Thursday, June 27, 2013

Brisbane Pride Festival's 2nd Annual Memorial Garden

The Brisbane Pride Festival invites everyone from the community to its second annual memorial garden planting this weekend. This is an event created as a chance for anyone to come and remember those who have departed and contribute to a communal memorial. Join with other community members in this sincere and respectful remembrance of missed loved ones.

Sunday, June 30 2013 11.00am
Brisbane City Botanic Gardens Alice St, Brisbane 4000
Last year the Brisbane Pride Festival Association launched the inaugural Memorial Garden.
This is a free event provided for the community to allow us to come together and remember loved ones lost to us. Planted in June the garden grows over the three month period and will bloom in all its magnificence during the Pride Festival month of September.

All and any members of our community and its supporters are welcome to join us in the City Botanical Gardens (the rainbow garden bed, by the main information rotunda) for the planting ceremony of this years memorial garden. Planted out in seedlings that will bloom into the rainbow flag, this garden is not only a memorial in the visual form but also in the symbolic form, as we invite you to not only attend, but also plant a seedling yourself in memory of a loved one lost too soon.

As this seedling grows, their life will be remembered and honoured as part of the new life that will develop into a magnificent rainbow garden by September.

There will also be the books of remembrance, where, if you like you may write a message to your loved one that will be preserved from year to year in the perpetual books of remembrance.

Brisbane Pride Festival Association, respectfully invites our community and its supporters to join us on this special day of remembrance and celebration of those we have loved who are no longer with us. Please bring an old spoon for planting and join us as we plant new life to remember the ones no longer with us.

There is no agenda to the garden except to honour a loved one, it could be a partner, a friend, a love, a family member ... if there is someone who has left a gap in your life by their exit from it, then please come and join with other members of the community in this solemn and respectful representation of our missed loved ones.

The planting ceremony will be followed by a simple sausage sizzle for those who wish to partake and share stories amongst each other.

Spiritual Gardens in the Christian Tradition
Gardening as a Spiritual Practice

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dethroning The Prelates

This week's "Frank' quote from Rome continues a theme of pastoral ministry over clerical careers.Our local CathNews reported:

His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke
"A good prospective bishop will "love interior poverty as freedom for the Lord" and live that externally with a simple lifestyle, and he won't have the "mindset of a prince," the pope said  on Friday during a meeting with nuncios and apostolic delegates." Read the full text here

Although the CathNews service has been given a cosmetic makeover, it seems that the editors are not keen to promote discussion on the news items. However, our cousins at CathNews New Zealand have a forum which has kicked of with one lonely comment looking for companionship. You can also join some intelligent discussion on this item at the National Catholic Reporter.

UK blogger, Fr Ray Blake suggest that his readers send off suitable names of good pastors to help the local Nuncio with his fresh challenge.Fr Blake also drops a few names of   princely bishops  for those with limited historical overview.

Blogging in the US of A, Fr Allan J McDonald provides a pictorial commentary and has stirred a very left field discussion about military ranking.

UCAN India has not been able to stir any response from its readers. Over at Reuters a story on the empty Papal Chair at a Vatican Concert has attracted 92 comments with references to lifestyle and higher clergy. The same story features in the religious moshpit at Vexilla Regis.

Perhaps the Vatican needs to publish a "Dummies Guide For Bishops." A few tips could be included to help keep Bishops pastoral:

  • Abandon honorific titles of "My Lord" and "Your Grace"
  • Encourage the manufacturers of the Cappa Magna to cease this piece of extravagant episcopal day wear and devote their talents to producing affordable clothing for those living in poverty.
  • Encourage prelates to shop at Op Shops such as Vinnies and Lifeline for their day wear.
  • Adopt a simple style of Bishop's Chair in Cathedrals such as that in Parramatta and replace those that look like thrones.
  • Give your Archbishop  and Bishops a metcard to encourage them to use public transport as their preferred mode of travel
  • Suggest that all Bishops adopt the simple style of mitre favoured by Pope Francis and sell their jeweled mitres off for charitable purposes.
  • Follow the example of Cardinal Sean O'Malley and sell of Palaces and extravagant homes and move into simpler lodging in one of the empty presbyteries or monasteries.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Prayer Request

Srs Maria van Galen and Majella Tracey
I ask readers of this blog to hold in their prayers and thoughts Sr Majella Tracey FMM. Majella is the last remaining member of my mother's family, currently recovering from open heart surgery in Melbourne.

You won't find much online about Majella but her life long work for justice and peace has touched the lives of women and men in Australia and beyond. For many years she worked alongside Cyril Halley providing formation and support for volunteers serving in cross cultural mission.

Majella is my last link with  my elders of the Tracey clan who came to Australia from County Clare a few generations ago. . Last August  we buried my mother, her elder sister, so Majella is now the surviving member in a family story.

With gratitude

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Papal Blessing for Bikes Offfers Hope for Gays!!!

