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Li Cunxin, Mao’s Last Dancer

Li Cunxin shared his journey from poverty to a world-famous artist and contemporary Australian icon at the ACP luncheon on 20 September 2018.

“Seize the opportunities life has to offer you. Have determination and courage to kick down the brick walls in front of you and to go on and achieve bigger success than you ever thought possible,” Li said, inspiring the audience of over 200 Catholic professionals.

Born into bitter poverty during the height of Mao’s communist China, Li grew up in a world few of us can imagine. Through a turn of fate, at age 11 he was selected to attend Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy and grew up to became one of China’s most celebrated dancers.

Today, Li lives in Brisbane and is Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet. “It was a pleasure to hear his inspiring story first-hand and understand the extraordinary impact he continues to have on the lives of so many within and outside the dance community,” said one ACP member.

Students and aspiring dancers from Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne, had the chance to meet Li and asked, “What advice would you give your twelve-year-old self?” to which he replied, “Don’t be afraid to dream”.

The beauty and suffering of Cambodia with Bishop Kike

The Assembly of Catholic Professionals was honoured to share an impossible story of beauty and suffering with the man they call Cambodia’s Bishop of the Wheelchairs, His Excellency Bishop Enrique Figaredo Alvargonzalez, affectionately known as Bishop Kike.

Bishop Enrique began his mission in the refugee camps of Cambodia in 1985, working with those who had been displaced, maimed by landmines and suffered as a result of war, disease and persecution. And yet, in the midst of terrible struggle and sorrow, he discovered hope, resilience and love. You can watch his presentation (below) where he shares his personal experiences of his work in Cambodia.

Help Centacare support our most vulnerable neighbours

Through the Annual Catholic Campaign, you can help Centacare provide hope for our most vulnerable neighbours.

The Annual Catholic Campaign which funds vital works of the Church in our local communities, including Centacare. The team of trained staff and volunteers need your help to provide outreach to some of our most vulnerable neighbours.

Meet Jenny*. Her bruises are fading and her spirit is starting to heal. At a post-crisis respite support home run by Centacare, she is finally looking forward to a future where she is safe.

Domestic violence and abuse is part of too many people’s lives. Centacare’s specialist domestic and family violence teams assist people to escape abusive relationships. “It takes an incredible amount of strength and support for a person to leave a violent situation. Every week, we provide dozens of people with security, information, court and legal advice,” said Ms Di Swan, Director of Centacare’s Domestic and Family Violence Service.

“Leaving an abusive relationship can be the most dangerous time for families. It’s critical they have a safe place to turn.”

Unfortunately, housing and support services for people fleeing violence are scarce and local communities are struggling to meet demand. “Centacare, in collaboration with St Vincent de Paul, has recently established a number of post-crisis respite support homes to help families get back on their feet. The homes provide safe and secure accommodation for up to 12 months, as well as counselling and other important support services,” adds Ms Swan.

“Our homes are not publicly funded and we’re looking to the generosity of the community to help us buy beds, a kitchen table and the furnishings and supplies to makes each house a home where families feel secure and can make a new start.”

* Jenny’s name has been changed to protect her privacy

Please consider making a gift to the Annual Catholic Campaign and supporting our neighbours living on the margins of our community.


Help train the next generation of priests

Your kind support of the Annual Catholic Campaign will help to train the next generation of priests for our parishes.

In years past you’ve been wonderfully generous and supported the Annual Catholic Campaign. May we build upon these achievements so that the Archdiocese can continue to demonstrate God’s compassion is tangible and near at hand.

Meet Jack Ho. Born in Taiwan to a family of different faiths, Jack Ho came to Australia when he was 13 years old to complete his education. While living with relatives, he attended Casimir College in Sydney and encountered the De La Salle Brothers, Good Samaritan Sisters and the Passionist Fathers. Over the years, Jack converted to Catholicism and here the seed for a priestly vocation was sown.

Moving to Brisbane to study music and education Jack spent the next decade successfully pursuing various careers. In a long-term relationship, Jack seemed to have it all. But in moments of reflection, he felt restless. Jack always had a rich prayer life and felt a deep peace when spending time in prayer. The road to discernment and priesthood was not easy for Jack who entered Holy
Spirit Seminary at the age of 30.

He recalls, “I wrestled with God for many years but in the end, the words of Psalm 139, particularly ‘Thy will be done’ resonated with me and played an important part in my discernment.”

Jack is now in his fifth year at Holy Spirit Seminary and is completing a pastoral internship at Regents Park parish. He finds the pastoral ministry most rewarding. “I have the opportunity to put into practice the theoretical learnings and immerse myself in the lives of the parishioners. Being able to share in their journeys and vulnerabilities is a privilege and I feel grateful,” says Jack.

“We are most thankful to those who support Holy Spirit Seminary, financially and through prayer. Your generosity allows us to have the necessary resources and opportunities, ensuring we are well prepared for our lives in ministry.”

