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Celebrating 150 years of service, worship and mission.

CatholicDiocese OF MAITLAND-NEWCASTLE D I O CE S E O F M A I T LA N D - N E W CA S T LE | Y E A R I N R E V I E W 2016 | 1

Contents Contents 2 Vision, Mission and Values


Diocese Celebrates 150 Years


Year of Mercy - ‘Mercy has pitched its tent’


Royal Commission Calls diocese to account


Highlights 6 Snapshot of the Diocese


Executive Reports


The Five Foundations


Identity and Community


Worship and Prayer


Formation and Education


Mission and Outreach


Leadership and Structure


Financials 43

Vision To live the joy of the Gospel and share it with the world.

Mission The Diocesan Synod of 1992-93, acting on behalf of the diocesan community, resolved to embrace and promote the Vatican II understanding of the Church’s mission contained in the following: The Church, because it is the People of God and the Body of Christ enlivened by his Spirit, is called to be a sign and instrument of communion with God and of unity among all people (LG1).

Acknowledgement of country and traditional owners We acknowledge Aboriginal Peoples are Australia’s first peoples and the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land in which we live the joy of the Gospel and share it with the world. We are in the country of the Worimi, Gamileroi, Wonarua, Wiradjuri, Darkinjung, Biripi and Awabakal peoples. We respectfully acknowledge their Elders, celebrate their continuing culture and the living memory of their ancestors.


The Church exists to promote the Kingdom of God on earth (LG5). This it does by proclaiming Christ – the Good News of God’s love for all people – and by working in the world for justice, peace

and reconciliation. This mission finds its source and summit in the Eucharist (LG11) which, when lived in everyday life and celebrated in the liturgy, is both the living symbol of Christ’s life, death and resurrection and celebrates the deepest identity of the Church as a communion of life, love and truth (LG9). All those who, through Baptism, have been initiated into the community of the Church have the right and duty to participate in its life and mission as a response to the Spirit in their lives (LG3). We are called to live out the commandment of Jesus: ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (Jn 15:12).

Theological Principles ff Seek First the Kingdom of God (Mt 6:33)

ff Diversity of Gifts ff Diversity of Ministries, Unity of Purpose

ff The Equality of All Believers

ff Servant Leadership

ff Faith Development is a

ff Decision-Making by Discernment

Life-Long Process

ff The Dignity of the Human Person

ff Read the Signs of the Times ff Concern for Ecumenism

Cover Story

Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Celebrates 150 Years St John’s Chapel was dedicated before a large assembly on Sunday, 6 November. The day was a culmination of the 150th year since Bishop James Murray, the first resident bishop, sailed to Morpeth, proceeded to Maitland by carriage and claimed St John’s as his cathedral. It was also a day of deep personal satisfaction for Bishop Bill, who had written, “I have it in my imagination that, like St Francis, I’ll see to the repairs of an ancient church which will long live as a sacred place.” For the 300 or so people who participated in the Mass of Dedication, the occasion completed a significant chapter of the diocesan story – and began a new chapter. Bishop Bill has recounted the story in various contexts and recapped during his homily on the day. In November 1865 Bishop Murray was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland. The papal brief which defined its new boundaries was issued on 14 April, 1866. Bishop Murray returned to Ireland to obtain extra priests for his new diocese and arranged for a community of Dominican Sisters to

follow him to Australia. He departed Cork in July 1866 and arrived in Sydney in October. He then set out immediately for Maitland and took possession of St John’s Church as his Cathedral on 1 November, 1866, the Feast of All Saints. It continued as the Cathedral until Bishop Gleeson opened the nearby church hall as the Pro Cathedral on 26 November 1933. Newcastle was still a part of the Archdiocese of Sydney and so the expansion of the Catholic faith into northern and north-western NSW was carried out from Maitland, until the Dioceses of Armidale and Lismore were established in 1869 and 1878 respectively. So Maitland, the only town in NSW to have two Catholic churches, was very much at the heart of the Catholic faith for a large part of the population for many years and St John’s as the Cathedral was central to the broader establishment of the Church in that territory. In 1873, Bishop Murray took possession of the Newcastle end of his diocese from the Archdiocese of Sydney. He moved into his new Bishop’s House in Cathedral Street in 1883. A wonderful spirit pervaded the celebration of what Bishop Bill called “a giant of a project”.

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Year of Mercy

Mercy has ‘pitched its tent’ Mercy has travelled the roads of our diocese during this ‘Year of Mercy’. Mercy has 'pitched its tent' at churches without a resident priest, to be present and available to the local people. Many have welcomed mercy into their lives.

“freeing” in faces and shoulders. “Some will actually say ‘I feel a great burden has been lifted’”. Some conversations have ended in tears – tears of joy – as penitents “have let go of the fearful God, the vengeful policeman drummed into us by Irish Catholicism”.

Father Richard Shortall sj has been the Missionary of Mercy to the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, appointed by Pope Francis. Only one of two Missionaries of Mercy in Australia, and one of a thousand worldwide, Fr Shortall is probably the most mobile and innovative in his outreach.

The mercy of God that Fr Shortall heralds is found in his emphasis on misericordia – “compassion, kindness, acceptance, the welcoming, non-judgemental attitude of God”.

Home has been a mobile home. Fr Shortall has motored to all points of the diocese, to localities where church doors are mostly kept closed. Near those doors he has located his temporary home. For a week the doors have been open. Fr Shortall has been present to celebrate Mass daily, to listen to every comer’s story – often of grief, hardship, misunderstanding and isolation – and to bestow mercy and peace on the seeker. Pope Francis envisaged the availability of the sacrament of Reconciliation as key to the role. Father Shortall’s experience has been not quite so. In Australia, and especially in our diocese, he says, “the key has been the opportunity, in a safe environment, to tell one’s story – and to know it is believed – whatever the story! I have found, day after day, that is the case.” After “such moments of extraordinary grace” the story-teller would sometimes, not always, request “Could I celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation?” Fr Shortall would see the 4

The first time that weekly flocks have encountered their Missionary of Mercy has been at Sunday Mass. The homily has set the tone. Many have been drawn to daily Mass throughout the one week when they have had a resident priest literally at their door. Father Shortall has, at every location, been “faithful to the rhythm of the day” because he knew it worked. A major feature of that rhythm was availability. Individuals could make appointments to come and converse. However, if there were gaps in the daily schedule Fr Shortall would still be there at the church, available. He would sit, read, pray, knit. Sometimes people would just wander in and start to talk. The sight of an open church door, usually closed, could entice the curious and lead to an encounter with mercy. ‘Merciful like the Father’ expresses the theme of the Holy Year. However, it has been the motherly kindness of God that has resonated with this Missionary. Throughout his life Father Shortall has observed and even been subjected to a degree of bullying and abusive behaviours from males in society and in the church. Lamentably it is true, he says, and needs to be

faced. “It’s part of the story.” The upside from this experience is that it has produced in Father Shortall a certain sympathy with those telling of their issues, and enabled them to relate with ease. It has also fostered devotion to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom envisaged in the Scriptures in feminine vesture. Readily he has responded to Pope Francis’ call upon his Missionaries of Mercy to express “the Maternity of the Church”. “To me the great image of the Year of Mercy and the expression of the Maternity of the Church is your patron, the patron of the diocese – Our Lady of Perpetual Help,” says Father Shortall. He has been saddened to find a few churches where her image is not displayed, where one is unable to encounter the icon which “holds you in Mary’s gaze”. He has brought the mercy of God to isolated communities; he has seen the kindness of God at work - but has Father Shortall himself experienced mercy while on mission? “Yes,” he says emphatically, and commends those communities which welcomed him, rallied to help set up his motor home and provided him with meals. Not all were so supportive, he sadly relates, but once again, “It’s part of the story.” Our Missionary of Mercy has brought the kindness of God to many far and wide in our diocesan community. Father Shortall has been a channel of God’s mercy and peace. The Year of Mercy comes to an end and the dedicated Missionary of Mercy travels no more, however, the mercy of God, the kindness of God, the compassion of God, continue to move abroad in our diocese.

Royal Commission

Image courtesy of Magnolia Star Photography

Royal Commission calls diocese to account 2016 has been a year of both summation and continuation for child protection in the diocese. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has held Case Study #43 into the diocese (and Marist Brothers) and, as expected, the details of the abuse committed were terrible and confronting. What was less expected, and hard-earned, was the affirmation given by Justice McClellan for the practices of the diocese in responding to those affected by child sexual abuse and the quality of our current child protection systems. While particular gratitude is owed to the dedicated staff of Zimmerman Services, particularly Maureen O’Hearn, the evidence available to the Royal Commission (most of which was not part of the Case Study) reflected the commitment of the whole diocese. Under the stewardship of Bishop Bill, the support of our senior clerical and lay leadership and driven by the determination of the people of the diocese, we have demonstrated that we will not allow the terrible abuse or the failures of leadership of the past to happen again, that we strive to keep today’s children safe from abuse and that we are committed to meeting our enduring obligations to those who were affected by child sexual abuse. During the last year, Zimmerman Services’ ‘Intake’ process has recorded, analysed, provided advice and support to diocesan personnel and ensured reports were made to statutory authorities in relation to: �

220 allegations of child abuse involving an adult abuser. Of these, 27 related to

adults who were engaged as volunteers or employees of the diocese.

of “Christian Ministry, Integrity in the Service of the Church”.

216 ‘general welfare issues’ for children and families with whom the diocese has contact.

61 instances of abusive conduct between children or ‘peer-to-peer’ abuse, most of which related to ‘sexting’ (the inappropriate or illegal use of electronic devices to broadcast sexualised images or text).

The Healing and Support team has had an extraordinarily busy year, actively supporting (on average) 50 persons affected by child sexual abuse per month, having:

11 instances of children believed to have committed self-harm.

Undertaken child protection audits of ten diocesan schools as part of the Catholic Schools Office COSI program.

Attended four criminal trials at the Downing Centre to support 7 complainants and 14 family members.

Attended two sentencing hearings for a further 7 complainants and 8 family members.

Co-ordinated or participated in 16 support groups including with CAN (Clergy Abuse Network), the ‘McAlinden Group’ and ‘Supporters of Survivors Group’. Supported 13 people who came forward and gave evidence in either private sessions or in public as part of a ‘case study’.

Over the past 12 months Zimmerman Services has: �

Verified and recorded over 1,100 volunteers’ Working with Children Check Clearance numbers with the OCG.

Received and recorded 90 testimonials for clergy visiting the diocese to minister.

Completed, commenced or oversighted 55 investigations of reportable allegations or alleged breaches of professional standards.

Delivered 12 ‘Introduction to Child Protection’ training days. These days are compulsory for all diocesan personnel in child-related work.

Developed and delivered multiple specialist training sessions for a number of schools, parishes, diocesan ministries and CatholicCare programs including St Dominic’s Centre, Mayfield; St Pius X High School, Adamstown; presentations to prospective foster carers; LifeTeen volunteers and parish personnel as part

2017 promises to be another testing year. The Royal Commission is not over and the ‘Catholic Wrap-up’ (Case Study #50) is scheduled to commence on 6 February, 2017. It is possible that there will be further civil or criminal court matters dealing with past crimes and the ongoing demands of protecting today’s children continue apace. In 2017, and for as long as required, the diocese will continue to endeavour to meet its moral obligation to support those who have been affected by abuse.

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2016 Highlights

ff Diocese establishes new agency, St Nicholas Early Education

ff Closing the Jubilee Year of Mercy

ff New diocesan priests James Odoh and Camillus Nwahia 6

ff Bishop's Awards at the Catholic Youth Mass

ff Announcement of Catherine McAuley Catholic College, Medowie

ff #3Weeks2days raises funds for CatholicCare Refugee Service

2016 Highlights

ff ASPIRE and DioSounds reach new heights

ff CatholicCare's Community Kitchen opens in Taree

ff Announcement of St Bede's Catholic College, Chisholm

ff Bishop Murray Pilgrimage celebrating 150 years of diocese

ff Intergenerational diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day

ff Opening of the new St Francis Xavier's Church, Belmont D I O CE S E O F M A I T LA N D - N E W CA S T LE | Y E A R I N R E V I E W 2016 | 7

2016 Highlights

ff Dame Marie Bashir shares wisdom at Tenison Woods Education Centre dinner

ff Launch of a new vision statement for Catholic schools

ff St Mary’s High School, Gateshead wins National Science and Engineering Challenge

ff Diocese announces plans to develop affordable housing in Newcastle West 8

ff Speakers challenge and inspire at ACP luncheons

ff Chrism Mass brings the diocese together

Snapshot of the Diocese


Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

In 2016 there were

There are currently



Catholics in region (2011 census)


Parishes in the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle

programs offered through CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning



Ministries of the diocesan church


is the total number of Catholic school students enrolled in 2016




Primary Students 10,534 Secondary Students 8,253


Social media for





24 incardinated, 9 international, 2 religious, 2 on loan, 17 retired and 9 deacons

341 146 followers



Social media for

Religious congregations



2,868 25,006 followers

Diocesan website unique visitors:, Diocesan, CatholicCare, CSO, CDF & St Nicholas Early Education websites

the CSO


196 133 744 views


Social media for



495,000 Copies of Aurora were distributed between February & December 2016

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Executive Reports

Bishop Bill Wright Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle

The truth must be before our eyes daily as we try to be a better church and to do what we can for those who suffered.

