The Catholic Weekly https://www.catholicweekly.com.au The Church. All of it. Sun, 26 May 2019 09:02:11 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 Pope: Abortion never the answer https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/pope-francis-abortion-never-the-answer/ Sun, 26 May 2019 21:00:10 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23409 Pope Francis has called selective abortion of the disabled “expression of an inhuman eugenics mentality”.

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Pope Francis speaks on abortion
Pope Francis leads his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 15, 2019. PHOTO: CNS/Paul Haring

By Courtney Grogan

Pope Francis said that abortion is never the answer to difficult prenatal diagnoses, calling selective abortion of the disabled the “expression of an inhuman eugenics mentality”.

“Fear and hostility towards disability often lead to the choice of abortion, configuring it as a practice of ‘prevention,’” Pope Francis said May 25.

“But the Church’s teaching on this point is clear: human life is sacred and inviolable and the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes must be strongly discouraged because it is the expression of an inhuman eugenics mentality, which removes the possibility for families to accept, embrace and love their weakest children,” he said.

The pope addressed a Vatican conference on perinatal hospice highlighting medical care and ministries that support families who have received a prenatal diagnosis indicating that their baby will likely die before or just after birth.

‘Yes to Life: Caring for the precious gift of life in its frailness’, a conference organised by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life May 23-25 brought together medical professionals, bioethicists, ministry providers, and families from 70 countries to discuss how best to provide medical, psychological, and emotional support for parents expecting a child with a life-limiting illness.

Related article: Sydney bishop slams ALP abortion policy

“Sometimes people ask me, what does perinatal hospice look like? And I answer, ‘It looks like love,’” author and mother Amy Kuebelbeck shared at the conference.

Kuelbeck was 25 weeks pregnant when she received the diagnosis that her unborn son had an incurable heart defect. She carried her pregnancy to term and had a little more than 2 hours with her son, Gabriel, before he died after birth.

“It was one of the most profound experiences of my life,” Kuelbeck said. She wrote a memoir of her experience of grief, loss, and love called Waiting with Gabriel: A Story of Cherishing a Baby’s Brief Life.

“I know that some people assume that continuing a pregnancy with a baby who will die is all for nothing.  But it isn’t all for nothing.  Parents can wait with their baby, protect their baby, and love their baby for as long as that baby is able to live.  They can give that baby a peaceful life – and a peaceful goodbye. That’s not nothing. That is a gift,” Kuelbeck wrote in Waiting with Gabriel.

Dr Byron Calhoun, a medical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, who first coined the term “perinatal hospice” spoke at the conference. His research has found that allowing parents of newborns with a terminal prenatal diagnosis the chance to be parents can result in less distress for the mother than pregnancy termination.

Many families facing these diagnoses have to decide if they will seek extraordinary or disproportionate medical care for their child after birth.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of ‘over-zealous’ treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted.”

Ministries like Alexandra’s House, a perinatal hospice in Kansas City, provide counsel and grief support to parents as they face these difficult medical decisions. They also connect families with a network of other parents who have had a terminal prenatal diagnosis. “Most of the families stay in contact indefinitely,” said MaryCarroll Sullivan, nurse and bioethics advisor for the ministry.

There are now more than 300 hospitals, hospices, and ministries providing perinatal palliative care around the world.

Sister Giustina Olha Holubets, a geneticist at the University of Lviv, helped to found ‘Imprint of Life’ a perinatal palliative care center in Ukraine that offers grief accompaniment, individualized birth plans, the sacrament of baptism, and burial, as well as respectful photos, footprints, and memory books to help families cherish their brief moments with their child.

The motto of Imprint of Life is “I cannot give more days to your life, but I can give more life to your days”.

Pope Francis met with Sister Giustina and other perinatal hospice providers in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on the last day of the conference.

The pope thanked them for creating “networks of love” to which couples can turn to receive accompaniment with the undeniable practical, human, and spiritual difficulties they face.

“Your testimony of love is a gift to the world,” he said.

“Taking care of these children helps parents to mourn and to think of this not only as a loss, but as a step in a journey together. That child will stay in their life forever, and they will have been able to love him,” Pope Francis said.

“Those few hours in which a mother can lull her child can leave a mark on the heart of that woman that she will never forget,” he said.

This article was originally published at Catholic News Agency.

