Catholic in Yanchep

Go out into the deep.


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R.I.P. Peter Even

On Saturday, 14th May, our faithful friend and fellow parishioner, Peter Even, went home to meet The Lord, at the age of 91, after many months of quietly and stoically battling cancer. He had continued to attend Mass until the week before his death, and on the Friday evening prior to his passing, he received the Last Rites.

We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, who in December of last year, also lost their mother and grandmother, Johanna Christina, wife of Peter.

Peter’s Funeral Mass will be held at 09:30 a.m., Saturday 21 May 2022, at St Andrew’s Church, Clarkson, followed by burial at 11:00 a.m. at Pinnaroo Cemetery, Whitfords Avenue.

As we pray in the Eucharistic Prayer,

“Remember our brother who has fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection, and all who have died in your mercy; welcome him into the light of your face.”

Peter Even in 2017 at a Church BBQ
Peter Even, at far left, in the former St James’ Church, Yanchep, September 2014.


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Welcome to Fr Thomas

On the Third Sunday of Easter, we welcomed Fr Thomas Zureich to our Catholic community of Yanchep/Two Rocks. Fr Thomas comes to us after serving in the wheatbelt towns of Corrigin/Kulin/Hyden, where, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and the local community, he has worked very hard to repair and renovate the parish buildings, and revive the sacramental program. May Our Lord and our Blessed Mother accompany him with grace to help our local parish community to grow and thrive.


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Easter Triduum Mass Times 2021

Here are the local Mass Times for the Easter Triduum.

Holy Thursday1st AprilLANCELINMASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER5:30 p.m.
Good Friday2nd April TWO ROCKS PRESBYTERY (3 Blaxland Ave) STATIONS OF THE CROSS10 a.m.
Good Friday 2nd AprilTWO ROCKS PRESBYTERY (3 Blaxland Ave) THE LORD’S PASSION3 p.m.
Holy Saturday3rd April YANCHEP COMMUNITY CENTREEASTER VIGIL  6 p.m.
Sunday 4th April GUILDERTON EASTER MASS8 a.m.
Sunday4th AprilLANCELINEASTER MASS10 a.m.

Wishing you all a blessed Holy Week.

Buhl altarpiece, followers of Martin Schongauer (1495-1500), oil on panel, Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Buhl, Haut-Rhin.

                                                                                                  


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Remembering Pat Murphy 6.11.1932 – 17.09.2020

I do love the little coincidences that are a constant part of the life of a Christian. I had been thinking it was high time I published a tribute to Pat Murphy, one of our former parishioners, who died on 17 September this year. And so I started searching through my enormous collection of photographs to find one that I remembered taking of Pat and Bishop Sproxton, when he visited Yanchep. When I finally found it, I had one of those tingles of surprise and satisfaction to discover it is exactly 5 years to the day since I took that photo. I say “satisfaction” because that is the feeling one gets when it is confirmed to you that the cloud of witnesses is actually very close by, and giving you hints.

Pat Murphy with Bishop Don Sproxton 14 November 2015, Yanchep Community Centre.

Pat was (and is still!) a very holy, gentle woman. She had a great love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and was one of the ladies of the parish you could rely on to be at daily devotions, rain, hail or shine. She was also one of those self-effacing people who always had a kind word, and was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to you, if there was some doubt about your wholesomeness! I still remember the time when there was a bit of a kerfuffle going on, and she said to me, “I don’t think those things they said about you were true.” (I still haven’t found out what she meant, but never mind.) So I felt quite attached to Pat, and since her funeral, I had been thinking about a prayer card she once gave to me when I was desperately upset, and wondered where on earth I had put it. Well, within a week of her funeral, lo and behold, I was doing some tidying up and came upon C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity in a pile of paperwork, whereupon this prayer card of hers fell out, as I had been using it as a bookmark. That gave me another of those satisfying shivers (thanks, Pat!)

A prayer card hand-written by Pat.

So I ask Pat, “Please pray for me and my family, as I pray for your period of purgation to be short, and your soul to be united as soon as possible with Our Blessed Lord in the company of the angels and saints.”

The verse that immediately comes to mind is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Her grave is not far from my husband’s – should you wish to pay your respects, it is in the section 1672-1730, Tuart Court, Pinnaroo.


