Preparations and Hopes – Synod of Youth "We have hope, we have value - and we believe we can change the world..." Dorota Andrzejewska, Poland

20 young people from across the world have been meeting in Rome for the International Seminar of Young People – listening, preparing and actioning ways forward for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment.

On the evening of 13 September, they gathered to share their hopes and dreams…

The following video has been compiled by Australia’s Ashleigh Green.



Preparing for the Synod of Bishops on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment International Seminar on Young People, Rome 2017

Untitled design (1)Blog Post by Ashleigh Green
Australian Representative

Day 2:

In John 1: 35-42, the disciples ask Jesus where He is going. Jesus doesn’t reply with a complicated explanation. He simply says, “Come and see,” and the disciples spend the day with Him. In this morning’s biblical meditation we were led through a reflection on this passage. The importance of ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’ in our youth ministry was emphasised, but when we broke into small groups later in the day, I was struck by the comment of one my fellow delegates: “What happens when we don’t have anything attractive to show them?” she asked. “What happens if our churches, in fact, are places that turn our young people away?”

The key question, then, is how can the Church become more relevant to young people? It was Untitled design (9)agreed that relevance begins with a genuine understanding of the reality for young people and real engagement with contemporary social issues. Identity, employment and migration were the key issues that were discussed today, and the intersection of these issues with faith.

I was struck by the comment of one delegate who noted an increase in alternative economic models which put people before profits. However, many of the ground-breaking models we see are coming from outside the Church. She urged more Church-based organisations to live out Pope Francis’ concept of ‘integral ecology’. As a Church we talk a lot about ecology and sustainability, but a young Nigerian man put up his hand and asked why even the transcripts from this seminar were printed in Italian on one-sided paper. “Most of us don’t even speak in Italian,” he said, which drew some laughs, but which pointed to what many young people perceive as a disconnect between talk and action. Ultimately, young people are drawn to authenticity and desire a Church that lives out its teachings.

Untitled design (8)It is inspiring to be in the presence of such passionate, active, young Catholics. The 20 young people at this seminar have decided to take our contribution a step further, and we have arranged an impromptu, self-organised meeting tomorrow night. We will meet after dinner, and each of us will have one minute to answer the question, “Imagine you had one minute to talk to the Pope and Cardinals. What would you say?” We will compile our responses into a document of our own initiative, which we will present to Cardinal Baldisseri at the conclusion of the week. In the words of one of the youth delegates, “We have come so far from every corner of the globe. We want to make this week count.”

The day ended with a night of music and dance at a safe-house for refugees, run by Jesuit Refugee Services. We talked, ate, danced and sang with refugees our own age,  witnessing first-hand some of the great pastoral work of the Church in Rome. There were many encounters today that filled me with a profound sense of hope and a deeper experience of the body of Christ.


Day 1:

“It is you who are to receive the torch from your elders,” Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri announced as he opened the seminar, “and you are to deliver it to the world that is in the midst of the greatest transformation in history.”

Untitled design (3)Today I attended day one of the International Seminar of Young People in Rome, in preparation for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment. Cardinal Baldisseri explained that this week’s seminar is not only international in nature, but also multidisciplinary. I am one of 20 young people from around the world who were invited to attend this seminar along with specialists in the field of sociology, psychology, economics, computer science, pastoral care and the environment. Over the week we will engage with specialists from the various fields, but Cardinal Baldisseri explained that the key word for today was “listening.”

In my presentation I was honest about the reality of the Church in Australia today, which I described as being in the midst of crisis and transition. I drew on the results of the National Youth Synod Survey and I used personal experiences to illustrate this reality. As the theme of today’s seminar was “listening”, it was fitting that I shared some data from our National Survey where young people in Australia scored the Church’s listening ability to be a 6 out of 10. I shared my experience that many young people give up on the Church before even giving it a go, out of fear that they cannot engage in open, honest discussion about the issues that matter to them. I spoke about my involvement in the “Synod video booth” in my Diocese. The booth travelled around to various youth events in the Diocese, and young people were invited to answer the question, “If you had one minute to say anything to Pope Francis, what would you say?” As a facilitator of this booth, I remember one young person who, upon being asked this question hesitated and told me, “I’d better not say what I really think. My views are too radical to share at Church.” After five minutes of encouraging this girl to openly share her thoughts, she went ahead and shared her experience of topics such as homosexuality and transgender issues being shut down at her Catholic School. I was really struck by this young person’s experience of the disconnect between Church and the rest of the world. It was as if there were some matters that were out of bounds in Church settings, yet these were the issues that she was most passionate about and which gave her life. I stated that as a Church, if we are to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we need to be a Church that engages with those on the margins, and which includes young people who may feel ostracised for their views and identity.

