Catholic Outlook Magazine | Advent | Summer 2022 Issue

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M A G A Z I N E<br />

Christmas traditions in the Diocese of Parramatta I A family <strong>Advent</strong> calendar to make<br />

A local guide to Christmas shopping I Unexpected sources of wisdom and strength<br />

Marriage as a celebration at Christmas I A community of friends at Our Lady of the Nativity, Lawson<br />

<strong>Advent</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong>

Imprimatur and Publisher:<br />

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv<br />

Bishop of Parramatta<br />

(02) 8838 3400<br />

PO Box 3066,<br />

North Parramatta, NSW, 1750<br />

bishop@parracatholic.org<br />

www.catholicoutlook.org<br />

Editor & Vicar for Communication:<br />

Br Mark O’Connor FMS<br />

(02) 8838 3400<br />

PO Box 3066,<br />

North Parramatta, NSW, 1750<br />

comms@parracatholic.org<br />

Senior Communications Manager:<br />

Christina Gretton<br />

Communications Officer:<br />

Mary Brazell<br />

Nihil Obstat:<br />

Fr Wim Hoekstra<br />

Accounts:<br />

Alfie Ramirez<br />

(02) 8838 3437<br />

alfie.ramirez@parracatholic.org<br />

Printing:<br />

IVE Group Australia Pty Ltd<br />

All material in this publication is copyright and<br />

may not be reproduced without permission<br />

of the publisher. 8,500 copies are printed and<br />

distributed to 47 parishes, after school care<br />

centres and early learning centres in Western<br />

Sydney and the Blue Mountains.<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> <strong>Outlook</strong> is a member of the<br />

Australasian <strong>Catholic</strong> Press Association.<br />

© Diocese of Parramatta <strong>2022</strong><br />

Christmas artwork by Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann<br />

The Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains sits on the<br />

land of the Darug and Gundungurra people. We pay our respects to<br />

the Aboriginal elders past, present, emerging and future.<br />

The Miriam Rose Foundation is a charity dedicated to improving lives and<br />

creating opportunities for a brighter future for Indigenous children and<br />

youth. You can support the Foundation’s work at<br />

miriamrosefoundation.org.au<br />

The Diocese of Parramatta reaffirms the<br />

wise axiom attributed to Saint Augustine of<br />

Hippo, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials,<br />

freedom; in all things, charity.” In this spirit,<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> <strong>Outlook</strong> publishes a variety of<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> viewpoints. They are not necessarily<br />

the official views of the Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

Cover Image: The children of Ambrose School Age Care<br />

Harris Park helped us get ready to celebrate Christmas<br />

this year. Back from left: Melaia-Grace, Elijah, Amara and<br />

Anthony. Front: Xavier and Savannah.<br />

Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

From Bishop Vincent<br />

Dear friends,<br />

Welcome to our <strong>Advent</strong> edition of <strong>Catholic</strong> <strong>Outlook</strong>,<br />

the magazine of the Diocese of Parramatta. As<br />

members of our faith community in Western Sydney<br />

and the Blue Mountains, this is a magazine for you.<br />

Here we share the inspiring stories of the people in<br />

our community, as well as reflections that can bring<br />

us closer to each other and to God.<br />

For me, Christmas is a time of thinking about the<br />

peace that Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed while He<br />

was here on Earth.<br />

He became one of us as one of the most vulnerable<br />

beings – a newborn homeless baby. In this edition,<br />

we reflect on that concept – what can we learn<br />

from Jesus’ example of being vulnerable? At the<br />

same time, as we further reflect on the Christmas<br />

story and the visit of the Wise Men at Epiphany, our<br />

understanding of wisdom grows. The story of the<br />

Magi putting their faith in following the stars to the<br />

infant Jesus, then falling to their knees in front of<br />

Him, demonstrates how our wisdom and faith comes<br />

not from control or selfishness, but being open<br />

to the Spirit.<br />

We explain the Australian Church’s social justice<br />

message on domestic violence. My own Christmas<br />

message on page 10 outlines the urgent need of our<br />

world to embrace peace and love for our brothers<br />

and sisters who share this world with us.<br />

The wonderful saint, and great witness to peace, St<br />

Francis of Assisi, was the first person to celebrate<br />

Christmas by setting up a nativity scene. He wanted<br />

people to better understand the extraordinary story<br />

that Christmas is of a vulnerable baby in the poorest<br />

of circumstances, who was sent to bring us into<br />

union with God, one another and indeed all creation.<br />

As you look on your own nativity scene at home or<br />

at your parish, I invite you to reflect on its message<br />

of peace.<br />

I wish you and your family a joyous Christmas! <br />

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv<br />

Bishop of Parramatta<br />

We also look at how the people of our Church are<br />

responding to the vulnerable: from homeless elderly<br />

people, to those who need our help putting food on<br />

the table, even those whose advocacy has helped<br />

ensure our church buildings are accessible to those<br />

in wheelchairs.<br />


Belong<br />


Your local <strong>Catholic</strong><br />

school is enrolling<br />

now for 2024<br />

Visit www.parra.catholic.edu.au today to find your local <strong>Catholic</strong> school and join one of our<br />

caring, faith-filled communities.<br />

From the beginning of 2023, <strong>Catholic</strong> Education Diocese of Parramatta will be known as <strong>Catholic</strong> Schools Parramatta Diocese Ltd.

We’ve created this <strong>Advent</strong> calendar to help you and your family prepare for Christmas.<br />

A<br />

<strong>Advent</strong> Calendar<br />

36 14<br />

Step 1 – Cut out both pages from the magazine.<br />

Step 2 – With a blade and ruler cut around the 3 dotted lines of each door leaving it attached on the left side.<br />

Step 3 – Put glue on the blue and glue Page B to the back of Page A.<br />

Step 4 – Open a door a day and complete the action to help you prepare for Christmas.<br />

Merry Christmas<br />

18<br />

From the Diocese of Parramatta, the Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains<br />

20<br />

On the Inside<br />

<strong>Advent</strong> | <strong>Summer</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

Get instant updates on <strong>Catholic</strong><br />

<strong>Outlook</strong> stories and news from<br />

our Diocese - follow the Diocese<br />

of Parramatta Facebook page<br />

facebook.com/parracatholic.<br />

Subscribe to <strong>Catholic</strong> <strong>Outlook</strong><br />

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of charge every week.<br />

04 <strong>Outlook</strong>Looks<br />

08 Short & Sweet<br />

09 Prayer<br />

10 Bishop Vincent’s<br />

Christmas message<br />

12 What’s your Christmas<br />

tradition?<br />

14 Celebrating Parish Milestones<br />

16 Celebrating our local servants<br />

of the People of God<br />

18 A family <strong>Advent</strong><br />

calendar to make<br />

20 Christmas is a time to<br />

celebrate your marriage<br />

22 An open pantry door<br />

24 ‘Class of <strong>2022</strong>’<br />

share life lessons<br />

26 Digital pilgrims take the<br />

virtual road to encounter<br />

28 When Christmas is<br />

a time of fear<br />

30 Community hero<br />

honoured with new<br />

accessible playspace<br />

32 Looking Deeper<br />

34 Falling downward<br />

36 Epiphany<br />

38 Jesus: the vunerable<br />

face of God<br />

40 A cuppa with the priest: Fr Paul<br />

Slyney, Parish Priest, Our Lady<br />

of the Nativity Parish, Lawson<br />

42 Parish Profile: Our Lady of the<br />

Nativity Parish, Lawson<br />

44 Breaking the cycle of<br />

homeless in our community<br />

46 Closing the early years learning<br />

gap one traineeship at a time<br />

48 Christmas gift ideas<br />

50 Watch and Listen<br />

51 Christmas word search<br />

52 Kid’s corner<br />

54 What’s on in the Diocese<br />

55 Directory of services<br />

56 Pope’s prayer intentions<br />

57 Latest appointments<br />

57 Voice of the People

<strong>Outlook</strong>Looks<br />

Christmas Mass and Reconciliation Times<br />

Can’t decide which Mass to go to this Christmas? Check out the list of Masses and Reconciliation times in<br />

local parishes, listed on the Diocese of Parramatta website.<br />

parracatholic.org<br />

Try to slow the pace and have family<br />

time during <strong>Advent</strong>.<br />

Get in the zone this <strong>Advent</strong><br />

Did you know that <strong>Advent</strong> means “the coming<br />

of something important”? Often we find that the<br />

24 days of <strong>Advent</strong> are the busiest all year. This<br />

year, take the time to slow the pace of your family<br />

and prepare your family to appreciate the special<br />

season of Christmas.<br />

You’ll find a stack of ideas for slowing the pace<br />

and growing closer as a family over <strong>Advent</strong><br />

at this link on the Cath Family website<br />

catholicoutlook.info/Family<strong>Advent</strong><br />

Members of the new <strong>Catholic</strong> Schools Parramatta Diocese Ltd board with Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of<br />

Parramatta (centre) and clergy after their commissioning Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

New name, same great local <strong>Catholic</strong> schools<br />

With 80 great local schools, <strong>Catholic</strong> Education Diocese of Parramatta is dedicated to providing families with<br />

meaningful opportunities to grow in faith and learning across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. From<br />

the beginning of 2023, the organisation will be known as <strong>Catholic</strong> Schools Parramatta Diocese Ltd and have<br />

a new governance framework. In the spirit of leading together, there will also be a new Board of Directors for<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Schools Parramatta Diocese Ltd, led by Chair Elizabeth Crouch AM, and a new Executive Director of<br />

Schools, Jack de Groot.<br />

Find out more catholicoutlook.info/Schoolsboard<br />


Take action against<br />

modern slavery<br />

<strong>Outlook</strong>Looks<br />

50 million people, 71% of them women and girls,<br />

live in slavery globally. The Diocese of Parramatta<br />

is committed to supporting whatever actions will<br />

lead to the eradication of modern slavery.<br />

Georgie Crabb, <strong>Catholic</strong> Care Case Manager (left) and<br />

Denise* (*name changed) who now has a safe home<br />

thanks to <strong>Catholic</strong> Care Western Sydney and the Blue<br />

Mountains. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

Help the homeless to find a home<br />

Right now, all types of people, including<br />

grandparents, families and young people<br />

can’t find a safe secure space to call home.<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Care Western Sydney and the Blue<br />

Mountains provides help to those in need who<br />

have nowhere safe to live. This Christmas,<br />

Bishop Vincent invites you<br />

to give a compassionate<br />

Christmas donation to help<br />

the homeless.<br />

Read its Modern Slavery Statement at<br />

parracatholic.org/resources<br />

You can support the eradication of modern<br />

slavery buy purchasing the ACRATH 2023<br />

Calendar. The calendar features stories and<br />

information on forced marriage, ethical shopping<br />

(do you know how your clothes are made?) and<br />

those working to stop this insidious practice.<br />

Order it at acrath.org.au<br />

Make your donation here.<br />

Share the good vibes of<br />

coming to church<br />

Did you know that regular church<br />

attendees are much more likely than<br />

others to report they are satisfied with<br />

their relationships, spiritual wellbeing<br />

and sense of contentment? With all<br />

the good that going to church offers<br />

everyone, reach out to others this<br />

Christmas and New Year season and<br />

invite someone you know to Mass.<br />

According to recent research* 68%<br />

of people are likely to attend if they<br />

were personally invited.<br />

*The Changing Faith Landscape of<br />

Australia by McCrindle Research <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Bishop Vincent with parishioners at Our<br />

Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills<br />

Image: Diocese of Parramatta.<br />


<strong>Outlook</strong>Looks<br />

January Epiphany Pilgrimage<br />

Enjoy the beauty of the Blue Mountains while you celebrate, pray and reflect during the Epiphany Pilgrimage<br />

and Fiesta from 2 to 8 January 2023. Beginning at Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains, you will spend<br />

the next seven days walking bush tracks and trails to reach the top of the Blue Mountains. Along the way,<br />

experience the overwhelming hospitality of the six Blue Mountains parish communities who host the group for<br />

a festive meal each night. The event is open to all fitness levels: walk the entire 100kms, join for a day walk or<br />

maybe just drop in for the evening festivities.<br />

Find out more about this unique event at epiphanypilgrimage.org<br />

Pilgrims in the beautiful Blue Mountains. Image: Supplied.<br />

Congratulations to our parishes<br />

and faithful servants of the<br />

people of God<br />

This year, the Diocese of Parramatta welcomed<br />

our first new priest since 2018 and nine new<br />

deacons. Many parishes, priests and others in<br />

religious life also celebrated big milestones. Read<br />

about them on pages 14 and 16.<br />

Fr Andrew Rooney, who was ordained a priest in<br />

August <strong>2022</strong>. Image: Diocese of Parramatta<br />

St Finbar’s Parish at Glenbrook recently celebrated<br />

their first church’s 110 year anniversary. They will also<br />

host the family fiesta on 2 January 2023.<br />

Image: Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

Family Day at Finnies!<br />

Families are invited to the first day of the<br />

Epiphany Pilgrimage for a day of fun including<br />

jumping castles and a fiesta at St Finbar's Parish,<br />

Glenbrook on 2 January 2023.<br />

Details at epiphanypilgrimage.org<br />


Talking to other people of faith<br />

<strong>Outlook</strong>Looks<br />

A new group of people will be looking at how to engage with people of other faiths as part of the new Diocese<br />

of Parramatta Interfaith Commission. The members, who were commissioned in September <strong>2022</strong>, are tasked<br />

with strengthening the social fabric of Western Sydney through interfaith engagement.<br />

