News from the Diocese

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Catholic Diocese of Wollongong serving the people of God in the Illawarra, Macarthur, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands regions of NSW
  • Bishop Peter Ingham Farewell Masses

    You are warmly invited to one of the farewell Masses that are held in four locations around our Diocese. Bishop Peter will be presiding and preaching at each Mass and it will be the last opportunity for many parishioners around the Diocese to say their farewells.

    Refreshments will follow immediately after the Mass. All are welcome and no RSVP is necessary.

    St John Vianney’s Co-Cathedral, Fairy Meadow
    7:30pm, Wednesday 31 January 2018
    For more info contact: 02 4228 6511

    All Saints Catholic Church, Shellharbour City
    7:00pm, Thursday 1 February 2018
    For more info contact: 02 4296 3939

    St Paul’s Church, Camden
    7:30pm, Wednesday 7 February 2018
    For more info contact: 02 4655 8797

    Holy Family Catholic Church, Ingleburn
    7:30pm on Tuesday 13 February 2018
    For more info contact: 02 9605 2785

  • Christmas Mass and Reconciliation Times 2017
  • Royal Commission releases its final report

    ‘The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was delivered to the Governor-General of Australia and released today. Click here for a link to the final report


    The Royal Commission’s Final Report comprises 17 volumes and includes a total of 189 new recommendations, many of which are aimed at making institutions safer for children. Together with the three final reports already released – Criminal Justice, Redress and Civil Litigation and Working With Children Checks – Commissioners have made a total of 409 recommendations.

    Commissioners heard thousands of stories of child sexual abuse in institutions. They travelled to every state and territory to hold 57 public hearings and 8,013 private sessions. They have read 1,344 personal written accounts. The Final Report contains 3,955 de-identified narratives based on survivors’ personal experiences of child sexual abuse told during private sessions and shared in written accounts.

    Click here to read Bishop Peter Ingham's message to the people of the Diocese of Wollongong in relation to the final report.

  • Pope Francis names Fr Brian Mascord fifth Bishop of Wollongong

    The Holy Father has today appointed Fr Brian Mascord, currently the Vicar General of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, the fifth Bishop of Wollongong.

    Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Denis Hart said Bishop-Elect Mascord brings a wealth of experience in parish ministry, education, chaplaincy and governance.

    “Fr Mascord has been a fine, hard-working parish priest for many years and will be a worthy Bishop of Wollongong. I congratulate him on his appointment on behalf of the Australian bishops,” Archbishop Hart said.

    “I also wish to acknowledge Bishop Peter Ingham, who is in his 25th year as a bishop and has spent the last 16 years as shepherd to the faithful in Wollongong. Bishop Ingham has been a source of energy and joy and holiness for his people, his priests and his brother bishops.”

    Bishop-Elect Mascord said priests who have spent time with Bishop Ingham have often sought to emulate his approach.

    “I look up to Bishop Ingham as a pastoral priest and a pastoral bishop, and the example he gives in his ministry and life as priest and bishop is something I’ve admired,” he said.

    “I hope and pray that I will be able to continue with his example, build on what he has done in the Diocese and what he has achieved for the Diocese.”

    Bishop-Elect Mascord said he will come to a Church with which he is familiar, with the Wollongong Diocese taking in cities, towns and country areas, as Maitland-Newcastle does.

    “I look forward to encountering people who have that ‘down-to-earthness’ that comes with the diversity of the people who live in coastal, city and rural areas,” he said.

    “As Bishop-Elect of Wollongong, meeting the people of the Diocese, getting to know them and sharing in their faith journey is my first priority. That process will begin next week.”

    Bishop Peter Ingham received the news with joy, saying, “I am delighted with Pope Francis’ choice of such a fine priest to lead the Diocese. I am looking forward to catching up with Bishop-elect Brian next week when he visits the Diocese.

    “It has been the privilege of my life to have been entrusted with the stewardship of this Diocese for the past 16 years, and I shall certainly miss the interaction I have had with the wonderful people of this region.”

