News from the Diocese


Catholic Diocese of Wollongong serving the people of God in the Illawarra, Macarthur, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands regions of NSW
  • Beloved iOS and Android App now available for only $4.49!




    We are excited to announce that our Beloved – Daily Advent and Christmas Reflections 2015 book is also now available to purchase as an interactive App available to download on Apple and Android devices for only $4.49. The Beloved App includes all the text and images from the book as well as audio narrations of the reflections by the authors and the four advent psalm tracks from the Cry Out CD.

    Continuing the tradition from past years and tying in with the beginning of the Pope's Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Beloved App is a digital publication containing short daily reflections from the beginning of Advent (29 November 2015) through to the Baptism of the Lord (10 January 2016) primarily for personal use, but also appropriate for group use such as parish, Church agency, religious community and school staff/class prayer.

    These spiritually rich, yet accessible, daily reflections have been written by six contributors from the Diocese of Wollongong:

    • Fr Stephen Varney (Assistant Priest, Lumen Christi Catholic Parishes, Wollongong)
    • Trish McCarthy (Faith Education Officer, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Wollongong)
    • Deacon Michael Dyer (Deacon, Lumen Christi Catholic Parishes, Wollongong)
    • Sr Anne Marie Joyce OSC (Poor Clares of Bethlehem Monastery, Campbelltown)
    • Fr Patrick Faherty PP VG (Vicar General and Parish Priest St Michael’s Parish, Nowra)
    • Sr Hilda Scott OSB (Benedictine Abbey, Jamberoo)

    The Beloved App also features beautiful religious artworks from our rich Catholic history with enlightening “artwork spotlight” descriptions written by Fr Graham Schmitzer PP (Parish Priest, Immaculate Conception Parish, Unanderra).

    You can read the reflections and/or listen to audio narrations of the reflections narrated by the authors themeselves.

    BONUS: Included in the Beloved App is the text for the four Sunday psalms for Advent beautifully put to music by Tracey Coombes.

    Click the below icons to purchase:



    Check out some screenshots from the Beloved App:


  • Positions Vacant - Pastoral Support Worker, School Chaplaincy


    Based in various schools within the Diocese of Wollongong (Temporary part-time (minimum 10 hpw) commencing Term 1 2016)

    CatholicCare has been engaged to administer pastoral support services to Catholic primary schools in the Diocese under the National School Chaplaincy Program. We are seeking suitably qualified people to deliver a range of non-therapeutic welfare, faith formation, spiritual and emotional support to students, families and staff of Catholic primary schools. For more information including application pack go to Careers page at or call Peter Burgoyne on 4254 9354.

  • Pope Francis issues new laws regarding Marriage Tribunal Process


    Pope Francis issued a new motu proprio [new laws] regarding the process used in Marriage Tribunals. The new laws comes into effect on 8 December 2015, the same day the Year of Mercy begins. Click here to view some Frequently Asked Questions

  • INVITATION - Diocesan Assembly on Saturday 5 September 10am - 2pm


    Bishop Peter will be addressing our Diocese on the Pope’s call to a Year of Mercy at our next Diocesan Assembly.

    We will also engage in practical workshops on how to apply mercy and healing in our family, parish and school life.

    Gather with good people seeking to live out their faith at Mount Carmel Catholic College, 210 Spitfire Drive, Varroville on Saturday 5 September 2015,

    9.30am for 10am start. Includes morning tea and lunch, concluding at 2.00pm.  All are welcome.

    Registration essential to Helen Bennett 4222 2403 or helen [DOT] bennett [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au

  • REGISTER NOW - Embracing Family: Parish, School & Beyond Family Ministry Conference 2015

    Pope Francis has described family as “the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children.” (EG, 66). In his recent encyclical Laudato Si, the Pope describes family as “the place in which life – the gift of God – can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed” (LS, 213). However, we may well ask “What is family?” “How do we understand and relate to the many and varied ways family exists in today’s society?” 

    This conference will explore these questions and offer some practical skills and resources for engaging, nurturing and reaching out to families within and beyond our parish and school communities. Bringing together speakers from across the country we will develop strategies for more effectively engaging with families, enabling them to feel more at home and welcome within our faith community.

