Faith and Life
Catholic Diocese of Wollongong
March 2012
In this Issue
Following Jesus in Mark's Gospel
Liturgy Notes
Catholic Schools/New Evangelisation
Ten Questions With...Jeannine Ashton
Resource Spotlight: Grace website
Helpful Hints: Praying with Scripture
Links and Resources
Upcoming Events
Aug / Sept 2012 Diocesan Calendar
Upcoming CatholicCare Workshops
Film Night: Amazing Grace
Upcoming Music Workshops
Many Cultures Celebration
Our Lady of Victories Celebration
Australian Youth Ministry Convention
Following Jesus in Mark's Gospel

By Fr Leo Duck (Priest in Residence, Vincentia)

Mark, the author of the gospel with this name, was the apostle Peter’s interpreter in Rome and one of his closest collaborators. Early Church writers tell us that Mark wrote his gospel at the request of the Christians living in Rome and that he based it on the preaching of Peter. We are told also that Peter personally approved Mark’s work. To read Mark’s gospel, therefore, is to be drawn to the side of Peter and to experience the person of Jesus as Peter experienced him. Read more

Mark wrote his gospel more than thirty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Peter had had all this time to ponder what he had experienced with Jesus. Peter had also been at work during all this time doing what Jesus had asked him and the other apostles to do, and that was to preach the gospel. In Mark’s gospel we find Peter’s years of experience distilled for us, his experience of being a disciple of Jesus and a servant of his gospel. And what the gospel reveals to us about Peter is that he was a man who had been deeply humbled by what he had experienced.

By the time of Jesus’ ascension and the beginning of their work, all the apostles were well aware of their faults and failings. After the night of his betrayal of Jesus, Peter was especially aware of his. Bearing in mind that it is the voice of Peter that we hear in Mark’s gospel, it is surely important for us to notice that there is no mention, for example, of those texts which speak about Peter’s primacy among the apostles and his leadership role in the Church. What we find highlighted instead are the serious limitations of Peter and the other apostles. In Mark’s gospel the apostles are shown to us as repeatedly failing to understand Jesus; repeatedly failing to believe in him and trust him. If there is one truth Peter came to understand from all that he had experienced, it was his personal need for grace, that grace fully and freely available in the person of Jesus.

The person of Jesus presented and proclaimed in the gospels is God’s answer to humanity’s most fundamental need. Jesus is God’s answer to the most fundamental need of each individual, and that is the need for grace. If we are to be attracted to the person of Jesus, if we are to receive what he alone can give and which he is so willing to give, then surely we must be brought to where Peter was brought and that is to an awareness of our own sinfulness, and through it to an awareness of our personal need for grace. It is not without significance that Jesus began his public life with the words, ‘repent and believe’ (Mark 1:15). We never grow beyond the need to take these words to heart. Jesus himself declared that he came not to call the virtuous, but sinners (Mark 2:17). The seeds of God’s grace find their most fertile ground in a broken, humble heart (Mark 4:1-20). God’s grace is at its best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Liturgy Notes

By Paul Mason (Diocesan Liturgy Coordinator)

Welcome to this month’s edition of “Liturgy Notes”, the liturgy and music section of the Faith & Life e-newsletter. Read more

The PSALMIST music ministry development program continues to gather pace. More than ten scholarships have now been received. Voice Trainers are now located in every region of the Diocese. There are still many scholarship opportunities available, so please consider applying or suggesting to someone in your parish that they might apply. To enquire, contact me on (02) 4253 0823.

The first of this month’s feature articles looks at new music and liturgy resources, including the latest edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) for Australia, new hymnals and new psalm collections. The second feature article looks at important changes and new offerings in church copyright services in Australia.

View this month’s articles by clicking the links below:

Catholic Schools as centres of the New Evangelisation

By Tim Gilmour (Professional Assistant to the Director of Schools, CEO Wollongong)

The 2007 pastoral letter of the Bishops of NSW and ACT, Catholic Schools at a Crossroads, calls on Catholic schools to be centres of the New Evangelisation. In Crossroads, the bishops called on all Catholic school communities to connect faith and life by dedicating themselves to being authentically Catholic in identity, Read more

purpose and being, while providing a high standard of contemporary, 21st century learning opportunities for our young people. The question is: how can Catholic Schools best respond to the challenges of this New Evangelisation? This question was in part answered at a gathering of over a thousand people; school leaders, clergy and others involved in Catholic Education from NSW and the ACT focusing on the New Evangelisation and the practical implications for our schools and parishes. Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues OP, Secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education was the main keynote speaker. In addressing the changing and contemporary nature of today’s world, Archbishop Brugues warned against the dual ‘threats’ of nostalgia and fundamentalism.

