A Time of Hope…
Christmas message from Most Rev Peter A Comensoli
Extracts from Archbishop of Melbourne, Melbourne Catholic 18 December, republished here 20 December 2019
Hello friends, I love Christmas. It is such a beautiful time of hope. Behind the tinsel, the advertising, the stress and frantic energy of the season, we encounter a profound simplicity in the story of God’s arrival. We just need to think about Mary and Joseph. They weren’t welcomed into any warm hotel or inn, they weren’t able to put themselves down by the fireplace in someone’s home. They had come from far away and arrived in a place they did not know. They could be like us after a long journey when nobody welcomes or acknowledges you. You can become quite despondent: no family around you; far from home; and in Mary and Joseph’s case, a child on the way. It can seem like a story of isolation. And yet, in the midst of a simple stable, a home for working animals, this most precious gift is given to us—a little boy, who against all the odds and in a place of somewhat hopelessness, becomes not merely a symbol of hope but who is hope itself. A hope for us. He is a real baby, flesh and blood, with all the tears and the smiles of any little baby, and yet he is also the Son of God. Emmanuel. God among us........ This is not just a story that we might tell each year at Christmas time. It is not just something of the past. Jesus lives now. Jesus lives in us, and Jesus lives for us today. In today’s world of change and uncertainty, we long for God to step gently into our lives, lovingly and tenderly reaching out to each one of us. So, as we busily prepare our homes for the arrival perhaps of family and friends at Christmas time, I invite you to take the time to prepare your hearts to welcome Him who offers himself to us. May I wish you a beautiful, joyful and hope-filled Christmas....(more)
Patronal festival: Sharing joy and faith while learning from one another
John Costa, Friday 13 December 2019
Driving into what car space remained in our unusually crowded Parish Office car park behind Mary Immaculate Church at that time of day and thirty minutes before start of a rare 7:30pm Mass on Monday I instantly sensed that this was bound to be a great night and very special Mass. Whilst a Patronal Festival followed by Parish end-of year get-together already makes things different, it was the large and excited gathering of friendly, energetic, and colourfully dressed singers, dancers and musicians of all ages in the carpark that made very clear that this Mass, celebrating the feast of of the Immaculate Conception, sung in Arabic by the South Sudanese Catholic Choir was going to be special and joyful. It turned out to be that and uplifting. It's very healthy from time to time when routine habits and expectations are challenged by something entirely consistent but expressed very differently. Arabic is a naturally musical language, as I might say of the Italian language also, but even if not directly understood, sung Arabic in this Mass clearly bore the hallmarks of joy, spirituality, togetherness, faith and hope, especially when performed with vibrancy and passion and accompanied by young African dancing. The richness, freshness and joy this singing, music and dancing brought to the Mass belie the often traumatic former lives of so many Sudanese now living with us in Australia as refugees, and in a way highlights the power of faith and hope over tyranny, abuse and slavery. The Preacher was Rev: George Piech Meat, Deacon and chaplain to the South Sudanese Catholic community. In speaking of the spirit of Mary Immaculate he also spoke of Saint Josephine Bakhita who was a Sudanese-Italian Canossian religious sister active in Italy for 45 years, after having been a slave in Sudan. In 2000 she was declared a saint by the Catholic Church. She is venerated as a modern African saint, and as a statement against the brutal history of slavery. She is the patron saint of Sudan and victims of human traffiicking. The South Sudanese Catholic community celebrates Mass every Sunday at 2:30pm at St Anthony's Church Noble Park, with other Mass centres at Holy Eucharist St Albans (3pm on 1st & 2nd Sunday) and St Andrews Werribee (2pm on the 4th Sunday) and welcome all to what we sampled and enjoyed last Monday night. Monday's Mass was concelebrated by Fr Bill Edebohls and Fr Len Thomas with Rev. George Piech Meat as Deacon. In thanking the Sudanese community for their warm and uplifting presence and joyful contribution to this Mass Fr Bill expressed what was clearly written on faces right across the congregation, and that in Australia we benefit so much from what people of other countries and cultures bring despite hardships they have suffered. He hoped that in return we offer hospitality, opportunity and what else might be helpful. It's difficult to capture the full richness of this special shared Mass celebration in a 2 minute video (HERE) but it gives an idea of its strong and warm spirit. Watch on full screen and with sound. Not shown is the social function afterwards, perhaps the best ever attended end-of-year celebration, which further cemented a new relationship between our communities.