One of the other youth respondents was a 25-year-old young man from Milan, Italy. He stated Untitled design (2)that his upbringing in a culture focused on image and power meant that he turned to crime. “I turned 18 in a jail cell,” he said. “I was not used to trusting adults but I got to know a chaplain whilst in jail.” After being released from prison the young man started living with the chaplain in his community. He spoke about how in previous communities, before anyone even asked his name, the leaders would read him the rules. In the Kairos Community, “my freedom was taken seriously,” he said. “If I wanted to go out late, the priest would say, ‘You know the answer. You know what to do.’ This was someone who believed in my capacity to choose and who had faith in me.” The young man shared his belief that if we want to educate young people in the faith we have to let them ask the questions… “I feel like I am one of the people who Jesus meets in Mark’s Gospel. I ask the Church not to forget those who like me were abandoned and suffered in jail. We, too, can be a gift to others. Give us a Gospel that is alive and comes to us through the faces that are happy and real.”

Another highlight of today was hearing from Fr Giulio Michelini who is the author of many New Testament studies and was chosen by Pope Francis to lead spiritual exercises for Roman Curia. He broke open 1 John 2:12-14, where young people are described as strong, as bearers of the Word and able to overcome evil.

We were encouraged, this week, to become a “thinking community” and to view our community as an orchestra with each of us playing a unique instrument.

My hope is that our discussions this week will break new ground. Now is the time to be creative, to dream and to listen to the voice of the Spirit. I wait in eager anticipation for the discussions that lay ahead, and for the gelato along the way!

Read Ashleigh’s presentation here:  Presentation for International Seminar on Young People – Ashleigh Green

More about the General Synod and its connection to our Year of Youth in Australia here:

The Beauty and Blessing of Marriage The sacrament of marriage is a great act of faith and love: a witness to the courage to believe in the beauty of the creative act of God and to live that love beyond ourselves. The following stories sourced from Catholic publications around Australia look at the richness, beauty and nature of this sacrament. More stories will be added over coming weeks.


The Southern Cross (Adelaide)

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Wise Counsellors – 50 years married
“Beryl says the secret to their success has been commitment and allowing each partner to pursue their own interests.”
Link to story below:
50 years married SX April 2011



Love at First Sight
He had “lovely eyes” and she “stood out” from the crowd.
Link to story below
Anniversaries SX October 2013 page 8

Catholic Outlook  (Parramatta)
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“Individuals, and families who dare to hope, dare to be open to the joy and mystery of life, and who open their lives to others who do the same.”

Blacktown is enjoying a Baby Boom
“I think it’s a constant reminder of how God’s church continues to stay alive and the Faith continues, Jill said. “Families are also reminded that this is a celebration of God’s hope, love and faith for us all – gifts they are giving to their babies.”


The Catholic Leader (Brisbane)
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The Marriage Debate with Peter Pellicaan Parts I and II
“I urge Catholics firstly to engage in the marriage debate with truth and love, and secondly to understand that we are not debating equality or love, we are debating whether the definition of marriage should change.”

Couples celebrating 50, 60 years of marriage say laughter, communication, and ‘trial and error’ all secrets to lifelong happiness

..She said being married into the Church made their marriage stronger.
“Being Catholic, and married into the Catholic Church, you do make vows ‘for better or for worse’, and it does get worse, but it also does get better,” Barbara said.
“The Catholic faith was the motivation to keep me going.”


The Catholic Weekly (Sydney)

Is marriage just an expression, or something more?
“Marriage is taking quite a beating right now. Many people are muddled about what marriage is, have lost confidence in its achievability, or have given up even trying.”


The Record (Archdiocese of Perth)
Untitled design (11)Sixty years of marriage: The importance of having Christ at the centre
“I don’t think it’s easy to explain to the present generation of young people but the virtues of patience, understanding and love from when I was married are still relevant today, and it is God who is the only source.”


Power of prayer key to a happy marriage for Sid and Marie Gasper
“It’s prayer that held us together – I have great faith in that, and our 65 years together I always put down to the Sacred Heart,” Mrs Gasper said.

Love and Commitment Shines at Annual Marriage Mass
“Some of you are celebrating particular anniversaries and all of you have come here to celebrate your marriages and the wonderful gift that the Lord has given to us all. In our opening hymn, we are summoned out to seek first the kingdom of God, and at the heart of every Christian marriage is this search for the kingdom of God, particularly in the day-to-day reality of your lives.” – Archbishop Tim Costelloe

Taking the good with the bad, key to a happy marriage
Family had been a great source of joy.