Watch this space for more interfaith news to come!<br />

The inaugural Diocese of Parramatta Interfaith Commission at their Commissioning Mass in September <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Short & Sweet<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> schools find their authenticity in the Gospel priorities of respect for<br />

human dignity, outreach, inclusion and special concern for young people at risk<br />

of being left behind. Ours are not schools that provide education for <strong>Catholic</strong>s<br />

only but <strong>Catholic</strong> education for all.<br />

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv<br />

at the <strong>Catholic</strong> Education Diocese of Parramatta Symposium in November <strong>2022</strong>. Find his<br />

full address at catholicoutlook.info/Symposium<strong>2022</strong><br />

We see what is happening and the worst thing is that we are becoming used to it.<br />

“Oh yes, today another boat capsized, so many lives were lost.” This “becoming<br />

used to” is a terrible illness.<br />

His Holiness Pope Francis<br />

in The Letter his new movie on Climate change released in October and viewable on YouTube<br />

The <strong>Catholic</strong> NSW Aboriginal Education Strategy aims to see increases<br />

in a number of important indicators...But importantly, it also aims to see<br />

improvements in wellbeing outcomes and better understanding of the histories,<br />

cultures and experiences of Aboriginal people.<br />

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP<br />

at the <strong>Catholic</strong> Schools NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Conference,<br />

co-hosted by <strong>Catholic</strong> Education Diocese of Parramatta in Leura in October <strong>2022</strong><br />

One could summarise diaconal spirituality in a few words, that is, a spirituality of<br />

service – willingness on the inside and openness on the outside.<br />

Archbishop Charles Balvo<br />

the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia at the National Deacons Conference hosted by the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta in Baulkham Hills in October <strong>2022</strong><br />

Scholastica of Subiaco, Hilda of Whitby, Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Sienna,<br />

Teresa of Ávila and Mary MacKillop all in their own time and their own way either<br />

led or challenged their brothers to see certain matters from a different perspective.<br />

Sr Antonia Curtis OSB, Benedictine Sisters, Jamberoo Abbey<br />

in her introduction to a series examining female saints which appeared on <strong>Catholic</strong><br />

<strong>Outlook</strong> in October and November <strong>2022</strong> catholicoutlook.info/AntoniaCurtis<br />

I told Pope Francis that the Church in Australia, notwithstanding the many<br />

challenges it faces, is alive and vibrant. Pope Francis was particularly<br />

pleased to hear of this vitality.<br />

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB<br />

President of the Australian <strong>Catholic</strong> Bishops Conference following his meeting with Pope<br />

Francis in Rome in October <strong>2022</strong><br />


In this way, like the Magi, we will have the daily certainty<br />

that even in the darkest nights a star continues to shine.<br />

It is the star of the Lord, who comes to care for our frail humanity.<br />

Let us set out on the path towards him.<br />

Let us not give apathy and resignation the power to<br />

drive us into a cheerless and banal existence.<br />

Let our restless hearts embrace the restlessness of the Spirit.<br />

The world expects from believers a new burst<br />

of enthusiasm for the things of heaven.<br />

Like the Magi, let us lift up our eyes, listen to the desire lodged in<br />

our hearts, and follow the star that God makes shine above us.<br />

As restless seekers, let us remain open to God’s surprises.<br />

Brothers and sisters, let us dream, let us seek and let us adore.<br />

From Pope Francis’ homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, St Peter’s Basilica, 6 January <strong>2022</strong>.<br />


If you want peace, work for justice!<br />

Bishop Vincent’s Christmas Message<br />


Dear Sisters and Brothers,<br />

We live in an increasingly dangerous world where<br />

a spiral of violence seems to be out of control.<br />

Violence and selfishness dominate our daily news,<br />

as the ‘answer’ the world offers to us. The horrors<br />

unfolding in Ukraine and the scandal of the arms<br />

race, and even more the danger of nuclear war<br />

frightens us all. Our planet continues to be exploited<br />

and the beauty of God’s creation plundered for profit.<br />

And the ongoing tragedy of refugees continues with<br />

many people closing their hearts to compassion.<br />

Instead of sharing, many are choosing exclusion as<br />

the solution. Only the other day Pope Francis issued<br />

a new, scathing warning against the exclusion of<br />

migrants. For him, “The exclusion of emigrants is<br />

scandalous. Actually, the exclusion of emigrants is<br />

criminal. They are dying right in front of us, as the<br />

Mediterranean is the largest cemetery in the world…”<br />

Not opening doors to them “is revolting, sinful and<br />

criminal,” he added, off the cuff. Even worse: “We<br />

do not exclude them, we send them away to camps,<br />

where they are exploited and sold like slaves.”<br />

This Christmas then, let’s all pledge to become<br />

committed peacemakers - as we remember the<br />

birth of the Prince of Peace amongst us. Jesus of<br />

Nazareth built his entire Gospel message on peace,<br />

and nowhere in His words or deeds did He even hint<br />

that war was actually the way of achieving it.<br />

Indeed, peace is the stuff of<br />

the four Gospels; a constant<br />

theme of the New Testament<br />

and the ultimate goal of two<br />

thousand years of Christian<br />

vision and witness.<br />

This Christmas, where violence and war seems so<br />

close to us on our television screens, let’s remember<br />

one of the great witnesses to peace in our <strong>Catholic</strong><br />

tradition – St Francis of Assisi. While many people<br />

associate St Francis with nature, not as many know<br />

the story of his voyage and witness to the Muslim<br />

world as a peacemaker. It was the time of the Fifth<br />

Crusade, shortly after a Crusader victory at the port<br />

city of Damietta – modern Dumyat – on the Nile Delta.<br />

Francis, who opposed all killing no matter what the<br />

cause, sought the blessing of the cardinal who was<br />

chaplain to the Crusader forces to go and preach the<br />

Gospel to the sultan. The cardinal told him that the<br />

Muslims understood only weapons and that the one<br />

useful thing a Christian could do was to kill them. At<br />

last, the cardinal stood aside, certain that Francis<br />

and Illuminato, the brother traveling with him, were<br />

being led to die as martyrs.<br />

The two left the Crusader encampment singing the<br />

psalm, The Lord is my shepherd.<br />

For a month Francis and the sultan met daily. Though<br />

neither converted the other, the sultan had such<br />

warmth for his guests that he not only spared their<br />

lives but gave them a passport allowing them to<br />

visit Christian holy places under Muslim control, and<br />

presented Francis with a beautifully carved ivory horn<br />

which is now among the relics of the saint kept in the<br />

Basilica of Assisi.<br />

The two (Francis and<br />

Malik-al- Kamil, the Sultan)<br />

parted as brothers.<br />

During this holy season of Christmas, we too are<br />

especially called to be witnesses to peace like St<br />

Francis of Assisi, in our daily lives. For in many ways,<br />

we too are living in ‘war’. Often, we can be at ‘war’<br />

with ourselves, at ‘war’ with others, especially when<br />

we ‘crusade’ against people and see them as rivals<br />

and enemies.<br />


A life of peace however, means<br />

daily trying to make peace with<br />

ourselves and to cultivate a<br />

daily practice of ‘nonviolence’.<br />

For in the prophetic words of St Paul VI:<br />

If you want peace,<br />

work for justice!<br />

Let’s make that peace a reality in the lives of all those<br />

we encounter.<br />

This Christmas, as we contemplate the Christ child in<br />

the manger, who was born, died and rose from the<br />

dead to give us Peace - let’s commit ourselves here<br />

in Parramatta to pray and work for justice and peace<br />

so that the Kingdom will come!<br />

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv<br />

Bishop of Parramatta<br />

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, in the Mary<br />

MacKillop Chapel in the Bethany Centre,<br />

Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Adults and children from Holy Family Parish: St Ignatius Tongan<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Community, got into the spirit demonstrating the<br />

Tongan tradition of toli-akau. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

What’s your Christmas tradition?<br />



With Christmas and the New Year coming up<br />

quickly, we asked a few of our friends across the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta about some of the cultural<br />

celebrations and devotions they follow. One of the<br />

most welcoming aspects of the Australian church<br />

is how we embrace the many beautiful cultures<br />

around us as a gift!<br />

Filipino tradition - Simbang Gabe<br />

A tradition in the Philippines that is specifically<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong>, is Simbang Gabe or Dawn Mass. For nine<br />

days straight leading up to Christmas Day, this<br />

devotion involves attending Mass together before<br />

the sun rises around 5:30am to 6am (depending on<br />

where you are in the world). Mass is followed by a<br />

shared breakfast outside the church.<br />

You are welcome to attend Simbang Gabe from the<br />

16 to 24 December <strong>2022</strong> at St Aidan's Parish, Rooty<br />

Hill, Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown,<br />

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills, Mary<br />

Immaculate Parish, Quakers Hill-Schofields, and<br />

many more!<br />

Polish tradition - Sylwester<br />

Some say that the first day of the New Year will<br />

determine the rest of the year, similar to the saying<br />

“conquer the morning, conquer the day!”. For our<br />

Polish friends, New Year gatherings known as<br />

Sylwester (St Sylvester’s Day) involve a menu of<br />

scrumptious sausages, hearty bigos (meat stew)<br />

and celebratory wódka for adults. Additionally, the<br />

tradition of keeping the scales of the Christmas Day<br />

Carp (fish) is kept in people’s wallets as a fun gesture<br />

of hope for abundance and prosperity in the new year.<br />

Tongan tradition - Toli-Akau<br />

Malia Lolesio from Holy Family Parish, Mt Druitt,<br />

tells us a beautiful tradition from the Tongan culture<br />

is ‘toli-akau’ or ‘Christmas tree picking’. Families<br />

decorate one or more Christmas trees at the church<br />

or nearby hall where celebrations involving dancing,<br />

singing, eating and opening of presents occur as a<br />

community. What’s special about the Christmas trees<br />

is that they are decorated with not only ornaments,<br />

but chips, lollies, balloons and even money bags.<br />

The children have all the fun in picking and keeping<br />

what they like!<br />

Vietnamese tradition - the cave of Bethlehem<br />

Most commonly practised in parishes but expressed<br />

in many ways, is the tradition of the cave of<br />

Bethlehem. In Vietnamese culture, explains Karen<br />

Dinh of St Patrick's Cathedral Parish, Parramatta, a<br />

papier-mâché depiction of the scene of Jesus’ birth<br />

is displayed for families, particularly those with young<br />

children, to visit and reflect on.<br />

In these nativity scenes, you will find a stable, farm<br />

animals, Mary, Joseph, the crib (traditionally left<br />

empty until Christmas Day), the three Wise Men, and<br />

the Star of Bethlehem. Baby Jesus is placed in the<br />

crib on Christmas Day.<br />

Vietnamese families bring this beautiful tradition into<br />

their homes, much like how we take the message of<br />

God’s love into the home and to all we meet.<br />

As your family gets into the Christmas<br />

spirit, why not visit a few parishes around<br />

the Diocese and see the many beautiful<br />

and different nativity scenes on display.<br />

Indian tradition - Midnight Mass<br />

We all enjoy homemade sweets in Australia, but<br />

for most of us it’s not an everyday experience. If<br />

you were in India, following local traditions, says<br />

Katelyn Almeida of The Parish of Baulkham Hills,<br />

you would no doubt find yourself visiting people's<br />

homes and enjoying the sweets they have made<br />

especially for you!<br />

If you have a sweet tooth and are feeling<br />

adventurous, try some Goan Christmas-season<br />

sweets. Look for kulkuls, neuris, dodols, or gons. For<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong>s from Goa, Midnight Mass is a traditional<br />

practice on Christmas Day.<br />

Celebrating on Christmas Eve is common to many<br />

people, and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,<br />

the heartfelt caroling and Christmas greetings will be<br />

heard across the Diocese of Parramatta. I know I get<br />

goosebumps from awe and wonder when “O Holy<br />

Night” is sung in church on Jesus’ birthday! <br />

Find Christmas Mass and Reconciliation times for<br />

parishes and chaplaincies on catholicoutlook.org<br />

and parracatholic.org. Be sure to also check your<br />

local parish’s social media, website or bulletin for<br />

more information about Christmas and New Year<br />

celebrations to bring family and friends in <strong>2022</strong>-23.<br />

Raimie Caramancion is freelance writer and is a parishioner<br />

in the Diocese of Parramatta.<br />


Celebrating Parish Milestones<br />


A lot happened in <strong>2022</strong> in our parish communities, especially for those parishes<br />

making up for celebrations postponed over the last few years<br />

120 years<br />

Sacred Heart Parish, Blackheath – 120th anniversary of Sacred Heart Church opening and blessing.<br />

110 years<br />

St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook – 110th anniversary of the first parish church<br />

100 years<br />

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Wentworthville – 100th anniversary of the parish primary school.<br />


We congratulate and our parish communities which marked significant milestones. We pray that they will<br />

continue to be places of faith and community for all people across the Diocese for many years to come.<br />

30 years<br />

Corpus Christi Parish, Cranebrook – 30th anniversary of the establishment of the parish<br />

20 years<br />

St John XXIII Parish, Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens – 20th anniversary of the establishment of the parish<br />

