Faith and Life
Catholic Diocese of Wollongong
 
March 2012
In this Issue
Welcome & Inclusion
Liturgy Notes
Welcoming Refugees & Asylum Seekers
“Holy Fire” - Engaging our Young People
Ten Questions With... Rebecca Miller
Helpful Hints: A Welcoming Community
Links and Resources
Upcoming Events
Sept / Oct Diocesan Calendar
Our Lady of Victories Celebration
Australian Youth Ministry Convention
Relic of St Francis Xavier Pilgrimage
Social Justice Sunday Launch
Upcoming Liturgy Workshops
Upcoming Music Workshops
 
Welcome & Inclusion

Rev Dr Anthony Gooley, Ministry Development Officer (Faith & Life Vicariate, Archdiocese of Brisbane)

It would be a remarkable and sad moment if a parish planned to exclude some people from the Eucharistic assembly on Sunday. We know from recent history that the sin of racism had once been supported by Christian Churches in Africa and the USA who insisted on and supported segregationRead more


of black and white Christians into separate Churches and schools. In our own country indigenous Australians were frequently relegated to shanty settlements on the edges of country towns. Many Christians simply did not question such policies and practices or felt they had to challenge them. Some Christians did.

Today the experience of exclusion is not likely to be the result of planning to exclude, it is more likely to result from our failure to plan to include.  Sometimes we are simply not attentive to who is not here among us. Sometimes we are not aware of the unmet need for welcome and inclusion and a place at the Eucharistic table. Sometimes we are not sure of our own confidence in welcoming the stranger and unsure of the capacities that lay within the community. At a parish pastoral council meeting a member said; “What are we doing for people with disability in our parish?” and back came the reply, “We don’t have anyone with a disability here.” And yet that parish had several families with a child or parent with a disability.

Becoming a welcoming and inclusive community requires conversion into the spirituality and theology of communion. We need to understand and experience the Church as a communion in the Body of Christ. Then we see that all who are baptised belong to this communion and have a place there. When we exclude some, we do not become the fullness of what we should be as Christ’s Body. When we embrace inclusion in a conscious and planned way we begin to realise more clearly who we are as the sacrament of Church; the sign of intimate union between God and humanity and the unity of all people (Lumen gentium 3). Starting with our communion in the Body of Christ, we deepen our spiritual awareness and find ourselves impelled in love toward welcoming the stranger. And in the welcome we discover that it is our own mystery that we receive and Christ whom we embrace. That is, inclusion helps us to be Church.

Some Scripture which help us to deepen the reflection…

Galatians 3:27-29
“for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Some Church documents which help us to deepen the reflection…

A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart's contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us. A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as "those who are a part of me". This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship. A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a "gift for me". A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to "make room" for our brothers and sisters, bearing "each other's burdens" (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy. Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, "masks" of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.  John-Paul II, Novo Millennio Inuente #43.

Questions to help reflection

  1. What planning has our community done to become more welcoming?
  2. What are some of the practices we have in place already to be welcoming and inclusive?
  3. Am I aware of the “suffering or dishonour” that may be experienced by different parts of the Body of Christ assembled in our Church on Sunday?
  4. Are there masks of communion that exist in our parish?
  5. What do we do to nurture and develop the spirituality and theology of communion in our community?
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. The increasing use of audio-visual technologies to produce worship aids in liturgy has significant implications for parishes and schools with regard to copyright obligations. Read more

 

To help understand the issues and find cost effective solutions, this month’s Liturgy Notes features a quick, two-page guide to the top fifteen frequently asked questions (FAQ) on copyright. These fifteen questions are examined in greater detail in a companion article – “Guidelines: Copyright in Parish and School Liturgy.”

The Australian Pastoral Musicians Network (APMN) is hosting “Music Copyright Workshop for Catholic Parishes” on Saturday, 13 October 2012, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Rheinberger Centre, corner Weston and Loch Streets, Yarralumla, ACT. The workshop will provide an opportunity to hear from the leaders of the major Church copyright licence organisations in Australia – Mark Beckwith, Word of Life International (WOLI); Malcolm Hawker, Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI); and Monica O’Brien, Willow Publishing and LicenSing On-line (LSO). See the link below for further details.

In our ongoing series reviewing the various seasonal psalms, this month we look at Psalm 122 – Let us go rejoicing. This month’s article on upcoming Music Selections for Mass includes recommendations for October and November and takes us to the end of Year B. Also, there are Diocesan Liturgical Ministry training courses for Readers, Sacristans and Music Coordinators scheduled in October and November (see details of upcoming liturgy and music workshops).

