Edition 1 : April 2001
Greetings all and welcome to this first email edition of Edmund Rice News.
Eddie Rice Camp Leaders, Tash Glass, Ash Little and Susan McGuane, have written enthusiastically in the latest edition of the Edmund Rice Camps newsletter of their recent trip to Ireland as delegates on the Let's Talk 2000 international study tour on Reconciliation. Tash, Ash and Susan were joined by three staff members from Clontarf Aboriginal College for the study tour, Donella Brown (principal), Kavilyn Homes and Greg Dann.
The Let's Talk program is an initiative of the Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney and the 80:20 education and justice centre in Ireland. The program aims to bring people together from different cultural settings to share their stories and experiences about reconciliation.
This is how Susan McGuane described her experience: "We met so many people in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland. They had many personal stories about how they had been affected by the troubles. What came from all these people was a sense of hope -- from a young Protestant girl who was living in Belfast and going out with a Catholic boy, to a woman in Derry saying that there would be more fighting "over her dead body". It gave me great hope toward what it would be like here in Australia if everyone was working towards a common goal of reconciliation."
Ash Little wrote: "The experience for me
is one that I shall never forget. It opened my eyes and mind to what is really
going on in Australia in regards to reconciliation. The purpose of me going
was to learn and I learned more than I would have ever imagined. Being away
from Australia allowed me to look at our own issues in a different context.
Listening to all the
stories from politicians, teachers and young people allowed me to recognise
the similarities to that in Australia. It allowed me to see that we are not
alone in striving for peace and reconciliation. It showed me that there is so
much we can do."
Tash Glass wrote: "The trip to Ireland was an amazing experience for me. There are so many ways in the world. Through understanding them, we can accept them and through acceptance comes a peaceful world."
In their newsletter these Edmund
Rice Camp Leaders have written that one of the outcomes of the
initiative has been to strengthen their ties with Clontarf Aboriginal
College here in Perth.
Marlene Jackamarra reports to us that the Survival Photographic Exhibition has been a great success during its exhibition at the Perth Museum and at the Mandurah Art Centre. The display has been seen at Catholic Agricultural College, Bindoon, is presently at Westcourt and is then off to CBC Fremantle and will then be touring regional centres around the Western Australia. Schools are particularly encouraged to host the exhibition as a contribution to fostering reconciliation in their local community.
The historical exhibition is to honour and pay tribute to the contribution Aboriginal men, women and children have made to the social, cultural and economic wealth of Australia. It has been mounted by a Coalition of Peoples as a Reconciliation initiative and is supported by the Christian Brothers.
Marlene Jackamarra who works with the Edmund Rice Family as a liaison link with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been instrumental in compiling the many photographs used in the exhibition. She invites schools and other local organisations who would like to host the exhibition to contact her at Westcourt on 9365 2800. Marlene will organise the transporting and setting up of the Exhibition wherever it goes.
CORRECTION: In the hardcopy edition of this newsletter
we incorrectly captioned a photograph with this story. The correct
version should have been:
Over the summer months a number of people have passed through the Christian Brothers communities in India including Brothers Kevin Ryan, Rob Callan, Warwick Bryant and Pat O'Doherty. Br Pat was leading a group of staff and students from Trinity College who spent five weeks in India working with a number of organisations and filming a documentary. Trinity teacher, Todd Flanagan, used his considerable skills in journalism and media to interest Perth film-maker, Steve Peddie, to accompany the group to India to film a documentary exploring the change in outlook of the students as they found out about the far different outlooks on life that the people they met in India have. As they journeyed through India Todd and the students were posting photographs and an explanation of their experiences to a special page on the Trinity website for the benefit of their families back home. The website is worth visiting to look at the way in which this tour was conducted and reported. Todd Flanagan, who has been to India on a number of occasions and written stories from there for the Catholic media around the world reports: "India is a fascinating country and so are the people. Compared to the affluence that we take so much for granted in Australia, most Indian people have very little yet there is this great joy and spiritual depth in their country that is invigorating. You can read articles and watch television programs about this, and they are important, but for the young people to immerse themselves and, even if only for a brief moment, share in the lives of the Indian people is something that leaves an indelible imprint." The video is going to be launched at Trinity College on Monday, 9th April. The producers are hopeful that it will be screened on SBS.
One of the great challenges facing the Church throughout the Western world has been the drift of many people away from the faith. It is argued, particularly by younger people, that one of the reasons for this drift has been that the language and symbolism we use to try and enter into the Mysteries of faith are no longer adequate in the cultural millieux they live in today. The interest being shown by Western people in Eastern spirituality and the spirituality of the indigenous peoples of the world demonstrates that despite the drift from the mainstream Eurocentric Catholicism there is a continuing and deep spiritual hunger alive in our community.
Dadirri is an Edmund Rice Family initiative in the Year 2001 which seeks to lead participant members of our Family on a personal exploration of these links between language and symbolism.
Br Gerry Faulkner is coordinating the initiative for the Holy Spirit Province and explained to us that 20 people have registered nationally with two from WA and four from SA. Dadirri is a 15 month program involving regular regional gatherings and three national gatherings. The national gatherings will be held in Brisbane between 16-20 April 2001, in Melbourne in the first week of October this year and a final five day gathering in Adelaide in April 2002.
