Monday, June 25, 2012

L'Arche Brisbane Solidarity with Community in Syria

One more time, Faith and Light has suffered from a terrible loss in Syria. A few weeks ago, a person from Damascus was killed during an attack, and yesterday (June 18)Marina,the coordinator of the St. George community died too...

Here is the testimony that we received,
 we invite you to pray hard for all of our Syrian friends! We had yesterday a very sad day, we lost Marina, she passed away because of the crises and the chaos in Aleppo she was the coordinator of Saint George community in Aleppo.

 Marina was a very active person, always smiling, very friendly, open, ready to help. I heard many people expressing their sadness of losing Marina as a shoulder helping and supporting them in their life, losing a very devoted friend. But we said also that we have now a person in heaven will support us in different way. Marina was the wife of father Georges Shehwaro who passed away many years ago. She had two daughter, and has two grand children. We still need your prayers!

Facebook report of the funeral: Funeral of Marian Shehwaro, mother of #Syrian blogger Marcell Shehwaro, who was killed by regime checkpoint in Aleppo after leaving a wedding ceremony yesterday morning 18-6-2012. Hundreds of Christians and Muslims appeared at the funeral carrying red roses -as the photo shows. There was a heavy deployment of regime forces and police near the church
This post has been copied from the L'Arche Brisbane blog

Sunday, June 24, 2012

An Invitation to Support Pace E Bene Australia

The work of Nonviolence awareness and education is one of  my passions in life and  my membership of Pace e Bene Australia provides me with a community in which I find solidarity. It also provides me with professional support and material to engage in the work of community education in workshops and in my writing.

I invite you to consider a tax deductible donation to  PeBA to support our work and promote our resources.


Friday, June 22, 2012

35th Anniversary of Uniting Church in Australia

Congratulations and bucket loads of  blessings to the Uniting Church in Australia as it celebrates its 35th anniversary this weekend. As a Catholic I have been inspired by the commitment, theology and vision of  this young faith community.

The anniversary has featured in a number of Facebook posts and some tweets. However it seems that ecumenism  doesn't really have a strong following among the bloggers and passionate contributors to discussion forums. Over at Catholica Forum they seem to be absorbed in naval gazing anxiety about the Vatican. The urbane David Shutz virtually lives in Ecumenicaland but most of his typing is about apologetics so this event hasn't scored a mention at this stage. Australia Incognito does have 18 entries for ecumenism on her blog but according to her research nothing has happened in this field since December 2011.  The Blog of a Country Priest doesn't bring up any search results for ecumenism or Uniting Church. At this point I gave up the search for online solidarity on this issue.

The inauguration of the Uniting Church in Australia  (1977) was one of the  great milestones in Australian religious history. The uniting under one "banner"  of three Christian faith communities across the nation challenged all Churches to examine their commitment to collaboration, renewal and contemporary witness to the words and deeds of Jesus.

Over the 35 years of the Uniting Church in Australia's story I have been inspired by personal contact, collaboration and reading of  some of the  "history makers of this community. Among those who have influenced my spirituality and faith journey are:
Robert Harriman
John Bodycomb
Dorothy McRae-McMahon
Stepheanie Dowrick
Jason John
David Busch
Robert Bos
Heather Den Houting
Noel Preston

The sacred spaces of the Uniting  Church that are now places of regular pilgrimage for me include:
Pilgrim Church
Albert Street Uniting Church
Pitt Street Uniting Church
St Mark's Church Mnt Gravatt

The worship tradition of the UCA has  provided new and appropriate models of langauge and ritual for our day.
Sacred Union Ceremony
Amnesty International 50th Anniversary Service

I have found inspiration and solidarity in the UCA with
Uniting Network Australia
Rainbow Spirit Theology
UCA Qld Synod Journey Online

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Australian Highlights at L'Arche International

Twice every decade, delegates from L'Arche come together to share, listen and debate in order to guide the global L’Arche movement towards the future. Following gatherings in Assisi, Italy and Kolkata, India, this International Assembly was held in Atlanta, USA

A daily journal and video of the Assembly activities is available online here. Some highlights with Australian content  from the Assembly included:

The General Assembly decided upon the future plans for the L’Arche mandate, based on four dreams– Living our mission, Developing leadership, Involvement in our cultures and societies, and shaping the Federation.

The rich spiritual diversity of L'Arche Communities was reflected in the worship during the assembly.Monsignor Pierre D’Ornellas, Archbishop of Rennes, France celebrated Eucharist on Monday June 4. He is the representative of the Roman Catholic Church for the L’Arche International Church Leaders Group. The following day, June 5 the reformed church service was led by Jim Cowie, minister in the presbyterian Church of Scotland, and member of the L'Arche international Church Representatives Group.

On June 6 the interfaith celebration was animated by 8 different people. Soumaya Khalifa, Aicha Stoman and her son Yusuf represented the Muslim faith. Rabbi Loren Lapidus, Rachel Weidland and her brother Bret represented the Jewish faith. Subrata and Seema from the community Asha Niketan in India represented the Hindu faith. Finally, Rajesh who's also from L'Arche Asha Niketan, represented the Jain faith.

On Thursday June 7 Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft from Perth celebrated the Eucharist with Katharine Jefferts-Schori, presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the USA.

On Friday June 8 the delegates had the privilege to be welcomed in some of the most historically important churches in downtown Atlanta. These, all situated in the Sweet Auburn district, were at a walking distance from Martin Luther King Jr.’s own Baptist Church, Ebenezer, and the MLK Center. The Sweet Auburn district is known as what used to be the heart of the African-American neighborhood. It was definitely a central point during the Civil Rights Movement.

