Saint of the day
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:
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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.
Samantha Cohen joined the ACP in July to share her story of how a girl from Brisbane ended up in Buckingham Palace.
Greg Sheridan AO is a noted journalist for The Australian newspaper and one of the nation’s most influential national security commentators. At this luncheon, Greg asked existential questions that are important to both Christians and non-Christians alike, including: Is God dead? Why is Christianity vital for our personal and social well-being? Why does the world need faith now more than ever? A thought-provoking afternoon filled with discussion and laughter followed, as you will see in the clips below.
Deacon Tom Duncan is looking ahead to his ordination next month with great excitement and, most of all, he’s looking forward to celebrating his first Mass. He said in some ways there was no other answer. “(Mass) is not the only thing a priest does of course, but it is at the heart of the priesthood,” he said. “And when the call to the priesthood first came to me, it was really grounded in that – I looked forward to celebrating the sacred liturgy.”
Deacon Duncan’s call went back to his time at Marist College, Ashgrove. “I was at a time in my life where I started to pray and have an interest in the Bible, just more of a consciousness of the presence of Jesus,” he said. “I didn’t really make sense of it at the time, that that was going on with me.”
But as the real world loomed at the end of his Year 12 studies, he told himself he had to make a decision about what he wanted to do with this life. “It’s a huge thing to be put to you at that stage,” he said, “and I thought I had it all more or less fairly worked out. “I never had any huge, big dreams. “I thought I’d come back to Miles and become a builder like my dad, probably take over his business and get married and live a normal life like my mates.”
But a deep emptiness revealed itself within him. “That was frightening because all of a sudden I had this sense that everything I wanted to do and everything I thought was my life totally wasn’t my life,” Deacon Duncan said. He wasn’t sure where to go or what to do. “But I had this sense deep down that I couldn’t do that for the rest of my life – I could go there but once I achieve that, then what? There was something missing.”
So he turned to God. He asked God what God wanted him to do. “All of a sudden, things changed and it’s difficult to say how I heard it or how I felt it, but the word priesthood or the idea of the priesthood was in my mind,” he said.
Will you support other young men, like Tom, discern the priesthood? Your support will help our parishes and ministries now, and into the future.
It was never a path Deacon Duncan had considered. “And I thought, ‘No way, that’s not me’,” he said. “I was always in trouble at school and I guess I was seen as one of the naughty boys, and it just seemed so opposite to what I was like. “And I pushed that idea away. “But the more I pushed it away, the more it came back and it was a niggling thought. “And the more I sort of avoided it, the more I felt like I was lying to myself somehow, which is quite an unsettling feeling.”
Eventually, he gave in and consented to the Lord, saying, “Lord, if that’s what you want me to do, make it happen because I have no idea.” Deacon Duncan had never heard of a seminary or a seminarian at that point. “When I accepted it and thought ‘Okay, well maybe that’s what I’m going to do’, I imagined myself as a priest in the future, and I felt the opposite of that emptiness,” he said. “There was this fullness and this fire in my belly that was also startling because I didn’t know that was possible.”
Once he committed, he ended up at Canali House, a house of discernment in Brisbane, and seven years later, he said that initial calling had deepened considerably. It was a very different life from his small hometown of Miles, about two-and-a-half hours west of Toowoomba – but still within Toowoomba diocese, where he currently has his diaconate placement.
But between his time in Brisbane at Marist College and in the seminary and his time in his country town of Miles, Toowoomba felt like a good middle ground. “It feels like home even though it’s very different from where I come from,” Deacon Duncan said. “I feel at home here with the people here, and I have a sense that these are the people I’m called to minister to. “It feels like coming home.”
Deacon Duncan had learned a lot about the importance of the people of God in his diaconate too. “In some ways it’s obvious, to be a priest, it’s a life oriented towards God’s people and service but I didn’t realise how much I needed them in my own spiritual life until now, really,” he said. “Like my own prayer life is nourished by the relationships, the ministry relationships, I have in my parish, which was unexpected.”
Over the course of his formation, he said he had many role models but none more influential than Bishop Anthony Randazzo, who was rector at Holy Spirit Seminary for about half Deacon Duncan’s tenure there. “He was very personally invested in each one of us, deeply,” he said. “And we – I say we because others felt the same – we knew that he cared for us, genuinely.
“Something about that allowed us to connect in a special way, but allowed me to learn from him more deeply because I was more open or I could value more what he had to offer.”
Deacon Duncan said Bishop Randazzo was a bloke who knew what he was talking about and that he had learned a great deal from that. Looking forward into his own priestly ministry, Deacon Duncan said his prayer life was at the core of who he was. “The centre of my life is my relationship with Jesus,” he said. “Being with Christ all day every day, I’d say that is my life and that’s something I hope will characterise and shine through in my day-to-day ministry.
“Because it’s that time I spend in prayer each day that nourishes me but not only nourishes me but gives me energy – it’s the core of who I am. I feel like I’m not myself when I don’t have the opportunity to pray, and I certainly don’t feel like I’d be a real priest if I didn’t have that.”
Published in The Catholic Leader, 16 May 2019
Will you consider supporting the next generation of priests studying at Holy Spirit Seminary? A gift – no matter the size – will help to provide for the education and formation of 23 seminarians currently studying at the seminary.
Monsignor John Grace and the staff at Holy Spirit Seminary welcomed six new seminarians to Banyo this year. Starting the year with a Commencement Mass, Msgr Grace reflected on the occasion with the following sentiments:
Looking out at the congregation gathered for our Seminary Commencement Mass on Sunday, one face stood out to me. Shining with pride and a mother’s love, Angela Greathead was clearly moved to see her son Michael sitting among his fellow seminarians for the first time.
A local from Banyo, Michael is one of six seminarians who have begun their journey at Holy Spirit Seminary this year. After the Mass Angela said, “Michael was up early and ready to go…it reminded me of his first day of school!”
I am sure all of the new seminarians feel the same way – enthusiastic to be starting their formation journey and blessed to have family, friends and supporters who believe in them.
This year, 23 seminarians are discerning a life of service to the priesthood and studying at Banyo. They will be guided along their journey by our committed staff of clergy, religious and lay people. We warmly welcome Father Kevin Smith, who is joining us in the role of vice-rector and director of the pastoral program.
Every one of us deeply appreciates your prayers, encouragement and thoughtful financial support to strengthen our Church. This work would not be possible without your devotion to the growth of the Church in Queensland.
Please join me in praying for the seminarians. I look forward to watching that “first day of school” excitement develop into a deeper love of service for the Church and a personal joy in their vocational call.