50 years<br />

We also congratulate Christ the King Parish, North Rocks, who after years of postponement, have celebrated<br />

their 50th anniversary.<br />


Five Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary<br />

Queen of the World-Australia celebrated their Golden<br />

Jubilee of their Religious Profession at Holy Cross<br />

Parish, Granville in October <strong>2022</strong>. Image: Supplied.<br />

Celebrating our local servants of the<br />

People of God<br />


Throughout <strong>2022</strong>, the Diocese of Parramatta celebrated the<br />

milestones of some of our incredible servants of Christ.<br />

We thank them for their dedicated service to our<br />

parish community, and pray that God continues to<br />

bless them on their vocational journey in living out<br />

the call of the Gospel.<br />

Fr Andrew Rooney<br />

Ordination to the Priesthood<br />

On 26 August <strong>2022</strong>, watched by his family, friends,<br />

supporters and fellow clergy, Deacon Andrew<br />

Rooney was ordained to the priesthood at St<br />

Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. The Diocese of<br />

Parramatta welcomes and<br />

congratulates Fr Andrew<br />

Rooney, our first priest to<br />

be ordained in the Diocese<br />

since 2018.<br />

Watch the video from<br />

Fr Andrew’s ordination<br />

here via the QR Code.<br />


Special anniversaries<br />

25th anniversary of<br />

priestly ordination<br />

25th anniversary<br />

of profession<br />

50th anniversary<br />

of profession<br />

60th anniversary<br />

of profession<br />

Fr Oliver Aro MSP<br />

40th anniversary of<br />

priestly ordination<br />

Fr Joseph Thomas<br />

Fr Anthony Fox OFM<br />

Conv<br />

50th anniversary of<br />

priestly ordination<br />

Fr Zvonimir Gavranovic<br />

60th anniversary of<br />

priestly ordination<br />

Fr John O’Neill<br />

Fr Carl Ashton<br />

Fr John McCall OCarm<br />

Fr Manuel Carracedo SJ<br />

Sr Helen Stannard RSM<br />

Sr Mary-Rebecca<br />

Sampang ISSM<br />

Fr Zvonimir Gavranovic<br />

Sr Mary Justina Pham<br />

Thi Tran CMR<br />

Sr Mary Chanel Dinh Thi<br />

Hoai CMR<br />

Sr Therese Michaela<br />

Pham Thi Thu CMR<br />

Sr Mary Gemma Pham<br />

Thi Huyen CMR<br />

Sr Therese Miriam Vu<br />

Lanh Hai CMR<br />

Sr Catherine Slattery<br />

SGS<br />

Sr Rosanne Smith RGS<br />

Sr Rosanne Maree<br />

Sinclair CSFN<br />

Sr Joanna Zarzyczna<br />

CSFN<br />

Sr Mary Noonan RSJ<br />

By the end of <strong>2022</strong>,<br />

the Diocese will have<br />

welcomed the following<br />

deacons:<br />

Ordinations to the<br />

Transitional Diaconate<br />

Adam Carlow, Matthew<br />

Dimian, Jack Elkazzi and<br />

Tom Green<br />

Ordinations to the<br />

Permanent Diaconate<br />

Charles Abela, David<br />

Dowling, Jerome<br />

D’Rozario, Batsirai<br />

Maringehosi and<br />

Alan Skofic <br />

Bringing Christ into<br />

homes and hearts<br />

Little Drops of Water began in the<br />

mind of a little girl named Anna<br />

in 2014. Naturally inquisitive, she<br />

asked her parents many questions<br />

about the <strong>Catholic</strong> faith and wanted<br />

to understand each saint and their<br />

story. Anna’s parents wanted a way<br />

to help make the faith educational<br />

and engaging. With her father’s<br />

help the first saint drawings were<br />

brought to life and the Little Drops<br />

of Water figurines were born.<br />

The Little Drops of Water range<br />

brings Jesus, Mary, and the Saints<br />

into the hearts and hands of<br />

children from an early age building<br />

a real connection with the heroes<br />

of Christianity. There are also<br />

sacramental<br />

figurines.<br />

Collect<br />

them all<br />

“We<br />

ourselves feel<br />

that what we are<br />

doing is just a drop<br />

in the ocean. But the<br />

ocean would be less<br />

because of that<br />

missing drop.”<br />

Mother Teresa of<br />

Calcutta<br />

Scan the code to download the catalogue, view the full range and purchase, or visit www.thatcatholicshop.com/littledrops<br />

The proceeds of every purchase at That <strong>Catholic</strong> Shop support the work and mission of Aid to the Church in Need.

A<br />

<strong>Advent</strong> Calendar<br />

We’ve created this <strong>Advent</strong> calendar to help you and your family prepare for Christmas.<br />

Step 1 – Cut out both pages from the magazine.<br />

Step 2 – With a blade and ruler cut around the 3 dotted lines of each door leaving it attached on the left side.<br />

Step 3 – Put glue on the blue and glue Page B to the back of Page A.<br />

Step 4 – Open a door a day and complete the action to help you prepare for Christmas.<br />

Merry Christmas<br />

From the Diocese of Parramatta, the Church in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains<br />


B<br />

The CCD Team and the SRE Catechists from across the Diocese of Parramatta, invite you to<br />

consider joining the SRE Ministry in 2023, to share faith and the Good News to the many<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> children who attend public schools.<br />

With thanks we wish you a joyful and restful Christmas and New Year!<br />

Glue area<br />

Thank God for<br />

the people who<br />

love you!<br />

Share a smile!<br />

Do something<br />

kind for<br />

someone!<br />

Pray for<br />

someone who<br />

has died.<br />

Be happy today!<br />

Pray the<br />

Rosary today.<br />

Ask the prayer<br />

‘Jesus help me<br />

to listen to your<br />

WORD’.<br />

Pray for PEACE<br />

Research<br />

how candy<br />

cane colours<br />

represent Jesus.<br />

Thank God for<br />

the people you<br />

love!<br />

Glue area<br />

Pray for a sick<br />

person.<br />

Donate a gift<br />

for a local<br />

charit y.<br />

Take time to<br />

listen to a<br />

friend.<br />

Pray ‘Jesus help<br />

me to be kind’.<br />

Find out which<br />

saints have<br />

feast days in<br />

De cember.<br />

Glue area<br />

Thank God for<br />

all the good<br />

things you<br />

have.<br />

Listen to what<br />

God is saying to<br />

you today.<br />

Say sorry to<br />

someone you<br />

have upset.<br />

Share an<br />

encouraging<br />

word to<br />

someone!<br />

Learn a new<br />

Christmas<br />

carol.<br />

Pray for<br />

someone who<br />

is feeling sad<br />

today<br />

Forgive someone<br />

who has hurt<br />

you.<br />

Reach out<br />

to someone<br />

spending<br />

Christmas<br />

alone.<br />

Read the<br />

Christmas<br />

story!<br />

Christmas<br />

Day! HAPPY<br />


JESUS!!<br />

Glue area

Rowena (centre) and Angel (right) with<br />

their three children. Image: Supplied.<br />

Christmas is a time to<br />

celebrate your marriage<br />


Married couples can celebrate what makes their<br />

marriage special and share that joy with others.<br />

Pre-marriage educators in the Diocese of Parramatta<br />

remind couples to celebrate and remember the<br />

foundation of their marriage.<br />

“The grace of the Holy Spirit makes our marriage<br />

so special,” says Sharon Rogers from Our Lady of<br />

the Angels Parish, Rouse Hill. She and her husband<br />

Edwin accompany engaged couples in the premarriage<br />

courses held in the Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

“In 25 years, there’s a lot that you go through. All<br />

marriages have ups and downs, but for both of us,<br />

the fact that we said ‘yes’ and promised in front of<br />

God, has kept us together and helped us through the<br />

tough times,” says Edwin.<br />

“With God as the centre of our marriage, we are able<br />

to lean on each other when we go through challenges<br />

at work or at home. We pray for each other, support<br />

each other and set a good example for our kids.”<br />

Fellow educators Angel and Rowena Penano from<br />

Our Lady, Queen of Peace Parish, Greystanes,<br />

hope couples continue to let God be a part of their<br />

marriage, not just on their wedding day.<br />

“After 20 years, we continue to grow in discovering<br />

this joy of marriage as God intended it,” Angel says.<br />

“We got married in our mid-20s, and we were full<br />

of love and knew we wanted to commit to each<br />

other for life, but it wasn’t until 10 years ago that<br />

we discovered more about what a true sacramental<br />

marriage was.<br />

“At this time, our differences in personalities were<br />

pulling us apart and we were in crisis. Thanks<br />

be to God, He knew our marriage and knew we<br />

needed help.<br />

“At our lowest point, I felt this grace that even<br />

at the worst times, I still loved Rowena. I knew it<br />

wasn’t from my rational thinking, but I was hearing<br />

something beyond my own perspective.”<br />

Rowena adds, “When you are in a difficult situation,<br />

you have to look for hope. You have God who will<br />

help you and you don’t have to rely solely on your<br />

own, you have people on your journey to help you.<br />

Keep hope, keep on loving<br />

and rely on God.<br />


As we move into the <strong>Advent</strong> and Christmas season,<br />

the marriage educators encourage couples to take<br />

this time to prepare and celebrate the new year for<br />

their marriage.<br />

“<strong>Advent</strong> is a good time for us to go back and begin<br />

again, to look at the promises that you made to each<br />

other. Maybe you got side-tracked along the way<br />

with kids and the busyness of life, but to go back and<br />

make time for each other,” Sharon says.<br />

Our Lord has all these graces in<br />

store for us, He just wants us to<br />

ask for them. <strong>Advent</strong> is a time<br />

to connect with Him again, in<br />

His humanity, in His gift of the<br />

Eucharist, journeying with him<br />

from Eden to Bethlehem.<br />

<br />

• Start an <strong>Advent</strong> Calendar or celebrate the<br />

12 Days of Christmas with married-themed<br />

prompts to celebrate the other person.<br />

• Give each other the gifts of yourselves,<br />

your patience, time or small tokens of<br />

appreciation, such as filling up the car with<br />

petrol for the week.<br />

• Explore a ‘theme’ for the new year – look<br />

at what are your hopes and aspirations<br />

in 2023.<br />

• Prepare your hearts, souls and spirits to<br />

see things in a different light.<br />

• Decide to be married every day, especially<br />

on the days when you need it.<br />

The Marriage - Mission Enhancement Team is<br />

looking for generous and passionate married<br />

couples to accompany engaged couples on their<br />

journey to the Sacrament of Matrimony. If you can<br />

volunteer a few hours a month, please contact<br />

marriage@parracatholic.org<br />

Will you stretch out your<br />

hand to the poor and<br />

help end homelessness?<br />

“ For too many disadvantaged people,<br />

‘home’ is a damp, mouldy garage.<br />

A mattress on the floor. Or a piece of<br />

cardboard on the street.<br />

“ Please help <strong>Catholic</strong> Care provide safe,<br />

secure shelter, and end homelessness<br />

in our community.”<br />

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv<br />

Bishop of Parramatta<br />

Please give generously to the Bishop’s Christmas Appeal<br />


An open pantry door<br />


As we get closer to Christmas, more families<br />

are needing assistance and the parishioners at<br />

Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown<br />

have responded.<br />

Devised at a meeting of the Mary, Queen of the<br />

Family Parish social justice group in 2021, Mary’s<br />

Pantry provides basic household goods for those<br />

doing it tough, with support from Blacktown Ponds<br />

Lions Club and St Patrick's Primary School Blacktown.<br />

“We are seeing a 20 per cent increase in the need for<br />

our services,” says Jude Besterwitch, president of<br />

the social justice group.<br />

Mary’s Pantry averages about 40 clients a month and<br />

has distributed over 750 hampers to over 240 families.<br />

With statistics showing 18 per cent of Blacktown<br />

mortgage holders are paying 30 per cent of their<br />

income on mortgage repayments, people are feeling<br />

the effects of rising interest rates, rent hikes, and<br />

job losses due to COVID. Women fleeing domestic<br />

violence and other vulnerable groups including<br />

people with disabilities and people sleeping rough<br />

on our streets are also reflected in who needs help<br />

through the pantry.<br />

“We are a little worried because we are finding that<br />

the volume of groceries we receive on our food<br />

drives is coming down,” Jude explains.<br />

He described how the service came to be. “As a<br />

group we felt we needed to seek Christ in each other.<br />

“With Fr Regie's [Fr Reginaldo Lavilla MSP, Parish<br />

Priest of Mary, Queen of the Family Parish] help, we<br />

contacted Blacktown Ponds Lions Club who started<br />

conducting food drives for us.<br />

“All the groceries and toiletries we have distributed<br />

since we started have been donated.”<br />

The packages are tailored to peoples’ cultures and<br />

cater for any food intolerances. Extra groceries are<br />

given to larger families.<br />

The smiles of Mary's Pantry volunteers Terri<br />

Sebastian (right) and Patricia 'Pat' Regan<br />

greet people who are doing it tough.<br />

Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Terri and Pat pack<br />

grocery bags with<br />

the basics in Mary’s<br />

Pantry. Image: Diocese<br />

of Parramatta.<br />

No questions asked<br />

Unlike some other agencies that require detailed<br />

paperwork from its clients, Mary’s Pantry only asks<br />

for some form of identification for auditing purposes.<br />

“We are aware there is a big power imbalance<br />

between our volunteers and patrons, so we take<br />

steps to mitigate it,” Jude says.<br />

“We smile, welcome. We offer to help carry and<br />

pack their car. All of this helps start conversations. If<br />

they are comfortable, they tell us what’s happening<br />

in their lives.”<br />

People can drop off or pick up groceries<br />

anonymously as well.<br />

Meet the volunteers<br />

Mary’s Pantry is run by Terri Sebastian, who ran<br />

the free weekly Blacktown One Meal service<br />

before COVID hit.<br />

“It has always been my dream to help people,”<br />

she says, smiling.<br />

She is one of about 20 dedicated volunteers at<br />

Mary’s Pantry, many of them retirees.<br />

At 89, Patricia Regan, a parishioner since 1958, is the<br />

oldest volunteer. “It’s lovely to meet the people,” she<br />

says. Despite having a heart attack two years ago,<br />

followed closely by cataract surgery, the sprightly<br />

and talkative octogenarian volunteers twice a month<br />

at Mary’s Pantry.<br />

Both ladies also volunteer at Mary’s Café where,<br />

on Wednesdays, locals can come together for<br />

homemade morning tea at the parish. <br />

Isabell Petrinic is a freelance writer.<br />

Lend a hand<br />

Volunteers and donations are always welcome.<br />

In the lead up to Christmas, Christmas puddings,<br />

fruit and mince pies, juice and cola, tinned meat,<br />

chocolates, Christmas lollies and $25 Coles and<br />

Woolworths gift cards will be gratefully accepted.<br />

Drop donations into<br />

Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown.<br />

Mary’s Pantry<br />

Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 1pm.<br />

Mary’s Café<br />

Wednesdays from 9.30am until people leave.<br />

St Patrick’s Church,<br />

51-59 Allawah Street, Blacktown.<br />


Emmaus <strong>Catholic</strong> College Kemps Creek student Alisha Santos (centre) with her mother (second left) and father (left), and School<br />