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FILE POPE ABUSE LAW SAFEGUARD Pope Francis leads his general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican May 15, 2019. The pope has issued a new universal church law establishing procedures for reporting and investigating abuse within the church. The new church law goes into effect June 1. PHOTO: CNS/Paul Haring)
Students honour the ‘woman who has everything’ https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/students-honour-the-woman-who-has-everything/ Fri, 24 May 2019 05:11:00 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23394 “What do you give the woman who has everything?” This was the question Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP asked student representatives from Catholic primary schools in the Sydney archdiocese who gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral today to celebrate the solemnity of Our Lady Help of Christians. Also present to honour the patroness of Australia was the […]

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Students meet with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP following Mass for the Solemnity of Our Lady, Help of Christians. PHOTO: Kitty Beale/Sydney Catholic Schools

“What do you give the woman who has everything?”

This was the question Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP asked student representatives from Catholic primary schools in the Sydney archdiocese who gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral today to celebrate the solemnity of Our Lady Help of Christians.

Also present to honour the patroness of Australia was the new executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools Tony Farley, Sydney Catholic School directors and senior staff, schools chaplain Father Gary Perritt CP and teachers and principals from systemic and congregational primary schools.

Looking out at the sea of young faces, the archbishop said his “young friends” had brought the perfect present for Christ’s mother with them. “It’s children like you and your prayers and love for the Lord and for each other,” he said. “Praise be to God for each of you and your gifts for Our Lady’s feast day.”

In his homily Archbishop Fisher told the children that Jesus wants them to think of themselves as much a part of his family as his much-loved mum.

Year 6 students Annie Nguyen and Arianna Rossman from Holy Cross Primary Woollahra. PHOTO: Kitty Beale/Sydney Catholic Schools

“[Jesus says] what matters most about my mum is not that she’s related to me but that she is such a good disciple,” he said. “Jesus says who you are deep down and what you do matters a whole lot more than who you’re related to or any titles.”

Jesus shares not only his heavenly Father but his earthly Mother with them as well, he told them.

Students from St Michael’s Lane Cove, St John Vianney Greenacre and Our Lady of the Assumption North Strathfield formed a glorious 100-strong choir with support from Catholic Schools Performing Arts Sydney (CaSPA).

Other students read prayers, sang the psalm and formed the offertory procession.

Education officer for primary religious education at Sydney Catholic Schools Jodie Micallef said the day was a great opportunity for the students to come together to celebrate the patron of Australia.

After Mass students emerged from the cathedral into the autumn sunshine and lingered with their teachers to get a photo and chat with the archbishop.

Students from Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School, Fairfield, with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP. PHOTO: Kitty Beale

“I think this part of the day will be the highlight for them that they will remember for a long time,” Ms Micallef said.

Year six students Annie Nguyen and Arianna Rossman from Holy Cross Catholic Primary School at Wahroonga said they felt honoured to be chosen for the offertory procession.

“It was pretty special,” said Annie.

The feast of Our Lady Help of Christians has been celebrated in Australia since 1844. It was the first country to make her its Patroness and also the first to have a mother-cathedral, St Mary’s Cathedral, under the same title.

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MHoCgroup_SMC_240519_Kitty-Beale_850 MHoC_SMC_240519_Kitty-Beale_850 Year 6 students Annie Nguyen and Arianna Rossman from Holy Cross Primary Woollahra. PHOTO: Kitty Beale/Sydney Catholic Schools MHoC_May_24,_2019_850 Students from Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School, Fairfield, with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP. PHOTO: Kitty Beale
Demography is destiny https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/demography-is-destiny/ Fri, 24 May 2019 00:35:28 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23382 Earlier this year, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s 2016 National Count of Attendance released data showing that only 11.6 per cent of Catholics in Australia attended Mass regularly. This appeared around the same time Cardinal Pell was convicted, so some people associated the low national rate with people leaving the Church because of scandal. It […]

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There will be few Aussie Catholics in the pews on current demographic trends, says Philippa Martyr.

Earlier this year, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s 2016 National Count of Attendance released data showing that only 11.6 per cent of Catholics in Australia attended Mass regularly.

This appeared around the same time Cardinal Pell was convicted, so some people associated the low national rate with people leaving the Church because of scandal.

