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

Issue 15 April 2014


M.U.S.E.U.M. Copyright Š 2014 Society of Christian Doctrine, Australia Region

The spirit and vision of George Preca 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:

Mary Meets Mohammad Spreading the Word of Love and Compassion


Realising the Vision 150 Years of Liturgical Renewal

12 14

Leader of Good Sams wins 2013 Human Rights Medal SDC Around the World Two Peruvians join the SDC Fold


The Pope’s New Home with the Daughters of Charity

18 22

The Mystery of Vocation Celebrating the Feast of St George Preca

Cover The official papal medallion mosaic portrait of Pope Francis. This has been placed in the archbasilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, Rome. (Photo credit: John Sonnen of Orbis Catholicus Secundus)



Mark Micallef sdc Email:

This magazine is online at

Mary Meets Mohammad Spreading the Word of Love and Compassion Through Screening the Story of Mary Meets Mohammad Mary Meets Mohammad is a documentary feature film that puts a human face on asylum seekers. For two years it follows a story that emerged after the Pontville Detention Centre in Tasmania opened. A brief summary of the film is: “Tasmania’s first asylum seeker detention centre opens and local knitting club member and devout Christian woman Mary is not welcoming of the 400 male asylum seekers from Afghanistan. Mary unexpectedly finds herself in regular contact with Mohammad, a 26 year old Muslim, after her knitting club donates beanies to the asylum seekers in detention. Mary has many of her prior beliefs challenged as her relationship with Mohammad deepens." As Mary Meets Mohammad screened in many communities and churches across Australia, post-screening evaluations are demonstrating that the film is making a positive social impact inspiring love, compassion and better understandings towards asylum seekers to grow. This


in turn leads to a healthier more socially cohesive nation. T he D irec tor , Hea ther

All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly. St Thomas Aquinas

Kirkpatrick, hopes the film will continue to screen as widely as possible in

churches, schools and community halls over the next few years as it did in 2013. The Tasmanian Anglican Bishop John Harrower provides this review of the film: Walking to the Tasmanian Premiere of the documentary feature film ‘Mary Meets Mohammad’, I wondered about which of the many themes surrounding the Tasmanian asylum-seeker detention centre Pontville would be highlighted. Some of the issues: very poor political process with no consultation with the local community prior to the Federal Government announcement, the political cul-de-sac in t o w h ic h Australia’s two major political parties have callously driven the asylum seeker issue including derogatory labels ’illegals’ and ‘boat people’, the well-being or otherwise of the detained, the well-being of the local community, the (un) welcome the detainees would receive by the locals, the degree of access allowed for local supportive people to enter a high security area in order to provide welcome and community for the detainees and the stories of the community groups that supported the asylumseekers. Filmmaker Heather Kirkpatrick has gifted us a heart-warming documentary featuring the power of meeting one another; of our

Bishop John Harrower

common humanity. This is a precious gift in Australia’s current season of aggressive division. The documentary commences with the confronting public meeting between local people and Federal Government personnel seeking to explain why the Government has taken the decision to construct a detention centre for asylum-seekers in the community without consulting

the community. Only a few local people, including Anglican priest Revd Kaye Paice and lay leader Rick Giddings, speak in favour of welcome. The scene is set for an exploration of not just attitudes but of the journey of some people towards welcome and hospitality and of other people whose rejection remains. In my experience, this is a fair depiction of the diversity of Tasmanian opinion on this issue. Mary, an elderly local resident, starts her enga ge men t w it h th is community issue strongly opposed to the asylumseekers being welcomed, as seen in the film trailer. While expressing, “I am dead set against them coming here” Mary has a growing sense of curiosity, “I am curious about what they’ve got (in the detention centre) and how they are living. I want to go and see if it’s true. I don’t

A scene from Mary Meets Mohammad featuring Mary being helped by Mohammad as they walk through a forest

Let us go forward in peace, our eyes upon heaven, the only one goal of our labours. St Therese of Lisieux


think I’ll change. I still think I’ll be against the whole thing.” When asked, “Have you ever met a Muslim man?” Mary’s “No.” is followed by another question from the filmmaker, “What do you imagine?” and Mary’s direct answer, “I imagine them as being a pack of heathen.” Mohammad, an asylumseeker from Afghanistan, speaks,”I thinking about the Australian community: it is good or not? I saw a lot of time in the television the politics kicking the asylumseeker just like a soccer ball.” We have here two very different people with very different perspectives of the Pontville detention centre and asylum-seekers. This sets the scene for a journey of exploration for both Mary and Mohammad. Exploration of the power of meeting: the grace and curiosity to seek understanding and relational knowledge of the other (different) person. The film’s title captures this, ‘Mary Meets Mohammad’. There is much more could be said but examples here: a.


that two

The multi-layered ‘Mary’: Mary of Pontville and Mary the mother of Jesus who in going with God’s will, grows in her understanding of the mystery of God’s ways in the world.


