Saint of the day
Have you ever found yourself smiling along to a child’s laughter, even when you have no idea what the joke is?
It’s the strangest thing, but there are few things as uplifting as the spontaneous laughter of a child. That uninhibited, right from the tummy sound that you just can’t get annoyed at (even if it is in the middle of Mass. Or during the principal’s speech at an awards ceremony).
These are the moments that foster parents Joe and Sarah live for. To hear 11-year-old Kirra* giggle with her baby brothers. There was no laughter when she first came into their care. Now, to hear her giggle emerge from her is a sign that some of the fear she lived with for so long is starting to disappear.
Kirra’s been through significant trauma. Her formative years were filled with parental neglect and abuse. She had no trust in the adults around her. When she and her brothers came into their care two years ago, Joe and Sarah knew that their first and most important task would be to teach the children that life is precious and that they are loved unconditionally by their new family and by God.
They were desperate to give her a Catholic education, to ensure she has the holistic, faith-based care and school experience she needs. In November 2019, Kirra was preparing to transition to high school. Sarah’s foremost concern was that she would get lost in the system. “The abuse Kirra survived as a toddler requires an ongoing need for special support. There are many appointments and therapy sessions. That, together with caring for the two little ones, makes it difficult to take on full-time work” says Sarah. “But that leaves our family dependent on my husband’s income, which just doesn’t stretch to cover school fees.”
Sarah and Joe applied for a MacKillop bursary with the help of their local parish priest. They told us of their deep conviction that Kirra deserves the best opportunity to thrive and grow. That she is a bright young lady who, with the right support and guidance, will go on to achieve great things. They wanted to give her a fighting chance.
Through the generosity of donors to the MacKillop Fund, she got that chance. Kirra was given a community of teachers who know and understand her unique needs. Through generous support, this young lady is slowly learning to hope and to dream. She has awakened to the joy of unconstrained laughter.
Kirra’s fees for the year-7 camp were covered as part of her bursary. Her teacher tells us she participated in all the activities and even began developing some relationships with her peers. He shared that, despite the hurdles she faces, Kirra is a lovely young girl. A happy and positive person who is always respectful of and compassionate towards others.
Kirra had a difficult start to life, but she has shown great courage to adapt and begin to trust and love those around her.
In the 2021 school year, 12 additional children will receive the love and support of a caring Catholic school community. These young people come to us from all walks of life. Some, like Kirra, are in the care of foster families and overcoming severe trauma. Others have fled domestic and family violence. Many are from families that have fallen on financially hard times and need our care more than ever.
As always, the need for support far outweighs the funds available. And as with Kirra’s late application last year, we have nine more very deserving students waiting to receive an outcome to their bursary applications – but all our funding has been awarded.
If you are in a position to help, would you please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support one of these children.
“What exactly happens in a Seminary?” This question is often asked when people meet Monsignor John Grace, Rector of Holy Spirit Seminary, Banyo. Monsignor is always happy to answer – and his response is always a joyful one.
“It is a lively place, full of activity and a daily adventure for staff and students. Sometimes unpredictable and emotional; always filled with love and friendship. As Rector, I am immersed in the day-to-day education and formation of these young men. They are all different and have each come to their vocational calling by following their own, unique path. Here for approximately seven years, they are united by one goal – to become the shepherd that God calls them to be for His people. With your support, and by the grace of God, we can guide them through some of their journey.”
Of course, God is at the centre of everything that happens at Holy Spirit Seminary. Seminarians look to draw closer to God, to be more in the image of Jesus, and to become a shepherd that will lead the flock to salvation. Monsignor and the formation staff are also passionate about ensuring our seminarians are well rounded men – people who will understand the needs, fears, and daily struggles of their parishioners.
At the heart of the Seminary is the Oratory. Each day, seminarians and staff gather for Mass and prayer and on Thursdays, they come together for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It is in the Oratory that priestly hearts are formed by the Holy Spirit. This is also when our seminarians carry our donors and supporters in prayer, and give thanks for the generosity that supports their calling.
“All in all, we are a joyous group. We ‘fall in love with God’ a little more each day, as we discern His voice in our hearts and His purpose for our lives. The seminarians form a brotherhood and friendships that will last a lifetime”, said Monsignor Grace.
