Author Archives: Mark Wei

Listening, Learning and Leading: The impact of Catholic identity and mission

Book launch, 30 June 2014

Left to right: Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Julie Edwards CEO of Jesuit Social Services (both book contributors) and Prof John Warhurst (co-editor)

Left to right: Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Julie Edwards CEO of Jesuit Social Services (both book contributors) and Prof John Warhurst (co-editor)

The Hon. Kevin Andrews, Minister for Social Services gathered with staff from Catholic Social Services Australia to launch a book on Catholic identity at Parliament House, Canberra on Thursday 26 June 2014.

The book is entitled ‘Listening, Learning and Leading: The impact of Catholic identity and mission’.

The publication gets to the heart of issues that includes chapters on being Called to Lead, Engagement with Aboriginal Communities, The Challenges of Child Sexual Abuse to Mission and Identity, and The Changing Face of the Catholic Community in Australia.

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Meet the Mowbrays: The human face of the NDIS

Canberra's Mowbray family, from left, Emmalee, Paul, Luke, Noah, 18 months, Glenn, Trish, and Peter. Photo: Jamila Toderas for The Canberra Times

Canberra’s Mowbray family, from left, Emmalee, Paul, Luke, Noah, 18 months, Glenn, Trish, and Peter. Photo: Jamila Toderas for The Canberra Times

This article was published in The Canberra Times newspaper on 23 June 2014

Written by Reporter Natasha Boddy

Laughter and chatter echoes through the Mowbray family home upon entering the front door. These are the noises of a happy family. And this a family where having a voice is clearly cherished.

For Trish and Glenn Mowbray, communication with their four children is an important part of the secret to their happy family – where everyone gets a say in how they want to live their life. “The whole point of our family is that every person, as an individual, gets to grow. That includes me as the primary carer, that includes Glenn but also our four children and grandson in reaching their full potential,” Trish Mowbray says. Continue reading

Cosmos named official Australian tour operator for World Youth Day, Krakow 2016

24 June 2014, Media release

Australian pilgrims attending World Youth Day, Rio 2013

Australian pilgrims attending World Youth Day, Rio 2013

The Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Youth, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, has announced that Cosmos tour company will coordinate travel arrangements for an estimated 2,000 Australians making the pilgrimage to World Youth Day (WYD) 2016 in Krakow Poland.

Having facilitated a sixmonth process of informing, identifying and selecting a company to support the Australian pilgrimage to WYD 2016, the Australian Bishops selected Cosmos as the company that will manage more than 30 groups.

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Alive with Power

ATSI Sunday 2014

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday

22 June 2014 

In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis speaks to us of our responsibility to care for and protect the most vulnerable people of our planet. He includes indigenous peoples.

He also speaks of those who are homeless, migrants, or victims of human trafficking, of people who are addicted, and of the extreme vulnerability of unborn children. He goes on to say that our commitment to the vulnerable embraces not just humans in need, but also the wider community of life on Earth. He includes the land itself among the vulnerable, and all the creatures that are not able to defend themselves against ruthless human exploitation.

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Archbishop Hart Reflects on Good Friday

16 June 2014, Media Release from the Archdiocese of Melbourne

Archbishop Hart

Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart

Good Friday is a Holy Day for Christians. Our community recognises its importance by observing it as a public holiday.

A public holiday is a privileged and powerful mark of respect which honours all that the death of Christ signifies: sacrifice, faithfulness and the giving of self in love. It is a way to focus on these values, as an important part of our Australian culture.

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Pope Francis inspires record eConference participation

Slide1PopeFrancis Media release, 10 June 2014

His Excellency Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Apostolic Nuncio in Australia, will join the panel of BBI-ACBC’s 10th National eConference, titled Pope Francis: Modelling the Ministry of St Peter.

Archbishop Gallagher will join Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB of Perth and other Catholic leaders to take an in-depth look at Pope Francis’ vision, role and leadership style.

The eConference will stimulate conversation about modelling the ministry of St Peter, women in the church, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, ecclesiology, mission and media.

Anyone with a computer, tablet or mobile device can watch the eConference live and free of charge on Wednesday 11 June from 10.30am to 2.30pm (AEST). Sites and individuals can register now at

Dr Gerard Goldman, CEO of The Broken Bay Institute said, “We are proud to have Archbishop Gallagher joining our eConference Q&A panel. With registrations already exceeding all previous eConferences, this promises to be our largest one yet! We’re expecting up to 50,000 participants from all parts of Australia and over 20 countries participating on the day.”