He said, “The oldest generations have always judged that ‘it was much better before, in their time’. They could wish to enclose Catholic schools within former models, which worked in the past but have little relevancy nowadays. Indeed, teaching is a matter which is by nature in constant evolution: one can no longer teach today in the same way as forty or even twenty years ago. Therefore, a Catholic school must adapt to these evolutions and even ....anticipate upon them.”

On the issue of fundamentalism the Archbishop said, “While present day societies get more and more secularised, one can note a growing tendency among some groups to come back to basic values, clear landmarks and, in religious matters, to a blunt acceptance of the founding texts, without the critical filter of human reason. Therefore, a Catholic school is one in which reason is given a privileged role in the quest for truth, the moral good and beauty, reason being in its turn enlightened by faith.”

Archbishop Brugues acknowledged that finding a way forward and responding to the changing nature of today’s world for young people was a challenge, but was at the heart of the educational mission of the Church and had been since her origins. He said, “The Catholic school is universal in as much as it is open to all those who wish freely to benefit from its excellence. Thus, generally speaking, a Catholic school is not a school for Catholics only: it offers its services to all those who seek nourishment from the rich pedagogical and cultural patrimony of the Catholic Church.” He added that, “Catechesis is everybody’s business inside the school...where the choice to enrol in a Catholic school should necessarily imply an initiation to this wisdom and culture.”

Archbishop Brugues was hopeful, that despite some dire predictions to the contrary, the “time of teachers” has a bright future ahead. Although educational institutions are not immune to the same social, economic and political pressures that characterise the current world stage, the assurance of society’s future relies heavily on the education of our young people. In conveying a message of gratitude and encouragement, Archbishop Brugues had this message for all Catholic educators. “I know that your profession is not an easy one. Yet it remains the most beautiful job in the world. Indeed it is thanks to you that memory prepares its future, and mankind is born to itself.”

It is clear that now, more than ever, our young people need and desire a spiritual identity in a search for meaning and to encounter their God. Catholic educators and the clergy have been given a clear message from the Church hierarchy that in terms of the formation of our Catholic students and the invitation to non-Catholic students to share the wisdom and beauty of the Catholic faith, we are compelled to explore practical and creative strategies to strengthen Catholic schools as centres of the New Evangelisation.

Ten Questions With...
Jeannine Ashton
(Youth and Young Adult Coordinator,
St Vincent de Paul Society, Wollongong Diocesan Central Council)
  1. When and where were you born?

    I was born in Camden, March 1984.

  2. What do you normally eat for breakfast?

    A strong coffee while I share Vegemite on toast with my son.

  3. What inspired you into taking on Youth Coordination for the SVdP society?

    Before I applied for the position of Youth Coordinator I was a member and volunteer of the St Vincent de Paul Society. I experienced many life changing events during this time, both in my faith and my understanding of the world.

    The youth coordinator at the time was very supportive and encouraged me into positions of leadership and opportunities that I would have not thought possible. In 2005 the St Vincent de Paul Society supported me in attending WYD in Germany 2005. This was my first overseas experience, I was fortunate to travel with fellow young Vincentians, an opportunity that I will never forget.

    Shortly after WYD 2005 the position of Youth Coordinator became available. I jumped at the chance to work for and learn more about the St Vincent de Paul Society. Also, to provide similar experiences of faith, service and charity to other young people, that challenged and transformed me. My goal was to ensure that the work of the previous Youth Coordinator continued to develop and that young volunteers and members felt supported.

  4. Pick three words that describe your life so far?

    Touched; privileged; novice.

  5. What has been the biggest challenge for you in this role?

    One of the challenges so far is witnessing someone’s pain and suffering and being limited in how we can be of service to them. Unfortunately we do not have all of the world's resources at our finger tips. The concept of “serving Christ in the poor” (St Vincent de Paul Society Mission Statement) is the greatest challenge to all Vincentians. It reminds us that the face of Christ comes in all shapes, colours, ages and complexities.

  6. Who are your heroes?

    As I have grown older I have noticed that they have changed. The more that I learn about the founders of the St Vincent de Paul Society the more I admire them and their courage, humility and passion. Both Bl. Frederic Ozanam & Bl. Rosalie Rendu are most definitely in the top five along with St Mary MacKillop, St Bernadette, St Vincent de Paul (patron of the St Vincent de Paul Society).

