World Health Day 2019April 7, 2019
World Health Day 2019 – how universal is our health coverage?
World Health Day 2019 falls on Sunday April 7. The Slogan, Universal Health coverage everyone, everywhere, tends, in the popular imagination, to focus our attention on developing countries that have no health insurance, inadequate vaccination programmes and underdeveloped health systems and facilities.
In contrast Australia has one of the best health systems in the world with universal free health coverage, the option of private insurance, a sophisticated and integrated two tier hospital system, access to scheduled and effective vaccination, world renowned research institutions and an integrated and timely emergency system. ‘The richness of our increasing diversity’ is evident in a visit to any hospital or health service, yet even a superficial look beneath the surface challenges us to greater inclusivity.
The report on Australia’s health 2018 tells us that compared with 35-member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Australia scores in the middle or highest range for most health indicators. Conversely Australia ranked in the worst third of OECD countries for obesity, and our alcohol consumption is slightly above the OECD average.
Not surprisingly obesity and alcohol consumption as well as other risk factors are highest in people who suffer socioeconomic disadvantage – Australia’s Health 2018 (AIHW).
The 40% of Australians in the lower two socioeconomic quintiles – ten million people – are more prone to behavioural risk factors such as physical inactivity; alcohol consumption and smoking, and the biomedical risks of high cholesterol; high blood pressure and obesity.
A global level socioeconomic position is largely influenced by economic, political, cultural and environmental determinants, educational attainment, income and occupation. The relationship is two-way—poor health can be both a product of, and contribute to, lower socioeconomic position. In the microcosm that is Australia the same applies, with identifiable groups tending to fall through the gaps in the health system. These include those unable or unwilling to access available services because of:
- Distance – those in rural and remote areas including some indigenous populations
- The homeless and unemployed; those with mental illness or disability
- Fear and shame- some cultural norms or personal fears keep people from seeking help
- Inability to use technology
- Inadequate education
- The complexity of the health system and bureaucracy
- Lack of awareness of what is available because of language barriers, an inability to read or comprehend information
- Lack of access to information
- No access to transport
- Lack of recognition of rights and needs, e.g., asylum seekers and refugees.
So, what is the challenge to us, Sisters, associates, friends and colleagues alike from the 26th General Chapter? Recently on Facebook Annie Bond rsj posted a quote from Christianity Today. It read: ‘helping one person may not change the world but it could change the world for one person.’
It is within the scope of many of us to do something for at least one person. In Ephesians 4; 11 St Paul identified the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers as necessary to equip God’s people for works of service. In Australia today could we add friends, neighbours, interpreters, readers, drivers, healers, pray-ers and advocates who can help make our health system ‘Universal for everyone, everywhere’ in Australia?
Antoinette Baldwin rsj
Official World Health Day website
Strawberry juice beside fruits on top of table by Element5 Digital obtained on Unsplash.
Person-using-black-blood-pressure-monitor obtained on Pexels. Used with permission.
Why Did Fr Julian Woods Found the Josephites?
In the year 1866 Father Julian Woods, aided by Mary MacKillop, founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Penola, South Australia, for the Catholic Education of children from poor families.  But why did this busy priest working in one of the largest mission areas in the colony take this step?
A Reflection on Life VowsApril 6, 2019
Celebration of Dianne Colborne’s Final Commitment
As part of Dianne Colborne’s Final Commitment celebrations, Sr Emilie Cattalini gave a talk on her Reflection on Life Vows.
This is what a monk once wrote in his journal: “Dance in the sun, you tepid idiot. Wake up and dance in the clarity of perfect contradictions, you fool. It is life that makes you dance. Have you forgotten?”
We have all seen those truly awe-inspiring super-slow-motion images of a flower in its first moments of pushing through the earth and into the sunlight. There is so much movement you would swear the plant is dancing. So much movement, so much life! Whole eco-systems all over our planet.
