Letters: Redemptorist padre
Geoffrey M Prendergast mentions several priests in his letter (Padre POWs, Letters CW 9/5) regarding prisoner-of-war chaplains.
They included one named O’Donnell, who may have been my brother-in-law, Fr James Gerard O’Donnell (also known as Gerard O’Donnell), a Redemptorist priest.
Gerard was born on June 16, 1908, one of 12 children who are all now deceased.
He was appointed to the Redemptorist mission in the Philippines when World War II broke out. He was captured by the Japanese and was released towards the end of the war, having a suffered much ill treatment at the hands of his captors..
He developed a terminal illness and died in the Sacred Heart Hospital in Moreland, Victoria, on January 12, 1954.
I remember my husband saying Gerard was so hungry he gave his watch away for a coconut.
BLESSING TO DIGGERS
I was so saddened to read of the passing of Mons Gerry Cudmore (Vale – the ‘soldier’s padre’, Insight CW 22/5).
I got to know Mons Gerry while serving in the CMF and full time RAAF in Canberra. Gerry was always there to help people out and always went out of his way to help people in and out of service life. He was a man’s man.
Gerry was always a blessing to the diggers out in the field, especially in a war zone. And he was quite good to the St Vincent de Paul Society.
He will be sadly missed.
ACT AGAINST EUTHANASIA
In the wake of the Dutch upper house’s approval of doctor-assisted euthanasia, Christians in Australia should take action to ensure that euthanasia does not become law here.
One of the actions available is to study the Budget to check if money for palliative care is increasing.
The age of the population is increasing in our country. More money is needed, not only to keep up with the increase in age, but also to improve the existing palliative care, so that no person is in want of such care due to lack of staff, beds or training.
Christians have an obligation to take action on this issue.
After the Budget they should follow-up with their local MP to ensure that the representatives are voted in who are against euthanasia and for increased funding for palliative care.
SUSTAINING OUR FAITH
I would like to express my gratitude to The Catholic Weekly and all its staff, contributors and supporters for the hours of blissful, intellectual and un-biased reading material it provides. Since my family’s migration to Australia five years ago, this weekly – along with our interaction with the Catholic community and clergy – has been a major force in sustaining our faith through this major cultural transition.
I have especially enjoyed reading the differing opinions expressed by letter writers, showing that there are two sides to every coin.
These words of wisdom that I came across in one of your weeklies have left me with some food for thought: “There are always three ways in every situation, your way, my way and God’s way.”
With Pentecost upon us, it seems like the right time to pray for God’s way to prevail and guide us to a better day.
NOTRE DAME PLAN
As parish priest of St Benedict’s Church, Broadway, Sydney, may I comment on an article (Sydney campus plan for Notre Dame uni, CW 16/5) in which Damir Govorcin quotes Dr Peter Tannock as saying he came to Sydney when Cardinal George Pell wanted him to establish a new branch of Notre Dame University and that St Benedict’s provided the best place for this to be done.
But none of these interesting events was told to me.
I was simply informed that Dr Tannock and friends wished to inspect our property with a view to leasing the entire top floor.
I learnt the full story from the Senate of Priests, members of which told me that the West Australian Catholic university wanted use of our entire parish building.
When Prof Tannock confirmed this to me I told him that St Benedict’s parish council and finance committee could not agree. Ever since the closure of St Benedict’s Primary School in the 1980s – because of the extensive list of City Council and Fire Department anti-fire requirements for schools – the Church had decided to shut the buildings down in view of the millions of dollars involved.
I am informed that such rebuilding would today involve the demolition and rebuilding of four very large blocks of internal fireproof glazed brick stairways costing today over $4 million.
The questions put to me by Senate of Priest members included:
If the new university takes over who will pay all the money? Where will it come from? Where will they park vehicles?
If all parish buildings are taken over what will there be for the parish to use? Faculties of Arts and Medicine are already available in Sydney; what about the Australian Catholic University already established? Why not spend the money on it?
Many other similar questions arise because most assume that I opened the matter. I certainly did not.
If the new university does take over the premises the church and the presbytery will be the only two parish buildings remaining.
The parish council, the finance committee and I have recommended a viable alternative to the university: consult urgently with the trustees of the former 8½ hectare brewery site.
They have a lot of land for sale or lease, including for educational purposes, that could easily satisfy the university’s requirements.
Fr Terence Purcell