It certainly didn’t help, but I think a Pell effect is unlikely. Mass attendance in Australia has been in freefall since the Second Vatican Council. In 2001, around 15 per cent of Catholics attended Mass regularly in Australia, so we’ve lost around 3.5 per cent in 15 years. If we continue at this rate, it will speed up over time as the increasingly few remaining practising Catholics die off. By 2050, the practising Catholic in Australia will be close to extinct, or perhaps on display in a glass case somewhere. That’s only 30 years away.

Over half of all dioceses in Australia have Mass attendance rates below 10 per cent. Catholics in non-Latin rites have astonishing attendance rates by comparison, but these are disproportionate, and based on trends in their countries of origin, these rates probably won’t last another generation. (This just leaves our Syro-Malabar brethren, so you guys may have to save us.)

This Mass exodus has solved Australia’s alleged priest crisis in one demographic swoop. Australia has around 3000 priests on its books – mostly diocesan, but also religious. With just 623,356 people attending Mass regularly, that’s currently one priest for every 207 practising Catholics.

Let’s assume a third of those priests are unwell, ailing or unable to say Mass anymore – that’s still one priest remaining for every 311 practising Catholics in Australia. In 30 years, when some of our younger priests will be turning 75, the rate of practising Catholics will be so low that we’ll pretty much have one priest each.

Australia doesn’t have a priest shortage. We have a priest distribution problem. The immediate and most practical solution to this is for a national shakeup based on data from each diocese that would show how to redistribute Australia’s priests more effectively.

Australia is spiritually now mission territory, lurking under a deceptively affluent disguise of bulging Catholic schools and diocesan property portfolios. The Plenary Council would be a great place to discuss this, but this issue doesn’t seem to have survived the stampede for lay parish leadership, more inclusive ministry and a formalised hand-sanitisation rite.

Some dioceses have begun reshuffling, and others desperately need to. Catholics can drive.

If they can’t, their dioceses can buy buses and organise shuttle runs to Mass centres.

Will everyone enjoy this? Hell, no. This kind of restructure would be excruciating just from an administrative point of view, with the rules around incardination. It would be especially excruciating when it became clear how many of Australia’s priests were unwilling or unable to move from, say, the comfortable suburbs to the red dirt interior.

Maybe we should start praying not just for vocations, but for an increase of practising Catholics to receive that ministry. In 2017, 7,316 Catholic couples got married in a Catholic religious ceremony in Australia. Unfortunately, we can only assume that 11.6 per cent of them are practising – just 848 couples, or 1,696 people.

This wouldn’t even fill St Mary’s Cathedral, so they certainly have their work cut out for them. May they be fruitful and multiply.

Dr Philippa Martyr is a lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Medical sciences at UWA

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Demography-is-destiny There will be few Aussie Catholics in the pews on current demographic trends, says Philippa Martyr.
Laity, step up to the crease https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/laity-step-up-to-the-crease/ Fri, 24 May 2019 00:18:31 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23368 The key message of the 2019 Federal election? The laity have the responsibility, and have been gifted by God, to intervene in politics, media and public debate. We sometimes hear about how lay people ‘need the pastors to give them’ a greater role in the Church. Firstly this is patronising: the laity don’t need the […]

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Is it you? Fr Josh Miechels urges lay men and women to fill the civic, social and political roles that only they can. PHOTO: 123rf.com

The key message of the 2019 Federal election? The laity have the responsibility, and have been gifted by God, to intervene in politics, media and public debate.

We sometimes hear about how lay people ‘need the pastors to give them’ a greater role in the Church. Firstly this is patronising: the laity don’t need the bishops’ help to be ‘introduced’ into the Church – they have that already, by virtue of their baptism, and being created in the image and likeness of the Creator.

And secondly, they, just like the pastors, already have a role to which they have been called by Christ himself. It’s not to be pastors – that is what pastors are for. The Church’s pastors have a very limited role in ecclesial and civic life – to shepherd the Church, keeping her together in questions of faith and morals. That’s basically all we can do.

The laity, by contrast, have a vast, far more influential role: to be in the world, at the coalface, bringing the light of the Gospel into every facet of human life. Where?