I hope that this Year in Review document will be seen by many in the diocese and beyond. Through my working life as a priest, I have struggled to find ways to help people to be aware of the things that go on in their community that are beyond their personal involvements − and it is hard work. On one occasion I was berated by three ladies after Mass for our parish’s lack of a Bible Study group, despite the fact that one had existed for years, was frequently mentioned in the parish bulletin, had a new season beginning that had been advertised for the preceding six weeks and had, in fact, been spoken of in the notices not five minutes before. Until that week, however, the ladies concerned had not ‘needed to know’ and had contrived not to know. Similarly, in another place, we brought together all the different groups in the parish to speak about what each actually did. We had to take two Sunday afternoons to get through it all and, of course, everyone was astonished by all that went on that they knew nothing about. And these were our most involved and active parishioners! In short, there can never be too much sharing of information about our church community. I hope this annual report makes a good deal available in an accessible form. This year has had some remarkable features across the diocese. It has been the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis and we actually grabbed some international attention through the activity of our travelling ‘Missionary of Mercy’, Fr Richard Shortall SJ, in his mobile home, doing the rounds of our communities. It has been a ministry of great, but largely immeasurable, importance. Fr Richard has been able to preach and exhibit the mercy of God widely, but he has also had to share and bear the pains of many along the way as he has tried to bring them to some reconciliation and peace. Many individual stories of grace will remain unknown to most of us. In this diocese, while celebrating the sesquicentenary of Bishop Murray’s arrival as our first resident bishop, we have celebrated the contribution of the religious sisters, brothers and priests who began 10

arriving shortly after the bishop. These have been joyous celebrations because so many people have lovingly seized the opportunity to honour the gifts of faith and humanity that the sisters and brothers gave to them over many years. Of course there was also a good deal of wry humour about the personalities and customs of the past. You can read more about this on page 27. Not all of our past, however, is worthy of our calling in Christ. Dark chapters were exposed again in the case study of child sexual abuse in the diocese held by the Royal Commission this year. Nothing can erase the harm done to those people who were abused as children and to their families. Nothing can erase the shame that these things happened in our community and happened, all too often, despite the knowledge of our leaders. In fact, we do not wish to erase these memories. The truth must be before our eyes daily as we try to be a better church and to do what we can for those who suffered. I have again apologised to the victims of childhood abuse collectively and to many individually, but our apologies will only be as good as our efforts to ensure the safety of our children today and to support the survivors of past abuse as best we can. These commitments are also reflected in this Year in Review on page 5. Many new things are happening and many works of the diocese that are ongoing are also reported in these pages. I thank all those who have given of their time and talents throughout the year, in our parishes, schools, social services and pastoral agencies. I hope all readers will find much that is of interest and at least some enlightenment about things they had not heard of before.

Most Reverend William Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle

Executive Reports

Father Brian Mascord Vicar General This year, in union with the international church, our diocese has focused on the Year of Mercy and honoured the faith of our own community since the arrival of our first resident bishop 150 years ago.

Over the last four years many people have asked me, “What does a vicar general do”? The question probably should be, “What is the vicar general”? One needs to answer this from a canon law perspective. There are two codes of canon law in the Catholic Church, one for the Latin or Western Church which came into being in January 1983 and the second for the Eastern Churches which came into being in October 1990. Under the current Code of Canon Law (1983) every diocesan bishop must appoint at least one vicar general to assist him in the governance of the diocese. The vicar general exercises all the executive power of the diocesan bishop except that which the law reserves to the bishop or those functions the bishop chooses to reserve. The Code of Canon Law (1983) recognises two types of power/ authority: ‘proper power’ and ‘vicarious power’. Proper power is given by canon law to an individual who holds a particular office eg a bishop or parish priest. Vicarious power is exercised by someone representing the person who holds the proper power. The power of the vicar general is said to be ordinary power as it pertains to his office. The vicar general does not share the bishop’s power to make particular law for the diocese nor as chief judge even though these are also elements of the power of governance. Under the previous Code of Canon Law (1917-1983) the position of vicar general was recognised but not mandatory. By the time of the 1983 Code it was recognised that bishops needed to be absent from their dioceses for various reasons and for significant periods of time and

There are particular responsibilities I undertake on behalf of the bishop, such as Vocations Director, Director of Seminarians, Vicar for Religious, Director of Clergy Life and Ministry as well as sitting with the bishop on a number of councils and committees. This year, in union with the international church, our diocese has focused on the Year of Mercy and honoured the faith of our own community since the arrival of our first resident bishop 150 years ago. Many celebrations have occurred. One was the gathering at St Mary’s, All Saints College, Maitland where we remembered and honoured the contribution of consecrated men and women from over 30 religious congregations to the life of the diocese. Our original cathedral was dedicated as a diocesan shrine. Frs Camillus Nwahia and James Odoh were ordained to the priesthood. We have two students studying for the priesthood at the Beda College in Rome and early next year we hope to welcome two more students to begin priestly formation. As the Director of Clergy Life and Ministry, with the Clergy Life and Ministry Team, I have the responsibility of organising two annual “live-in” experiences: the annual residential Clergy Conference held after Easter at the Josephite Conference Centre in Kincumber and the annual Clergy retreat, also held at Kincumber during October, as well as other opportunities. As the Director of Clergy Life and Ministry I also serve as the NSW representative on the Australian Catholic Council for Clergy Life and Ministry. So now you know what a vicar general is!

that it was, therefore, necessary to have another to govern the diocese. On these occasions the vicar general acts with the mind of the bishop. This is the work of the vicar general. As vicar general I work closely with Bishop Bill and exercise his power with the same mind as he does. I cannot make decisions independently from the bishop. I have to try to think as he would.

Rev Brian Mascord, Vicar General of Maitland-Newcastle

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Executive Reports

Father Matthew Muller Chancellor and Canonical Advisor

...we have begun a review and rewriting of the statutes ... The statutes of these bodies, if they exist, date back to 1984. The world is now a different place.

I feel I should begin with a short introduction as the newest member of

individuals involved in the life of the church. One might call the

the diocesan curia.

monitoring and management of both the compliance and the structures

When Bishop Bill arrived in the diocese I was parish priest of the eight

that support compliance, governance. In simple terms, that’s my role.

parishes of the Chisholm Pastoral Region. The bishop asked me to

In the months I have been in the role we have begun a review and

undertake canon law studies. Initially I thought he was joking, but he

rewriting of the statutes of some of the key consultative bodies to

was not. So in September 2012, I headed to St Paul University, Ottawa,

the bishop; The Council of Priests, the College of Consultors and the

Canada, to study canon law. I completed a Masters in Canon Law,

Diocesan Trustees. The statutes of these bodies, if they exist, date back

awarded by Ottawa University and the ecclesiastical degree Licence

to 1984. The world is now a different place.

in Canon Law, awarded by St Paul University. In December last year I returned home and in February 2016 was appointed as chancellor and canonical advisor.

In the coming twelve months I hope to work with the other consultative bodies at a diocesan level to review and rewrite their statutes. I have also been providing canonical advice to parish priests and diocesan

Historically, the role of the chancellor in a diocese was to manage the

staff on many varied issues including staffing, bequests, sacraments,

diocese for the bishop; the role was similar to the role of a university

ownership issues and so on.

chancellor. In light of Vatican II, the Code of Canon Law was revised and the revision published in 1982. The chancellor became responsible for the diocesan archives and also a chief notary. The previous

I also hope in the coming year to work with parish priests in assisting them to increase their skills in the area of governance.

responsibilities of the chancellor were given to the Vicar General. In the churches with Irish origins, the chancellor’s role seems to vary from diocese to diocese, depending on the direction of the Bishop. Here we have an effective electronic record and archive system managed by some very competent and talented people. I would just get in their way

Rev Matthew Muller, Chancellor and Canonical Advisor

if I tried to exercise the canonical role of a chancellor! So what is my role? Bishop Bill has made it very clear that he expects the diocese to comply with both civil and canon law. In my mind to achieve this we need to know: ff

With what are we complying?


What is/are the best method/s of complying?


How do we know we have complied?


How do we report our compliance or non-compliance?

Underneath these questions there are the systems, statutes, charters etc that give direction and identify the responsibilities of those many 12

What is Canon Law? Canon Law is the system of law and legal principles that the Catholic Church utilises to assist in the salvation of souls. Thus the laws direct the structures, systems and procedures of the Church to this end. It is also the way in which the Church articulates and protects the rights of all the baptised. The current Code was issued by Pope John Paull II in 1983.

Executive Reports

Teresa Brierley Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries

Key to all these ministries is the building of relationships so that discipleship has a face and a name. Jesus called his disciples by name and we must do likewise.

In December 2015, we opened the doors of mercy at our Sacred Heart Cathedral to mark the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. In this Year of Mercy, the Church was commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel. (Misericordiae Vultus12) In this Holy Year, we look forward to the experience of opening our hearts to those living on the fringes modern society itself creates. How many uncertain and painful situations there are in the world today! How many wounds borne by the flesh of those who have no voice because their cry is muffled and drowned out by the indifference of the rich! ... Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognise that we are compelled to heed their cry for help! (MV 15) Key to this call to be a door of mercy are the many connections made in the community by those who minister as Chaplains to those in prison, to those in hospitals, to the seafarers who come to our port, to those in our armed services, to those who work in industry and to the thousands of students who attend university. Our chaplains are the face, hands and heart of Christ in this place. Their ministries provide a listening ear and pastoral care to those who come. Fr Richard Shortall sj travelled in a motorhome, the length and breadth of our diocese as our Missionary of Mercy (MoM), bringing God’s mercy to those who sought it. He was our MoM on wheels to be the face of God’s mercy going out to meet people where they are, listening to their stories and offering them the love and forgiveness of God, however that may be appropriate. (MV 18) I hope you enjoy Fr Richard's story on page 4. Our Social Justice and our Ecumenical and Interfaith Councils sought ways of reaching out to the wider community by hosting events around domestic violence, the ageing, those who struggle with mental health and connecting with our Muslim neighbours. By attempting to give a voice to the marginalised, we joined with our ecumenical friends in many of these outreach initiatives. We have continued the great tradition of Faith Formation in our diocese, established in the early nineties by the Sisters of St Joseph under the banner of the Tenison Woods Education Centre, honouring the pastoral goal accepted by the 1992/93 Synod that ‘in every parish of the

diocese all the baptised have the opportunity and formation to make their contribution to the life and mission of the Church’. Many formation opportunities invited people to deepen continually an understanding that is faithful to Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Some of these stories are featured on pages 28 - 32. Once again the Office of Life and Faith has assisted those who minister to families in parishes. Special Religious Education, Sacramental Programs, Children’s Liturgy of the Word, Seasons for Growth (Grief and Loss Program), Relationship Education and Family Community Faith Co-ordinators serve to connect parish and school communities. Key to all these ministries is the building of relationships so that discipleship has a face and a name. Jesus called his disciples by name and we must do likewise. Key to all of this activity in the diocese is the role of our Communications Team. We are now present in print and on the website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each month 45,000 copies of Aurora are inserted into local papers so that God’s mission in this place is proclaimed to as wide an audience as possible. Jesus missioned to those he met using the tools of his day and we are missioning to those we meet, using the latest technological tools. Some interesting statistics are included on page 9. So I trust our year has been one which reflects mercy: Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more…Mercy reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope. (MV 10)

Teresa Brierley Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries

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Executive Reports

Sean Scanlon Vice Chancellor Administration ...With more schools being built, more housing for the vulnerable, more early education centres developed and more services delivered, we hope that these will be tangible signs of a church that is looking to the future.

The past year has seen the diocese operate within its means. This may sound very benign, however, the church environment has been extremely difficult and this has put continual pressure on finances. As discussed in last year’s report, the strategy continues to be one of meeting our commitments while at the same time making better use of church assets. This means ensuring that church property is being put to good use and not only provides a financial return but most importantly a mission outcome. The diocese has continued to develop affordable housing options with 72 dwellings completed or near completion at the time of writing. Earlier in the year the diocese was successful in securing the former Empire Hotel site in Hunter Street, Newcastle. We hope that this will eventually be a 13-storey, 128-unit development offering affordable housing and housing for people with a disability. You can read more on page 42. We have seen the opportunity to expand diocesan services to childcare under the banner of St Nicholas Early Education. This is an obvious development of the existing educational services of the diocese, a way to support families with children and a good use of church assets in the community. In the past year a new St Nick’s centre has opened in Newcastle West and the Singleton centre has transferred from the local parish to the St Nicholas umbrella. We hope to see more early education centres roll out in the coming years with sites connected to existing Catholic primary schools and parishes being the priority. St Nicholas Early Education is featured on page 39. With the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the diocese upon us, one of the major projects has been the refurbishment of St John’s Chapel and the Cathedral precinct at Maitland. This will soon become a centre the diocese can be justly proud of and a highlight of the history of the Catholic Church in this area. Our cover and page 3 celebrate this milestone. It remains challenging to continue the works of the diocese whilst ensuring that appropriate compensation is paid to survivors of abuse. In the past year we have managed to do this and also run a surplus but the coming year and beyond will be difficult. At this stage it is unclear what recommendations will be made by government following 14

the Royal Commission but the need to support survivors financially will no doubt continue. Please read the report on page 5 to learn more. The Catholic Development Fund (CDF) is experiencing rapid changes in its regulatory context. For many years the CDF has benefited from an exemption from the Banking Act. However, this will soon be reduced and there is a need to ensure that this important funding body for church projects can continue. Whilst the CDF has continued to achieve great financial success in recent years, for a period now the CDF has been in something of a holding pattern and it is time to gain greater clarity for the CDF and the diocese. We are exploring options for a licence for the CDF from the regulatory body, APRA. Should this be successful, we can then maintain the existing services and hopefully expand the CDF to broaden its reach and fund more projects. Learn more about how the CDF benefits the diocese on page 40. Moving forward, we should expect more and greater scrutiny of church activities. This includes finances, use of property and acquittal of government funding whether for education, social services or other activities. It will be important to demonstrate to the community that the diocese is using any public monies it receives wisely and as intended. Greater transparency will be necessary and ongoing improvements to governance will be required. Demonstrating the difference the church makes to the life of our community will still be the challenge but with more schools being built, more housing for the vulnerable, more early education centres developed and more services delivered, we hope that these will be tangible signs of a church that is looking to the future.