    Friday 30 October 2015 (9am-4pm) – Our Lady of Mount Carmel Retreat Centre, (247 St Andrews Rd, Varroville, NSW)

    Saturday 31 October 2015 (9am-4pm) – Our Lady of Mount Carmel Retreat Centre, (247 St Andrews Rd, Varroville, NSW)

    Conference Program – Both Days

    8:45am - 9:15am Gather

    9:15am - 9:30am Welcome & Opening Liturgy

    9:30am - 10:40am Keynote 1 (Friday) & 3 (Saturday)

    10:40am - 11:10am Morning Tea

    11:10am - 12:20pm Keynote 2 (Friday) & 4 (Saturday)

    12:20pm - 13:10pm Lunch

    13:15pm - 14:15pm Workshops Round 1 (Friday) & 3 (Saturday)

    14:25pm - 15:25pm Workshops Round 2 (Friday) & 4 (Saturday)

    15:30pm - 16:00pm Summary, Close & Afternoon Tea


    Keynote 1: “It takes a village to raise a child”
    Presenter:   Fr Elio Capra sdb (Lecturer in Liturgy & Sacramental Theology at Catholic Theological College)

    Does an ideal family actually exist? And does an ideal Catholic family actually exist? If so, what would it look like? Making use of Scripture and Church documents we explore these questions and the current social situation families find themselves in today. What are the complexities and tensions facing Catholic families in our society and in our Church?

    Keynote 2: Sharing experiences of engaging with families in Family Ministry:
    Presenter: Jill Gallio (Manager – Catholic Communities Office, Archdiocese of Adelaide)

    What are the life experiences, resources and skills that we bring to enhance and grow the relationships and learning partnerships we have with our families in our schools, parishes and neighbourhoods?


    Keynote 3: Family, School & Parish: One Community
    Presenter: Fr Elio Capra sdb

    This keynote will explore the unique role of the Family, School and Parish. What are the differences, privileges and responsibilities of each? What is the influence that each group has on the child and how can the three complement and support each other in the w/holistic formation of their children? What are the qualities and characteristics of a w/holistic formation of children in our society today? 

    Keynote 4: Valuing each other in Jesus’ name
    Presenter: Jill Gallio

    Drawing together many of the elements of the first address, Jill will explore the importance of knowing and valuing our families and honouring God already deeply present in every life and situation.


    Title: Parish: Supporting the Home as Domestic Church? 
    Presenter: Sr Sue Barker s.g.s

    Our church proclaims the home as the “domestic church”. But do our words, our policies and our practices affirm and support this vision? How can church leadership, teachers, catechists, parish workers support the home as the place of primary faith formation?  We briefly review what Church documents say about the Domestic Church and develop our understanding of a spirituality of family life. We also explore practical ways within our diverse ministries we can nurture the “domestic church” of our contemporary Catholic families.

    Title: Grandparents: Passing on the Faith and keeping prayer alive in the family
    Presenter: Fr Elio Capra

    This workshop will explore the important and central role of grandparents in today’s family. Together we will explore simple, ‘sneaky’ and creative ways in which they can help their families in passing on the faith and keeping prayer alive. This workshop will provide the participants with many examples, resources and possibilities.

    Title: Get Messy! What is Messy Church and Starting Messy Church in your parish or school.
    Presenter: Albion Park Messy Church Team

    How can parishes and schools connect with families and those who are close to our communities – but perhaps do not feel a part of them… can be tricky to hit the right note with such a broad range of people. We know that life is messy for many families. Imagine inviting the people in your school and parish to a two hour afternoon session for craft activities, a liturgy and a community meal. During this workshop the Albion Park Messy Church Team will explore the question "What is Messy Church?" and through discussion and dialogue share practical ways on how to start up your own Messy Church.

    Title: Youthspeak: Communicating timeless truths today
    Presenter: Seth Harsh

    Youth ministry can’t be seen as disconnected from childhood and adult faith formation, but rather, as an important part of a developmental continuum ending in full Christian maturity. How we communicate the Catholic faith often determines how well it is received and lived. We will look at how communication, recreational activities, relationships, and expectations have changed over the last 30 years and how this impacts youth ministry. Practical considerations will be discussed regarding how best to engage contemporary youth, and innovative models for youth ministry both today and into the future will be explored.