Principal Robert Nastasi (right) after being presented with the Bishop's Award for Excellence this year. Image: CEDP.<br />

‘Class of <strong>2022</strong>’ share life lessons<br />


As the <strong>2022</strong> school year comes to an end and<br />

the newest batch of graduates celebrate the<br />

wonderful milestone of completing 13 years of<br />

schooling, some Year 12 students from across<br />

Western Sydney reflect on their experience -<br />

how they feel, what they have learned, what<br />

they will take away with them and what they<br />

hope to achieve.<br />

St Patrick’s Marist College, Dundas student Amy<br />

Jahja had a big year. In addition to undertaking her<br />

final year of school, Amy also served as the Year 12<br />

College Captain. When reflecting on her experience,<br />

she spoke about how her schooling has shaped who<br />

she is today.<br />

“I believe one of my greatest achievements at school<br />

has been the ability to build my resilience when things<br />

have not gone my way. I’ve learnt to work harder and<br />

come back stronger when I haven’t gotten the result<br />

that I wanted,” Amy said. “I have great teachers to<br />

thank for that. Their encouragement and support have<br />

been a constant source of support.”<br />

Amy also acknowledged the support of her friends<br />

and classmates, recognising the laughter, love and<br />

support she felt throughout her time at school.<br />

Servant leadership opportunities were highlights of<br />

her learning and faith journey.<br />

“St Patrick’s has helped me to grow in my faith,<br />

to place my trust in Jesus and follow in his<br />

footsteps,” she said. “This has been reflected<br />

through my servant leadership role - I was the<br />

Junior Environmental Captain, a Year 10 Peer<br />

Support Leader and a member of the Social Justice<br />

Group. Helping out at events and working with<br />

Marist Connect and Ekklesia Food Bank have been<br />

amazing highlights of my journey.”<br />

Year 12 student Alisha Santos from Emmaus<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> College Kemps Creek was the recipient<br />

of the Bishop’s Excellence Award earlier this year.<br />

She completed her schooling journey having been<br />

an active member of the student leadership team,<br />

school music ministry and various Social Justice<br />

initiatives. Her proud mum reflected on the passage<br />

of time at the awards in September.<br />

“When I saw her getting her award, it brought back<br />

memories from when she was in Kindy and I started<br />

to get teary,” said her mother, April.<br />

For Alisha, the culmination of her schooling has filled<br />

her with confidence to undertake the next stage of<br />


her life. She is planning to study for a Bachelor of<br />

Architecture in Fremantle next year and says she<br />

will take what she has learned from school into<br />

everything she does.<br />

I’ve learned that I’m capable,<br />

that I am independent<br />

and have really developed<br />

problem-solving skills.<br />

Alisha<br />

“The teachers were so supportive, especially around<br />

helping us with our mental health and wellbeing, they<br />

were always there to bring comfort and support and<br />

to help figure out solutions.” she said.<br />

Alisha also noted that through her social justice work<br />

in community outreach, she was able to connect with<br />

lots of different types of people through things she<br />

was passionate about and good at, opportunities she<br />

credits to her <strong>Catholic</strong> schooling.<br />

Louise Armstrong from Caroline Chisholm College<br />

Glenmore Park fondly reflects on her time at<br />

school and encourages her younger peers to relish<br />

every moment.<br />

for all of their support,” Sophia said. “Being able<br />

to reflect on the whole 13 years of school and my<br />

experience this year has given me the opportunity to<br />

realise who I am, what I am good at and what I need<br />

to work on as I finish school and step out into the<br />

adult world.”<br />

With plans to study a Bachelor of Arts and Education<br />

(Secondary) at Macquarie University next year,<br />

Sophia hopes she can have the same positive impact<br />

on the next generation that she received throughout<br />

her years at school.<br />

“I would love to teach in <strong>Catholic</strong> education and<br />

provide the same amazing opportunities for students<br />

that I received from my teachers,” she said. “I’d love<br />

to be able to give that to others.” <br />

For further information about your local<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> school including enrolment<br />

and career opportunities, please visit<br />

www.parra.catholic.edu.au<br />

From the beginning of 2023, <strong>Catholic</strong> Education Diocese of<br />

Parramatta will be known as <strong>Catholic</strong> Schools Parramatta<br />

Diocese Ltd.<br />

“Enjoy every moment, make the most of the time<br />

with friends and enjoy the support systems around<br />

you because it is really unbelievable and you won’t<br />

get that afterwards,” she said.<br />

Sophia Trotnar from St John XXIII <strong>Catholic</strong> College Stanhope<br />

Gardens with Bishop Vincent and School Principal Dr Peter<br />

Webster at the presentation of her Bishop’s Excellence<br />

Award. Image: CEDP.<br />

Sophia Trotnar from St John XXIII <strong>Catholic</strong> College<br />

Stanhope Gardens echoes this sentiment. She said<br />

even though some days could feel like they were<br />

‘dragging on’ she would go back in a heartbeat to<br />

relive the time again.<br />

“I would cherish the moments more and I would<br />

make sure to tell my teachers just how grateful I am<br />


Digital pilgrims take the<br />

virtual road to encounter<br />


It was not suddenly and unannounced that Jesus came<br />

into the world. He came into a world that had been<br />

prepared for Him. The whole Old Testament is the story<br />

of a special preparation... Only when all was ready,<br />

only in the fullness of His time, did Jesus come.<br />

Phillip Brooks<br />

<strong>Advent</strong> calls us to spiritually prepare for Jesus<br />

to be born anew in the cradle of our hearts. The<br />

Mission Team at <strong>Catholic</strong> Education Diocese<br />

of Parramatta set out to design a fortnightly<br />

formation program to answer this call.<br />

As a result, an <strong>Advent</strong>-focused formation program<br />

titled Encounter: Virtual Progressive Pilgrimage was<br />

developed for school leaders and CEDP leaders. This<br />

virtual pilgrimage leads digital pilgrims along the road<br />

to Bethlehem through an immersion into key <strong>Advent</strong>related<br />

Scripture passages and locations.<br />

This Encounter program draws on the discernment<br />

processes of listening to the Holy Spirit as we<br />

respond to Bishop Vincent’s call to lead and discern<br />

together as a synodal church.<br />

How does a virtual pilgrimage work?<br />

This particular virtual pilgrimage is led by facilitators<br />

Amanda Bentley - CEDP Mission Partner, and Tim<br />

Hardy - CEDP Head, Leading and Learning. Each<br />

of the five sessions focus on one key passage<br />

and a key location in the Holy Land that reveals<br />

core moments in the <strong>Advent</strong> narrative that leads<br />

to the Nativity.<br />

During each session, pilgrims are guided by the<br />

following process. The facilitator offers a brief<br />

contextual overview behind the passage and the<br />

significance of the particular location. Then the<br />

scripture process begins:<br />

1. Listen to the scripture passage<br />

2. Silently reflect on the passage<br />

3. Listen to the scripture passage<br />

once again<br />

4. Silently reflect on the passage<br />

5. Discuss in small groups ‘What have I<br />

heard from the Spirit speaking to me<br />

through the scripture passage?’<br />

6. Share as a large group ‘What have<br />

I heard the spirit speaking to me<br />

through the voice of others?’<br />

At the conclusion of the five sessions, digital pilgrims<br />

are invited to gather face-to-face for a dinner of<br />

celebration and reflection on the pilgrimage that has<br />

led to table. Such a conclusion is reflective of the<br />

Road to Emmaus where Christ was made present<br />

through the breaking of bread together in a meal.<br />

This formula of journeying together in Word and<br />

Spirit was first brought to life when the first Virtual<br />

Pilgrimage was offered in Term 2 this year. After<br />

its first popular uptake, it was repeated in Term 3<br />

with an even wider audience. The focus on <strong>Advent</strong><br />

now provides a platform for a new direction in the<br />

footsteps of the Magi.<br />


Being deeply open and listening with the ear of the<br />

heart to the Spirit provides pilgrims with moments<br />

of intimate connection and many have described it<br />

as a powerful experience in which to start the day<br />

with their God.<br />

The scripture below acts as islands in time upon<br />

which the hour each fortnight is dedicated to explore<br />

and wander with the Spirit as we prepare to make a<br />

way for the Lord.<br />

• Isaiah 11:1-10 - Prophecy of Jesus foretold,<br />

Bethlehem<br />

• Luke 1:68-79 - Canticle of Zechariah, Temple,<br />

Jerusalem<br />

• Luke 1:26-38 - Annunciation, Nazareth<br />

• Luke 1:39-56 - The Visitation, Ein Karem<br />

• Matthew 2:1-12 - The Magi, Bethlehem<br />

As we continue our journey of preparation, the<br />

Mission Team at CEDP would like to offer you our<br />

deepest blessings and prayers as we draw ever<br />

nearer to Bethlehem.<br />

Virtual Pilgrim Reflections<br />

Pilgrim 1:<br />

“This experience has helped me create space<br />

within myself at a time when I would normally<br />

be so busy. As I have walked through the<br />

shopping centres and seen the Christmas<br />

decorations hanging, I would normally feel<br />

that time was ticking and I had to create my<br />

shopping plan to be ready. This year seeing<br />

the decorations, I find myself reflecting on<br />

the scripture we explored at our last Virtual<br />

Pilgrimage session. I really feel like I am<br />

making room for Jesus in my life.”<br />

Pilgrim 2:<br />

“The Virtual Pilgrimage has made a difference<br />

to my daily work life. After our time of<br />

stillness and reflection in the morning, I find<br />

I have a sense of inner peace that I carry<br />

with me throughout my day. I find I am more<br />

present to my staff. It is a journey that I<br />

highly recommend.”<br />

Daniel Petrie is a member of the Mission Team at <strong>Catholic</strong><br />

Education Diocese of Parramatta. From the beginning of<br />

2023, <strong>Catholic</strong> Education Diocese of Parramatta will be<br />

known as <strong>Catholic</strong> Schools Parramatta Diocese Ltd.<br />

Amanda Bentley, CEDP Mission Partner, and Tim Hardy, CEDP Head, Leading and Learning lead the virtual pilgrimage. Image: CEDP.

When Christmas is a time of fear<br />


Christmas is one of the most joyful times<br />

of the year for Christians, but for a growing<br />

number of mostly women and children living<br />

in fear of domestic violence, it can also be a<br />

dangerous flashpoint.<br />

Tracy McLeod-Howe, Head of Safeguarding in the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta, who has previously worked<br />

as CEO of Domestic Violence NSW and run women’s<br />

refuges, says Christmas is a time when underlying<br />

tensions can often spill over into violence.<br />

“In the women’s refuge setting, Christmas is sadly<br />

the busiest time,” she says.<br />

“Alcohol will unleash existing behaviours, as well as<br />

the pressures of family members being together and<br />

the high expectations that come with the narrative<br />

that everything should be perfect at Christmas.”<br />

While Christmas can be a particularly dangerous<br />

time, the <strong>2022</strong> Australian <strong>Catholic</strong> Bishops’ Social<br />