Sean Scanlon Vice Chancellor Administration

Executive Reports

Ray Collins Director of Catholic Schools Catholic schools are ‘Vivid Everyday’, where passionate teachers inspire confidence, where faith in God is lived in community and where partnerships are nourished.

2016 has been a significant year in our diocese and school system with growth, achievement, community partnerships, social justice and Christ at its core. We celebrated 150 years since the arrival of Bishop James Murray who established our current system of Catholic schools and whose visionary leadership is carried on through our continuing commitment to providing quality Catholic education. This year marked the beginning of the implementation of recommendations from the study into the provision of secondary education. We established a blueprint for the expansion of our secondary school system and announced the names of the two new high schools − St Bede’s Catholic College, Chisholm and Catherine McAuley Catholic College, Medowie, opening in 2018 and 2020 respectively. The celebration of Catholic Schools Week across the diocese began the year on a high note with the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass and a celebration of the Bishop’s Award. This year saw the creation of a new category, the Catholic Young People Bishop’s Award, open to those in Year 12 and up to age 25. In March, St Patrick’s Primary School, Lochinvar, was awarded a $1,801,203 NSW Government building grant towards the construction of learning and administration areas at the school. For the first time, a region-wide campaign to celebrate the schools within our diocese was launched in May. “Vivid Everyday” captured the essence of our schools as authentic, nurturing, spirited and of course, vivid. This showcase of Catholic schools celebrated our students and was designed to confirm the choice of thousands of families and staff currently within the system of schools. The celebration of the performing arts in our diocese began in June with the 10th annual DioSounds concert. Over 400 students from our 11 high schools presented an amazing array of music and dance numbers with the theme of Music through the Decades. In my mind, this year’s performance was the best yet! In July, the Head of Religious Education and Spirituality Services, Brian Lacey, and his wife Sue, Assistant Principal at St Paul’s Primary, Rutherford, led an intergenerational pilgrimage to Krakow for World Youth Day. Fifteen students and 21 school and CSO staff members

joined Bishop Bill and other members of the diocesan community on a spiritual journey of a lifetime. You can hear from two of the pilgrims on pages 23 and 30. The fifth and largest production of ASPIRE, There’s Something Strange about Marvin McRae, was an impressive start to August. One of the most notable productions to date, the show mesmerised audiences with an original script and an aquarium scene worthy of the finest production companies. August also welcomed the launch of a new vision for Catholic Schools. Developed in consultation with the Catholic Schools Council, our school communities and Bishop Bill, this vision forms the core of our aspirations for each of our schools. “At the heart of everything is Jesus Christ” emphasises that, with Jesus at our core, we commit to being faith communities, places of excellence in learning and focused on a rigorous, creative and critical pursuit of truth. This year once again had social justice at its heart with schools raising over $45,000 for the annual Caritas Lenten appeal, Project Compassion. This impressive sum is a 30 per cent increase on last year and a true testament to the deep commitment of staff and students toward a just world. We saw teacher Michael Eccleston complete a 150-kilometre run from St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen, to San Clemente High School, Mayfield, to raise awareness of the plight of refugees seeking a safe lifestyle in Australia (see page 35 for more). Two principals also took part in the St Vincent de Paul Winter Sleepout for Chief Executive Officers. These are just some of the initiatives that occur in our schools every week, responding to the call of the Gospels to love one another as Christ has loved us. 2016 is my final year as Director of Schools and I am overjoyed to end this time on a vivid note with deep appreciation of our school and CSO staff, parents, students, clergy and parishioners who are ensuring a strong future for Catholic education in our diocese.

Ray Collins Director of Catholic Schools

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Executive Reports

Helga Smit Director of CatholicCare Social Services The lifeblood of our service delivery is through the continued passion, dedication and hard work of all our CatholicCare staff and I thank everyone for their support in ‘making things happen’.

2016 produced positive results for CatholicCare Social Services HunterManning, most notably through our expansion of services for the people we support.

Care services and continue to re-engineer this program area to focus

The three pillars of unity, quality and sustainability continue to underpin CatholicCare. This is evidenced by our ongoing commitment to offer whole-of-community support and empowerment options to those in need regardless of religion, age, gender, physical and intellectual capacity or ethnicity.

are excited to have opened the doors to the Taree Community Kitchen,

CatholicCare’s progressive approach is person-centred and where feasible, works from an early intervention perspective. We support people to define their goals, identify their strengths and access resources by developing collaborative, open, honest and transparent relationships with clients in a multidisciplinary environment.

businesses, schools and individuals, who combine to signify the

Our expansion of services is in line with the identified needs of the communities within which we operate and is evidencebased. Accordingly, in the past twelve months, CatholicCare has introduced clinical assessment services, with an added focus on autism assessment; recruited our first foster carers in the Manning region; created a dedicated Early Interventions team (see page 40) and expanded our NDIS activities into the Manning. Our integrated approach in offering a suite of programs driven by the client is an example of the success of our unity drive.

For CatholicCare, success is building capacity and delivering on

Unity across the diocese has resulted in programs being offered in Catholic schools and continued opportunities for volunteering by the students in our Community Engagement programs. We have also built on our relationships with local parishes in office co-locations and joint program development. Over the past year our organisation has also been buoyed by the introduction of a number of new positions to strengthen our quality focus, including a restorations co-ordinator, registered nurse (read more on page 26), behavioural support specialist and quality and compliance administrator. These positions have enhanced the quality and flexibility of our service delivery. We have been granted a 5 years re-accreditation status by the Office of the Children’s Guardian for our Out of Home 16

on keeping kids safe. A sustainable future in a sector of disruption remains a challenge. We which serves lunch to people in the Manning community free of charge, five days a week. The kitchen was bolstered by a generous $30,000 donation from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation and is supported in an ongoing capacity by the generous support of local positivity and reward that come from unity in action. You can read about this service on page 33. The lifeblood of our service delivery is through the continued passion, dedication and hard work of all our CatholicCare staff and I thank everyone for their support in ‘making things happen’.

empowerment opportunities for the people using our services in a merciful manner. Their goal is our focus. As we look forward as an organisation to 2017 and beyond, we intend to continue our delivery of quality services to ensure our future sustainability and holistic support of our community. We seek to echo the hopes Pope Francis expressed in Misericordiae Vultus, his letter introducing the Year of Mercy. “A `year of the Lord's favour' or `mercy': this is what the Lord proclaimed and this is what we wish to live….to bring to the fore the richness of Jesus' mission echoed in the words of the prophet: to bring a word and gesture of consolation to the poor, to proclaim liberty to those bound by new forms of slavery in modern society, to restore sight to those who can see no more because they are caught up in themselves, to restore dignity to all those from whom it has been robbed.” (MV 16)

Helga Smit Director of CatholicCare Social Services

The five Foundations

The five foundations (Acts 2:42-47) The five foundations inform the ways the people of God in our region are disciples. The stories and images on the following pages are representative of people working across parishes, schools, social services, religious congregations and chancery ministries. As the diocese celebrates 150 years of service, worship and mission, we acknowledge the myriad ways in which the Catholic Church provides vital outreach within our communities. At the centre of each story is Jesus.

Identity & Community fosters Christian community, hospitality, welcome and respect... an identity grounded in communio.

The following pages illustrate just a fraction of the many ways in which the people of the Catholic Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle live their faith every day.

Mercy is demonstrated in our parish by our tolerant, sympathetic response and understanding of others in need both locally and far away. Merriwa Parish

Worship & Prayer gathers people for prayer, sacrament and liturgical Eucharistic in life and worship.

Formation & Education facilitates spiritual growth and promotes empowerment through education and formation.

Mission & Outreach engages people in the transformation of society— outreach through mercy and justice – to build the Kingdom of God.

Leadership & Structure fosters effective Christian leadership, communication, organisational and maintenance structures.

Mercy is evident in the tireless work done by the selfless volunteers serving our worshipping community. Morisset Parish

Through God’s Mercy discover your life as a sacred text. Anne Ryan rsm

A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just. Pope Francis

The Year of Mercy has led us to consider that the people of the local and Universal Church should be beacons of mercy in the world. Boolaroo-Warners Bay Parish

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Identity and Community

Opening community doors during the Year of Mercy Opening the Door of Mercy in celebration of the 2016 Jubilee Year of Mercy on Sunday 13 December, 2015, was a catalyst for Morisset parishioner, Frances Dunn, in strengthening her community relationships and opening doors across the diocese. The celebration of 150 years since the arrival of the first resident bishop of Maitland, Bishop James Murray, has also coincided with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and Frances has been integral in driving those commemoration activities in her parish and the wider diocesan community. One of the projects Frances has been working on this year was the 150 Years Bishop Murray Pilgrimage. The guided pilgrimage, from Morpeth to Maitland, included six historic stops with ‘voices from the past’ sharing stories of faith, fear and delight, fleshing out factual information, giving a voice and building the identity of the diocese in the late 1880s. “We can read birth dates and statistics, but


it’s the context and the human aspect that make it real,” said Frances. When recognised for her work on the 150 Years Pilgrimage, her humility is evident. She’s quick to share praise with others and highlight how much of a community effort it has been, bringing the event together, “We just need each other,” said Frances. The hospitality of organising and participating in the 150 years pilgrimage has also opened more ‘doors’ within Frances’ community and beyond into the wider diocesan community. “It’s the team that works together and the connections that you make. I’ve made so many new connections since being part of those teams,” said Frances. She also referred to a prayer from the celebration of Religious Congregations in the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle, “May the blessing of hospitality be upon us. May we make room for other people, other ideas, other ways of living.” Frances’ parish community also enjoyed a visit from Missionary of Mercy, Fr Richard

Shortall sj, earlier in the year. She enjoyed getting back to basics with her faith community and called several parishioners whom she hadn’t seen at church in a while. They came along to hear Fr Richard’s series of talks, heading out after to enjoy a meal at the local fish and chip shop. “Fr Richard was just a breath of fresh air to have a new face in our parish because we’ve had the same parish priest for so long, it was another person to connect with. Our church is very small and it really brought a stronger sense of community to our parish,” said Frances. Frances acknowledged the need to be open and transparent in the way diocesan history is recorded and has this year led a project to find and digitise every copy of diocesan newspaper, The Sentinel. “The Sentinel is now complete on, able to be updated to the newest technology at every stage, making it accessible to everyone, opening such a big door on the church - and we really need it! We need as much as we can to show we’re open.”

Identity and Community

St Patrick’s Women’s Guild celebrates 50 years The St Patrick’s Women’s Guild was founded in 1966 and in the fifty years since has made significant contributions to the Singleton community and beyond. The group was formed by then parish priest Fr Thomas Purcell so that the Catholic community was represented at other denominations’ functions and in organisations such as the Country Women’s Association and the Red Cross. Fundraising, including Melbourne Cup gatherings, theatre parties, cake stalls and garden parties, soon became a key element of the Guild and the group has raised money for the presbytery, St Augustine’s Hall, and the education of a Papuan student and another student through the St Vincent de Paul Society. They have donated money to such causes as Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets, St Patrick’s and St Augustine’s Churches and Cooinda Aged Care. In April some seventy people attended the fifty-year celebration for the St Patrick's Women’s Guild ministry for the parish of Singleton, including two inaugural members, Joan Cox and Elaine Thomas.

Parish pilgrimage to Holy Door

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Pints with a Purpose has had a great year of speakers at the Northern Star Hotel in Beaumont Street. Pints is a monthly gathering of young people exploring what is means to be a Catholic in our society today. We welcome speakers from many places, including our own local voices. In March we welcomed Brendan Joyce from Caritas, April saw a discussion about mercy and in June we heard from a panel of local Catholics sharing how they live out their baptismal calls in everyday life. In July we heard stories of pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in preparation for the pilgrims attending World Youth Day in Krakow, and in October Pints was a reunion and sharing of those pilgrims’ World Youth Day experiences. My highlight from the year was listening in May to the Vocations Director (Archdiocese of Brisbane), Fr Morgan Batt. He shared with us stories of climbing Mount Everest, and being the only priest to celebrate Mass 500 metres from the summit. We heard about people Fr Morgan had met in Rwanda, Guatemala, Panama, Iraq and Tibet, and how their stories had impacted on his own life. Fr Morgan also encouraged us to be ‘multi-potential’, not just thinking about what we do as a job, but developing all our gifts and being who God designed us to be. He posed the question, ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’

The Tighes Hill church community immersed itself in the spirit of the Year of Mercy organising a pilgrimage to the Holy Door at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Stops along the way included Mercy Services, Community Care Van, St Vincent de Paul, Matthew Talbot and Mission to Seafarers – places where works of mercy take place locally. It was a journey of learning, prayer, spiritual conversion and community building.