    Title: Families and Ageing in the 21st Century
    Presenter: Carmen Karauda

    Those who are ageing form an integral and vital part of the modern family life. In this workshop we will look at, discuss and share experiences on: importance of family relationships, families and the ageing experience; positive ageing; work and retirement and how interdependence not independence is the true "Gospel" value.

    It is hoped that through the information sharing and discussion that participants will embark on a better understanding and acceptance of ageing as natural part of life that can be integrated into the life of the family and family relationships.

    Title:  The Alpha Toolkit of Evangelisation and Family Resources 
    Presenter: Lorraine McCarthy

    Thousands of Catholic Parishes worldwide use Alpha to introduce people to a living relationship with Jesus Christ and form missionary disciples. Using the simple formula of food + talk + discussion, parish lay teams can effectively evangelise and re-energise their faith community.  We will give a brief overview of Alpha, view a sample Alpha Talk and ‘role play’ an Alpha Small Group Discussion. We will also look at the Alpha Marriage and Parenting Resources which to assist parish communities in their role of supporting and building healthy family relationships.

    Title: ”Conversations about Catholics”: Connecting People with the Catholic Faith
    Presenters:  Anne McLean; Anne Flynn & Sr Alice Sullivan

    This program assists parents with their questions and uncertainties about Church, and in turn encourages and empowers them in the faith formation of their children. It acknowledges and values how parents nurture their family, and gently brings people together by welcoming and connecting families to each other, to the wider community and to the Church. The Workshop will introduce participants to the four week program, the Leaders’ guide, up-to-date resources and take-home material.

    Title: Celebrating Children’s Liturgy of the Word
    Presenter: Paul Mason

    These two sessions uncover the meaning and rationale of celebrating a separate children’s Liturgy of the Word. We overview the celebration, exploring its nature as both proclamation and celebration, as well as its ritual structure.  We consider the participants and ministers involved and explore some practical issues and suggested resources.

    Title: Working with Children in Parish Ministry
    Presenter: Rebecca Miller

    This workshop provides an overview of the new Working with Children Check requirements for parishes and examples of best practice for lay people working with children, young people or other vulnerable people from our communities. Strategies for maintaining “right relationships” and what to do if you have concerns for a child or young person involved in your ministry are also presented.

    Title: Catholic Playgroup Resources
    Presenter: Rebecca Miller

    Parish Playgroups are fun and where lifelong friends can be made – they can also provide a pathway from baptism to school encouraging families to stay in touch with the Church and their faith. A more overtly Catholic identity for your Parish Playgroup serves to welcome families more fully into your Parish and provides opportunities to nurture the faith of families.

    This workshop introduces a new guidebook for Parish Playgroups, identifies resources and practical strategies to help your Parish build a vibrant family ministry.

    Title: The Catholic Guy & Parish Connection
    Presenter: Sandra Purcell

    Sandra will briefly describe the aims and objectives of The Catholic Guy Ministry and Impact Centres, share and give practical suggestions on effective initiatives to strengthen parish/school/family relationships and connect/reconnect people back to their personal faith and faith communities.  Discussion will be held on how parishes and The Catholic Guy ministry can work together.

    Title: We are the Memory of God
    Presenter: Patricia Mowbray

    Pastoral leaders are responsible for being inclusive in proclaiming the Good News, providing catechetical formation and sacramental preparation for parishioners with disability. People with disability, their families and their advocates, as well as those knowledgeable in serving people with disability can make a most valuable contribution. How can this be reality in parishes and faith communities? This workshop provides an opportunity to share stories and resources. We explore how we can provide and encourage the full participation of people with disability and their families in Church life. The focus will be on Sacramental preparation and celebration.

    Title of Workshop: Supporting married life in a parish setting
    Presenter Name: Cheryl and Eugene Gabin & Fr Doug Smith

    In this workshop we explore different ways of supporting married life. Drawing from the groups’ experience, we will look at what constitutes a “good or healthy” marriage, some of the reasons /causes for marriages breaking down, what impact a healthy marriage and an ailing marriage has on the immediate family, extended family and the parish and wider community. We will brainstorm, discuss and decide on specific ideas / things / tools that can actively support families in our parishes and in our communities.