You can support the future of our faith through a tax-deductible donation to Holy Spirit Seminary today.
Imagine the joy of being newly married and expecting your first child. Leanne found herself in that euphoric place, but it was then that the violence first began. She was four months pregnant the first time her husband knocked her into the wall, repeatedly. And all the
hope for a joyful future was knocked out of her. Leanne’s name has been changed to protect her privacy, but this was her reality.
Right now, in Australia, there are hundreds of women in similar situations to Leanne’s. Did you know that on average, one woman per week is murdered by her current or former partner? Domestic and family violence plays a part in more than seventy per cent of cases involving the death of a child.
Centacare’s Domestic and Family Violence Services have been established to support women and children in situations like Leanne’s. Leanne and her children attend counselling at the Family and Relationship Services Centre on the Gold Coast every week. She recounts her marriage to one of our counsellors:
“When Jack and I first met he was incredibly kind. He told me he loved me on our second date! We shared our faith and had so much in common. Right from the start we were in a bit of an ‘us’ bubble. I was flattered and I felt a little overwhelmed. “The first seven months of marriage was just about perfect. We had the occasional fight – Jack was always jealous – but I was content. That’s why it came as such a shock that first time. I was four months pregnant and we were arguing. I started walking away and Jack grabbed the back of my head and bashed me into the wall. It must have been three or more times… everything just kind of froze. I was on the carpet sobbing. He was standing over me and I could see that he was scared too – and sad. Maybe that’s just what I wanted to see.”
This is not an unusual response in victims of domestic violence. Our human instinct is to look for hope, to rationalise unexpected behaviour. Many women struggle to come to terms with the fact that their life-partner is abusive.
For Leanne, these incidents took the form of broken fingers and bruised ribs. Threats to burn the house down while Leanne and the kids slept. In the end, it was an altercation between her children that pushed Leanne into action. Her 16-year-old son, David, came home angry from school and pushed his sister into a wall. “It instantly took me back to that first time Jack hurt me and it was like a lightning bolt that mobilised me.”
“My dad called the Centacare DV Service for me – they told him exactly what we need to do and then he came to take us away. I was at a safe-house when I got a text message from Jack. He said if I don’t come home he’d kill himself and it would be my fault.” Leanne was appointed a counsellor as soon as she arrived at the service. She shared the message with them they were able to tell her that this was just another control tactic. A way for Jack to manipulate and punish her. In the end she sent her father to their home.
Police officers at the house stopped Leanne’s father from entering the home – Jack had taken his own life. “I guess I’ll never know if I would have been able to stop him. If I had gone straight away, would he still be alive? Would I?”
Support and donations from our generous community mean Centacare can provide a space for David to speak safely about his feelings, his anger, and his fear. In addition to giving Leanne and her daughter the care and love they need to regain their dignity and trust in others, donations to Centacare helps young men like David understand why his dad acted the way he did, and that he has nothing to be ashamed of.
You can make a tax-deductible donation to support families like Leanne’s today.
For most of us, the idea of being homeless is inconceivable. With friends, support networks and families to catch us when we fall, we know that should the worst happen, we have a safety net of loved ones in place. But for thousands of people in our local community the loss of security, the fear of not knowing where to turn next, and the grief of not being able to provide a home for their children is very real.
During September, 140 schools across the Archdiocese raised awareness and much needed funds for the Centacare’s Homelessness service. Thank you for your generosity and support – you have provided for services like crisis accommodation, counselling and support, and food and necessities for people who desperately need it.
Find out more about the Centacare Homelessness Service, and how you can make a difference, on the Catholic Foundation site.
At the heart of Mary MacKillop’s vocation was the belief that every child deserves a faith-based education – especially those children from families living in hardship. 2020 has been a turbulent year for many students and families, but for one little girl it has been a year filled with the love and support of her new Catholic school community.
Jessica* is the eldest of three sisters who were removed from their parents by the Department of Child Safety. At an age where most children are still learning to tie their shoelaces, Jessica took the burden of protecting and caring for her siblings upon herself. Now, after years of neglect and abuse, they are in the care of a family member. Through the kindness of donors to the MacKillop Fund, Jessica has been given a bursary and the support of a caring Catholic school community. A ‘family’ that welcomes and cherishes her.