Please consider making a gift to the Annual Catholic Campaign and supporting the next generation of priests studying at Holy Spirit Seminary.


Your gift is the answer to a child’s prayer

Please generously support the Annual Catholic Campaign, and help children from families in crisis who dream of a Catholic education?

The Mary MacKillop Catholic School Access Fund is one of the four vital agencies that rely on funding raised through the Annual Catholic Campaign.

Sitting in her classroom, Vanessa’s* eyes light up and a huge grin spreads over her face. Mr Brian Eastaughffe, principal of Clairvaux MacKillop College on Brisbane’s southside, explains: “It’s the moment she finally understands what her teacher has been explaining. You can almost feel her confidence swell. As an educator, you cheer on every child, but when they have experienced a disadvantaged background, these moments mean just a little bit more.”

Vanessa’s positive experience is just one example of the vital work of the Mary MacKillop Catholic School Access Fund. The MacKillop Fund is a unique bursary program that supports families experiencing extreme circumstances. Some are refugees and others are coping with a major loss, illness or family breakdown.

Having witnessed first-hand the life-changing benefit of the MacKillop Fund, Mr Eastaughffe believes the fund reflects our core mission as a Catholic organisation and reminds us that supporting vulnerable children is an essential part of who we are. “New buildings and the latest equipment are wonderful, but seeing a vulnerable child realise their potential is one of the most powerful things in the world,” said Brian Eastaughffe.

This year, 25 students were recipients of a MacKillop bursary. Named in honour of our first saint who committed her life to providing children with a quality Catholic education, the Fund continues her legacy. With your help, more students will be given the opportunity to achieve their unique potential through the gift of a Catholic education.

* We’ve changed Vanessa’s name to protect her privacy, but know that her story is real

Please consider making a gift to the Annual Catholic Campaign and supporting children in dire need.


Support for elderly and unwell priests

The Annual Catholic Campaign supports our elderly and unwell priests in retirement.

Jesus entrusted us with the task of caring for the poorest and most vulnerable among us and spreading the Good News of the Gospel. Here in South East Queensland one of the ways we answer that call is through the Annual Catholic Campaign which funds vital works of the Church in our local communities.

Committing your life to serve God as a priest and guiding his people for 65 years may be difficult for many to understand. Yet for 89-year-old retired priest Father Martin Doyle, saying Mass and the Eucharist was his greatest privilege.

“Saying the Mass and the homilies even on a weekday was a great thing for me and I enjoyed giving a little talk on the scriptures,” Father Martin said.

Father Martin worked across Brisbane for many years and spent 17 years at Burleigh Heads which was considered Australia’s largest parish. Despite having a stroke and retiring from full-time parish duties at the age of 62, he still travelled to the Cathedral to provide the sacrament of reconciliation for eight years.

“You want to still do something, whether it’s just to remember people in your prayers,” said Father Martin.

Next year Father Martin will turn 90. Reflecting on his time of service, Father Martin speaks about his gratitude for the help he has received later in life. “It’s a wonderful relief to have the Priests Foundation to look out for us,” he said. For 17 years, the Priests Foundation has continued its commitment to caring for elderly, retired and unwell priests through the responsible stewardship of funds.

With these generously donated funds, retired priests without an independent income or the support of family can access basic living assistance, convalescent care, accommodation, health and transport support to help ensure dignity in their senior years. The need remains urgent as significant numbers of priests will retire from full-time ministry in the near future.

None of this would be possible without the ongoing and committed support of donors whose understanding, faith and hope show their appreciation and respect for these elderly men who have given their lives in service.

Please consider making a gift to the Annual Catholic Campaign and supporting our retired priests.


Financial life lessons with Noel Whittaker AM

It was an honour to welcome Noel Whittaker AM to the Assembly of Catholic Professionals event in March. Noel generously shared his personal life story including the lessons he has personally taken from his successes as well as his failures.

Noel Whittaker is considered one of Australia’s leading finance experts. He has written 21 bestselling books, including ‘Making Money Made Simple’, which was named in the top 100 of the most influential books of the last century.

View full discussion

Date: 8 March 2018
Speaker: Noel Whittaker AM

Seven new seminarians in 2018

There’s nothing like the promise of new beginnings to inspire us all.

It’s a delight to introduce the men who have just begun their first year at Holy Spirit Seminary at Banyo (pictured l-r): William Brennan, Thomas Popovic, Sang Duc Bui, Matthew Popovic, Tristram Garbellotto, Michael My Van Tran and Bradley Davies.

With such a great range of choice available to young people, and challenges and even societal pressures to overcome, it has taken great courage for these young men to make the decision to discern a life of service.

“These seminarians will undertake what’s called their propaedeutic year. The year is about getting them settled into the kind of education and formation that is required for the priesthood. It’s a time to discern their response to a sense of the call of vocation that they have, which ultimately is a call confirmed by the Church,” says Monsignor John Grace.

