Work continues on the MI site even during the lockdown. Final preparation of underground services before the concrete slab is poured for the parish office.
Synods on synods
Extracts from Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 3 June 2021
At first sight the recent Vatican announcement that a forthcoming synod would be delayed was non-news. All synods are considered boring, and a synod on synodality sounds entirely self-referential. Yet the announcement was significant. The synod will take up much time and energy of Catholics at the local, diocesan, national and international level for almost three years, involving local congregations in considerations, dioceses in collating these results and sharing them with other dioceses, bishops in participating in the conversations, reviewing and reporting jointly to the Roman office to draw up the agenda for the synod. Given the human investment required by synod it is worthwhile to reflect on the recent history of synods and why Pope Francis places such importance on them. As in so many of his actions, his endorsement of synods addresses challenges facing civil societies, too. This may be the subject of a later article. In the Western Catholic world synods came out of the Second Vatican Council. In contrast to previous Councils Vatican II focused less on Church teaching than on pastoral renewal, freeing and energising Catholics to live out the gospel in their world. It paid particular attention to the relationship of bishops to the Pope, seeing them as a college with the Bishop of Rome as its head. Together they were responsible for the teaching and living of faith in the Church. The council also emphasised the active responsibility of lay Catholics who were equal members of the Church with priests and bishops though with different responsibilities.........Upon his election Pope Francis has set out to encourage freedom and initiative among Catholics. In his own conduct he paid less attention to issues of authority and doctrine than to outreach to people at the margins of the church and beyond it. His gift for such symbolic actions as mixing freely with people, holding off the cuff press conferences, and visiting prisons and refugee camps, were as important as his words. He has made synods a crowning symbol of his vision. He has encouraged participants to speak their mind, to differ on issues, to consult their people, and to see themselves as shaping the understanding of faith. They model the proper shape of relationships within the church as a whole, which Pope Francis has described as synodality.....(more). Photo: Bishops et al Synod of Bishops, Franco Origlia Getty Images, Eureka Street 20210603
Church in Australia backs Laudato Si’ plan
Extract from CathNews, ACBC, 28 May 2021
Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen OFM Conv says the Church in Australia is well placed to engage with the Laudato Si’ action plan in light of an upcoming Social Justice Statement on integral ecology. Bishop Long, the chairman of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service, was commenting on the plan for environmental sustainability Pope Francis announced earlier this week. The initiative, officially known as the Laudato Si Action Platform, will invite individuals and groups to commit to a seven-year journey, with new participants able to begin year one on each anniversary of the plan’s commencement. It follows the end of the year celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Pope’s encyclical letter Laudato Si’. In May 2020, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference confirmed Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor as the theme for the 2021-22 Social Justice Statement. The Statement will be published this August in anticipation of Social Justice Sunday on August 29. “We in Australia are well aware of the impact of a climate that is changing, including through fires, droughts and floods,” Bishop Long said. “We also understand that the fate of our planet and the fate of our people are intimately connected, which is why the Social Justice Statement speaks of the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” The Laudato Si Action Platform proposes the first of the seven years be a period of planning and preparation, followed by five years of action and then a year of reflection, rest and celebration. “Early in our first year, we will provide an Australian context, through the Social Justice Statement, that will set the stage for what will follow,” Bishop Long said. “The bishops of Australia have committed to be part of this global seven-year journey and we want to ensure that our people come with us.”....(more). Image:Laudato_Si-Supplied_41151artthumb CathNews 20210528
Australian bishops formally convoke Plenary Council
Extract from CathNews, 25 May 2021
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has formally convoked the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, with its president, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, signing the required decree on Pentecost Sunday. The decree of convocation is the final necessary step while preparing for the celebration of a plenary council. The convocation follows the approval of the related statutes and regulatory norms, the approval and February publication of the Council’s working document, Continuing the Journey, and the recent approval of the Council agenda. It is expected that the agenda will be published in early June. In a short video capturing the decree’s signing, Archbishop Coleridge said it has been more than 80 years since the Church in Australia last held a plenary council, noting “how things have changed since then”. The Fifth Plenary Council of Australia, which has been years in the making, received approval from the Holy See in early 2018. Several important milestones over the past three years preceded the signing of the decree of convocation. “The journey of the Council began long ago and this is just another step on the way towards the first assembly in the first week on October,” Archbishop Coleridge said after signing the decree..........(MORE). Photo. ACBC
Friday 21 May 2021
Our Parish is moving forward as our Redevelopment Project springs up from the earth before our eyes. In Pentecost hope we must ensure that bricks and mortar support a renewal of mission and relationships within our parish community.