Claire McWilliam from Toronto Parish said that after hearing his stories she was “inspired to be bold and courageous in everyday life, being God’s light and love”. It’s a great experience to discuss spiritual things in a pub, and Pints also welcomes anyone who happens to be in the pub at the time to join us. Look out for more great speakers and topics in 2017, and come to the pub for a meal and great conversation.

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Identity and Community

Fostering love It takes a lot of love and commitment to raise a child which is something Marg knows only too well. She has been a foster carer with CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning for 32 years. In that time, she has provided care to over 150 children.

Family means a great deal to Marg, whether it be the families of the

“In the 32 years I have been a carer, I have provided short term, long term, respite and emergency care. It doesn’t matter what type of care you provide, you have to be in it for the right reasons.

CatholicCare’s (formerly CentaCare) doors all those years ago.

“You need a willingness to provide love and a nurturing environment, where you can raise a healthy child for their birth parents until they are able to take care of them, or where required, a long term foster family,” Marg said.

to watch the men in her life grow and care for children who have come

Marg supports restoration between birth parents and children. Whilst she knows it is not always achievable or in the child’s best interest, in her current capacity as an emergency carer to newborns, she believes it is important birth parents have hope that they will see their children again.

children she cares for, or her own. Marg acknowledges the ongoing support of her husband, Ron and two adult sons, who she said provided a team approach to care since they first walked through

When Marg and Ron first took children into their care, their two biological sons were only 4 and 5. One of her greatest joys has been and gone from their home over the years. She now gets to share in that same sense of delight all over again, while watching her grandchildren interact with children in their care. “Foster care, like any form of parenting, requires a lot of patience, understanding and energy but I find it hugely rewarding and Ron and I will continue to foster while we are physically able,” said Marg.

Family Community Faith Co-ordinators hit the ground running Since 2012 Helene O’Neill has inhabited the role of Parish Family Liaison Officer, strengthening existing family networks in the Blackbutt and City regions to enhance relationships between parishes and schools. This year saw an expansion of this ministry, when the role of Family Community Faith Co-ordinator was born, encompassing the Parish Family Liaison role Helene held but expanding to include Melissa Fenech and Samantha Hill as team members. For this twelve month


Identity and Community

Diocesan students nominated for Fred Hollows Humanity Award Sophie Bolch of St Benedict’s Primary School, Edgeworth and Jye Dinsdale of St Patrick’s Primary School, Swansea were among 68 Year Six students from across NSW to be honoured with a 2016 Fred Hollows Foundation award nomination. Sophie was nominated for her tireless work as President of her school’s Mini Vinnies team and her fantastic fundraising efforts, as well as for her kindness to others. Principal Peter Green nominated Jye for showing care and compassion beyond his years in organising a charity football day, ‘Kick it for Mick’, to raise funds for a family friend. Both students exemplify the care and compassion that are the criteria for the Award. Religious Education Co-ordinator at St Benedict’s, Michelle Collins, said that upon hearing about the awards she knew immediately that she would nominate Sophie. “Sophie is the most enthusiastic leader of Mini Vinnies. Being part of Mini Vinnies goes way deeper than raising money. It is about social

justice, caring for the other and being a leader. Sophie exemplifies all those things,” said Miss Collins. Jye’s simple idea of staging some exhibition games of touch football between Year 5 and 6 students to raise money for brain cancer research, awareness and support was motivated by a desire to help family friend Mick Craig, who had recently been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. With the help of the school’s Mini Vinnies team and generous donations of food and drink to sell, the school of only 125 students raised almost $700. Jye and his family then collaborated with the Mark Hughes Foundation to hold another ‘Kick it for Mick’ function at the Caves Beach Hotel which Mark Hughes and his family, along with 200 others, attended and where almost $19,000 was raised. “With the support of other schools in the area Jye’s simple idea is now responsible for raising over $21,000 for brain cancer research and support. ‘Kick it for Mick’ will now be an annual event. We couldn’t be prouder of this fine young man,” said Mr Green.

pilot program, the diocese was divided into three areas with one assigned to each Co-ordinator. Melissa Fenech was born and raised in Sydney and relocated to Maitland three years ago where she worked as a youth ministry coordinator for the Chisholm Pastoral region.

“The breadth and diversity this role brings are exciting. I’m enjoying the challenge and am looking forward to the continued engagement with the Hunter Deanery,” she adds. Meanwhile, Helene covers the coastal regions of the Newcastle Deanery stretching from Stockton to Swansea, where the

Mel views her role as “a wonderful opportunity to connect with and support the Catholic parishes and schools in the Myall and Watagan Deaneries. I am enjoying learning from the parishioners and leaders of each parish and Mass community I visit. I am trying to carry the spirit of Mary MacKillop with me in my travels and ‘never see a need without doing something about it’.

predominantly city lifestyle influences faith and its practice in a secular

The Hunter Deanery is supported by Samantha Hill, former Youth Group co-ordinator in the Chisholm Pastoral region. Sam epitomises the country lifestyle and appreciates the tyranny of distance of her region as well as having an understanding of the strong camaraderie that exists in smaller communities.

mission across the diocese. Each faces significant challenges but is

culture. “The challenge is to meet the people where they are and parallel their lifestyle with faith practices.” Despite the uniqueness of each deanery and also each team member, the desired outcomes are the same. The Co-ordinators strive to explore new models and embrace existing ideas to support a shared there to support (not take over!) parish ministry. The ministry is bearing fruit around the diocese with plans to expand this role into other areas.

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Identity and Community

Fr Phil Doyle CSSp: “One talk, for an hour” Spiritan priest, Fr Philip Doyle, currently ministering at Raymond Terrace, this year celebrates his golden jubilee of ordination. At school in Dublin a young Phil heard a visiting Spiritan Father speak. “He gave one talk, for an hour.” The Spiritans were missionaries in Africa. Phil corresponded with the priest who sent him literature. “Unfortunately, my mother opened the envelope and she said, ‘You know your asthma will not take Africa. You’ll have to think of something else.’” So for seven years he worked – but Africa had lodged itself in his heart. A Spiritan friend suggested he talk to the current vocations director, who said, “Let’s try it for a year.” Fr Phil studied philosophy and theology, was ordained and headed to Brazil, mastering Brazilian Portuguese. “I would go out on the street and I would talk to the children, because they wouldn’t laugh at you.” One day, “a telegram arrived saying ‘Dad died last night.’ The superior

said, ‘Go down to Rio, spend a couple of days there and you’ll get over it.’ Seven months later, he tells me, ‘Your mother died last night.’ So within seven months, as well as Mum and Dad, four uncles and two aunts died – and I never got home.” A later superior’s attitude was, “You got your vocation from your family – what are you afraid of?” After Brazil, Fr Phil worked in Canada for ten years, then ministered to a Portuguese community in Jersey. He returned to Dublin to nurse his sister. After she passed away Fr Phil was ready to return to work. “I’m a firm believer in doing a job and then letting the people take over and move on...” Australia beckoned. Fr Phil was in Mt Barker for 12 years but a melanoma led to further change – and Mt Barker’s loss was Raymond Terrace’s gain! He is much loved − for his warmth, his grounded homilies, his affection for his parishioners − and his jokes. Whatever you do, don’t try to out-pun Fr Phil!

Journeying with L’Arche (The Ark) L’Arche is an international movement supporting, and advocating for, people living with intellectual disabilities. Founded by Jean Vanier in 1964, L’Arche aims to create communities where people with and without an intellectual disability live together and contribute equally to their community. L’Arche is an ecumenical Christian organisation with more than 150 communities world-wide, and encourages diversity by welcoming all, regardless of religious backgrounds. The diocese has strengthened its relationship with the Hunter Friends of L’Arche community throughout 2016, initiating a ‘journey’ day in May, where members of the local and Sydney L’Arche communities, living with and without disabilities, told stories of how they came to be involved and how their lives have changed as a result of becoming L’Arche members. Hunter Friends of L’Arche also send monthly updates and stories that are shared through diocesan news website,, and social media. Hunter friends of L’Arche meet monthly and invite all to come along, make some new friends and become a member. Meetings involve community meals, art and craft workshops, prayer, social gatherings and celebrating each other’s successes.


The diocese will continue to journey with Hunter Friends of L’Arche, as they strive to establish their first home in the Newcastle-Hunter region, build their membership, celebrate and dream together.

Identity Worship and Community and Worship and Prayer Prayer

Celebrating faith Teacher and Religious Education Coordinator at Rosary Park Primary School, Branxton, Amie Ward, embarked on the diocesan World Youth Day pilgrimage with great hope and a little trepidation. “As a Religious Education Co-ordinator, I wanted to develop my faith and relationship with God and felt that the pilgrimage would be a wonderful opportunity to do this alongside like-minded individuals who were part of my faith community. But I was quite nervous about the prospect of travelling to foreign countries with a large group of people, most of whom I did not know,” said Amie. One of the aspects of the pilgrimage that appealed to Amie was the fact that she would be walking in the footsteps of the saints on the way to World Youth Day Week in Krakow, Poland. The fact that she would also be celebrating her faith with millions of others from around the world was another drawcard. “I have been educating my students for the last few years about the lives of the saints and had developed a real fascination with many of them myself, so being in Italy was

amazing, particularly at St Francis’ Hermitage in Assisi where I felt so peaceful. And being involved in World Youth Day Week was incredible; witnessing faith in action and youth from around the world chanting, waving their country’s flag and singing. When the Pope first arrived I was really emotional as pilgrims hugged and cheered,” recalled Amie. Amie bravely overcame a number of fears to take part in this life-changing journey. “The pilgrimage provided an array of experiences that proved both challenging and rewarding. I was proud of the way I opened up and allowed myself to be immersed in the whole experience. I overcame my fear of heights and managed my anxiety around large crowds and not being close to my family support network to put myself out there,” said Amie. The most important aspect of the pilgrimage experience was the impact it has had on Amie’s faith and how she intends to impart this to her students. “My spirituality and faith blossomed as this

journey progressed and I was able to gain a deeper appreciation of what it means to be Catholic. It is not just about churches or attending Mass, although this is an important part. I can see now that being strong in my Catholic faith is about being involved in community, reaching out to others and understanding that God is there for you, in good times and bad. “These personal experiences will allow me to teach my students in more meaningful ways. I bought each of my students a St Francis cross in Assisi and they loved receiving this. I was able to tell them so much more about his life and where he worked and lived,” said Amie. Worship and prayer at Rosary Park are set to become more meaningful as well. “As a teacher the experience has been invaluable. I believe that I will be able to plan more authentic liturgical celebrations, having experienced so many wonderful liturgies throughout the pilgrimage. My experiences in Europe will also allow me to engage the students with the RE syllabus in new and exciting ways,” explained Amie.

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Worship and Prayer

On song at St Joseph’s, East Maitland The choir at St Joseph’s Parish at East Maitland has a long tradition of providing music to enhance the community worship at the 8.30am Mass. Formed in the early 1980s, there has been a steady core of singers for the past 20 years which has been supplemented by other members over the years. The commitment of this group is impressive as we sing fortnightly and rehearse at least two Wednesday nights each month. Our focus remains primarily on leading the assembly as well as singing the psalm and providing occasional reflective music. Our faith is fed by reflecting on the words of the hymns that we prepare as together we anticipate the readings of the coming Sunday. The celebrations of the Easter Triduum and Christmas as well as feasts such as Pentecost are obvious highlights for us as we experience the way in which our music enhances the liturgical celebrations as well as being

uplifting experiences for us, celebrating joyfully the culmination of our many hours of practice. We really do function as a small church community as we have grown over the years into a familiar, caring and supportive group. Being together for so long, we have witnessed members’ children grow and become parents themselves, we have joined celebrations of significant milestones in our lives and we have suffered through sad times with the sickness and deaths of choristers and close family members. In these difficult times, we have helped each other through the process of healing, not only through friendship but through the very act of singing songs of praise together. While the ongoing commitment is significant, we recognise both the importance of our role in the regular parish celebrations and the joy and camaraderie we experience by singing together regularly.

Feel the fear and do it anyway! “We come to liturgy to celebrate together as a community, not as a group of separate individuals. We come to liturgy not to get something but to become something – to become more like Christ so we live in the world as the face and hands and feet of God’s mercy.” The speaker is Sr Louise Gannon rsj, Diocesan Co-ordinator of Liturgy and Adult Faith Formation. Louise has been at the helm of countless diocesan liturgies – Masses and others – celebrating various occasions in the diocesan calendar. Such events as the opening of the Door of Mercy at Sacred Heart Cathedral and the celebration of the gift of religious life in the 150th year of the diocese owe much to the depth of her understanding and commitment to the Church.


