Finding compassion through the lens of Mercy

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-9-04-35-am_200Archbishop Mark Coleridge, speaking at Australia’s largest Catholic eConference this week, said the time of Christendom is over, and the Catholic Church must recognise its real credential is in Mercy.

Calling for Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy to be enacted as a verb, Archbishop Coleridge said the Pope’s vision gives birth to action within the Church and across the global community.

“When I speak about the covenant of God, it is a community of Mercy in a merciless world. Find the hungry one, the thirsty one, the naked one, the sick one, the one who is infinitely strange and the one who is seemingly imprisoned by the power of death. Look at the Crucified and understand what you see,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

Captivating the eConference audience for over 4 hours, Archbishop Coleridge, along with renowned Catholic scholar, Sr Veronica Lawson and, President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Mr Phil Glendenning spoke compellingly about the plight of the 65 million people displaced around the world. Continue reading

Bishop Long welcomes government commitment towards refugees

bigstock-125710307_200The announcement by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York that Australia will maintain its humanitarian refugee intake at 18,750 from mid-2018 is to be welcomed, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen ofm conv said today.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who also attended the summit, reminded those present that, ‘The primary cause of today’s refugee and migrant crisis is man-made: namely, wars and conflicts’, the Bishops Delegate for Migrants and Refugees said.

‘The solution to the refugee crisis is not simply accepting refugees who are fleeing their country, but promoting peace in their homes so that they do not have to leave in the first place.’

‘To this end, we are encouraged by the Prime Minister’s pledge in providing an additional 130 million dollars in support of peace building and assistance to refugees.’

‘Australia, which has had a long tradition of welcoming and resettling refugees throughout its history, can be more generous and humane towards asylum seekers and refugees.’ Continue reading

Ms Michele Castagna OAM, Rest in Peace

Michele Castagna

Michele Castagna

Ms Michele Castagna OAM died peacefully on Saturday morning, 17 September 2016, in the presence of her family at home in Alice Springs. 

Michele was appointed Chairperson of the Australian Catholic Disability Council in 2006 and worked tirelessly in the role promoting the full participation of people with disability and their families. Michele guided the Council with wisdom and tenacity until she stepped down in 2015.

Serving on the Council for 14 years, Michele had over twenty years practical experience and knowledge in community work, community development and service delivery, including fifteen years working in the area of multiculturalism.

Always an active member of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish in Alice Springs. Michele was a member of the choir and other ministries within the parish. Due to Michele’s advocacy within the parish, it became an accessible place of worship.

We pray for the repose of her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God. May she rest in peace. Amen. Continue reading

Pope Francis calls for a Day of Prayer for Peace

day-of-prayer-for-peace20-september-2016_200On Tuesday 20 September next, Pope Francis has called for the observance of a ‘Day of Prayer for Peace’. The day of prayer coincides with the Holy Father’s visit to Assisi, Italy on 20 September. The day will centre around the theme, ‘Thirst for peace: faiths and cultures in dialogue’.

Representatives from different religions will meet the Holy Father upon arrival in Assisi including, His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople; a Muslim representative; His Grace Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Centerbury; the Syro-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; a Jewish representative; and the supreme Head of the Tendai (Buddhists), Japan.

The representatives will join Pope Francis for lunch with a number of victims of war.

The moment of prayer for peace will take place at 4 p.m (Rome time) in the lower Basilica of St. Francis’ Church. There will be an ecumenical prayer for Christians in the presence of representatives from other religions. All of the participants will gather at St. Francis’ Square for a closing ceremony.  Continue reading

Finding the Silver Bullet for Evangelisation

Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Bishop Nicholas Hudson

Interview with Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, on Friday 2 September during the Proclaim 2016, national conference on evangelisation.

‘Are you going to give us a silver bullet for evangelisation?’ Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, was asked on the journey from Sydney airport to the Diocese of Broken Bay for the Proclaim 2016, national conference on evangelisation.

He quickly responded, ‘there is no silver bullet, it’s going to be different in every parish and every local community’. Interestingly, the question stayed with him and ‘I’ve found myself thinking, there is one silver bullet and that is to just start doing it’.

‘Sometimes there is scope for reflection and being strategic that’s the reason why we are all gathered here for Proclaim 2016. We know that Pope Francis has a vision and there is a phrase, “Vision without strategy is hallucination”. That is how Pope Francis sees it and when he says that he dreams of a missionary option for the Church, what he means is that we need to do a lot of rethinking.

Bishop Comensoli leading morning prayer during Proclaim 2016

Bishop Comensoli leads morning prayer during Proclaim 2016

‘We need to rethink our strategies, our methods and our structures in order to be more evangelising but the way we become more evangelising is just by getting on with it.

The Proclaim conference was hosted by the Diocese of Broken Bay in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Evangelisation.

Bishop Hudson’s address at the Proclaim conference focused on parishes becoming oases of mercy. ‘I learnt from my Dad when I was six years old, he used to take me out to visit the neighbours who were elderly or alone. He wasn’t self-consciously teaching me to make our family or our parish an oasis of mercy, but I realised that he was for those vulnerable people around us, an oasis of mercy.

‘He would say to me, Nick, let’s go and see Bob, next door, or we would drop off a shepherd’s pie to Mr Flood every Saturday. It was a way of showing mercy. So I believe that parishes need believe in being oasis of mercy, by simply showing mercy to their neighbours. The clue is to simply ask, who is my neighbour? And if you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the response, you can’t but become more evangelising.’ Continue reading

National Fertility Conference to focus on Infertility in the Year of Mercy

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-3-42-47-pm_200Bishop Mark Edwards, a member of the Bishops Commission for Family, Youth and Life will deliver the opening address at the National Fertility Conference in Melbourne this weekend, 16-18 September 2016.