MI Redevelopment Project
Showing concrete slab of light court behind altar, central hole in ground for lift well & trench for sewer pipes under new parish office.
New Indigenous Studies Centre to be established
Extract from Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Melbourne Catholic, 3 May 2021
Australia’s oldest and largest theological school, the University of Divinity, will at the end of 2021 launch a new Indigenous Studies Centre. Through the Centre, the University’s students, graduates, teachers and researchers (whether Indigenous or not) will be encouraged to form a relationship with Christ that grows from the imaginative roots of the world’s oldest living culture. This vision gestated over many years through conversations between local and international Christian leaders, both Indigenous and white. Recognising that most Australian theological activity has been generated by white people, the Centre will deliberately seek to both decolonise Christian traditions and to engage them anew, beginning with a uniquely Indigenous sense of relationship with country, waterway and sky.....(more) Image: Indeigenous Studies
MI Redevelopment Project
Friday 30 April 2021
The photo does not do it justice - the sun was in the wrong spot - so go and take a walk past Mary Immaculate Church to check on progress.
A massive excavation to lower the old car park to the same level as the church so that our new Gathering Space / Parish Centre and Church will all be on the same level with no need for steps.
Inside the Vatican: Inside the top secret process of appointing a Catholic bishop
Extract from American Magazine/Faith, 22 April 2021
When Father John Wester received a call just before 8 a.m. Mass, he had no idea it would be the nuncio, the pope’s ambassador, phoning to tell him he would be the next auxiliary bishop of San Francisco. “I think my knees were knocking,” now-Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., told America’s “Inside the Vatican” podcast. The bishop said his parishioners told him, “‘You don’t look very good, Father!’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t feel very good right now!’ It was kind of a shockeroo.” Archbishop Wester’s story is not unusual. Most bishops are appointed without ever knowing they were being considered for the job and are caught by surprise when chosen. The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world, shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve. Those who are consulted about possible candidates are required to return the list of questions they’ve been sent, because even the questions, which reveal no particulars about a candidate, are protected under the Vatican’s top confidentiality classification: the “pontifical secret.” There is a joke among the hierarchy that “a pontifical secret is a secret you don’t tell the pope,” but the secrecy around this process has been chipped away in recent years. On this episode of "Inside the Vatican," working from a copy of the revised survey that he obtained, America's Vatican correspondent Gerard O'Connell summarizes some of the questions that the Vatican is now asking about possible bishops.....(more). Photo: Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Vatican Conference on the theology of the priesthood, CNS photo Paul Haring, American Magazine 20210422
Parish Redevelopment Project
Friday 16 April 2021
The hall is now demolished. The old presbytery/parish office will be used as the contractor’s site office until it is demolished to make way for the new car park towards the end of the project.
Weekday Communion Services during Fr Bill's well deserved (though brief) leave
Challenges ahead for Australian Catholic Parishes
John Costa, Thursday 8 April 2020
After a tumultuous year of COVID-19 fear and lockdowns Parish Priests well supported by lay people have valiantly 'kept the ship afloat' with redoubled effort and the understanding cooperation of parishioners, by adopting extraordinary but demanding measures, including streamed Masses, numerous additional communications and much more. But the longer term presents even greater challenges for all parishes considering detailed data on the ageing of priests, concerning decline in priest numbers, and participation.
Illustrating this close to home the Parish Priest of neighbouring Templestowe Parish, Fr Gerry McKernan, will retire in May. Following very much anxious Parish community engagement on this issue over some time and a consequent proposal from that Parish to the Archdiocese, a response from Archbishop Peter Comensoli was today published on Templestowe Parish website. It includes the following relevant extract from Archbishop Peter's recent Patrick Oration, which was also recently reported on this News Page (see 18 March below).
'We are built for a church that no longer exists, and we have an infrastructure for a Church that no longer exists.' Pope Francis has been quite explicit about this, calling on local Churches not to struggle to hold on to what it has left behind but to see itself as a mission church moving outward, (cf. EG.28; 33) This is going to require a renewal of the lay apostolic life.
