April 16, 2013
Father Joe Maier has been present in the lives of the poor in Thailand and Laos since 1967, a presence he describes as "an honour beyond belief”. After studying the Thai language in Bangkok, Fr Joe, as he is affectionately known throughout many of the poorest communities in Bangkok, became a Parish priest to a remote Catholic village in the rural North East of Thailand before moving to a Catholic Hill Tribe Village, where he studied the H’mong language in Northern Laos. Fr Joe returned to Bangkok in 1972 to serve a 25 year tenure as the Parish Priest to the Catholic community located in a slaughterhouse neighbourhood. Fr Joe joined with Sister Maria Chantavarodom in 1973 to start the Human Development Foundation for his disadvantaged neighbours of all religions.
The Human Development Foundation works to help the children and communities in many of the disadvantages slums of Bangkok. Together with their neighbours the HDF create simple-but-progressive solutions that touch the lives of thousands of the poor every day. The HDF:
Fr Joe’s mission ensures that these projects are always done together, hand in hand and heart to heart with the people they serve.
Fr Joe holds advanced degrees in Theological Studies and Urban Planning as well as an honorary doctorate in Social Administration from Thammasart University in Thailand, and Acadia University in Canada. He has received numerous awards for outstanding citizenship, including a lifetime achievement award presented by Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand. While these accolades reflect a life time of dedication, Fr Joe believes his greatest honour is that the community has accepted him, as he accepts them.
Father Joe still lives in and works for the children in Klong Toey where his work here first began.
For more information on the Human Development Foundation please visit: www.mercycentre.org
March 15, 2013
The Redemptorists of Australia joyfully welcome Pope Francis as pontiff of the Catholic Church.
On 13 March 2013 Pope Francis appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to be greeted by over one hundred thousand faithful as the 266th leader of the Catholic Church. Those in attendance as well as the millions watching on television worldwide immediately felt his humility and presence. There stood a man wearing the simple white cassock of the papacy and his pectoral cross from his days as Bishop. His first words to the adoring crowd were plain and familiar: "Brothers and sisters, good evening." And rather than begin his papacy by blessing the crowd, he asked the crowed to bless him. Later on in his address he asked those gathered to pray the Hail Mary together. This was a powerful message to the world that this pontiff was here to be with the people.
Pope Francis has a very strong background as an advocate for human dignity and social justice, and his advocacy has been matched by a notable simplicity of life style.- Australian Jesuit Provincial, Fr Steve Curtin
February 19, 2013
Anyone who follows the training of top level AFL teams in the pre-season would know about Arizona. Altitude training, desert environments and state of the art facilities and coaching have lured coaches and teams to this Mecca of professionalism and innovation. There is a spiritual and theological equivalent to this sporting focus, The Redemptorist Renewal Center, Picture Rocks Road, Tuscon, Arizona.
For a week in January, 2013, Fathers Tom Santa CSsR and Paul Coury CSsR led a program on Spiritual Leadership at St Clement’s Galong. They brought a little of their desert experience and learning to our centre of silence and solitude. It was a fruitful meeting.
The challenge Tom and Paul faced was to reduce a four week program into one week. The challenge for the forty odd participants was to absorb ideas with which they had at times only a fleeting acquaintance or a familiarity that had dulled their ‘awe and wonder’. It was to the credit of the two North American Redemptorists and the openness of the diverse group from Rockhampton and Ballarat, from the Philippines and Singapore, married couples, members of Exodus communities and religious orders, Redemptorists and Jesuits and . . . everyone in between, that the program worked so well. Arizona had come to Galong and it was a happy meeting.
‘The is nothing new under the sun’, the preacher said. But, move beyond the sun and newness goes on forever. The treatment of the expanding universe was one of those ‘wonder and awe’ experiences that require an imaginative leap even to begin to grasp. In beginning the session with this material, Tom and Paul challenged the often unacknowledged parochialism of our thinking, about the world, church, our selves and Spirit. Everything and everyone is bigger than we have ever imagined.
Similarly, the content of the Good News was familiar but the context, the ‘new wine skins’ was where more learning was to be had. Anyone who has been on a nourishing and enjoyable workshop or retreat experience knows the difficulty of conveying this experience. Perhaps two stories about the presenters will communicate a little of impact on this week on this participant.
