New Year is a time to look back with gratitude for the gifts of 2022 and to open our hearts and minds to receive the gifts that our loving God has waiting for us in the coming year.
As we watch the sun go down on New Year’s Eve, our hearts wait in anticipation for the emergence of the sun rising on this New Year. It holds opportunities and possibilities for each one of us to enable life to flourish for all as we face the crises affecting people, other species, and Earth itself.
Archbishop Patrick O’Regan launched the book written by Mary Cresp rsj, Evolution of a Movement: Josephite Associates to Josephite Companions 1979 – 2019 at the Regional Centre ‘Bethany’, Kensington, South Australia, on Thursday 1 December.
Since the Archbishop is himself a Josephite Companion, he was able to recall the impact the Sisters, especially at Perthville in New South Wales, have had on his life.
Fr Julian Tenison Woods, a gifted and complex character, was a many-sided man: pioneer priest, dedicated and successful missionary, educator (the first director of Catholic Education in Australia), scholar of some repute and respected scientist.
In his formative years, Julian encountered and was influenced by a variety of holy people and their spiritualities. Consequently, his own spirituality was eclectic. It was shaped: by his experience as a Franciscan tertiary; by the Passionist emphasis on prayer and asceticism; by the extroverted devotion and ornate ritual of the Oratorians; by the Marist devotion to Mary; by the French traditions of mystic prayer and spirituality; and by Peter Julian Eymard’s emphasis on Eucharistic adoration.
Marianne Zeinstra rsj, a member of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, shares an Advent reflection as the Congregation prepares to launch its Reconciliation Action Plan in 2023.
An Advent Reflection
Matthew’s Gospel recounts the risky and vital decision our patron Saint Joseph was asked to make. It speaks to me strongly of the decision we will all have to make in 2023, when a National Referendum will ask us for a YES or NO vote, to including an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice to Parliament, in the Australian Constitution.
On learning that Mary, his betrothed is with child, not his, Joseph decides to divorce her quietly, in accordance with the law and convention of his time. Emmanuel, God with us then enters the scene. Joseph has a powerful dream, the Angel of God, explains, Joseph. DO NOT BE AFRAID, take Mary as your wife, make a home with and for her and the child. Joseph then must risk faith in his dream, in what he believes God is calling him to, over the security of the law and conventions of his time.
Christmas is the opportunity for each one of us to be ‘presents of peace’ to one another and in the wider community of our world. As we celebrate Christmas 2022, let us take time to reflect on the gift of peace, coming from the Hebrew word shalom meaning ‘harmony, wholeness, completeness’.
Jesus in the gospel reminds us that this inner peace comes from being centred in God who lives and breathes life into our daily realities. Peace is the gift given to the Shepherds on that first Christmas night.
Each month, Pope Francis asks for our prayers for a specific intention. For the month of December, the prayer intention is for volunteers and not-for-profit organisations:
Volunteers make an amazing contribution to organisations and communities around the world. Through the gift of their time and passion, they are able to make significant change for the organisations they work with.
John Altham has been volunteering for the Mary MacKillop Today stamp collecting initiative since 2001 and was recently recognised for his dedication with a 2022 Cook Community Award.
Over the past 21 years, John has helped raise in excess of $485,000 by collecting and sorting stamps from church groups, family, friends and other community volunteers keen to support the work of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. This year alone over $42,000 has been raised which has been directed to funding programs for poor communities in Peru.
The Cook Community Awards, for residents living in the Cook electorate of southern Sydney, recognise people who give up their time to selflessly contribute and volunteer. John received his award for ‘his selfless work and dedication to the Mary MacKillop Used Stamps Appeal’.
A humble man, John says he is just one grain of sand on the beach and that the Community Award belongs to everyone who is part of the Used Stamps Appeal.
“I first learned about Mary MacKillop as a child growing up in Western Australia,” says John. “I admire the way she went about her work and got things done. I have always been inspired by her.”
“John is a quiet man who goes about his volunteering in a selfless manner,” says Sister Helen Saunders who works with John on the program for Mary MacKillop Today. “He does such good work for us in sourcing used stamps and we are so appreciative of his hard work and dedication.”
Congratulations John for receiving a much-deserved community award!
We commemorate Human Rights Day on 10 December 2022.
The presumed inalienability of human rights continues to be at odds with the realities of its accessibility in our contemporary context. There is a false assumption that we as a collective society have achieved justice for all. Unfortunately, many marginalised voices in our community remain silenced or unheard. The human rights ecosystem has been stifled by policy making and implementation that often fails to capture the needs of those for whom human rights are most unattainable.
During a recent trip to Melbourne, I attended Mass at St Francis’ Church in the city. This is a special church as it is Victoria’s oldest Catholic Church, where Mary MacKillop’s parents were married, and where Mary had the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion.
Visiting St Francis’ Church, which was a significant church in the life of Mary MacKillop and attending Mass there on the first Sunday of Advent, inspired me to reflect on the season of Advent and how it relates to Mary MacKillop.