Broken Bay Diocese

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Fatherhood – Five ways to be the “Hero” your children want you to be.
“Starting with No.1: Know that your most important job in life is your family…..”


Engaging the Moral Issues of our Time – Prt 1
“We have so much to celebrate in our world. We also have much to confront…”


NZ Catholic

Untitled design (10)Teen Romance Still Strong After 70 Years
“Nearly every day I think of how blessed we are and I thank the Lord in my prayers.”


Bishops call for an inclusive and sustainable economy Social Justice Statement 2017-2018

Untitled design (3)Australians are called to work for an economy that is based on principles of justice and equity – one that is at the service of all, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalised, says the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Most Rev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv.

Bishop Long was speaking at the launch of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ 2017–2018 Social Justice Statement, entitled Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy.

The Statement highlights that although Australia has enjoyed a quarter-century of Untitled designuninterrupted growth, the benefits have not been spread evenly. The top 20 per cent of households have received far greater increases in wealth than the poorest 20 per cent and nearly three million Australians, including 730,000 children, are living in poverty.The Bishops point to four major examples of economic injustice and inequity today.

Growing numbers of Australians are in insecure, ill-paid work, and some live below the poverty line even though they are employed. Those on welfare are also likely to be in poverty and face greater bureaucratic hurdles. Australia’s housing crisis has terrible effects on those on welfare, low-paid workers, asylum seekers and older renters, especially women. And, Indigenous Australians are disadvantaged in health, education, employment and income, while grossly over-represented in our prisons.

Drawing on the teachings of the Gospel and more than 120 years of Catholic social teaching, the Statement sets out five principles that could form the foundations of a just and inclusive economy:

  • People and nature are not mere tools of production.
  • Economic growth alone cannot ensure inclusive and sustainable development.
  • Social equity must be built into the heart of the economy.
  • Businesses must benefit all society, not just shareholders.
  • The excluded and vulnerable must be included in decision-making.

The Bishops call for a new approach to the economy that prevents exclusion from the outset and builds justice into the very foundation of our society.

They echo the words of Pope Francis, who calls us to be ‘an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society’.

 The 2017-2018 Social Justice Statement can be downloaded from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council website: 

Click to access photos here.

Link to story in The Australian: Bishops takes government and business to task on poverty gap


“See Me, Hear Me” Child Protection Sunday – 10 September 2017

Untitled design (1)National Child Protection Week is one of the most significant events on Australia’s child protection calendar. Now in its 27th year, the Week supports and encourages safety and wellbeing of all Australian children and families.

Each year the Australian Catholic Church dedicates the Sunday at the end of Child Protection Week as Child Protection Sunday. This year it falls on 10 September.

The National Committee for Professional Standards (NCPS), a committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia, has put forward the theme for 2017; “See Me, Hear Me” to raise awareness for the voice of the Child, highlighting the importance of safety in our communities of faith.

“We all have a part to play in protecting our children and most vulnerable,” says Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc, Executive Officer, NCPS.

“Actively listening, and pro-actively responding to the voices of children is essential if our Church and our communities are to be safe places for children and young people to flourish.”

This year, along with resources for parishes and schools, the NCPS has commissioned a video and brochure through the Australian Catholic University Institute of Child Protection Studies reflecting on research around what young children think about their safety.

The Institute was commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and surveyed more than 1400 young Australians as part of Kids Safety Studies to gain insights into their views, perceptions and experiences of safety. The most important message expressed was for adults to ‘pay attention’ when they raised a concern.

“Our children believe that the whole community needs to take safety seriously, especially for those who find it hard to protect themselves. Supporting the most vulnerable will always be the face of a strong community.”

All resources for Child Protection Sunday can be found at

Media Statement on Withdrawal of Refugee Support


By Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference


It is of great concern that we have heard of the Australian Government’s plans to withdraw support to refugees who have come to Australia for medical treatment. These men, women, and children were brought to Australia from offshore detention centres, to remove support for them leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, and risks leaving them destitute.

As refugees, these men, women, and children, are under the care of the Australian Government. To deny them appropriate support is to leave them at a risk of further harm.

These people, some with history of mental health largely due to prolonged detention by the Australian Government policy, have been searching for safety and a better life; they deserve more than this treatment.

