Edition 3 : September 2001

Greetings all and welcome to this third email edition of Edmund Rice News.


THE FIRST YEAR OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY appears to have generated an extraordinary amount of activity in the Edmund Rice Family around the world and in our own backyard. This edition of Edmund Rice Family News for the Holy Spirit Province contains a number of reflective reports on the Edmund Rice Family Conference held in Melbourne in July; an international report from a new glossy publication in Ireland, Network News, on the international success of Teresa Pirola’s book “God is in the Ordinary”; reports on plans for the Bicentennial celebrations in 2002; reports from some of our schools; and on the recent Eddie Rice Camps for Kids; and much, much more. Click on any of the hyperlinks below to quickly navigate this electronic newsletter.
Quick Guide to this issue:

Editorial: A reflection on the Edmund Rice Family National Conference

Two grassroots views of the ERF National Conference:
Kellee Kemp's view
Clifford Samuel's view

China, Poetry and Me! Br Ray O'Donoghue

SANGRAM -- the battle for dignity in remote India
Introduction
or Full Story

Report from ERC at UNDA:
My experience in East Timor -- Chris Parkinson

Province Book now working internationally
Teresa Pirola's book is being used overseas

Bicentenary of Edmund Rice Schools

Pastoral Care in Edmund Rice Schools
Introduction
or Full Story

Association of Heads of Edmund Rice Schools Report

Edmund Rice Group for "oldies"

Camps for Kids held at Bindoon


  Edition 3: Sept 2001
The Edmund Rice Family National Conference took place in early July at Newman College at the University of Melbourne. Delegates from South Australia joining the approximately 69 participants from around the nation included Renee Hoban, Cliff Samuel, Br Des O’Grady, Libby Oudshorn, Andrée Brown, Nick Lynch and Fernando Farrugia. From Western Australia the participants included Jill and Michael Parker, Br Steve Bowman, Kavelyn Holmes, Hilary Fowle, Catherine and Ray Kosovich, Matt Lobo, Paul Jacobs, Sandro Sandri, Tash Glass, Gina Green and Kellee Kemp. Br Kevin Ryan also attended from the Province Leadership Team and prepared the reflection below which serves as the editorial for this edition.

A reflection on the Edmund Rice Family National Conference

By Br Kevin Ryan cfc

THE ACCOMPANYING ARTICLE by Kellee Kemp will give you a sense of the energy and enthusiasm of the gathering. Before listing three of the most significant “practical” outcomes of the Conference, I would like to share one of the things that gave me a deeper understanding of how to think, talk and pray about the Edmund Rice Family. The insight came after hearing Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ talk about the Jesuit Refugee Service.

The Edmund Rice story in Holy Spirit Province, and probably everywhere, attacts in different ways a great diversity of people: married people, single people and brothers. Some of these have a clear understanding of Edmund as a committed Christian and Catholic, that he was inspired by the Gospel and nurtured by the Sacramental life of the Church, especially the Eucharist. They are also inspired and attracted by what he “did” – his service to the poor, most particularly through education, but also through prison visiting, managing of finances and in many other ways.

Others, however, seem attracted by the energy of organisations that have sprung up as a result of both the energy of Edmund himself and of men and women inspired by his story. They are only just getting to know Edmund’s story and they may or may not know that he was inspired by the Gospel. Those who are of Christian beliefs may be struggling to connect their belief with the Eucharist and/or the Church itself.

Fr Andrew Hamilton reminded us that on examining the Gospel it is possible to say that the core of it is “hospitality”. It aims to gather people together, to make us one. This can be seen especially in the stories of Jesus sharing of meals.

In applying this and other insights from Fr Andrew and the sessions of the Conference, it seems that the ERF can accommodate the full spectrum of people, as long as they are genuinely on a journey of discovery about who Edmund Rice was and what the ERF is.
Core values, policies & strategies

The core values, policies and strategies of the ERF need to be named and monitored by those who are closer to the core of Edmund Rice’s insight into the Gospel, Eucharist, spirituality and his deepest motivation for working with others. If this does not happen, the movement will lose its attractiveness and energy.

