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A magazine of the Society of Christian Doctrine, founded by Saint George Preca

Issue 14 September 2013


M.U.S.E.U.M. Copyright © 2013 Society of Christian Doctrine, Australia Region

The M.U.S.E.U.M. is issued biannually for friends and associates of the Society of Christian Doctrine in the Australian Region. M.U.S.E.U.M. represents the first letter of a prayer in Latin, Magister Untinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus translating Divine teacher, may the whole world follow the Gospel. Editors Peter Judge sdc Email:


Mark Micallef sdc Email:

SDC Around the World Celebrating the Grace of the Rule

7 8

Latin Bible Lives On Dar Il-Ħanin Samaritan Centre Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary

10 12 14 16 18 20

Two volunteers nominated for Victorian Volunteer of the Year Award Walking the Camino Salvado Exploring Art through the Heart When a Church becomes Redundant We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. No Child is to be left Behind

Cover St George Preca memorial displayed at the SDC’s Extraordinary General Chapter.


The spirit and vision of George Preca

This magazine is online at

Celebrating the Grace of the Rule St George Preca founded a catechetical movement for men called the Society of Christian Doctrine in 1907 followed by the women’s movement in 1910. Both groups have always operated independently. The reasons for this are varied but relates more to culture than practicality and this separation does not always translate well in overseas settings. An Extraordinary General Chapter of both groups was held in April 2013 in Malta. This was the first time in a hundred years that the two sections had worked and reflected together in this capacity. The Chapter has a mandate from the 2009 General Chapters of the two Sections of the SDC, to study and approve the re-structuring of The Rule which will result in two documents, the Constitutions and the General Directory. Sixty-four Delegates participated in the Chapter. While still a student, George Preca began writing a Rule, in L a t in , f or use in a confraternity of deacons that he intended to form. However Fr Preca modified this project into a less concretely defined group of well-informed men and women, who would then be able to share the faith in Malta. He was inspired to this end after he hea rd an uninformed sacristan


General Chapter in session

t ea c h in g c h ild r en and dedicated his Society to address this limitation. Over the years there has been various developments in the formulation of our Rule of Life. Now it is the time to take another step forward in the development of the Rule. This entails a renewal in the administration and the language used. The new Rule and General Directory will reflect this. After one hundred years, and as part of the same process and in the spirit of Vatican II, the SDC is also seeking pontifical approval.

It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

RESPONSE FROM PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER The Joint General Extraordinary Chapter 2013 has been a posit iv e, enlightening and unique experience of faith which expressed itself in love and enthusiasm towards our Charism. Perhaps we love God and our Society in different creative ways, but these elem ents w ere combined towards one aim: keeping our charism alive through our Rule expressed in the Constitution and General Directory.

sdc around the world The notion of a combined chapter was surprisingly new and created a sense of hope, curiosity and wonder as to whether this could really materialise between the two sections of the Society. It also created a sense of fear in the face of the huge task we had been given. A conjunct General Chapter was the first of its kind and we have always managed matters which concern each other so separately. However by coming together in this forum, we believe that the Society is heading in the right direction. As participants of this chapter, we got to know each other well, through the work accomplished in the formal sessions and the many informal conversations we had away from the Chapter Hall. It was good to have Concluding Eucharist celebrated by Most Reverend Charles Scicluna many different viewpoints being expressed from the male and female Members as well as from different cultures as the chapter affects the Society wherever it is. We experienced the joy of fraternal unity present in the whole Society between both sections. The preparatory meetings and prayer sessions helped us to have the right disposition and spirit needed to develop and sustain us so that through God’s eyes we would be able to make correct decisions. We also needed to develop an attitude of active listening during the study sessions to enlighten our decisions. This led to a detachment from our personal views for the greater benefit for the whole Society in keeping to the Founder’s Spirit and the Registration of participants along with imagery representing the SDC’s original charism. We all felt the mutual global presence of the SDC respect, genuine spirit and prayerful mood in which the Chapter was experienced. We have prayed, listened attentively and worked hard to read properly the Will of God Cultural differences were a source of through our intentions, interventions, opinions inspiration and sometimes created moments and votes. Perhaps sometimes we were of frustration and misunderstanding. disappointed. Other times we were satisfied. Although we came from various backgrounds All these mixed feelings now lead us to realise with our own experiences and personal that the Spirit of God is still alive, dynamic baggage, we can say that we felt no and colourful. We are encouraged through our prejudice and pre-determined judgements on Founder’s words: “In every situation you find whatever was brought forward for yourself in, observe and reflect upon the Will consideration. Members respected each of God. If you want to become a Saint, try other’s contribution because of the goodwill always to do what God wants you to do. and the common interest that brought us People’s merit is found only in applying God’s together. will especially in those events which go There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers. St Teresa of Avila