Worship and Prayer

An enduring partnership Upon entering an unfamiliar residence you might be fortunate enough to feel immediately at ease because it is a place where basic goodness and friendliness exist sideby-side. Such was my experience when visiting the Windale home of John and Monica Kelly to enquire about their recently celebrated Diamond Anniversary – sixty years of married life. A key component of their story literally covers the walls of their lounge-room: photographs of their eight daughters and two sons (a third son died young), all of whom attended Catholic schools, their 30 grandchildren and three greatgrandchildren! Fifty-nine of the Kellys’ married years have been spent happily in the midst of the supportive Windale Parish community. Faith and family are two pillars of this marriage. The welfare and appropriate education of their children have always been paramount. John sometimes worked seven days a week to ensure the family’s financial security without ever holding a driver’s licence. (Monica undertook the chauffeuring role!). Today, well in their eighties, they are visited every day by a family member (daughter Colleen drops in as we are conversing) to check on their needs. A newly-modified bathroom is testament to the family skill-pool. John and Monica’s happy dispositions

(habitual, I’m told) are evident in an added sparkle in already bright eyes whenever there is mention of a family gathering, a visit or a grandmother’s prayers requested by a grandchild. I ask John about the glue that has bound them so closely for so long. He answers unhesitatingly, citing the will to work together (for others), honesty with each other and mutual care − there is no ‘head’ as such in this partnership. On the question of their hopes and wishes for young Catholic people today contemplating marriage, Monica reflects that recent scandals in the Church have perhaps made it harder for young folk to trust but she goes on to speak of healing and believes that the seeds sown by good example and education will one day bear fruit. “That’s where faith comes in,” she says. John and Monica deserve every congratulation; their marriage is not merely an enduring one but is a living, evolving partnership in which such vital elements as selflessness, humility, sharing, caring and learning are obvious, even to a stranger. Words of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, “There were three of us in this marriage” continue to point rather pitifully towards too many hopes and dreams shattered today by infidelity. Yet, with a twist, those same words might be applied to John and Monica Kelly. There have been ‘three’ in the Kellys’ marriage, the ‘third’ being the abiding presence of their God...and that has made all the difference!

However, you would be mistaken if you imagined Louise’s ‘dreaming’ these liturgies into reality as a solitary practice. She says emphatically, “I love sitting around a table with people who are preparing an important liturgy for their community; I love the sharing of ideas and the work involved in shaping these into a liturgy that celebrates the event in the context of the community’s faith.” Louise recalls, “The liturgy of thanksgiving for Religious Life in September was prepared by a group, and the liturgy that emerged from the individuals’ shared faith and reflection looked good on paper. However, nothing prepared me for the experience of the liturgy: for what I felt, for the memories it triggered, for its reminding me of the wonderful tradition I belong to and the strength I felt in that. It seized my imagination and renewed my commitment to be the best religious I can be.” Louise can trace her interest in liturgy back to childhood. Not only was she a member of a committed Catholic family in the parish of Adamstown, but her father, Peter, was an architect. “I grew up exploring church building sites with Dad. I learnt about the church space and the

different symbols and I saw the care that went into choosing fittings that suited the space and the community. For big celebrations like Christmas and Easter there was always a rush to get there early for a good seat so we could see everything that was going on.” While early forays into preparing liturgies as Religious Studies Coordinator at St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen, involved deep fear, there was also much learning that provided firm foundations. “In those days schools used to have massive productions at the beginning of the year and at Easter and Christmas. I never thought of myself as particularly creative and I had no idea how I was going to cope. “This was my first conscious entry into liturgical ministry and in spite of my fear, I loved it. And I learned that liturgical ministry is communal. It takes a community with a range of gifts to prepare and celebrate a liturgy. I learned the power of faith and trust. Ideas always come. I remember the first liturgy at Aberdeen used the song “Send in the clowns” to link to the story of the call of Samuel. Who would have thought?”

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Worship and Prayer

A day about mercy brings new hope After migrating to Australia from Ireland in 2012 with her husband and four young children, CatholicCare’s Registered Nurse Orla Kingston appreciates the unique opportunities and challenges she faces every day in her work role.

reflect on the personal journey that helped her arrive at

Orla primarily works with CatholicCare’s Disability Services team to offer care and support to people living in the organisation’s five Supported Accommodation homes throughout Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

I have had. Through their own journey, they have

this point, as well as her ongoing interactions with the people she supports in her role as a Registered Nurse. “The people I work with in Supported Accommodation are the most wonderful teachers displayed such positivity, determination and wisdom. It has been a pleasure to learn from their amazing stories and life experiences. My dealings with them bring to life some words of Pope Francis regarding

“As CatholicCare’s Registered Nurse I assess and co-ordinate the health care needs of people we support. I achieve this through providing training to fellow staff and working with the housing coordinators to design individualised care plans, which utilise the expertise of allied health professionals to achieve better health outcomes.”

mercy, “Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be

As much as Orla loves her job, she embraced the opportunity to attend the annual Bishop’s Staff Day which this year centred on the Year of Mercy.

embracing new opportunities in both my professional

Orla said the day provided her with an opportunity to

loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.” “The Bishop’s Staff Day renewed my commitment to and personal lives and highlighted the importance of learning and forgiving past errors, for this makes us stronger and wiser,” Orla said.

Taree youth gather with Fr Rob Galea for worship through music and song After a year of planning Fr Rob Galea, Joseph Moorhouse and Zebedee Fernandez arrived in the parish of Taree in June. A busy schedule had been planned, starting with a welcome dinner where Fr Rob was the guest speaker, talking about his work with Youth Ministry and also how he became involved in the music industry. He also sang two of his songs which just whet the appetite of those who were attending the concert on the Friday evening at the Manning Entertainment Centre. On Friday Fr Rob celebrated Mass with Taree parish priest, Fr George Anthicadu, and then headed off to attend the school assembly at St Joseph’s Primary School, Taree. He enthralled the children with the message of how valuable and awesome they are. They joined in very enthusiastically and even performed one of his songs for him! The 1.00pm concert at the Manning Entertainment Centre was attended by more than 400 students and teachers. Again, he ministered to the students a wonderful message of humility and faith and had the whole audience dancing in the seats. The students were in awe of his wonderful singing talent and spirituality. The evening concert for the community in general was a fantastic celebration of Fr Rob’s life and ministry through music and song. Each song was different but had a similar message: “the love of Jesus for us and our need to embrace his goodness and grace in our lives”. He had the young and the “not so young” literally rocking in their seats and everybody was engrossed in him and the message he delivered. What a great blessing it was to have this extraordinary young priest in our parish, telling his story of love, hope and faith with his music. 26

Photo courtesy of Fr George Anthicad

Worship and Prayer

A praying community with a family feeling Many of you reading this article will have seen invitations to Adoration, or as this experience is affectionately called locally, Seven @ Sacred Heart (SASH). Those who may be curious are perhaps wondering, ‘Isn’t it the same as going to Mass?’ From my experience some elements are similar and some elements create a prayer experience different from those I have had praying within the Mass. When invited to adoration, I have been invited to pray, meditate, sing and discuss with fellow participants the word of God with a priest who supports us through these experiences. I can happily say I find it wonderful and special being able to pray almost anywhere. But often I find it very special to pray in an atmosphere created through adoration. The ‘flow’ that is often created to move us spiritually through this experience can at times develop from the way we may feel after a really positive outcome from the discussions we have together as a community while reflecting on the word of God. Therefore, it is my feeling that the most beautiful part about adoration (and even belonging to this community that is the Catholic Church) is that I feel inspired not only by the Lord I love but by the people who love him too. To really affirm my feeling of belonging to a community with a family feeling, we gather after prayer for a very social closing through the gift of a meal or supper. I invite anyone and everyone who is exploring different ways of praying to consider joining us for adoration.

Praise and worship like you never have before The Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young People (DCMYP) ended a busy year with a praise and worship evening at St Pius X High School, Adamstown. Designed to emulate the catechesis sessions at World Youth Day (WYD) and the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF), the praise and worship evening was led by the Spirit and Truth band and involved personal testimony from two WYD pilgrims, Amber-Jane Parker and Fr Greg Barker. Those gathered had a wonderful night, expressing their faith through music, song, dance, prayer, witness and finally Mass. It was a great opportunity for those who have never attended a WYD or ACYF to enjoy a transformative faith experience outside Sunday Mass. Another highlight was viewing a short film chronicling the WYD experience in Italy and Poland in July and August. You couldn’t help but feel the grace of God’s presence in the auditorium. It was faith in community and a unique experience of worship that everyone should encounter.

Take heart, God is among us As part of the observance of 150 years of diocesan life, a celebration of the contribution of 32 religious congregations was held at St Mary’s Campus, All Saints College, Maitland, in September. For most, if not all, the abiding image of the liturgy in thanksgiving for the gift of Religious to the diocese would have been the presence of ‘Bishop Murray’, aka Mark Spencer, bestriding the space, biretta on head, staff in hand and resplendent in soutane and lace-trimmed surplice. Mark, who is an Education Officer in RE & Spirituality Services, Catholic Schools Office, brought Bishop Murray to life in voice, garb and mien, telling the diocesan story with verve and humour, accented with particular recollections of the religious congregations. At intervals he brandished a variety of ‘props’ to prompt his tale, ranging from the collected works of Shakespeare and an exercise book (remember those?) to a blackboard and an iPad! Leading the liturgy were Sr Megan Brock rsj, Sr Judith Lawson op, Sr Frances Stace rsm, Br Jeffrey Barrington fms and Bishop Bill. Music and song were important components, with Mercy, Dominican, Josephite and Marist hymns being sung with gusto! A highlight was the launch of a song composed by gifted musician and composer, Basil Morrow, to mark the diocese’s sesquicentenary. The song is titled “Take Heart, God is Among Us”, and is a spirited rendition of the hopes, dreams and mission of the Church of Maitland-Newcastle. Bishop Bill told the assembly, “I feel privileged to have been part of our celebration this morning.” However, he kept his remarks brief, saying in a reference to his predecessor, ‘Bishop Murray’, “You don’t try and out-blarney the blarney!”

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Good people telling good news in good ways When he teaches adult groups under the auspices of the Tenison Woods Education Centre (TWEC), Michael O’Connor, parishioner of Wallsend, describes himself in terms of “four Xes”. He says, “I’m an ex-priest. I married and had three (now adult) children but now I’m an ex-husband. I worked for the Department of Community Services for 33 years as both field officer and manager, so I’m an ex-employee. "But the most important 'X' - which I share with everyone - is that I'm extremely loved and blessed by God!" “My father died when I was 16, so that led to questions. But even before that, I feel I was asking bigger, metaphysical questions. I knew the teaching, the formulae, but words are only symbols. They’ve got to make sense, they have to mean something. How do you understand more than the words?” Michael acknowledges his parents’ faith and commitment to education, and the


wisdom of teachers such as Sr Clare Kelly rsm, as forming foundations that have stood him in good stead. He thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and stimulation of studying philosophy and theology at St Columba’s and St Patrick’s Colleges. “It was fairly recently post-Vatican II which meant that all sorts of ideas were being opened up. I didn’t have any sense of disruption – I had a gentle run I suppose.” Unsurprisingly, Michael’s study and learning have been ongoing and he describes it as “self-driven and self-guided”. As a retiree, Michael is highly committed to both his parish and the diocesan church. He leads two scripture study groups, focusing on the Sunday lectionary, and is also an awardwinning member of the Aurora editorial team. He has been involved in TWEC for many years and has led workshops on discernment for members of the diocesan community. In response to the question, ‘Who inspires you?’ Michael says without hesitation, “Augustine of course! Just the honesty of the

man, the way he probed his own thinking and motivations. That stayed with me, and now I’m reading his homilies...” John Henry Newman and Julian of Norwich are also sources of encouragement and reassurance – and there are many more… He describes his heroes collectively as “Good people telling good news in good ways”. The wonders of the worldwide web have opened more windows and Michael delights in keeping up with the words and actions of Pope Francis, commentators he particularly admires, the Australian church scene and beyond. This good news – that each of us is loved unconditionally − is really the heart of the matter for Michael O’Connor. He is refreshingly open to opportunities to learn, to grow, and to share the gleanings. As far as adult faith formation is concerned, “I just thoroughly enjoy it and I want others to enjoy it too.”

Formation and Education

SFX goes back to primary school An initiative that began at St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, some years ago, under the auspices of teacher Robert Sheridan, has flourished, benefiting both ‘SFX’ students and those they assist in local primary schools. Initially students visited Hamilton Public School weekly, assisting volunteers who took Special Religious Education (SRE) classes. The students would be aware of the lesson plan and would act as conduits between the volunteer leaders and the younger pupils. Now the program has blossomed and the senior students’ remit includes whatever support is most helpful. It could involve assistance with RE, mathematics, English, PE or special events such as NAIDOC Week. Careers Advisor Julie McLoughlin oversees morning, middle and afternoon groups, comprising some 20 Year 11 and 12 students each term. While some students are keen to return to ‘their’ school, it’s an important principle that as many students as possible have the opportunity. Currently Hamilton Public School, St Pius X Primary at Windale and St Joseph’s Primary at Merewether welcome students weekly. There are obvious benefits to be gained in terms of building confidence, experiencing being ‘on the other side of the desk’ as it were and even identifying a possible career direction. However, when I spoke to Paige Cameron and Sophie Gonano, both of Year 11, they were most enthusiastic about the experience of ‘working’ weekly with the same students and building genuine relationships. As Paige said, “They would look forward to seeing us and if we had to miss a week, they would be disappointed.” Sophie’s experience has been similar and she has valued the opportunity to assist students ‘one on one’. “I had thought about teaching as a career and now I’m confident it’s something I would enjoy and find rewarding,” she said. Both older and younger students look forward to an end-of-year celebration, to which the SFX community contributes generously. Julie McLoughlin is delighted to see the benefits that accrue to all parties contributing to this unique model. “It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the students, ‘big ones’ and ‘little ones,’” she said.