Paul Coury is the present Director of the Redemptorist Renewal Centre in Tuscon. He is also the person who conducts programs in the art facility which are integral to the ‘body-mind-spirit’ vision of the centre. Paul talked to us about creativity and expression and the value of painting and of Mandalas. But, for many of us, it was Paul’s stories that threw light on the power of narrative and image in engaging an audience and mediating a profound truth. One of the stories was about a four year old grand-niece.
Janee (not her real name) was sick. Paul was staying with her family and sleeping on the couch in the living room. In the early hours of the morning, he heard someone moving around in the kitchen. He got up and found Janee listlessly wandering around, unsettled and uncertain. Paul took charge.
He set Janee down in the lounge room, in front of the television. He carefully took out bread and peanut butter and made a sandwich. He cut the sandwich into small, child-size, bite-size, pieces and placed them on the small table next to where Janee was sitting. He turned the television on to the cartoon channel.
Janee sat there for a minute, eating one of the bite-sized pieces of sandwich and enjoying the cartoon. Finally she said, ‘it doesn’t get much better than this!’ . . . Like any parable-teller, Paul let us make what we would from his story. The fact that I remember it so vividly is evidence that at least someone is still mulling over it.
Thomas Santa, the former Director of the Redemptorist Renewal Centre and currently the pastor of St Michael’s parish in Chicago, is the author of twelve books and one about to be published. He is good with complex ideas and is a forceful and eloquent speaker. He spoke to us about six phases of the spiritual life. His treatment of phases four and five in particular struck me: silence and solitude and a change in attitude and perception.
‘In the desert there be dragons . . . ‘ or, words to that effect. And, one of his power point quotes was from an Orthodox theologian, ‘God takes the soul of the believer, generous and open, and beats it like brass again and again and again until it has turned into gold’, my translation.
Tom was more opaque than his story-telling and exuberant confrere. But, with a few words and in a powerful homily at Mass he conveyed the truth that ‘awe and wonder’ were the appropriate response to inner realities and events, to the mystery of the human heart, as well as the enormity of an endless universe.
Like educators in the true sense of the word, Paul and Tom drew on and drew out the wisdom and experience of the people they met on the workshop. Our designated contributors were Brian Johnstone CSsR and Helen Barnes RSJ.
I have known Brian since he lectured to me at the United Faculty of Theology in Melbourne over thirty years ago. Brian brought another dimension to the week, an austere and demanding one. He invited us to think.
Our hearts were stirred by the images and ideas and the exotic of American accents and examples. Our minds were challenged when confronted by the reality of freedom and the truth that was incarnated, messily, bloodily in the lives and living of each of us. If Tom and Paul were challenged to condense weeks’ material into days, Brian was called on to distil a life-times reflection into hours. His motif of the ‘Gifted Giver’, revisited and recalled, is encouragement to return to those few hours of discussion and instruction and ‘buy the book!’
Helen Barnes, talking about books, is fast becoming prolific. But, it was Helen-the-Artist, in Residence and in Conference, who contributed memorable sessions on the power of creativity and the spirit within all of us. In the art room, with a sense of play and with an evocation of St Mary of the Cross, her/our Mary MacKillop, Helen grounded the discussions on spirituality in the land as well as the earth.
Another of Paul Coury’s stories captured an important dimension of leadership.
Paul was on a workshop and noticed the name of a priest, another participant. Paul remembered this man as pastor of one of the fiftieth most successful parishes in the United States. ‘This is a man to watch,’ thought Paul, ‘someone from whom I can learn a great deal.’
Paul went to the Mass the priest was celebrating, expecting something out of the ordinary. The priest was a terrible celebrant, no sense of liturgy, no contact with the congregation, shuffling, diffident. His homily was no better.
Perhaps he was an administrator, a born organizer, a real leader of men, and women. Not so, Paul discovered, he was a disaster as facilitator of a small group and he showed other signs of being completely disorganized.
Eventually, Paul found himself sitting next to the man at a meal. He mentioned the award he and his parish had received. The priest smiled ruefully. ‘You must be wondering how my parish, with me as pastor, could have achieved such recognition?’ He went on, ‘When I came to the parish, on the first Sunday, I told them the many things I could not do. I said, if we are to make a go of this parish, you will have to help me. And, they did!’
Paul’s point was that this man was well and truly aware of who he was and accepting of his limitations. Awareness and acceptance are not the be-all-and-end-all of leadership, but they are a prerequisite.
Over the week, Father Tom Santa and Paul Coury, by hook-or-by-crook, with power point and stories, with personal reflections and accumulated wisdom, with Helen and Brian, inspired and cajoled and encouraged. This is not the end of this collaboration. And, it is a very promising beginning.