Well … the fields of work, repose, family life, politics, media, the sciences, engineering, the arts, healthcare, the economy, sport, education, public service; caring for the materially and spiritually poor; working with, caring for and – if necessary, fraternally correcting and praying for their pastors; and proclaiming the Gospel to those among whom God has placed them – their family, friends, neighbours, fellow parishioners, and work colleagues.

They are meant to do this in order that, by their unity with Christ, He, through them, saves them and brings order to the world. Unlike pastors, many laypeople are also given by God that noble mission to be parents – to raise and educate human beings.

It’s not uncommon to hear Catholics bellyache about politicians, journalists and the quality of civil discourse: often for good reason! What’s uncommon is to hear of Catholics involving themselves in these areas.

If there is one thing that the recent federal election reminds us of, it’s the power of ordinary citizens, and the critical importance to the health of our society – and to its respect of basic human rights – of good politicians, critically-thinking journalists, and informed and numerous participants in civic discourse.

And as the teaching of Christ reminds us, and the rituals of baptism and confirmation make possible, Catholics have really received a lot of insight into what it means to be human, how to experience happiness in this life, and how we can work together better as a society.

As for all its citizens, Australian society expects us to share what insights and lights we have in order to improve the care and conditions of all.

There are obviously countless ways we can do this, too many to catalogue here. But some key ways we can do this are:

1. Be political: Join a political party, association or union. Know your local member. Take time to find out what party policies are. Challenge party policy. Think about having a candidate poster in the yard, or volunteering to support a candidate. While there can be nastiness, politics is not as such a bad thing: it is an essential and generous public service.

2. Know what the Church teaches on different issues, and why she teaches those things. We don’t need to wait for Father or the Catholic school or university to come around and teach us personally. There are things called books, blogs, podcasts, online videos and audiobooks which we can integrate into our rest, ride home from work, etc. In this way the light of Christ can inform our thinking, decision-making and conversations. Christianity is not bad news – it is Good News, and so can only be helpful for our lives personally, and also for our society.

3. Speak in the public square: This doesn’t first of all mean getting on a soap box in the Domain, nor becoming a social media junkie. It means first of all, when the occasions present themselves at our BBQ or workplace, of (with the greatest charity) saying what we really think, and what God really thinks about situations, challenges and issues. It’s true this is not easy to do – and sometimes requires great courage and wisdom. That’s what Christ’s teaching and sacraments are for: they strengthen us and free us to act with integrity all of our life in all situations. Don’t be afraid!

4. Consider a career in journalism or politics (if you are in a position to do so). Politics is a noble profession of public service. Journalism too is a public service: journalists are in a certain sense the civic priests of our society – mediating part of reality to us: that’s why they are called the media. We need good, critically-thinking and courageous politicians and journalists.

5. Finally, of course, pray. How often do we pray for the Prime Minister? For the Opposition Leader? If we don’t present them to God, what do we expect? Pray every day for our political leaders, especially for those who most annoy us. Pray for our society, that the Lord intervenes to solve our problems. And also pray for the good of yourself: time spent in silence with God is time I give to allow God to form my heart, make it like his, with his wisdom and freedom and love. Wise, free and loving citizens are a society’s greatest asset: and time spent with the Lord only accelerates this for us, and only benefits our society.

Fr Miechels is a priest of the Emmanuel Community.

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Fr-Josh-Miechels Is it you? Fr Josh Miechels urges lay men and women to fill the civic, social and political roles that only they can.123rf.com
Art after hours https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/art-after-hours/ Thu, 23 May 2019 23:59:01 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23365 If, on a Wednesday evening, you find yourself weighed down by bills and the cold weather or a stingy boss, I recommend Art After Hours to chase those mid-week blues (to mint a phrase) away. Every Wednesday evening, the Art Gallery of NSW keeps its carved wooden doors open until 10pm. More than just an […]

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Patrons enjoy an evening in the Art Gallery of NSW. Art After Hours is a great way to relax and broaden the mind.photo: AGNSW

If, on a Wednesday evening, you find yourself weighed down by bills and the cold weather or a stingy boss, I recommend Art After Hours to chase those mid-week blues (to mint a phrase) away.

Every Wednesday evening, the Art Gallery of NSW keeps its carved wooden doors open until 10pm.

More than just an opportunity to see the collection of the gallery after sunset, the event also functions as a space for contemporary Australian art to flourish, and as hub of cultural interest.