    Bishop-Elect Mascord was born and raised in Newcastle. After being educated in Catholic schools, he gained a diploma of teaching at the Catholic College of Education in Castle Hill, spending six years teaching in a Catholic primary school.

    He later continued his studies at St Patrick’s College in Manly and was ordained for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in 1992, where he has spent his entire priestly ministry.

    In addition to parish appointments across many parts of the Diocese, Bishop-Elect Mascord has served as vocations director since 2007 and has been Vicar General since 2012. He has been a long-standing member of the Council of Priests and is currently a member of the diocesan Clergy Life and Ministry Team and the National Council for Clergy Life and Ministry.

    In announcing Bishop-Elect Mascord’s appointment, Pope Francis also accepted Bishop Ingham’s resignation. Bishop Ingham will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wollongong until Bishop-Elect Mascord’s Episcopal Ordination and Installation. A date for the Ordination and Installation has not yet been confirmed, but, it will occur within the next three months.

  • Bishop Peter Inghams Homily for Rev Victor Vincent's Ordination

     

    Fr John Joseph Therry, our pioneer priest, claims our respect based on a somewhat unglamorous, yet quite real basis, he claims our respect because he came, and he remained.

    On the foundations prepared by lay people (1788-1820), John Joseph Therry our first officially appointed priest, built up the first structures of the Church in our country.

    That was his vocation and he stuck to it.  When he came in 1820, the first of two Catholic priests officially allowed to minister in the colony (the other priest, Fr Connolly, was sent to Tasmania), Fr Terry intended to stay for four years – he remained for 44 years until he died.  Nothing and nobody could persuade him to go!

    His faithfulness to his mission was so every day that it was taken for granted.  His fidelity to his ministry is however the most remarkable thing about the Archpriest and those for whom he stands.  Commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ is a great lesson we can learn from our pioneer priest in Australia.

    Our Deacon, Vincent, has been preparing himself for his future mission as an apostle of Jesus Christ.  Because of Victor’s own union with God, Victor feels the ever more urgent need to become a messenger of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who has chosen him and now commissions him to go out and bear fruit.  That is why Victor wants to be a priest, to be a messenger of the gospel.  The priesthood is not a personal luxury for the one ordained – we are to be priests for others – leaven of Christ in the midst of the community.

    The mission of Jesus has a Church to promote it – all of us who are baptised become disciples of Jesus and we all share in mediating the message that God so loved the world that he sent his Son Jesus to redeem us and teach us how to treat each other and has given us the promise and pledge of ultimate endless life with God.

    The priest’s role is one of pastoral leadership in a local community.  The priest is not to be the controller of ministry, rather to be the catalyst to encourage and stimulate people to participate and take their rightful roles in ministry and outreach to people in need.  One image of being a priest who is building up the Christian community is being like a piano player who is the leader of the sing along, who needs to pick up the clues from his congregation and play what they can all sing together, rather than do solo piano concertos all by himself.

    The priest is also the teller of the story of Jesus – such a priest keeps insisting that parish action, parish decisions be related to the ground story of Jesus – how Jesus acted, decided and what values Jesus brought to human behaviour.

    Fundamental to all this, the priest is to be a man of God – a prayerful mediator between God and the needs of God’s people.

    St Paul tells his disciple, Timothy, whom he placed in charge of the Church in Ephesus and is also telling us clergy, to be an example to the believers in the way we speak and behave in our love for the people, our own faith and our purity of intentions.

    A spiritual gift is imparted by the laying on of hands in ordination – do not let it go unused. 

    The Church is extremely blessed that, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the last Conclave of Cardinals gave us Pope Francis.  Here is a Pope who seems so happy in his own skin and in his religious tradition as a Jesuit that he exudes the confidence that comes only from knowing that he is loved and forgiven by God and not from thinking he is always right and has all the answers.  With regard to Pope Francis and his leadership of the Church, the lyrics are the same, but he has certainly changed the rhythm!

