Awarding Excellence

Award winner Margaret Pirotta from CatholicCare Sydney

Award winner Margaret Pirotta from CatholicCare Sydney

Media Release from Catholic Social Services Australia |23 October 2014

Margaret Pirotta, the Coordinator of CatholicCare Sydney’s Tree of Hope program, is the 2014 Catholic Social Services Australia Award winner of the Perkins Award for Excellence in Service by an Individual.

Across Sydney, Tree of Hope provides emotional and practical outreach support to people living with HIV, their family and supporters. Margaret Pirotta has worked to ensure that Tree of Hope, based in Lewisham in Sydney with outreach in Surry Hills, provides a confidential, non-judgemental environment for people living with HIV, their family and support person, to connect with other people who understand the challenges and issues they experience.

“The Tree of Hope is a place of hospitality and welcome,” said Margaret. “It offers a space for reflection, support and friendship, which is vital in a life often marked by isolation and loneliness.”

Founded in 1996 by Sr Margaret Mines RSC, Tree of Hope draws on the support of CatholicCare Sydney and the Archdiocese of Sydney. In accepting the award, Margaret spoke warmly of what it will mean to the volunteers and clients of Tree of Hope.

“I know how acknowledged they will feel in receiving this Award. They’ve often said that it was the Catholics who were among the first to help in the AIDS epidemic – and Sr Margaret certainly was a pioneer in that area,” said Margaret.

Margaret said that while there has been dramatic scientific advancement, sadly the same cannot be said for the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV/AIDS experience.“The attitudes of many at a global level have remained somewhere between archaic and ignorance.”

“This Award of recognition by Catholic Social Services Australia is an encouraging step toward affirming people living with the virus, and reducing stigma and discrimination, therefore bringing about change,” said Margaret.

“The space at Tree of Hope has become like a family. We are not meant to be alone, we are meant to be in community, and this space provides that.” The 12th Annual Catholic Social Services Australia Awards were announced on Tuesday evening at Parliament House, Canberra in the presence of Senators and Members of Federal Parliament.

Catholic Social Services Australia is the Catholic Church’s peak national body for social service agencies across the country. For over 50 years it has assisted its member agencies to promote a fairer, more inclusive society that reflects and supports the dignity, equality and participation for all people.

The Catholic Social Services Australia Awards pay tribute to the outstanding programmes, organisations and people, who work tirelessly and often quietly for a better life for vulnerable people within our communities.

Media queries, including high resolution images, please contact Chris Norris on (02) 6285 1366 For more information on Tree of Hope please contact Margaret Pirotta ( 02) 9509 1240

Media Statement | Extraordinary Synod on the Family

President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Denis Hart

President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Denis Hart

20 October 2014

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference welcomes the concluding message released by the Synod Fathers at the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome on 18 October 2014.

We support the Synod Fathers in their acknowledgement that as priests and bishops we have lived alongside families who have spoken to us and shown us the saga of their joys and their difficulties. Their example of generous faithfulness in marriage stands as an example for every society.

Following his contributions during the extraordinary Synod, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Denis Hart said: “The Australian Bishops will continue to pray for families everywhere, in particular reflecting on how we can accompany and lead those in difficult situations, such as single women bringing up children and those who have divorced and remarried, towards participation in Church life.”

Archbishop Hart said that Pope Francis’ concluding address to the Synod Fathers was encouraging and inclusive: “The Holy Father described our Church as one that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect!”

“Pope Francis has reminded us that we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many challenges that families must confront, and to give answers to the many discouragements that surround families,” Archbishop Hart added.

Over the coming months, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will review the ‘lineamenta’ (guidelines), presented to each episcopal conference following the conclusion of the extraordinary Synod.

“As Pope Francis has explained, the Church now has one year to work on the ‘Synodal Relatio’, which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed during this extraordinary Synod,” Archbishop Hart said.

For media queries, please contact Acting Communications Director Aoife Connors on 0450 348 597.

Prayer campaign for the success of the Family Synod

Prayer for families

Prayer for families

A day of prayer and fasting for the success of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family has been proposed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference for Friday 10 October 2014. This proposal is part of a prayer campaign for the success of the Synod and begins with the distribution of prayer cards at parish masses on Sunday 5 October, the opening day of the Synod.

This will be the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops run in Rome through to Sunday 19 October. It will consider the topic The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.

Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, Bishop Eugene Hurley of Darwin, said this day of prayer and fasting is an ideal way for parish communities, institutes of consecrated life, associations and movements in Australia to pray for the success of the Synod. Continue reading

Bishop Saunders on the good, the bad and the footy

Christopher Saunders, Bishop of Broome

Christopher Saunders, Bishop of Broome

Written by Christopher Saunders and first published on the CathNews website, 25 September, 2014.

The Australian Rules and Rugby League seasons are at their climax – the Grand Finals. All this season the sports pages have featured names like Inglis, Thurston, Soward and Thaiday in League, and Goodes, Franklin, Wingard and Ryder in AFL.