The main lobby of the gallery plays host to local bands or performance artists, which you can watch with a glass of champagne, or whatever your poison, in hand.
Guided tours of the latest exhibitions are available, and the latest in the gallery’s lecture series on art, culture, or art history.

While the promise of music and a glass of wine in the middle of the week is attractive enough, that’s not the reason I recommend it so thoroughly.

Art galleries are a fixture of modern life, no matter what city you find yourself in, you can be sure that there is an art gallery somewhere nearby.

There’s always a place where it’s ok to sit and do nothing but appreciate beauty, form, and skill. But there’s the rub. The public art gallery risks becoming just a feature. Schools may take the occasional trip out to see an exhibition (though rarely) and you might see the latest exhibition advertised on banners in the street, but the collection itself, the soul of the gallery, becomes sequestered from our lives.

We remain unaffected by it because it is so easy to access, and because there is nothing to do when there but simply look.

Jean Cocteau said ‘art is the marriage of the conscious and the unconscious’.

The experience of art, then, must become an experience, more than just looking at art with our conscious minds, we have to engage the subconscious through context and environment. This is what Art After Hours does. It provides the opportunity to experience art, to make art relevant.

It removes the guilty feeling you have when you absolutely hate a piece, but worry that means you don’t understand it.

If you don’t like it, don’t look. Just enjoy the music, enjoy conversation and a glass of champagne, or maybe pay a visit to your favourite piece.

Art After Hours is time set aside from everyday life, so is perfect for recharging the batteries.

Next time it’s a cold Wednesday night, swing by.

You’ll be supporting Australian artists and performers, and you might just have a good time too.

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Art-after-hours Patrons enjoy an evening in the Art Gallery of NSW. Art After Hours is a great way to relax and broaden the mind.photo: AGNSW
Lasallians mark 300 years milestone https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/lasallians-mark-300-years-milestone/ Thu, 23 May 2019 23:33:28 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23353 Lasallian students from three dioceses packed St Mary's Cathedral for 'great celebration'.

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Students from Lasallian schools exchange the Sign of Peace at the Tercentenary Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

The commitment of the De La Salle brothers and their lay partners throughout the country and the world to education has been celebrated with a special Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral.

Representatives from the many Lasallian schools in the Sydney archdiocese and Parramatta and Bathurst dioceses packed the cathedral to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of the teaching congregation’s founder. Sydney Bishop Richard Umbers presided over the Mass which was concelebrated by Sydney Bishop Terry Brady, Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long, Bathurst Bishop Michael McKenna and other clergy.

St John Baptist de La Salle established the Institute of religious brothers in France, in 1680, to provide quality education for poor children. He was canonised in 1900 and declared patron of teachers in 1950.

“A good teacher makes such a difference in their own schools, to so many hundreds and thousands of young people whose hands are grounded on Christian hope,” said Bishop Umbers in his homily.

Australian De La Salle provincial Brother David Hawke said the Mass was a beautiful expression of Lasallian solidarity between the schools present in the three dioceses.
“The choir in particular, facilitated by Catholic Schools Performing Arts Sydney, was magnificent,” he said.

The community is also promoting Lasallian vocations this year, with a special emphasis on the vocation to religious life, he added.  “Our mission is just as important now as when St John de La Salle started the first Christian schools in the 1700s,” he said.

The Principal of La Salle Catholic College in Bankstown, Michael Egan, said the original charism is very much alive in the schools and is lived out in different ways.

“The theme for this year is ‘One life, one commitment’ which really encompasses the various things we are trying to do not only in the schools but in twinning operations throughout our Lasallian district which includes Pakistan and Papua New Guinea,” he said. “Our school has a relationship with a school in Faisalabad and we support staff and students there with fundraising.”

Pope Francis recently praised St John Baptist de La Salle as “a pioneer in the field of education, who created an innovative education system for his time”.

“He gave life to a community of lay people to carry out his ideal, and was certain that the Church cannot remain a stranger to the social contradictions of its times,” he said.

The institute was established in Australia in 1906 and today there are 80 brothers joined by lay partners and volunteers committed to the Lasallian mission of bringing human and Christian education to young people and the poor. Worldwide there are more than 5000 brothers and many thousands of lay partners present in more than 80 countries.

Provincial marks 50

Brother David Hawke FSC

The local provincial of the De La Salle Brothers Brother David Hawke has marked 50 years of religious life.