At the same time the Gospel is about welcome and hospitality. Therefore the ERF must welcome anyone who may only wish to do “one camp”, “one prayer gathering”, “one volunteer action”, or who may be just “coming to look and meet”. They may never return, or they may return when “the time is right” for them. Others may stay involved because the energy feels good and “I like to help people” and “because I like this spiritual experience” or because “I'm learning a lot about myself”, but not be ready to commit in faith to the Gospel, to Jesus, to God or to the Eucharist.

This wide spectrum of people and participation in the ERF will not be neat, tidy or comfortable. The Gospel can help us to be at peace but, strangely, it will at the same time stretch and challenge us ... the ERF will be stretched and challenged as well if it is based on the Gospel.
So, with all that having been said, what were some of the specific outcomes? They included these three:

  1. National Committee: to establish a national (Australia/NZ) committee/body to facilitate the ongoing process/development/formation of the ERF. Committee to liaise with the Interprovince Leadership Committee (ILC). Members to consist of PLT, several ERF members, reps of key ministries. To meet quarterly.
  2. Regional Representation and Coordination: Identify/appoint State/Province coordinators/facilitators/representatives/executive officers. That this be a funded role. The identifying objectives of the role were also spelt out.
  3. The on-going process for Development of ERF. This is to be reviewed at the National Gathering in 2003.

Lord,
As a young man Edmund Rice experienced great love and great loss.
Like Edmund, may we seek you in all the experiences of our lives,
the joyful and the sorrowful.
Amen.

Opening prayer from Chapter Three “Growing in Faith” of “God is in the Ordinary” by Teresa Pirola seems particularly appropriate in the aftermath of the flight of four commercial jet liners that were driven into the collective heart of humanity on 11th September 2001 by terrorists. The theme of this chapter is “out of human grief and suffering, Christ brings new life”.

The painting of Edmund Rice and his wife Mary at left is from a new exhibition on the national Edmund Rice web site by Tasmanian painter, Br Hugh Sharpe of Hobart – http://www.edmundrice.org/content/gallery_a.html

Views of the ERF National Conference from two grassroots participants...

Kellee Kemp: Eddie Rice Camp Leader

ABOUT EIGHTY PEOPLE came together that cold, windy, blustery day at the University of Melbourne. Each person representing an organisation, school, ministry or initiatives from each state in Australia (and New Zealand) that follows the charism of Edmund Rice the man. Wow! Just think how many people there were back at home, behind each of these representatives ... that’s a lot of people over a lot of land. It was suddenly apparent I was part of something so huge – it was overwhelming, yet totally inspiring at the same moment.

No matter who we are or where we are in the world, we are all doing the same thing in our own way, and I was eager to hear from others and see how they express the charism of Edmund Rice in their work.

The gathering consisted of sessions and smiles, discussions and dancing, music and meals, group work and presentations, rituals and reflections, a surprise sing-a-long of “I’m a little coconut” (with actions!), photos, proposals, prayers, beliefs and values, artistic and creative crayon work and conclusions.

“Where to now, Edmund?” the crowd quietly asked. Together we strived to identify what was needed for the ongoing development of the Edmund Rice Family. Outcome focused, through debate and vote, we reached a proposal of roads to the future.

As a volunteer at Edmund Rice Camps for Kids in Perth and a teacher at Clontarf Aboriginal College, I found the gathering extremely beneficial, educational, spiritual and fun. I walked away, well no, actually I flew Qantas, but I did depart with a huge understanding of the Edmund Rice Family, an idea of where our vision is and a clear picture of how we will journey forward. I hope to be able to inspire and share my renewed energy with those around me.

Clifford Samuel, CBC Wakefield Street, Adelaide

SEVEN OF US from a diverse range of works were the S.A. delegates. From my perspective, the opportunity to meet these people and interact with over 80 others from across Australia and New Zealand was an enriching and enjoyable experience.

My understanding coming out of our time together is that the Edmund Rice Family consists of those people who are involved in the works of the CBs or associated with the CBs and who identify that involvement. Having stated this, there is still a need to understand the meaning of the term “Edmund Rice Family” and even whether this is an appropriate term. These matters are still to be worked out.