The interim report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System lays bare the failings of the mental health system and shows how reform can reduce suicide rates, says Jesuit Social Services. “We commend the Victorian Government on its strong leadership in establishing this Australian-first royal commission. Effective mental health services are critical to safe and cohesive communities, and allow people and communities to address the complex and entrenched disadvantage they may face,” said Julie Edwards, chief executive of Jesuit Social Services. "Today’s report highlights that transformational change is needed to redesign the mental health system to meet the needs and expectations of people living with mental illness and those around them. The Victorian Government has already committed to implement all recommendations in the final report – this will save lives,” Ms Edwards said. Louise Flynn, Manager of Jesuit Social Services’ Support After Suicide program, which has operated since 2004, gave evidence to the royal commission in September. Dr Flynn described the complex grief and trauma experienced by people after the suicide of a loved one, and how services providing support also serve as suicide prevention services given people bereaved by suicide are at heightened risk of taking their own lives. “A person bereaved by suicide often has a relentless experience of trying to understand why it happened, how it was that this much-loved person ended their own life. In some situations, families can feel additional distress if they feel let down by the mental health system; that not enough was done. It is a deeply distressing and difficult experience,” Dr Flynn said.
Young Australians highest rates mental illness of any age group
"I think a lot of it is this sense of uncertainty about the future ... a sense that we aren't in full control of our lives."
Extract from ABC News, 21 November 2019
Young Australians are in many ways at the coalface of the country's mental health crisis.
Rates of mental health concerns appear to be getting worse and teenagers are increasingly ending up in the emergency department in mental health crises. Three
quarters of people who have mental illness develop symptoms before the
age of 25, and in 2018, suicide accounted for more than a third of
deaths among 15-24 year-olds. The results, then, of the Australia Talks National Survey should come as little surprise. Of the 54,000 Australians surveyed by the ABC, 44 per cent of 18-24 year-olds rated their mental health as average or poor. More
than a third reported struggling with anxiety, 30 per cent said they
frequently or always feel lonely, and one in five reported feeling
frequently or always sad. How often do you feel lonely? We asked 54,000 people about their lives. See what they told us — and how you compare. Are we raising a generation of unhappy, non-resilient adolescents? Or have smartphones destroyed Gen Z? Perhaps, parents are to blame for ruining childhood. Or maybe it's that looming environmental crisis? The
causes of mental health problems are complex and varied — linked
inextricably to our social, economic and physical circumstances. While
some experts say it's not clear what's driving high rates of stress,
almost all agree there are gaps in mental health services and support. We asked five young Australians about what they think is shaping the mental health of young people today.....(more) Photo: ABC News 20191121
Two Australian experts were invited to provide testimony to the New Zealand Commission Of Inquiry Into Historical Abuse In State Care And In The Care Of Faith-based Institutions, which began initial Hearings in February 2019. It is NZ’s biggest public inquiry ever, has a budget of NZ$79 million and is expected to run for 4 years. It is examining what happened to children, young people and vulnerable adults in State and faith-based care in Aoteoroa New Zealand between the years 1950-99. It may also listen to survivor experiences before and after these dates. In relation to State Care the Inquiry is specifically investigating why people were taken into care, what abuse happened and why, and the effects of the abuse. It is specifically focusing on Māori, Pasefika and disabled people because of the disproportionate number of people from these communities in care. There are four important elements of this inquiry. Following establishment of guidelines, the Commission then moved into an information and evidence gathering phase. Based on the evidence gathered, two reports will be produced with recommendations for addressing future responsibility - one at the end of 2020 and the second in 2023.....(more)
Parish Centre Redevelopment
Project Update, 15 November 2019
Our preliminary architectural drawings for our new Parish Centre were submitted to Banyule City Council on July 18 as a part of our application for a Planning Permit from the Council. This week we were advised that on Friday November 15 the ’Public Notification of a Planning Application’ would be advertised by the Banyule Council Planning Department. This means that public signage will go up on the Mary Immaculate site informing local residents of our planning application. Under the Council’s planning process the advertising must remain in place for 14 days to allow for objections to be lodged. At the end of the 14 day period the Council will undertake a final assessment of our application. At this stage we have no indication of how long that assessment period may be.