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

Welcoming Refugees & Asylum Seekers: Beyond Political Spin

By Paul Power (CEO, Refugee Council of Australia)

In the past month, the national political and public debate about asylum seekers and refugees has, yet again, reached fever pitch. Sadly, the battle between the major parties takes centre stage and much of the media coverage focuses not on the issues or on the lives at risk but on the implications for national politics. Read more

 

In global terms, the intensity of the debate in Australia makes little sense, a point which is made regularly to me by NGO colleagues in other countries. Australia receives only around 1% of the world’s applications for asylum.

There are 15.2 million refugees in the world, 10.4 million under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and 4.8 million Palestinians under the care of the UN Relief and Works Agency. Of the 10.4 million UNHCR-registered refugees, 7.1 million are stuck in long-term situations with no durable solution in sight.

The human tragedies behind these statistics are beyond the imagination of most Australians. Those who reach our shores as asylum seekers or resettled refugees speak of family members murdered, of threats to their lives, rape, torture and homes destroyed.

In the face of little effective international action to resolve the problems faced by refugees, there is an ever increasing number of asylum seekers and refugees moving further afield in search of the effective protection they cannot find in countries of first asylum.

The issues are complex. Governments need to maintain asylum processes with integrity, ensuring that protection remains focused on those who need it while not forcing people back to countries where they may be killed. For the asylum system to work well, applicants need quality independent advice and representation, as well as practical help and material aid while they wait for a decision. Refugees resettled from other countries and asylum seekers recognised as refugees need help to settle in Australia, including practical orientation, language learning, torture and trauma counselling and employment support.

The Refugee Council of Australia was formed in 1981 to provide national representation and support to the many local agencies involved in this work. Our organisation is involved in research, policy development and advocacy, taking the concerns and ideas of refugee communities and the organisations working with them to governments, UN bodies, the media and the public.

Church organisations were instrumental in the formation of the Refugee Council 31 years ago and remain a significant proportion of our membership today. This connection between the work of the churches and the work of the Refugee Council makes perfect sense to me. The path to my current work included my involvement in parish life in Camden, the St Vincent de Paul Society and diocesan faith development and social justice activities.

My parents and many other teachers in the faith since have encouraged me to see that Christian faith must be linked to practical concern for others. This concern can be expressed in any number of ways – our response to neighbours and friends, positive involvement in our parish or school community, engagement in community organisations and through the quality of our relationships in the workplace.

My volunteer involvement, coupled with professional experience in journalism, led 19 years ago to the opportunity to work for Caritas Australia. I later worked for St Vincent de Paul Society before taking on my current role at the Refugee Council in 2006. It’s challenging work, in a small organisation with few resources and a huge mandate, but a role which is deeply rewarding.

We don’t need to be lofty theologians to understand the importance and value of supporting people seeking refuge from persecution. The Scriptures include many stories of exile, in Egypt, in Babylon and the flight of Jesus and his family from King Herod. Both Testaments include many pleas to support the foreigner and the exile – and to treat others as we would like to be treated if we were in their shoes.

Australian Catholics are part of a culturally diverse national Church and a global network of believers and this, if we allow it, can help us to see a foreign national fleeing persecution as someone with whom we have a connection. In the current debate, each of us is challenged to act in some way, for instance, by volunteering, expressing concerns to a Parliamentarian or gently speaking up when the humanity of asylum seekers is being ignored.

To learn more about refugee issues and the work of the Refugee Council and its members, visit www.refugeecouncil.org.au

“Holy Fire” – Engaging our Young People

By Peter Gilmore, Faith Education Officer (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Diocese of Wollongong)

As we continue along at a blinding pace towards the middle of the second decade of the 21st century, we find ourselves in an utterly unique situation. Amidst the omnipresence of technology, the constant beat of one song or another and the instant search of Google (that’s right – it even thinks it knows what you are searching for before you do), Read more

we, as the modern day church, are faced with many questions.Are we relevant to young people today? How do we stem the tide of young people becoming disconnected from the Church? How do we create an environment where the faith of our young people can grow and be nourished?

As someone who has worked in youth ministry for a number of years now, I have grown accustomed to hearing from various youth workers how “different” kids are today. They’re less polite, less thoughtful, more selfish, more individualistic, more materialistic and so on. When I hear these descriptions, I am always reminded of this quote, "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company…and tyrannize their teachers.” Surely a quote from a notable youth psychologist or social worker. No, that was Plato quoting Socrates from the 4th Century before Christ. The young people of today are not so different after all.