Pope Francis is gaining a reputation for his ability to embrace the "ordinary" in life. He lives simply, catches a bus when he can and pays his own bills. His role as Pontiff  has him rubbing shoulders with world leaders, rock stars and minor TV celebrities.

Recent reports from Rome include a Papal  blessing for 1400 Harley Davidson bikes and their riders. The blessing was offered to the company as part of its 110th anniversary of foundation. You can also view  The Pope Gets 2 Harley-Davidson photo gallery.

Is it any wonder the Church has a credibility problem. It's OK to bless bikes but not OK to bless the love and commitment of same sex couples.

Does this mean that Brisbane's famous "Dykes on Bikes" may have  roared into this event with the same confidence they show when they lead off Brisbane's Pride March?

Is the Vatican aware that a simple Google search shows that Gay Bikers could have been part of the crowd when Pope Francis imparted his blessing? Did they have a sexuality check at the front gate?

I submitted a section of this post as a commentary on the CathNews coverage of the story. The editor didn't publish my response. The source of the story at Catholic News Agency had no problem with my text. If you really want to see a Catholic moshpit in full swing have a look at the comments in the coverage of this story in the Huffington Post.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Abbey Nuns Appear Again

It was all pomp and circumstance for the June 2 anniversary service  of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey.

The Coronation in 1953 was televised live by the BBC. It was the biggest operation they had ever mounted and the ceremony was watched by millions across the globe, heralding a new era in broadcasting.
Read more about 1953 Coronation service.

Even here in the Republican bound colony this event was acknowledged by local media with  Queensland's Courier Mail providing a photo gallery. And there  among the images of Royals and their hangers-on I saw the Nuns who first gained fame at William and Kate's  Big English Wedding.

They made another cameo appearance as  Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were photographed leaving the service. Whereas most women at the service seem to have a new outfit since the wedding the two Nuns stuck to their habits and the Reeboks.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Archdiocese of Brisbane Takes Justice to Social Media

The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane has been producing a blog for some years to promote its work and projects..

Now the CJPC  also has a new Facebook Page that may engage a new audience. It joins others who share this ministry such as the Justice and Peace Offices from  Toowoomba, Sydney, Joliet, Nakuru,Buffalo NY Wrexham,Lexington,

Social Media is used well in the Archdiocese of Brisbane with the Archbishop also appearing on Facebook, Youtube and a Twitter account.

The CJPC Facebook page will provide a new and exciting platform for building solidarity and support for those engaged in this vital witness to the Gospel. It will also provide a tool for promoting Catholic Social Teachings to a wider audience.

So, come on in and "like" the page, add your contribution to the conversations and action for peace and justice in our world.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir and St Mary's South Brisbane

The 15th anniversary of the Brisbane Lesbian and Pride Choir should be of interest to local Catholics. In a report covering the arrival of the Capuchin Friars to St Mary's Parish of South Brisbane  there is a reference to the popping of the mosaic tiles in the Church Sanctuary. Bad plumbing seems to be the  source of the popping.

The night the tiles began to lift was also the regular rehearsal time for the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir at St Mary's. With the Choir members, I remember looking in amazement at the mosaic of small tiles popping out of place. Little did we know on that night that the "popping" would usher in  one of the most explosive chapters in the history of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

My association with the choir began in its early days when they were looking for a space for weekly rehearsals.At that time the Church  of St Mary's South Brisbane was a vibrant and exciting space which acknowledged Indigenous  Country and hosted public events for Domestic Violence Remembrance Day, Peace Ceremonies and other public rituals for justice and community building.

I consider my work in securing the Choir a  home in the Church for a significant part of its 15 year history to be one of the graced moments of pastoral care in my life and work as a Christian. As well as using the Church for a rehearsal space the Choir performed at regular community gatherings and celebrations.This relationship between the Church and the Brisbane Lesbian and  Gay Pride Choir was challenging for some choir members.It took bravery and maturity to  feel at home in a building that  represented  a culture of exclusion and homophobia for many.It is a tribute to the community that worshiped and gathered at St Mary's at that time .that they could create a space of welcome and hospitality for  many diverse groups.

The Choir's presence in the Church was not welcome by others including John Bathersby, the then Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane.

A turbulent history and a decision to hand the Church over to the Capuchin Friars now sees this beautiful building no longer a centre for creative rituals of inclusion, justice and peace making for the local community. St Mary's does not appear on the list of "Welcoming Gay Friendly Churches in Australia"

Monday, June 03, 2013

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday July 7 2013

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday falls on the first Sunday in July and brings together Catholics to celebrate the gifts that Indigenous Catholics bring to the Church in Australia.Sadly it has become a forgotten feast for much of the Church in 2013.