Justice Statement entitled Respect: Confronting<br />

Violence and Abuse, calls on the faith community to<br />

be alert to the issue of domestic violence at all times,<br />

and to listen and act, where necessary.<br />

“The teaching of Christ urges us to promote<br />

relationships marked by respect and freedom rather<br />

than coercion and control,” says ACBC President,<br />

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB.<br />

“The virtue of solidarity challenges us to support<br />

those who are seeking justice in the face of such<br />

widespread violence.<br />

“The message of the Gospel is not a message<br />

of domination of one person over another but a<br />

message of mutual esteem and kindness.”<br />

Ms McLeod-Howe says the bishops’ statement,<br />

issued for Social Justice Sunday, was strong and<br />

timely, given the prevalence of domestic and family<br />

violence in the community.<br />


“I thought it was important that they named the<br />

different cohorts of people in the community,<br />

especially women, who are impacted by domestic<br />

violence, particularly indigenous communities, and<br />

that the document included the voices of so many<br />

women,” she says.<br />

“The statement is prefaced from actual policy<br />

positions and research, so the bishops are not trying<br />

to deviate from the huge amount of work that experts<br />

in this field have done, but to build on it and that<br />

gives the statement a lot of credibility.<br />

“It also reflects the wonderful work being done in this<br />

space on the ground by faith-based organisations.”<br />

Tracy says the Diocese of Parramatta Office for<br />

Safeguarding is working on a number of fronts to<br />

address domestic violence, including supporting<br />

clergy in their role of speaking out against violence<br />

and supporting those who may be affected.<br />

“We are running a domestic violence training<br />

program online and have previously worked with the<br />

NSW Police Multicultural Office to support women<br />

in those communities who might be living with<br />

domestic violence,” she says.<br />

“In addition to that, we are using the Iris app, which<br />

is a journalling tool for Christian women to observe<br />

when things don’t feel right in a relationship and note<br />

any red flags that come up.”<br />

The bishops’ statement also alerts people to the<br />

perpetration of spiritual violence and abuse.<br />

“Denigrating a person’s religious beliefs, spiritual<br />

practices, or culture, preventing them from practising<br />

their faith or culture, forcing them to participate in<br />

religious or cultural activities, or ‘manipulating religious<br />

teachings or cultural traditions to excuse violence’ or<br />

to exert control over them, are all examples of spiritual<br />

violence and abuse,” the statement says.<br />

The bishops say that the Bible cannot be legitimately<br />

interpreted to justify male power and control over<br />

women and children.<br />

“The Catechism of the <strong>Catholic</strong> Church does not<br />

support the idea that men are superior to women<br />

and entitled to dominate them. Canon law does not<br />

encourage, much less require, women to remain in<br />

violent or abusive marriages. Church teaching on the<br />

family affirms that in cases of violence and abuse<br />

separation can be ‘morally necessary’ for the safety<br />

of victims.”<br />

Tracy says the best thing that women can do<br />

when experiencing abuse or violence is to “talk to<br />

someone you trust”.<br />

“Seeking professional advice is best, but if that<br />

seems too big a step, then just open up to a friend or<br />

family member you can trust because just letting the<br />

secret out to somebody can bring freedom and the<br />

possibility of taking further steps to safety,” she says.<br />

“If someone you know is in immediate danger, you<br />

must call the police. It can be a difficult thing to do,<br />

but you could save a life.<br />

“And, as the bishops say in their statement, one of<br />

the biggest things we can do to support women<br />

facing domestic violence and abuse is to listen to<br />

them and believe them and never judge them.” <br />

Debra Vermeer is a freelance writer.<br />

• Keep a journal and write down any behaviours<br />

that might be a red flag for possible abuse.<br />

• Listen to any family members, friends or<br />

members of the church community who share<br />

stories of abuse or violence. Believe them.<br />

• If you have concerns about your own situation<br />

or somebody else’s call 1800RESPECT to get<br />

advice from trauma-informed counsellors.<br />

• Call the police 000 if you believe anybody to<br />

be in immediate danger.<br />

Iris app. Image: safeguarding.org.au<br />


Community hero honoured with<br />

new accessible playspace<br />


One man’s advocacy means that those with a<br />

disability can now easily access the Holy Spirit<br />

Parish church. Now the whole local community<br />

benefits through a playspace named in his honour.<br />

The legacy of Western Sydney parishioner<br />

and community advocate David Currie will be<br />

remembered for decades to come after a local<br />

inclusive playspace was dedicated in his honour.<br />

At the same time, his own parish, Holy Spirit Parish,<br />

St Clair-Erskine Park, can welcome people with a<br />

wide variety of needs thanks to David’s advocacy<br />

for accessibility.<br />

On Monday 19 September <strong>2022</strong>, a large group of<br />

Holy Spirit parishioners joined Penrith City Council<br />

Mayor Tricia Hitchen, NSW Member for Mulgoa<br />

Tanya Davies, Holy Spirit assistant parish priest<br />

Fr Peter Tangey OSA, David’s wife, Margaret,<br />

their children, grandchildren and friends for the<br />

official dedication ceremony of the David Currie<br />

Playspace in St Clair.<br />

David, a long-term parishioner, was a passionate and<br />

tireless advocate for people with a disability, ensuring<br />

that all members of his community could engage in a<br />

fulfilling community life. He was an active member of<br />

the Penrith City Council’s Access committee for over<br />

12 years and was named the Penrith Citizen of the<br />

Year in 2015. David passed away in January 2019.<br />

Parish Moderator Fr Michael Belonio OSA is<br />

delighted that David has been honoured and<br />

remembered in this way. The church now<br />

experiences the benefits of David’s advocacy for<br />

ensuring all places are accessible to all people.<br />

David was a man of compassion<br />

and kindness, he was a welcomer<br />

and a long-time parishioner<br />

until his passing.<br />

Fr Michael<br />

“He took pride in the layout of the church when it<br />

was being renovated, ensuring that from the carpark<br />

to the altar there were no steps. We’re a parish that<br />

is ‘elderly friendly’, we can welcome parishioners in<br />

wheelchairs and lots of young parents with prams<br />

attend our church too. It’s part of being a welcoming<br />

and inclusive community for all generations and all<br />

abilities.<br />

“David ensured there was no hindrance for anyone<br />

going into the church. He saw his disability as not<br />

being a limitation.<br />

David Currie (third left) with NSW Member for Mulgoa Tanya Davies (third right) and members of the parish (L-R) Parish Moderator<br />

Fr Michael Belonio OSA, then-Assistant Priest Fr Sumesh Joseph, then-Assistant Priest Fr Kim Phu Tran, Margaret Currie, and PPC<br />

Chairperson Fleur Mathias after receiving a grant from the NSW government for their pergola outside the church. Image: Supplied

David Currie's son Ian pushes his children in a swing during<br />

the dedication ceremony of the David Currie Playspace in<br />

St Clair. Image: Diocese of Parramatta<br />

“Our Augustinian charism is community-focussed,<br />

being one mind, one heart, and I really feel that<br />

David, and all of our parishioners, embody that vision<br />

in their day-to-day lives.”<br />

Speaking on behalf of the family, Elizabeth<br />

Heggart, David’s daughter, said that the playspace,<br />

affectionately called by her daughter as “Poppo’s<br />

Park” will be a special place for the family to<br />

remember and celebrate their father and grandfather.<br />

“I know Dad would be so proud of this inclusive<br />

playspace and what it means for those children in<br />

the community who need different and adapted play<br />

equipment so they can enjoy playgrounds just like<br />

able-bodied kids can.<br />

It makes us all so happy that Dad’s<br />

legacy of empathy, compassion<br />

and advocacy has been cemented<br />

in this playspace.<br />

Elizabeth<br />

<br />


Looking Deeper<br />

The following articles encourage deeper reflection,<br />

prayer and personal learning.<br />

The city of Bethlehem

Looking Deeper

Falling downwards<br />


He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was<br />

incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.<br />

The Newborn Child by Georges de La Tour

Looking Deeper<br />

Jesus ‘came down’. Those simple words of the<br />

Nicene Creed, say so much to us, as we enter<br />

once again into the mystery of Christmas.<br />

Jesus left His glory behind, the glory that He had with<br />

His Father. He ‘emptied himself’—we call this the<br />

kenosis or ‘emptying of himself’—to assume the form<br />

of a servant, taking on our human condition.<br />

Let’s remember that our God never forces Himself on<br />

us. Jesus of Nazareth, the Word made flesh, never<br />

makes us listen. He leaves us free. He comes to us,<br />

as one of us. He ‘came down from heaven’.<br />

Jesus came down from heaven to become one of us.<br />

Like any immigrant, He brought with Him the culture,<br />

language and lifestyle of His home in heaven. And<br />

what is at the core of the language and culture of the<br />

‘immigrant’ Son of God, who comes from the very<br />

heart of the mystery of the Trinity?<br />

Quite simply, that God is a lover who gives Himself<br />

to us totally with boundless self-sacrifice. That to be<br />

divine, is to become a servant of others.<br />

As the great Anglican New Testament scholar and<br />

bishop, N.T. Wright, has noted: God became flesh<br />

not to stop being divine. It was a decision about what<br />

it means to be divine!<br />

This decision has enormous implications for our<br />

discipleship. As Pope Francis has eloquently shown,<br />

in his pastoral ministry, washing the feet of those<br />

who are in need is an imperative and a test of our<br />

being authentic and true to our faith. It is our way<br />

of imitating the Son of God, who ‘came down<br />

from heaven’.<br />

For Jesus to come as one of the working poor, living<br />

in an occupied territory, surrounded by scandal<br />

and accusation, living in relative obscurity in the<br />

middle of nowhere.<br />

The child in the manger is therefore, calling us to a<br />

spirituality of emptiness and service. Jesus emptied<br />

Himself to serve humanity and, as Paul says in his<br />

letter to the Philippians, we, therefore, have to empty<br />

ourselves of all rivalry and conceit and all thinking of<br />

ourselves as better than others.<br />

Such a spirituality of emptiness prompts us to think<br />

this Christmas, of what is inside us that we need to<br />

empty out. Is it being judgemental? Is it a tendency<br />

to sidestep the call of the Gospel to share generously<br />

with others? Could it be an arrogance which looks<br />

down and refuses to accept others in all their<br />

difference? Might it be a subtle racism?<br />

Whatever it is for each of us<br />

personally, this spirituality<br />

of emptiness demands our<br />

inner conversion.<br />

For living the Gospel today is not about being<br />

promoted, taking the ‘higher’ place and ‘succeeding’.<br />

When any disciple become ‘pedestalised’ – when<br />

others exalt or adulate them beyond who they really<br />

are – the Holy Spirit has a way of teaching us in the<br />

Church, usually through humiliation and pain, that we<br />

are all merely servants, not masters.<br />

Not to name names, but even the history of our<br />

wounded but graced <strong>Catholic</strong> Church, over the last<br />

2000 plus years, has many very salutary examples<br />

of this!<br />

Let’s never forget that real development and growth,<br />

the mystical tradition of our history tells us, comes<br />

from ‘falling downwards’; from failing and yes, from<br />

painful reversals.<br />

And Christian ‘perfection’ is echoed best in the<br />

person who can forgive and include imperfection,<br />

not the one who thinks he or she is totally above all<br />

the necessary messiness of being a ‘graced sinner’.<br />

Being close to God is not about going up the<br />

‘escalator’ of life. Rather, it is all about following a<br />

God who is always ‘descending’ and constantly<br />

bending down to serve.<br />

That is how we live our way into the mystery of God.<br />

In the words of Karl Rahner SJ, "We no longer have<br />

to seek the beloved God beyond the stars in that<br />

inaccessible light where He dwells and where no one<br />

can see Him. Because it is Christmas, because the<br />

Word was made flesh, God is near, and the faintest<br />

word in the quiet chamber of our heart, the word of<br />

love, reaches his ear and his heart." <br />

Br Mark O'Connor FMS is Vicar for Communications in the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta.<br />


Following A Higher Power by Jen Norton. © Jen Norton.

Looking Deeper<br />

Epiphany<br />


Epiphany comes from the Greek epipháneia<br />

meaning an appearance or manifestation, and<br />

in Matthew’s infancy narrative, it refers to the<br />

manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles who are<br />

represented by the Magi. A tradition in early<br />

Christianity maintained that the Magi arrived in<br />

Bethlehem 12 days after the birth of Jesus and<br />

so Epiphany Eve (Twelfth Night) gives way to the<br />

feast of the Epiphany, occurring on January 6.<br />

Matthew presents the Magi (Greek magoi) as Wise<br />

Men from the East and quite likely saw them as<br />

Zoroastrian priests who were practised in astrology,<br />

the art of reading signs in the stars and heavenly<br />

bodies. The irony here is that Jewish scholars would<br />

have regarded astrologers as fools because of<br />

their assumed ability to foretell future events and<br />

discover hidden knowledge from reading the position<br />

and movements of stars and planets. Matthew<br />

deliberately challenges this prejudice against<br />

Gentiles by highlighting the Magi as men of wisdom.<br />

Throughout his gospel, Matthew will show various<br />

non-Jewish characters coming to faith in Jesus<br />

ahead of Jewish religious authorities who should<br />

know better, but whose pathway to faith is blocked<br />

by self-interest and distorted values.<br />

When the Wise Men arrive at the house of Joseph<br />

and Mary, they go down on their knees in worship.<br />

What an extraordinary gesture of faith and homage<br />

driven by intuition and a mystical openness to an<br />

otherworldly revelation! They have come prepared<br />

with gifts that symbolise royalty and destiny.<br />

Adept at seeing Scripture fulfilled in the person<br />

and life of Jesus, Matthew points to passages that<br />

describe gifts of homage and deep respect for royalty.<br />

An oracle of Second Isaiah (60:6) speaks of people<br />

from foreign nations coming to Israel on camels<br />

bringing gifts of gold and frankincense. The poet of<br />

Psalm 72 sings of kings coming from Tarshish, Sheba<br />

and Seba bringing gold and precious things to Israel’s<br />

king Solomon. The Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:2)<br />

also brings Solomon rich spices, gold and precious<br />

things – all of these are gifts fit for a king. Matthew is<br />

depicting Jesus as worthy of universal homage from<br />

people in every corner of the earth.<br />

What can we learn from this epiphany to such Wise<br />

Men? Their whole adventure raises the question<br />

that occurs in the book of Job (28:12), ‘Where shall<br />

wisdom be found?’ and Matthew is offering some<br />

insights in his story of the Wise Men. Wisdom is<br />

beyond learning and the gaining of information.<br />

The Wisdom books of the Bible and Jesus Himself<br />

emphasise the fact that wisdom does not lie in<br />

control, selfism or specialness, but in being open to<br />

the Spirit in moments of mindfulness.<br />

Wisdom joins those women and men who are on the<br />

journey to wholeness, and wholeness has no place<br />

for selfism or specialness. The wisdom of authentic<br />

contentment in life depends on the quality of our<br />

relationships with the Divine Presence, the others we<br />

encounter in life, a healthy relationship with self and a<br />

broad connection with our natural environment. This<br />

wisdom of connection is the key to life in its fullness.<br />

It is our way of partaking in the life Jesus came to<br />

bring us: ‘I came that they may have life, and have it<br />

to the full’ (John 10:10).<br />

How am I open to that life in the Spirit? Jesus spoke<br />

of the Spirit moving unpredictably here and there like<br />

the wind (John 3:8) and that we do well to be open to<br />

be inspired at any time, in any place. I can be moved<br />

by the Spirit through something I read, or heard; by<br />

a piece of music that gave me a lift or something<br />

I caught on YouTube, like a TED talk. Such little<br />

moments can be our way of growing in wisdom and<br />

experiencing the Divine Presence in nature and the<br />

world around us.<br />

What about a resolution for the<br />

new year to be like the Wise Men –<br />

mindful and open to being<br />

touched by the Spirit?<br />

<br />

Dr Laurie Woods is a retired senior lecturer in Biblical<br />

Studies from the Australian <strong>Catholic</strong> University and currently<br />