sdc around the world

Chapter participants prayerfully processing to the chapel

against their will. By these means one can obtain real internal peace.” Finally, as in the story of the rich young man who asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit the eternal life?”, so too must we now follow the Rule and let the Spirit guide us into the future so that we may, as God’s instruments, continue to be a means to sanctity and help others come to love and serve God. Franco Zardo sdc

The 2013 Joint Extraordinary General Chapter was one of the most important events in the history of the SDC. The renewed Rule commissioned in 2002 was the result of the work of the two Sections working independently. The Chapter was a special moment of grace in my journey as a Member of the SDC. Never before had I appreciated the gift and mystery of our vocation. It enabled me to further study our charism. I represented the Womens’ Section of the SDC in preparation


for the Chapter. I will continue to cherish the memories of the mutual respect that existed between the two Sections during that period. At no time did I feel that the agenda had been already set. During my work in the Preparatory Commission, which was made up of the moderators of the General Council of both groups with the male Superior General as Chair, I experienced the complementarity of the two Sections living out our life. My experience of the Chapter made it very clear to me that the Holy Spirit is alive in the SDC, and that we who are committed to its mission should listen to that Spirit and respond courageously, much as St George Preca responded in his own life. The process of the Extraordinary Joint General Chapter is not finished. History cannot be understood in a static way. I would rather see the Constitutions as a point of departure and point of reference to seek new ways of visible and comprehensible signs of the Kingdom of God in the contemporary world. Pauline Grech sdc

When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries. St Josemaria Escriva

Latin BibletoLives Privileged haveOn served ! Alan Gauci’s story (part 2) books. At the time of his death in 1843, he had amassed over 50,000 books at Kensington Palace. The library was auctioned by the London firm of Evans between 1 July 1844 and 11 August 1845. Following the custom of the time, Bibles opened the sale, and the 1477 Richel Bible (lot 546) sold on the third day, 3 July 1844, for two pounds to the London bookseller, Pickering. What happened to the book after this is a mystery. It’s possible that Fr John Wall acquired this book back in the 1960s for seven hundred and fifty pounds – according to a marking on the inside cover.

The late Fr John Wall of the Archdiocese of Hobart was an avid collector of books and the 1477 Latin Vulgate Bible is the jewel in the crown of his bequest to the library in the Hobart Diocesan Centre that now bears his name. Fr John’s Bible was one of four editions printed at Basel in Switzerland from the press of Bernhard Richel between 1474 and 1477. There is no information available as to who bought it until it surfaced in the collection held by the Duke of Sussex who was the sixth son of King George III. According to John Goldfinch the Curator at the British Library, the Duke was known for his liberal and progressive views. Like his brothers he married without proper permission, and neither of his wives was ever recognised as legitimate. Nevertheless, he was very much involved in the promotion of the arts and sciences, becoming President of the Royal Society in the 1830s. The Duke collected many Bibles and other theological books which were on the market many of these were confiscated from religious libraries across Europe during the Napoleonic period. Like Fr John, the Duke was an enthusiastic and discriminating book-collector - especially of rare and printed