“As they adjust to their new life based on the rhythms of prayer and study, the students will work closely with Seminary staff on a programme based on Pastores Dabo Vobis an Apostolic Exhortation written by Pope John Paul II for the formation of priests in the present day.”

The formation team and I are confident each of our seminarians will contribute to a strong and vibrant future for the Catholic Church in Queensland.

Together with our current seminarians, we now have 22 young men on their journey to the priesthood. Thank you for all that you do to help prepare these men for the priesthood and to build up our church, please keep them in your prayers.

Would you consider a prayerful gift to support the Seminary and our future priests?

Bursaries for St Jimmies College

From the desk of Gerry Crooks, Principal, St Jimmies College

“One of the time-honoured traditions at St James College is to touch the school crest on your way into the school grounds each morning. As the principal, I watch hundreds of students do this every day, an instinctive sign of gratitude for the family that welcomes and supports them within the schoolyard, and beyond.

I’m really proud to introduce you to Catherine*, one of our current Jimmies students. Catherine has experienced a lifetime of trauma in her 16 years, like so many of our Jimmies students. She and her seven siblings were born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When Catherine was young her parents, who were government workers, were set upon by rebel soldiers in their own home and murdered in front of their children. Catherine and her siblings ran away in search of safety.

Priests and nuns cared for them in a convent for three years. Catherine said that during this time, “We lived in fear of being abducted by soldiers. After some time soldiers came back to look for
us and killed two priests and two nuns who had been caring for my brothers and sisters and me.”

Catherine and many of our Bursary Program students have suffered greatly and overcome enormous challenges at heart-wrenchingly young ages. Their stories share common threads of hope, perseverance and strength. Will you please contribute to the education of these students whose determination is intricately woven into the fabric of the Jimmies community, who care so genuinely for their peers and who so fully embody our motto, Faithful Forever.

Did you know that over 20% of current students require fee concessions due to financial hardship? Demand for assistance is constant and growing. The College fees are currently $6,700 per annum, per student. Despite being lower than many other Catholic secondary schools, this precludes many students and their families from enrolling. As you know, St James has always prided itself on opening the door to young people who have been turned away from other schools but we cannot afford to provide fee concessions for additional students without your help.

St James has welcomed students from an array of cultural, socio-economic and academic backgrounds. We’ve launched a past student monthly giving program, the Faithful Friends Fund (a nod to our Faithful Forever motto), to provide tuition bursaries to students whose families are facing significant financial hardship. A gift to this Fund will ensure that vulnerable or very poor young people like Catherine are given an education that helps them to flourish.

Would you prayerfully consider making a regular monthly donation to give young people like Catherine a chance to reach their unique potential?

After witnessing the callous deaths of her parents and living in various refugee camps across the Congo, Catherine and her siblings moved to Uganda. “We had kept a photo of our older, adopted ‘sister’ Anne who we thought had been killed after our parents were murdered. With the help of a priest, we discovered that Anne was alive and living in Australia!”

Catherine’s story then thankfully took a different turn: “The whole family is now together again. We love calling Anne and her husband our ‘mum and dad’ and Australia home! Some of my brothers and sisters and I came to St James in July of 2016 shortly after arriving from Uganda. We love feeling safe again and having the opportunity to attend school. St James has helped our whole family, Anne included, to settle into life here, to become part of the community.”

Today, Catherine is thriving at school. The College welcomes many students like her who are from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. These children bring with them many challenges – over half of all Jimmies’ students have English as a second language and many have a learning disability. At Jimmies, these differences are celebrated through the College’s rich pastoral care, academic, sporting and cultural curriculums. A Jimmies education – founded in authentic Gospel spirituality, reflected through compassion, respect, social inclusion and understanding – represents the gift of transformative education, hope and inclusion.

As Jimmies approaches its 150th anniversary, the College is seeking the support of at least 150 generous people to consider making a monthly gift to the Faithful Friends Fund, to help provide bursaries to our most disadvantaged students. By making a regular, modest monthly gift you can have a significant impact on a student’s future. Catherine summarises it best,
“I know that I and my siblings are just a few of a large number of vulnerable young men and women who attend St James and who cannot afford fees or uniforms. We so are grateful that Jimmies has welcomed us so warmly and that the teachers and my friends help us in every way they can.”

The Jimmies Family is one of true multiculturalism and inclusion. The College ethos makes it uniquely able to welcome students like Catherine, in a way that no other school could. We are, and always will be, proud to provide a Catholic education to young people whose families could not otherwise afford it.

All donations to the Faithful Friends Fund are tax-deductible and can be made online. Your support will provide Catherine and other Jimmies students like her with an education that they could only otherwise dream.

When Catherine touches the crest on her way into the schoolyard, she has a lot to be grateful for. Your generosity will make it possible for more children to proudly touch that same crest and be welcomed to St James.”

*Student names have been changed for privacy.

St James College

Thank you for supporting students of St James College

Gifts over $2 are tax deductible.