We are meant to be breathless with awe at the beauty and amazing inter-dependence and intricacies of creation! To treat everything with respect and protect its place on this small, fragile, magnificent planet of ours.
And in that sentence, we have one of the perfect contradictions that the monk wrote about in his journal. Who can forget that image of the blue planet sent back to us from space! Deep in our psyche has been stamped the realisation, as never before, that – for all its magnificence- we live on but a tiny, fragile, round, rotating speck afloat in this vast, vast expanding universe!
But what a planet it is! Just enough oxygen in its atmosphere for us to breathe; just enough sunlight for life to thrive; just enough gravity to keep us all grounded! What an amazing work of art! What choreography! What a Dance!
It is a world where even the tiniest sub-atomic particle cannot exist except if its relationship to other particles and energies remains intact. Nature knows the steps of the Dance!
“I said to the almond Tree, ‘Sister, speak to me of God’, and the almond tree blossomed.”
But what of us? This immense humanity that has been called “the human layer of the earth”! For us the Dance is no diﬀerent. We exist, live, move, have our being only in relationships. No one thrives without relationship. That is the whole message of Jesus. In spite of all our contradictions and dancing out of step, as the poet tells us, “nature is never spent, for the Holy Spirit o’er the bent world broods with warm breast, and ah! bright wings.”
What has all this got to do with Dianne and the choice she has made to live for the rest of her life as a Religious with the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience? What have these Gospel values to do with nurturing and maintaining a wholesome human eco-system? With people fully human, fully alive? With a magnificent choreography of humanity as dreamed by our Creator?
Well, we can move from awe and wonder and interdependence and the joy of all tumbling out of the Womb of God as sisters and brothers; from the sharing and the knowing that ‘with my basket and your basket together’, there is enough for everyone – to, I want to keep my own basket! I may even get jealous of what you have in your basket and plan to take it from you! And it’s not only possession of things. It overflows to status, recognition, praise, fame, an appetite for celebrity, for glamour. Or, it can turn inwards and become a sense of worthlessness, of ‘not good enough’ of helplessness and depression. What’s the answer? How do we, as individuals and as nations, stay with the steps of the Dance?
Continue reading Emilie’s speech below:
Reflection on Life Vows Speech (PDF)
Emilie Cattalini rsj
Find out more on the different Josephite ways of Commitment here
Photos used with permission.
Year of Indigenous Languages: Aboriginal and German
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 April, we feature the languages Aboriginal (Yankunyjatjara) and German:
Nganampa Mama-God Ilkari munu nganampa Mantanguru palyanguru nganananya blessamilila munulanya Godaku pilunpa ungama – May our God of Heaven and of our beautiful Earth bless us and bring us God’s peace
Gott schütze dich – God bless you
To find out more on the International Year of Indigenous Languages, visit their website below:
The International Year of Indigenous Languages
Image Uluru Ayers Rock Australia obtained from Pixabay. Used with permission.
St Mary MacKillop School WallarooApril 5, 2019
You’re invited to read a speech by Helen Duke rsj delivered at St Mary MacKillop School, Wallaroo, South Australia – Australia’s longest continuing Josephite School 1869-2019.
Good afternoon and thank you for this opportunity to say a few words on this special occasion, your sesquicentenary. Wallaroo was very familiar to Mary MacKillop, her footprints would be all over this town that she visited often, trudging up from the wharf and later from the railway station to visit her Sisters and their students.
From about 1865 until the arrival of the first resident Parish Priest, Father William Kennedy in 1867, a small Catholic School operated in this town. Father Kennedy immediately closed this school and refused to reopen it until he had the newly formed Sisters of Saint Joseph in his parish.
Father Julian Woods and Mary MacKillop established the Sisters of Saint Joseph for the catholic education of children from poor families in response to Bishop Geoghegan’s strong request that every parish have a catholic school. He wrote:
So it was that in 1869, Sisters Catherine O’Brien, aged 23 years, and Margaret O’Loughlin, aged 18 years, set off by steamer for the Port of Wallaroo.