I urge the Australian Government to continue to provide support services for these men, women, and children, who are awaiting a resolution to their current situation. As a well-resourced nation with a long tradition of caring for migrants and refugees, we can do better than to throw a small number of refugees out onto the streets. It is a bridge too far. It is cruel and simply un-Australian

People seeking asylum are some of the most vulnerable members of our global community. It is imperative that they are treated humanely and with dignity. I urge the Australian Government to honour its international obligations, and continue its work within the region and with non-government organisations to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum.

Catholic Professional Standards Limited Announces the Appointment of Board Directors

Members of Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPS) today announced the appointment of Professor The Hon Michael Lavarch AO and Dr Robyn Miller PhD as Directors of the Company.

Professor Lavarch has had extensive involvement in Australian public life, and served in local Untitled design (10)government before being elected to Federal Parliament in 1987, serving as Attorney General in the Keating Government.

Since leaving Parliament in 1996, Professor Lavarch has been the Secretary General of the Law Council of Australia, Dean of Law at QUT and, since 2012, Commissioner at the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). He has worked with organisations supporting child welfare programs including the Forde Foundation which was established by the Queensland Government in response to the findings into the abuse of children in Queensland Institutions.

Dr Robyn Miller brings over 30 years’ experience in the community sector, local government and child protection areas, and has practised in the public and private sectors as a therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant and lecturer.

From 2006-15 Dr Miller provided professional leadership as the Chief Practitioner within the Untitled design (9)Department of Human Services in Victoria, and has worked as a consultant with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Since 2015, she has worked as the CEO of MacKillop Family Services, provider of specialist services to vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and their families in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.

In welcoming both Professor Lavarch and Dr Miller, CPS Member representative and Vice President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said, “We are confident that both Michael and Robyn will bring not only a wealth of experience and expertise in their fields, but enlightened and incisive perspectives to our operations.

“They will be tremendous assets, and we welcome them warmly to our Board of Directors.”

Professor Lavarch and Dr Miller join The Hon Geoffrey Giudice AO, Ms Patricia Faulkner AO and the Hon John Watkins AM on the Board, which will operate and function independently of Church.

The Chair of CPS, Geoff Giudice, welcomed the appointments saying: “The new Directors have skills and experience which will be invaluable in carrying out CPS’ functions – particularly in the areas of child protection and quality standards.”

Sr Ruth Durick, President of Catholic Religious Australia, and CPS Member representative, also welcomed the new Directors: “I’d like to welcome both Robyn and Michael as new Directors and feel confident that the wisdom, skills and expertise which they bring to the Board, will enrich its capacity to achieve the outcomes so deeply desired in our Church today.”

CPS was established by the Catholic Church in Australia in November 2016 to develop, audit and report on compliance with professional standards across Catholic entities, and represents a national Church response to the safeguarding of vulnerable people.

Looking into the Face of Homelessness Catholic Social Justice Series Paper #80


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The 2011 Census showed there were more than 105,000 people living in Australia who were homeless. Anecdotal evidence suggests that number is growing rapidly. Thankfully, many agencies of the Catholic Church are working to assist people who are homeless, but a lot more needs to be done.

Homelessness, and the people affected by it, are the subject of the latest publication from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council in collaboration with Catholic Social Services Australia.

The paper, The Human Face of Homelessness, is by Liz de Chastel and Frank Brennan SJ AO, respectively the Director of Social Policy and the CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the issue and to bring about change.

People become homeless for a variety of reasons, including insecure and low-paid employment, the high cost of housing and general living expenses, poor mental health and domestic violence. Without a place to call home, people will struggle to work, support their families and contribute to society.

The authors look at people who experience homelessness, at its causes, and at what the Catholic Church is doing to alleviate it. The paper also examines the Church’s social teaching as it relates to homelessness. It suggests more ways in which governments and the Church can help people who are homeless.

The Chairman of the ACSJC, Bishop Vincent Long, says in the foreword:

‘The figure on a street corner huddled on a bench or in a doorway – even in the doorway of a church – is a daily rebuke to us as followers of Christ in a rich society. Yet, as this paper reminds us, the face of homelessness is not just that of the woman or man sleeping rough. Homeless people find themselves in run-down, exploitative boarding houses, or sleeping in cars, or trekking from house to house of friends or family in the hope that there will be a spare bed, a couch or a bit of floor to sleep on for a week or a night.’

Bishop Long says Jesus ‘spent his life seeking out and ministering to the excluded and rootless, and reminded us constantly that our obligation is first of all to them’.