All these men can claim Indigenous heritage. They and many like them remind us of the enormous contribution that Indigenous people have made to Australian sports. Think beyond those two football codes and we can conjure with names like Cathy Freeman, Nova Peris, Kurtley Beale and countless others. Continue reading

Reach out to the Muslim community, we’re all Aussies together

Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Written by Denis Hart

The Australian
September 26, 2014

Archbishop of Melbourne and president of the ACBC, Denis Hart, has an opinion piece in today’s Australian newspaper arguing that the brutal attacks of the Islamic State against Christian, Muslim, Yazidi and other groups in northern Iraq, along with events in Australia including the terrible attack in Melbourne, have led to heightened community concern. The purpose of terrorism is to divide and conquer and we should resist that by reaching out to the Muslim community and not allow terrorists to change our open hearts to suspicion and fear.



Read the opinion piece at The Australian here (you will need a paid subscription to The Australian to read the full article)

Social Justice Sunday ~ 28 September 2014


Cover of  ‘A Crown for Australia: Striving for the best in our sporting nation’

This coming Sunday (28 September) is Social Justice Sunday. Last week the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference launched the Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.

The Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Saunders, says of the Statement:

‘Australians are passionate about their sport, whether as participants or as supporters … Sport brings us together, builds communities and lets us celebrate the joy of movement and skill.

‘Sport also holds a mirror up to our society. As the Statement says, we like to think that it reflects the best in us as individuals and as a community – but we also have to admit that it can reflect the worst in us. Sport can show us a side to our society that is not only ugly but often unjust as well.’

The goal of sport is the good of humans everywhere. How, then, can we help build the Kingdom of God through our sporting experience – whether playing or cheering from the sidelines?

Continue reading

Archbishop Tutu’s Prayer For The Rights Of Aboriginal Peoples

Desmond Tutu at the 2008 Freedom Awards. University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Desmond Tutu at the 2008 Freedom Awards. University of Southern California, Los Angeles

A statement from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on 21 September 2014, International Day of Peace

On World Peace Day 2014, I pray for the rights of the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia to determine their own destiny.

It is a severe indictment on Australia that many of its indigenous people still feel that their culture and dignity are being eroded, and that they continue to be treated as second class citizens – 42 years after the country signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Aboriginal elders say that although the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of 1976 transferred control of much of the Northern Territory to Aboriginal peoples, the people never had the opportunity to draw true advantage from the land. They were ill prepared to deal with complex Western bureaucracies, and their efforts have been undermined by under-development and neglect.

The imposition of legislation generally known as the Northern Territory Intervention, in
2007 virtually stripped them of their voice. Continue reading

New Archbishop of Sydney announced


Most Rev Anthony Fisher, the new Archbishop of Sydney

Pope Francis has announced this evening the appointment of Bishop Anthony Fisher OP as the new Archbishop of Sydney.

Bishop Fisher is currently the Bishop of Parramatta.

This appointment follows the transfer of Cardinal George Pell to the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy.

Speaking on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, its President, Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, welcomed the announcement.

“For my brother bishops I congratulate Bishop Fisher on his appointment to Sydney. He will use his many gifts with generosity and faithfulness to serve God and to lead his people in Sydney Archdiocese and beyond. I assure him of our prayers for his ministry.”


Born in Sydney in 1960 to Colin and Gloria Fisher, he was baptised Anthony Colin Joseph at St Thérèse Church, Lakemba, and attended the parish school in 1965 and 1966. Continue reading

Triple celebration at Marriage Anniversaries Mass

Ron & Alice Weston

Ron & Alice Weston celebrating 60 years of marriage

Bishop Peter Ingham’s annual Marriage Anniversaries Mass this Sunday will be a triple celebration for the Weston family with parents, Ron and Alice, celebrating 60 years of marriage, while two of their children will be celebrating their 40th (Rhonda and Mark Breeze) and 25th (Leanne and Christopher Wilson) wedding anniversaries.

The Weston family, along with 78 other couples, have clocked up a staggering 3,583 years of married life: 21 couples are celebrating 25 years of marriage; 16 couples celebrating 40 years of marriage; 24 couples celebrating 50 years of marriage; 15 couples celebrating 60 years of marriage, a further four couples celebrating 61, 62, 64 and 65 years, and one couple celebrating the healthy milestone of 66 years of marriage.

Alice, who met Ron at a New Year’s Eve dance back in 1952, credits her mother as the greatest role model in her life. Alice said, “My mother mentored my sister and I wonderfully. She had a very strong faith and instilled in us a core belief of having respect for ourselves and others. She paved the way for us in our marriages.” Continue reading

Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle multiple media award winner for Aurora

Cover of Aurora quarterly magazine.

Aurora magazine cover

The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle was the big winner of multiple awards for its monthly magazine Aurora at two media conferences held last week in Canberra. This included receiving the highly respected Gutenberg Award.

Aurora attracted three awards at the Australasian Catholic Press Association (ACPA) dinner held last Thursday followed by another four awards at the Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) lunch on Sunday.

The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, was delighted with Aurora’s success. “Since commencing distribution of Aurora through secular newspapers in 2011, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has been able to reach a broader audience beyond our Catholic community. It has meant they’ve been able to communicate the Church’s good news stories, as well as provide honest coverage of the difficult issues they’ve faced in regard to clerical child sexual abuse”, Archbishop Hart said.

The awards from ACPA were for best layout and design, best print magazine and the Bishop Philip Kennedy Memorial Award for Overall Excellence in a Catholic Publication. Continue reading