricalsociety.com.au/ conference. Sacred Spaces Fine Music Series Concert, Singleton Music for Brass, Then and Now, directed by Paul Goodchild; this brass quintet features members of Australia’s major orchestras. To be held in the convent chapel on Sunday 25 September at 2pm, tickets $25 ($5 students) includes afternoon tea. P 6572 2398 E office@ sacredspaces.org.au. Ecumenical prayer in the spirit of Taizé The next service will be held on 9 October at St Columban’s Catholic Church, Church Street, Mayfield, 7-8pm, followed by light supper, gold coin donation. P Anna & John Hill, 4967 2283. Resilience: A Springtime Dinner Join guest speaker Gail O’Brien at a dinner to mark the golden jubilee of St Therese’s Church, New Lambton, on Friday 21 October at St Therese’s Hall, Royal St, New Lambton at 7pm. Cost $30 pp. For information and tickets, P Gail 0410 523 165 or Margaret 0409 966 109. See story page 16. Attention pilgrims! As part of the diocese’s 150-year celebrations, there will be a guided pilgrimage in the footsteps of Bishop James Murray who arrived in Maitland in 1866. The pilgrimage will occur on Saturday 29 October, 8am-3pm, over 12.4 kms for average ability walkers. The route will begin at Morpeth, head to St Joseph’s East Maitland and end triumphantly at St John’s Chapel. Pilgrim registration required at www. mn.catholic.org.au for safely and hospitality; there is no charge. To learn more, P Brooke 4979 1111.
For your diary September 8 White Balloon Day (highlighting Child Protection) International Literacy Day 10 World Suicide Prevention Day 11 Child Protection Sunday 15 International Day of Democracy 21 International Day of Peace 24 Bishop Bill celebrates Mass for the feast of St Michael at Wollombi 25 Social Justice Sunday (see page 19) 27 Feast of St Vincent de Paul
For more events please visit mn.catholic.org.au/calendar and mn.catholic.org.au/community.
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
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.
information, P Mums’ Cottage 4953 4105,
Deceased Nurses Mass Sacred Heart Cathedral on Friday 25 November at noon, everyone welcome to attend.
5.30pm Mass at St Patrick’s Church,
E email@example.com or visit www. mumscottage.org.au. Youth Mass On the last Sunday of each month, the Macquarie St, Wallsend, has a youthful flavour. Everyone is welcome.
Aurora on tour Aurora enjoyed time with Pope Francis, diocesan pilgrims and 1.6 million people from around the world at the final Mass for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.
Soul food Where you will be in the next five years will depend on the books you read and the people you meet in that time. Charlie Tremendous Jones
Review By GINA BAYNHAM
There is rarely a day that we do not hear something on the news about the Middle East. Invariably it is news of violence, religious tension and loss of life. In Postcards from the Middle East, Chris Naylor gives us a very different insight into life in Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon and Beirut. Instead of seeing these countries through the eye of a news reporter, we see it through the eyes of a family. Chris and his wife Susanna begin their journey as newlyweds and the book covers the next twenty years of their life together before they return to the UK in 2009. In those twenty years they begin as school teachers, become parents and then an integral part of the Christian conservation charity ‘A Rocha’. Although the book is written by Chris, he often describes his experiences and then compares them with those of his wife. While his insights are political and historical, hers are often cultural. We learn of the traditions and customs that they are expected to uphold, and of how they absorb the cultures around them while trying to maintain their own. There are wonderful descriptions of foods prepared and shared with neighbours. We read about their growing children and how they adapt to schooling and friendships in a multi-national environment. The family is truly accepted into their neighbourhoods and their lives become entwined with the lives of those around them.
There are many descriptions of religious conversations between Chris and his Islamic colleagues involving quotations from the Bible and Qur’an that offer insight into the aspects of Christianity and Islam that parallel each other as well as defining differences. We feel the Naylor family being pulled in many different directions as political unrest results in violence and bombings on their doorsteps. The desire to stay with the communities they have bonded with, to continue to live a good Christian life helping those around them, conflicts with the desire to protect their children and raise them in a safe place. This is a book that educates the reader on politics, religion and the environment while also weaving together threads of culture and family values. Postcards from the Middle East by Chris Naylor is published by Lion Books, 2015.
Lemon Curd Drops Ingredients
f f 2/3 cup icing sugar
Preheat fan forced oven to 150°C.
f f 1.5 cups plain flour
Sieve all dry ingredients into a bowl then add softened butter. Mix together until a consistent paste. Stir in essence.
f f 6 tablespoons custard powder f f 3 tablespoons almond meal
Divide mixture into 12 equal portions and roll each into a ball.
f f 250g unsalted butter f f 2 teaspoons almond essence f f 1 teaspoon vanilla essence f f 1 tub best quality lemon curd from supermarket f f Icing sugar for dusting
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.
BARTHOLOMEW CONNORS Chef - Cathedral Cafe
Place the balls into a well-greased muffin tray. Bake in oven for 15–17 minutes. While warm, use the handle end of a wooden spoon to make an indentation in the centre of each drop. Allow to cool before gently scraping a knife around the edge of each drop to remove without cracking. Add a dollop of lemon curd and dust with icing sugar.
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