Donations to the MacKillop Fund help to pay for Jessica’s tuition, the books she needs, a computer to study and a school uniform. By standing behind this child, they give her the best opportunity to reach her potential. And she is just one of 44 students receiving a MacKillop Bursary this year – 44 lives changed through the thoughtful support of our generous community.
These young students come from all walks of life but what they have in common is financial crisis in their families and often, an experience of trauma in their young lives. Many of them have lived through domestic violence, are in foster care, or have been deeply hurt by the people who should have loved them most.
When you make a donation to the MacKillop Fund, you are more than ‘just’ a supporter. You are part of the MacKillop family.
*The names of the people supported through your generosity have been changed to protect their privacy.
St James College Old Boy, Adrian Di Marco is passionate about supporting disadvantaged students to attend the College.
When asked what drives his philanthropy to the school, Adrian said, “A quality education and the support of teachers and staff at St James made a tremendous difference in my own life. Education is one way to break out of poverty and ensure a better future – I hope this gift makes that possible for Jimmies families who are struggling.”
In June, Adrian and wife Kris, committed to personally matching all donations to the St James Endowment Fund on a $2 for $1 basis. The goal of the campaign was to grow the fund to $100,000 so that each year the annual distribution can be used to support students in need. This support can be a lifeline to many St James students and provides them with a uniform, laptop and the school supplies they need. The fund will remain in perpetuity, providing a steady stream of bursaries for students year after year.
The campaign was supported by John O’Hara, a fellow Old Boy, who spread the word amongst past students. “If we can give these kids, who already face such incredibly tough odds, a fighting chance to achieve success in life, to know the joy of making life-long friends, and to have teachers that support and push them to reach their full potential, then I think we have done a great thing as a community”, said John.
At an afternoon tea held at the college last week, Adrian presented the matching funds cheque to school principal, Ann Rebgetz. Together, the Jimmies community raised more than $100,000 to give these students a bright future.
Looking back across nearly eight years as Archbishop of Brisbane, His Grace provides a timely insight into his own journey as well as a ‘state of the union’ update on the Church in our archdiocese.
Archbishop Mark also provided an insight into the social impact the Archdiocese has in our local communities:
Watch the video here:
Questions from members:
Thank you for supporting the St John Fisher College Bursary Fund
Gifts over $2 are tax deductible.
In 2013, a local priest came to the MacKillop Fund Committee to ask for help for an impoverished family in his parish. He saw their need, and knew that a Catholic education will make a world of difference for the children in this household.
The mother had been a victim of a violent sexual assault at a young age and her oldest daughter Beth* was born as a result. After years in a refugee camp, mum and daughter were given a home in Brisbane, where the Catholic community embraced them. She later married and had a son with severe Down syndrome and then another daughter. Their financial struggles were too much and her husband left the family.
By the time Beth’s bursary application reached us, she had two siblings and her mum was once more surviving as a single parent.
Through the generosity of our local community who support the MacKillop Fund, Beth was the first recipient of a MacKillop Bursary and was cast an enormous gift of hope. Entering Year 8 in 2014 she was given the care she needed in her local Catholic secondary school. She flourished. She and the other five bursary students from that inaugural cohort proudly graduated Year 12 last December.
What’s more, not only is Beth thriving – she is an inspiration. In February 2019 Beth began a degree in Biomedical Science at the University of Queensland. From the despair of a life of trauma and almost pre-determined destiny, a MacKillop Bursary made it possible for us to lift this young lady and her family into opportunity. Your support will go on to be transformational for this biomedical student and for the world she seeks to reshape for the better.
The best news? Beth’s sister is about to start secondary school with the help of a MacKillop Bursary. She wants to be just like her older sister when she grows up. Beth has become her role model, and on-going donations to the Fund means that her young sister has the same opportunity.
*While we change the names of students and family members to protect the privacy of MacKillop Fund
bursary recipients, please know that their stories are real.
That’s the biggest question about American politics right now according to Professor Simon Jackman, the CEO of the United States Studies Centre in Sydney, who provided his insights into the American political landscape contrasted with Australia. “Imagine Australian politics without compulsory voting – politicians would be seen at school P&F meetings a lot more for instance. It would change things so much.