Catholic women respond to the Spirit

Catholic women have been urged to add their voices to help shape the future life and direction of the Church through the Plenary Council 2020 Listening and Dialogue process, which ends on Ash Wednesday.

The call to action was made in Adelaide over the weekend at the “Stirring the Waters: Australian Catholic Women Responding to the Spirit” colloquium, where more than 160 delegates gathered to be part of frank and open discussion, prayerful discernment and planning.

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Christian charity must start with God: Bishop

Bishop Homeming, left, with Catholic Social Services Australia CEO Fr Frank Brennan SJ

The first call for those working in social services is to see the need of others through the eyes of God, Lismore Bishop Greg Homeming OCD has told Catholic social service leaders from across the country.

On a day when tributes to the late Fr Leo Donnelly featured prominently, Bishop Homeming issued his challenge – and invitation – at the Catholic Social Services Australia national conference.

This year’s conference is being held in Port Macquarie because of Fr Donnelly’s work over almost 50 years in the New South Wales town, where he helped integrate Catholic ministries to respond to the needs of the community.

The conference theme is “Meeting the Unmet Need”.

Bishop Homeming said “Fr D”, as he was known, was the only example he’s seen of someone who exemplifies the Aristotelian virtue of megalopsuchia, often translated inadequately as “magnanimity”.

“Such people do exist, but they’re very rare. And I met my first and only megalopsuchos in Fr Leo Donnelly,” Bishop Homeming said in the inaugural Fr Leo Donnelly Oration.

“The best way to describe a megalopsuchos is his body is not big enough to contain his soul – someone whose soul, whose capacity for goodness, whose compassion, whose virtue is so great that it just bursts out of them.

“Port Macquarie had such a man for 48 years. We are honouring that man whose soul was too big.”

Bishop Homeming’s oration centred on two often-challenging Scripture passages: “The poor will be with you always” and “Be compassionate, as your heavenly Father is compassionate”.

“Christian charity begins with being able to see God not in the problem, but in the people,” he said.

“We are not solving poverty, we are meeting God in the people and bringing God to those people who seemingly don’t experience God.

“It’s not our job to solve poverty, but I believe it’s my job to find God in the people – because then they are people, and not a problem.

“Because until I can find God, how do I know what God wants me to do? Our work, because it is the Church’s work, is God’s work. We are simply the instruments of God.”

Fr Homeming said that is what he believes Fr Donnelly saw – more than a need.

“He was given the gift to see what God sees.”

Jacinta Collins appointed to lead National Catholic Education Commission

The Bishops Commission for Catholic Education has completed its search for a new Executive Director of the National Catholic Education Commission and I am pleased to announce that Jacinta Collins will serve in that role.

Jacinta, who recently announced she is retiring from federal politics, has had a long personal and professional connection with the Catholic Church. She has been a strong advocate for education – across all sectors – in the Parliament. She has worked in early childhood and school education portfolios and other committees with even broader educational oversight.

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Church art, architecture ‘shape the way we worship God’

Fr Richard Vosko

One of the world’s most prolific designers of places of worship has said people can’t create a “sacred space”, but spaces become sacred when they foster transformation.

Fr Richard Vosko, an American priest and architectural consultant on Catholic, Christian and Jewish places of worship since the 1970s, delivered a keynote address at last week’s National Liturgical Architecture and Art Council symposium, “Where Your Heart Is, There Your Treasure Will Be Also”. Continue reading

Wollongong pilgrim cherishes brief interaction with Pope Francis

Igor Pletikosa was chosen as a flag-bearer for one of the major WYD events.

High school religious education teacher Igor Pletikosa vividly remembers his brief contact with Pope Francis as one of the highlights of attending World Youth Day.

Having just returned from his three-week pilgrimage to Panama, Mr Pletikosa is getting back into the swing of teaching as assistant religious education coordinator at Mt Carmel Catholic College Varroville, in the Diocese of Wollongong. Continue reading

Churches’ past should help shape their future

Sophie Andreae has praised the beauty of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

A British expert in heritage and architecture has told a Melbourne conference that the Church in Australia shouldn’t underestimate the importance of its buildings just because their history only dates back two centuries.

Sophie Andreae, the vice-chair of the Patrimony Committee of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, is one of the keynote speakers at this week’s National Liturgical Architecture and Art Council symposium “Where Your Heart Is, There Your Treasure Will Be Also”. Continue reading

New publication offers principles for redesign of churches

Bishop Patrick O’Regan, centre, launched FIt for Sacred Use on February 6

A new Australian Catholic Bishops Conference publication launched last night presents a blueprint for parish communities regarding the stewardship and renewal of existing church buildings.

Bishop Patrick O’Regan, chairman of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy, officially launched Fit for Sacred Use: Stewardship and Renewal of Places of Worship during the opening session of the National Liturgical Architecture and Art Council’s (NLAAC) symposium, being hosted at Australian Catholic University’s Melbourne campus. Continue reading

Drought conditions worsen in NSW, southwest Queensland

Dust storms are a common sight in parts of Queensland and New South Wales

While monsoon conditions brought flooding rains to North Queensland, inland farming communities in New South Wales and southwest Queensland are looking skywards, still praying for an end to the long-running drought.

Patchy storms prior to Christmas bolstered the spirit of some districts, but farmers have since returned to handfeeding and working through options to keep breeding stock with no reprieve in sight, according to Bathurst Centacare drought assistance project coordinator Louise Hennessy. Continue reading

Townsville battling once-in-a-century weather event

An aerial photo of flood-ravaged areas around Townsville (Photo: Neil Helmore)

by Neil Helmore, Communications Coordinator, Diocese of Townsville

After many years of failed wet seasons and living under the mythical rain-free “dome”, Townsville has experienced the most catastrophic rain event ever over the past eight days.

Rainfall totals between 1000mm to 1800mm have been recorded in areas between Paulma and Giru with suburbs like Bluewater receiving 500 to 600mm within a two-hour period causing disastrous flash flooding events. Continue reading

Medal winners share honour with others in their community

Bathurst’s Jim Couper was awarded an Order of Australia Medal last week

Two men recognised in the 2019 Australia Day Honours for their work to support the Church and their local community see their awards as reflecting the efforts of many, not just themselves.

Bathurst’s Jim Couper and Melbourne’s Salem Haddad, a member of the Melkite Catholic Community, were awarded Order of Australian Medals last week. Continue reading

Organist says music helps ‘bring everyone together’

Mary Brosnan was recognised in the 2019 Australia Day honours

An Ipswich musician who has played the organ for her southeast Queensland parish for 55 years was recognised earlier this week with an Australia Day honour.

Parishioners at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Parish in Leichhardt (part of the Ipswich Catholic community) are celebrating the recognition of their long-time organist Mary Brosnan, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for service to the community. Continue reading