    You can register for a Single Day Pass for $20 ($18.18 for Catholic GST Religious Groups eg, parishes, schools and agencies) or register for the Full Conference for $30 ($27.27 for Catholic GST Religious Groups). Registration includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.

    The conference is using the TryBooking online registration system. Payment is by Visa or Mastercard. In addition to the registration fee there is a TryBooking fee of 30 cents per ticket. You will also be asked to select your Workshop preferences during the registration process. If you would prefer to download a paper registration form to complete and mail/fax/email to us, please click here to download the brochure and paper registration form. Otherwise, click the below button register online:



    If you have any questions, do not hesistate to contact:

    Darren McDowell
    Diocesan Faith Formation Coordinator
    P 02 4222 2463
    F 02 4222 2479
    E cfl [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au

  • Joyous scenes as over 600 celebrate first Mass at Australia’s newest church in Oran Park

    It was an historic day yesterday for the Catholic Church in Australia and a great testimony to the faith and community spirit of the Macarthur as over 600 people gathered to sing, pray and celebrate their Christian faith at St Mary MacKillop Catholic Parish’s first Sunday Mass at Oran Park at 10am. The celebrations continued after Mass with a massive sausage sizzle and meet-and-greet with the new parish priest, Fr David Catterall.

    It became apparent during the week leading up to the Mass that the planned venue (OOSH Centre) at St Justin’s Catholic Primary School Oran Park would not be big enough to cater for the number of people attending the Mass. The parish community quickly scrambled and decided to open up the doors of the school library and surrounding outside areas as the new venue. The school community also provided a wonderful service with their enthusiastic welcome, generous hospitality and beautiful music during the Mass. Fr David also announced that St Benedict’s Catholic College Oran Park have offered to carve a wooden altar for the parish.

    Fr David summed up the overwhelming scene in his homily saying: “Today, we make the words of St Peter to Jesus at the transfiguration our own as we recognise how ‘wonderful it is for us to be here’ – how wonderful it is for you and for me to be invited by the Lord to be a part of this new beginning not only for our faith community, but also our Diocese and our Universal Church.”

    Fr David continued: “As you would expect, some people have already asked me what my priorities will be as the founding parish priest of St Mary MacKillop Parish. I must say that my first priority is to get to know you, the people of this parish. To listen to your needs and hopes and dreams for this faith community and to work with you in making this vision a reality.”

    Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, Fr David said: “We hear how after the disciples had returned from their mission Jesus encouraged them ‘to rest for a while.’ Just like we need to stay connected to Wi-Fi in our work and social lives, we need to stop at times and be connected and re-connected to God, the source of all, in order for us to be faithful and fruitful Christians. That’s why I encourage you to do all you can, as we build our parish together, to make this weekly celebration of the Mass a priority. For it is here every week that we are invited to draw strength from Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who is and will always be the cornerstone of all that we build together.”

    Parishioners quickly jumped on the parish’s already popular Facebook page to express their gratitude and excitement on the day’s events. Christen Hallit-Yousseph said: “A very joyful and blessed opportunity to be at the first Mass for our new parish and being guided by Fr David whose infectious love of the Lord and life has flowed through our beautiful congregation.” Another parishioner, Alison Gatt, wrote: “So very excited to be a part of a new and dynamic parish. It was lovely to feel such a sense of community already.” Gerald Kenneally wrote: “A beautiful Mass this morning at Oran Park. It is gatherings like today that build great parish communities.”  

    In addition to the Sunday 8am Mass at the parish’s Leppington church and the 10am Oran Park Mass, Fr David announced that a Saturday Vigil Mass at Oran Park will soon commence to cater for the demand.

    Fr David also outlined the many great parish events coming up including: the planting of a tree to mark beginning of the building of the new parish centre and worship space at Oran Park (26 July), a visit from Bishop Peter Ingham (2 August), a day for parishioners to share their hopes and dreams for the new parish (9 August), and a parish pilgrimage to Mary Mackillop’s tomb (16 August).

    Earlier in the week Fr David had a cuppa with Narellan Fire Station Officer, Greg Wright, and his crew as they discussed how 30% of residential fires occur in the winter months. Fr David said: “It was a great opportunity to meet a group of people who are serving our local community so brilliantly. I was more than happy to hand out their fact sheet to all parishioners at our first Mass and I can’t wait to meet more wonderful people like Greg in our community.”