Ed Sianski, Librarian at the Fr John Wall Community Library has cared for this Bible for the past five years when it was at St Aloysius Catholic College at Huntingfield, Tasmania. It had been a pleasure for him to show students this Bible which was printed some twenty-two years after Johannes Guttenberg’s 1455 famous New Testaments. Richel was an apprentice of Guttenberg’s so the Bible has a continuity with the first printing done in Europe. Apparently Guttenberg developed his idea of the printing from a wine press! It must be noted that China and Korea had moveable print well before Guttenberg was on the scene. However, the invention of the printing press in the West heralded great changes in Europe and made the printed word widely available. No longer housed in a palace, Fr John‘s Bible is now located among some 25, 000 books at the Fr John Wall Community Library. The 1477 Bible is a faith document and it continues to speak of God’s love for all people, through the medium of the printed word. It is God’s Latin love letter to us! It is fitting to see that books are still very much a part of our culture and our heritage. If we lose sight of that, in this media age, it would be to our detriment. It is estimated that if the bible is sold, it would fetch a six-figure sum.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted. He rescues the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18


Dar Il-Ħanin Samaritan Privileged to have servedCentre ! Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary Alan Gauci’s story (part 2) For many years, the architect, Richard England who was born in Malta has had an intimate connection with the SDC designing the chapels in our centre in Naxxar, Malta and at the Central House, among other works. He was commissioned to design the Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan centre in Santa Verna, Malta for retired Members of the SDC. Richard is a prolific architect and has won many awards and spoken at many conferences. He is also a poet, sculptor, photographer and artist and the author of several books on art and architecture. Among his best known works in Malta are the Church of St Joseph at Manikata, the Central Bank of Malta Annexe, the Millennium Chapel and the rehabilitation of the St James Cavalier Centre for Creativ ity in Valletta. Richard’s philosophy in designing is to make the ordinary, extraordinary. He works with Malta’s local tradition – not against it.

Richard England

Millennium Chapel

Members of the SDC, providing reflective spaces for prayer including a chapel. The chapel, especially the exterior, replicates the

Maltese villages familiar to the residents and is situated in the courtyard of the centre. The chapel is a perfect example of the blend

Currently a new conference centre for the SDC designed by Richard is taking shape at Santa Verna in Malta – a subject for another issue of The MUSEUM. Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan centre is a place for soul-searching and a resting place for the retired



We ascend to the heights of contemplation by the steps of action. Pope St Gregory the Great

of Maltese typologies with memories of the traditional setting for the Maltese, typical of Richard’s style. This has certainly been achieved at the Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan. Members have their own bedrooms with generous space including an ensuite. The centre provides many spaces for exploration and rest including a landing with a panoramic view over neighbouring villages. Members from overseas are accommodated at the Sa m a r it a n w h er e the

hospitality is most cordial. The residents of the Samaritan are very accommodating to guests enjoying the banter and fellowship of Members. The literal translation of the M a l t es e Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan into English is ‘merciful Samaritan House’.

Richard England’s customary architectural design

Living quarters of il-Ħanin Samaritan Centre In everything, whether it is a thing sensed or a thing known, God Himself is hidden within. St Bonaventure


Two volunteers nominated Privileged to have servedfor ! Victorian Volunteer of the2)Year Award Alan Gauci’s story (part St Vincent’s volunteers Jillian McClure and Martin Prest were nominated for the 2013 Victorian Minister for Health Volunteer Awards. Jillian McClure has been volunteering in the Speech Pathology Department for two years, and has undertaken training to join the Su p p or t ed C o n v ers a t io n Vo lu n t eer Programme, where she regularly volunteers to assist patients who have lost one of the most precious gifts - their ability to verbally communicate – usually as a result of stroke or surgery to the head and neck. Jillian had a lifelong desire to give something back to those less fortunate than herself and inspired by the Sisters of Charity she decided to volunteer at St Vincent’s.

Jillian McClure

“She has a gift that allows her to connect with people from all walks of life and get them to open up to her,” says Judy Clover, St Vincent’s Volunteers Manager. Jillian connects with patients on a very personal, individual level, building relationships with patients who are frightened, frustrated and angry, and helping to alleviate those feelings. “Some patients from rural areas feel isolated and lonely and some are estranged from their families. I am not their counsellor, I am there to listen, laugh and cry with them, to treat them with utmost respect and the dignity they deserve. To many patients, it becomes their home, a place to feel safe and secure,” Jillian said. Jilllian is full of praise for the Speech Pathology department. “The treatment and care offered by the Speech Pathologists at St Vincent's is of the highest standard and I am honoured to be associated with the entire team and their wonderful, brave patients.”