conducts teacher inservice sessions and parish reflection<br />

days. He lives in the Diocese of Parramatta and is a member<br />

of Our Lady of the Nativity Parish, Lawson.<br />


Jesus: the vulnerable<br />

face of God<br />


The Gift of God by Graham Braddock. Image: graham.braddock.co.nz

Looking Deeper<br />

How is vulnerability a strength? Alison Ryan<br />

looks at the lessons we can learn about<br />

vulnerability at Christmas.<br />

I wonder…What is the first thought that comes to<br />

your mind when think about being vulnerable or<br />

vulnerability? Maybe it surprises you to think of God<br />

and vulnerability? I’m sure for some, the first thought<br />

that comes mind regarding the word ‘vulnerability’<br />

is ‘weakness’.<br />

We are so conditioned to equate the two, to say that<br />

being ‘vulnerable’, being open about who we are<br />

and where we’re at in our lives, is the same as being<br />

weak. But I want to suggest that this idea is not true.<br />

That in a strange way, vulnerability is strength.<br />

Not long ago, I was giving a talk to a young adults<br />

group. I shared a part of my story with them, a<br />

part of my story that was deeply painful for me.<br />

It still stirs up feelings of hurt and worthlessness<br />

and shame. After I shared my story, I asked the<br />

group if they thought that I was weak for sharing<br />

it with them. They all shook their heads. I asked<br />

how they would describe what I had done. A few of<br />

them said it was “powerful”, it showed “strength”,<br />

it was “courageous”.<br />

Now frankly, I didn’t feel strong. Instead, I felt<br />

vulnerable. But that’s not what they saw. Maybe<br />

when you have heard a friend share their story,<br />

you’ve had that same reaction.<br />

How often do we see vulnerability as courage in<br />

someone else, but weakness in ourselves?<br />

We need to change our thinking on this, because<br />

being vulnerable is central to our lives as Christians.<br />

Being vulnerable is how Jesus lived.<br />

There are many examples in the gospels of how Jesus<br />

lived his life with great vulnerability, but the beginning<br />

and end of his earthly life stand out really strongly.<br />

God could have come into the world as a mighty<br />

military leader. There were plenty of them around at<br />

the time. Or maybe, as a King like Herod or Caesar.<br />

God could have entered our world in any way. He<br />

didn’t. Instead, God became just like us. God chose<br />

to enter human history as a tiny baby, about as<br />

vulnerable as you can get.<br />

And then we look to the cross. As Christians, the<br />

Crucifixion is the greatest and most powerful thing<br />

that has ever happened. Our God willingly gave up<br />

His life, for the sake of the whole world. How did this<br />

amazing act of strength happen?<br />

Jesus…hanging, naked, on a cross…dying.<br />

If you struggle with the concept of vulnerability as<br />

strength, you are not alone. This is a big, upsidedown<br />

idea and even sounds contradictory to so<br />

much of what we think we know about the world.<br />

In the Second Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul<br />

tells us something about his prayer life. He’d been<br />

struggling with a particular affliction and tells us what<br />

God revealed to him:<br />

…but God said to me,<br />

‘My grace is sufficient for you,<br />

for strength is made perfect<br />

in weakness’.<br />

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NRSV)<br />

Then St Paul goes on to say: “So, I will boast all the<br />

more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power<br />

of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content<br />

with weaknesses, for whenever I am weak, then I am<br />

strong.”<br />

Living your life vulnerably isn’t smooth sailing.<br />

Vulnerability is at the core of some very difficult<br />

emotions that we all experience: fear, anxiety,<br />

shame. But vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy,<br />

love, creativity, belonging, and faith. You have to<br />

be vulnerable to have faith, to be able to step into<br />

something that there is no proof for. To be willing to<br />

risk that people won’t get it when you tell them what<br />

you believe - that’s true vulnerability. <br />

Alison Ryan is a parishioner at St Anthony of Padua Parish,<br />

Toongabbie, and is a member of the Mission Enhancement<br />

Team in the Diocese of Parramatta.<br />


Fr Paul Slyney (centre) with Bishop Vincent (right) and<br />

parishioners at the Chrism Mass 2018 at St Patrick’s<br />

Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

A cuppa with the priest<br />

Fr Paul Slyney, Parish Priest of<br />

Our Lady of the Nativity Parish, Lawson<br />


A six-month ‘trial’ of seminary life has turned<br />

into a lifetime of joy and contentment for Fr Paul<br />

Slyney, Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Nativity<br />

Parish, Lawson.<br />

As he reflects on his priestly life, Fr Paul Slyney says<br />

it began with a feeling about a vocation “he couldn’t<br />

shake”. The priesthood wasn’t necessarily his first<br />

choice, he admits, but his internal compass was<br />

pointing him in that direction. To honour that feeling,<br />

he started at St Columba’s Seminary in Springwood<br />

(now since become St Columba’s <strong>Catholic</strong> College<br />

Springwood), intending to stay for six months.<br />

As the six-month mark in the seminary went by,<br />

he hardly noticed. After a few years at St Patrick’s<br />

Seminary at Manly, he was ordained a priest in 1981.<br />

Today, his gratitude and love for his vocation is obvious.<br />

I’ve met extraordinary people.<br />

In particular, the diversity he has found in <strong>Catholic</strong>ism<br />

delights him. “Diversity is truly <strong>Catholic</strong>” he says,<br />

commenting on the different approaches to worship<br />

he has seen through encounters with <strong>Catholic</strong>s of<br />

the many cultures and traditions that make up the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta community. “The one thing<br />

that unites us is the gathering around the table of the<br />

Lord at the Eucharist,” he explains. “We become a<br />

holy people. The Eucharist makes us aware of the<br />

goodness of God.”<br />

It is the part of Mass which gives him a distinct joy.<br />

“When I say ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes<br />

away the sins of the world’, I smile,” he says. “I feel<br />

the sense of liberation that Christ gives us, that sense<br />

of belonging in those words, that sense of being<br />

embraced by the love of God. No one can take that<br />

away from us.”<br />


Looking Deeper<br />

The <strong>Catholic</strong> concept of community continues to<br />

drive and delight him, and he draws on Matthew 18:<br />

19-20 to explain. ‘For where there are two or more<br />

gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.’<br />

The song of the Church is one<br />

of a love of God that constantly<br />

brings people together, so He<br />

may share His love, His life<br />

and His grace with us.<br />

He remembers his discussions with Bishop<br />

Bede Heather, the first Bishop of the Diocese of<br />

Parramatta, and his focus on community. “Bishop<br />

Bede would always say we don’t just create a holy<br />

place, we are here to form a holy people,” he says.<br />

In talking with him, Fr Paul’s enthusiasm for finding<br />

joy in faith is evident, and we discuss how he even<br />

cheers parishioners with the odd joke.<br />

“As Thomas Aquinas said, ‘Happiness is one of<br />

God’s names’,” he says. “Laughter and joy is an<br />

integral part of what it means to be <strong>Catholic</strong>. If we<br />

don’t see joy, we are not doing it right.”<br />

Fr Paul talks about how the Lawson parish came<br />

together to rebuild, after the church was destroyed<br />

by a fire lit by arsonists. The parishioners made<br />

all the decisions. “It is a church built by, for, with<br />

community. It is a true expression of a living faith.”<br />

One word in particular stands out for him about<br />

Our Lady of the Nativity Parish at Lawson. “If there<br />

was one word to say about Lawson, it would be it<br />

is an incredibly ‘welcoming’ community,” he says.<br />

“Everyone is welcomed, and no one is judged. I’m<br />

here, you’re here, we’ve journeyed on different paths<br />

to get here, but God has brought us together.” <br />

Have you been considering<br />

broadening your faith<br />

understanding?<br />

Wondering where to next in your pastoral activities?<br />

What paths study may lead to?<br />

• Many tertiary theological degrees to choose from<br />

• Small class sizes and quality of lecturers ensure a personalised learning experience<br />