Parish Redevelopment Project
Preparing the foundations for our new Parish Office and Chapel.
Merle Gilbo, 2 April 2021
This word that has been on my lips, on my mind and in my heart in recent days as so many people wished me well on the occasion of my ‘big birthday’. The idea of belonging to a parish family has always been significant to me and it was certainly very real on this occasion — expressed in all kinds of ways. Thank you, one and all, for your thoughtfulness. It has been wonderful. Merle
Happy Birthday Merle
Friday 26 March 2021
Last Tuesday after Mass we celebrated Merle’s 90th birthday in the Mother of God church foyer.
A wonderful milestone with no signs of slowing down.
We wish Merle every grace and blessing on her birthday.
Parish Redevelopment Project
Chapel and sacristy demolished on north side in preparation for new works.
Parish Redevelopment Project
Pat Kelly, Friday 19 March 2021
As previously advised, Raysett Constructions Pty Ltd took possession of the Mary Immaculate site on the 2nd February 2021. The site has been fenced and secured. There was a delay with commencement of works because Banyule Council required some details to be clarified prior to the finalization of the stage 1 planning permit but it’s now full steam ahead. The work to date is largely internal to the buildings involving the following activities.
· Site survey and levels establishment
· Development of demolition sequence
· Asbestos removal
· Services alterations
· Site office establishment
· Site amenities, staff lunch room and toilets
The photo shows the commencement of vegetation removal and demolition of the ramp and entrance to the church.
Regular meetings with the architects and the contractor are being held. We have also met with the specialist contractors to discuss details of the audio-visual and security systems. Construction site meetings with the Archdiocesan representative, architects, Raysett and ourselves are held fortnightly.
Australian priest serving on the COVID frontline in Peru
Extract from The Catholic weekly, 18 March 2021
Australian priest Fr John Anderson says many people living in Peru’s largest jungle city continue to fall desperately sick due to COVID-19. Fr Anderson ministers as parish priest of Santa Rosa de Lima Parish in Iquitos, and says the city has endured “chaos” for months on end. Administrator of the Vicariate of Iquitos, Fr Miguel Fuertes, has issued an urgent appeal for donations to provide an oxygen generator. Last year the Vicariate was able to crowdfund enough money to purchase four oxygen generators. However, they are not sufficient to meet the need in the city of 470,000 people.
Fr Anderson said a second appeal by Fr Fuertes garnered $US140,000 last month but more is needed. “The generator will cost about $80,000, but the price of the compressors has shot up from $50,000 to $150,000.” Fr Anderson has been donning full PPE to visit hospital patients who are sharing wards with COVID-infected patients and conducting an ever-increasing number of funerals in people’s homes. “How this will evolve, who knows … but we are in the hands of the good Lord,” he said.....(more). Photo: Residents queue oxygen tanks sick relatives in Iquitos Supplied CathNews 20210318
Vatican says yes to gay people, no to blessing gay unions
Extract from Opinion Piece, Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter, 17 March 2021
Since the Catholic Church forbids celebrating marriage between people of the same sex as a sacrament, some Catholics, and even some bishops, have discussed having a blessing for such couples as an alternative. On March 15, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, the chief doctrinal office in the Vatican, responded to queries about this possibility with a firm no. "It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage," said the congregation. To sum up, the Vatican is calling on the church to welcome gays "with respect and sensitivity" while at the same time telling priests not to bless their unions. This fine distinction will make no sense to many American Catholics, especially those who are gay and believe that respecting a person includes accepting their choice of a life partner. In Germany it will put a chill on efforts by the country's Catholic bishops to consult the faithful on a number of topics, including gays, though a multiyear synodal process. Granted how much Pope Francis talks about the synodal character of the church, it is disappointing to see attempts to short-circuit this process in Germany. This preemptive strike, however, will not succeed. The discussion will go on, explained Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops' conference, even as "points of view put forward today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must and will naturally find their way into these discussions." The congregation made clear that Francis "was informed and gave his consent" to publication of the document. My guess is that he was given the document right before he left for Iraq and deferred to the congregation rather than subject the document to a close personal review. It lacks the pastoral sensitivity that has marked his papacy. Too bad he did not set it aside for more thought and consultation. The congregation sees pastoral and theological problems with blessing gay unions, although it has no problem with blessing gay individuals.....(more). Photo: People with rainbow flags Brandenburg Gate legalization of same-sex marriage Germany Michael Kappeler dpa via AP NCR 2021-317