The Conference took a process type direction. It did have a charter from the Interprovince Leadership Committee (ILC) to take initiatives and give direction for the ERF in Australasia.

It seems to me that there is a need to provide for the on-going works of the Christian Brothers and the direction of these works as the brothers become less and less in number. Furthermore it is vital that the continuance of the Edmund Rice mission and ethos be ensured. This is what made the conference so interesting and makes the following Conference Descriptors of the ERF so prophetic.

The ERF:

  • is a grassroots movement
  • needs to be risk taking
  • explores new models of Church inspired by the charism of Edmund Rice
  • has schools as an integral part
  • has individuals choosing to be part of it – not assumed
  • develops as a separate entity to the CB Congregation – Brothers may choose to be members
  • will need CBs investing in formation of ERF leadership
  • grows within the existing 200 year tradition and experience of CBs.

While the Conference provided for the setting up of structures to enable the continuance of the Edmund Rice ethos, that was not, in my opinion, its main strength. The Conference was fundamentally about participants supporting individuals in their particular Edmund Rice ministry. It is, in fact, this type of support that will be the key to the future shaping of what each endeavour will become.

Tell the rest of the Edmund Rice Community of what“s happening in your sector. Send your stories to Pat Kelly or Brian Coyne. If you have photos, logos or graphics all the better.

China, poetry and me! by Br Ray O’Donoghue

Br Ray O’Donoghue was born in 1924 and taught in NSW, Queensland, SA, and WA mainstream schools for over forty years. He possesses a pioneering spirit and his own story is inspirational. When most his age were retiring he moved into Indigenous Education in Kununurra. In 1993, as he neared 70 he volunteered to teach English to Chinese adults. This article, besides giving glimpses of China and its culture, reflects some of Br Ray’s skills and passion in Reading Skills and Adult Literacy. At 77 he is home for a brief rest in Australia, and when he recuperates from his open heart surgery he’ll be off again to China.

DURING MY TIME IN CHINA, I often find times and places that make me reflect on lines of poetry that I have learnt and remembered during the past 70 years. The memory of these lines was a comfort and a meditation. I recall some that often helped me as Wordsworth promised:
“They flash upon the inward eye
which is the bliss of solitude.”

One of my favourite hymns in the Office is
“Alone with none but they my God
I journey on my way
What need I fear when thou art near
O king of night and day.”

Its simple rhythm came to me when I faced going to class with the temperature at -20°C in Urumqi.
Under-employment is one of China’s many problems. Go into a large store and we see uniformed shop assistants almost within arm’s reach of one another, standing quietly looking at and for customers. Milton’s line always comes to me:
“They also serve who only stand and wait.”
In China, it is common for old men to keep birds in cages so that they can listen to their songs and take them to the park where they can compare the birds’ whistling. Blake would say:
“A Robin Redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.”

Taiwan is an island about the length of the distance from Perth to Albany. On this small, mountainous land live 20,000,000 people who own 10,000,000 motor scooters. Being rather lawless citizens, they don’t worry much about wearing helmets. As I watched women scooting along at rush speed, I recalled Keats' line in “To Autumn”:
“Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind”.
Eighty per cent of Chinese people live in rural areas. To watch the “plotted and pieced” fields of rice, sunflowers, rape, maize, etc., is so enjoyable from bus, train and plane but the reality of the farmers living without electricity, plumbing, windows is not so attractive. This is where the real strength of China lies, and its worry, as millions move to try to share in city comforts. The words of Gray are still so true:
“Let no ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure,
More Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.”

All over China, some of the richest agricultural land in the world is being given over to factories, highways, schools, hotels – even golf courses. In the name of progress and development, the countryside loses both its population and its ecology. This happens in many other places as Goldsmith observed a couple of hundred years ago,
“Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey
where wealth accumulates, and men decay.”

We can feel this also in Australia,
“But a bold peasanty, their country’s pride,
when once destroyed, can never be supplied.”