One must see God in everyone. St Catherine Laboure

Martin Prest

“I always hear great stories from patients about the quality of care at St Vincent’s and I am proud to be a part of it.” Martin Prest was also nominated for the Volunteer of the Year Awards. He has been an ‘Angel’ volunteer at St Vincent’s for over three years, offering spiritual care to those who are most vulnerable. Martin sits with patients who are deemed high falls risks and gives Holy Communion to those too sick to leave St Vincent’s.

Martin works as a Personal Care Attendant at Mercy Health and was drawn to volunteer at St Vincent’s through an appreciation of our values and a love of his work. “St Vincent’s is well known for providing compassionate care, something I hold dear and try to bring to my own work,” Martin said. Martin’s wealth of experience allows patients to be comfortable in their surroundings, which resonates not only in the patient but also in their families who visit. Seeing a loved one at ease, especially spiritually, reduces the anxiety many feel during times of illness. “Martin offers compassion and empathy to patients when they need it most,” Judy said. “He allows the patients the comfort of religious support during their hospitalisation which in many cases enhances recovery, both physical and mental.” Jillian and Martin were not successful in winning the award.


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Walking the Camino Salvado The Camino Salvado is Australia's version of the famous Camino Santiago de Compostella across France and Spain. The Camino Salvado follows the Pilgrims Trail from St Josephs church in Subiaco – 3kms from the CBD in Perth - to New Norcia in the Wheatbelt. Subiaco, was named after Subiaco, Italy, where St Benedict established his first monastery. Subiaco was settled by the Italian Benedictine monks. New Norcia was named after Norcia, Umbria, Italy,the birthplace of St Benedict. Bishop Dom Rosendo Salvado (1814-1900) was born in Tuy, Galacia, Spain in 1814 and entered the Benedictine monastery of St Martin de Compostella at the age of 15. In 1838 he joined the Benedictine monastery at Cava, near Naples Italy (after

Left: New Norcia, the sole monastery town in Australia . Right: The abbot washing the feet of two pilgrims, both 74 years of age who had walked the entire 160km in good cheer, without complaint in the ‘spirit of the pilgrim’ .

the Spanish anti-clerical government ordered the suppression of religious houses). Salvado and his Spanish companion Bishop Dom Joseph Serra were attracted to the idea of foreign missions among primitive peoples. New Norcia was founded in 1848 by Rosendo Salvado

and Joseph Serra who set up catholic missions in the new colony of Western Australia. They were granted 7,500 hectares of freehold land which they developed into the New Norcia Mission and a profitable farm. Their hard work eventually paid off, as it would become one of the most successful missions in Australian history. The trail is approximately 160kms long and travels through the city’s financial district past places of historical interest and out of the metropolitan area via the beautiful Swan river foreshore.

The first stage of the Camino involved walking along the Swan River


The Camino Salvado is not always an easy path to follow. It is a walk for all people – those of faith, those with no faith and those who seek faith. It is an “informal” walk made up of people who come from around the

As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way. Mary Anne Radmacher

The variety of terrain along the walk

Below: Greg and Anne in front of a sculpture commemorating Salvado’s original trek to what was to be named New Norcia

country, from all walks of life: some walk in groups and others walk alone. At the end of the walk when pilgrims reach the monastery they are greeted by the Abbot who washes their tired feet. The first walkers on the Pilgrim Trail walked from Subiaco to New Norcia over five days in 2009. Currently the walk is arranged and supported by volunteers from St Joseph’s parish, Subiaco. Usually two caminos are conducted each year. It is hoped that self-guided caminos will be possible in future years. Anne and Greg Jorgensen from Melbourne together with other pilgrims did the walk this year over six days. On three occasions the pilgrims were met by previous pilgrims providing sustenance and encouragement during poor weather, which was much appreciated. The church bells tolled as they entered New Norcia. They went directly to the church

where the walkers were greeted warmly by the Abbot. He read an extract form the Rule of St Benedict, which directed the monks to offer hospitality to all. They certainly experienced this on

Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:26

their visit to New Norcia. The official website for the Camino Salvado may be found here:


Exploring Art through the Heart “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3, 16) The mission of the SDC Member is to share the Word everywhere and to everyone making use of all suitable means. And so, in November 2010, the SDC began its mission in the parish of St Luke in Poznań, Poland. Together with another Member, Anton Grima, we began to experience a totally new reality and culture. The environment, the culture and the weather were totally different for us, however the mission remained the same. During our first year, we were totally focused on studying the Polish la ng ua g e. Eventually we settled and found employment. In the meantime we began o rga n is in g w in t er a nd summer camps for children and youth in our parish. In August 2012 another Member, Rainer Bezzina joined us following eight years of missionary work in Albania. We are called to proclaim the Word and let the message of Christ dwell among us and with the people we meet. In all circumstances we face, in the words we say, in the


Ivan Grixti surrounded by his works of art

thoughts we think and in the actions we do. Art is a means of communicating and teaching. A painting or a piece of art, if a p p r e c i a t e d a n d ‘contemplated’, can be a source of deep significance. The viewer might spend hours looking at a painting or else just glance at it and consequently experience happiness, sadn ess or confusion. Time is irrelevant while con t emp lat ing a painting. What is relevant and indispensable, is the discourse between the viewer and his ‘inner-self’ – a dialogue that may stimulate feelings, emotions and faith within the viewer.

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost. G.K. Chesterton

How sweet and deep are the expressions of art through which God inspires us. Hymns, poems, songs and works of art are means through which we give glory to God. Art provides more than a glance of the material world. Lines form and colour manage to gather sentiments, experiences and wisdom. Every religious painting is like a window that opens to the viewer a new dimension and perspective. In my last set of paintings, I tried to develop a particular style – a fusion between figurative and abstract. Sometimes the style tends to be very abstract until perhaps one observes the painting in more depth. The painting

depicted here ‘The Resurrect ion’, may be described as a ballerina or as a winning athlete. Colours and lines form a figure covering and surrounding the victorious figure in melodic harmony. This figure may also be interpreted as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with his glorified body. Not a transparent spirit, but a body that is difficult to describe with words, but almost easier to imagine and paint: a clean, holy, divine, new body. The figure gives a sense of movement and dynamism. The painting is like a view taken while the figure was moving towards its d es t inat ion – towar ds heaven. It seems to be facing upwards and downwards at the same time. Two hands are raised victoriously and gloriously. At the same time, another hand appears on the right, reaching down. This third hand seems to be inviting the viewer: “Come on, my friend, take my hand so that I may lift you up with me. Give me your hand and let me take you to the place reserved for you in my heart. We will become one body. It is I Jesus Christ who will live in you: crucified but victorious.” Ivan Grixti sdc

“Resurrection” and another of Ivan’s painting, “The Holy Family and You” Be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10


When a Church becomes Privileged to have served ! Redundant Alan Gauci’s story (part 2) It is disheartening to see churches throughout Australia sold off and transformed into cafes, B & Bs, funeral parlours, homes and offices. It is a sign of the times with the lack of congregation numbers and financial constraints allowing this to occur. More than often the decision is painful. In Germany churches are supported by tax revenues, and French churches long ago became municipal property, all of which help pay for maintenance. In the Netherlands if a dignified destination cannot be found, then the Dutch prefer the church to be demolished. The dismantling of the churches produces anxiety and soul-searching among parishioners. Religion may seem irrelevant to many people, but its images and powerful symbolism remains. The Catholic Church among the other traditions is usually the most reluctant to sell. A catholic church is considered to occupy consecrated ground. In Australia, the catholic community is faced with this dilemma more often than not; so a story of survival of a church is very satisfying. The story of the old Timbrebongie church is one such success story. For more than 100 years the Timbrebongie church in the Diocese of Bathurst, 340km


Relocation of the old Timbrebongie church. Photographs courtesy of Daily Liberal, Dubbo, NSW

northwest of Sydney has been moved four times to ensure its survival. The old building was recently moved for the last time and transported to Dundullimal Homestead in Dubbo, New South Wales. The church will be used for wedding celebrat ions, baptisma l cer emonies, r enew ing wedding vows and funerals at the Dundullimal Homestead.