Transition Arrangements Update
A Parish Office Transition Committee (Sue Moorhen, Lucy Dal Pozzo & Carlo Beltrame) has been formed to plan ahead for moving our Parish Office to Mother of God Church once building works begin on the Mary Immaculate site. The brief of the Committee includes:
- Facilitating the smooth transition from our existing Parish Office to our temporary Parish Office;
- To review our administrative systems including our human resources and our IT systems so that we can ensure our Parish administration is both fit for purpose and in tune with our Parish Mission and Values.
We have concluded plans for establishing the office in the MOG foyer meeting room, established an inventory of the current parish office, and are continuing our review of all parish administration.
St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank
Friday 9 November 2019
Support our local Vinnies by buying an extra grocery item each time you shop and placing it in our Vinnies Food Box in the church foyer. See the box to see preferred items or take one of the leaflets by the box.
Synod votes to ordain married men, and to protect Amazon’s indigenous peoples and rainforests
Extract from Gerard O’Connell, Luke Hansen, S.J. America, The Jesuit Review, 26 October 2019
The synod on the Pan-Amazonian region concluded its work on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 26, by approving all 120 paragraphs of its final document (available in Spanish only) with the necessary two-thirds majority vote, including the one proposing the priestly ordination of “suitable and esteemed” married men who are permanent deacons in communities of this vast region. While that latter proposal attracted much of the media attention and had the most votes against it (128-41), the most important thing to emerge from the synod was the unequivocal commitment by the church in the nine countries of the Amazon region to seek new ways to preach the Gospel and to promote justice and stand in solidarity with its 34 million inhabitants, including some 2.5 million indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation, in defense of their rights to life, land and their cultures, and against all forms of violence and exploitation to which they are subject....(more).
Synod told not to fear Amazonian rite
Extract from CathNews, NCR Online, 25 October 2019
A proposed Amazonian rite in the Catholic Church is centred on Christ, an indigenous professor told a Synod briefing yesterday. Addressing concerns about the proposed Amazonian rite in the Catholic Church, Delio Siticonatzi Camaiteri, a member of the Ashaninka people and a professor from Peru, said that fears about the proposal are unwarranted because indigenous people seek unity and not division. “Do we (want to) have our own rites? Yes, we do! But those rites must be incorporated with what is central, which is Jesus Christ. There is nothing else to argue about on this issue! The centre that is uniting us in this Synod is Jesus Christ,” he said. Throughout the Synod, members discussed the possibility of incorporating local traditions and cultural elements in the liturgy. While there are nearly two dozen different rites in the Catholic Church, those critical of the proposal fear that it would introduce so-called pagan elements into the liturgy. Speaking to journalists at the briefing, Mr Siticonatzi said that he noticed those present seemed “a bit uncomfortable” and did not “understand what the Amazon truly needs” when it comes to establishing a new rite. “We have our own world view, our way of looking at the world that surrounds us. And nature brings God closer to us. Our culture brings the face of God closer to us, in our life,” he said. Nevertheless, he added, there are many who are “doubtful of this reality that we are looking for as indigenous people.” “Do not harden your hearts! Soften your hearts; that is what Jesus invites us to do,” he said. “We live together. We all believe in one God! At the end of it all, we are going to be united.”....(more). Photo: CathNews, NCR CNS Paul Haring
Catholic religious to join climate rallies
Members of religious institutes will today join school students and other young people, their families and concerned members of communities in youth-led climate rallies across Australia.