The metaphor of generous ‘knitting’: knitted beanies and knitted humanity. I strongly recommend this rich film for conversation in book clubs and church home groups.

For the Christian, and Mary of Pontville is a Christian, the P a r a b le of t he Good Samaritan, (Luke 10:25-37) rings true as we are challenged by Jesus Christ’s, “Go and do likewise”. i.e., ‘be

Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius. Fulton J. Sheen

neighbour’. It is not the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbour?” but rather Jesus’ challenge, ‘Go and be neighbour’. In this, Mary does us all a service by her openness and humility as she, along with the Brighton Knitting Group who knit their beanies for charity, now includes the asylum-seekers detained at Pontville in her generosity; a generosity that has been hard won, it has not been without personal cost to her. In speaking with Mary

mary meets mohammad following the film, I was strengthened by her own determination to overcome the cost of ridicule at her support for asylum-seekers and her friendship with Mohammad. Her strength, “I wanted people to see Jesus in me.” I have. Thank you, Mary. Other stories of positive engagement with the asylum -seekers are also told. We see Emily and Clarisa encouraging community support, the Mayor of Brighton, Tony Foster energetically supportive and the Pontville Anglican Church’s involvement. These stories are only partly told and while I was left wanting to know more of their experiences and learning I was aware that filmmaker, Heather, could not include in the documentary all the film she had shot over her two year investigation!

Only 3 days prior to seeing this film I had come across a wrist band from Beyond Blue given at a workshop I attended on Mental Health. Walking from the cinema I noted that I had been unconsciously holding the wrist band. While this was an unconscious act, I was very conscious of the dramatic deterioration in the mental health of some asylum seekers I had known during my visits to Pontville. My heart is heavy; tears have formed, as I heard of their continuing suffering and despair. May God forgive Australia!

I first met Heather Kirkpatrick at the Pontville Anglican Church while she was gathering information and filming. It is now a p r iv i le g e to see the documentary film flowing from Heather’s dedicated work. ‘Mary Meets Mohammad’ is an inspiration and challenge to work openly and honestly with persistence, curiosity and generosity at being neighbour to all those people with whom we share life. Bishop John Harrower

Other themes are explored and among them the issue of the effects of indefinite long term detention removed from the Australian community, on the mental health of detainees is particularly disturbing. Mohammad’s candid sharing of his experience is deeply moving and troubling. I had the pleasure of speaking with him following the film. He is a gracious and gentle Hazara Muslim man agonising over the safety of his threatened family. His fear for his family, his daily anxiety is totally understandable and merits our deepest empathy and support. Many would be willing to have afflictions provided that they not be inconvenienced by them. St Francis de Sales


mary meets mohammad You can Host a Community Screening by simply buying a DVD There is no screening licence fee for any free entry screenings. You simply need to register your wish to host a screening and could screen the film at your church. You can register here: host-screening/

Your request will then be approved before you'll be able to download poster files and publicity that will assist you in promoting your event. If you would like to make a fundraiser event out of your screening for your church or other organisation, you keep 70% of the ticket sales, with Waratah Films receiving 30%. You will need to sign a screening licence agreement with Waratah Films beforehand. How you can help share the message of Mary Meets Mohammad through DVD Sales and DVD Outreach Packages? Standard DVDs, Blu-ray, and Outreach packages directly from the Mary website. Please follow the

short version DVDs are now on sale Meets Mohammad link on:

The idea behind the Mary Meets Mohammad Outreach Packages with four DVDs for $99 is, if you feel inspired to help the message go further, keep one DVD for yourself, and give three copies away to people who might benefit from seeing the Mary Meets Mohammad story. If your church would like to sell the DVDs, a wholesale rate of 20% less than the $30 retail price can be arranged, for a minimum purchase of 8 DVDs. You can raise $6.00 per $30 DVD sale. Promoting Mary Meets Mohammad & Study Guide to schools Please tell as many of your teacher friends about the film and the accompanying Study Guide. The film is best suited to Years 9 to 12 for screening with the full 81 minute feature film. The shorter 26 min version of the film can suit Grade 6 upwards. Hundreds of


teachers have used the film with English, Geography and History curriculum. The film has also been used with university studies. You can download the Study Guide here:

Thank you for your support in spreading the message of love and compassion.