    We are blessed in Pope Francis because he has injected a dose of reality into what the Church needs most viz., the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful, the people of God.  The Church needs nearness, proximity.  Pope Francis said: “I see the Church like a field hospital after battle, you don’t ask someone who is seriously injured if that person has high cholesterol or high blood sugar levels!  No, first you have to try and heal the person’s wounds.  Then, after that, we can talk about everything else …… heal the wounds first – you have to start from the ground up.”

    Our strength as deacons, priests and bishops depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ so that we see as Christ sees and we love as Christ loves (the message of today’s Gospel (Jn 15: 9-17).  The Pope said it took the disciples time to really “become Christ” to others, so this is not a given just by being ordained – for this relationship to develop we need to grow in union with Jesus through prayer and intimacy.

    And Pope Francis goes on to say that just as we, the ordained, must be close to Jesus Christ so we also must be close to the people we serve.  The Pope used the marvellous image of how the ordained must “be Shepherds, living with the smell of the sheep”.  As true Pastors, we need to go out to meet the people, especially the lost sheep.

    The Pope said: “Our ordained ministry is about service, especially service to the care and protection of the poorest, weakest, the least important and the most easily forgotten.”

    Because God never tires of forgiving us, we the ordained are never to get tired of faithfully dispensing God’s mercy both in the Sacraments and in our daily living.  The Pope says: “Ministers of the Church must be ministers of mercy above all because in pastoral ministry we have to accompany people as to help heal their wounds.”

    Gospel means “Good News” not “bad” news!  The challenge of our preaching is to inspire people to the good, helping them to appreciate the wonder of God and God’s awesome creation: people, the animals and the natural world.  We want people to walk out at the end of Mass with their heads up, not down.   This has become especially important these days.  Secular society paints religion and especially Catholicism as a negative, life-denying institution that is an unwanted remnant from ancient superstitions.  Sadly, at times, we have fed into this stereotype.  It’s hard to preach a message of joy with a glum look on our face.  We can smile.

    During a media interview after being named the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Dolan was asked if there was anything he would like to condemn.  He said, “Yes, I condemn instant mashed potatoes and light beer.”  That masterful response stopped the reporter painting Cardinal Dolan with the same negative, condemning Church brush. 

    Later, in a New York Times interview, the Cardinal explicitly said: “What weighs on me the most is the caricature of the Catholic Church as crabby, nay-saying, down in the dumps, discouraging, on the run.  And I’m thinking if there is anything that should be upbeat, affirming, positive, joyful, it should be people of faith.”

    At the opening of the II Vatican Council in 1962 Pope St. John XXIII condemned the prophets of doom.  Sure, there is a tsunami of secularism sweeping across our country and the Royal Commission has exposed the harm and damage done to innocent people by what it is calling a “clericalist” culture.  Times are tough for us identifying as Catholic Christians – harsh times are not over, we are still being purged.

    We must balance what is troublesome and, at times alarming with what consoles, encourages and at times uplifts us.  Our confidence, hope and optimism are born of the grace of the Holy Spirit.  It is by sticking to our vocation and living up to its ideals that we can begin to repair damage done. 

    So, Vincent, thank you for offering yourself for priestly service in these difficult times but, while people look on the surface, God looks into the heart and this is not the first time in the long history of the Church that the Body of Christ has suffered from both internal and external hostility, nor will it be the last.

    Most Rev Peter W Ingham DD
    Bishop of Wollongong

     

    You can view all the photos from Fr Vincent's ordination at Bishop Peter's Facebook page.

  • Position Vacant | Caritas Diocesan Director


    Caritas Diocesan Director

    Diocese of Wollongong

     

    • Leading International Aid and Development Agency.
    • Part-time (15 hours per week), permanent role, based in Wollongong – immediate start.
    • Passionate in promoting social justice across the Wollongong Diocese.

     

    Caritas Australia (CA) is the Catholic agency for international humanitarian relief and development in Australia. Through effective relationships with the Church, partners and communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific and Australia, Caritas Australia helps to end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity. Our programs promote the good of every person and of the whole person, regardless of people’s religious, political or cultural beliefs. We envisage a world in which children, women and men most vulnerable to extreme poverty and injustice are agents of their own change and architects of their own development.