• Classes can be audited (attended without completing assessment)<br />

• Government assistance for tuition fees is available to eligible students<br />

For more information contact us on:<br />

T: 02 9752 9500 I e: registrar@cis.catholic.edu.au<br />

or visit our website: www.cis.catholic.edu.au<br />

CIS is a Partner Institution of the University of Notre Dame, Australia<br />

99 Albert Road, Strathfield NSW 2135

Parish Profile<br />

Our Lady of the Nativity Parish, Lawson<br />

A gathering of friends in faith<br />


Our Lady of the Nativity Parish, Lawson, has<br />

a close-knit faith community who, despite<br />

overcoming obstacles themselves, reach out in<br />

generosity to others. In doing so, they have shown<br />

commitment to each other and to the parish.<br />

The parishioners of Our Lady of the Nativity Parish,<br />

Lawson, one of the smallest parishes in the Diocese,<br />

see their size as being an advantage. The resulting<br />

closeness and the influence of their patron feeds into<br />

the community’s friendship, love and generosity.<br />

“Being a small community makes it easier for us to<br />

know each other. We may not know each other’s<br />

names always, but we recognise the face, and I think<br />

that’s conducive to a happy community,” acolyte and<br />

reader Terry O’Donnell says.<br />

“We have a tradition where the commentator, who<br />

welcomes people to the parish each weekend, says,<br />

‘please turn around and acknowledge people in<br />

the church and say ‘hello’, give them a wave’,” he<br />

explains. “There’s always a welcoming aspect.”<br />

Parish accountant Kevin Medlin adds, “it’s not an<br />

audience or a congregation, it’s a group of friends.”<br />

The result, says parishioner Carol Teodori, is lots of<br />

energy. “We’re not a very quiet church,” she says,<br />

“we’re vibrant and energetic. I feel more at home<br />

here than at any other parish I’ve belonged to.”<br />

Parish secretary Richard Kemmis agrees. “Mass<br />

feels like a coming together with friends,” he says.<br />

“The welcoming feel of this community gets people<br />

to want to come to Church every week. It has a<br />

connection with people.”<br />

Parishioner Rosana Taylor was welcomed with open<br />

arms when she joined the parish ‘by accident’ 10<br />

years ago. “It’s a friendly, understanding and helpful<br />

parish,” she describes. “When I was sick, parishioners<br />

would call and visit to find out how I was doing.”<br />

Priests a gift to the parish<br />

The parishioners credit their welcoming nature to<br />

their priests with hearts of gold – Fr Paul Slyney and<br />

Fr Shinto Francis.<br />

“Fr Paul is a very welcoming, open and fair person<br />

and a great listener. He likes to include people and<br />

their ideas in what happens in the parish,” Terry says.<br />

Fr Shinto describes the two years working in the<br />

parish as “amazing” and says Fr Paul considers him<br />

a “brother in ministry”.<br />

“His compassionate heart for the community is a<br />

great example for me. He is very generous in his<br />

encouragement and support,” he says.<br />

Parishioner Kate Powell praised Fr Shinto for his<br />

contribution to the parish in such a short period of<br />

time. “He makes his sermons relevant to everyday<br />

life,” she said. “He puts so much work into his<br />

homilies each week.”<br />

Christmas traditions<br />

As the parish patron, Our Lady of the Nativity’s<br />

nurturing, loving and caring nature is embodied in the<br />

parish, parishioners say.<br />

In solidarity with Our Lady, each year the parish<br />

generously donates Christmas gifts to mothers and<br />

children from <strong>Catholic</strong> Care’s Houses to Homes<br />

program. Parishioners take a name tag off an ‘Angel’<br />

tree of a mother or a child and then purchase a<br />

relevant gift.<br />

“There aren’t enough people in Houses to Homes to<br />

satisfy the number of people who want to donate,”<br />

Carol explains, as each year, parishioners quickly<br />

take the tags outlining the suggested gifts to buy for<br />

the disadvantaged families.<br />


Parishioners (back row<br />

L-R) Terry O’Donnell,<br />

Kevin Medlin and Rita<br />

Verhoeven and (front<br />

row L-R) Rosana Taylor,<br />

Kate Powell, Carol<br />

Teodori-Blahut and<br />

Richard Kemmis. Not<br />

pictured is Maureen<br />

Ryan. Image: Diocese<br />

of Parramatta<br />

Looking Deeper<br />

Other <strong>Advent</strong> and Christmas traditions include<br />

parishioners delivering reflections on the week’s<br />

readings during Mass in <strong>Advent</strong> and working with the<br />

primary school to celebrate their Children’s Mass in<br />

the school grounds.<br />

Determination despite difficulties<br />

Despite the positive and joyful nature of the parish,<br />

the parish has had a few setbacks. During the 1980s<br />

and 1990s, the parish was without a resident priest,<br />

and there were discussions of it being amalgamated<br />

with Upper Blue Mountains Parish. More recently, the<br />

church and its buildings have been damaged by two<br />

fires lit by arsonists.<br />

I ask the parishioners how they remain joyful and<br />

hopeful despite all these difficulties.<br />

Rita Verhoeven, a lifelong parishioner and member<br />

of the Finance Committee says, “when we lost the<br />

priest and they were going to close the parish, the<br />

parish took it upon themselves to form committees<br />

to keep going, and I think our inclusivity stems<br />

from that.”<br />

Sacramental Coordinator Maureen Ryan adds,<br />

“there’s a commitment, peace and community here<br />

that has been built up over time. We’ll get through<br />

this through thick and thin.” <br />


Breaking the cycle of homelessness<br />

in our community<br />


As we draw closer to Christmas, when Christians<br />

celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, in<br />

a stable, <strong>Catholic</strong> Care is seeking support to help<br />

many in our own community who are longing for<br />

the comfort of home.<br />

In launching Parramatta <strong>Catholic</strong> Foundation’s<br />

Bishop’s Christmas Appeal supporting <strong>Catholic</strong><br />

Care’s Assistance with Care and Housing service,<br />

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of<br />

Parramatta said that for too many of our vulnerable<br />

brothers and sisters, ‘home’ is a damp and mouldy<br />

garage; a mattress on the floor; or a piece of<br />

cardboard on the street.<br />

“Many of our marginalised brothers and sisters don’t<br />

meet the criteria that would make them eligible for<br />

government assistance,” he said. “So, when they<br />

suffer housing stress or are evicted from their homes,<br />

their need is acute.<br />

“Earlier this year, <strong>Catholic</strong> Care committed to reach<br />

the people who are being overlooked. So, we<br />

launched our Assistance with Care and Housing<br />

service, which offers practical and emotional support<br />

to these vulnerable people, and those who are<br />

socially excluded.”<br />

Georgie Crabb, <strong>Catholic</strong> Care<br />

Case Manager and Denise*<br />

Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Looking Deeper<br />

Bishop Vincent said the program started in February<br />

and already, 120 clients have received support. In<br />

the last seven months, the demand for this service<br />

has soared.<br />

Georgie Crabb, a <strong>Catholic</strong> Care Case Manager, said<br />

that as the cost-of-living soars and the housing<br />

market tightens, more and more people are facing<br />

hard times.<br />

“This is a really desperate time,” she said. “Our<br />

job is becoming more and more difficult. We walk<br />

alongside older people who’ve applied for 30-odd<br />

properties, and they’ve been knocked back from<br />

all of them. Their eviction date is looming. Calls are<br />

coming in every day.”<br />

Georgie said that a few years ago, 56-year-old<br />

Denise* had to leave her partner because of repeated<br />

acts of domestic violence.<br />

She moved in with one of her daughters and for<br />

a while everything was going well, but eventually<br />

the rental where they were living went up for sale.<br />

They had to find a new home, urgently. Denise was<br />

determined not to be a burden to her children, so she<br />

went searching for an affordable place where she<br />

could stay.<br />

But no matter how hard she tried, Denise kept<br />

missing out on the rentals she applied for. Things<br />

became so desperate that Denise agreed to rent a<br />

small house, but it was practically falling apart.<br />

“When it rained heavily, the rain came in through<br />

the bathroom roof, and every time I turned the light<br />

switch on, I’d get a shock,” Denise said.<br />

“There was so much mould, and the house was<br />

infested with cockroaches.”<br />

On top of this, Denise, who had spent most of her<br />

working life shearing sheep, now lives with the<br />

physical toll of that crippling employment and can no<br />

longer work.<br />

Denise didn’t know what to do, or who to turn to<br />

for help. Thankfully, Services NSW referred her to<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Care and our Assistance with Care and<br />

Housing service.<br />

Finally, she no longer had to bear her burden alone.<br />

Case Manager Georgie arrived at her door to offer<br />

emotional and practical support so Denise could<br />

find a safe and secure place to call home.<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Care helped me to<br />

do my application for housing,<br />

so I’m finally on the housing<br />

list. They’ve helped me out with<br />

food parcels, and they’re just<br />

so lovely. They treat you like a<br />

human being, and you can tell<br />

they really care, she said.<br />

Denise is now living comfortably in a clean, dry, and<br />

safe home.<br />

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without <strong>Catholic</strong><br />

Care,” she said.<br />

Bishop Vincent invites our faith community to give<br />

a compassionate Christmas donation to ensure<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Care can help more people like Denise find<br />

a safe and secure place to call home.<br />

“Pope Francis repeatedly calls us to care for those<br />

who find themselves excluded, without work, and<br />

without any means of escape,” he said.<br />

“So, as we contemplate <strong>Advent</strong> and Christmas,<br />

please remember the poor grandmother who only<br />

has mould decorating the damp walls of her rental.<br />

And the unemployed homeless young man lying<br />

painfully on a bit of tattered cardboard for a bed.<br />

They are our sisters and brothers. And just as Jesus<br />

loves them, so must we.”<br />

Your kind Christmas gift will help <strong>Catholic</strong> Care<br />

provide shelter and help end homelessness in<br />

our community.<br />

No one should be without a place to call home. <br />

*Denise’s name has been changed to protect her privacy<br />

To donate, please call<br />

(02) 8838 3482 or visit<br />

yourcatholicfoundation.<br />

org.au/appeal-christmas<br />


Closing the early years learning gap<br />

one traineeship at a time<br />


Amelia’s path to her dream career in Children’s<br />

Services began with a 20-week work placement<br />

in the Ambrose early learning centre co-located<br />

with her school. Now, thanks to a program offered<br />

to students in the Diocese of Parramatta, she is<br />

completing a Diploma in Early Learning Education<br />

free of charge at the centre while being paid a<br />

full-time salary.<br />

With school exams now well and truly over, many<br />

young people may be considering their next move.<br />

An emerging program offered in the Diocese of<br />

Parramatta is helping to bridge the skills gap in the<br />

Early Childhood Education & Care sector, as well<br />

as giving students and trainees an opportunity to<br />

become qualified supported by paid work.<br />

According to the National Skills Commission - which<br />

tracks job demand via online ads - early childhood<br />

educators are currently the fifth most in demand<br />

profession in Australia, averaging 4,549 job ads a<br />

month from June to August <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Ambrose, which operates six early learning centres<br />

and 49 out of school hours care centres in the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta, is offering students with<br />

a genuine passion for child development the<br />

opportunity to work in the sector while still in school.<br />

The Ambrose Pathways Program also includes<br />

access to fee-free qualifications for Certificate III,<br />

Certificate IV, and Diploma qualifications.<br />

“Completing a Certificate III or a Diploma in early<br />

childhood education at no cost to the student is an<br />

incredible opportunity,” said Jessie-Leah Khazzouh,<br />

the Professional Development Coordinator at CDPSL<br />

(<strong>Catholic</strong> Diocese of Parramatta Services Limited),<br />

the Diocesan organisation behind Ambrose.<br />

“Work placement is a great opportunity for them to<br />

dip their toes in the water. That can happen at one of<br />

our extended hours centres, which are open during<br />

the school holidays.”<br />

Amelia, one of five trainees currently following an<br />

Ambrose pathway, said:<br />

It’s definitely something<br />

I’d recommend to others.<br />

The number of trainees is expected to quadruple<br />

by 2023.<br />

The Ambrose Pathways Program<br />

The Program offers three pathways: work<br />

placements, school-based traineeships, and workbased<br />

traineeships.<br />

High school students can get work experience in<br />

one of the Ambrose Early Learning services within<br />

the Diocese. If they are in Year 11 or 12, they can<br />

undertake a school-based traineeship, studying a<br />

Certificate III in Early Childhood Education & Care<br />

whilst completing their HSC.<br />

As part of the traineeship, the student also works<br />

part-time at an Ambrose service which provides<br />

practical experience, the support of mentors and<br />

an income.<br />

“Definitely the aim is to retain the trainee,” says<br />

Vickie Parkes, Director of the Ambrose Early Learning<br />

Centre Stanhope Gardens, where Amelia is based.<br />

This can also be a stepping<br />

stone to primary teaching.<br />


Amelia’s path to early learning began with<br />

a work placement when she was just 16 –<br />

thanks to the Ambrose Pathway Program<br />

in the Diocese of Parramatta. Here<br />

she is pictured with Addie and Connor<br />

at Ambrose Early Learning Stanhope<br />

Gardens. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

Amelia’s path to a dream career<br />

Amelia got her first taste of the early learning<br />

profession in Year 10.<br />

“While I was at St Mark’s [now known as St John<br />

XXIII <strong>Catholic</strong> College] I did work experience one day<br />

a week for 20 weeks. I really liked it,” she said.<br />

In Year 11, Amelia enrolled in CathWest Innovation<br />

College Mt Druitt and came back to the service to<br />

complete a school-based traineeship, along with a<br />

Certificate III in Early Childhood Education. Being<br />

paid was a welcome bonus.<br />

Now, Amelia is completing a Diploma in Early<br />

Childhood, through a work-based traineeship at<br />

the centre.<br />

“I love my team and the job itself - being able to help<br />

the children and to watch them grow,” said Amelia<br />

who can now pass on her knowledge to the latest<br />

school-based trainee, Sophie.<br />

“The year group when I had my work placement is<br />

in Year 2 now. I see them walking past the gate. They<br />

don’t remember me,” she laughed. <br />

Isabell Petrinic is a freelance writer.<br />

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Listen<br />

Soon to launch! Catechism in a Year<br />

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A new weekly podcast Going Deeper from the<br />

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Topics include ‘Being led by the Spirit’, ‘How to pray<br />

with scripture’ and the ‘The creation of the soul’.<br />

Available on Spotify.<br />



ANGEL<br />

JOSEPH<br />

MARY<br />

PEACE<br />

ADVENT<br />




STABLE<br />

WISDOM<br />


STAR<br />

JESUS<br />

GLORIA<br />

H O S R I E P I P H A N Y S<br />

E G N E L E S O S O A M G H<br />

O L W I S D O M S V P A R E<br />

H O W E B U E S A U A R U P<br />

H R E E R R D I N L H Y O H<br />

S I P E A C E E G N H H I E<br />

R A A O A E S J E E R I V R<br />

D E D R I P S O L R S T A D<br />

A T V N S S T S A A A P S S<br />

B P E I T V A E H B E L N H<br />

A A N V A V B P E L T I R A<br />

J E T N R M L H A E S R U U<br />

M H A O S E E N E D N J N C<br />

S U S E J R E D S S N J E A<br />


An ever-green tree is always green. It does not become<br />

dormant in winter as other trees do. The colour green<br />

represents new life and the needles of the evergreen<br />

point up – heavenward. It symbolises our everlasting<br />

life with Jesus Christ.<br />

Symbols of Christmas<br />

Mini Book<br />

Words by Felicity Mollohan<br />

With thanks to Ministry-To-Children.com<br />

The star is a heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled ages<br />

ago, the shining hope of all mankind. The star led the<br />

wise men to find the baby Jesus. These wise men<br />

travelled many miles following a star in the sky. The star<br />

was their "guiding light" to the Saviour. God was the<br />

wise men's travel agent, in sorts, leading them to the<br />

greatest destination known to man - the Saviour. We<br />

now have His Word as our "guiding light" to lead us to<br />

be with Him in heaven. Are you going to follow Him?<br />

Many people spend hours wrapping all of their<br />

presents during Christmas time. They use ribbons,<br />

garlands and bows to make sure that their presents are<br />

as beautiful as possible. What they don’t realize is that<br />

the items that they use to complete the outside of the<br />

gift have more meaning than the actual gift inside. The<br />

bow ties our present with a beautiful ribbon, just as<br />

Jesus ties us as Christians together in His love. We may<br />

not be in the same family, but we are all in the family of<br />

God. Jesus is the ribbon that binds us together.<br />

When a room is full of darkness, it is dark. But, if you<br />

light a single match in a dark room, the room is light.<br />

There may be more darkness, but the light overpowers<br />

it. We are that light. We can be the single light in a<br />

world of darkness. We must share our light with the<br />

world so that the light increases.<br />

The Candy Cane symbolizes multiple things. If you<br />

hold it upright...it looks like a shepherd’s crook. The<br />

shepherds were one of the few people who were able<br />

to see the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. If you turn the<br />

candy cane upside down it looks like a J for Jesus.<br />

The colours of the candy cane are also symbolic. The<br />

red represents the blood that Jesus shed for us on the<br />

cross and the white represents the purity of Jesus.<br />

Ornaments are used to decorate Christmas trees each<br />

and every year. They can symbolize the blessings<br />

in our lives. Everything that we have is due to God<br />

loving us so much that He wants to shower us with His<br />

blessings. Just as ornaments are all different shapes<br />

and sizes, blessings are all different as well. God picks<br />

and chooses each blessing for us so that it will be just<br />

right. When you put each ornament on your Christmas<br />

tree, think of a blessing that God has given you. You<br />

might find you run out of ornaments before you run<br />

out of blessings!<br />

The bell rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold,<br />

signifying that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord.<br />

Jesus is our shepherd and He laid down His life for us<br />

so that we may spend eternity with Him in heaven. He<br />

is calling us to follow Him through His Word. Are you<br />

going to listen?<br />



On the opposite page you’ll find a mini colouring book about<br />

the symbols of Christmas. You can colour it in and maybe give<br />

it as a gift this Christmas. Find out how to fold the mini-book at<br />

catholicoutlook.info/minibook<br />

Do you know the story of the three wise men? Do you know what<br />

guided them to the baby Jesus and what they brought for him?<br />

Three Kings – Magi. Image: https://www.thecatholickid.com/three-kings-magi-wise-men-coloring-page/