Women as witnesses to the joy of the gospel For the six ‘M-N’ women who attended the 2016 colloquium of the Council for Australian Catholic Women, it was an opportunity to meet women of like mind who are committed to the Church, in spite of all; to take time out from daily duties and expectations; to pray, but most of all, to learn. As keynote addresses and workshops unfolded, the refrain was heard, “I didn’t know that” – often quickly followed by “Why don’t we know that?” Keynote speakers Maria Harries (Women in the Family), Michele Connolly rsj (Women in the Church) and Megan Brock rsj (Women in Society) each demonstrated a breadth and depth of understanding, infused by a gospel heart, good humour and practical suggestions. A thread running through the scheduled conversations and enriching informal chats was the Australian synod proposed for 2020 by Archbishop Mark Coleridge. This was seen variously as an opportunity and a concern, depending on the degree to which it invites the entire Australian Church to participate. Michele Connolly urged her audience, “Get busy girls, it’s on!” Breaking open the story of the haemorrhaging woman, she highlighted the fact that the woman regaled Jesus with “the whole truth” of her experience. The synod too needs to hear the whole truth of what it is to be a woman of the Church today. Throughout the colloquium, the words of Pope Francis in (particularly) Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel were sources of new hope. Witnessing to the joy of the gospel is a challenge for anyone, and it is only truth-telling to say that the limitations on women’s participation pose an extra challenge. Archbishop Mark Coleridge said at the synod in Rome last year, “We need to engage in a new listening and a new language.” Maria Harries said, “The new language needs to be not just words, but action and new behaviours. I hope the divine feminine will be present at the synod of 2020.”

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Seasons for Growth celebrates its 20th birthday Over two days in August past and present trainers and Co-ordinators joined with Seasons for Growth companions, priests, parishioners, CSO and diocesan personnel to celebrate 20 years of the Seasons for Growth program. The Seasons for Growth Children & Young People’s program aims to strengthen the social and emotional wellbeing of those who are experiencing major life changes − such as death, separation and divorce, illness, disability and moving − by supporting them to explore the impact of change and loss on everyday life and to learn new ways to respond. Fifteen years ago the program expanded to help adults cope with the changes and losses they face as well as educating the community on meaning, styles of grieving and strategies to help family, friends and colleagues in their grief journeys. In recent years the program has expanded, offering parents the opportunity to better understand the experience of separation and divorce from their child’s perspective, and to explore ideas and strategies they may wish to consider as they support their children’s transition through family change. From next

year, the program will offer help to parents of children dealing with the death of someone they love. We were fortunate to have the author of the Seasons for Growth program, Anne Graham, speak. Anne spoke about her passion for supporting children’s social and emotional wellbeing and highlighted the importance of their participation and recognition as we engage with them. Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries, Teresa Brierley, enlightened the audience on how the diocese has been involved with Seasons for Growth throughout the Hunter-Manning area during the last 20 years. Good Grief developed the suite of Seasons for Growth programs and their CEO, Kerry Stirling, spoke about the relationship between Good Grief and the diocese, affirming the diocese on its support of the program in this region. Helen Bourne (Principal at St Michael’s Primary School, Nelson Bay) and Debbie Hill ('Companion' from St Mary’s High School, Gateshead) offered insights into how the program has benefited the children who have participated as well as the school in general.

On the same path but perhaps on a different road According to websites dedicated to the various pilgrimages on offer around the globe − and there are many I can tell you − a pilgrim ‘is a traveller who has come from afar who is on a journey to a holy place or gathering who often makes their journey on foot’. It is a journey of wonderment, discovery and enlightenment, they say, taken alone or with others on the same path but perhaps on a different road. My most recent opportunity to be part of a pilgrimage certainly ticked all the pilgrim/pilgrimage boxes.


Formation and Education

Confirmation road trip for Forster Tuncurry children Confirmation is such a great way for us to celebrate our young people and to support them on their faith journey. The sacrament is also a great way for our community to celebrate ourselves as a pilgrim people. Our program includes a ‘retreat’ day with the Bishop in his office digs in Newcastle and the children and their parents really enjoy the opportunity to meet with Bishop Bill before confirmation. They love having the opportunity to ask their questions in a less formal environment, to tour the diocesan offices and to spend time in the cathedral. It is a big day out for the Forster Tuncurry kids with an early start on the bus to ensure not only quality time with the bishop but an opportunity for lunch at McDonalds! I’m not entirely sure which of the two, Bishop Bill or Ronald McDonald, is the bigger drawcard!

Caritas Diocesan participants in the Pastoral Placement Program spent three days at the Caritas Young Adults Global Justice workshop in Sydney. The final day consisted of an ‘amazing race’ in which participants raced to a nearby university campus to raise awareness of the Fairer World campaign. “It was a great team building exercise and in a practical way we were able to experience the collaborative nature of an advocacy campaign within Caritas Australia,” said Michael Szmynec.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Clements

Catholic Mission Director of Schools Ray Collins is presented with a statue of the Inclusive Mary from Cambodia, by Diocesan Director for Catholic Mission, Mark Toohey. Schools of this diocese provide strong and consistent support for the international missionary activity of the Church undertaken by Catholic Mission in some very needy parts of the world including Cambodia. Catholic Mission’s faith-development and fundraising activities are well supported by parishes, schools and individual donors in this diocese and across Australia.

I had an opportunity to travel to Krakow, Poland, as the WYD Chaplain. What a remarkable experience and what a privilege to journey with some 70 other pilgrims from this diocese to travel across parts of Italy following in the footsteps of the Saints with all days leading to WYD16. The pilgrimage to and through WYD took an incredible 27 days, walking from 10 to 20 kilometres a day, with anything from 70 to two million other pilgrims, all standing in awe and wonderment at the foot of this saint or that, or indeed marvelling at the words of Pope Francis, or quite literally jockeying for space in a place of devotion or on the road to the Vigil site. I loved the catechesis at WYD. Our catechists in Cardinal Tim Dolan of New York, Cardinal Soane Mafi of Tonga and Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra-Goulburn were incredible in sharing their personal faith in light of the Year of Mercy. Absolutely inspirational! Anyone listening couldn’t help but feel the power of God’s Word lived in them and all those gathered. For young people particularly, but also for all of us older members present, it was very uplifting to share faith with enthusiastic and energised young people from all over the world and to know the joy of being Catholic and Christian offered great hope to all of us for the future.

That said, one of my most memorable personal moments occurred in the retreat centre of St Francis of Assisi at the famous ‘Eremo Delle Carceri’. This beautiful place sits about four kilometres above the old town of Assisi. Our pilgrimage led us to this reflective place where it is said, having given up on the people of Assisi, he was called to preach to the animals and the birds. You can feel his presence. I remember descending through the centre with ever narrowing stairs and ever decreasing door sizes, and feeling the challenge physically of getting through to the spot where Francis himself stood and prayed. As I stood literally where St Francis stood, feeling completely stripped of worldly possessions except for one small bag, I remember thinking how small and insignificant so many of my plans and ambitions seemed. One of the other pilgrims reflected “you get here only with less ego”! The whole process seemed designed to strip away all those things that don’t matter, until you are left standing in that holy place with the one thing that does actually matter, quite simply yourself, simply yourself standing with God. It didn’t matter that there were other pilgrims present; you were just there with God.

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Supported Independent Living (SIL) participants develop knowledge and skills This year CatholicCare Social Services designed a Personal Growth Series for its Supported Independent Living Program (SIL) participants, focusing on teaching important life skills to young people. The program brought together Paralympian Kurt Fearnley, “Biggest Loser” trainer Shannan Ponton and finance guru, Peter Thornhill, to impart their wisdom to participants. SIL, a program offered to 16-18 year-olds who have previously lived in Out of Home Care, aims to help young adults transition into adulthood by providing them with guidance on matters including basic housekeeping, finances, health, education and employment. “Many of the young people we support have had a difficult start in life, and it’s important they are given guidance to achieve success and not let the card they have been dealt define who they become. “The presenters in the Personal Growth Series are at the top of their respective fields, and learning how they continued to strive for success in times of adversity was a valuable educational experience,” said Director of CatholicCare, Helga Smit. Kurt Fearnley shared his own story, captivating participants as he detailed how he crawled the Kokoda Track, claimed victory at consecutive Paralympics and was part of the winning crew in the 2012 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. His message for the participants was a simple concept, but one he says takes discipline to master. “I am someone who will never stop. Someone who will never ever give up. Ever,” Kurt said. There was no denying his effect on the audience with one participant, Will, revealing, “Kurt showed us how to stay positive…I feel like he is a real hero.” “CatholicCare wants those in the SIL program to successfully engage in the community and we work with them continually to help them achieve this,” Ms Smit said.


Richard Lennan delivers inaugural Cathedral Lecture It was entirely fitting that the inaugural Cathedral Lecture, initiated by Dean of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Rev Andrew Doohan, should be delivered by Rev Dr Richard Lennan, Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College, and a priest of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Fr Richard spent a week among us as his significant contribution to the celebration of 150 years of the diocese. As well as the Cathedral Lecture, he led seminars at Raymond Terrace, Aberdeen, Taree, Lochinvar and Hamilton and also participated in a ‘conversation with leaders’ at the diocesan offices. The title of the Cathedral Lecture, “Tradition: God’s Future, Our Past and the Challenge of the Present”, was rich with possibilities. "What is unambiguously clear is that our willingness to respond to what may be Spirit-generated dynamic unrest makes for a church that is more messy than neat…While living in a messy church may not seem too desirable, such a church accords well with what it means to be a pilgrim, to commit ourselves to all that happens on the journey of faith. The alternative can often be that we ignore questions, pretend that we have all the answers, or act as if our tradition has evolved seamlessly from certainty to certainty" said Richard.

Baptised in faith Thirty-six children from St Pius X Primary School at Windale took a significant step on their faith journey when they were baptised by Fr Gerard Mackie and Fr Camillus Nwahia in June. The teaching staff at SPX, under the guidance of principal Peter Bowen and REC Cate Pennington, realised this long-held dream of many of the children and their families. Parishioners, relatives and student leaders and teaching staff from St Pius X Adamstown and St Mary’s Gateshead also witnessed the baptisms and vowed to walk with the children on their faith journey.

Formation Missionand andEducation Outreach

Service with a smile Serving wholesome meals to the public, with a smile, is what the Taree Community Kitchen is all about. The Taree Community Kitchen had been operating for 30 years before CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning proudly took over management in December 2015. With a $30,000 donation from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, the support of numerous local sponsors and a dedicated team of volunteers, the Kitchen continued to make a real difference, providing assistance to vulnerable members of the community during 2016. The Kitchen opens its doors to the public five days a week. It is a space where people can feel safe, enjoy the company of others and have access to other relevant services via information and referral. The Taree Community Kitchen has over 35 volunteers all of whom enrich the quality of life for the people who visit the Kitchen and

their families. The volunteers’ lives are, in turn, enriched by their experiences.

relaxed atmosphere. We help anyone.

Zoe Geraki, who has been volunteering at the Kitchen since February, thoroughly enjoys her time spent helping others through the program.

out of the experience than you ever give.

“I love the way that the community has got together behind this project. Some donate their time, others their service and of course many generously gift food and produce.

“As a volunteer you get so much more It is truly heartwarming to see the smiles on people’s faces when you serve them; the human connection brings so much happiness,” said Ruth. Zoe concurs, describing a typical day in the Kitchen.

“It’s great to be part of a team and to get things done for a common good. To see the patrons enjoying the space socially is a great feeling. As volunteers, we feel rewarded just knowing that our efforts are appreciated,” said Zoe.

“As we work in the Kitchen preparing the food

Ruth Sumpner, another volunteer who has been with the Kitchen since the beginning of the year, echoes Zoe’s sentiments.

“There is a strong need for this service in our

“I have found volunteering to be an immensely enjoyable and fulfilling experience. When you are in the kitchen, it’s like you are there with extended family. It’s a welcoming, friendly and

we put our minds together as a community.

and talking we bond and connect with each other. We joke, we laugh and we welcome people with a smile. We love to chat with the people who utilise the service.

community and the success of the Kitchen is a testament to what can be done when CatholicCare, small businesses, schools and individuals have come together to address this need,” said Zoe.

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Hospitality begins at home The House of Hospitality first opened its doors to men recovering from alcoholism in 1991, and since then has evolved into a drug and alcohol-free, safe place for families and individuals experiencing homelessness to stay while they search for accommodation. The house, originally located at the priests’ residence at Pius X High School, Adamstown, is now located in Broadmeadow and offers community style living, close to public transport, for up to three families or individuals to stay for up to three months. Josephite, Sr Carmel Hansen, who, along with her faith community, founded the house 15 years ago, also lives on-site. During the 1990s, Sr Carmel worked with the St Vincent de Paul Society as a psychologist, and she continues to work professionally outside the house. To her ‘housemates’, she provides guidance and a listening ear, but stresses that independence is empowering. All residents are encouraged to participate fully in home life, whilst searching for suitable accommodation. The house is self-funded and relies on in-kind donations and contributions from people living in the house. “Those staying pay a small amount, which is part of the empowerment program,” said Sr Carmel,

“The philosophy of the house is that we need to empower the poor and not just have charity for them.” The House of Hospitality has been home to single dads, people recovering from addictions, women and children escaping family violence, asylum seekers and many others. Due to there being no full-time worker staying at the house, Sr Carmel only takes referrals from people who know the house, such as the Department of Housing, Centrelink, City Mission and women’s refuges. To continue to offer this important service to the community, Sr Carmel is supported by her faith community, Peter Hempenstall, Frank McDonnell, Josie O’Donnell, Jacquie Coleman, Cheree and Michael Flanagan and son Isaac. “They’re a support to me, if something happens to me I can ring them and they’ll come across, but mainly we meet every second Sunday to pray and talk about what’s happening in the house or social justice issues we need to address, particularly in regard to housing, but it’s always justice-oriented.” It’s this unwavering commitment to justice that sees Sr Carmel and the House of Hospitality living the gospel values each day.