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Anne Mazzella – a life well lived

Anne MazzellaOur dear friend and fellow parishioner of many years, Anne Mazzella, passed away on 12 January.  Today I want to share with you the eulogy written by her daughter, Kavisha Paola Mazzella [slightly edited by me].

Anne, little sister of Michael and John, was born into a privileged family in Shwebo, Burma on 23rd December 1933.  Her father, G. D. Stewart, was a Buddhist by faith and District Commissioner of the Upper Chindwin area.  Her mother, Doreen, was a Catholic and the head of the Girl Guides in Burma.  They lived in a big wooden house with servants, dogs and horses – and Mum had a nanny.  Mum and her brothers went to Saint Joseph’s in Maymo. Grandfather was a member of the polo team and was often called out to hunt with the Burmese to catch a man-eating tiger. It was the life of a Rudyard Kipling novel: a life we can only imagine.
Anne Burma

This life was to be rudely interrupted when the Japanese invaded Rangoon in 1942 and the family fled to India as refugees on what would be fearfully called “The Trek”.  They were lucky to make it out alive as many died on the rough impenetrable jungle terrain, starving to death or dying of fatal illness.

Somehow with God’s grace, they made it to India and for the next eight or so years lived in India in the Himalayan Foothills in the hill station town of Derhadun. During this time, unfortunately, Grandfather and Grandma split up.The children all boarded in Darjeeling, being sent to live there for nine months of the year, having three months home on holiday.  Mum went to Loreto Convent and her brothers to Northpoint Jesuit College.

Mum was a popular girl, talented in acting, singing and sport. She broke the all-India record for a while in the long jump at 16 feet 6 inches. She even played hockey for the national team. She was also capable of getting the whole assembly at school giggling contagiously when she giggled.  She remained friends with the Loreto girls till the end of her life.

When Mum graduated she went back to Burma briefly working as a typist for the Rangoon Electrical Company. Uncle Cecil, an English gentleman who was the head of the company and a friend of Grandma’s, recognised that Anne had a good brain and suggested she should go and study nursing in England.

So off Anne went again on a steamship all the way to England to study midwifery where she met another group of fine young women who were also to become loyal friends. They were Dora Madisetti, my godmother from the French Carribean island of Dominique, and Alexia Kazamia from Greece.  Together they had many adventures, travelling to Germany, Spain and France on their nursing holidays .

It was there, one fateful afternoon at Stoke Mandeville  Hospital, Aylesbury, at Wednesday afternoon social dancing she met our Papa, a handsome young Italian ward-orderly from the island of Ischia.  His name was Giovanni Mazzella, and he looked like Perry Como, the famous singer who was very popular at the time. They fell in love and after a courtship of three or so years got married.

Soon afterwards they left the hospital life and went into business together. Thanks to an inheritance of some money from Uncle Cecil and with papa’s advice they bought a business:  a small workers’ café called the Penguin Lounge in Surbiton, Surrey.  They lived on top of the café and were joined by Papa’s family from Italy.  Everyone worked together in the kitchen or front of house. They were also helped by members of Mum’s family from Burma.

The twins, Paola and Giancarlo, were born, followed by another little one Francesco, and soon Papa and Mum were thinking seriously of settling in a warmer country. In the Sixties, the Australian Government were offering opportunities to people in Britain to settle in Australia, paying most of their fares as long as they stayed and gave it a go for two years.  After much bureaucratic hassle, they became “10 pound poms” ( except Papa who had to pay full fare of 67 pounds) and set off on a four week cruise down to the Southern Hemisphere on the good ship, The Orion, arriving in Perth in December of 1962.
Ann Mazzella

At first Papa worked as a waiter in Riverside Lodge and Mum was at home looking after us.  After many hours of double shifts, Papa had saved enough to buy a business, a café in the ten pin bowling alley, Fairlanes, in Adelaide Terrace, next to the ABC Radio Station.  Two more babies arrived – Antonio and Marco.  Mum and Papa worked in Fairlanes, balancing that with parenting five growing children.  After that Mum and Papa branched out and had another café with Zio Isidoro in The ten pin bowling alley in Mirrabooka, eventually selling both and going into business with Mum’s in-laws, Frank and Franca Danze at Quickstop Deli in Mirrabooka and finally retiring in the nineties.  After their retirement they got to enjoy some travel interstate and overseas to visit relatives and friends. 