    The Caritas Diocesan Director Diocese of Wollongong will support and lead Caritas Australia’s Mission and assist in developing relationships and partnerships with parishes, schools, universities, volunteers, Diocesan Directors, Diocesan agencies and the wider community.

    This role will advocate key Fundraising Campaigns including Caritas Australia’s Annual Lenten Fundraiser - Project Compassion, Emergency Appeals, Planned Giving and other local community fundraising.

    How to Apply for This Role

    • To apply for this job visit www.caritas.org.au/jobs/positions-vacant and view the full Position Description.
    • Please send your application to jobs [AT] caritas [DOT] org [DOT] au by 5pm AEST Monday 20 November 2017.
    • Applications must specify residency or work visa status, include a CV and a Cover Letter which addresses the Selection Criteria indicated in the referred Position Description.
    • For further information please contact Fr. George Sigamony on +61 499 022 915.

    PLEASE NOTE: APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED WITHOUT ADDRESSED SELECTION CRITERIA

    Caritas Australia is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) employer. Caritas Australia welcomes and encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants for all advertised positions.

    Caritas Australia recognises the personal dignity and rights of children towards whom it has a special responsibility and duty of care and respect. The successful candidate will be required to undergo a National Criminal History Record Check and Working With Children Check (WWCC).

  • CHOSEN - Advent Program 2017 | ORDER NOW

     

    We are delighted to announce that we are now taking orders for Chosen – Daily Advent and Christmas Reflections 2017 with bulk pricing for GST Free Catholic Religious Groups starting from only $3.00 per book.

    Continuing the tradition from past years, Chosen is a 72 page pocket-size book containing short daily reflections from the beginning of Advent (3 December 2017) through to the Baptism of the Lord (8 January 2018) primarily for personal use, but also appropriate for group use such as parish, Church agency, religious community and school staff/class prayer.

    Chosen also features beautiful religious artworks from the Masters such as Fasolo, Veronese, De Favanne, Bloch, Lotto and Perugino, with enlightening “Artwork Spotlight” reflections written by Fr Graham Schmitzer PP (Parish Priest, Immaculate Conception Parish Unanderra).

    Many customers buy bulk copies of the book for family, friends and work colleagues as an alternative to Christmas cards and gifts. We have included a page in the book for you to write your gift message.

    These spiritually rich, yet accessible, daily reflections have been written by 14 contributors from the Diocese of Wollongong:

    • Bishop Peter Ingham DD (Bishop of Wollongong)
    • Mr James Arblaster (Seminarian for the Diocese of Wollongong)
    • Mr Ken Bryant (Head of Catholic Life, Education and Mission Services, Catholic Education, Diocese of Wollongong)
    • Fr Mark De Battista ADM (Administrator, St Anthony’s Parish, Tahmoor-Picton)
    • Fr Leo Duck (Priest in Residence, Holy Spirit Church Vincentia)
    • Mrs Robyn Gallagher (Professional Officer, Staff Spiritual Formation, Catholic Education, Diocese of Wollongong)
    • Mr Peter Gilmore (CCD & Evangelisation Coordinator, Diocese of Wollongong)
    • Fr Richard Healey PP (Parish Priest, St Paul’s Parish, Albion Park)
    • Mr Jude Hennessy (Director of the Office of Renewal and Evangelisation, Diocese of Wollongong)
    • Miss Trish McCarthy (CCD & Evangelisation Coordinator, Diocese of Wollongong)
    • Sr Margaret Paton RSJ (Pastoral Associate, Immaculate Conception Parish, Unanderra)
    • Fr Christopher G Sarkis PP (Parish Priest, Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, Rosemeadow)
    • Sr Hilda Scott OSB (Vocations Director, Benedictine Abbey Jamberoo)
    • Ms Michelle Vass (Director of St Mary’s Towers Retreat Centre, Douglas Park)

       

    We have also included special discounted prices for bulk orders as well as a GST Free option for Catholic Religious Groups (eg, Catholic parishes, schools and religious communities):

    Pricing

    Qty GST Free Catholic Group
    AU (+ post)
    Retail (inc GST)
    AU (+ post)
    1 - 24 $4.00 $4.40
    25 - 49 $3.50 $3.85
    50 + $3.00 $3.30

    If you have any questions, or if you would like to place a phone or email order, please contact us on (02) 4222 2400 or email us at orders [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au

    Delivery of the books is expected to commence mid October 2017.