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The rich man who gives to the poor does not bestow alms but pays a debt. St Ambrose of Milan

Realising the Vision Privileged to have served ! 150 Years of Liturgical Alan Gauci’s story (partRenewal 2) The ‘Realising the Vision – 150 years of Liturgical Renewal’ study tour travelled through the countries of Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy. Led by Dr Margaret Malone SGS and Dr Paul Taylor, over a period of four weeks, we visited places of liturgical influence. The aim of the tour was to visit the key Catholic and ecumenical centres in Europe that gave birth to the Liturgical Movement and which inspired Vatican II’s charter of liturgical reform, and also places where the liturgical vision was still being realised and given different expressions. A number of abbeys in Germany and Belgium were founded either directly or indirectly from Solesmes. These included: Maria Laach in Germany; and, Mont César (now Keizersberg Abbey) in Belgium. At Maria Laach, located in the Rhineland, we visited the crypt where, early one morning in 1921, the first dialogue Mass was celebrated – the presider faced the people, the assembly prayed the common parts of the Mass together, and members of the community brought up the gifts for presentation. Maria Laach, through its scholars and publications became a stronghold of

Daniel McCarthy OSB from Kansas Abbey, writer in church architecture was in residence at the Mont César monastery

liturgical Germany.



Then there was Mont César in Belgium where Lambert Beauduin, a major liturgical reformer burst into one of its classrooms one day exploding: “I’ve just realised that the liturgy is the centre of the piety of the Church”.

What do they not see, who see Him Who sees all things? Pope St Gregory the Great

The massive library has become a deposit for liturgical journals. Many of the liturgical journals were founded by Beauduin himself. It was inspirational to be at the same location where Beauduin spent part of his life and to reflect on his notion that ‘liturgy is the centre of the piety of the Church’.


Daniel McCarthy OSB from Kansas Abbey, writer in church architecture was in residence at the Mont CĂŠsar monastery doing research. He said that Gregorian chant should be accessible to everyone and the Sunday liturgy at the abbey is testimony to this where everyone takes part. It was at the bi-ritual abbey of Chevetogne, also in Belgium that we stood beside the grave of Dom Lambert Beauduin who had generated such hope for the renewal of the liturgy. Later, while in Rome, Archbishop Piero Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies for many years, welcomed us and encouraged us to live with similar hope, as did those giants who had gone before us. There were many experiences of Sunday Eucharist. In Paris we celebrated Eucharist at Eglise St-Ignace. This re-ordered Gothic church is in an arcade of boutiques. St Ignace is full of significance, having been for many years, the parish where Joseph Gelineau celebrated liturgy and from where, with his compositions, he exerted such international influence on liturgical music. It was also where Jacques Berthier, the resident organist was invited to compose for the TaizĂŠ community.

men was founded on the day Vatican II ended by a young economics student from Turin, Enzo Bianchi. They pray morning, midday and evening prayer and celebrate Eucharist on Sundays and Thursdays. Every day at 5:00 pm the brothers and sisters engage in lectio divina, all using the Gospel reading for the following day. Set in the northern part of Italy bordering the Alps, this was a place of beauty, prayer and rest.

of Rome participating in the choir and readings. An icon of the Madonna was presented by Pope Francis to the university. Besides being a moving Liturgy, the antiphonal responses with the Vatican choir and the students and worshippers, worked well. Participation was evident and the students were familiar with the responses. It sent a clear message to me that

On the first Sunday of Advent we attended first Vespers for Advent at St Peter’s in Rome. Without a ticket and even if one was secured, it was near impossible to gain entrance to the Basilica due to the numbers. We managed to get a front seat in front of one of the large screens. Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent included university students Room with a view at Bose

The Bose e c u m e n ic a l community in Italy was also visited. This ecumenical, lay monastery of women and Bose Community at prayer


The principal act of courage is to endure and withstand dangers doggedly rather than to attack them. St Thomas Aquinas

realising the vision Leuven, Trier, Paris and Rome, in each of which there were presentations by professors who are involved in “realising the vision” through educating students in liturgy. These scholars included Klaus Peter Dannecker, Albert Gerhards, Joris Geldhof, Patrick Prêtot OSB, Keith Pecklers SJ.

A wonderful moment shared with Fr Anthony Currer, Archbishop David Moxon and Rev Kenneth Howcroft from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity

Fr Stephen Hackett MSC, Archbishop Marini’s interpreter and Archbishop Piero Marini

The meeting at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity was most inspirational. I did not realise that there was so much pro-activity by all involved. Archbishop David Moxon representing the Archbishop of Canterbury, Fr Anthony Currer – the Catholic representative and Rev Kenneth Howcroft who represented the Methodist churches were our speakers. The usual difficulties in unity were outlined with the Ordination of Women being the largest issue to be resolved. Highlighted during the meeting was the Synod of Families promulgated by Pope Francis. Here was an opportunity for all faith traditions to partake and share in common unity.