In later years, Mum and Papa rescued a little feral kitten who was called Momo.  Momo was very fearful of everyone but was not afraid of Mum and used to sit on the chair next to mum listening to her playing the piano.  And when papa wanted to find Momo he would ask mum to play and like clockwork Momo would run in and sit next to Mum.

There are so many words to describe Mum and I won’t be able to tell them all but will try to do my best to open a small window to her qualities.

  1.  WORKED HARD

Mum wasn’t one to shirk. She threw herself in with gusto.  But no matter what she had to do and how hard it was, she would counter it with the words “Oh well, just b$#*y get on with it!”

2.  EARTHY SENSE OF HUMOUR

While she was stoic she equally had a naughty sense of humour and liked the odd dirty joke. Her favourite TV shows were things like Benny Hill Show, Two Ronnies and Little Britain. 

3.  COMPASSIONATE

Having been a refugee and knowing what it was like to lose everything, Mum was very good with people, always making sure they felt welcome and at home. In fact she even brought people home. One day we were amazed to come home and find a tall dark handsome elderly gentleman all dressed in a white linen suit and a pith helmet! His name was Monsieur Lavontue and he was a french Mauritian Avon lady travelling salesman.  She had met him on the bus home and started to talk to him, enquiring about his pith helmet.  She thought he would be a good person for Grandma to have as a friend as they could converse in French.  In the seventies when the Vietnamese refugees were fleeing to Australia, under the guidance of Archbishop Hickey, Mum and Papa sponsored two families as part of the host family scheme, helping them settle down and adapt to their new homes.  Mum and Papa became godparents to Diep who was born in the Malaysian refugee Camp and was only six months old when she arrived. 

4.  MUSICAL

I think Mum was born for singing and was excellent at doing harmonies.  Uncle John tells a charming story that describes that when the family were escaping through the jungle to India, Grandma and Mrs Gombes were in the Bullock Cart and the boys were on their ponies whilst Anne was being carried in a sedan chair. She kept them all entertained by singing nursery rhymes and by the time they got to the Nagaland Refugee Camp, the bearers all knew the tunes and were singing along by heart.  They had been taught well by their tiny choir mistress.  She studied classical piano at school.  Later she played piano by ear and even at the end of her life was playing for the fellow residents at Bethanie Aged Care facility.  She built up quite a fan base and had everyone waiting for her after she had been out for the day with Papa.

5.  MUM WAS CONSTANTLY EDUCATING HERSELF

Having been a midwife she was very interested in the latest health issues. One day she came home and said, “Right! No more rubbish lemonade and Coco Pops for you.  From now on, we are drinking orange juice and having muesli or boiled eggs for  breakfast! What a shock that was! But now we can see she was ahead of her time.  We had vitamins every morning and some sticky stuff called IRADOL where she would line us up and we’d be fed our daily spoonful!  She even made up a little song “Iradol, Irradol, Irradol, A, makes you bright and healthy. Happy all the day!”

  1. Mum loved READING.

She often had a pile of up to 30 books on her bed! One of her favourite books was “The Robe” by Lloyd C. Douglas which tell the story of what happened to Jesus’s robes after his death. She also had books in Italian as well. 

  1. MUM was deeply SPIRITUAL

Until her illness prevented her from going along, she and Papa were members of the local Rosary Group.  At school she was a member of the Sacred Heart Sodality.  Mum even studied the Enneagram at the Redemptorist Monastary in North Perth when we lived at Dumbarton Crescent in Menora.  [Editor’s note: the enneagram is discouraged as a New Age practice, incompatible with Christianity.]  She was interested in people like Bede Griffith, the Christian mystic monk who lived in India.  She used to wear a black lace mantilla veil and bow her head praying and contemplating, and I wondered what was going on in there.  Also she had great respect for other religions, having been bought up in India where she was surrounded by folk from Hindu and Buddhist faiths.  She taught us not to fear them. In later years she was a devout member of the local Yanchep congregation and went to Mass in the tiny Saint James Anglican Church in Yanchep.  In ecumenical spirit, the Anglican community shared the space with the Catholics until the Anglicans built their own church in Alkimos.  After that time, the Catholics moved to the Yanchep Community Centre. 