On Friday evening, Bishop Edwards will address a public forum on the topic, ‘Infertility in the Year of Mercy- a Pastoral Response’.

The journey of infertility is a difficult one affecting one-in-six couples. Our technological culture promotes treatments like IVF which, unfortunately, have a low success rate and bypass the underlying cause(s).

Couples who prefer to conceive naturally, because of their religion or a desire for a healthier outcome, may struggle to find medical assistance, which aims to restore their fertility and offer hope.

In recent years, the number of Australian health care practitioners dedicated to a restorative approach to solving infertility has grown. The network includes doctors and members of the three national fertility awareness agencies*. Since 2014, they have met annually to promote therapies for infertility which are respectful of physical, mental and spiritual health, relationships and embryonic life. Continue reading

eConference to Focus on Mercy: A Way of Being in the World

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-9-04-35-am_200The annual eConference hosted by the Broken Bay Institute in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will commemorate the Jubilee Year of Mercy and take up Pope Francis’ invitation to explore this central element of our faith.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Vice-President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will deliver an address on the following themes, Pope Francis’ vision and dream of Mercy in our Church and world, and ‘Leaving Space for Mercy: the Sermon on the Mount’.

He will join Sr Veronica Lawson RSM, Scripture scholar and author of the book, The Blessing of Mercy. Sr Lawson will speak about ‘Leaving Space for Mercy: a Hebrew Perspective’ and ‘a Lucan perspective’.

Mr Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia will address, ‘The Cry of the Poor, the Cry of the Earth’.

The conference will take place on Tuesday 20 September from 10am to 2.45pm AEST. Registration is currently open on the Broke Bay Institute website. Continue reading

Nationwide Month of Prayer and Fasting for Marriage and Families

bigstock-happy-family-having-fun-on-flo-13104605-web1_200A national month of prayer and fasting for marriage and families will be initiated in October 2016 by the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council.

‘The month of prayer and fasting is intended to be held in parishes across Australia during October 2016 as the nation prepares for a conversation on marriage,’ Bishop Michael Kennedy, the Bishops Delegate for Marriage and Family, said.

‘I encourage you to support your parish community to celebrate Mass, pray the Rosary and undertake Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during this time with the special intention of marriages and families in mind.’

The Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council have created a prayer resource to assist parishes during the month of prayer and fasting.

‘The resource includes prayers for people who are same-sex attracted or gender questioning and their families,’ Bishop Kennedy said.  Continue reading

The Spirituality of Ageing

Sr Patty Fawkner SGS delivered a thoughtful and entertaining address at the launch of 'A Place at the Table: Social justice in an ageing society', the Australian Catholic Bishops annual Social Justice Statement 2016-17.

Sr Patty Fawkner SGS delivered a thoughtful and entertaining address at the launch of ‘A Place at the Table: Social justice in an ageing society’, the ACBC Social Justice Statement 2016-17.

When John Ferguson invited me to speak today [6 September 2016] about the “spirituality of ageing”, I told him I wasn’t qualified and suggested others. John persisted and I thought, perhaps I have some ageing qualifications. The average age of the members of my congregation is 75; I’ve lived with many elderly people; my mother is 94; last year the Commonwealth Government told me I am officially aged and I’ve just learned that I fall in the category of the “young-old”.

An African proverb says, “The death of an old person is like the loss of a library”. The Australian Bishops concur that the wisdom and lived experience of older people are priceless treasures. Briefly, I wish to share some stories from the library of elders I know, and the wisdom I find there for our human journey which is, of course, a spiritual journey. Continue reading

ACBC Media Blog recognised in 2016 Catholic Media Awards

fullsizerender1_200Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s daily blog during the Synod on the Family, ‘On the Road Together’ was awarded ‘Best Column or Blog’ at the Australian Catholic Press Association’s annual awards for excellent this year.

The judges acknowledged the daily personal insights into the Synod process, which the blog provided and highlighted the Archbishop’s ‘self-deprecating sense of humour’ throughout the blog posts.

This Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Media Blog, was also highly commended in the ‘Best Editorial’ category for an opinion-editorial, ‘Interconnectedness a major principle of encyclical’, written by Bishop Michael Kennedy following the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’.  Continue reading

Celebrating Marriage, 65 years on

Bruce and Paulene Creenaune. Photography by: Daniel Hopper

Bruce and Paulene Creenaune. Photography by: Daniel Hopper

What’s the secret to a happy and lasting marriage? Why not ask Bruce and Paulene Creenaune who are celebrating 65 years of marriage and will be honoured along with 71 other couples at the Diocese of Wollongong’s annual Marriage Anniversaries Mass this weekend at St John Vianney’s Catholic Church, Fairy Meadow.

When asked this question, Bruce and Paulene said, “Generally we’re not ones for giving advice out to others. Although the times have changed, the fundamentals are the same – marriage is about give and take, it’s about communicating with each other, respecting each other’s points of view and about being there for the other person.

“We both see ourselves very much within the context of our broader family and agree that it’s the bonds of the family we have that has kept us together. When times are tough or when big decisions need to be made, we always do it together and with our family’s love and support. Our faith has also been a big part of our lives. We grew up in the faith and continued to carry it into our marriage. Prayer in particular has been a great source of comfort in difficult times.” Continue reading