Gerry explained that the word Dadirri is taken from the writings of Aboriginal elder, Mirian-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. The program seeks to bring participants together to listen and explore how spirituality, religion and being in relationship can help us "find meaning and be found by meaning. It is also an opportunity to deepen and explore how Edmund Rice's vision for a more just and meaningful world can continue to be realised."
In future editions of Edmund Rice Family News we will bring you regular stories from participants in the program reflecting on their experience.
The WA Catholic newspaper, The Record, recently carried a full page feature article (illustrated at left) with plenty of colour photos on this years Edmund Rice Camps for Kids in Western Australia. Following is part of the text...
One hundred and twenty-five West Australian children aged eight to 17 benefited from the annual summer Edmund Rice Camps this year by the beach at Binningup. Each summer, teams of young adult volunteers come together to run holiday camps sponsored by the Christian Brothers for children who might otherwise not get such an opportunity. This lanuary's five camps were run by 125 volunteers, aged mostly 17 to 20 years of age.
These camps are not possible without the support of numerous Catholic high schools in Perth and other more adult volunteers. Their recent motto is "Having fun and making a difference" many believe it is the type of fun at ERC that is the secret ingredient. All are able to have fun without it being at anyone else's expense; it is fun without put downs, without risks.
Edmund Rice Camps originated in 1979 at Parade College, Bundoora, in Melbourne. The Christian Brothers who ran the college offered its resources for numerous activities for youngsters who come from situations that are under some sort of pressure. Since then, the organisation has spread throughout Australia and New Zealand and more recently has made its beginnings in Southern Africa.
From a small start in 1989, with only a couple of summer camps for that year, Edmund Rice Camps WA has grown to include summer and winter camps and many other activities throughout the year.
With support from two full-time officers and overall guidance coming from the Christian Brothers, the camps are organised and co-ordinated by a number of experienced young adults who form an executive committee and a series of sub-committees or action groups.
Br Olly Pickett's wheelchairs continue to draw much media attention -- in the last few days they have featured in a front page story in The West Australian. More importantly than the media attention though, literally hundreds of them are immeasurably bettering the lifestyles of people in diverse parts of the world. As we go to press, Br Olly reports that in total the combined Christian Brothers'/Rotary Club of Scarborough initiative has shipped 540 chairs to overseas countries including Vietnam, China, Cambodia, India, East Timor and, most recently to Kenya. Recent changes in design have resulted in a much lighter chair fabricated from aluminium that is providing dramatic savings in transport costs. Over the summer break Br Olly and Bob Sheridan travelled to Kenya to establish a production facility near Nairobi. This follows a trip to Cambodia last year where a successful local manufacturing facility has been established utilising the Western Australian design. In their trips overseas, Br Olly and Bob have travelled laden with prototype wheelchairs, metal bending equipment and some of the tools needed to establish the new workshops. They have spent time with the local people showing them how to build the chairs efficiently. The endeavour has been successful largely because of the financial support from companies and individuals in Australia. The Rotary Club has recently produced a new brochure explaining the project and members of the Edmund Rice Family are most welcome to contact Br Olly 9409 3633w 0411 633020mob to obtain copies to distribute in their local community. On Monday, The West Australian carried a front page story on the efforts of St Brigid's College student, Sian White, to raise money for the Wheelchair Project. She has so far raised the money to build 28 of the $75 wheelchairs in over 500 hours of effort. In recognition of her effort, Sian has recently been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club of Scarborough. The West reported that in addition to her fundraising work she is "a Red Cross cadet and wildlife carer and was chosen recently by the Premier's office to represent Australia at the international youth peace camp in Korea."
Br Geoff Seaman's work with migrants was recognised last year when he was awarded an Austcare Refugee Week Award with colleague, Mrs Betty Ryan, for their work through the Edmund Rice Centre in Mirrabooka in conjunction with the St Vincent de Paul Society. More than 1500 refugees received tangible support from the St Vincent de Paul Society in WA last year. This included clothing, bedding, cooking and kitchen utensils and other essential materials.
The Annual Report of the St Vincent de Paul Society also recognised their efforts in an article which observed: "Br Seaman, Mrs Ryan and their hard working volunteers are doing their best to give the newcomers a 'soft landing' into the Australian way of life. But that's not easy. Refugees are on the increase and this puts extra pressure on service organisations such as ours. Until now, the Society has received little back-up from the Federal Government. However, the Society has now been selected as the preferred tenderer for the Household Formation Assistance and this should open the way for Br Seaman's group to offer greater material and humanitarian help to the newcomers."
Of the many initiatives for Reconciliation that have occurred in Australia in recent years perhaps none have had quite the same impact as the Bridge Walks that have been held in many capital cities and regional centres. The Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge last year somehow struck a deep chord in the Australian people and inspired tens of thousands of people around the nation to express their solidarity with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a similar way. The Bridge Walk for Reconciliation in Perth was no exception. At one stage the walk extended in length from Supreme Court Gardens back for more than two kilometres across the Causeway. The media estimated that in excess of 30,000 took part. Among them was a strong contingent from the Edmund Rice Family. Thank you to all who took up our call in the last edition of Edmund Rice News to help make this initiative successful.