The church is believed to be the oldest surviving church west of Dubbo dating back to the 1870s and having connections to St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. It was owned by Mary MacKillop’s uncle Duncan MacKillop. It is believed that the church is the original Timbrebongie catholic church. The church was removed from its site and trucked

You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all. St Therese of Lisieux

1800s sketch of the Davey Street Congregational Church, Hobart, Tasmania and the church today

down Old Dubbo Road in August of this year and whilst not a parish church, it will assume the role of a chapel where services of various traditions can take place. Regrettably the long-standing Davey Street Congregational Church in Hobart constructed circa 1883 and recently de-commissioned as a church did not have such a happy ending as the Timbrebongie catholic church. The octagonal stone steeple is a city landmark and the building is a focal element in the Davey Street historic precinct. There will be changes to the church as it is being integrated into hotel

apartments. For many years especially from 1850 through to 1900 the congregation of the Davey Street Congregational Church were influential in Hobart. The Congregational Union of Australia was a Congregational denomination in Australia. Then two hundred and sixty of its congregations joined the Uniting Church in Australia, which was formed in 1977 by the union of the Congrega tiona l Unio n, Methodist Church of Australasia, and Presbyterian Church of Australia. The

rema ining


Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven. St Rose of Lima

congregations formed the Fellowship of Congregational Churches. Some of the ecumenically aligned congregations left that denomination in 1995 to form the Congregational Federation of Australia. While the de-commissioning of a church is a sign of rising secular ism, at least protecting the dignity of a historical building and avoiding destruction which might have been the situation at the Davey Street Congr egationa l Church provides some comfort wherein the enrichment of its past is recognised in the present.


We make atoliving what! we get. Privileged haveby served We make a life by (part what2)we give. Alan Gauci’s story A Tribute to the late Joseph Gatt and George Felice JOSEPH GATT (1937—2013) Joseph Gatt, Member of the SDC, was born on 1 April 1937 in H’Attard, Malta. At the age of 15, Joseph migrated to Australia and as the eldest, took up the responsibility with his parents to care for the family. From a very early age, Joseph was committed to his Catholic Faith and one day while attending Mass he met Maurice Mifsud, former Regional Superior of the Australian Region. Maurice invited Joseph and his brothers to attend the gatherings of the SDC and Joseph quickly took up this opportunity. He came to love and devote his life to the SDC vocation, becoming an incorporated Member in 1959. Joseph was actively involved in the Catholic Education of young people and adults through the SDC’s ministry. He realised that teaching centres were important and so after providing for the family, he personally helped finance SDC Centres including the now Regional Centre of the SDC. Joseph also used his literary skills to translate many SDC prayers


Joseph Gatt (far right) and fellow SDC Members on retreat,1980

and liturgies from Maltese to English. Joseph had a deep love for Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the Saints. He would make it a priority in his daily activities to receive the Eucharist, spend quiet time in reflection and prayer (which included praying the Rosary), and fulfil his responsibilities as a Member of the SDC. Joseph often put others ahead of himself and his generosity extended to many people, in particular the poor. He was also an advocate for supporting young overseas seminarians in becom ing ordained priests.

Joseph also had a great sense of humour. For those that knew him in his healthy days, he would create laughter, put people at ease and be a source of joy to friends and all those around him. After some years of illness in his later years, Joseph entered Eternal Life on 10 July 2013 at Mercy Place, Wyndham. After his passing, the staff there commented about his generosity and love for his faith, and how Joseph’s mission to bring about good was not ended when he was placed in care. We pray and trust that Joseph is with God and enjoying his boundless love and mercy.