  1.  PLAYFUL

She loved to throw Bad Taste Parties, getting everyone to dress up in silly costumes. She loved having the Tamil Servite Sisters over to dance Scottish Sword dancing, celebrating her Scottish heritage. We lived in a Jewish neighbourhood having friends such as the Roses and old Mr and Mrs Goldberg. With our Italian Nonna, uncles and aunts close by down the road and various Indian and Burmese friends and relatives visiting and with our Anglo- Burmese Grandmother, Doreen, living in the granny flat at the back, the house was a veritable League of Nations. 

  1. LOVED ANIMALS

She loved birds and kept finches and canaries.

Then there were cats: Timmy, Miccio, Henry and Momo – but particularly she liked dogs: George the bitser, Cho Cho, Mimi, Gigio the pugs, Pepe the silky terrier-chihuahua cross, Bruno, the silky terrier and Ruby the dingo.

Mum loved them all, but I think she had a special connection with Bruno and was often seen sharing a morning coffee (Instant) and condensed milk with Bruno. Mum would drink from the cup and Bruno from the saucer on the patio whilst overlooking the view of the beautiful Indian Ocean. 

  1. MOTHER, AUNT, MOTHER-IN-LAW AND GRANDMA

Mum was a strong mother with strict boundaries.  She encouraged us to do our best.  She and Papa noted our talents and were very supportive in nurturing them.  Mum’s taxi drove Antonio and Marco to rehearsals for the Saint Mary’s Cathedral Choir and school musicals. She could also be fierce and was handy with the wooden spoon to get us under control when she needed to! By the time the grandchildren came along, she had mellowed and they were spoilt! Mum was very supportive also to the partners of her children. 

11.  GRACIOUS

Mum was gracious till the end.  Even when she was in pain, she would thank the doctors, nurses and carers.  When they tended her, she complimented them and would often say things like, “What lovely eyes you have!” or “What lovely skin you have!”
2017-09-23 10.12.09 Shopping Centre
12.  SHOWED GRATITUDE

Later in life, Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Whilst she lost her short term memory, this didn’t stop her from living and giving thanks.  I think in a way it made her less worried, as she truly lived in the moment.  One day as the sun was setting, I saw her outside gazing in wonder at the sky saying out loud  “Thank You, God for such a beautiful sunset.” 

  1. CONCIOUS TO THE END

Mum has always had a strong inner life.  In her last days she knew she was dying and said “Thank you, goodbye. Goodbye. Thank you. I’ve been so lucky to have my life. I’ve been so lucky to have had such good friends. Goodbye, good luck to you and my boys. I will miss Gianni”. 

Mum and Papa were a team who complemented each other truly and trusted each other. Once I asked Mum what was the most important thing she had learnt from Papa.  She said, ”Oh, he taught me about family. He is so dedicated to the family.” Papa also taught Mum a lot of practical things like cooking and even sewing.  When I asked Papa what was the most important thing he learnt from Mum he said, “When I met your mother, I was very narrow minded. She opened my mind to the world.” Mum often remarked that although she and Papa had come from east and west, it didn’t matter as it was their faith that kept them together.

Mum left Bethanie on New Year’s Eve just past, to go to Joondalup Private Hospital as the pain was too great for her to bear.  In the last nine days of her life, Papa, her children and grandchildren took turns and camped there with her so she would have company and feel safe in the hospital. On the evening before she died, eight white flowers bloomed on her beloved Moonflower Cactus like a bouquet of stars. She passed away quietly the next morning on Friday 12th January, 2018.

Being a genuinely modest soul, Anne would not like us to be publicly praising her but giving credit where credit is due . I hope this eulogy reminds you of your own special memories you all have with Anne and how she touched your life . As Michael Leunig, the Australian Artist says, there are only two feelings, Love and Fear.  There were many moments when I think Mum could have succumbed to Fear but Love won in the end. 

I think she really appreciated Life because she had nearly died a couple of times, surviving “The Trek”, having the childhood disease of Diphtheria, and nearly drowning.