Parish Climate Action Group
Friday 12 March 2021
Our Mary Mother of the Church Parish put on a wonderful action for the worldwide launch of the Sacred People Sacred Earth campaign on Thursday, 11 March. It was heart-warming to have about 20 parishioners arrive and gather together as we held up our banner for a half-hour facing the passing traffic outside Mary Immaculate Church, occasionally striking a Tibetan bell used in our Parish Meditation Group. We then walked to MI school, holding up the banner and some of us singing – a song for the earth, our common home. School children at MI rang a bell on our arrival, sounding the alarm for the climate, and they hung the banner on the school fence. We then moved onto St Bernadette’s where we were again met by students and hung a banner on the fence there. Did you know they have an exceptional vegie garden there! We made a video of our action and you can see it HERE . Watch the 2-minute video through to the end to hear Father Bill speak of how, as a faith community, we are called to be good stewards of the gift of creation that God has given us. After Masses last weekend, there was a collection for donations for the cost of the banners. Parishioners donated a total of $506. That constitutes a substantial amount towards the cost. It’s great to know so many of us care deeply about our stewardship of creation. Thank you. There were 135 ‘Sacred People Sacred Earth’ actions in Australia and over 400 events in 43 counties around the world and the launch made the Vatican news. People preached, prayed, chanted, meditated and stood in silent witness. Bells rang at a number of Cathedrals and churches throughout Australia. The ARRCC Facebook site has numerous posts of various actions; try looking for #Faiths4Climate or #SacredEarthSacredPeople on social media. Remember, you can still get onto the ARRCC website, and sign the ‘Sacred People Sacred Earth’ statement which will go to the U.N. meeting on climate in November.
Australia could learn a thing or two from Indonesia’s personalised approach to aged care
Extract from Duncan Graham, Pearls & Irritations, Mar 9, 2021
Our street in Indonesia has 70 households. Many are mixed-generation families. With few nursing homes or retirement villages, and those being far away, families have two options: The kids do the caring or employ a carer. Either way, Grandpa or Grandma stays home. Sawojajar is eight degrees under the Equator and a suburb of Malang, an East Java hilltown nudging one million. Days start with the 4:15 am call to prayer. An hour later as the sun crests the mountains, the street’s five elderly and infirm men are wheeled out of the houses they once lorded and sometimes shuffled into plastic chairs. There’s no sense of abandonment, more a welcome back. Parked in the shade of mango trees the old fellows expect to finish their days where they’ve lived among familiar faces, sounds, sights and smells. Here they’re obvious to all, spectators of the daily parade yet also participants. With no public parks or pavement, the bitumen is the community room, an oval, a market, an open-air hall, a thoroughfare. There’s much to hear and see, and not one event has been organized by a social welfare consultant. A quarter of Australians are reported to be lonely. No similar studies in Indonesia where mental health isn’t a front-page issue, but chances are there’d be only a few suffering solitudes – and certainly not in this street. Indonesians engage easily with strangers. The watchers outside their wrought-iron fences advise reversing drivers of hazards, direct strangers to the right address, hold parcels for absent residents and act as human CCTVs.....(more)
China to teach ‘masculinity’ education for boys
Extract from CathNews NZ, NBC News, CGTN, 8 March 2021
The Education Ministry of China has published plans to ‘cultivate masculinity’ in schoolboys. The policy has inflamed debate across the country. The plan follows a warning from one of China’s top political advisers that the nation is experiencing a national “masculinity crisis.” “Chinese boys have been spoiled by housewives and female teachers,” the adviser, Si Zefu, said in a policy proposal in May. Boys would soon become “delicate, timid and effeminate” unless action was taken, he said. Addressing the issue is a matter of national security, he wrote. Si warned that the “feminization” of Chinese boys “threatens China’s survival and development.” Boys in China traditionally are expected to show strong leadership skills, get good grades in math and science and excel in school sports. So wrote Fang Gang, a sociology professor at Beijing Forestry University, about the proposed changes on Jan. 30. Girls, meanwhile, traditionally are viewed as less intellectual, and they are expected to be less competitive. “Boys don’t need masculinity education,” said Lü Pin, the founder of China’s largest feminist advocacy media channel, Feminist Voices, which was banned by Chinese censors in 2018. “The concept of masculinity forces every man to be tough, excluding and harming men with other characteristics,” she said. “It also reinforces men’s hegemony, control and position over women, which goes against gender equality.”....(more). Photo:Masculinity-in-China CathNews NZ 20210308
Access to Mary Immaculate
Friday 5 March 2021
The Parish has formally handed over the Mary Immaculate Church site to our building contractors, Raysett Constructions, and work on the site has commenced.