    Please note, if you live in the Diocese of Wollongong, please check with your parish, school, agency or religious order before ordering as they may be ordering copies on your behalf.

  • Caring for those who have cared for us - Bishop's Annual Appeal 2017

    To make your donation, click here and select “1259597 - Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Care of Retired Clergy” from the biller code dropdown list.

    My sisters and brothers in Christ

    It is the responsibility of our Diocese to support and care for those sick and retired clergy who have dedicated their lives in service of the Church. These clergy live either on their own, in assisted living facilities or in nursing homes, and also require some level of assistance to do so. Your donation to this appeal will help to provide suitable accommodation, transport assistance and holistic health care to them.

    Currently, there are nine clergy in retirement and the clergy age profile indicates that 11 more will retire over the next five years alone. The Diocese will need to urgently and significantly increase its resources to ensure that we can continue to care for our ageing clergy. Your donation will help ensure a dignified retirement for all of our diocesan clergy. I am grateful for your consideration of these needs and for your generous practical support.

    Yours in Christ

     

    Most Rev Peter W Ingham DD
    Bishop of Wollongong

  • Francis Sullivan's Address at the Diocesan Assembly | Saturday 3 June 2017

     

    Sometimes the facts do more than speak for themselves. They cut through the confected edifice of an institution more obsessed with its image than its ethos.

    Such is the case with the Catholic Church and the scandal of the sexual abuse of children by priests and brothers.

    The Royal Commission has revealed that over a period from 1950 till 2010,

    4440 individuals alleged abuse by 1880 perpetrators in more than 1000 Catholic Church institutions.

    Since it is well known that most people never come forward to tell of their childhood sexual abuse and that only 1 in 6 ever tell anyone, the extent of abuse in the Catholic Church is far higher than the reported figures.

    This is a scandal and a hypocrisy unparalleled in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia.

    It has cut to the very heart of the Church, demoralised its followers and threatens to erode its public voice for generations.

    Already allegiance to the Church is waning, attendances are down to record lows and the public voice of the Church is increasingly shrill and irrelevant.

    The days of the all powerful Catholic Church are well past. And with it the influence as a moral persuader has been damaged, if not irreparably for at least a generation to come.

    The mere fact that I can stand here this evening and say these things and have the sense that they resonate with so many of you in this room speaks volumes for the present state of things.

    Confronting the Church about its sex abuse history is like questioning your parentage.

    It is an affront to image, respect and integrity. It calls for a candid and at times threatening conversation.

    For decades in Australia the Church has been outright dishonest about the history of abuse of children.

    Firstly there was silence and complicity to cover up the facts, the perpetrators and the way victims were managed.

    The Royal Commission’s data report on the Catholic Church actually shows that in some years the percentage of alleged perpetrators within the ranks of some male religious orders numbered as high as 40 percent.

    Amongst other things this means that these men were in positions of influence, maybe even on leadership teams, where decisions were taken about managing cases of abuse and the perpetrators themselves.

    This only led to corruption of processes, concealment of facts, secrecy and a lack of accountability by the leaders.

    The plain truth of the matter is that it has taken the courage of victims and their families to out the Church. Only when victims have gone public has the Church sprung into any obvious action.

    Of course the knee jerked, tried and true reaction was to blame the victims and the secular press.

    The allegations were vexatious and the media was on a campaign to weaken the influence of the Church.

    There are still voices like that in parts of the Church and they have their media barrackers as well.

    Next came the lawyers. True to their profession they ran interference to safeguard their clients. Aggressive litigation tactics, paltry cash settlements and suffocating confidentiality agreements were par for the course.

    The might of the Church was used to silence the victims and keep them from the courts.

    The less the police were involved the better.