Extract from CathNews, Catholic Religious Australia, 20 September 2019
These rallies will be echoing others around the world to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change. By joining the rallies, Catholic religious are expressing their alarm for the damage being caused to the earth, as well as their hope for a more sustainable, peaceful and healthy planet. Catholic religious encourage all forms of education on how people are impacting the planet. The rallies serve to educate and raise awareness to support government and members of the community to take action to bring about a change in the way we care for the earth. “We need to heed the pleas of Pacific Island leaders at their recent forum and acknowledge the catastrophes facing these countries, which leaves them with great fear for their futures,” said Br Peter Carroll FMS, president of CRA, referring to last month’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting. The crises are not limited to the Pacific Islands. In Australia, unprecedented experiences of bushfires, drought, floods and the disintegration of the Murray Darling river system create impending and dangerous realities. “Climate change is a defining issue of our time and requires unified, global action,” said Br Peter, “and students are meeting the environmental threats in the most effective way they believe is possible – by taking action when they perceive that governments are failing to do so. “We applaud the youth demonstrating for climate justice and believe that by working together, as Pope Francis tells us in Laudato si, that ‘humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home’ and that we may prevent further damage to the planet,” said Br Peter.....(more). Photo: CathNews, Climate
Two cardinals are challenging the working document for next month’s synod of bishops on the pan-Amazonian region.
Extract from CathNews NZ, CNA 9 September 2019
Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Raymond Burke have both written to fellow members of the College of Cardinals raising concerns about the document. Some points…seem not only in dissonance with respect to the authentic teaching of the Church, but even contrary to it,” Brandmüller, who is a German prelate wrote. Parts of the working document are heretical, he says. Noting what he calls the document’s “nebulous formulations” Brandmüller pointed to topics the synod will focus on. These include a proposal to create new ecclesial ministries for women and another enabling the priestly ordination of the so-called viri probati – married men of good reputation, who could act as priests in places where there are none. Brandmüller says these topics’ inclusion raises “strong suspicion that even priestly celibacy will be called into question,” He also said Cardinal Claudio Hummes’s appointment as the president of the synod means he “will exercise a grave influence in a negative sense,” which presents “a well founded and realistic concern”. He said Brazilian emeritus bishop Erwin Kräutel (who is a long-time proponent of married priests) and Franz-Josef Overbeck of Germany are of concern.....(more). Photo: CathNews NZ CNA
Ordination Mass, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli's Homily
Extract from Media and Communications Office, 8 September 2019
What makes for a successful Ordained Minister, many ask today? What does a priest or deacon need to succeed? Perhaps we would all hope that our Ordained Ministers come with a certain set of attributes and capacities: a skilled wordsmith of the Gospel; a man of faith, intellect and spiritual depth; someone accomplished in liturgical and pastoral knowhow; an experienced steward of God’s grace. All of these things would indeed be good to have, at least to an adequate extent, in all our bishops, priests and deacons. The problem with this way of thinking – in terms of success or failure, of achievement or lack thereof – is that it is not the question Jesus asked of those he commissioned to be his ministers. On the night before his Passion, at the Last Supper, the Lord asked instead: have you gone out to bear fruit, fruit that will last? This is the ‘great commission’ given to priests and deacons by the Lord, as he prepared to lay down his life for his friends: to go out with their lives; to be fruitful in their mission; and to be a lasting gift that will continue to nourish. To go out. For us who are ordained, our lives are not meant to be centred on ‘coming home’, as would appropriately be said of a family man. Ours is not an inward calling, but an outward one. We are commissioned by the Church to be on the move, and to be with others. It is why Jesus couched the commissioning of his first priests in the language of friendship, and not servanthood. You cannot be a gospel friend to others if you are only ever waiting for others to come to you for the sacramental or pastoral services you provide. ...(more). Photo: Melbourne Catholic, CAM
Sr. Jacquelyn Bender MSC
Friday 6 September 2019
Many people in the Parish will be saddened by the death of Sister Jacq who died peacefully last Sunday. Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Bernadette’s on Monday at 10.30am.