One of my most ecstatic moments occured on a chair-lift near the 5000 metre Jade Snow Mountain – the area for the setting of James Hilton’s, “The Last Horizon”. As I rode with some friends we sang,
“What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to hear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!”

There is everything in China from the heights of joy to the lows of dread; the experiences are dramatic and humbling.


Brothers Jerome (l) and Ralph Sequiera (r) with Br Rob Callan. Photo taken at Pune, India last December.

SANGRAM -- a battle for dignity

Read the story of three young Christian Brothers in India. These Brothers, Avinash, Ralph and Maurice, had been working with the Khasi tribal people in the village of Mawjrong near Shillong, but a year ago received permission from their Province Leadership team to move even further to the margins of their society and set off for the most remote state of India: Arunachal. A report just received from Br Ralph Sequira is too long to carry in the main body of this email newsletter so we have included it as a separate page which you can access by clicking here.

Report from Edmund Rice Centre at the University of Notre Dame Australia
My experience in East Timor

The Edmund Rice Centre at the University of Notre Dame has been attracting a lot of interest for the on-going support they have been giving to East Timor. This report has been written by Chris Parkinson who is a Third Year BA Arts (Communications) student at UNDA.

WHAT IF you could start life all over again? What if something was that resounding, that it altered everything you have grown to accept, changed the goals you dreamed, of the ambitions you desired, and the person you aspired to be? What if, the Rebirth and Rebuilding of East Timor, became your own personal rebirth, rather than that of a nation? Would that still register as a successful immersion into a culture and a country that now, a month later, seems so surreal?

The blank white pages of the dates 22 June - 23 July of my little black personal organiser hold a greater significance now than they once did. They represent the void in time that was East Timor – the defining period that separates the past from the present and the future. The time where one life stopped, and another one began. The time where nothing happened in Perth, but a whole new world opened up in East Timor.

My experience in East Timor has not yet ended. It probably never will. As each day passes, I learn something new about myself, and my place in the world, and that of those that surround me. East Timor taught me to question. Indeed, an answer was not always necessary or, for that matter, even there, but that did not take anything away from the process of thought that inspired questioning. There are some things in life that simply don't need answers: Only the intuition to think and question their existence.

I learnt what it is to be human, in many senses of the word. How our human existence differs from culture to culture. How many humans can make progress. How community living is central to the East Timorese way of life, and how every human has a place and a role within this community framework.

How did East Timor affect me? In every way possible, except I couldn't begin to tell you where it all starts, and where it all ends. I questioned everything, and got answers to nothing. That, however, is what makes it all worthwhile, as the beauty of life doesn't need answers or reflections. It just sits there stored in your heart and in your mind – tranquil, reserved and undisclosed.



If you have any questions regarding the East Timor unit at UNDA or volunteering the last Friday of each month for their East Timor Shipping Container project, please call Patricia Rangel at the Edmund Rice Centre on 9239 5542.

Province Book now working internationally

Teresa Pirola's book, God is in the Ordinary, which was originally commissioned for Holy Spirit Province is now attracting international acclaim. The following report was published in Network News, Summer 2001, the new glossy newspaper linking the Edmund Rice Ireland network. Pictured below is Br Brian Clery launching the book in Perth last year at Trinity College.

There has been a very successful commencement to the group programme 'God is in the Ordinary' which has been inspired by Teresa Pirola's book of the same name which is a series of reflections on the life of Blessed Edmund Rice.

The Programme, which was established in January of this year, involves regular monthly meetings of groups of around ten to twelve people at which they reflect on the Edmund Rice story, the Jesus story and the personal story. It is estimated that the programme will run for approximately eight months in total.

At the beginning of May there were thirty groups in existence involving 365 people. The composition of the groups includes religious, lay, and also a number of senior secondary school students. It is also envisaged that in the near future there will be groups comprised solely of secondary students in at least two schools.

To date the response from the participants has been very positive with many making particular reference to the process advocated by Teresa Pirola in her well-received publication.