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. St. Francis of Assisi

GEORGE FELICE (1933—2013) George Felice, Member of the SDC, was born on 7 September 1933 in Qormi, Malta and grew up attending the SDC’s activities. He was incorporated as a Member of the SDC on Christmas Day in 1951. He was very enthusiastic about his SDC life and he dedicated himself completely to ministry. This included preparing children for the reception of the Sacraments and serving as the facilitator for the Elects and mentor of Candidates. In 1955, when George was 22 years old, he fell ill with pleurisy (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs). This was a very serious illness that could have resulted in death. A relative of George approached Fr Preca and asked him to pray for him. “Does he teach catechism?” asked Fr Preca. George’s relative replied, “Yes,” to which Fr Preca responded, “If he teaches then he will soon be discharged from hospital to continue his catechism lessons.” And Fr Preca’s words came true. George took an active part in the liturgy of the parish. As an animator during Mass, he proclaimed the Word of God in a loud and distinct voice that would make the message clearly understood. He would also lead the congregation very ably in the singing of liturgical hymns.

George Felice sdc in the canonisation choir

George always had an internal disposition for the work of the SDC outside of Malta and when Joseph Zammit sdc (1933 – 2008) enticed him to join him to help with the ministry, George committed to making Sydney his new home and arrived in Australia on 10 March 1981. George spent the next 32 years helping to expand and strengthen the SDC apostolate in Australia, predominantly working in Leichhardt, Rooty Hill, Plumpton and the surrounding area west of Sydney. This extended to working with the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine travelling to primary schools and teaching religious education, participating in activities at La Vallette Centre Blacktown, and facilitating seminars with adult prayer groups. George was recognised by the Maltese Welfare Council of New South Wales for contributions to the local community during a Quiet Achievers Night of Recognition in 2012.

Teaching is the spring of all goodness. St George Preca

George was a contemporary of St George Preca and lived to see his canonisation into the universal Church. He attended both the Beatification ceremony in Malta in 2001 and the Canonisation celebrations in Rome in June 2007, and participated in the canonisation choir with fellow SDC Members. In March 2013, George returned to Malta and retired at the Good Samaritan Centre, St Venera. There he assisted the SDC Centre in St Sebastian Parish, Qormi and later the St George Parish so that he could encourage the younger Members and Candidates to cherish their SDC vocation. The Lord called George to Eternal Life on 23 August 2013. George was born to the world in the Year of Redemption (1933) and he was born to Heaven in the Year of Faith (2013).


No Child is to be left Behind Recently I had the privilege to facilitate a group of students and teachers to travel to Sangkhla Buri, Th a ila n d to c o m p let e outreach work at two schools, the Bamboo School and the La Salle Learning Centre, operated by the De La Salle Brothers. These simple schools have over the past four years supported Burmese refugee children mainly from the Hmong and Karen tribes, living on the Thai / Myanmar (previously known as Burma) Border. The dedicated Brothers and teachers at these schools p r o v id e free p r im a r y ed uc at io n to c h ild r en deemed stateless. The plight of the Burmese refugees residing in the area is complex and difficult. The majority are from tribes displaced by the Burmese military from their home villages to other areas of Myanmar. Since many are unskilled, illiterate or can only speak their own dialects (not the recognised languages of Thai or Burmese), and do not possess Thai identification papers, they are vulnerable to exploitation working for low wages (about AUD $2.75 for an eight hour day) and dangerous environments in Thai factories along the border. Due to a lack of employment in the local area, a large number of parents also relocate to larger cities to seek


A regular class at the Bamboo School

Morning assembly at the Bamboo School

employment, leaving their children with grandparents or the extended family. As the extended family also earn very little, it is not uncommon for children to be neglected or abandoned, almost orphaned as their extended family find it difficult to support them. Many of the children from these backgrounds would often be found roaming the

streets during the day. And it was in such circumstances that four mothers took steps to provide basic education with a long term objective to provide a brighter future for these children. In November 2008, these mothers started the Bamboo School thanks to a local land owner who donated some land to them. The school started with about 80 children and it wasn’t long until a fifth