  • Launch of The Catholic Guy Impact Centre Mount Carmel Catholic College

    Thursday | 2 July 2015
    Bishop Peter Ingham’s Speech

    My Dear Friends

    I am here tonight to endorse Mr Bruce Downs known as the Catholic Guy, along with his wife Rosemary, and his ministry team.  They have conducted a number of parish/mission events in our Diocese as well as all over Australia.  They use various forms of media, and other activities to evangelise.

    As your Bishop, I am officially authorising them to set up and to work in our Diocese of Wollongong so that they may reach out, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teaching of his Church, to all who have a heart open to God; and particularly to reach people disconnected from the Church, because we want these people to come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, so that they may have an experience of Christian community, so as to be reconnected to the Sacraments of the Church found in our Parish Communities.

    The Catholic Guy Ministry, which originated in Perth, is made up of a growing group of people who together are combining their own personal sense of call to achieve this mission, by serving the Church, bishops, priests and parishes as part of the New Evangelisation. This growing group of people experience and live their lives as Catholics and are followers of Jesus Christ in their daily life.

    The Mission of Catholic Guy Ministries, of making Jesus Christ better known and loved, of helping us all to be Bearers of Christ’s Love to others, is really another string in the bow of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan.  As you know, our Diocesan Pastoral Plan aims to revitalise our faith and sacramental life especially in the Mass, our Pastoral Plan wants to make our communities places of prayer, welcome and outreach;  our Plan aims to spread the Good News of Jesus in new ways through our living, working and teaching so that we all act with greater love and care in all our communities, including our work for social justice and for the dignity of humanity and the dignity of the whole of creation. As faithful stewards of God’s gifts, we want to serve this calling in the love of the Father, by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and guided by his Holy Spirit.

    Our Pastoral Plan exists because we recognise that, as the Body of Christ, we can do so much more together than if we were isolated.

    The Catholic Guy Ministries specifically exists to reach those who do not connect with the Church, so that these people may come into an ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ through the building up of parish and church communities to which people will be attracted.

    If we are to reach people who are alienated from the Church, firstly we have to listen to them.  They have to know that we understand where they are at, and why they are where they are at:  we have to know how they think, how they feel, that we understand, because we want to hold on to the disconnected person who feels they've tried church and rejected it.  The challenge is to be able to attract them sufficiently, and long enough, for an opportunity to be given to share faith with them.  We want to give them cause and reason to listen again, or possibly to listen for the first time to the claims of Jesus Christ.

    So we have to present to them what is fully Catholic and in keeping with the tradition of the Church, but in a new way.  A way that is sensitive to those who are seeking the Lord. To make religion palatable by a new way of presenting the Good News of the Gospel that is going to capture their attention and bring them to a change of mind and heart about Jesus Christ and his Church. The reality is that 88 per cent of our Catholic people no longer come to Mass. Reaching out to them is essential, otherwise we are not being faithful to the mission of Jesus Christ and his Church.

    If you are a committed practising Catholic, you may be surprised by the approach taken by Bruce in this new way of reaching out to evangelise, but stop and remember, we're speaking to people who possibly rarely pray, are not actively committed or who rarely come to Mass, but they belong to us and identify as Catholic; they send their kids to our schools.  We are looking for new and different ways to communicate to them the message of Jesus saving us, redeeming us, forgiving us, because Jesus loves you and me much more than we could ever imagine.

    All of this beautifully matches Pope Francis’ announcement of the Jubilee Year of Mercy which commences on 8 December this year, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the end of Vatican II; a year with the Mercy of God at its centre. 

    The Pope is convinced that a year in the light of Jesus’ words: “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36) will help the whole Church to find, in this Jubilee, the joy needed to rediscover and make available the Mercy of God with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.

    The whole Church, dioceses, parishes, schools, welfare agencies, lay people, teachers, catechists, religious and clergy, have to be a witness to God’s Mercy.  Pope Francis said it is a journey that begins with a spiritual conversion which is what Bruce is on about.

    The Pope knows, as we do, that many scandals and problems in the Church in our time have left so many people hurt and left so much hurt.  The Church is a Mother: so the Church has to go out to heal those who are hurting, with finding a form of mercy for all.  We have no other choice because the Lord never tires of forgiving.