  7. What has brought you the greatest joy in this role?

    There are several things that bring joy to my role as Youth Coordinator. Here are a few: Young people dedicating themselves to be of service to others; Starting new programs that have potential to bring people love, hope and compassion; educating people on the situations of those that are marginalised, disadvantaged and neglected, then witnessing their passion to want to do something to help.

  8. In what ways do you experience God’s grace in your life?

    I feel that in today’s world we are so often focused on the negatives that we are missing the messages of hope. The St Vincent de Paul Society has opened my eyes to seeing and appreciating the small, personal moments of God’s grace. The cuddles from my son, a stranger helping me, a warm sunny day, beautifully cooked dinner from my husband, donations from students, people that give up their time to help (especially parents, thanks mum and dad), a vulnerable person sharing their story with me. Moments when you what to say “Thank you God!”

  9. What inspires you in your ministry within the Church?

    Connecting young people with God and active service in their community. Witnessing young people transitioning through stages of faith, from a fairytale love of God to meeting God in other people, then serving God through action on to seeking God through prayer and reflection.

  10. In 25 words or less, what hope do you believe the Church offers the world today?

    I believe the Church is an avenue to grow in love of each other, a source of compassionate unity and charity, especially in times of darkness and despair.

Resource Spotlight

Website for Year of Grace
By Richard McMahon (Director Parish Services)

We are in the Year of Grace, a time set aside by our Australian Bishops for us to encounter Jesus Christ more deeply. How do we start afresh from Christ and what does it mean to experience grace? The Year of Grace website provides a great starting point.Read more

Visually, it offers a range of images of the person of Jesus Christ. The image changes each time you visit. Accompanying this are a series of short, beautiful quotes all centred on the meaning of grace.

The site includes a good explanation of the Year of Grace and an engaging video which is well worth sharing at community gatherings.

The Resources section includes a weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel, a list of ways in which you can participate in the Year and a compiled set of short quotes suitable for insertion in newsletters. There are also a collection of thought provoking reflections on both Grace and Jesus Christ. The writers are happy for their materials to be shared in other publications with the appropriate acknowledgements being given

The “Encounter Jesus” tab contains a section on Praying with Icons. People are always delighted when they delve into this ancient form of prayer. At the bottom of this page are two short videos, courtesy of Brisbane Archdiocese, which give good snapshots into how we can encounter Jesus Christ in fresh ways.

Best of all, you can register for a monthly e-newsletter which keeps you informed of all the latest initiatives taking place around the country as well as any new updates to the website.

Helpful Hints

Praying with Scripture
By Sr Hilda Scott OSB (Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo)

“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10) “You are precious in my eyes and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4) Read more

What is your life like right now? As you read this are you feeling lost? Or has something happened that has filled you with utter joy? Likewise has something happened that has made you doubt your own worth? Is your past clouding your present life? Have you done something you wish you hadn’t done? Do you want to be free?

Look no further than the Word of God, the Word of the One who is searching for you in the middle of it all. Look at the quotes above:

Which one is calling to you? Whatever one it is, stop reading now and sit quietly for a moment or two. Say those words slowly over and over again.

After a few minutes tell God what you are thinking and feeling, then sit silently for another couple of minutes while God tells your heart what He is thinking and feeling.

God is always waiting, always desiring to speak with you through his Word. How might you go about hearing this Word in your life?

  • Read a little piece of God’s Word each day. See what calls to you and then write it on a piece of paper and take it with you for the day.
  • Put it on the fridge; maybe get the whole family to do that. What a rich prayerful conversation you could have at the evening dinner table.
  • Take it with you on your morning walk.
  • Have your lunch on your own sometimes and “chew over” the Word given to YOU.
  • Each time you go to the Scripture start with this little prayer “O Lord, show me my own heart that I might know Yours”.
  • Substitute your name for the name of “Israel” or some other name when you are reading the Word. When Israel was a child I loved him” (Hosea 11;1) takes on a whole new meaning when you say “When I was a child God loved me”

Once you get familiar with it, you will engage with it naturally, as one does with the words of a loved friend, and the Word will reveal Himself to you. Let me tell you a closely guarded secret! “God prays with YOUR words all the time”. The words and the silences of those we love mean everything to us and so do yours to God. Therein is the prayer.

Links and Resources

Here is a list of links and resources relating to Faith and Life:Read more

Website and Bishop Peter Ingham


Youth & Young Families

Liturgy & Music

Faith & Spirituality

Inclusion & Outreach


Sacraments & RCIA

Pastoral Councils & Pastoral Planning

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Contact Us

Darren McDowell
Coordinator of Parish Services
(02) 4253 0985