As a result of discussion between Ann Tobar and Michael Foster, national coordinator for the 'God is in the Ordinary' project, it is hoped that the book will be used as a resource in schools, particularly with the bicentenary celebrations of 2002 in mind.

Furthermore, following the very recent visit of Michael Foster to Manchester to address an Edmund Rice Family gathering, there is confidence that some groups will adopt the programme in Britain.

To add your name to the email list:

This year the hard-copy edition of Edmund Rice News will be published three times but the email edition will be published each month. The hard copy edition is for archival purposes and for community reception areas and for those who do not have access to email. It will contain a summary of what is published in the email edition. Costs are largely what dictate this editorial change. It costs us literally cents in distribution costs to send out an email edition to as many people as we like. Each hard copy edition costs in the order of $1 per copy for distribution.

We do need to build up our email database. To make sure you receive the email edition in colour send your email address to briancoyne@viastuas.net.au. Let us know if you would like to receive the full email in html format – i.e. with all photographs and graphics – or a text message directing you to a website where it can be viewed through a web browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.

The Bicentenary of Edmund Rice Schools:

Nearly two hundred years ago, Edmund Rice started his first school in Waterford, Ireland, on a property that once belonged to his late wife. This property became known as the New Street School and it was in this former stable that Edmund Rice fitted out the upper rooms as his residence and the downstairs section as classrooms. Here, Edmund Rice warmly welcomed the young boys from the city of Waterford who were in need of food, clothing and an education.
Planning at various levels is well underway to celebrate the Bicentenary. The Province Education Committee is working with Principals in both SA and WA to have school celebrations next year. There will be events for all our school staffs in both States at the beginning of 2002. Special events for students will take place later in the year, about May or June. Daryl Barclay from St Patrick's Province who is now in Dublin, is the co-ordinator of the International Bicentenary Committee. Michael Dredge from St Mary's Province heads the National Committee.
For further information visit the following websites:
International website:
www.edmundrice2002.com
National Committee website:
www.edmundrice.org
Province website:
www.westcourt.wa.edu.au/

Pastoral Care in Edmund Rice Schools

In this edition of Edmund Rice News we are including two articles outlining pastoral care initiatives in two of the Edmund Rice schools in the Holy Spirit Province. John Richards from Aquinas College in Western Australia and Peter Waterman at Rostrevor College in South Australia provide background to their initiatives that will be of interest to those conducting similar programs in other schools. We would welcome further reports from schools in the Edmund Rice Family explaining what they are doing in this field and trust that this forum might become a regular place for the exchange of new ideas and initiatives in this and similar fields. The reports are accessible on a separate plage by clicking here.

Barry McKenna reports that Trinity College in Perth has recently instituted an Edmund Rice Group. The first project undertaken by the students was to raise $1,000 to purchase materials for ten of Br Olly's wheelchairs that are destined for India. The students spent a day at Olly's factory helping put them together. Br Rob Callan from Trinity sent us an email to say: "Did you know that Br Olly Pickett, Mr Bob Sheridan and I are off to Chennai, (Madras) this October, to set up a wheelchair workshop at MITHRA*. This is the place set up by an Australian nun, Sr Mary Theodore, for disabled children from the slums of Chennai. Br Olly decided that it might be good to set up a self-sustaining workshop for some of the older boys and men at MITHRA." (*Madras Institute to Habilitate Retarded Afflicted). Pictured at right are the students with one of the first wheelchairs to be produced under their initiative.

The Association of Heads of Edmund Rice Schools of Australia
An update prepared by Dean McGlauchlin, Principal of Rostrevor College


