A Day in the Life: Prison Ministry

This month you’re invited to read about Sr Liz’s Prison Chaplaincy.

Liz Koziol rsj

On passing through security with personal, and clear plastic bag scanning complete, one collects her keys, duress alarm, and signs in. It’s then out into the prison proper not knowing what the day may hold regarding the residents nor the situations that may have occurred prior to the day.

For me it’s coming into a space where I meet Jesus, broken and poor, walking the Via Dolorosa on the way to judgement day. I see the role of chaplain as being that of Simon helping to carry the cross, trying to lessen the load.

Each visit I make is unique to that resident where in listening to him I offer whatever support I can. Its like I am tending the soil, to allow more nourishment for the plant, the resident. Our support is about helping the person to try to feel a sense of hope for his future. I believe it’s important to help him understand that whatever has brought him to this place in his life, does not define who he is, but is a part of him. No person is free from making mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them.

As a chaplain I attempt to help the resident identify where life started to go off the rails and to encourage them to seek help in working through those issues. It’s about helping to build or rebuild their self-esteem and self-confidence, encouraging them to believe they can achieve what they desire in life. Discussions around choices, not only on life matters, but also friendship groups and sometimes family are challenges they often mention, along with the ‘band aid’ solutions they seek through alcohol and drugs; either, or both.

I find this ministry to be very grounding, as I listen to the resident’s stories and realize what is shared could be so for any person, given the right circumstances and the right buttons pushed. It can be challenging and at times frustrating but it’s not about me it’s about those on the inside.

Hakea Prison, Western Australia

Working with the staff in a respectful manner has brought respect in return. I believe the prison values our services and sees us as part of the prison team. We have a regular meeting with the Assistant Superintendent Offender Services and our Coordinating Chaplain attends the Debrief meetings each Monday and Friday morning with senior staff. We are also included in the daily PRAG meetings for the men in the Critical Care Unit, or on ARMS watch.

This prison is a remand, maximum, medium and minimum facility catering for around 1200 men. The men are remanded here until they are sentenced, then come back to be assessed as to which prison would best cater for their sentence requirements.

Each time I visit the prison I feel a deep sense of gratitude for my faith. It’s a very humbling and privileged ministry.

Liz Koziol rsj


Photo provided by Liz Koziol rsj.
Photo of Hakea Prison sourced from their website.

Raised from ‘Death’ to New Life

How or When Have You Been Raised From ‘Death’ to New Life?

Jesus is raised from the dead! Most of us have experienced times when things have been grim: we have lost a significant other… our treasured hopes have been destroyed… we have been let down, even betrayed… and it seems like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is an on-coming train!

Generally these painful times pass and life returns to a certain equilibrium – until our next crisis or disaster! This, of course is the pattern, the ebb and flow of human life… ‘death’ and ‘resurrection’.

When we look back and reflect, we can often recognise that something good emerged out of those times of darkness… that we have, in fact, journeyed through a ‘death experience’ to new life! These ‘light-bulb’ moments are gifts: they are  ‘Easter’ or ‘Resurrection’ moments… blessings that give us reason to shout, or sing, or say, or perhaps even whisper “Alleluia”!

The Gospels tell us that suffering and death do not have the last word. When Jesus died on the cross this seemed like the end of the hopes and dreams for both Jesus and his followers, but this confusion was soon replaced by joy. As you complete your journey with the Stations of the Cross, call to mind the Good News that Jesus rises from the tomb to a new life with God. Resurrection is a new way of being with God, for risen life is life with God.

The Gospel writers ponder on the meaning of this mystery that lies at the heart of Christian experience. They present us with four different accounts.

Spend some time praying with the Good News presented to us by Matthew:

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly There was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightening, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples. Matt 28: 1-8
  • Read the story through slowly… imagine the scene
  • Now become part of this story… imagine yourself at the empty tomb
  • Open your mind and heart to the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection, to the truth of his presence and action in your midst

Moments in the life of Mary MacKillop

Saint Mary MacKillop shows us what it means to live in the light of the Resurrection.  She was a woman of hope and trust, an inspiration to those around her.  She sees the blessings hidden in the cross, and her life lives out of the light of the resurrection. Mary invites us to do the same…

God is good and has brought light and help when all was very dark…Mary MacKillop 1899


Jesus, your death upon the cross and resurrection transformation reminds me of the transformative possibilities in my own life. Give me the courage to let go of my resistance to change, may I be ever open to the break-through of new beginnings so that I can be open to the delight of surprise.

Download the print version of this reflection (PDF)

This is our final reflection from Stations of the Cross: A Journey with St Mary of the Cross MacKillop – Valerie De Brenni  (Introduction to this reflection: Mary Ryan rsj)

© 2012 Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart

Available for purchase @ $7.95 from Mary MacKillop Place Bookshop, Mount Street, North Sydney, or online


Image: ‘Resurrection’: Mary Ryan rsj. Used with permission.

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.