Speakers include:
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Archbishop of Perth (keynote speaker)
Sr Monica Cavanagh RSJ, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph Rev Associate Professor Gerard Kelly, President of Catholic Institute of Sydney Ms Selina Hasham, Communications Manager, Archdiocese of Sydney
Fr Noel Connolly SSC, Head of Mission & Culture, The Broken Bay Institute Archbishop Paul Gallagher, to join the Q&A panel discussion

Participants can send in questions via email, Facebook or Twitter for the Q&A panel discussion starting at 1.40pm. Last year, questions came from as far afield as Beijing, China; Hamilton, New Zealand and Geraldton WA.

For the first time in its history, the eConference has a Gold Sponsor, Catholic Church Insurance, whom we gratefully acknowledge for its assistance.


For more information visit:

Media and Communications queries:
Gerard Goldman
0400 339 599

Caritas Australia Draws Attention to Brazil’s Forgotten

MEDIA RELEASE: 6 June, 2014

PC14_BrazilVIDSTILL21With the kick-off for 2014 World Cup only one week away, the Catholic Church’s international aid and development agency, Caritas Australia, and its supporters are urging Australians to call on FIFA and the IOC to ensure their events are just and sustainable.

While large sporting events bring many benefits to their host countries, they can also adversely affect the most marginalised members of their societies.

Caritas Australia’s Sister Margaret Fyfe notes: “In Brazil, an estimated 21% of the population lives below the poverty line, and 11 million of these people live in the country’s favelas (slum districts). Discrimination, unemployment and poor access to basic resources are a daily problem for these vulnerable communities.”

Such problems can be found alongside exorbitant displays of wealth. Sister Margaret adds: “It’s been reported that the new stadium in Brasilia is the second-most expensive in the world.”

According to reports from Caritas Australia’s partner, the Movement for the Defence of Favela Residents (MDF), which works to improve living conditions in the favelas, many of their residents are being evicted, or have been threatened with eviction, to make way for stadiums, roads and other infrastructure for the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“It’s feared that the cost of this World Cup might surpass the costs of the last three combined,” said Sister Margaret.

This is particularly concerning, given that government funds that could have been used for much needed hospitals, schools and other facilities have been diverted to World Cup projects.

Brazil_130317_8327Through this year’s Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion Lenten Appeal, Australians learnt about the vulnerabilities and challenges of life in a favela from Maristely who lives in a Sao Paulo favela. With the support of Caritas Australia’s supporters, MDF has helped Maristely’s family to gain formal ownership of their house offering them security and safety in their community. But others continue to struggle in the shadow of the World Cup and the Olympics.

“Evicting people from their houses is a very complicated issue today. Their lives have been changed and complicated by the World Cup,” she said.

Maristely and her MDF colleagues recently organised a community meeting where she and other residents discussed the question ‘Who does the World Cup really benefit in Brazil?’. They discussed that sporting events like the World Cup should protect the most vulnerable and benefit the whole community, especially the poor. Maristely and her colleagues have vowed to continue their efforts and be a voice for justice in big sporting events like the World Cup.

“We know that it is not easy, but it is a fight we cannot forget about. Many families could be evicted from their homes, and if we don’t act quickly, unfortunately, they will have nowhere to go,” Maristely said.

To stand in solidarity with marginalised communities, read Caritas Australia’s Sports for Justice report and sign their petition to FIFA and the IOC at

Media contact: Nicole Clements 0408 869 833 or

Divisive Federal Budget hits most vulnerable

2 June 2014

Joint media release from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council and Catholic Social Services Australia

ACSJC Logo words.jpg

The 2014 Federal Budget will deepen the divide between rich and poor, and the greatest burden will fall on those who are young, on families, and on those already struggling to find work, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council and Catholic Social Services Australia have said in a joint statement.

“This Budget will make life even harder for those Australians who are least able to look after themselves”, said the Chairman of the ACSJC, Bishop Christopher Saunders. “It actually punishes individuals and families who look to Government for financial support and drives division and alienation in our Australian community.”

“I am particularly concerned about the Budget’s impact on Indigenous families and young people, many of whom already face deprivation and marginalisation and confront enormous barriers in finding work”, Bishop Saunders said.

CSSA_ELECTRONIC-for-WEBMrs Jackie Brady, Acting Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Australia, said: “The time-limited welfare payments for young people unveiled in the Federal Budget will not see the Federal Government live up to its pre-election promise to ‘not leave anyone behind’.”

“Without an adequate safety net, young people up to 30 years of age are being set up to fail. That is especially so when the Government is pulling back on programs such as Youth Connections, which we know are successful in helping young people make the move from school to work or further education.

“This particular budget initiative will no doubt save the Federal Government dollars – but at what cost to young people, their families, friends and the broader community?” said Mrs Brady.

“It is no surprise public surveys post-Budget are showing people are concerned,” said Mrs Brady. “This budget presents savings to the Federal Budget that have a domino effect on the household income – from cuts to the family tax benefit thresholds, the introduction of Medicare co-payments and changes to indexation rates for some payments and allowances. Many people are already surviving with limited means and have limited flexibility to absorb additional costs so it is inevitable that low to middle income households will suffer the most.”