Happy 20th birthday Aurora! Aurora is Latin for dawn, and in the lectionary, the dawn Mass of Christmas Day is called Aurora. When Bishop Michael Malone launched a diocesan newspaper which he named Aurora in December 1996, it was the beginning of a new era for the diocese. Initially, under Fr Peter Brock’s editorship, Aurora was a repository of diocesan news and views, with parishes, schools and agencies keen to share their stories. In 2006, a full colour gloss format was introduced – Aurora had grown into a magazine! The ‘look’ was more appealing and the A4 size was more convenient. In 2011, a new era dawned


Mission and Outreach

Strong is your only choice Some will recall the June Aurora cover depicting teacher Michael Eccleston and students from St Joseph’s Lochinvar participating in #3weeks2days, an imaginative honouring of John Sandy’s walk for three weeks and two days in order to make a phone call to his wife. John came to Australia as a refugee from Sierra Leone and is now a project officer with CatholicCare Refugee Service. Since the Refugee Awareness Run, in which many students and teachers participated, Michael Eccleston’s connection to John and to Refugee Service has only grown stronger. Michael recalls, “Personally, the run was a great struggle as I had a stress fracture in my shin and couldn't complete training pre #3weeks2days. The injury was a blessing in disguise as I have a greater appreciation of struggle and the importance of support during tough times. It is not until being strong is your only choice that you begin to realise how much you can push yourself.” Asked about ‘a memory that stays with you’, Michael says, “Dallas Collins (Maths Co-ordinator at St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen) and I were running through heavy rain and talking about the quality of our rain jackets. At this time John Sandy passed us some food and water and I asked John if it rained much on him during his walk. After a long pause he said with a big smile, "Oh yes". It was another reminder to be grateful for what we have. At the end of that day I went home, had a shower, enjoyed a warm meal with my family and slept in my bed. John did not have any of these luxuries.” Perhaps most significantly, Michael’s #3weeks2days initiative has had a long term impact on students and other teachers. From selling wristbands and writing songs to public speaking, advocacy and “drawing on John’s story to dig deeper when experiencing adversity”, all who were part of #3weeks2days have been changed. Michael continues to support CatholicCare Refugee Service, specifically the Community Care Van which serves those who are homeless or down on their luck in Islington Park on Saturday evenings. Demonstrating the enduring bond between himself and John, he says, “I am blessed to have met John. Recently he helped me move house!”

when Aurora reverted to a tabloid size and most significantly, became a monthly insert in six regional newspapers including The Newcastle Herald. To date, the model remains unique. The magazine’s effectiveness as the diocese’s flagship form of communication has always depended on the support, in fact ‘ownership’, of the diocesan community. As her audience became a snapshot of the Hunter and Manning regions, it became important that the magazine tread a fine line between a faithful delivery of the good news of the gospel and a magazine that engaged the wider community, many of whom professed no connection to the Church. Gratifying evidence that this goal was being achieved came in 2014, when Aurora won both the Bishop Philip Kennedy Memorial Award (Australasian Catholic Press Association) and the Gutenberg Award (Australasian Religious Press Association). Over the years, the magazine

has won many awards, encompassing writing, design, the capacity to address issues effectively and reader appeal. Vital to the success of Aurora have been the volunteers who meet monthly, write, provide feedback and suggest story ideas and approaches. In addition, members of the community regularly submit stories or ideas, offer commentary and participate through social media. This year, our diocesan magazine enters its 21st year, with plenty still to say and always keen to engage the local audience. Readers’ thoughts are always welcome. Aurora has come of age! William J Bausch has written that stories define our humanity, lend identity to tribes and nations, ask our questions, pose our problems, cut us down to size and dangle mystery before our eyes. (Touching the Heart Twenty-Third Publications, 2009). That’s not a bad mission statement for a diocesan magazine!

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Mission and Outreach

Youth of Morisset make a mark in the world can talk to anyone,” explained Racheal. Faith, always important for these young people, has been strengthened. “My faith was most definitely strengthened. Before I left I always thought that even though I am Christian, I don’t necessarily need to tell anyone, but now I am more willing to share my faith with others,” said Sean. Both Racheal and Sean admit that without the parish’s support they may not have been able to have such a life-changing experience. Morisset Parish maintains a strong focus on youth ministry with a successful youth group and monthly youth Mass. Last year the parish rallied behind some of their young people in order to send them to Adelaide for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF). The parish held cake stalls, encouraged bucket donations and organised a concert at the Morisset Country Club to enable Racheal Dash, Sean Dash and Lachlan Vane to attend the Festival. Country music duo, The Rough Diamonds, who also happen to be parishioners, provided the entertainment at

the concert and it was a wonderful community gathering. Racheal and Sean enjoyed the camaraderie at the Youth Festival. “Making new friends was a highlight for both of us. Being surrounded by people with the same faith and enjoying the spiritual energy was another highlight,” said Sean. Racheal overcame her shyness to revel in the experience. “A lot of times we were asked to get up and talk to new people which is not something I would normally do, but after ACYF I feel like I

“The parish was amazing. I’m so thankful for their help in supporting us to attend the Festival,” said Racheal. “The youth leaders let us know about the Festival and encouraged us to attend and the whole parish helped raise the funds so we could get there,” said Sean. Racheal and her sister Louise had earlier in the year participated in missionary work in Madagascar with Thrive Madagascar after hearing about it at Mass. Again, the parish rallied behind the young people, covering the cost of the care packages the girls took with them for the orphans.

A personal witness to mission

Celebrating 800 years of Dominican life

Pastoral Placement participant, Amara McHugh, reflects on her experiences at Mission to Seafarers.

The Dominican schools of St Dominic’s, St Columban’s and San Clemente, Mayfield, and Corpus Christi, Waratah, have traditionally come together to celebrate the feast of St Dominic early in August. This year’s occasion was extra special, as Dominicans everywhere celebrated 800 years since the confirmation of the Order of Preachers in 1216.

Seafarers may not see their families and loved ones for months at a time. They earn low wages and endure poorer living conditions than most. Mission to Seafarers (MTS) is an organisation that aims to provide a “home away from home” for the men who arrive in our port. Volunteer-based, MTS provides free transport, food, clothing, and much more to make a real difference in the lives of seafarers. My experience at the Mission was definitely one of the best. Each week for a month I was privileged to climb narrow gangways and enter the close quarters of the seafarers to say hello, provide information about the Mission and enjoy a cup of tea. I was introduced to random strangers with smiling faces, greasy hands and a wicked sense of humour, who simply wanted to chat and meet someone new. The Mission offers meals, transportation, books, clothing, internet access and even a money exchange, and is ready to do anything at any time. I am proud that the Catholic and Anglican Dioceses and the wider community support such an extraordinary organisation.


As the Order’s name suggests, Dominic was known as a great preacher. At the celebration students were told that, when asked what book he used to prepare his homilies, Dominic responded, “The only book I use is the book of love.” Sisters from local Dominican communities were the guests of honour at the liturgy and morning tea. Afterwards, San Clemente students participated in a pilgrimage walk around Stockton, exploring the four Dominican pillars of community, study, service and prayer.

Mission and Outreach

Teachers Helping Teachers – a different kind of outreach program Almost a decade ago, the Teachers Helping Teachers outreach program was launched by the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle to assist underprivileged areas of India, Cambodia and East Timor through the provision of funds to support the employment of teachers in each of these countries. Today, the unique program, now run in partnership with Catholic Mission, reaches over five countries and has raised over $200,000 toward various projects supporting this mission through generosity, passion and the ultimate goal of breaking the poverty cycle through education. For many years, the CSO has deeply engaged with issues of social justice, both in Australia and overseas, with staff and students involved in various immersion programs. In line with these initiatives, the Teachers Helping Teachers program was launched in November 2006. Due to a lack of basic resources and students living with disease and disability, committed teachers working in Catholic communities in developing countries around the world often struggle to make the most of their skills or the potential of their students. The Teachers Helping Teachers program was designed to provide a means to support education in less developed countries. In the program’s first year, teachers, principals and support staff pledged over $16,000 which covered the annual cost of employing in excess of 10 teachers in India, Cambodia and East Timor. Ten years on, the program continues to support the employment of teachers in schools. One teacher who has been touched by the Teachers Helping Teachers program is Assistant Principal of St Mary’s Primary School, Scone, Kim Wilson. Kim has returned to Cambodia every year since her first CSOled immersion in 2013. One of the most influential parts of the immersion experience for Kim was seeing how Catholic Mission supports various projects and how the funds raised by the Teachers Helping Teachers program were distributed amongst the communities and schools. “Education is a way out of poverty for these people. Anything that makes it easier for the students to get to school, stay in school or for the teachers to deliver curriculums is one step closer to their getting out of that cycle of poverty,” said Kim.

Walking for Mercy In June, parish priest at Nelson Bay, Fr Kevin Corrigan, walked from St Mary MacKillop Chapel, North Sydney, to Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton, to raise funds and awareness for “Home for Small Children”- a project run by the Japanese Lay Missionary Movement (JLMM). The funds raised were sent to missionary Osana Miyuki of JLMM. Miyuki co-ordinates an outdoor school initiative in the very poor Steung Meanchey area of Phnom Penh. About 80 children aged 4-9, are assisted and provided with a nutritious lunch each day. Children’s attendance also enables parents to work or search for work, with many working by looking for saleable items at the city dump. When Fr Kevin visited Miyuki at the Home For Small Children last November he met a troubled young woman. She was married with two children and given their poor circumstances, felt fearful of persevering with her pregnancy. Her husband was unable to work due to a back injury. Fr Kevin and Miyuki later visited the young woman in her tiny makeshift home to assure her that medical and other supports would be made available to assist her throughout the pregnancy and afterwards. It became apparent that this young woman’s circumstance was not uncommon. Fr Kevin returned to Australia determined to assist Miyuki in providing help for other young women in similar circumstances via a Jubilee Year of Mercy Walk. Fr Kevin visited and spoke to some 1700 students at St Mary’s Maitland, San Clemente Mayfield and St Pius X Adamstown about Miyuki’s faith-inspired mission work. He encouraged the youth to identify with Miyuki’s mission - to express solidarity with and engage in activities helping to enhance the lives of God’s beloved poor. Students and staff at the schools decided to raise funds in support of the Walk. St Mary’s teacher, Bob Sheridan, accompanied Fr Kevin on most of the seven-day journey. Aurora carried an article advertising the Walk and this attracted a broader, and often generous community sponsorship. The Walk, 25-30 km per day, was a pilgrimage of prayer. Thanks to the kind generosity of the diocesan and broader community Fr Kevin was able to raise just over $30,000 to assist Miyuki’s work. This amount will finance the construction, and staffing of two rooms for a crèche for up to 30 infants under the age of three. It will be called St Mary MacKillop’s Infants Creche! Its availability will provide great support and encouragement to young families. It is possible that land adjacent to the JLMM project site could also now be purchased to provide a place of play and interaction for these little ones. Miyuki is deeply grateful for the unexpected support from Australia.

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Leadership and Structure

A tribute to Director of Schools, Ray Collins, upon his retirement

Kathryn Fox, Head of Teaching & Learning Services, Catholic Schools Office, colleague and friend. As the end of another year approaches I reflect on this ‘end’ being a little different. We will farewell our Director of Schools, Ray Collins, after nineteen years with the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, including nine ‘serving with distinction’ as Director. To adequately acknowledge Ray’s enormous contribution to Catholic education is a difficult task. In Ray’s recent weekly blog, he noted “it is rather interesting….that around this time of the year I will have completed 61 years of continuous involvement in school education. The exact date is lost on me as I commenced Kindergarten at the beginning of Term 3 in 1956, in the years of the three-term year…. it was certainly my introduction to a lifetime of school involvement...” However, Ray didn’t begin his teaching career in a Catholic school. In 1973, after completing his teaching diploma at Newcastle Teachers’ College, Ray was sent out west to his first appointment at Bourke Public School. And whilst he enjoyed his first three years there, Ray accepted another call to move schools, this time, to St John's Primary School in Dubbo. So began his journey in Catholic education and his love for western NSW and the Diocese of Bathurst. Ray’s years (1976-1987) at St John’s proved a successful and fulfilling time, in his roles as class teacher, senior primary teacher, and eventually as school principal. It was also in Dubbo that he met and married Annette, who 38

has been a wonderful support to Ray. In 1988 Ray accepted an appointment to the Catholic Education Offices in Dubbo and Bathurst, working with schools in various consultancy roles, completing ten years travelling the Bathurst Diocese in his support of primary schools. In 1998 he accepted the call of his home Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Ray has held the role of Schools Consultant, Head of Teaching and Learning, Assistant Director and Director of Schools. Ray has also been a Member of the Catholic Education Commission of NSW, is the current Chair of the Catholic Schools Sports Services and Chair of the Conference of Diocesan Directors of Education. While it is easy enough to note the time, years and roles one serves in one’s career, it is another matter to describe the impact a person has had. Unquestionably, the hallmark of Ray’s leadership and ministry to Catholic education is his Catholic faith and service in action. In the 2014 publication, "Will Catholic Schools be Catholic in 2030?", Kavanagh & Pallissier make this comment, “…the type of person the principal is and their style of leadership are dominant factors affecting the culture of the school. A central consideration is the personal integrity of the principal exhibiting harmony between role and soul.” As a leader of Catholic schools Ray is infused with this harmony. In Catholic education there is a constant need to give fresh articulation to its vision and mission. Under Ray’s leadership over the last nine years the diocesan system of schools has grown and flourished. In 2016 Ray leaves the diocese in very good shape: a robust

system of schools; a steady increase in student enrolments; financial stability; new schools built and others expanded; cultural initiatives and academic achievements realised; a forwardlooking model of planning and development; positive relationships with parents, parishes and the wider community and social justice commitments reaffirmed. We have also experienced Ray as keeper of the diocesan story. His weekly message animates key events in his life that have shaped him: family anecdotes and growing up in St Brigid’s Parish, Raymond Terrace; school sporting activities at Marist Hamilton; his children and their experiences at school; his love for the Bathurst Diocese; his study tour to India with then Director, Wayne Tinsey, in 2005 and subsequent study tours and his recent trip to Poland as part of the WYD pilgrimage. In a recent post Ray noted, “our challenge as Catholic Educators is to ensure that we provide “More than a Great Education” for the young people in our care today and into the future. An education that provides them with a life model will enable them to sustain our society as a just, fair and compassionate one for years to come. It is a challenge that we readily embrace.” I have been fortunate to work with good people in Catholic education, but in Ray, I have experienced someone who is truly authentic, as person, teacher and leader; a builder of community and a faithful servant to Catholic schools. Thank you, Ray. We wish Ray and Annette every blessing as they begin this new phase of their lives.