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Brother Victor Gil with the students of La Salle Learning Centre - morning assembly

mother joined the teaching fraternity. The mothers perso na lly fu nded the project, providing free education. They attempted to obtain some funding from the local government however this was not forthcoming and eight months on, they struggled to continue with the program for they too were in need of income to support their own families. Providentially, the De La Salle Brothers were visiting the area and came to know about the program. The Brothers were approached to take over the running of the school and after some deliberation, accepted to do so. The financial backing the Brothers brought enabled the mothers to be paid a minimal salary to continue their teaching initiatives with the help and support of the Brothers. The demand on the school continued to increase as more and more children

began attending the school. Although the land owner was generous in allowing the school to operate, he also placed many restrictions on the development of the school grounds. O n ly temporary buildings made of bamboo (hence its name) were able to be built requiring a more permanent solution. The De La Salle Brothers responded by purchasing nearby land in 2010 and with the assistance of generous supporters set about constructing a permanent school for the children called “La Salle Learning Centre”. In May 2012, classes at this new school commenced with the attendance of 229 students aged 5 to 19 years. With its “No child is to be left behind” policy, the school continues to be a free educational institute whose student population has now grown to over 300 children. The original Bamboo School remains open to educate

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

remedial students as well as children living locally. There are 151 students currently studying at the Bamboo School. To supplement their academic classes, some children at this school are being taught vocational training skills such as crochet, knitting and sewing skills. This is particularly beneficial to students who after complet ing t heir primary education do not want to pursue further academic studies. As part of this program, dolls, purses and clothes are made and sold locally to help support their families and the school. It is in this tradition that the De La Salle Brothers continue the legacy left to them by their Founder St John Baptist De La Salle. St John Baptist De La Salle was a priest in 17th century France who became heavily involved with the education of the poor. Abandoning his wealth, this patron of teachers devoted his talents to open schools for poor children, modernising education and established a community of brothers to help provide free education, ensuring this would continue well after his death. Today there are over 5000 Brothers working in over 80 countries throughout the world in innovative roles that extend far beyond the classroom. It is projected that up to 500 children will be educated across both campuses in Sangkhla Buri. Establishing both schools enables the De La Salle Brothers to help


Burmese refugee children complete their primary education, become fluent in Thai, receive Thai identity papers (and hence more hopeful future employment opportunities) and be in a safe, child friendly environment. The motto on the school building of the La Salle Learning Centre speaks volumes of the objectives of the schools – Teaching Minds. Touching Hearts. Transforming Lives. The possibility of children being neglected or abandoned has led to over 800 children living in 13 children’s homes in the local area run by various N o n - G o v e r n m e n t Organisations. In addition to operating the two schools, the De La Salle Brothers have also responded to this growing need by taking responsibility for six children aged between 7 and 14 years of age. Currently residing with one of the founding teachers of the Bamboo School, I and my cohort of students and teachers had the privilege of commencing a building program to construct a hostel for these children. The funds required to complete this project was provided by St Bede’s College Mentone and the funds the school community raised from its a n nu a l f un dra is er for Lasallian Missions called Mission Action Day. The hostel is expected to be completed in late September by a second group of students and teachers from St Bede’s College. The hostel


St Bedes volunteers with local students

St Bedes volunteers with orphaned / neglected children outside the hostel built for them.

will house up to 15 children with a second house of equal size to be constructed in 2014. Our first world lives makes it extremely easy to forget the plight of the majority of people in our world that live in poverty. The De La Salle Brothers continue across the globe to service the poor, often in very difficult situations. Their stories however are often very inspirational and encourage

us to reach out more readily to help those considered to be the least, lost and last. I for one consider myself privileged to have been invited to learn and be involved in such work and encourage others to do the same for ‘no child deserves to be left behind’. Mark Micallef sdc For more information about the building program being completed by St Bede’s College, visit

Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought. Blessed Pope John Paul II

Society of Christian Doctrine founded by St George Preca


No 14 September 2013