One of the implications of the handover is that we do not have access to the site during the period of the project. Put simply - no one from the Parish (or anyone else) can presume they can enter the property. There are all sorts of legal and contractual reasons for this: not least reasons of safety and insurance cover. Please do not enter the site - even if there is a gate open. Our Project Manager, Pat Kelly, will give regular updates of progress on our redevelopment project in the weekly newsletter.
These access rules will mean that our weekly newsletters can no longer be collected from the front door of Mary Immaculate Church. They will need to be collected from Mother of God or St. Bernadette’s Church, online on our website, or phone the office for a home delivery if you have no transport to our churches.
Sr Nathalie Becquart told journalists on Wednesday that Pope Francis has been underlining the importance of including women in the decision-making processes, helping move the Church from a clericalist attitude towards a more synodal one. “How can we somehow end with a clerical Church, where there have been abuses, of power and other kind of abuses,” she asked, during a conference transmitted live from Rome via Zoom. “By being like Christ, by being at the service of others and accompanying others.” The Synod of Bishops is a product of the Second Vatican Council, and since the late 1960s it has been meeting in Rome semi-regularly to discuss a wide array of topics. It serves as an advisory body to the Pope, with no actual decision-making power. No woman has ever voted in one of these meetings, though they have regularly taken part as observers, advisers, auditors and experts. Sr Nathalie, appointed by Pope Francis as undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, could become the first woman to cast a vote. Though there’s no written rule that says the undersecretary does vote, it has been the tradition thus far.....(more). Photo: Sr Nathalie Becquart , CathNews, 20210212 CNS Paul Haring
Parish Redevelopment Project - Project Mobilisation
Pat Kelly, Friday 5 February 2021
Raysett Constructions Pty Ltd took possession of the Mary Immaculate site on the 2nd February 2021.
The first activity has been the erection of protective fencing to the trees. Early works are planned facing Upper Heidelberg Rd. Regular updates will be provided as the project progresses.
Top German bishop presses on with Church reform, promises to involve Vatican
Limited extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Subscription journal La Croix International, 11 January 2021
President of Catholic bishops' conference in Germany says local Churches must be allowed to find solutions to pressing questions like the diaconate for women. Bishop Georg Bätzing, head of Catholic episcopal conference of Germany (DBK), has vowed to work "in close cooperation with the Vatican" as he forges ahead with his country's synodal procedure for Church reform. "I have already had talks in the Vatican about this and plan to continue the discussions when I go down to Rome with the synodal procedure presidium as soon as possible," Bätzing said in an interview published January 3 by the Catholic news agency KNA. The 59-year-old bishop, who has been DBK president since last March, said he plans to keep Vatican officials informed of the developments of the synodal procedure (also known as the Synodal Way) and not just its results. He also announced that Cardinal Mario Grech, the 63-year-old Maltese prelate who recently took over as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, "will come and see us, perhaps for our second synodal meeting". Following Vatican Council II The DBK president said this would allow the cardinal to see first-hand that the German Church's endeavors for reform are based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) in the tradition of the Würzburg Synod (1971-75). Many of the demands of that national synod in the 1970s -- such as admitting women to the diaconate and opening the priesthood to married men -- have not been implemented by Rome to this day. Bishop Bätzing said these suggested reforms, like the ongoing synodal procedure, are still being discussed and debated. Thus, he said he could understand that many Catholics were restless. "The great majority of committed Catholics in our country want change and that is why the synodal procedure is so essential," said the DBK president, who has headed Limburg Diocese just north of Frankfurt since 2016. He warned that if the Church did not answer the "pressing questions", it would lose credibility. Women's ordination was one such pressing question, Bätzing said in a long interview in the January issue of the German theological monthly Herder Korrespondenz. Church's official explanation is "less and less convincing" He said he always tried to do his best in explaining honestly the current Church teaching on the subject.....(Source)