Brother David entered the teaching congregation in 1969, inspired by the brothers who first taught him at De La Salle College, Mangere East in Auckland. He is the provincial of the district of Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea.

His most challenging assignment was as delegate of the Brother Superior general for the delegations of India, Thailand, Pakistan and Japan. “Not only was it a challenge time-wise but also trying to understand and be empathetic to the culture of the Institute in each place,” he said.

Apart from the example of his parents Br David said the support of the brothers in the various communities where he has lived and their presence with him in prayer have “shaped and sustained” him.

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Delasalle_210519_Alphonsus-Fok_850 Students from Lasallian schools exchange the Sign of Peace at the Tercentenary Mass at St Mary's Cathedral. PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok Br-David_Headshot_850
Simcha Fisher: Five Catholic books for littlest kids (and also their parents) https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/simcha-fisher-five-catholic-books-for-littlest-kids-and-also-their-parents/ Thu, 23 May 2019 05:41:16 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=22531 The books we read as young kids stay with us for a lifetime, so I’m always on the lookout for books that not only have attractive and engaging illustrations, but convey powerful and lasting truths. I’m especially careful when those books are explicitly about our Faith. Here are a few of my current favorites in […]

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The books we read as young kids stay with us for a lifetime, so I’m always on the lookout for books that not only have attractive and engaging illustrations, but convey powerful and lasting truths.

I’m especially careful when those books are explicitly about our Faith. Here are a few of my current favorites in that category. They not only tell my kids things I want them to know about God, but I’ve found them moving and engaging myself.

Will you come to Mass? by Susan Joy Bellavance
I’ve been meaning to tell you about this book forever. It’s by the author of The King of Shattered Glass, which I also recommend as a story to help children understand the power and beauty of confession. Don’t be fooled by the slightly stilted illustrations: This book packs a real punch and reminds us what it is we’re doing when we pack up our kids and drag ourselves to church. Kids will be drawn in as different animals find relatable excuses not to go to Mass, but the lamb is different. I gasped out loud when I reached the end.

Everything by Maïte Roche
It’s hard to pick just one book by Maïte Roche. You can start with My First Prayers with Mary if only for the lovely image of Mary sheltering toddler Jesus with her body and she helps him learn to walk – but his eyes are on the dove that leads the way. These are deceptively simple, luminous, tender little books that radiate the wholeness and goodness of life in the Faith.

The Tale of the Three Trees by Angela Elwell hunt, illustrated by Tim Jonke
Told in the style of a fairy tale, this is a simple story of three trees that grow together. One dreams of holding treasure, one wants to be a ship that carries mighty kings, and one wants to grow so tall, people will see it and think of heaven. The first becomes a feed box for animals (and holds the treasure of the Christ Child); and the second becomes a simple rowboat (who bears Jesus as he commands the waves); but the third, who wanted to point to God, is horrified to be made instead into something ugly and terrible: A cross made for crucifixion. But on Easter morning, the third tree understands what he has really become. Kids will enjoy the revelations as they realize how the trees’ wishes were fulfilled in unexpected ways, and adults will be glad of the reminder to trust and be patient with God’s power to bring our salvation out of what feels like failure.

The Saving Name of God the Son by Jean Anne Sharpe
Just spectacular. This is book two of a three-part series, Teaching the Language of the Faith; and it somehow tells you . . . everything you need to know about Jesus, with illustrations by Fra Angelico. It’s arranged as one continuous narrative (all indexed from the catechism, at the end), and the glowing artwork matched with colorful backgrounds give it a great flowing energy. Conveys so much beauty and power.

Related article: Novel ways to get kids reading

The Clown of God by Tomie de Paola
When I was little, I was embarrassed that this book made me cry. Now that I’ve spent the last twenty years reading this book aloud to my kids, I’m grateful every time for what a gift it is. The story stands on its own, (although it might be too heavy for sensitive kids, since it follows the main character from his cheerful childhood through to his decline and death), and doesn’t give a moralistic lesson; but the final pages where the old man meets God will shake you to the core. The final pages tell you more about the mercy of God than entire theology courses I’ve taken. And of course the illustrations are an absolute feast.