‘If the government really wants us all to make a contribution, then it should be empowering those who are struggling – not punishing them’, Bishop Saunders said.

For further information, please contact:

Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman, ACSJC: 0418 260 155
Jackie Brady: 02 6285 1366 / 0417 220 779
Dr David Brennan, Acting National Executive Officer, ACSJC 02 8306 3499

Media Release: Word (656 KB), PDF (689 KB)

Australian Bishops establish ongoing Office for Youth

Gabrielle Sinclair, ACBC Office for Youth Projects Manager;   Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Youth, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP; Malcolm Hart., Director ACBC Office for Youth

Gabrielle Sinclair, ACBC Office for Youth Projects Manager; Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Youth, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP; Malcolm Hart, Director ACBC Office for Youth

Media release, 26 May 2014

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) has announced the establishment of an ongoing national Office for Youth to evangelise and minister to youth and youth ministers in Australia.

The proposal for a youth office was approved at the ACBC November 2013 Plenary meeting. It was later announced at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in front of 3,500 young people. The operational details and staffing have been developed in recent months and have now been finalised.

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, the Bishops Delegate for Youth, shared his joy at the announcement.

“This is another sign of how highly the Australian bishops prioritise young people and want to respond to their hopes and needs. This new office builds upon the graces of World Youth Day 2008 and the efforts of the Church in Australia since. The office will provide inspiration and formation for the Church in its mission to share the message of Jesus Christ with young people.”

The ACBC Office for Youth will be staffed by a Director Malcolm Hart and a Projects Manager Gabrielle Sinclair.

Malcolm, who has worked for the Bishops Commission for Pastoral life (BCPL) for the past five years, has been appointed Director.

During this period, Malcolm led the implementation of a number of initiatives and resources including Australia’s participation in World Youth Day 2011 and 2013, and the hugely successful Australian Catholic Youth Festival.

“I am very grateful to the Bishops for the establishment of this office and for my appointment as Director. I am deeply passionate about sharing the message of Christ with young people and empowering them to go forward in their faith,” Malcolm said.

“The national office recognises the past work we have achieved under the auspices of the BCPL, and shows a strong commitment to the future. It is important for the Church in Australia to continue to see evangelisation of young people as a priority. We must continually look at how it can be implemented and supported. I hope the work of the national office for youth will assist in this growth,” Malcolm added.

Gabrielle Sinclair, the Office for Youth Projects Manager, has worked for the BCPL over the past two years.

In 2014 the Office for Youth will work towards updating and relaunching the Bishops vision for Youth Ministry; Anointed and Sent, develop the website and multimedia resources, and continue to manage ongoing events and existing projects.

From 3-5 October 2014, the Office for Youth will host the third Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention (ACYMC) in Adelaide. One of the keynote speakers will be Director of the Office for Youth, Malcolm Hart, discussing the experiences and practices of youth ministry across the country.

Further information about the Youth Ministry Convention is available
Download Photo 
Left to right: Gabrielle Sinclair, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP and Malcolm Hart. 
ACBC Office for Youth Staff with Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Youth.

Media Enquiries:

Malcolm Hart
Director of the Office for Youth 
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
0419 951 417

Media Release: Word (103 KB), PDF ( 320 KB)

Inter-religious dialogue on the family

Left to right: Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio, Mr Jeremy Jones, Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, Mr Peter Wertheim, Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay OLM,  Rabbi David Freedman, Bishop Christopher Prowse and Mr William Arnold. Sitting: Bishop Michael McKenna, Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Sr Elizabeth Delaney.

Left to right: Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio, Mr Jeremy Jones, Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, Mr Peter Wertheim, Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay OLM,
Rabbi David Freedman, Bishop Christopher Prowse and Mr William Arnold. Sitting: Bishop Michael McKenna, Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Sr Elizabeth Delaney.

On Thursday 8th May 2014, members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations (BCEIR) met with leaders from the Jewish community for their annual conversation.

In keeping with the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, the Jewish leaders and the members of the BCEIR had agreed on the main focus of the conversation as; The Family.

This conversation recognised that modern society has different understanding of family. Both faiths seek to respond to people with respect and love.

During this time, the members of the Jewish community remembered Bishop Michael Putney and recalled the very significant contribution that he made to ecumenism and to relations with Jews, both internationally and in Australia.

They noted that the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II’s Nostra Aetate occurs in 2015 and agreed that it will be fitting that Jews and Catholics together might mark this occasion.

Empowering Women Around The World

Lulu Mitshabu, Caritas Australi, addresses women gathered at the 'Empowering Women Around The World' Luncheon

Lulu Mitshabu, Caritas Australia, addresses women gathered at the ‘Empowering Women Around The World’ Luncheon

Women for the World

On 8 May 2014, Caritas Australia held an event ‘Empowering Women Around The World’ in Sydney.