Our love and prayers go out to Sr. Francis, Sr. Carmel and all the MSC Sisters.
May Sr. Jacquelyn rejoice forever in the eternal love and life of the Sacred Heart of her Beloved Lord.
Edited Extract from CathNews, 7 August, republished 16 August 2019
Many people would be alarmed to learn that with every sip of tea or coffee, or mouthful of chocolate that is not fair trade, there’s a good chance slave children were involved in its production somewhere in its supply line. Fairtrade Australia runs the Fairtrade Fortnight campaign every August to highlight these ethical issues in the supply chains of many industries - including tea, coffee and chocolate - to show that modern slavery not only persists but thrives in the 21st century. And to combat modern slavery, it’s the responsibility of companies and consumers alike to ensure a slavery-free supply chain by making sure products bear a Fairtrade certification. The Archdiocese Office for Justice and Peace (OJP) together with ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious against Trafficking of Humans) held a Fairtrade morning tea as part of Fairtrade Fortnight to raise awareness of the scourge of modern-day slavery. The staff of the Archdiocese, together with the Archbishop, gathered together to enjoy a cup of Fairtrade tea or coffee - all easily accessible - from most supermarkets – but you may have to hunt for it or ask. ‘Fairtrade’ is a trademark which guarantees that the product hasn't used modern slavery, as are products bearing the UTZ certification and Rainforest Alliance logos, which similarly ensure a slavery-free supply chain. Throughout the Archdiocese schools, hospitals, charitable organisations and parishes are joining the Fairtrade campaign trying to eliminate the scourge of modern slavery. If it means paying an extra dollar to make sure that kids are in school, or kids are not being forced into becoming child soldiers, let's do it! Buy only Fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate. People in the developing world don't want charity - they want justice. They don't want us sending money. They simply want us to pay a fair price for the goods they produce. As Pope Francis reminds us “every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing a product is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act.”.....(more) Photo: fairtrade.com.au
Folau's cousin exits job over Catholicism comments
Extract from CathNews, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 2019
Israel Folau’s cousin, Josiah, has been let go from his casual teaching job at a Catholic school in Sydney’s southwest after he described the Church as “the synagogue of Satan”. Mr Folau worked as a tutor and boarding house supervisor at St Gregory’s College at Campbelltown. He was also an alumnus of the school, who finished eighth in the state in religious studies in the 2016 Higher School Certificate. A staff member confirmed the decision on Thursday. The school’s decision came after the Herald revealed on July 20 Josiah’s involvement in the 30-member Jesus Christ Church founded by his uncle, Israel Folau’s father, Pastor Eni, in Kenthurst. The church preaches that any Christian who is not “born again” will go to hell. Josiah Folau also wrote to a parent who attended one of the church’s services that “any devout Catholic person is not a saved Christian whatsoever”. “Look at Catholic doctrine, almost 100 per cent of it is false and is filled with lies,” Josiah wrote. “The blasphemous Catholic Mass is a paganistic ritual rooted in heresy, evil and devil worship. “Roman Catholicism is masked devil worship,” he also said. The 30-strong congregation of the Truth of Jesus Christ Church, established by Folau’s father Eni in 2013, believes the “everlasting torture and doom” of hell awaits most Christians.....(more). Photo CathNews, 7News, Josiah Folau
Melbourne Archbishop in censorship row involving US feminist nun
Extract from Farrah Tomazin, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2019
Catholic leader Peter Comensoli has been accused of censorship on the eve of his first anniversary as Melbourne Archbishop, after an outspoken nun was disendorsed from speaking at a conference soon after he learnt of plans to include her. Facing a backlash from rank-and-file Catholics, the Archbishop was this week forced to explain his role in a damaging snub involving Sister Joan Chittister, a US author, feminist and advocate of church reform....(more)