    Tonight, I entrust our Diocese’s journey with The Catholic Guy Ministries, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of Mercy, so that Mary might turn her gaze upon us and watch over this work of making her Son Jesus, better known and loved.


  • Bishop Ingham announces Australia’s newest Catholic parish in Oran Park


    Bishop Peter Ingham announced today that the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong has established Australia’s newest Catholic parish in Oran Park. The parish is also the first new territorial parish in the Diocese in over 21 years. The parish will be known as St Mary MacKillop Catholic Parish, named after Australia’s first canonised Saint.

    Bishop Peter said: “It is indeed a joyful time for those living in this beautiful part of South West Sydney, one of the fastest growing regions in Australia. Many families are blessed to have lived in this area for years, and now we welcome another pioneering generation as new suburbs are opening all around. The establishment of St Mary MacKillop Catholic Parish reflects the vibrancy of the Diocese and its more than 190,000 Catholics.”

    Bishop Peter has appointed Fr David Catterall as the founding priest of the new parish. Fr David is 42 years old and has been a pastor for over fifteen years ministering in Wollongong, Nowra, Camden, Campbelltown, Rosemeadow and most recently in his home parish of Albion Park.

    Fr David said: “It is an exciting prospect starting a new parish as we ‘launch into the deep’ and discover fresh ways of being the hands and feet of Jesus in our local area. I believe it is fitting that our new parish is named after Australia’s first canonised Saint, St Mary MacKillop. Mary famously said: ‘Never see a need without doing something about it.’ I am excited that we can now take up Mary MacKillop’s challenge together in Oran Park! I also look forward to working alongside the other Christian churches and civic leaders in the area.”

    St Mary MacKillop Catholic Parish Oran Park will include the suburbs of Oran Park, Catherine Field, Harrington Park, Harrington Grove, Gregory Hills, Leppington, Marylands, Lowes Creek and parts of Bringelly, Rossmore and Leppington North. Fr David will be living as part of the community in a residential street in Oran Park Town rather than in a traditional priest’s house next door to a church.

    Work will soon commence on a new parish centre and worship space (next to the site of St Justin’s Catholic Primary School) which, amongst other things, will be used for the celebration of Mass. The building is planned to open in late 2015 and is best described as a purpose-built structure that will operate as the church and parish centre until a permanent structure is required as the community grows. There is also the likelihood that further parishes will need to be established in the area over the coming years.

    For now, Fr David will set up a parish administration centre on the site next to St Justin’s Catholic Primary School and will celebrate Sunday Masses at 10am at the OOSH Centre at St Justin’s from 19 July 2015 as well as celebrating Sunday Masses at 8am at St Mary Mother of God Church Leppington from this weekend onwards which is also now part of the new parish.

    Fr David said: “No doubt you’ve heard the phrase, ‘it’s not a house, it’s a home,’ and the same applies to a Catholic parish. A parish is not just a church building; rather, it is the people who make up that community. Pope Francis describes a parish as, ‘the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters … in contact with the homes and the lives of its people … not a useless structure, but an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration.’” (Evangelli Gaudium, 28)

    The establishment of the new parish has been welcomed with great excitement by the two newest Catholic schools in the Diocese, located in Oran Park – St Justin’s Catholic Primary School and St Benedict’s Catholic College. Mr John Milgate, Principal of St Justin’s said: “It is wonderful news for our students, parents and staff! As of today we belong to a new Catholic parish family. There’s a real buzz around the school following Bishop Peter’s announcement. I’ve known Fr David for some time and I can’t wait to begin working closely with him as we strive together to nurture the faith and spiritual dimension of our children while providing them with a comprehensive and balanced curriculum.”

    Mr Michael Hanratty, Principal of St Benedict’s Catholic College, also expressed his delight on hearing the announcement. Michael said: “The creation of this new Parish is a significant milestone in the story of the St Benedict’s school community, itself in its formative years. I look forward with great hope and anticipation that together as Church, school and parish will better serve the families and young people of this area, growing them in faith and connectedness to God and to the Good News of Jesus Christ.” 