December 20 2012
The Australian and New Zealand Redemptorists wish our partners in mission, our families and friends every blessing at this Christmas time.
Together with you we give thanks for this past year and we reach out for the blessings of 2013. Like you we pray for peace in the coming year - peace in the world, peace in the human heart.
To open our Christmas E-Card, or to send it to others, please CLICK HERE
In 1959 Blessed John XXII urged the world to “remove from the path of peace the obstacles put there by human malice”. His message still rings across the years. To read Pope John’s Christmas message please CLICK HERE
On ANZAC Day, 2012, at Perth’s Redemptorist monastery, North Perth, WA, the Collegium Symphonic Chorus presented “War & Peace”. That concert is soon to be broadcast nationally on another equally poignant occasion - Remembrance Day, 2012. The two works were Vaughan Williams’ “Dona nobis pacem” and the Faure “Requiem”.
These two pieces make up the programme for the ABC’s 1.00 pm Sunday Afternoon Concert on ABC Classic FM, Sunday, November 11, 2012.
The ANZAC Day concert was under the direction of Dr. Margaret Pride, the soloists being Stephanie Gooch (soprano), Robert Hofmann (baritone), and the late Edgar Metcalfe (narrator), with the orchestra under the leadership of first violinist Shaun Lee-Chen.
Reviewing ‘War & Peace’ in the West Australian on April 27, 2012, Neville Cohen acclaimed the performance writing, “In decades of listening to Dr Pride's choral presentations, I can't recall a more moving listening experience”.
The glorious prayer-chants of Rachmaninov “Vespers” ensured there was a packed church at North Perth’s Redemptorist Monastery on Saturday, October 20, when the Collegium Symphonic Chorus staged its second concert for 2012.
The Rachmaninov “Vespers” are based on the Evening Prayer of the Church, in this case the Russian Orthodox Church. The joyful recognition of Christ’s resurrection inspires the Vespers texts and Sergei Rachmaniov’s music translates that joy for the ear and ultimately the heart and soul.
The concert was under the direction of Margaret Pride. Justin McDonnell was lector and Stephen Adams tenor.
The Collegium Symphonic Chorus plans two further concerts at the monastery during 2013.
September, 23 2012
Within seconds of meeting him, Redemptorist Fr. John Carnie would put a smile on most people’s faces. He did that all through life firstly with family and friends, but also with the thousands of people of every stripe whom he met on his mission across Australia and New Zealand.
Over the last quarter century of his life Fr. John Carnie was chaplain at Marcellin College, Bulleen, Melbourne. During those years, on every day that he entered the school yard, he managed to put a smile on most faces. Over time staff and students found themselves receiving his greeting and their own smiles as a glad blessing. Fr. John’s presence in the Marcellin community was an affirming and encouraging one. Many would have felt that he was there just for them.
So when after a short illness Fr. John died in August 2011, it came as a shock to everyone and it left an emptiness at Marcellin, especially across the grounds where Fr. John would often be found, doing what he did best – just being around.
In the year after his death the Marcellin students and staff wanted to remember the smiling pastor they had known for so long. They decided to try and capture that sense of presence Fr. John brought to the College. So they commissioned a sculpture of him – not standing tall, aloof and directing, but seated on a garden bench – there and listening.
On September 17, 2012, a little more than a year after Fr. John’s death, the Marcellin community came together on the Bray Oval to honour their former Chaplin. There they blessed and unveiled the sculpture they had commissioned in his memory.
Fr John’s family were there, so were members of his Redemptorist Community. Sculptors Pauline Clayton and Mal Wood were there, and of course staff and students, past and present, and many Marcellin friends.
In a moving ceremony Fr William Goldman, Rector of the Redemptorist Community Kew, led the prayers and blessed the sculpture.
A poignant speech was then delivered by the College Principal, Mr. Mark Murphy. In it he described how the loss of Fr John had impacted the Marcellin community. “The death of our dear friend over twelve months ago has left a deep void in our College community. How do you replace someone who devoted his life and boundless love and energy to our community for over twenty five years? The simple answer is that you cannot. The best you can hope to do is to remember him. Remember our own individual encounters with him, the special joke he shared with each one of us, the way he made each one of us feel that we were his special friend. Remember especially how in his own unique and inimitable way he made Jesus known and loved to all in the Marcellin College family.”