    Since those days there have been the brave and good souls within the Church who have placed on the public record the mismanagement and cover ups. They have pushed for victim focused protocols on complaints handling and compensation. They have pushed for public apologies from officials and for more accountability and transparency.

    But it was all a bit half hearted. Still the Church leadership sought to present the scandal as being the result of the ‘bad apples’ in the bunch. There was never any unconditional recognition that the leaders themselves had been complicit and concealed the facts from the authorities and the public.

    Fast forward to the Royal Commission.

    The glare of public scrutiny has laid bare the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church.

    Church leader after church leader has had to admit that there was cover up, the active moving of perpetrators from parish to parish, job to job and that decisions were taken in secrecy far removed from the police and official authorities.

    In short, bishops and religious leaders had to admit that the image of the Church meant more to the leadership that the welfare of children.

    You couldn’t get a more morally bereft and ethically corrupt circumstance for a religious organisation.

    So, where to from here?

    Now is a time to become a listening Church.

    The easy way, even the more familiar way is to become divisive. We risk playing the ‘blame game’ with the past. We can become stuck over the anger we have with the way things were or with what may still be the case. We can point to a church and its culture that has over managed and controlled not only its operations but its people.

    These were days when clericalism ran unchecked. Where power was abused and those in positions of influence and authority misused their privileged status.

    We can all relate to the days when clerics were never questioned, where bishops and advisors were tolerated but never challenged and where the ‘pecking order’ between lay people and the clergy was clear and immutable.

    However, there is another more healthy approach.

    The sex abuse scandal actually is our pathway to save the Church from itself.

    First and foremost the scandal is not about the Church. It is about the victims. Responding to victims properly should be our only goal, not restoring the credibility of the Church. If the credibility of the Church is our concern then once again the Church’s interest and image has become the priority. No, the way forward is to unconditionally be with and to stay alongside the victims. This is the Jesus option. It must be ours too.

    In practical ways it requires a pastoral disposition of simplicity, sincerity and silence.

    There is no need to over complicate the relationship with victims. They need to sense our sincerity of heart and notice that we are not trying to fill any awkwardness with words, platitudes or empty promises.

    I think this is what a listening Church is about. One that is present and attentive, quiet and affirming. One that is open to the change that is knocking at its door. One that actually has its doors permanently open!

    We need to accept that many victims not only were disbelieved by the Church, they also felt discrimination and rejection. The might of the Church turned victims into vandals. The powerful interests in the Church scandalised the victims and made out that their claims for justice would ruin the Church and as such had to be resisted on moral grounds alone.

    A more corrupt scenario would be hard to find.

    Sure there will be some commentators and interests who will persist in casting the Royal Commission as a political hachett job on the Church. In my mind they have lost the plot.

    Any sensible strategic planning exercise does not quibble with perceptions but understands that ‘perceptions are reality’.

    The Church has to face head on how it is perceived and why its credibility has been so damaged. A self inflicted wound no doubt that can only be cured with self imposed medicine.

    The cultural factors that entrench power and privilege and limits participation in the exercising of authority are at the heart of the problem.

    The Church in Australia is still structured like a medieval realm. Only men can occupy positions at the top and only men can make the most important decisions around personnel appointments and succession to rule.

    Overly strict and restrictive applications of moral codes can condemn people rather than liberate them. This only builds resentment, rage and disengagement.

    A rigid church /state engagement has become too brittle and far too uncompromising when a more reasonable stance is not only legitimate for the Church to adopt but is equally more prudent.

    Sadly though at this time there are still those who choose the barricades rather than in the words of Pope Francis being a field hospital. That is in the thick of things, accepting the mess and uncertainty because the casualties are more important that than the war.

    The Catholic Church in Australia very much needs to soul search. It needs to be open and inclusive. Most of all it needs to be relevant.

    In our spiritual tradition we are counselled to ‘let go’, even to ‘let die’, our ego constructed identities. The true self is far more humble, receptive to change and engaged with the search for goodness and truth.

    I think that this can become our framework to move along in the abuse scandal.