Following final group dinner in Rome – Keith, Peter, Damien, Jake, Stephen, Paul

Gregorian chant can work. While in Rome, we attended an Anglican Mass presided by Archbishop David Moxon at St Francis Xavier del Caravita, assisted by one of our confreres. The blessing

provided for those who did not receive the Eucharist and who were from other traditions was particularly moving. As this was a study tour, we visited Liturgical Institutes in,

Whoever does not seek the cross of Christ doesn't seek the glory of Christ. St John of the Cross

Marcel Proust the 19th century novelist once wrote: "the real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes". I have journeyed to Europe many times but this time with 'new eyes'. This liturgical experience has certainly been a wonderful journey for me. Peter L Judge sdc


Leader of Good Sams wins 2013 Human Rights Medal The Congregation of the S iste rs of the Goo d Samaritan is the first religious congregation to be founded in Australia. The sources for their spirituality are the Gospel, the Rule of St Benedict, and the energetic, inclusive love of their founder Archbishop John Bede Polding. A Sister of Charity, Mother Scholastica Gibbons, was their first leader. They are known as the Good Sams. From the beginning they were given a broad mandate to respond to whatever was the social and spiritual need of the time. The Good Sams live a rich prayer life. They pray the morning and evening prayer of the Church and engage in lectio divina, an ancient way of p r a y in g w it h the Scriptures.1 Sister Clare Condon, Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, has won the 2013 Human Rights Medal. Clare was presented with the award during a special event in Sydney on 10 December 2013, by 2012 Human Rights Medal winner, Ian Thorpe. The three other 2013 Medal finalists were Gurruwun (Yalmay) Yunupingu, Richard Fran k lan d and Pas tor Graham Long. Addressing a very engaged audience of over 300 at the

Ian Thorpe presents the 2013 Human Rights Medal to Sister Clare Condon Photo credit: Matthew Syres

Museum of Contemporary Art, Clare acknowledged the strong commitment to human rights of those

present, especially the other award winners and finalists, and expressed how “very humbled and inadequate�

1. Source


Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. John 6:47

Sister Clare Condon Photo credit: Matthew Syres

she felt to receive the award in their midst. “But on reflection, I do so on behalf of all my Sisters of the Good Samaritan who have served human rights in Australia for 156 years.” In particular, Clare paid tribute to her Sisters throughout Australia who visit asylum seekers and refugees in detention, who befriend and work alongside Indigenous people, who support women who are h o me le ss or es c a p in g domestic violence, and those who educate for justice. “But most of all I think I receive [the award] on behalf of those Sisters – some of them in their 80s – who befriend the stranger in their neighbourhood and, on a daily basis, respect the integrity and dignity of each person and of creation. And for those who live in the more remote areas of Australia, in Kiribati in the Pacific, and in Bacolod in the Philippines.

Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs with Good Samaritan Sister Clare Condon Photo credit: Matthew Syres

“We are grassroots people; we’re ordinary people,” said Clare. “I thank you for honouring the Sisters of the Good Samaritan this evening. May we continue to work for the dignity of every person that comes into our orbit here in Australia or elsewhere.” Hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Awards are held each year on International Human Rights Day – 10 December – to celebrate individuals, businesses and community organisations across Australia who have advanced human rights during the year. The Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs, described Clare as a “woman of integrity, compassion and great fortitude”.

has made a very significant contribution to human rights, re-inventing the Sisters of the Good Samaritan and broadening their human rights focus. “Just one example is the housing support provided by the Sisters to victims of domestic violence. In the past few years, the Sisters have helped more than 5,000 women and children who have suffered domestic violence,” Professor Triggs said. “She is never afraid to stand up for what she believes in, nor is she afraid to take her message directly to Government, relentlessly lobbying politicians to help those in need.” This is an edited version of an article first published in The Good Oil, the e-magazine of the Good Samaritan Sisters available at

“Sister Clare has been with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for about 40 years. During this time she

He who desires nothing but God is rich and happy. St Alphonsus Liguori


Two Peruvians join the SDC Fold Ten years ago the seed was sown. Slowly and silently it germinated and sprouted out of the soil. With the help of the Farmer who trims and fertilises the soil and waters continuously, the newly born seedling grew and planted its roots firmly into the ground. More leaves grew and the young tree spread its branches and is now bearing fruit. This is the analogy that best describes the SDC’s apostolate in Peru. Ten years ago, three SDC Members from the Region of Malta arrived in Peru to continue the vision of St George Preca and share the Gospel message. During these ten years, literally thousands of Peruvians have benefited from the presence of the SDC, not only from its centre situated in Julio C. Tello, Lurin but also in schools and parishes nearby. The Lord has been very generous in his blessings on this apostolate and now a new chapter begins with two Peruvians, Carlos Antonio Achulli Solar and Victor Miguel Gomez Herrara, committing to the SDC Life as SDC Members. Carlos who lives in Julio C. Tello, has practically been in contact with the SDC from the very beginning. He was part of the first groups of young people to attend the SDC’s gatherings. As he