Leadership and Structure

Diocese welcomes St Nicholas Early Education This year saw the establishment of a new agency for the Diocese of MaitlandNewcastle. St Nicholas Early Education provides quality care and education for children aged eight weeks – five years. In 2016 the diocese opened two centres, in Singleton and Newcastle West, and moved forward with plans to establish more centres in other locations in the region. The diocese’s commitment to early education is a natural extension of its desire to support family life as the foundation of society and the Church. "As a diocese we are continually working to support people in our local communities – through faith and worship in our churches, education in schools and social services at CatholicCare. Now with early education at St Nicholas, we can continue to assist families by offering quality care for children," said Bishop Bill Wright. Operations Manager for St Nicholas Early Education, Kerri Armstrong, is thrilled with the positive reaction of parents and children to ‘St Nick’s’. "In a very short time we have established wonderful relationships with our families in both Singleton and Newcastle West. Our qualified

early childhood professionals are working with the children in their care and their parents to facilitate each child’s optimal social, intellectual and physical development," said Ms Armstrong. By moving into early education, the diocese hopes to offer a smoother transition to school for children, says Vice Chancellor Administration, Sean Scanlon: "Being part of the diocese, St Nicholas is supported by the resources of each of our agencies – meaning we can offer parents access to dedicated pre-school programs for four and five-year-olds, seeing children able to link with local Catholic primary schools and become familiar prior to starting school. "Our Singleton and Newcastle West sites are the first in what we envisage to be a number of early education centres throughout the region in the next few years. We're committed to providing parents access to quality early education where they need it," Mr Scanlon said. New centres will open in both Chisholm and Cardiff in 2017 and St Nicholas, Newcastle West will be expanded with two new twentyplace rooms. Innovation is key in the design of all St Nicholas Centres with the Newcastle West extensions to include a natural adventure playground for the children. D I O CE S E O F M A I T LA N D - N E W CA S T LE | Y E A R I N R E V I E W 2016 | 39

Leadership and Structure

Catholic Development Fund - making things possible The Catholic Development Fund (CDF) has been established in the diocese for almost 60 years. In that time, with the support of its many members, the CDF has enabled the diocese to make a real difference in the lives of countless people within our region. The key purpose of the CDF is to provide a treasury service for the diocese, as well as to help fund the pastoral works that are so important to the social and spiritual capital of our community. There are many ways the CDF benefits the wider community. In 2016 the Fund approved $37 million dollars in loans to fund affordable housing projects, St Nicholas Early Education

centres, heritage projects, social service facilities and school building projects. Schools that benefited in 2016 included St Francis Xavier’s Primary School in Belmont, St Aloysius Primary School in Chisholm, St Paul’s High School in Booragul and All Saints College, St Mary’s Campus in Maitland. Surplus funds from the CDF are vital in supporting the pastoral works of the diocese which help ensure we remain a local church on mission. The CDF helps support CatholicCare Social Services and the many programs and services they offer within the community. The Fund also contributes to the Community Care Van that provides meals for the homeless,

the Apostleship of the Sea that looks after the thousands of seafarers who enter our port each year and CatholicCare Refugee Service that provides vital links and assistance to refugees who settle in our region. CDF members benefit from having an account at the Fund as there are no fees or charges and they receive friendly, personal service. Investments support the church in achieving its mission locally. The CDF offers a range of accounts including competitive term investments, a premium saver account and student accounts that help educate children in our schools about the value of saving.

CatholicCare expands early intervention services In 2016, CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning commenced a range of new Early Intervention programs for vulnerable children and families. “These programs build on our existing experience as a provider of the targeted early intervention child protection program known as Brighter Futures,” CatholicCare Director, Helga Smit, said.


Leadership and Structure

A young church, invigorated In November the newly elected Maitland-Newcastle senior secondary school leaders came together at Riverwood Downs for a three-day leadership retreat. Bishop Bill, recently recalling the highlights of the year, claimed some of his favourite moments “were to do with the growth in faith and service of our young folks”. He was “deeply encouraged” especially by the group of young leaders who gathered at the leadership retreat. “It’s a moving thing to see our young people realise that a life of faith is not just ‘going to church’, it’s a life of faith. And the thing is they’re young enough to get it. “It is invigorating to…find yourself in the midst of that young church. They want to do better than we have done, and so they should. They need to be astonished at what Jesus actually said and did, and to know something of what he and the Spirit have inspired men and women to do with their lives down the ages. Then they see how they have a place in that story, how they are called to write their chapter. Lord knows, they’ve got the gifts and the generosity of spirit. I’ve seen it,” Bishop Bill said.

The times they are a changing… “Do not be satisfied with little things, because God wants great things!” St Catherine of Siena. For the Catholic community in Singleton the year 2000 saw the creation of St Catherine’s Catholic College, a Kindergarten - Year 12 model, combining three schools into one, with the parish office included in one central location. The parish opened a childcare centre in 2006 which gave parents the option of long day care and preschool before ‘big school’. To be able to enrol in day care and continue to Year 12 is a wonderful pathway for families to be able to utilise. The childcare centre is now St Nicholas Early Education and is run by the diocese, further linking our Catholic community across the region, but maintaining the pathway for families. The relationship between the school and the parish continues to flourish in 2016 with secondary and primary classes combining to attend a weekly parish Mass. Having a daily parish presence within our College community makes being a parishioner and a student so much more real and genuine. The students know our priest, principal and parish community from their baptism through to the end of their secondary education. I feel that each child, however long their journey with our College, leaves with a touch of family and a lasting relationship. The common thread we are forever blessed with is the ‘love of our Good God’.

“There is sound academic evidence that demonstrates that the earlier supports are provided to children at risk and vulnerable families, the more likely it is that strategies can be implemented to prevent the escalation of serious issues that may lead to family breakdown. “The goal of the CatholicCare early intervention service is to provide a range of supports that address the vulnerabilities of the family and to equip family members with the skills to deal with issues as they arise,” Ms Smit said.

� SINERGIE This program provides evidence based supports for foster carers who are caring for children in out of home care. The SINERGIE worker is part of a multi-disciplinary team that provides carers with strategies that give them the skills to work with traumatised children to ensure permanency and stability for children in care. � Restorations Program This program works with our out of home care team to identify children and young people in the foster care program who may be able to be restored to the care

CatholicCare’s new early intervention services include: � Parenting Hub The parenting hub provides evidence based early intervention and support on a fee for service basis for parents in the community. The focus is to educate and empower parents to be able to deal effectively with the daily stresses of raising children and to understand the effects of trauma on the brain during pregnancy.

of one or both of their birth parents. The restorations worker provides intensive support to birth parents to ensure they have the best possible chance of having their children restored to their care. “Our early intervention programs work in collaboration with each of the other valuable services we provide to ensure that we can make a difference in the lives of the people we support,” Ms Smit said.

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Leadership and Structure

Supporting the community with affordable housing This year saw the completion of the latest diocesan affordable housing development, with nine brand new twobedroom units available for tenants in Maitland. Located on Little Hunter Street, the development is close to Maitland’s High Street shopping district and a short walk from ‘The Levee’, the new precinct recently opened in Maitland city centre. Under the State Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme, the units were offered at reduced rates to low-middle income earners who may struggle to pay market rental. Those who may previously have been excluded from new developments were given the opportunity to access brand new, quality accommodation in Maitland, perhaps for the first time. The newest of its affordable housing developments, the Maitland site saw the diocese deliver on its commitment to mission and outreach throughout Newcastle and the Hunter, as confirmed by Bishop Bill Wright in May this year: “The church has, and has always had, a big role in assisting people to make better lives for themselves in the community, whether through education, medical services or the welfare and community services people need. “We understand that today there's a serious need for secure, affordable housing among a variety of sectors in society…(and) we're keen 42

to expand our support and continue to offer more opportunities for people to access quality, well located rental accommodation throughout the Hunter region," Bishop Bill said. The completion of the Maitland development follows the opening of an affordable housing complex in Mayfield in 2014 and the announcement that the diocese will develop the former Empire Hotel site in Newcastle West. “We are proposing to build 128 units across a mix of studio, one and twobedroom layouts. We’re confident that this development will make a significant impact on the current rental affordability market within Newcastle, especially for people who need to be closer to the city centre. “We are working to a completion date of early 2018, with the new accommodation available shortly thereafter,” said Vice Chancellor Administration, Sean Scanlon. Hunter Development Corporation General Manager Bob Hawes said the diocese’s plans would contribute to the wider program of revitalisation occurring in the city centre. "The diocese's plans will breathe life back into a site which has been vacant for far too long," Mr Hawes said. There are further diocesan affordable housing developments underway in the Lake Macquarie area.

Financial Reports

Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Income Statement


For the year ended 30 June 2016


Amount $000

Rental income


Contributions from other diocesan entities for services


Fundraising and bequests


Other income


Total Income


EXPENSES Information Technology




Interest paid to Catholic Development Fund




Property expenses


Professional fees


Employee benefit expenses


Other expenses


Total Expenses




Total assets


Total liabilities


Total Equity






Total Equity


Diocesan assets consist mostly of property including affordable housing dwellings, corporate offices for the diocese and CatholicCare Social Services, St Nicholas Early Education Centres and investments in the Catholic Development Fund.

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Financial Reports

Catholic Development Fund Income Statement For the year ended 30 June 2016

INCOME Interest income Other income Interest expense Total net interest income


Development Fund


Amount $000 13,303 1 (6,043) 7,261

EXPENSES Information Technology




Interest paid to Catholic Development Fund


Total Expenses


OTHER Distribution to Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Revaluation of available-for-sale assets Total other


(4000) (538) (4,538)


Total assets


Total liabilities


Total Equity


Restricted - internal Equity required to meet diocesan Capital Adequacy Policy Unrestricted Total Equity

Equity is held to meet capital adequacy obligations to external depositors.


24,478 24,478

Financial Reports

Catholic Schools System Income Statement


Schools Office


For the year ended 31 December 2015


Amount $000

School fees, excursions & trip income


Trading activity income


Other private income


State Government recurrent grants


State Government interest subsidy


Commonwealth Government recurrent grants


Sub Total Recurrent Income


Commonwealth Government capital grants


State Government capital grants


Fees/Levies – Private capital income


Sub Total Capital Income


Total Income


EXPENSES Salaries & salary – related costs


Building & equipment maintenance & replacements


Interest expenses – capital loans


Depreciation expenses


Bad & doubtful debts expenses


Other operating expenses


Trading activity expenses


Total Expenses




Total assets


Total liabilities


Total Equity


Restricted – employee entitlements




Total Equity


The financial information provided above is an extract of Audited Special Purpose Accounts and as such cannot be seen as representative of audited financial accounts.

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Financial Reports

CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning

Social Services Hunter-Manning


Income Statement For the year ended 30 June 2016

INCOME Grant funding

Amount $000 11,274

Contributions from other diocesan entities for services


Fee for service


Other income


Total Income


EXPENSES Advertising Client support costs

179 3,858



Information Technology


Management fee


Property expenses


Salaries & salary-related costs


Other expenses


Total Expenses




Total assets


Total liabilities


Total Equity




Unrestricted Total Equity

CatholicCare is endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Upon winding up or dissolution of CatholicCare, or if the deductible gift receipient status is revoked, any property or income must be transferred to another deductible gift recipient and is therefore restricted.



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Schools Office


Catholic Schools Office 841 Hunter Street Newcastle West NSW 2302 P: (02) 4979 1200 E:

CatholicCare Social Services 50 Crebert St Mayfield NSW 2304 P: (02) 4979 1120 E:


Development Fund


Catholic Development Fund 841 Hunter Street Newcastle West NSW 2302

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2016 Diocesan Year in Review  

The Year in Review is designed to capture the key milestones and events of the year across parishes, chancery ministries, congregations, and...

2016 Diocesan Year in Review  

The Year in Review is designed to capture the key milestones and events of the year across parishes, chancery ministries, congregations, and...

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