Author Archives: ACBC Communications

Prison chaplain finds Jesus in every cell

Melbourne prison chaplain and teacher Jwan Kada

For Melbourne youth prison chaplain Jwan Kada, the life-giving freedom of Jesus Christ can be found in every prison cell.

Reflecting on her vocation in the lead-up to Prison Sunday on November 11, the 33-year-old former Iraqi refugee is living her Catholic faith well outside the four walls of her close-knit Chaldean community. Continue reading

Bishop Elliott completes 11 years as a ‘happy bishop’

Bishop Peter Elliott

Bishop Peter Elliott says he kept Mother Teresa’s exhortation to new bishops – that they be “happy bishops” – front of mind and in his heart during his 11 years of episcopal ministry in Melbourne Archdiocese.

Pope Francis today announced that he has accepted Bishop Elliott’s resignation, which he submitted recently upon reaching the retirement age of 75. Bishop Elliott had been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in 2007. Continue reading

Women’s mentoring program to launch in WA next week

A national program aimed at building the skills, confidence and networks of Australian Catholic women will be launched in Western Australia next week.

Catholic Women’s Mentoring, launched in Sydney in May 2017, also helps women increase their capacity to use their gifts and talents to support the Church in Australia and the broader Australian community. Continue reading

Mountaineering priest aims for greater heights

Fr Morgan Batt

The white sand and surf beaches of Queensland’s holiday glitter strip are a far cry from scaling the world’s highest mountains, but Burleigh Heads parish priest and acclaimed mountaineer Fr Morgan Batt sees the connections.

“There is a lot of synergy because both entail an outdoor life, physicality and meeting a complete variety of people from all walks of life. The difference is the amount of people,” Fr Batt said from his parish office, just a short drive from Australia’s iconic surfing beaches that he is quickly coming to love.

On November 11, Fr Batt, who has celebrated the highest-known Mass near the summit of Mount Everest at 8500m, will mark his first year at Burleigh.

While there is much to do tending to the busy and diverse southeast Queensland parish, the author of Mountains: A place where Heaven and Earth Meet still finds time to train for upcoming climbs and is planning to scale more peaks in West Africa.

“I have climbed 221 of my 268 list of highest peaks of countries and major territories. The last climb was a very interesting trip to Pitcairn Island (part of a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean). It was only a small hill walk, but the journey, as always, was interesting and the people you meet fascinating,” he said.

Fr Batt’s time in the priesthood has been filled with highs and lows; he was a young parish priest in Port Arthur in 1996 when the massacre unfolded.

He worked closely with police at Port Arthur, and in the weeks and months following the tragedy, Fr Batt became a focal point for people trying to make sense about what had happened.

Fr Batt, who has spent 16 years in the Army as a chaplain and is still serving today, has also used his army training working with young men discerning priesthood.

“They (the Port Arthur shooting and military tours of duty) have given me unique insights into the stress of PTSD and understanding forgiveness,” he said.

For young people interested in a vocation as a priest or discerning religious life, Fr Batt’s advice is to “never be afraid”.

“God always works with what you respond with. Just keep saying ‘yes’ and that makes the difference,” he said.

More on the life, wisdom and experiences of Fr Batt can be found in his book, which was written over a period of 20 years.

“As I came home from each climb, I would write the story,” he explained.

“Many people kept asking for a written story or blog site, so I put all the stories together about two years ago into a book with a one-off print run.

“We sell the book at the Burleigh parish office and we have about 100 copies left of 4000 – money raised goes toward our parish social justice programs.”

Fr Batt plans to bring out a book of another 100 climbing stories next year called Mountains. It’s nowhere until someone makes it somewhere.

For more information, contact the Burleigh Parish Office on:

Volunteers, donors keep anti-trafficking efforts going

The voice of trafficked women throughout Australia will continue to be heard with the official opening of a new anti-trafficking service in Perth yesterday.

The Archdiocese of Perth has stepped in to provide an office for ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) after the organisation lost its $125,000 in Commonwealth funding in June this year. Continue reading

Pope urges faithful to respond to the ‘cry of the poor’

The second World Day of the Poor will be celebrated on November 18.

In his message for the second World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis has called for a new evangelisation that prompts Catholics “to make tangible the Church’s response to the cry of the poor”.

In a letter to clergy throughout Australia, Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life chairman Bishop Terence Brady encouraged all Catholic communities to be involved and respond to the theme of day: “This poor man cried and the Lord heard him” (Psalm 34:7). Continue reading

Historic ordination for Solomon Islands

Bishop Houhou receives his mitre from Archbishop Kurian

The young Catholic population of the Solomon Islands has joyfully welcomed the episcopal ordination of their first locally-born Catholic bishop.

Fr Peter Houhou, who had been vicar general of the Archdiocese of Honiara and administrator of Holy Cross Cathedral, became the new Bishop of Auki earlier this month in a jubilant, emotional and culturally-rich celebration at St Augustine Catholic Cathedral. Continue reading

Listening to the Spirit: 10,000 voices and climbing

Momentum is building as the Church reaches the midway point of the Open Listening and Dialogue phase of preparations for the Plenary Council in 2020.

Facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins says hearing the voices of more than 10,000 Australians is a great start and she hopes that’s just the tip of the iceberg as the Church builds towards the Plenary Council sessions to be held in October 2020 and May 2021. Continue reading

New executive secretary answers call to serve the Church nationally

The Australian bishops have appointed a new executive secretary to support their engagement with Indigenous Catholics and their work in the critical areas of evangelisation, laity and ministry.

Christopher Ohlsen, who was the first lay person to hold the role of master of ceremonies for the Diocese of Parramatta, said he had always been interested in the workings of the Church and in serving at the national level. Continue reading

Faith, spirituality and culture on display at NATSICC assembly

Australia’s First Peoples gathered in Perth last week to explore the strong connections between faith, spirituality and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

Craig Arthur, the national administrator of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), the peak advisory body to Australia’s bishops, said 250 delegates attended the week-long gathering. Continue reading

Office for Youth director named to Vatican advisory body

Malcolm Hart says his appointment as a consultor to a Vatican advisory body recognises the work of people ministering to young Catholics across Australia.

Over the weekend, Pope Francis named the inaugural – and current – director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Office for Youth a consultor to the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. Continue reading