The Association Logo encompasses the shape of the Celtic cross. This cross is open ended signifying the continued sharing of the gospel. It also has a tree-like shape which indicates growth and development. The eight arcs represent the six States and two Territories of Australia. These arcs are open ended signifying the continued ministries of our schools and their apex are toward the centre creating our unity and nationality. The openness of this logo also signifies our openness to a national association.
As you might know the Heads of Edmund Rice Schools of Australia [which is the new designation for the Christian Brothers Schools Principals] formally Associated at the end of their conference in Adelaide in June, becoming AHERSA [The Association of Heads of Edmund Rice Schools of Australia]. The Association has its own logo which is displayed and explained at left.
The conference was a great success not because of the formation of the Association but because we spent much time working through the issues related to future directions for governance, collaboration, educational leadership, relationship between school heads and boards and their chairs, school and Edmund Rice ethos and identity and other similarly weighty topics.
There was a great spirit present among the delegates who were joined for a day and a half by the members of the National Governance Steering Committee while we workshopped some of the thornier issues about future federation and common and shared purpose and practice.
Also joining us in Adelaide were members of the National Bicentennial committee who outined the Australian and the International plans for the 2002 celebrations.
The Adelaide conference was an extraordinary meeting of the group since we normally gather biennially in even years. Given the importance of the governance and federation issues the Association took the decision to meet in Adelaide as a special event. The next gathering is scheduled for Perth between 23-26 th August in 2002 where Bob White [Head at Aquinas College] will be our host. Effectively with the conclusion of the conference I handed over responsibility for the Association's planning to Bob White as the next conference convenor.

An Edmund Rice prayer/social group for “oldies”!

We know that Blessed Edmund Rice was a man of prayer. In his old age he was still the motivating force behind the Brothers, not so much in the active way of his early years, but by his prayers.
On a recent visit to Adelaide, I and my wife, Betty, were privileged to attend the celebration of Edmund Rice’s Feast Day at Rostrevor College. We were warmly welcomed by the SA Brothers and other members of the Edmund Rice Family.
During the celebrations groups of people gave accounts of their activities – from the very young children of about ten years of age right through to the “oldies”. These latter informed us that their contribution to the life of the ER Family was to have in their homes small social gatherings which incorporated keeping in touch with the activities of the Family and sessions of prayer for the more involved members.
Prior to our experience in Adelaide, we encountered a Justice and Peace group of the Family in Sydney and also a group of the Family in Tasmania who man a drop-in centre. Would you believe, of the four Eastern States we visited in three of them we bumped into members of our Edmund Rice Family!
Inspired by the South Australian “oldies” we would like to initiate a prayer/social group for ER Family “oldies” in our Innaloo area or nearby suburbs.
If anyone is interested please contact Alan O’Neill, 20B Geneff Street, INNALOO WA 6018. Tel: 9466 5451.

Advance notice for your diary...
Centenary Celebrations
Warrnambool 2002

The celebrations for the Centenary of the Christian Brothers in Warrnambool, Victoria will be held on the weekend 24-26 May 2002. Emmanuel College will use the Centenary as the occasion for celebrating Catholic Education Week.

Camps for Kids!
by Catherine Wheeler, ERC Leader

Well July has come and gone, and for the members of Edmund Rice Camps for Kids, that means July camps have come and are now behind us. Another year, and another four successful July camps. I think it would be fair to say that for most camps, the three days were exhausting, but in the ERC tradition, everyone had lots of fun and made lots of new friends.

The first camp which ERC ran was a leaders’ camp. This was the third Leaders’ Camp which we have run – however, I could safely say, it was the first ever of its kind. (If you know anything about ERC, then you will know that everything we do is “unique”!) This camp was a terrific opportunity for leaders to come together and discuss issues which are usually savoured for those times in the carpark at Westcourt, after a meeting at 10pm at night. From all reports, “Camp One Rocked!”

Once again I think I could safely say that July Camps (for the kids) were unlike any other ERC event. This year the age groups were slightly younger than usual – only by one year but, gee, does that one year make a difference. From speaking to other volunteers from each camp, everyone had another terrific time once again and came home tired but happy.

There are hundreds of stories to be told – from mazes through to farmyard walks.

A special thanks must go to Fitzy, Mav, the coordinators and leaders, the Christian Brothers, bus drivers, cooks and lastly the Catholic Agricultural College, Bindoon for allowing us to use the school for accommodation. If you do bump into one of the Eddie Rice Leaders ask them to share a story about camp. I’m sure they would love to.


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Edmund Rice Family News is edited and produced by Brian Coyne for the Holy Spirit Province of the Christian Brothers
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