Thank you, Anne, for being a lover of Life.  We, family, friends and neighbours give thanks for your great example of living a life well lived and generously shared with us all. You will live forever in our hearts.

              Thankyou   …Chesu Thimbadeh… Shukriyaa… Merci…Grazie!
2017-08-26 09.15.43
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.  May she rest in peace.

 


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GK Chesterton and Anglo-Catholicism –a forerunner of the Personal Ordinariates

This week we have a guest post from Simon Dennerly. Simon, on behalf of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, has got together with the Dawson Society to host a series of talks on Chesterton’s fictional works. Our local literary expert, Daniel Matthys, gave us a spellbinding introduction last week. If you haven’t yet attended, it’s not too late to start.

Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog

Chesterton PosterChesterton and the Ordinariates

by Simon Dennerly

What do G.K. Chesterton and the Ordinariates have in common? In a sense, everything.  This has lead to a project to promote the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, by promoting G.K. Chesterton: using a model that is easily replicable.

Many people are aware Chesterton was an Anglican writer who converted to the Catholic Church: but that is only half the story.  To a vast majority ‘Anglican’ automatically means ‘Protestant’, but while Chesterton wrote many of his great works while a member of the Church of England, few are aware he was a member of the Anglo-Catholic section of that institution and critical of Reformed Theology. Faith shapes one’s world-view, and Anglo-Catholicism is more than just liturgy, it is also an intellectual school. So when we talk of Chesterton’s conversion: it was not to ‘Catholicism’, as he already held Catholic…

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When God sends someone alongside

Rembrandt_-_Parable_of_the_Labourers_in_the_Vineyard

The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1637), oil on panel, The Hermitage, St Petersburg.

There are times in my life when I am astounded by the generosity of God.  Today’s Gospel  – the Parable of the Talents – shows God as an investor who expects us to be doing something with the gifts he gives us.  And the more we give ourselves away, the more he repays us: “everyone who has will be given more”.  Over the past year or two, I have had example after example occur in my life.

How do we become a gift to someone else?  I know I have experienced this only recently – although in this first example, I was not the gift, I was on the receiving end.  About fifteen months ago, I was at a particularly low point in my life, worse, even than when my husband died.  For that, I had been prepared – spiritually prepared even, before the cancer had been diagnosed.  But when I was at this low point, and in terrible agony of spirit, angry at the Church, angry at the passivity of others, and constantly calling on God to ask what in the world he thought he was doing, some friends invited me to a quiz night at a neighbouring parish, and I went along, still ready to tell my story of frustration to anyone who had an ear to listen.  And God sent me someone to sit next to me this particular evening and be interested in my complaint.  This was one of the deacons who was ordained to the priesthood last Friday, along with five others from the Archdiocese.

If Deacon – now Father – Mariusz is anything to go by, these new priests are a bumper crop, and I expect great things from them.  May God use them abundantly in his service.

There is a prayer we say at Opus Dei recollections, which goes (in part),

My Lord and my God, I firmly believe that you are here; that you see me, that you hear me. 

When God sends someone alongside you, as he did in my case – over several dozen cups of long macchiato no sugar taken at Brewed Awakening  – you realise that God indeed does see you and hear you, and that the God you have spent so much time kneeling before in the Blessed Sacrament, has been looking back at you all along, and smiling, no doubt quizzically.

Since this time, I have been making more of an effort to be a gift to others, or to come alongside them.  This is what the Holy Spirit does: he is the Parakletos (παράκλητος) – literally, he who comes alongside.  This doesn’t come naturally to me as I am by nature a selfish person, but we all have to start somewhere.  Only yesterday, I was able to sit down with a woman in another coffee shop, and listen to her talking about the tremendous mental pain she and her family are in.  It sent a quiver of shock and awe through me when she described me as being like an angel God had sent to her in her time of need.  Sometimes people just need you to ‘see’ them and to ‘hear’ them.  I put those in quote marks to emphasise that I am talking about a different kind of seeing and hearing from the everyday – there is an extra dimension and it is rather like tuning in to someone’s soul.

And when you do this, giving of yourself, God surprises you with unexpected events.  Like the time I helped out a friend by paying his airfare for a trip he needed to take, and the very next day my neighbour turns up and offers me an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa because she has a spare ticket.