    Although acknowledging the daunting task of being entrusted with the pastoral responsibility and care of the Diocese’s first new parish in over two decades, Fr David said: “I am reminded of the old saying that we can see further if we stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before us. I am grateful to Fr Michael Williams and the local clergy, as well as the parishioners of St Paul’s Catholic Parish Camden, for the pastoral care and support they have given to the people and school communities in the region. They have provided a solid platform that will enable the successful launch of our new parish.” 

    St Mary MacKillop Catholic Parish
    94 Oran Park Drive
    Oran Park NSW 2570
    Phone: 1300 947 810
    Email: oranpark [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au

  • Papal encyclical appeals for a new dialogue about shaping the future of our planet

    His Holiness Pope Francis has challenged ‘every person living on this planet’ to enter into a new dialogue toward building a better future in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’ – ‘Praise be to you’, released today in Rome.

    In dialogue with all people about our common home, the encyclical challenges us to ask ‘how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded’ (13).

    Pope Francis also drew attention to pressing environmental concerns such as pollution and climate change and the use of fossil fuels. “Climate change is a global problem with serious implications, environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods; it represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” (25). The Australian Catholic Bishops have strongly supported this statement.

    President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, welcomed the Holy Father’s encyclical, Laudato Si’. Archbishop said he was pleased to  see that the letter critiques our weak response to ecological and social issues. ‘Pope Francis calls on people to seek new ways to understand the economy, condemns our throwaway culture and dependence on technology, and is calling on people to reassess the dignity of humanity and the integrity of creation in finding solutions to the ecological crisis.’

    The Pope draws upon bishops’ statements from around the world, including the Australian  bishops.

    Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia Jacqui Remond said Laudato Si’ is a game-­‐ changer for the Catholic Community and it offers us in Australia a powerful moral and spiritual imperative for environmental and social action. This encyclical calls on us all to embrace a new lifestyle that respects all of creation, and asks our leaders to commit to effective global agreements.

    The Pope refers to a broad range of topics including pollution and its effect on the poor, urban chaos, drug trafficking, refugees and human trafficking.

    Pope Francis points to the ‘intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, and the conviction that everything in the world is connected’ (16). He highlights the fact that local individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instil ‘a strong sense of community’, ‘a readiness to protect others’ and ‘a deep love for the land’. He calls us to listen to the voices of our Indigenous peoples because  for them, land is not a commodity but a sacred space and a gift from God.

    At this crucial time, the Australian Bishops and Catholic Earthcare Australia invites the Catholic Community and the wider Australian Community to address the challenges and opportunities in Laudato Si’. We must move past this throwaway culture and embrace a new lifestyle, thereby “bringing healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power” (206).





  • Ethics, Poles, Wires and the Dalai Lama

    Will someone please tell the truth about Special Education in Ethics (SEE) and the NSW Public School enrolment form? It seems the only people getting any airplay, have a good public profile, but little knowledge about the topic.

    Even the Dalai Lama got drawn into it last week. He’s a good man, a man of peace, poise, wisdom and love. As a Catholic, I’m a fan, just as many non-Catholics are fans of Pope Francis. But I wouldn’t ask either of them to fix my computer. No disrespect to them, I just doubt they’d have the knowledge to be able to do it.

    In the same way, I’m not sure why the Dalai Lama was asked about the current furore about Ethics and the enrolment form. But then it dawned on me, the light bulb went off, well it got brighter anyhow! This isn’t about facts, or asking people who might actually have some knowledge or something sensible to say, it’s about world views, politics and a powerful little club in some mainstream print and electronic media who seem hell bent on doing away with religion in schools. If they can do that, then they can focus on getting rid of religion completely in the ugly little Orwellian world they are attempting to manufacture.

    Soon after I saw the Dalai Lama hooked into the debate, I got an email from NSW Labor asking for donations to fight the good fight for ethics in NSW schools. Apparently they need funds to fight the great injustice being perpetrated on SEE by those nasty religions and the NSW Government. What a load of absolute rubbish, but no one else is saying so in this fantasy land.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, such is the misinformation being thrown around at will. Probably the latter. Why? Because SRE, this wonderful strength of NSW public schools is being denigrated and used as a political and media football. Why else? Because in our multicultural, multi faith (and non-faith) society, SRE and SEE both have a valuable and valid place. Who would want to undermine access to clear choice for parents to have their Children formed in the faith and ethics of their family? Hopefully no one, but in relation to SEE, a simple fact is getting left out, you shouldn’t offer something that isn’t available.