The L'Arche Story
L’Arche International has its roots in the foundation of the first L’Arche community in 1964 in Trosly-Breuil, a village north of Paris. Following the suggestion of his mentor Father Thomas Philippe, a Dominican priest, Jean Vanier, son of a former Governor General of Canada, decided to invite RaphaĆ«l Simi and Philippe Seux to live with him in a small house which he named L’Arche, the French word for the Ark.

From this small beginning more than forty years ago the L’Arche Federation today encompasses 131 communities in more than 30 countries on five continents.

The Australian Story
The L'Arche community in Canberra is known as L'Arche Genesaret. It had its beginnings in the early 1970s, and in April 1978 welcomed its first member at a former convent at Bungendore, a village 20 kilometres east of Canberra. To offer better work and recreation opportunities, the community relocated to Yarralumla, in Canberra, in 1980. It bought its own home at Chifley in 1982, and two years later, in 1984, opened a second home. A third home was established in 1986. Today L'Arche Genesaret maintains three houses and two self-contained flats in the Canberra suburbs of Chifley and Curtin, providing accommodation for 13 people with disability. Other L'Arche Communities have been founded in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and  Hobart. Friends of L'Arche are now established in The Humter and Perth

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Sydney Acceptance Celebrates 40 Years

CONGRATULATIONS and best wishes to the Acceptance Community in Sydney as they celebrate their 40th anniversary this year.

A feature of the anniversary celebration is is an exhibition at the Surry Hills library in Sydney.

Acceptance Sydney, the world’s 2nd oldest gay Catholic group, is a welcoming ministry to gay Catholics, their families and friends. Founded in Sydney in 1972, the group first met in homes, halls and churches offered by other faiths; Acceptance was not able to have Mass in a Catholic Church in Sydney for nearly 20 years. In the late 1980s Acceptance spread nationwide, with chapters in Canberra and all mainland State capitals. In 2012, chapters remain in Sydney and Melbourne. 

Surry Hills Library is proud to host a collection of photos, stories and other archival material curated by Acceptance Sydney on the occasion of their 40th anniversary. The exhibtion tells the story of this gay Catholic group’s struggle to find its place in Sydney, the gay community and in the Catholic Church. Acceptance is a fascinating part of the City of Sydney’s gay history and the exhibition is a highlight of Pride Week 2012. (Quote and exhibition details here)

The exhibition was launched by Kristina Keneally with a wonderfully crafted reflection on" Feminists and gay Christians who accept the Church".

My links to Sydney Acceptance go back to my days as a young religious with the Capuchin Friars. One of my young colleagues had recently left the friars and invited me to come and help out with music at a home mass. It was sometime in the early 1970s when the group was still meeting in house groups. Over the years I have often returned to visit this amazing group of people and  have been inspired by their dedication and commitment. Most recently the community has been vilified in a vicious online attack indicative of the reality of homophobia that still exists in our Church.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Papal Economics Gets a Fail

In a report from Milan, the Brisbane Courier Mail has quoted Pope Benedict  XVI as calling for families from rich countries to sponsor families from poor countries. The cal was made as the Pope during a visit to Milan for the World Meeting of Families.

The report notes that the Pope's suggestion that families from rich countries could act as sponsors for families from poorer ones drew enthusiastic applause from his audience.

No  readers of the CathNews report of this item seem to be very enthusiastic about the novel approach.

This call  is a typical example of the drift away from Catholic Social Teachings and back to romanticism which seems to be the dominant theme of this Papacy.

The Pope's suggestion is a patronising model of paternalism which does nothing to address the crucial issues of poverty and injustice.

It is bad charity as it creates a "culture of righteousness" that is removed from the socio-political reforms of economies and political structures.

I wonder to what extent this is part of a wider agenda given the recent actions taken against Caritas International? The Pope's speech did not invite families in those rich countries to contribute to the programs of Caritas International. The organisation's work is described as "ensuring the poorest and most marginalised are the driving force in our emergency responses, sustainable development and peace building.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Jubilee Prayer for the Queen

Well in the UK they are having a party and a half for the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen of Australia, Elizabeth 11. Our "Aunty" is obviously keen that we don't miss any of the Diamond Jubilee events, so it seems  a passing comment is warrented. 

Here in my Archdiocese of Brisbane the jubilee didn't rate a mention in the weekend liturgies.I was at Mass at St Mary's in South Brisbane where the only jubilee  mentioned in the prayers of the faithful was  the 20th anniversary of the Mabo Decision.

Meanwhile back in the Motherland, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have released an approved payer to be used in Churches over the Jubilee weekend Masses

The Prayer for the Queen reads:
V. O Lord, save Elizabeth, our Queen.
R. And hear us on the day we call upon you.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come before you.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.
Almighty God, we pray, that your servant Elizabeth, our Queen, who, by your providence has received the governance of this realm, may continue to grow in every virtue, that, imbued with your heavenly grace, she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil and, being blessed with your favour may, with her consort and the royal family, come at last into your presence, through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life and who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen
I don't know if it's ancient Irish blood or deep seated republican sympathies that left my eyebrows slightly raised as I read this text. I have some doubts about ERII receiving her right to govern from the providence of God. I suggest she traces her seat on the throne back to the Act of Settlement and her family genes. 

Meanwhile the Anglicans have produced a much better piece of theology with the official Diamond Jubilee Prayer which will be used in St Pauls' Cathedral for the Thanksgiving Service on June 5. Don't suppoe they will throw in a reference to World Environment Day do you?
God of time and eternity,
whose Son reigns as servant, not master;
we give you thanks and praise
that you have blessed this Nation, the Realms and Territories
our beloved and glorious Queen.
In this year of Jubilee,
grant her your gifts of love and joy and peace
as she continues in faithful obedience to you, her Lord and God
and in devoted service to her lands and peoples,
and those of the Commonwealth,
now and all the days of her life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.