The paper is available for $7.50 from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council:


High Accolades for Catholic Press and Media Australasian Catholic Press Awards for Excellence 2017


Melbourne Catholic, published by the Archdiocese of Melbourne, was announced winner of the 2017 Bishop Philip Kennedy Memorial Award for Overall Excellence presented at the recent Australasian Catholic Press Association (ACPA) Awards held in Auckland. Best newspaper was won by The Catholic Leader (Archdiocese of Brisbane), and best online publication was About Catholic Schools, published by Sydney Catholic Schools. The aim of the ACPA Awards is to encourage and reward excellence in the field of Catholic publishing and media.
For winning citations Read more >

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In a wonderful acknowledgement of excellence, the Archdiocese of Perth publications The eRecord and The Record Magazine were honoured with the prestigious 2017 Gutenberg Award at the recent Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) Annual Conference

Read more here

Statement from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB Chair, Bishops Commission for Catholic Education

Untitled design (7)As Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Commission for Education, I made the following statement on Friday in response to a request from Fairfax Media for comment on issues in relation to the same-sex marriage debate as it may impact on Catholic schools.

The full text of the statement is reproduced here.

      Catholic schools are committed to being welcoming and inclusive communities for students, families and staff. They are          operated under the auspices of the Catholic Church in Australia and seek to provide a quality              education within the context of the Catholic faith. An essential element of that faith is the Church’s      teachings about marriage.

     Families who choose a Catholic education for their children understand that Catholic schools              always seek to be expressions of this Catholic world view and that their children will be educated        within a Catholic framework.

     Those who seek employment in Catholic schools also understand the nature of Catholic schools as       faith-based schools. In accepting a role in a Catholic school staff will recognise their responsibility      to conduct themselves in such a way as not to undermine the fundamental ethos of the school.            Like all other employers, the Catholic Church should be able to ensure its values are upheld by            those who choose to work for the organisation.

The statement does not, either explicitly or implicitly, propose or suggest that, to quote one of the headlines on this matter, someone who enters into a same-sex marriage will be “married Sunday, fired Monday”.

Individual Catholic Bishops will, in consultation with their Directors of Catholic Education and other advisers in their own jurisdictions, make decisions about how to manage any issues which may arise, should the legal definition of marriage be changed to include same-sex couples.

Normally such issues would be addressed, in the first instance, in discussions between the staff member concerned and the local leadership of the school. The aim would be to discover a way forward for the school and the staff member that preserves the Catholic ethos of the school. And always, of course, the well-being of the students who attend the school, and the families who choose a Catholic Education for their children, will be paramount. Young people and their families are, after all, the reason for the school’s existence in the first place.

I join all those people who are pleading for a measured, mature and sensitive community debate as the nation prepares for the postal vote on proposed changes to the legal definition of marriage.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB
Catholic Archbishop of Perth

Migrant and Refugee Sunday 27 August 2017


FacebookBy Fr Maurizio Pettenà
National Director, Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office

Next week the Catholic Church in Australia will be celebrating the contribution Migrants have made in our communities. This week-long celebration culminates with Migrant and Refugee Sunday, on 27 August 2017.

Each year the Universal Church commemorates the contribution migrants have made to our communities. The Catholic Bishops of Australia have selected the last Sunday in August each year to be the date where Masses are celebrated for the enrichment these communities have provided in the Church.

Every year, for over 100 years, the Holy Father has chosen a theme to be the focal point during these celebrations. For 2017, the message for the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis chose the theme, “Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless”.

Pope Francis draws our attention to the needs of child migrants globally. He encourages by pointing out that, “Each person is precious; persons are more important than things, and the worth of an institution is measured by the way it treats the life and dignity of human beings, particularly when they are vulnerable, as in the case of child migrants.”

In Australia, schools and parishes have many successful programs that have assisted in the integration of migrants. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) has produced a Migrant Kit, a parish and school resource to assist in the celebrations. Contained are stories of resilience and success in the integration of migrant communities in Australia. Copies of the kit have been sent to schools and dioceses, and electronic copies are available for download on the ACMRO website,

As part of the week-long celebrations, the ACMRO and Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, have organised a free public lecture on “Freedom of Religion in a Multi-religious Society: the Contribution of Migration”, at the Philippa Brazill Lecture Theatre, ground floor, Daniel Mannix Building, 8-18 Brunswick St, Fitzroy Vic. at 7:00pm.

Statement from the President of the Conference

“Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest.  It is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion, and it is recognised in the Law of Australia and many other countries.  It must remain so here in Australia.  Outside of this all offences against children must be reported to the authorities, and we are absolutely committed to doing so.”

Archbishop Denis J Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne – President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Archbishop Denis Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart