Untangling the Maze of Contradictory Pre-election Messages

In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the millions of bribes offered in marginal electorates, and listened to the dishonesty of the political advertisements (ads) that have been screened ad nauseum on commercial television.

It seems almost impossible to find our way through the legal bribes of political parties, the fraudulence of media outlets, blatantly supporting one side or another, and the importance placed on marginal electorates. No wonder voters are struggling to maintain any trust in our current political system.

How then can we reach decisions about our voting intentions? What discussions are we having with family, friends and community to help clarify the state of the nation?

Last week, the Australian Catholic Bishops issued a statement asking all of us to reflect carefully on our values and how we will vote in this election. NetAct (a network of Catholic Education, health and justice groups) has also published a kit to help us consider the issues more deeply. They remind us that it is the policies of the Parties (not the promises, not the personalities, not the ads) that must determine our decision.

Mary MacKillop reminded her sisters ‘to find out who are the members proposed’, ‘to get advice’, ‘to pray’, and to remember that not every ‘so called Catholic is necessarily the best man.’ Her advice remains true for us today.

Maybe we could ask, which policies:

  • show compassion to those fleeing persecution and death
  • strengthen the rights of Indigenous Australians
  • uphold the dignity of those at the edge of society – single parents on Newstart, people on inadequate pensions, homeless people, those suffering from disabilities or mental illness
  • protect our environment
  • protect the rights of those who have been trafficked into this country

Let’s support each other in this critical time.

Jan Barnett rsj


Image human hand company paper solutions by Eluj obtained from pixabay. Used with permission.

Year of Indigenous Languages: Spanish (Peru) and Tongan

The United Nations has declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. To celebrate, for each month this year, you’re invited to view greetings for different languages.

For May, we feature the languages Spanish (from Peru) and Tongan:

Spanish (Peru)

Biennenidos gracias por su apoyo a la mision en Peru – Welcome, thank you for your support to the mission in Peru


Malo e lelei – Hello

To find out more on the International Year of Indigenous Languages, visit their website below:

The International Year of Indigenous Languages

Image Machu Picchu Ruins Mountains by skeeze obtained from Pixabay. Used with permission.

Fr Julian: Man of Words – Letter Four

On 2 February 1874, Father Julian Tenison Woods gave a lecture in Melbourne entitled How Australia was discovered and explored. A large number of people attended with Mr William Archer in the chair for the evening.

The following day an extensive summary of the lecture was published in the Melbourne Argus [i] and the article was repeated in the Brisbane Queenslander [ii] several weeks later.

The content of the lecture was from research that Father Julian had undertaken for his publication A History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia: or an account of the progress of geographical discovery in that continent from the earliest period to the present day [iii] in 1865.

The lecture was very well received with Father Julian receiving much applause and a vote of thanks.

Reading through the summary of the lecture gives one an insight into the extensive knowledge that Father Julian must have had about Australia. To have written two volumes on the topic so early in his time in this new land indicates not only his own interest but also that of society at the time. Father Julian was a powerful speaker, his subject was fascinating and, by all accounts, a good evening was had by all.

It seems to me that the word discovery was very much part of Father Julian’s life. He was enthusiastic about discovering more about whatever he came across, whether it be matters scientific, religious or historical. He must have read widely and been part of many absorbing conversations before he ever committed pen to paper to share his insights. It would have been good to have met him!

Carmel Jones rsj

This month we present a comprehensive summary of a lecture given by Fr Julian Tenison Woods on 2 February 1874 in Melbourne:

Download ‘How Australia was Discovered and Explored’ (PDF)


[i] Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Tuesday 3 February 1874, page 6 obtained from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5880794
[ii] Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld: 1866 – 1939), Saturday 21 February 1874, page 8 obtained from  https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/18329683#
[iii] ‘A History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia: or an account of the progress of geographical discovery in that continent from the earliest period to the present day’, with maps and portraits, London, 1865, 2 vols.

Peace in the Universe

Elaine Wainwright suggests that the latest space discoveries invite is to read John 14:23-29 with a whole new appreciation of love and relationship in the cosmos.

At this time of year we ponder more explicitly the extraordinary moments of death and life that weave their way through our experience. These moments are always with us, but at Easter our faith communities invite us to attend to this rhythm of life and death even more intimately.

With attentiveness we can expand our horizons with growing ecological awareness. We recognise that these patterns are woven not just in the in the human community but in the fabric of the entire universe.

While I was composing this reflection an article by Dennis Overbye arrived in my inbox called “Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole”. It opened a whole new appreciation of John’s text for me…

Continue reading the article below:

Tui Motu Issue 237, May 2019 (PDF)

Elaine Wainwright is a biblical scholar specialising in eco-feminist interpretation and is currently writing a Wisdom Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel.
Photo: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al. www.NASA.gov

Palm Sunday Rally

Another huge Palm Sunday, standing with refugees.

Thousands of people across Australia marked Palm Sunday on 14 April with rallies and demonstrations in support of refugees and asylum seekers, and calling for an end to offshore detention. Over 1000 people gathered in Sydney, and over 5000 in Melbourne. Significant numbers of people attended other centres, including Adelaide, Alice Springs, Armidale, Bendigo, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Forster, Hobart, Launceston, Lennox Head, Newcastle, Perth, Townsville, Whyalla, Wollongong and Yass.

Rev. John Barr, Fr Claude Mostowik and Fr Shenouda Mansour

In Sydney’s Belmore Park, football commentator Craig Foster reminded people that the deaths on Manus and Nauru weighed heavily on the conscience of Australia.

Reverend John Barr, Father Claude Mostowik MSC and Coptic Orthodox priest Fr Shenouda Mansour, joined together to call on the humanity of Australians to end the imprisonment of the hundreds of refugees in the Manus and Nauru prisons. Fr Claude encouraged people to keep coming to rallies, to keep agitating, despite the difficulties and indifference. Rev. Barr said our humanity depends on how we treat the poor and oppressed. Fr Shenouda reminded the crowd that the innocent victims of bureaucracy are not numbers, but people, people like us, and we must stand with them. All speakers voiced the desire that a strong message be sent to Canberra, the message that refugees are welcome.

Unfortunately, this Palm Sunday gathering across so many Australian cities and towns did not rate a mention on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News that night, 14 April. What did feature was a festive march through the streets of Cobar NSW by a couple of dozen citizens, applauded by friends and supporters, (an event not connected to refugees). In response to a complaint, the ABC stated that editors must “take into account the relative newsworthiness of different stories and the resources required to report them.” The complainant was assured that the absence of an item did not reflect on its “newsworthiness”, and was referred to an online resource for news on asylum seekers.

Thus the government’s prevention of news-gathering on Manus and Nauru, is accompanied by the silence of the national broadcaster. Choosing to broadcast a minor festivity in a small country town in preference to an event involving many thousands of people denouncing government policy is an indication of the success of the attacks on the ABC by government and certain powerful media outlets.

The conscience of Australians must continue to be stirred. People must join together to end the scapegoating of refugees. We must keep writing letters, going to rallies and talking with family and friends, because our humanity depends on it.

Susan Connelly rsj
April 2019


Photo provided by Susan Connelly rsj. Used with permission.

NetAct Federal Election Kit

‘The NetAct Election Kit’ is offered to you to assist in reflecting on some of the critical issues that face us at this time.

The upcoming Australian Federal Election on Saturday 18 May 2019, is a real call for us to act as Gospel people on behalf of the vulnerable in our society.

You’re invited to view the kit provided below:

NetAct Federal 2019 Election Kit (PDF)

(A Project of Catholic Social Justice, Welfare and Educational Agencies)


Thumbnail image: Election Day Vote by OrnaW obtained from Pixabay. Used with permission.

ANZAC Day War Poem

In commemoration of ANZAC Day on 25 April, please enjoy “In Flanders Fields”, one of the most quoted poems from the war.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

“In Flanders Fields” is a war poem in the form of a rondeau, written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London magazine Punch.

It is one of the most quoted poems from the war. As a result of its immediate popularity, parts of the poem were used in efforts and appeals to recruit soldiers and raise money selling war bonds. Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. The poem and poppy are prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, particularly in Canada, where “In Flanders Fields” is one of the nation’s best-known literary works. The poem is also widely known in the United States, where it is associated with Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Kathleen Hitchcock rsj

Image: Poppies by James Wainscoat obtained on Unsplash. Used with permission.

International Earth Day 2019

The Gift of Earth.

If we look around us, wherever we are at this moment, there is nothing we can note with our senses that is not gift of Earth. It does not matter how far or distant from nature the elements we are observing are, the source is Earth.  The ceiling of the Sistine chapel, the Sydney Opera House, the local shopping centre, the instrument you are using to read this paragraph, all sourced from Earth, channeled often through human creativity and expertise.

But we too are Earth and, sadly, often distance ourselves from all that is natural, all that is created.  Humanity places itself apart from the natural world. Our faith, however, tells us all creation does not come from nothing but from God, whom the mystics describe as No-thing but unmeasurable love.

In one of his poems Thomas Merton cries out: ‘Come home, come home ye islands from afar!’ This cry echoes one of the major themes of Merton’s writings, the theme of unity.  Merton constantly reminds us that our journey is to recover our original unity. We are the separate islands needing to recognise the call to unity. New Science reveals how essential to this planet’s survival is this ecological and spiritual imperative to become one. Humanity is called to recognise it does not stand outside creation but is an essential part of it. As human beings it is essential we let go our idea of duality as a basic truth.

The theme of Earth Day this year is Save the Species. Humanity is as threatened, through its own hubris, as much as any species. As we forget our essential unity with creation, so we forge attitudes and actions of destruction.

John Philip Newell offers a summary of statistics we all read constantly and ones we must no longer ignore. They are frightening once we allow those facts to become reality within our consciousness. “The slaughter of innocents includes the extinction of 300 species per week.  We have viewed non-human species as having no essential rights. . .the nearly ten billion years that it took the universe to give birth to Earth, plus the four and a half billion years of Earth’s unfolding diversity of life forms, are being reversed in what is like the blink of an eye in Earth’s history.” (J. P. Newell, A New Harmony. 66)

But Newell also writes: We live in the midst of a new consciousness of life’s interrelatedness.  And this awareness relates both to life’s essential oneness and to life’s shared brokenness. Like never before in the history of humanity, we are becoming aware that what we do to a part, we do to the whole, that the parts will not be well as long as the whole is neglected, and that the whole will not be well if the parts are neglected. . . Wellness is found not in isolation but in relationship. (J. Philip Newell, XVII, A New Harmony)

Earth is a living system and we are a part of that system. What we do to Earth we do to ourselves. Earth day is a moment in time which reminds us to listen to the cry of Earth, to pause, reflect, heal and love our common home. Perhaps, as Thomas Berry says, this is the great work to which we are all called.

Colleen O’Sullivan rsj

Photo by Anika Huizinga obtained on Unsplash. Used with permission.