Whenever I think of Wallaroo, I have an image of a resilient community with, a resilience that has sustained all involved in this school over the past 150 years. There was certainly little else in this poor mining town on which to draw resources, or inspiration…
Continue reading Helen’s speech below:
Helen Duke rsj
 That was the title of the Rule of Life he wrote for them in 1867
 Rule, Article 13
 Mary MacKillop from London, 1873.
Photos provided by Helen Duke rsj. Used with permission.
Sydney Town Hall AssemblyApril 3, 2019
On Thursday evening 14 March, in the lead up to the New South Wales (NSW) Election, Sisters and students from Josephite schools joined with 2000 of Sydney’s citizens and over 60 organisations in the Sydney Town Hall Assembly on Affordable Housing and Affordable and Renewable Energy in what the organisers called an incredible display of democratic power.
The evening was organised by Sydney Alliance, St Vincent De Paul (SVDP) NSW, and Everybody’s Home, and was described as the largest and most diverse gathering ever seen in Sydney on secure, affordable housing, and affordable, renewable energy. The diversity and breadth of the civil society groups present was celebrated in a powerful roll call.
At the start of the evening we were welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, before hearing moving stories from ordinary people whose lives have been severely affected by the current system of affordable housing provision, no cause rental evictions, and the effect on families of exorbitant energy costs. Speaking only for a few minutes each, their stories reflected the experience of many, mainly low-income earners, in the wider community.
The makers of policy had a chance to respond to what they’d heard and representatives from the major parties in the Federal and State parliaments outlined what had been done in the past and what they planned for the future. They were asked to make a commitment to aims of the evening – i.e. to take concrete steps to provide more secure, affordable housing, the removal of no cause rental evictions, and the provision of clean, affordable energy.
All the politicians said they look forward to working with Sydney Alliance, SVDP NSW and Everybody’s Home in achieving these goals, and the organising groups committed to working with whoever wins the upcoming state and federal elections to ensure that the right to a home and to clean and affordable energy can be shared by all.
Laraine Crowe rsj
Photos provided by Laraine Crowe rsj. Used with permission.
Resurrection: Is God Acting NowApril 2, 2019
Elaine Wainwright suggests that we read the resurrection story of Luke 24:1-12 as the culmination of Jesus’s life and death and as God’s continuing acting in all of creation.
At the beginning of March many of us in Australia and New Zealand were grappling with the death of Denis Edwards, outstanding eco-theologian in our region and internationally. A priest of the Adelaide Archdiocese, South Australia, Denis was captured by the question of how God acts (the title of one of his books) in an evolving universe. Having spent his life questioning how we might understand the Christian tradition in an evolving universe and amid complex eco-systems, Denis now knows the profound experience of this reality at the heart of life in a new way.
In How God Acts, Denis describes resurrection as “an unimaginable and amazing act of God in our history . . . a promise that human beings and with them the whole creation will be transfigured in Christ.” He goes on to say that resurrection “contains a claim that the final transformation of all things has already begun in Jesus and is at work in the universe.” Elsewhere, he says that “resurrection is not only the culmination of the life and death of Jesus, but also the inner meaning of creation.” He makes this very explicit when he says that “resurrection is the central expression in our history of the self-giving love of God who is present in every ancient oak tree, every ant, and every kangaroo, closer than they are to themselves, as the source of their being and the enabler of their action.” He invites us through the enduring quality of his words to encounter this “self-giving love of God” not only in ancient oak but also majestic kauri; in kangaroo and kiwi. God is appealing to us through Denis’s life and work to discover anew how God acts…
Continue reading the article below:
Tui Motu Issue 236, April 2019 (PDF)
Elaine Wainwright is a biblical scholar specialising in eco-feminist interpretation and is currently writing a Wisdom Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel.