Of course you don’t go into this for the reward.  But virtue is its own reward, as they say.  And all we have to do is take Him seriously when he asks us to do something with whatever gift he has given us – keep paying it forward.  God is never outdone in generosity.

 


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With One Heart Joined Constantly in Prayer

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Promise of the Elect from last year’s Ordination to the Diaconate

A wondrous thing is happening in Perth on 17th November. Six young men are giving their lives to God and will be ordained as priests.

It behoves us all (yes, that word may seem archaic, but I need to use some lofty language to express the grandeur of this event) – it behoves us all, as a praying, united, Catholic community, to spend some time supporting these men in prayer.

Joanna Grzech, sister to one of the ordinands, has suggested that we all join in a Novena – starting tomorrow, if you can, so that we can reach the end point on the day prior to the big event.  Joanna says …

I ask that you join me in a novena dedicated to the futures of these men. A novena is a set of prayers that we pray over 9 days with a special intention. A novena to St. John Vianney may be fitting given he is the patron saint for Priests.

Please pray this novena for these men to be steadfast to the will of the Lord during their vocation. Let us pray that they be prayerful, devoted and faithful to spreading the Good News and the teachings of Mother Church. 

Three men are lucky enough to be locals and have their close family and friends around to celebrate this joyful occasion, but please keep in your prayers those whose family cannot be here for their ordination due to health or financial reasons, that that they feel the love of their Perth Catholic community like they would from their own families. 

These men’s lives will no doubt be tough, but they have been called at this time to do God’s work, and we thank them for listening and answering God’s call. Please keep them in your prayers now as they prepare for their Ordination, and throughout their lives.

You can find and download the words of the novena here:
St John Vianney Novena.

The six deacons are: Mariusz Grzech, Konrad Gagatek, Joseph Laundy and Tung Vu from St Charles Seminary, and Patricio Carrera Morales and Kenneth Acosta Garcia from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.

Our sincerest congratulations to all of you for your perseverance and gift of self.

 


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Remembering Two Precious Children, Lily and Dre Headland

Hero-ImageWritten in consultation with Lois May.

One year ago, on 20 October 2016, residents of Yanchep awoke to the shocking news of the callous murder of two local young children, Zaraiyah-Lily and Andreas “Dre” Headland, of the Golf Course Estate, Yanchep.  I was recently privileged to be invited to the one-year-on Memorial Service for Lily and Dre at their grandparents’ home in Wanneroo.

Without going into the details of this tragic event, which you can read about in the mainstream media, I would just like to share with you some of the positive impressions I came away with that day – and I say positive because where I had been expecting to feel quite depressed just thinking about the loss of these children’s lives, the atmosphere at their home was overwhelmingly warm, welcoming and altogether embracing of family, friends and invited guests.  Lois, the children’s step-grandmother, who works as an Aboriginal Cultural Officer for a community services agency, and her partner, Doug, and other family members had been hard at work for several weeks, preparing for this event.

Lois

Lois May welcoming family and friends.

Although I had never known the children during their short earthly lives, I was impressed with a sense of the reality and ordinariness of their all-too-brief lives by the presence of a row of childcare workers from Great Beginnings, where both Lily and Dre attended daycare, and two teachers from Lily’s school, Brighton Catholic Primary, as well, of course, as the cousins, aunties, uncles and extended family, several of whom got up to talk about the children and tell stories of their lives.

Lois recounted how Lily would teach her brother to pray, as she had been shown in school.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Thank you God for the day,
For our work and for our play.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Lily-and-Dre-Praying

Their cousin, Kyron, spoke about his pet names for the children: ‘Silly Lily’ and ‘Bully Boy’, and how Bully Boy would always try to boss him around.  Eric, an older cousin, sang, most movingly, a song he had written shortly after their deaths,

Sometimes I see them in my sleep
Then I wake up and weep,
Wishing they would come back to me,
so we can play happily.

Eric humbly describes himself in this video as having ‘the voice of an alpaca’, but who would care?  Better to have a real song, written in the rawness of tragedy, and sung a bit rough, than an impersonal one performed to perfection!  Even the presence of Nick and Val from next door (who make themselves useful by bringing in Lois and Doug’s bins!), added a simple homeliness to the proceedings that warmed my heart.  Lois, who led the service, made a point of acknowledging practically everyone present and describing how they had been involved with the children or supported the family.