    Firstly, it requires an acknowledgement that for our Church it cannot merely be ‘business as usual’. Neither can we allow the Church administration to ‘contain’ the impact of the public inquiries out of a fear that those who remain loyal to the Church will become demoralised or worse.

    We have to humbly examine how we are being perceived by those damaged in their encounters with the Church.

    That is, we need to be open to the way we are arrogant, self righteous and judgemental.

    Also our openness goes to the dispositions and attitudes we bring to those who disagree with us, or have issue with us and that can seem irrational, unjustified even spiteful.

    Secondly, we need to be a vulnerable Church. Let’s stop being in the ‘giving answers’ to life mode and become more a resource to do life. Let’s genuinely engage others on their terms, not ours. That means with no ideological agenda. No ‘capture mentality’ dressed up as evangelism or religious education.  Rather, let’s try and articulate a contemporary spirituality that is based on the emerging consciousness of Christ in our times.

    To take on such a disposition the Church leadership needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with lay people, gazing in the same direction seeking the same results.

    There is no time to retreat into identity politics and conservative versus liberal camps. Neither is it helpful to pitch Church leaders against the rest.

    The truth is, this is not just a leadership issue. It is our issue. Our leaders need to be responsive and open. We need to be discerning and open.

    Our leaders need to let go of what is not working, we need to embrace change that can work.

    Our leaders need to seek a Church that is relevant, we need to respond to the call of faith.

    Our leaders need to step up and we need to stand with them shoulder to shoulder.

    Most importantly, we need to be a listening Church. These are dangerous times for our Church.

    Many have left already. Among those who stay there will be calls in some quarters to ‘just settle down and regroup’. Others will try and rally the troops to ‘ show that the Church is far more than the evils revealed at the Royal Commission’. Even others will want to circle the wagons and ‘wait for better days’.

    None of this will work.

    Any genuine healing for our Church requires open dialogue and recognition of the pain experienced at all levels within the faithful, both those present and those who have drifted or run away.

    We need to have the courage to discuss what has for too often been kept off the table. We need to embrace pain and discomfort as the opportunity for healing and growth.

    And having the courage to live with uncertainty, even silence, as new ways, directions emerge will be essential.

    This is not a new call. The very fact that it is not a new call is telling in itself.

    That said, our time to be imaginative and open to the promptings of the Spirit has well and truly arrived. Let us take up the challenge of Pope Francis and be a Church that is engaged, inclusive and messy.

    A Church that listens before speaking. Understands before judging and seeks to be relevant rather than set apart.

     

    Francis Sullivan
    3 June 2017
    Fairy Meadow  

  • The Sacrifice of Jesus and the ANZACS | Bishop Peter's Easter Message 2017

     

    Over the course of the next two weeks many Australians will be celebrating two solemn memorials: Good Friday and ANZAC Day. Don’t disconnect them, both are inextricably linked. In the Gospels, Jesus calls us his friends proclaiming, “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

    For Christians, the fruit of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is the forgiveness of sin resulting in peace of mind and heart lived in union with God. In those outstretched arms, the sheer extent of God’s love and mercy was borne out through Jesus Christ sharing in the suffering of an imperfect world.

    Barely a week after Good Friday we will celebrate ANZAC Day. In war and hardship we are exposed to the best and worst of humanity. We encounter the horrific to be sure, but we remember and celebrate the selflessness and sacrifice of those who gave their lives for their country.

    Inevitably, victory and joy only come after the hard work is done. The freedoms and life we enjoy are the fruits of the ANZAC spirit of sacrifice which lives on in the selflessness of Australians today in responses to floods, cyclones, drought, bushfires and the like.

    Likewise, the fruit of Good Friday comes on Easter Sunday in the joy of the Resurrection and new life lived under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who encourages and empowers us to act like Jesus and treat each other in the way that we like to be treated ourselves (Luke 6:31).

    May the Hope of the Risen Lord be our encouragement this Easter.

    Yours in Christ

    Most Rev Peter W Ingham DD
    Bishop of Wollongong
    12 April 2017

    CLICK TO DOWNLOAD A PDF OF BISHOP'S EASTER MESSAGE 2017