    Some facts about SRE and SEE

    No parent in NSW who wants their child to do SEE in NSW is being denied that choice for their children, if it is offered in their local school. SEE is well advertised as an option for those who opt out of SRE classes.

    Nevertheless, it is pointless to offer something on the enrolment form which isn’t available. I’d be annoyed if I was for example offered woodwork and then was informed, no sorry, we don’t offer woodwork. My simple response would be, ‘well why did you offer it to me’?

    Herein lies one of the problems with Ethics classes and why it needs to be removed as a tick option from the enrolment form.

    In 2014, SEE was offered in 256 of the 2100 Public Schools in NSW. It is not offered at all in  Secondary Schools. Around 800 SEE teachers saw 16,000 students. They are doing a good job for our community and public Education, and I for one am glad they have a presence in a growing number of schools. By comparison, SRE Providers have a presence in most schools and see around 240,000 students a week and that figure increases to over 300,000 when you include seminar style delivery  of lessons.

    The reality for SEE is that it is not in at least 1800 of the 2100 Public Schools. Parents whose sons and daughters go to those 1800 schools are nevertheless being offered it, only to find that it doesn’t exist. Now that’s just bizarre, and extremely misleading for parents, many of whom then need to negotiate a maze to get reoffered SRE.

    What’s even more bizarre is that the DEC’s own consultative committee for SRE, made up of representatives of all the major faiths, were not consulted about the final changes to the enrolment form. Surely that’s what consultative committees are for! If it had been consulted, this debacle would never have ensued.

    SRE providers quickly recognised that this was a very questionable change that ignored the Legislation, the 2012 SEE Parliamentary Inquiry Recommendations, the SRE Policy and the SRE Implementation guidelines. I assume that Primary Ethics would similarly be concerned that roughly 680,000 young people who they can’t cater for, are being offered SEE classes. I am unaware if Primary Ethics had any input into the enrolment form, but faith groups were certainly were not given the opportunity to explain the consequences of the changes. Media commentators do not seem keen to ask questions about this lack of process, which is in itself very interesting.

    Finally, this is not about poles and wires. To suggest so is an offensive lie. SRE providers have been talking to each other, the DEC, to the Minister, and Politicians across the political divide about this since the new form appeared last June. Agreement on the need for the confusion to end via a repaired enrolment form was reached in December 2014 with the Department.

    Some non-facts about SRE and SEE

    I won’t say lies, because perhaps those who are writing most of the rubbish about SRE and Ethics have simply fallen into the trap that some of my former History students used to, not doing any study! Sure they’re good at churning out articles expounding their personal views, but like some former students, their essays and reports are still ‘a fail’ when they have such little basis in fact.

    Firstly, SEE doesn’t exist to compete with SRE. Primary Ethics was established to cater for students who opted out of SRE. Therefore, regardless of the fact that it simply isn’t offered in most schools, it should not be set up alongside SRE on a form. Once parents have opted out of SRE they are then given the choice of SEE if it is available at a local level where it is well advertised.

    Secondly, SRE does not regard SEE as the enemy or a threat. SEE teachers are good people offering a valid and valuable alternative to non-scripture in a small but growing number of schools.

    Finally, SRE is not struggling as per Dr John Kaye’s (Greens NSW) recent and ongoing venomous assertions and misinformation regarding SRE. The 12,000 multi faith, well trained, well-resourced volunteers across the State are doing a mighty job forming students in the teachings and ethics of their family’s faith tradition, seeing well over 240,000 students a week in the process.

    So what are SRE providers asking for?

    A return to an enrolment form that removes the misinformation and confusion.

    A form that doesn’t offer something to parents who then later find out that it is not available at most schools.

    A form that gives the parents the option to choose Religious Education and, just as importantly, to opt out of that choice. SEE can then be offered at a local level if it is available.

    This isn’t about poles and wires, this is about giving parents correct information and valid choices for their children. Whilst it is tough to get correct information out there via the media, thank goodness the NSW Government and DEC are at least now trying to get it right on the public school enrolment form.

    Mr Jude Hennessy
    Director SRE
    Diocese of Wollongong
    12 June 2015