Bonus

Here’s a series I’m interested in: Lectio Divina for Little Ones, Divine Mercy for Little Ones, Receiving Jesus for Little Ones, and several others, by Kimberly Fries.
Good illustrations will go a long, long way with me when I’m book hunting, and these are bright and dignified (not gooey or bland like so many illustrations of religious books); but it’s hard to tell if the text is engaging and appropriate. A surprising number of kids books don’t seem to have a clear audience age in mind, and you will find Catholic books with childish pictures and advanced text, or vice versa. If anyone’s familiar with this series and can give a quick review, I’d be grateful!

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Teachers inspired by UK March for Life https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/teachers-inspired-by-uk-march-for-life/ Thu, 23 May 2019 00:33:54 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23305 Sydney newlyweds say they have been buoyed after attending the UK March for Life.

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Rachael and Anthony Ndaira attended the 2019 UK March for Life. PHOTO: Supplied

Newly-married couple, Rachael and Anthony Ndaira, say they have been buoyed after attending the UK March for Life in London earlier this month, when around 5,000 people came together to celebrate and defend the pro-life cause.

Ms Ndaira, a Religion teacher at Bethany College, Hurstville, said the atmosphere was “joyful” at the March which brought together people of all ages and from all walks of life.

“There were lots of families with young kids, so that was great to see, from the elderly right to little babies were there,” she said. “So it very much felt like a family event. It was really positive.”

About 5,000 attended the UK March for Life on 11 May. PHOTO: Supplied

Rachael and Anthony were sponsored by Sydney Catholic Schools to attend the March.

The couple were married in November last year and have been active in local pro-life activities around Sydney.

Ms Ndaira said the March had lifted her spirits and encouraged her to be more active in the Australian pro-life movement.

Bethany Marsh from LifeChoice Australia was part of the Aussie contingent at the 2019 UK March for Life. PHOTO: Supplied

“Just witnessing how many people are still pro-life at a time when there are a lot of changing values, especially in terms of the family. It was good to see the it’s not a completely lost battle.”

Mr Ndaira, who is Religious Education Coordinator at Marist College Eastwood, said the March had been a “remarkably positive” experience.

“Being pro-life is much more than simply opposing abortion, but rather respecting the dignity of all life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death,” Mr Ndaira said.

“The overall experience highlighted to me what it means to be a pro life man. As a young male religious educator in an all boys school it is important to be an authentic witness in a society that says men should not have an opinion in this sphere. However it has become more apparent than ever that men need to stand by women, take responsibility for actions, and accept a calling to a greater type of love.”

The UK March for Life is a secular event attracting people of faith as well as those with no religious faith at all. PHOTO: Supplied

Director of LifeChoice Australia, Rebecca Gosper, also attended the March and told The Catholic Weekly it had given her hope for the future and for the pro-life movement in the UK.

“Similar to Australia, the next generation of brave pro-life advocates are stepping up into leadership roles within the UK prolife movement,” Ms Gosper said.

Director of Religious Education and Evangelisation at Sydney Catholic Schools, Anthony Cleary, said Ms Ndaira and her husband had been chosen to attend the March because the young newly-married couple had been active in the pro-life cause.

“At the moment I’m trying to nurture a culture in our schools where people have a real awareness of life issues and how that’s approached in different countries like the UK.”

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‘Natural leader’ to head ACU https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/natural-leader-to-head-acu/ Wed, 22 May 2019 23:35:24 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23304 Former NSW Premier John Fahey will take up a second term as the university's chancellor.

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ACU Chancellor John Fahey. PHOTO: ACU

Former NSW Premier John Fahey will take up a second term as chancellor of the Australian Catholic University.

ACU vice-chancellor and president Professor Greg Craven announced Mr Fahey’s reappointment on 22 May for another five years beginning from September.

“A natural leader, Mr Fahey has given ACU the same dedication he has committed to public life,” he said in a statement.

“Under his stewardship, the university has undergone considerable changes as we continue to emerge as a national university of stature.”

Related article: New ACU campus for Blacktown

Fr Fahey said he was delighted to extend his time working with ACU, particularly with  preparations underway to open a new campus in Blacktown.

“This is a new and exciting time for the University,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity for us to provide a service to western Sydney which it deserves.

“We’re at a very interesting and difficult time in the context of our education funding. While we appreciate there is not unlimited funding from the Commonwealth taxpayers, if we are to provide that smart country that we strive to, we certainly need to continue to argue our case.

