Sunday, September 30, 2012

Andrew Gills, All Hallows Alumni

All Hallows Chapel (Tony Robertson)
"When I attend my old high school past pupils' mass this month, I will be the only man there who has the privilege of saying he is also an All Hallows Girl.I no longer see this  as a lack of "normality" or a point of my difference. And I am looking forward to honouring my gender history"
Andrew Gills

In 1996 Adinda Gills graduated from All Hallows School in Brisbane. On October 27 Andrew Gills will join his old classmates for the Past Pupils Mass. It will be Andrew's third reunion gathering  as a transgender person who sees this event as an opportunity to "honour my history as a girl".

Andrew writes of the welcome and hospitality he has experienced as a transgender person among his old classmates. I have no doubt that this comes from the lived tradition of the text which appears as a welcome message on the school web page:

All Hallows' is a large centrally located school, which caters for students from a wide variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. It offers an extensive range of excellent academic, cultural and sporting opportunities. In its spiritual, pastoral and academic life, the School seeks to promote personal growth, the development of an informed conscience and commitment to work for social justice in the wider community.

Andrew's public announcement of this celebration challenges the language of the Catholic Church as well as the limits of its teaching on sexuality.  The authoritative  Catechism of the Catholic Church has no  entry for Transgender, nor even for Lesbian. Such people do not exist in the minds of the men behind this text.

So, thank you Andrew Gills, your classmates and other alumni of All Hallows Brisbane. Your witness to the rich grace of human identity and its diversity is a testimony to the  education of young women provided by the Sisters of Mercy. May other transgender persons who live in our Church and community also find  welcome and hospitality.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why All The Good Men Come from Geelong!!!

21 September 2012
Media Release
Australian elected as Columban Superior General

Fr Kevin O'Neill from Geelong, Victoria was elected as Superior General of the Missionary Society of St Columban at the Columban General Assembly in Los Angeles on the 20th September, 2012.

Fr Kevin was born in Geelong on 23rd November, 1962 and is one of six children, including a  twin brother, Peter, who is also a Columban Priest. His parents, John and Ruth, reside in Geelong.

He was educated at Our Lady's, Manifold Heights and St Joseph's CBC, Newtown and  studied chemical engineering at RMIT  before entering St Columbans Seminary, Turramurra, NSW in 1984. He was ordained in 1992 by Bishop Peter Connors at Manifold Heights.

Fr Kevin has worked in Taiwan and Ireland, and is currently working in China. In his new appointment he will reside in Hong Kong where the Columban headquarters are situated.

Fr Ray Scanlon
Acting Regional Director
Australia  New Zealand
St Columbans Mission Society

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Travelling Bishops: Peter Elliot, Melbourne

The St. Louis Chapter of the Latin Liturgy Association is pleased to welcome liturgist Bishop Peter Elliot to St. Louis Saturday and Sunday, September 29th  30th, 2012 for a public lecture and Holy Mass at Historic St. Mary of Victories Chapel downtown. 

Chapel Trivia: The chapel has two choir lofts. At one time, a convent of the Sisters of Saint Mary, a religious hospital order, was adjacent to this church. The Sisters were constatly exposed to infectious diseases—before antibiotics. They could sing in the choir without coming in contact with lay parishoners in the upper loft.

His Excellency is an international authority on liturgy, and on the Anglican Ordinariates now authorized by Pope Benedict XVI. The public is invited; free of charge.

The lecture is titled “Benedict XVI and the Liturgy: Vision and Practice” and will take place Saturday evening, September 29th at 7:30 PM.

Bishop Elliot will celebrate Holy Mass in the Ordinary Form in Latin at 9 AM on Sunday, September 30th.

Both will take place at historic St. Mary of Victories Chapel 744 South 3rd Street, in downtown St. Louis 

Relics, Bodies and Grace

I often wonder why Catholic saints  never seem to have RIP appended to their titles as we do to other mere mortals who have died. Perhaps it has something to do with the process of canonisation which usually involves the exhuming of the remains and then, if bits can be found, relocating them in  elaborate mausoleums or if fully intact, a glass case for viewing. Whatever, it seems that these heroes of the faith are never allowed to rest in peace.

The latest restless saint to grace the Land Downunder is Francis Xavier, of Jesuit fame. We don't get all his bits, just his right arm. Most of his bits were on public display in Goa in 2004-2005. The right arm has been dislocated from the rest of his body as a religious act of reverence for his ability to bless and baptise. One wonders if the same effect would be gained had the poor man been left handed?