Carlos Antonio Achulli Solar and Victor Miguel Gomez Herrara

matured, he started helping in the Catechism classes for young people. In September 2010, he received the Candidate’s badge and officially commenced his formal preparation for the SDC life. Carlos had the occasion to come to better understand and associate with the SDC internationally by attending World Youth Day 2008 in Australia and the SDC Youth Encounter 2012 in Malta. Victor also lives in Julio C. Tello and came to know the SDC through some of his friends who attended the gatherings. He joined the SDC in his later teenage years as an Elect and later joined the Assignment group and started helping in the teaching of Catechism to young children. He like Carlos, received the

C a n d id a t e ’ s badge in September 2010 and commenced his official preparation for the SDC life thereafter. Victor also participated in the SDC Youth Encounter 2012 held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of St George Preca’s death. Their incorporation into the SDC took place on Thursday 2 January 2014 at the Lurin SDC Centre. Carlos, Victor and the local SDC Community were pleased to welcome several SDC visitors to the ceremony. These included the Superior General, Natalino Camilleri, Nicholas Balzan, Carmel Farrugia and Lawrence Fenech from Malta, and Joe Buttigieg, John Mifsud and Robert Gauci from Cuba.

May I not come before you with empty hands, since we are rewarded according to our deeds. St Teresa of Avila

sdc around the world Societies in Peru, Fr Victor Livori MSSP who was himself an incorporated SDC Member before joining the Missionary Society of Saint Paul. The talk of the occasion was delivered by Robert Gauci and the Jorge Preca Adult Group organised the reception held at the end of the ceremony.

Carlos and Victor presented to the Superior General for Incorporation

Most visitors arrived on Thursday 27 December, enabling Carlos, Victor and all Members present to share experiences and come to a better appreciation of the r ic hness of the SDC apostolate in different countries around the world.

For the I n co r po r a t io n Ceremony itself, apart from the children, and young people who participate regularly in the SDC meetings, the SDC had the pleasure of welcoming guests such as the National Director of the Pontifical Missions

The inaugural incorporation in Peru is a major milestone for the SDC. We would like to praise the Lord and thank him wholeheartedly for the blessings he is showering on our apostolate in Peru and we pray that He may send more and more labourers to gather the rich harvest. MUSEUM! Divine teacher, may the whole world follow the Gospel! Hubert Balzan & Tonio Farrugia, sdc

In the following days everyone contributed to the final preparations for the Incorporation Ceremony. On Sunday 30 December, Carlos and Victor participated in a retreat facilitated by several SDC Members. Held at the Carmelite Retreat House located close by the Lurin Centre, it aimed to help Carlo and Victor better appreciate the SDC vocation. The day retreat included the Superior General sharing some reflections from Scripture on the theme of vocation; reflections on qualities for an SDC Member; and strategies to assist a person persevere in the SDC Vocation. SDC Members and the Jorge Preca Adult Group Leave sadness to those in the world. We who work for God should be light-hearted. St Leonard of Port Maurice


The Pope’stoNew Home Privileged have served ! with the Daughters of Charity Alan Gauci’s story (part 2)

Pope Francis I with the Daughters of Charity

In 2013, Pope Francis I made the decision to live with the Daughters of Charity at St Martha House in the Vatican City. The virtues of humility, simplicity and charity which the Daughters of Charity strive to live by are the virtues which the world has seen Pope Francis promote by word and action. The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul were founded by St Vincent de Paul and St Louise de Marillac in 1633 in France. Their charism is based on serving Christ in those living in poverty. They have been at St Martha House (known also as Casa Santa Marta or Domus Sanctae Marthae) since 1884 when Pope Leo XIII requested that the Daughters of Charity come to the Vatican to care for the sick during the cholera epidemic. Since the epidemic never reached the city of Rome, the Vatican Hospital remained empty. In 1887, on his jubilee as a priest, Pope Leo XIII gave the hospital to the Daughters of Charity to be used as a place of hospitality for St. Vincent de Paul (patron saint of charitable societies) and St. Louise de Marillac (patron saint of social workers), pilgrims of more modest incomes. It was called founders of the Daughters of Charity,


Truth suffers, but never dies. St Teresa of Avila

Martha's. The other Sisters help in the kitchen, laundry, bedrooms, dining room and chapel (along with other paid staff).