What’s On in the Diocese?<br />

10 DECEMBER <strong>2022</strong><br />

St Patrick’s Cathedral <strong>Advent</strong> Festival –<br />

a night of carols and festivity<br />

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta<br />

17 DECEMBER <strong>2022</strong><br />

Happy Birthday Pope Francis!<br />

20 DECEMBER <strong>2022</strong><br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> schools break for Christmas and the<br />

summer holidays<br />

20-25 DECEMBER <strong>2022</strong><br />

Christmas Masses and events in<br />

parishes throughout the Diocese<br />

See parracatholic.org for your nearest Mass centre<br />

2-8 JANUARY 2023<br />

Epiphany Pilgrimage through the Blue Mountains<br />

Details at epiphanypilgrimage.org<br />

27 JANUARY 2023<br />

Official start of the school year in the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta<br />

27 AND 29 JANUARY 2023<br />

Pre-marriage weekend course, Blacktown *<br />

1 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

Annual Legal Red Mass<br />

7.30pm, St Patrick’s Cathedral Parramatta<br />

3 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ Public Lecture<br />

St Patrick’s Cathedral Parramatta *<br />

8 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against<br />

Human Trafficking<br />

11 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

World Day of the Sick Mass<br />

Mary Queen of the Family Church, Blacktown<br />

17 AND 19 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

Pre-marriage weekend course, Blacktown *<br />

19 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

St Bakhita Mass St Patrick’s Church, Blacktown<br />

20 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

Liturgical Ministry Course commences, Blacktown *<br />

23 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

Liturgical Ministry Course commences, Penrith *<br />

23 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

LIFTED Live, West HQ *<br />

26 FEBRUARY 2023<br />

Rite of Election at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta *<br />

10 MARCH 2023<br />

Penitential Service RCIA at St Patrick’s Cathedral,<br />

Parramatta *<br />

10 AND 12 MARCH 2023<br />

Pre-marriage weekend course, Blacktown *<br />

17 MARCH 2023<br />

St Patrick’s Day Business Breakfast.<br />

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta<br />

18 MARCH 2023<br />

St Patrick’s Day Festival.<br />

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta<br />

24 MARCH 2023<br />

Masterclass for Married Sponsor Couples *<br />

Classifieds<br />

*contact MET@parracatholic.org for details.<br />

The team at <strong>Catholic</strong> <strong>Outlook</strong> thank our<br />

advertisers and contributors for your<br />

support in <strong>2022</strong>. We look forward to<br />

continuing to working with you to share<br />

the Good News in 2023.<br />

Merry<br />

Christmas!<br />

Your ad here<br />

Reach families throughout Western Sydney<br />

and the Blue Mountains.<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> <strong>Outlook</strong> is the official magazine of<br />

the Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

Contact Christina Gretton on 0439 594 726<br />

to place your ad.

Directory of services<br />

(02) 8843 2500 or visit catholiccarewsbm.org.au<br />

Chancery Office<br />

www.parracatholic.org<br />

(02) 8838 3400<br />

diocese@parracatholic.org<br />

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv<br />

(02) 8838 3400<br />

bishop@parracatholic.org<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Education<br />

Diocese of Parramatta<br />

parra.catholic.edu.au<br />

(02) 9840 5600<br />

communityliaison@parra.catholic.edu.au<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Diocese of Parramatta<br />

Services Limited<br />

(02) 9407 7044<br />

enquiries@cdpsl.org.au<br />

www.cdpsl.org.au<br />

Ambrose Early Years Education<br />

and School Age Care<br />

(02) 9407 7044<br />

enquiries@ambrose.org.au<br />

www.ambrose.org.au<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Care Western Sydney<br />

and the Blue Mountains<br />

(02) 8843 2500<br />

catholiccarewsbm.org.au<br />

Mission Enhancement Team<br />

(MET Parramatta)<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Youth Parramatta<br />

Marriage, Family and Natural Fertility<br />

Pastoral Formation<br />

Peace, Justice and Ecology<br />

Worship<br />

met@parracatholic.org<br />

parracatholic.org/met<br />

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine<br />

(02) 8838 3486<br />

ccd@parracatholic.org<br />

Tribunal Office<br />

(02) 8838 3480<br />

tribunal@parracatholic.org<br />

Vocations<br />

(02) 8838 3460<br />

vocations@parracatholic.org<br />

Parramatta <strong>Catholic</strong> Foundation<br />

(02) 8838 3482<br />

yourfoundation@parracatholic.org<br />

Diocesan Development Fund<br />

(02) 8839 4500<br />

enquiries@parraddf.org.au<br />

Holy Spirit Seminary<br />

(02) 9296 6300<br />

Office for Safeguarding<br />

(02) 8838 3419<br />

safeguarding@parracatholic.org<br />

Ageing Well<br />

Whatever your age, you will never be invisible to the people at <strong>Catholic</strong> Care. Our range of<br />

supports aim to keep you living independently in your own home for as long as possible,<br />

while staying connected with your friends and community.<br />

Our Commonwealth Home Support Program support elderly people to stay living<br />

independently at home, while our Community Visitor’s Scheme aims to reduce loneliness<br />

and enrich people’s lives through fortnightly visits to residents at aged-care facilities.<br />

Bringing a baby into the world<br />

There are few things more important than caring for a newborn child. Our programs have helped<br />

many young women who are feeling lost or have been excluded from their community and are<br />

at risk of homelessness, to get the support they need. Our parenting support program supports<br />

new parents finding the challenges of a newborn overwhelming.<br />

Chaplaincy<br />

Our chaplains provide spiritual and emotional support for patients and inmates, their<br />

families and staff in the seven hospitals and three correctional centres throughout the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta. An inclusive ministry available to all faiths, our 15 chaplains work<br />

alongside others involved in the care of patients and inmates.<br />

Children<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Care offers a range of support services to ensure children are taken care of in any<br />

situation. It starts with early years learning and childcare — our home-based early learning and<br />

parenting program for families with young children helps them and their parents develop skills,<br />

and our family day care helps kids get a good start with their education. Our creche is a thriving<br />

early learning centre, providing care for children of Sudanese refugee women enrolled in English<br />

classes offered on the grounds of <strong>Catholic</strong> Care.<br />

Connecting with my Community<br />

Our drop-in centres provide a safe place for people to belong and connect with others.<br />

They are a place to be, a place to get information, join a group, and be accepted.<br />

In Emerton, Aboriginal <strong>Catholic</strong> Services is a drop-in centre led by Aboriginal people for<br />

Aboriginal people. In Blacktown, culturally and linguistically diverse families are accessing<br />

support to settle into life in Australia by the team at All Saints of Africa. And at our Springwood<br />

Drop-in Centre, established to support the community after the 2014 bushfires, clients stop by<br />

for a chat, join a reading group or seek support with their mental health.<br />

Living well with Disability<br />

We all need a support network to live our lives to the fullest. Our disability support team, can<br />

help you with living, learning and overcoming obstacles on your journey, whatever they may<br />

look like. We can help you set goals, and achieve them, and help you build a brighter future.<br />

As a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider, we support clients<br />

at home and in the community, whether you want to learn how to cook, need support with<br />

personal care, or want to play sport.<br />

Support for my Family<br />

When life gets tough for our families, the people we care about most can suffer. Our range<br />

of family support services can support you to better relate to your spouse and understand<br />

their behaviour, to deal with dependence or gambling problems, single parenting, or just<br />

connecting with your kids.<br />

We support families who are going through the most difficult of times to cope through<br />

separation, and with grief and loss. We help parents deal with all the stresses that can<br />

impact your family, from anxiety and depression to money worries, gambling—we have the<br />

people, the resources and the support to help you make it through.<br />


Pope’s Prayer Intentions<br />

This <strong>Summer</strong>, Pope Francis asks us to pray together<br />

as a worldwide community:<br />

DECEMBER <strong>2022</strong> | For volunteer not-for-profit<br />

organisations<br />

We pray for volunteer non-profit organisations<br />

committed to human development; may they find<br />

people dedicated to the common good and<br />

ceaselessly seek out new paths to international<br />

cooperation.<br />

<strong>Catholic</strong> Care WSBM and Aboriginal <strong>Catholic</strong> Services<br />

Staff at the NAIDOC Week celebrations <strong>2022</strong>. Image:<br />

Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

JANUARY 2023 | For educators<br />

We pray that educators may be credible<br />

witnesses, teaching fraternity rather than<br />

competition and helping the youngest and most<br />

vulnerable above all.<br />

An educator and student at Ambrose School Age Care<br />

Emu Plains. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.<br />

FEBRUARY 2023 | For parishes<br />

We pray that parishes, placing communion at the<br />

centre, may increasingly become communities of<br />

faith, fraternity and welcome towards those most<br />

in need.<br />

A welcome at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Rouse<br />

Hill. Image: Diocese of Parramatta<br />


Latest appointments<br />

Most Rev Vincent<br />

Long OFM Conv,<br />

Bishop of Parramatta,<br />

has confirmed these<br />

appointments in the<br />

Diocese of Parramatta:<br />

Rev Chukwunonyerem<br />

Akamadu<br />

Assistant Priest at<br />

St Nicholas of Myra<br />

Parish, Penrith, from<br />

18 October <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Rev Evergisto<br />

Bernaldez MSP<br />

Assistant Priest at Mary,<br />

Queen of the Family<br />

Parish, Blacktown, from<br />

18 October <strong>2022</strong>.<br />

Rev Christopher<br />

Antwi-Boasiako<br />

Parish Priest at Corpus<br />

Christi, Cranebrook<br />

returned from long<br />

service leave.<br />

See you at Christmas Mass<br />

Check the times at catholicoutlook.org<br />

or parracatholic.org<br />

Voice of the people<br />

How can we welcome newcomers to our faith communities at Christmas?<br />

“We should be<br />

patient with<br />

those new and<br />

returning to our<br />

Parishes, as<br />

they may be<br />

unfamiliar with<br />

our worship spaces. By expressing<br />

the joy of Christmas through our<br />

hospitality, we may even encourage<br />

newcomers to return in the New Year.”<br />

Judith-Grace Vella<br />

Youth leader at Our Lady of the Rosary<br />

Parish, Kellyville.<br />

Images: Supplied<br />

“Christmas<br />

is a good<br />

opportunity for<br />

us to welcome<br />

those we might<br />

not have seen<br />

for a while<br />

back into our Christian communities<br />

as though it were Joseph and Mary<br />

searching for an open door, an<br />

open heart.”<br />

Deacon Tom Green<br />

Deacon Assisting at Mary, Queen of the<br />

Family Parish, Blacktown.<br />

57<br />

“The best way to<br />

welcome people<br />

is with a personal<br />

invitation. When<br />

asked about<br />

your plans for<br />

Christmas,<br />

mention your parish community and<br />

invite them to a parish Christmas<br />

event like carols. Remember their<br />

name/s and something about them<br />

that you can ask about next time.”<br />

Rebecca Reynolds<br />

Parishioner of St John XXIII Parish,<br />

Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens.

Grow your money in the Diocesan<br />

Development Fund and invest in our<br />

Church and its people<br />

The idea behind any investment is to put your money to work. That’s all very good, but have you ever<br />

thought about what it could do in its spare time?<br />

At the Diocesan Development Fund (DDF), we have.<br />

When you invest with us, you have a chance to give a little back to the pastoral work of the Church.<br />

Whilst your money is earning a financial return very close to the market rate, a small fraction of your<br />

return helps the Bishop to run programs in parishes and throughout the Diocese.<br />

Like any managed fund, the DDF is able to increase earnings by pooling the resources of its investors.<br />

But there is one important difference; the DDF directs surplus earnings to the Bishop of Parramatta<br />

to be used for the works of the Diocese, such as counselling programs, adult education, youth<br />

development, pastoral or liturgical activities.<br />

To find out more contact our friendly staff on (02) 8839 4500<br />

or visit our website at www.parracatholic.org.au/ddf.<br />

The DDF’s services are only available to <strong>Catholic</strong> organisations. Individual investors wishing to<br />

support the works of the Church can find out more at cdfcommunityfund.org.au<br />

Disclosure Statement<br />

The Diocesan Development Fund <strong>Catholic</strong> Diocese of Parramatta (DDF) (the Fund) is required by law to make the following disclosure. The Fund is not prudentially supervised by the Australian Prudential<br />

Regulation Authority nor has it been examined or approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. An investor in the Fund will not receive the benefit of the financial claims scheme or the<br />

depositor protection provisions in the Banking Act 1959(Cth). Investments in the Fund are intended to be a means for investors to support the charitable, religious and educational works of the <strong>Catholic</strong> Diocese<br />

of Parramatta and for whom the consideration of profit are not of primary relevance in the investment decision. The investments that the Fund offers are not subject to the usual protections for investors under<br />

the Corporations Act (Cth) or regulation by Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Investors may be unable to get some or all of their money back when the investor expects or at all and any<br />

investment of the Fund are not comparable to investments with banks, finance companies or fund managers. The Fund’s identification statement may be viewed at https://parracatholic.org or by contacting the<br />

Fund. The Fund does not hold an Australian Financial Services Licence.

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