Reflecting on the event, journalist Catherine Marshall wrote the following article in Eureka Street on 12 May.

Kidnapped Nigerian girls put the lie to Western Freedom

‘Lulu Mitshabu tells us to close our eyes. ‘Imagine your brothers, sisters, your mothers, your nieces, your nephews, your children, everybody that makes you smile, the good time you’re having,’ she says.

‘Open your eyes. The time that you took closing your eyes and thinking of your people, imagine now everybody you thought of disappeared from the face of this earth just in that minute. That’s my life in the DRC.’

There is stunned silence. It’s lunchtime in Sydney and we are sitting in the shadow of the beautiful Harbour Bridge, a symbol of wealth, progress and equal access for all.’

Read the article:

Lulu speaks to Ben Fordham during the Caritas Australia Women for the World event.

Lulu speaks to Ben Fordham during the Caritas Australia Women for the World event.

Lulu Mitshabu was the keynote speaker, Caritas Australia’s Program Coordinator for the Democratic Republic of Congo and Caritas Diocesan Engagement Coordinator for Canberra, Goulburn and Wagga Wagga.

Lulu was interviewed by MC Ben Fordham, 2GB Radio Journalist and Channel Nine Sports Presenter, about being forced to flee the DRC as a refugee due to a lack of rights for women.

You can also watch a digital story about Lulu’s life and faith, which features in the Stirring Hearts project for World Communications Day this month:

Statement by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on Asylum Seekers

asylum seekers

8 May 2014

The Australian Catholic Bishops have been involved in many ways with asylum seekers. Some of us have detention centres close to home, and we have worked hard to ensure that asylum seekers receive proper pastoral care and human assistance. We renew that commitment here.

The Bishops have also intervened with Government in an attempt to make policy more respectful of human dignity and basic human rights, which today are being seriously violated.

We now make this urgent plea for a respect for the rights of asylum seekers, not only in Government circles but in the Australian community more broadly. Federal decision-makers in both major parties have made their decisions and implemented their policies because they think they have the support of the majority of Australians. Therefore, we want to speak to the entire Australian community.

The current policy has about it a cruelty that does no honour to our nation. How can this be when Australians are so generous in so many situations where human beings are in strife? Think of the way the Vietnamese boat people were welcomed in the 1970s and 80s. The question becomes more pointed when we think of the politicians who are making and implementing the decisions. They are not cruel people. Yet they have made decisions and are implementing policies which are cruel. How can this be so?

Island dwellers like Australians often have an acute sense of the “other” or the “outsider” – and that is how asylum seekers are being portrayed. They are the dangerous “other” or “outsider” to be feared and resisted because they are supposedly violating our borders.



Do racist attitudes underlie the current policy? Would the policy be the same if the asylum seekers were fair-skinned Westerners rather than dark-skinned people, most of whom are of “other” religious and cultural backgrounds? Is the current policy perhaps bringing to the surface not only a xenophobia in us but also a latent racism? The White Australia policy was thought to be dead and buried, but perhaps it has mutated and is still alive.

There may also be the selfishness of the rich. Not everyone in Australia is rich, but we are a rich nation by any reckoning. The asylum seekers are often portrayed as economic refugees coming to plunder our wealth. But the fact is that most of them are not being “pulled” to Australia by a desire for wealth but are being “pushed” from their homeland and other lands where there is no life worth living. No-one wants them.

The policy can win acceptance only if the asylum seekers are kept faceless and nameless. It depends upon a process of de-humanisation. Such a policy would be widely rejected if the faces and names were known. Bishops have seen the faces; we know the names; we have heard the stories. That is why we say now, Enough of this institutionalised cruelty.

We join with the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea who have voiced their strong opposition to the use of Manus Island for detention. They have urged Australia “to find a more humane solution to people seeking asylum”. We do not accept the need for off-shore processing. But even if it continues, it surely does not require such harshness.

The Government and Opposition want to stop the boats and thwart the people-smugglers. But does this require such cruelty? Could not the same goals be achieved by policies, which were less harsh, even humane – policies which respected not only our international obligations but also basic human rights? Can we not achieve a balance between the needs of people in desperate trouble and the electoral pressures faced by politicians? We believe we can; indeed we must.

The Australian Catholic Bishops call on parliamentarians of all parties to turn away from these policies, which shame Australia and to take the path of a realistic compassion that deals with both human need and electoral pressure. We call on the nation as a whole to say no to the dark forces, which make these policies possible. The time has come to examine our conscience and then to act differently.

Bishop of Darwin Eugene Hurley and Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders are both available for interview on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops.

Media Enquiries:

Aoife Connors
Acting Communications Director
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
02 6201 9859
0450 348 597

Statement: Word (108KB), PDF (122KB)