St Martha’s House

on low incomes. There had also been a social service centre attached to the house. Today, St Martha's House is no longer a place for pilgrims but rather a place for St Martha’s House hospitality for visiting bishops and cardinals. “Santa Marta Hospice”, proAnd now Pope Francis also viding pilgrims a place to calls it home! stay for free. As shown by the photograph Over the last century, St of Francis and the Daughters Martha's House still received of Charity, eight Sisters pilgrims however at a small reside at St Martha's price. The Vatican also House. Two are from India, requested other services of two from Slovakia and four the Daughters of Charity and from Italy. One of the Italian St Martha House was Sisters is responsible for the extended. Refugee clinic. Pope Benedict XVI ambassadors were received visited the clinic in 2005 and during World War II when described it as "a maternal they could not remain in and paediatric clinic staffed Rome. The house also by volunteers that serves welcomed Prelates working at mainly immigrants." The the Secretariat of State, Indian Sisters are studying Sisters who worked in the Italian while the tallest Sister Vatican Dispensary (clinic) or pictured is from Slovakia and served in the Vatican dining recently returned home soon rooms, and Vatican guards after 9 years serving at St

According to one source from St Martha’s House, Pope Francis gives a brief homily at daily Mass "which is very practical and goes right to the heart." On the feast of the A nnu nc ia t io n, the Daughters of Charity renew their annual vows during daily Mass. The renewal of vows is always a powerful experience for the Sisters. However for the eight Sisters at St Martha’s House, last year’s renewal had added significance as they renewed their vows in the presence of Pope Francis for the first time. Sister Evelyne Franc, the Daughters of Charity’s International Superior, in a letter to her Sisters, had this to say which is befitting of the Sister’s new experience to have Pope Francis residing in their midst: “Let us ask ourselves if we evangelise by our lives and our service or if instead we serve those who are poor in a rush, like busy, agitated "Marthas," victims of activism that scatters and leads to a superficial life. We cannot forget that the driving force of service, its soul, is prayer life, the interior life.” Reference The Spirit of Charity: Reflections from the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, http://

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. Deuteronomy 31:6


The Mystery of Vocation Privileged to have served ! Alan Gauci’s story (part 2) Ruth Lasseter is from Indiana, USA. She has a passion to share with others the mystery of love and the marvels of the living and true God. Previously, Ruth wrote material for a series of History textbooks, now in use in parochial schools and widely used among Catholic home schooled children. She also worked for The Canticle, a quarterly magazine for Catholic women. Recently Ruth was in Malta for several months and spent a significant amount of time with the SDC, learning about it and assisting with its apostolate. First Trip to Malta When the Year of Faith opened on Advent Sunday, 1 December, 2012, I had just returned from a week in Malta to my home in northern Indiana. Yet, I knew little about St. George

Preca and nothing about the Society which he founded in 1907. Nor did the Latin acronym of M.U.S.E.U.M. convey the deep longing, springing from the founder’s heart, that God’s presence be known and preserved: Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus Mundus (“Divine Teacher may the whole world follow the Gospel”). This had been my first trip to Malta. I went for the Episcopal Ordination of Monsignor Charles J. Scicluna, whom I had not met previously. The week brought many significant and surprising events, both public and private. The most surprising of all happened as my plane flew away from Malta on the day after the ordination, and I had a silent cri de coeur of my own. What could have evoked this strange sense of bereavement? Of interior severance from… I knew not

Mass of Episcopal Ordination of Most Reverend Charles J. Scicluna


Let us teach the young in the school of the fear of the Lord. Pope St Clement I

Ruth Lesseter and Dr Chris Godfrey at Our Lady of Damascus Greek-Catholic Church in Valetta, Malta. St George Preca had a special devotion to the image of Our Lady of Damascus

what? Why the tears, which I hid by turning my face to the window and gazing at the islands below? I was totally bewildered by the irrational thought that some essential but unknown thing had been left behind, down there in Malta. “See, I make all things new” Throughout a long and full life, I have been pursued, in the psalmist’s words, by Goodness and Mercy. I was always busy, never bored, and usually as “happy as a tornado in a trailer park,” (as Tow Mater says in the Pixar movie “Cars”). I had worked closely with my late husband in every area of life for our 42 years together: raising six children, opening our

home to everyone, working with seminarians and students, running a retreat house, creating a magazine, writing and lecturing on education, culture and the Faith. Despite our making some stupid and sinful choices, Grace kindly and repeatedly called us back to an “attitude of gratitude” for our life and work as gift and calling from God – a vocation within the vocation of marriage. So, four decades whizzed past as we worked (mostly pro bono) building up schools, developing curriculum, forming young teachers, writing history textbooks, and organizing conferences. There had been difficult challenges, too. Preceding his death in 2008, my husband and I had both known extreme physical suffering, made more acute through disappointment and betrayals by those close to us, while the terrible scandals mounted in our country and within our Church. These dark matters were somehow connected and necessary for my coming to Malta in the first place, but I was completely ignorant of Providence as the Year of Faith began. An authentic pilgrimage When I returned home, I pondered all that had happened in the previous week and, above all, the sense of a radical change. Had an authentic pilgrimage begun in Malta? Maybe so, but it was by no means completed. What then was I