There is a fire which burns in young people. It is a holy fire of youthful energy – the desire to be someone, to build something, to make a stand, to change the world and, ultimately, to leave their mark. Unrestricted and unguided, this fire can cause mass destruction. Ignored or frowned upon, the fire will turn in on itself – consuming the young person. Our task then, it would seem, is to be the Church which becomes a furnace that channels the God-given fire of our young people. Someone once said, “Young people will set the Church ablaze, older people will stop it from burning down”. We need to create opportunities for young people to take their God-given passion and energy and use it for good.

In my work coordinating the efforts of Catechists (committed people who teach our faith to children in state primary schools) one of the challenges is finding new volunteers. One way we are seeking to empower young people is through a pilot program we have commenced this year where students from Catholic High Schools have the opportunity to help teach alongside our adult Catechists in a class each week. In the process of teaching, they form their own faith and understanding. Through the children they have genuine encounters with the face of God in others. Through the service they are formed in the virtues of generosity and humility. This is youthful fire channelled for eternal good.

As St Catherine of Siena said, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire”. Young people, given the chance to burn brightly, have the capacity to surprise us, to challenge us and perhaps even to rekindle a fire we may have thought lost.

Ten Questions With...
  1. When and where were you born?

    1971 in Perth, Western Australia.

  2. What do you normally eat for breakfast?

    Wholegrain toast and lots of coffee!

  3. What inspired you to minister in the area of accessibility and inclusion?

    I have worked with children and adults with a wide range of disabilities and mental health issues, over many years. It seems right that I use this knowledge to help people feel more welcome and included in the life of the Church. These are often the families and people who have so much to gain from a rich spiritual life, and so much to offer parishes.

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

    Challenging; unexpected; blessed.

  5. What has been the biggest challenge for you in your ministry?

    Working in a different language – Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is always a challenge as the risk of being misunderstood or communication breakdown is always present. Being the only hearing person in a group is also tiring after a few hours. Exactly how a Deaf person often feels!

  6. Who are your heroes?

    Anyone who has a close and loving relationship with their adult children.

  7. What has brought you the greatest joy in your ministry?

    Definitely the people I have met. So many kind and gentle people in this world when the media would have us believe it is all gloom and doom.

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

    He has started me on this journey and gives me little pushes in the right direction when I need them, opening doors so I can be where I am most needed.

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

    People expressing and practicing their faith in simple ways. The quiet and intimate moments with small groups, who open up and share their prayers, so often for the suffering of others when I know that they are experiencing their own challenges and difficulties.

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

    The Church offers people a place to feel loved and respected, that they belong to something important and that they can make a difference.

Helpful Hints

Becoming a Welcoming Community
By Darren McDowell (Diocesan Coordinator of Parish Services)


We know that hospitality is a key ingredient for every vibrant community. As a faith community we come together to share the story of Jesus, to partake in Eucharist and share the mission of Jesus, caring for each other and caring for the world around us. Read more


But, how do we become more hospitable in every aspect of parish and community life? Here are some suggestions for welcoming new parishioners:

  1. Provide a ‘newcomers’ table with items such as a welcome pack, community and parish information.
  2. Parish priest sends a letter or makes a personal phone call to new parishioners.
  3. Acknowledge and welcome everyone who comes to mass
  4. Assign a ‘sponsoring family’ who can meet with a new family in the parish.
  5. Host a quarterly or half-yearly afternoon tea or dinner for new parishioners to meet with the parish pastoral council or other ministry leaders.

Here are some tips for ongoing hospitality:

  1. Develop the use of name tags for all parishioners at masses and social occasions.
  2. Make a point of remembering special occasions in the lives of parishioners
  3. Have a ministry to the housebound, or make personal phone calls to parishioners just to ‘see how they’re doing’?
  4. Ensure that the church is accessible for all, perhaps with large print bulletins, clear easy to read signs and power point displays.
  5. Acknowledge the contribution of all ministers at an acknowledgement service.

There are many more possibilities for becoming a more welcoming and hospitable community.  You may find the following documents, distributed at our diocesan workshop on hospitality helpful:

  1. Welcome and Hospitality Checklist
  2. Parish Bulletin Inserts – Disability Focus
  3. Parish Bulletin Inserts – Ecumenical Focus
  4. Research on Welcome and Hospitality
  5. Group Responses at Hospitality Workshop
Links and Resources

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

Website and Bishop Peter Ingham

Bookstores

Youth & Young Families

Liturgy & Music

Faith & Spirituality

Inclusion & Outreach

Stewardship

Sacraments & RCIA

Pastoral Councils & Pastoral Planning

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Contact Us

Darren McDowell
Coordinator of Parish Services
(02) 4253 0985
darren.mcdowell@dow.org.au