“These arguments are about the students and not about the university. It is about their needs and not ours.”

Prof Craven said Mr Fahey’s leadership, support and mentoring had been “instrumental” in the continued growth of success of ACU.

Mr Fahey joined the university as chancellor in 2014 after high-profile career at the helm of political, business and sporting organisations.

“His former positions as NSW premier, federal finance minister, chair and member of numerous Australian organisations, and president of the World Anti-Doping Agency put him front and centre of policy formulation, industry growth, industrial relations reform, and an improved approach to drug testing around the world,” said Professor Craven.

Mr Fahey’s reappointment was confirmed at the University’s annual general meeting on Wednesday 1 May.

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Is your teen just moody or depressed? https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/is-your-teen-just-moody-or-depressed/ Tue, 21 May 2019 23:12:25 +0000 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/?p=23251 Stress, anxiety and feeling down can affect anyone, and in fact happens to a lot of us at some point in our lives. It’s the same for teenagers. One minute they’re happy and laughing about something they’ve seen on YouTube and the next they’re slamming their door and crying into their pillow. You put it down […]

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Stress, anxiety and feeling down can affect anyone, and in fact happens to a lot of us at some point in our lives.

It’s the same for teenagers. One minute they’re happy and laughing about something they’ve seen on YouTube and the next they’re slamming their door and crying into their pillow.

You put it down to hormones and try to brush it off … and chances are you’re probably right. But how do you tell the difference between a teenager just being moody and something more sinister going on?

While emotions, growth spurts and discovering new kinds of relationships are ‘normal’ parts of adolescence – feeling sad, irritable or anxious most of the time is not.

Related: Shocking Teen Abuse at an All-Time High

It’s not unusual for teens to suddenly become less talkative and distance themselves from their parents, however there are some signs parents and teachers can look for to determine if teens are suffering from depression and something needs to be done.

More than three million Australians live with mental issues, with 50 per cent of all cases starting before the age of 14 and with the number of deaths by suicide in young Australians at the highest it’s been in 10 years it’s all about prevention and intervention.

One in seven young Australians – those aged between 4 and 17 – experience a mental health condition and there are red flags parents and teachers should be aware of.

So when should you begin to worry about the young person in your life?

Lead clinical adviser at Beyond Blue, Dr Grant Blashki, said while moodiness is quite common in teens it’s when it becomes persistent that it needs to be questioned.

He said while parents are not expected to be psychologists, they may notice changes in their children that last for more than a couple of weeks which should not be ignored.

“We all know teenagers can be moody for a whole variety of reasons, which is normal,” he said. “It can be hormonal, social – which can be due to pressures at school, friendship groups or social media – right through to them just trying to work out where they fit in the world

“All this is quite normal behaviour for a teenager, they can become argumentative while trying to express their independence. However it’s when this behaviour persists and lasts for more than say three weeks questions need to be asked.

“Typically some signs that something is going on can include them withdrawing from things that usually make them happy, they become unusually aggressive, their eating patterns change meaning they eat more or less than usual, or they are relying more on drugs and alcohol.

“While these can sound obvious and can be put down to typical teenage behaviour, if signs are missed it can lead to something more serious.”

So what should parents look out for and what can you do if you suspect a teenager has more going on than just moodiness?

Behaviours to be aware of:

  • Depression and anxious symptoms that last for more than three weeks
  • Unusual behaviours such as aggression
  • Being withdrawn from things they like doing
  • Changes in eating patterns, either dieting or binge-eating
  • Over-focusing on appearance
  • Dangerous alcohol and drug use
  • Self-harm or suicidal thoughts

What can you do: 

  • Let them know you are there for them
  • Listen. Don’t try and jump in and fix things straight away.
  • Try to understand what the concern is, for example stress, bullying, identity issues or relationship difficulties
  • Is there someone other than yourself that they’d feel more comfortable talking to whether that’s a professional, a school counsellor or a GP?
  • Check and see if there is something physical going on
  • Ensure they are getting a healthy diet, physical exercise and plenty of sleep
  • Encourage them to avoid alcohol and drug use (which is harder said than done)
  • Make sure activities that make them happy are built into their busy schedules.

For more information go to Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/home

 

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