to do? Silence and solitude seemed the way, but in a three-generation household, it was not likely to happen! Was it possible to go to Rome, where all roads led? I looked into the end-of-the-year flight sales for Spring and nabbed a cheap fare to the Eternal City. With equal ease but without a bargain price, I reserved a room at the Casa di Santa Brigida in the Piazza Farnese for the week prior to Holy Week. At the time of making this reservation, I was as ignorant as the rest of the world that the installation of a new pope would fall directly at that time, jamming the city’s lodgings with visitors. I chose the dates to coincide with St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s feast days, and that is why, on 19 March, I was on the roof of the Casa di Santa Brigida watching the circling helicopters in the clear sky and listening to the muffled roar from the huge crowd at nearby St. Peter’s. The previous day, on the same roof, I had met briefly with Bishop Scicluna to ask him to tell me about the Society of Christian Doctrine and the Superior General, Natalino Camilleri, with whom I was scheduled to meet on Palm Sunday. What an unexpected change in just three months! How had I come to have St George Preca as my closest spiritual companion? Why was I drawn to his Society of Christian Doctrine? Mysterious and strange are the blessed ways of Providence. Just before Christmas, Robert Moynihan, the editor of

Tribulation is a gift from God; one that he especially gives His special friends. St Thomas More

St George Preca delivering a conference in Zabbar, Malta, 27 August 1951

“Inside the Vatican” magazine, contacted me to write a column for a special issue reviewing the events of 2012, the year just passed. He wanted an article on the new Auxiliary Bishop of Malta, who had been chosen by “Inside the Vatican” staff as the “Man of the Year” among ten others. As soon as I agreed to write the article, I pulled out the special edition of the Episcopal Ordination featured in the Times of Malta, which gave me an introduction to M.U.S.E.U.M. along with its founder, St. George Preca; Monsignor Scicluna had been the Postulator for his cause! A hidden saint for a hidden life The more I learned, the more this “reluctant saint” attracted and appealed to me, with his insistence on everyday holiness for the laity and emphasis on


learning and teaching the Gospel! I searched the Internet and read everything available about him and his Society. On New Year’s Day, our parish priest had the “hospitality team” hold hats with the names of saints printed on paper and placed into the hats; the priest invited us all to pick out a companion saint for the Year of Faith. When the hat came to me, I refused to pick a name because I had already chosen St. George Preca as my companion saint, and I was certain that his name would not be in that hat! So, while others were glowing with the choice of St. Thomas Aquinas and other popularized saints, I felt quite happy to have a hidden saint to accompany me in my hidden life. I made two resolutions: first, I would find out if there was a foundation in the U.S.A. of the Society, and, second, if there was not, I’d offer to help that happen, if possible. Nine months later, I was again in Malta! This time, it was to be immersed in the life of the SDC for three months, visiting centres and talking with members as I learned about their way of life. I went alone, but with the blessing and support of most of my family and of many interested people from America. My goal was to understand how the catechesis was carried out in Malta and how the catechists were formed so that a similar foundation could be established in the heartland of the United States.


“Do you think I can do this?” I had asked Bishop Scicluna as we talked in Rome about M.U.S.E.U.M. and St. George Preca on the day before the installation of Pope Francis. “No,” he answered bluntly. “You can’t. But,” he continued, “With God working through you, it may be possible.” No, I can’t do this. Yes, I shall try, with God’s help! Spiritual baby steps! The ‘Watch” of prayer It was hard to wait five months; I was impatient to be in Malta. However, there were still necessary tasks of business which needed finishing, and my family needed some coaxing into acceptance of my long absence. While waiting, I tried to learn Maltese, with no success. So I turned to reading all the English translation of books and writings by St. George Preca which the Superior General had given to me at our meeting in Rome. He especially encouraged me to pray the prayers of The Watch. I was willing, but was uncertain about changing my established habit of prayer at set times every day. Besides, I had been disappointed by most devotional booklets which had come my way in the past. While a few collections of prayers had been quite useful, most were overly sentimental and sweet, or, worse, addressed God with empty flattery!

Share your love with everyone. St George Preca

However, it was obvious from the time that I took The Watch into my hands that it was altogether different from most devotional guides! Austere, inclusive and powerful, The Watch is a sustained hymn of gratitude, repentance and praise to the Blessed Trinity. It united everything – doctrine, adoration, scripture and prayer – employing all the faculties of mind, heart and will. I was delighted to find that the whole progression of daily prayer was carried out in the company of Saints, with lovely icons, and with emphasis on assuming the appropriate “body language” in prayer. Beauty and responsibility, mystery and morality, awareness of sin and forgiveness, and, above all, the presence of God were on every page. How could I have lived so long without it? The prayers of The Watch, rooted as they are in orthodoxy and Sacred Scripture, are not tired because they are ancient, and as G. K. Chesterton once noted: “Whatever is not ancient is soon old”. Two challenges Although amazed at the inclusive scope of The Watch, I found two challenges in trying to follow the SDC prayers every day: balance and interior focus. Because I loved it and was fascinated at where The Watch was leading me, interiorly, I lost some of my equilibrium. I found myself spending too much time in