Ann and her Angels from “Angel Hands” who were there for the day to do what they do best – volunteer their help to families that are experiencing tragedies such as this; these people themselves know what it is like to go through this amount of trauma as they have been though like scenarios.  Also present were the children’s older cousin, Keely, her mother and brother who had come from Broome, Keely’s boyfriend, Terick who had travelled all the way from One Arm Point in the Kimberley.  Isaac, Kevin, Sandy, Glenda, Rachel, Vicki … and more names than I had time to write down.

Even I was acknowledged –  I who didn’t know the children, but merely organised a prayer vigil and a Mass for them on the Sunday following their death.  And I can hardly take credit for that, for it was Phil Hickey, reporter for the Sunday Times, who had phoned me and asked, “So what is the Church doing for this family?”  And, of course, I haven’t yet mentioned those most affected, the children’s mother, Anatoria, and their big sister, Kayleesha, who were being heroically brave throughout the morning.  To them, I would say,

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
(Psalms 34:18)

Anatoria-Alicia

Anatoria and Kayleesha Headland

But while I am thinking of that question: “What is the Church doing?” it strikes me that we could have helped this family more, had we been aware that they were in the area.  It’s easy to say, “If only, if only …” after the event, but tragedies like these should cause us to ask what we are doing to prevent a disaster like this from happening again.  At present, there is no structure in place to allow the sharing of information between Catholic Schools and Catholic Parishes, because of Privacy legislation.  All it would take, would be a simple extra check box on school enrolment forms which says, “We, the parents/guardians, agree that our contact details may be shared with the local Catholic Parish.”  This would then enable Parish outreach teams to visit local families and offer support, so we can actually be a church with the sort of Communio I was talking about last week.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could start an outreach initiative called The Lily and Dre Project, so that we would know their deaths had not been in vain?

Lois is now raising funds for a headstone to honour the children.  If anyone would like to donate to help out, please send me a message and I’ll put you in touch with the family.  Apart from this, Lois has also rounded up the children’s school friends, childcare workers, friends and family, to paint remembrance tiles for a memorial wall in their garden to honour the children.

Finally, please pray for the healing of Anatoria, Kayleesha, Lois, Doug, their families and all those affected by this tragic loss.

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Bradley Barbuto, Indigenous Liaison Officer, and James Danaher, Principal at Brighton Catholic Primary School.

Tiles

Tiles for the Memorial Wall.

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Bradley Barbuto, Indigenous Liaison Staff Member at Brighton Catholic Primary School.

In-Loving-Memory

Lily and Dre Headland, may God grant you eternal blessedness with him in Paradise.

Memorial wall

The memorial wall.

Grave-2

The grave showing the children’s Maori burial.

 


1 Comment

Can Catholics think for themselves?

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Assumption of the Virgin, Giovanni Lanfranco, 1625-7, Cupola, Sant’Andrea della Valle, Rome.

Someone who is near and dear to me recently asked me this question:  “Why is it that you always have to bring God or the Church into the conversation?  We don’t want to hear what a bunch of men in Rome think about everything. We want to hear the real you.  Sometimes we think we don’t know who you are.  Why is it that you can’t think for yourself?”

At first this question took me rather aback.  Firstly, it’s not true.  I talk about many topics without referring specifically to my faith.  Agreed, my Facebook page is full of Christian commentary, but all day at work, I generally avoid explicitly bringing up my faith, and tend to let the John 10:10 quote at the bottom of my emails and the Columban calendar art above my desk speak for themselves.  Nevertheless, the question is an important one, and the answer essential to understanding the Christian worldview.

I can see that, looking at my friend’s question from her point of view, it must appear that my faith is some sort of enthusiasm of mine, in the same vein as an addiction to, say, Warhammer fantasy battles.  To her it must seem, if I drop into the conversation some mention of archangels, thuribles, Palestrina, St Servatius the Ice Saint, The Enchiridion or, come to think of it, that spitting gargoyle on Notre Dame Cathedral – like just so much jargon-bombing by a Warhammer-maniac about the Necrons or the Eldar, the Ordo Hereticus, and the parallel dimension of the Warp.  To my friend, I must come across as one of those ghastly bores who cannot stop talking about their favourite hobby and inflicting it on all comers.