This year's resources are our most extensive and consist of:
  • Liturgy Suggestions
  • A Message from Bishop Christopher Saunders
  • Youth Activities for both Primary and Secondary students
  • Small group reflections that encourage Catholics to come together and discuss the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander input into the Catholic Church in Australia 
  • Methods of reflection
  • Clip Art
NATSICC asks that you keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in your thoughts and prayers throughout the year as we continue to strive for constitutional recognition, a better alternative to the NT 'Intervention' and an answer to the terrible rate of suicide amongst our young people. We truly pray for 
Peace and mercy for all.

2013 Liturgy Resources (Download PDF)
A3 Poster (Download)
'Gospel of Hope' - Letter from Bishop Saunders (Download)
See a full collection of resources since 2003 here

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Growing Up Catholic Exhibition

Google "Growing up Catholic" and you will find everything you need including  advice, a quiz and even a Facebook page The aim of this post is to move one of the links up the listings so that it attracts more visitors and introduces readers to a fascinating bit of Australian History.

170 years ago  four Passionist priests began Australia's first Catholic Mission to Aboriginal People on North Stradbroke Island. In a homily at a Mass to mark the occasion, Archbishop Mark Coleridge reflected on an experiment  that only lasted four years with the clergy abandoning the mission due to physical hardships and lack of a common language. This experiment was also to have a significant impact on  Australia's first Catholic Bishop,  John Bede Polding's support for Indigenous People.

In 1845, Archbishop Polding appeared before a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Aborigines. His words reveal the depth of his compassion for what he believed was a “burning injustice” in regard to Indigenous people:

I am making myself black, putting myself in that position and taking away all that I know except that this is my country, that my father lived by pursuing the emu, and the kangaroo, and I am driven away from my hunting grounds, that my children and tribe are subjected to the grossest barbarities…

Today a vibrant Catholic Community  continues to gather in Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island  in a Church dedicated to the founder of the Passionist Order, St Paul of the Cross. 

Growing up Catholic is a new exhibition curated by Michael Aird which documents the remarkable history of the Catholic Church on North Stradbroke Island. The exhibition in images, text and video is worth a pilgrim trip across the bay to celebrate the stories of the encounter of Catholic Faith with Indigenous Spirituality, ritual and story.

The exhibition was launched by Aunty Rosie Borey & Aunty Ethel McKaskill with Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane.and  Dr Stefano Girola 
The exhibition continues until 7th July at North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum.
The Museum is open from 10am – 2pm Tuesday to Saturday and 11am – 3pm on Sunday.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Footballers and Bishops Against Racism
Adam Goodes has become a household name in Australia and Racism has been exposed yet again  in the sacred halls of the AFL

Joel Hodge reflecting on the role of sport in society writes: " The challenge for us, as individuals and as a society, is how to play, watch and prioritise sport “for the fun” so that it does not become obsessive and destructive; and so, that it does not take over our country and its identity."

Racism  is one of the  destructive patterns in sport and two anniversaries this year should challenge our attitudes and strengthen our resolve to address this issue.

In 1993 Ricky Winmar lifted his jumper, pointed to his skin and responded to racist taunts with "I'm black and I'm proud to be black". Black and Proud A stand against racism is an exhibition mounted to mark this event  at the National Sports Museum in Melbourne. The exhibition should be a place of pilgrimage and conversion and I will be including it in significant events to mark the celebration of my 60th Birthday this year.

Ten years ago in 2003 the Australian Catholic Bishops released a landmark statement: A Generous Heart in the Love of Christ Challenging Racism in Australia Today. 

In the introduction to the statement Bishop Chris Saunders notes

"We live in a time of national and international divisiveness and bitterness, often based on racial and religious differences. The Statement traces Australia’s own story of welcome and exclusion, from the impact of the early white settlers on our first inhabitants to the development of a multicultural nation, but notes the recurrence today of widespread racial hostility and rejection, expressed most clearly in our attitude to prospective refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East."

Perhaps it is time to re-visit this statement.Imagine the impact if the link to this statement was included in the various Diocesan and and parish websites that provide useful and even "essential" links.I would like to see quotes from the statement in our famous "sporting" schools included as part of the coaching program. Will you ask your Diocese, parish,school community and friends to take Racism seriously and read this statement?

Racism isn't far from the sacred halls of the Church as evident in this quote from an article by  Nick Agocs a recipient of the Multicultural Community Service award in WA,

Yes, there are racists in Australia! A close examination of our conscience and attitudes we will find that we all have "racist" views to some extent. But it is very disturbing for a cleric to claim that Australian parishes are racist while at the same time refusing to recognise the "institutionaled racism"that  exists within the structure of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Nick Agocs  was replying to a featured blogpost in CathNews in which Fr Maurizio Pettena CS stated:
The harm we do in showing frankly racist attitudes toward those who have come here in generosity is extremely upsetting. We can take a more positive role in helping these migrant priests to get used to Australian culture, but instead, we simply criticise them for being “ignorant, tribal or patriarchal.”