Painting: Mary Magdalene Discovering the Empty Tomb by Herschel Pollard © Used with permission www.pollardgallery.com
Peru Foundation DayApril 1, 2019
Monday April 1 this year will be the 38th birthday of the Peru Foundation.
This date marks the actual arrival on Peruvian soil of the first Josephite sisters committed to staying and planting an off shoot of the Congregation there. In the following paragraphs I hope to describe this important day as they lived it.
At Sydney Airport on Monday 30 March, Sisters Dorothy Therese Stevenson, Ursula Hoile, Edith Prince and Elaine Walker gathered for the goodbyes. Sr Elizabeth later recalled ‘an aura of an exciting adventure’.  They came fresh from a beautiful Mass of Missioning on March 25 which left Dorothy observing:
‘I believe we must be the most prayed over and for community that ever took to the back blocks or anywhere else in the history of the Congregation. Surely we must survive out there’. 
The inevitable moment for final farewells arrived and they boarded their Pan Am flight at about 3 pm, leaving behind their known world and heading towards one as yet unknown. In Los Angeles twenty hours later, two Columbans they knew from Turramurra met them and welcomed them to their central house for a two- night stopover, a break which must have done wonders for their first experience of jetlag.
It was noon on Wednesday April 1 when they boarded the Varig flight for Lima. All went well until there was a hitch – the lights of Lima had come into view, but the plane kept circling. Three stewards appeared on their knees beside the sisters’ seats. Aided by a torch and a table knife, they peeled back the carpet and released the backup system to let down the wheel carriage. The plane landed safely at 11.45 pm and the passengers disembarked. How did the Josephites feel?
‘As I set foot on the tarmac . . a tremendous feeling of joy, peace and uncertainty overwhelmed me’ . 
‘I was filled with excitement and joy as we stepped from the plane in Lima in the middle of the night . . Like being part of a birthing and the wonder, thrill and pain were all mixed up together’ . 
At the Immigration desk they found that they were met with total incomprehension. ‘The officers weren’t sure what to do with them. Obviously, something was missing. They were ‘escorted like some illegal immigrants into an office of the Minister of the Interior’  where they sat helpless while forms were made out in duplicate recording name, nationality and address. Dorothy watching in horror as they wrote that she was an ‘Australian’, as she was from New Zealand. The only address they knew was a box number, which amused all present.
Armed with the top copy but bereft of passports, they emerged to claim their luggage and face Customs. Here the officer rolled his eyes at their ten pieces of luggage and held up two fingers to indicate that he would open two, so they chose two they knew would close again. At this point an Australian Columban appeared and brought them outside to the welcoming party – four Columban sisters and six or seven priests, including Peter Doyle whom they already knew and Leo Grant their future Parish Priest.
The Josephites went in pairs to the sisters’ two communities, one in Condevilla and the other in Cueva. They had arrived but not much of Lima was visible. How did that feel?
‘Darkness prepared me gently for the reality I was to experience next morning’. 
‘That night I stood at my window and looked out at the lights . . and absorbed, in God’s presence, the realisation that this is my city. They are my people out there’. 
‘Thursday morning, I was woken by chooks – women and children calling – when I looked out my window we really were in Lima. My first reaction was to go down and walk amongst the people. I am grateful to be here’. 
April 5, 1981:
‘We go from one new experience to another and we’re all looking for some feeling of belonging. Well, if not looking for it, missing it very much.’ 
October 1, 1981:
‘We have been in Peru six months tonight at midnight. We have some basic language, we have set up house, and the Lord is now leading us gently into the kind of service we may be part of in this Church. That’s a lot of blessings and it’s the feast of the patron of the Missions’. 
Angela Carroll rsj
 Sr Elizabeth Murphy’s message to the Peruvian community for the 25th Foundation Day 2006
 Dorothy’s Letter March 29 1981
 Lima Diary April 1981
, , , , ,  ibid
 Lima Diary October 1981. October 1 is the Feast Day of St Therese of Lisieux
Photos provided by Angela Carroll rsj. Used with permission.