Add to this the perception by outsiders that the Church is just another organisation, in much the same way as Games Workshop is the organisation behind the Warhammer brand, and you will understand my friend’s incomprehension.

This is what she doesn’t get.  The church is not an organisation.  Rather, it’s an organism.  There is a unique relationship between the baptised and Christ, that has to be entered into in order to be understood.  Serious Christians are not just following Christ, as one might follow a great leader.  Serious Christians have a living and active relationship with Him as a person, strengthened by his Word and, on a physical level, by receiving his physical Body into our physical body under the form of the Holy Eucharist.  Each one of us becomes a cell in His mystical body; the Holy Spirit is the lifeblood: He empowers us by delivering the spiritual equivalent of gluose and oxygen to each cell.  At the same time, all the cells are implicated in each other – each of us cooperates in the plan of Christ, who is the head of this mystical body.  And the body functions most harmoniously when all the cells are carrying out their appointed tasks in alignment with the direction of the head.

In fact, when I receive Holy Communion, I make a point of meditating quietly on asking Christ to be absorbed physically into my body, to insert himself into my DNA, as it were, so that I can become more like Him and be his presence in the world.  For I want to be able to say like Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20).”  Yes, I know I haven’t perfectly actualised that statement yet, but I’m working on it.

The cells of this body do not only include us, who are alive on this planet right here, right now – the Ecclesia Militans, who are engaged in the present struggle against sin and evil, but also those who have passed beyond this life: those who have arrived in heaven – the glorious Church Triumphant – and those who have died but are going through a final cleansing to rid themselves of any remaining attachments to sin – the Suffering Church in Purgatory.  So the body of Christ is not limited by space and time, and all the cells are united in Communio as a family.  There is also a communication system, a spiritual nervous system called prayer that unites all the cells with one another, and using this method we can ask the other cells to intercede for us to the head or, using our prayer superhighway, we can talk directly with the head ourselves.  The loving friendship with God developed in prayer is something so real, so palpable, so experienced, so immersive, that it would be an act of disloyalty to pretend that this intimate interaction does not exist.

So when my friend asks me to stop ‘referencing religion’, essentially they are asking me not to talk about the deepest core of my being and my closest familial relationship.  I think that, far from the person’s claim to want to know the real me, this sort of request doesn’t respect who I am at all, and reveals a mind closed-off to genuine communication.  To them, Christ is perceived as a threat to their personal freedom, someone who is so other to them that they experience Him as an oppression, someone whom they have to ward off by setting boundaries on conversation.  But if one really wants to get to know someone, to show communio with another person in a genuine and Christ-like way, one has to be sincerely interested in them, and we can only do this in conversation by drawing the person out of themselves, and listening to them attentively, while at the same time sharing from one’s own experience in return, so that the conversation doesn’t give the impression of an interrogation.  Christ-like love is generous and not self-protective.

Returning to the original question, I would have to point out that the person who proposed it is embedded in a worldview that centres everything around her ego.  That is why my way of expressing myself sounds so alien to her, since Christianity tends to play down the ego and focus outward, on the mission of the Gospel, with its two-pronged love of God and love of neighbour.  Typical of Christian thought are self-deprecating phrases such as “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” (Mt 10:39) or, John the Baptist’s, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” (John 3:30).  My friend’s Nietzscheanism, however, is replete with self-aggrandizing statements: “Ego is the very essence of a noble soul” (Beyond Good and Evil, Ch. 9) or “There cannot be a God because if there were one, I could not believe that I was not He.” (Wenn es Götter gäbe, wie hielte ich’s aus, kein Gott zu sein! Also gibt es keine Götter.)  (Thus spoke Zarathustra, Part II, ch.24)

So I would encourage my friend to be more aware of the effect her worldview is having on her soul.  Is it helping her to grow in unconditional love and respect for the other, or is it narrowing and confining her in a prison of her own making?

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This is an expanded version of the short introductory talk I gave on day three of the WBC conference.