Significantly the sculpture was placed outdoors near Marcellin’s Bray Oval where everyone passes by. Fr John saw his mission as extending beyond the school chapel and well beyond enrolled students. The relationships he forged at Marcellin were forged for life. The hundreds of weddings and baptisms Fr. John celebrated among his former students is testimony to the longevity of his relationships, the permanence of his encouragement.
Fr John once said of his work: “Much of my mission is beyond the school gate with the extended school family. Students come from a variety of home settings, two-parent families, single parent families, Australian-born families, overseas-born families, coping families, struggling families – it is a microcosm of life. The Good News of Jesus brings healing and encouragement to every home even if in different ways.”
Picking up on this theme the College principal summed up: “We know too that Fr. John’s relationship with the young men of Marcellin did not end when they formally walked out these gates for the last time. Installing his image in this place symbolizes the fact he not only watches over each young man who enters Marcellin College each day but he also remembers and cares for those who have left.”
Ballarat cathedral, October 16, Feast of St. Gerard Majella
In a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in the presence of many visiting bishops, representatives from across the diocese of Ballarat - laity, priests and religious, Archbishop Denis Hart ordained Redemptorist Fr. Paul Bird to the order of bishops. Bishop Bird’s family were also in attendance. A live-feed televised the ordination ceremony to the overflow crowd present in the cathedral hall. It was a joyful ceremony celebrating a moment of hope, a moment of faith, a moment of renewed commitment to justice and charity.
During his second term as leader of the Australian Redemptorists. Bishop Bird was called by Pope Benedict XVI to be Bishop of Ballarat. He had spent many years in leadership and twenty years as editor at Majellan Publications, Melbourne. Originally from Newcastle, NSW, Bishop Bird’s missionary journeys have taken him to many places across Australia and overseas.
At the ordination ceremony, Archbishop Hart (Melbourne) encouraged Bishop Paul to continue his missionary journey as bishop of Ballarat. In a letter to Bishop Bird, Fr. Michael Brehl, the Superior General of the Redemptorists in Rome, also reminded Bishop Paul that his Redemptorist commitment to mission accompanied him into the office of bishop. At the ordination ceremony, Fr. Jovencio Ma, coordinator of the Redemptorists of Asia-Oceania represented the Superior General.
Redemptorists from Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and New Zealand were also present to celebrate Bishop Paul’s ordination and for a welcome reunion with their Australian confreres.
Towards the end of the ceremony representatives of the Diocese of Ballarat publically welcomed their new bishop. The following address by Bishop Bird was in response to their welcome.
Thank you, Brenda, David and Fr Peter. I very much appreciate your words of welcome on behalf of the people of the diocese and the parish communities and on behalf of the priests and religious and all those who have special ministries in the diocese. I am very grateful too for your kind gift – a beautifully written copy of the New Testament. I thank you all for this gift – those who are here in the cathedral, those who are watching on the big screen in the hall and the people throughout the diocese. The gift you have given will be a reminder to me of what is at the heart of our Christian lives – the good news of Jesus Christ.
My appointment as bishop of Ballarat was announced on August 1, the feast of St Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists. Today is the feast of another Redemptorist saint, Gerard Majella. I feel a great sense of support in the prayers of these saintly confreres who have gone before us.
I have also felt immense support from so many people since my appointment. My family and friends have been wonderful in their good wishes and prayers. I am delighted that my sister Ann and brother Maurice and many others of my family could be here today and also the friends who have come from many different places to be with us.
My Redemptorist confreres have been most encouraging and they are also with us in good numbers, including the Australian provincial, Fr Pat Corbett, the provincial from Thailand, Fr Joe Apisit, and the coordinator of the Asia-Oceania conference of the Redemptorists, Fr Ben Ma, who is representing the Redemptorist superior general.
Since my appointment, I have been able to make a couple of visits to the Ballarat diocese and I have been greatly encouraged by the warm welcome from the priests and religious. I thank the priests and religious for their dedicated service in the diocese and I thank them for their presence here today.
On this special occasion we also have a large number of bishops with us. I have received wonderful messages of encouragement from bishops from all around Australia and I am delighted that so many could be present for the ordination today. I would mention in particular Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne. I thank Archbishop Hart for presiding at the ordination and particularly for his words in the homily encouraging me to bring the Redemptorist missionary spirit to my service as bishop.
I thank also Bishop Peter Connors who has been so welcoming and so helpful in introducing me to the diocese. Bishop Peter seemed particularly pleased to see me! I thank Bishop Peter