the mystery of vocation prayer and contemplation, to the exclusion of everything else – plenty of Ora but not enough time for necessary Labore! In seeking balance, I found it jarring to return every quarter-hour to the still unfamiliar sequence. But I persevered because I wanted to be in solidarity with all the other members of the Society, praying as they prayed, with them and for them, in Malta and all of the other foundations everywhere. My second challenge was one of focus. If I was actually at work writing, there was a problem of focus, not so much balance, in keeping to the prayers of The Watch. If I am seeking the right word and struggling to get its precise meaning onto paper, my interior focus cannot easily change. The flow of writing, once interrupted, could not be restarted again. What was I to do? After a few bumpy weeks, I settled down to “cluster prayer” during those times of the day when I am doing intense writing work. At those times, I put the prayers of The Watch into several clusters and episodes, with “prayer breaks” throughout the day. This seemed to work better for those times when I was doing writing work. As weeks passed, I began to notice a definite effect, both within and without. Quite simply, I began to feel at peace; the daylight seemed brighter and the world more mysterious. I did not become

Ruth delivering a presentation to SDC Members

annoyed so frequently at inconveniences or with people. I was aware of a slow but definite movement towards Heaven! However, on those days when I did not pray at all, according to The Watch, it seemed that the net which upheld my ordinary activities – the fabric of daily life – seemed to be thin and worn. Peace began to disintegrate, and sometimes it even seemed that I could not take a good, deep breath. As I prepared to go to Malta, The Watch acted as a kind of spiritual director, in the absence of a priest. During my time there, it was a joy to actually be with others who were praying with me and for me, too, in the same prayers and in the same hour! Malta, the spiritual frontlines While in retreat Through to read,

Malta, I stayed at a house in Rabat. the day, I was able pray, study, attend

daily Mass and walk in the convent gardens. In the evening, a driver came for me to take me to a different centre or event. I met and talked with many of the SDC members, including a few of the female section; I observed how the centres were run – diverse, yet the same – and was welcomed with hospitality and courtesy, everywhere. I made a weekly report to the Superior General about my impressions from Malta, my thoughts about a foundation in the U.S.A., and about the many challenges to effective catechesis in America. My own sense of inadequacy increased when I saw all that was being done in Malta and elsewhere, but the sense grew stronger that God was present and guiding us, working with and through all of us. By the time came for me to leave Malta, I had become convinced that the work of the Society of Christian Doctrine is the most important apostolate in the

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1


the mystery of vocation Church today. Similarly, I came to Malta knowing that St George Preca was a true saint, but I left believing that he is one of the greatest saints who has ever lived. United in Christ’s love What is ahead in this vocation-within-avocation? How did any of us get here? There is only the silent Mystery to answer, then, now and always: “The Word of God became flesh and made us his brothers (sisters) and united us together in the bond of love.” How is this possible? I don’t know; I can only be amazed that I am no longer alone in this missionary work. What are we, together, meant to do? And by “together,” I mean Emmanuel, of course: God-with-us and we-with-God, for without Him, I can do nothing, we can do nothing. I don’t know. I am blind. I’ll leave the “how” of the American foundation to the guidance of others, under the designs of Providential Love, and do the best that I can with encouragement which has come through new spiritual friends, seen and unseen, met and unmet. Indeed, we are united together in the mysterious bonds of love, as we affirm in the 5:00 hour of The Watch. Who put me here? We may well ask, even as we marvel that we are here at all, called by Divine Providence, to whom we give thanks in spirit and in truth, as we hope for an abundant harvest with God’s blessing. Ruth Lasseter



HOBART St George Preca Mass Saturday 10 May 2014 10:00 AM Preca Centre Hobart 500 Sandy Bay Road, Lower Sandy Bay

MELBOURNE Prayer Service Sunday 4 May 2014 12:30 PM Monument of St George Preca St Patrick’s Cathedral Maurice Mifsud Memorial Mission St George Preca: Companion for the Lay Faithful

Wednesday 7 May 2014 7:30 PM SDC Regional Centre 82 Westmoreland Road, Sunshine North Eucharist Adoration Saturday 10 May 2014 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM SDC Regional Centre 82 Westmoreland Road, Sunshine North St George Preca Mass Saturday 10 May 2014 6:00 PM

Holy Eucharist Parish Church 1A Oleander Frank DuffDrive, at VaticanSt II Albans South 22

The Cross is the way to Paradise, but only when it is borne willingly. St Paul of the Cross

Society of Christian Doctrine founded by St George Preca


No 15 April 2014


No 15 April 2014