The national tour is now underway and those who have more time than I do for such things have taken to discussion forums with weird and wonderful insights. Over at Catholica the discussion even explored  a relationship between the relic and  the poplar TV sitcom character, Thing. Perhaps the most unexpected support for this tour has come from the "ethical burr in the national saddle", Frank Brennan. His homily at the arrival of the relic in Canberra has been published in Eureka Street. It will be worth watching the comments on this one as he is certainly "out of left field" this time.

I am too busy working with the broken bodies of survivors of institutional abuse to look at a touring relic.

Many of the people I work with lost their childhood in Church run institutions where bodies and souls were beaten, isolated, assaulted and  dis-graced by those who represented  religion and faith.

Many of these Forgotten Australians would give their right arm to have  their childhood back. The damage has been done and many of them are relics of a dark and  evil history which haunts them.

When I look for images of amazing grace, I don't need religious corpses to inspire me. I get my inspiration from the  beauty and grace that shines through the lives of these people who have been betrayed by  the custodians of faith.

"Through the story of sexual abuse and the church's response, I came to the unshakable belief that within the Catholic Church there absolutely must be profound and enduring change on the two subjects of power and sex" 
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson

The travelling right arm of St Francis Xavier will be visiting my Archdiocese of Brisbane during November. On November 16 it will be "on display" at the Cathedral of St Stephen. This day also happens to be the International Day of Tolerance. Imagine if the Cathedral was surrounded by survivors of institutional abuse holding up their right arms pleading for tolerance and understanding from a Church which failed them in their childhood.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In Our Lifetime : Aboriginal Christians Talking

Is the Latin Mass part of your practice as a Catholic?

Despite predictions that time had passed for the Latin Mass, the rise of the EF is a phenomenon in the modern church. Does it represent a deeper, underlying cultural change? What do you think? Is the Latin Mass part of your practice as a Catholic? - 

For those who may not be familiar with the EF I suggest a visit to New Liturgical Movement for a textual and visual feast of this phenomena.

My childhood liturgical life was firmly grounded in the EF. I was an altar server who had mastered the best of the Latin tongue twisters and had perfected the ritual logistics including bell ringing down to a fine art. It never occurred to me at that time to wonder why no girls or women were allowed into the sanctuary. I didn't bat an eyelid at the ornate  vestments and the intricate hand woven lace patterns on the albs and surplices. I was too busy getting the movements right and the auto responses out to wonder if this was the way God wanted to be worshiped all over the world.

I was in grade six at St Pat's Primary School in Geelong West when the English Mass was introduced. It was such a climatic shift that we had class sessions reading out the new texts as if it was a foreign language. Churches suddenly began to echo with the voices from the pews who had been mostly silent. The  priest began to face the people and his actions were more public as we saw bread and wine offered blessed, and broken in our midst. Rosaries were left in pockets and handbags for private devotion as we needed to be ready to turn pages, shake hands and receive communion like adults.

The EF is back in town and some will find consolation in the home coming of the lost child. However, the family has migrated and things are different now. I left that lost child behind so I could mature and grow into a better person of faith and service. I don't mind my liturgy done "ad orientum" and bits of Greek, Latin, Hebrew and a host of other languages are good reminders  of our universal connection.  In the quirky way of Catholicism I will stick to my Latin Novus Ordo rather then the English Extraordinary Form!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Looking for a personal priest: apply now!!!

In a breath taking report from CathNews I have discovered a new role for Catholic Clergy. It seems that the UK singer, Charlotte  Church has a personal priest. Fr Richard Reardon has  now gained some celebrity status. I expect part of his workload may include advising Ms Church on her relations with the Vatican.

How does one get a personal priest? My Archdiocese doesn't have an application process and I can't afford to fly over to Cardiff where Fr Reardon has launched this exciting ministry initiative. 

Does  one get appointed the same way as spiritual directors? I wonder what the criteria would be  for such a role? Obviously the priest would need a mobile phone so I imagine that  texting  pastoral suggestions and quotable quotes would be standard. 

Would your personal priest be available for Home Masses? (remember them from the good old days). 

I am taking applications now and invite interested clergy to send me a copy of their CV, preferred social media, two passport size photos ( one with vestments please) and their hours of availability.