Edition 10: September 2003 Holy Spirit Province, Australia

Greetings all and welcome to this spring edition of Edmund Rice News for 2003.

ERFN09 June 2003 (html)


Quick Guide to this issue:

LATE ADDITION: Since this edition was published we have produced a special supplement containing the text of an address by the newly appointed Director of the Edmund Rice Centre at the University of Notre Dame, Dr Wayne Tinsey (pictured at right). Wayne's article is a valuable reflection on the Church in the Modern World and will be appreciated by all those working in Ministries with young people. It can be found HERE.

Guest Editorial – Gerry O’Neill: What
  meaning does Edmund Rice have for us
Steve Bowman on vocations and helping
“And now for the story about kissing
  giraffes and doing a thousand other
  brilliant things”

National update on Edmund Rice Network
Bush Retreat at Camp Kelly in October
Qavah – the new name for Dadirri
  Applications now open
News from all around the Province
  The Pearl Shell
  Meeting of Communities
  St Paul’s “Old Scholars” are winners
  Kudos for St John’s, Whyalla
  Shane Wood’s work in Broome

News from all around the Province (cont'd)
  The struggle building Catholic schools
    in Papua New Guinea
  Some thoughts from the Congregational
    Leader, Br Phillip Pinto
Reflection: Edmund Rice


For details click here!

THE BUSINESS OF KISSING GIRAFFES is not something that one would want to do everyday. In fact, come to think of it, it’s hard to fathom out why anyone would want to even attempt it. Before we let you in on the secret as to why we should have a headline like that for this edition of Edmund Rice Family News though you might reflect on what this newsletter is all about...

This newsletter has two prime purposes in its life. Firstly, it exists to share news around all those people working in Edmund Rice ministries in the Holy Spirit Province. Allied to that it also seeks to keep at least the leadership in other provinces around the world abreast of what is happening in our patch. Secondly, it exists to provide you with fresh ideas and inspiration as to what the Edmund Rice charism is. Who is this guy who has inspired hundreds of thousands, and more likely, millions of people around the world to walk on the pathway lit by Christ?

The keynote article in his edition has been written by Gerry O’Neill, the Director of Spirituality at Aquinas College. He reasons: “The Edmund Rice story is a faithful retelling of the Jesus story. It incorporates its most basic ingredients: suffering, healing and a reaching out to the other. I will examine each of these key ingredients to test whether or not they have something to say to the current context.”

Living on the edge … of society and of the Church…

In another article, Br Steve Bowman, reflects on some of the new territories where people are called to work “on the edge of society … and on the edge of the Church”.

There’s plenty of news from around the Province and nationally including a number of coming events. But back to the business of kissing giraffes: Kelsey Wilson, our Edmund Rice Volunteer over in Tanzania is the one who has been into kissing a giraffe. Her report gives an insight into both the fun side and the considerable challenge that volunteering brings.


What meaning does Edmund Rice have for us today...

Gerard O’Neill is the Director of Spirituality at Aquinas College. In this article Gerry goes back to his own roots in Ireland to search out the continuing need for the vision inspired by Edmund Rice.

THE WILLINGNESS to pose questions and to struggle with the tensions that these questions may engender in one’s life is a sign of maturity and the beginning of wisdom. As a man entering into the middle years of life, my early training at a Christian Brothers’ school in the North of Ireland did not equip me well with the self-confidence and skills required to pursue important questions. Every story has its shadow as well as its light and both need exposure! The lampooning of questioning found in Frank McCourt’s novel, Angela’s Ashes, contains much humour and a grain of truth…

“There are too many people wandering the world asking questions and that’s what has us in the state we’re in and if I find any boy in this class asking questions I won’t be responsible for what happens.” [p 114]

You will understand both my nervousness and excitement as I take this opportunity to reflect upon this most important question: What does the story of Edmund Rice mean today?

At one level the answer could be quite frightening for those steeped in the tradition of Edmund Rice. It means very little! It is a story set hundreds of year ago in one of the most remote outposts of Europe. It is a far away story for Australians geographically, historically and culturally. It has little impact or significance on people’s lives. This is true – but it is not the full truth! Every heresy is a partial truth that is absolutised into the full truth.

I would like now to say something about that larger truth – the truth that the Edmund Rice story has something fundamentally important to teach us today about what it means to be human. Muriel Rukeyser makes the observation that the universe is made of stories, not atoms. Edmund’s story has the capacity to connect us with our deepest identity, with others and with the most fundamental reality that some call God. To achieve this effectively we must remember the story. We must tell it imaginatively and, in a kind of Eucharistic transformation, we must become the story.

The Edmund Rice story is a faithful retelling of the Jesus story. It incorporates its most basic ingredients: suffering, healing and a reaching out to the other. I will examine each of these key ingredients to test whether or not they have something to say to the current context.


Edmund is the rich young man who experiences great suffering in his life. At twenty-six he experiences the awful emptiness of losing the love of his life, Mary Elliott Rice, whom he has recently married. He also experiences the awful anguish of a father whose only child is born severely handicapped. He is plunged into the depth of human suffering. The reality of suffering touches every life. The genius of this story is that the suffering is not denied rather it is integrated into his life and becomes part of its beauty. This insight into what it means to be fully human is always relevant. Indeed, to those who are suffering it is both inspirational and liberating.


In his anguish, Edmund turned to the cross. He came to the understanding that God’s love is most clearly articulated and most fully embodied in the figure of Christ broken on the cross. In the agony of his own suffering, he was united with the love of God made manifest in the broken body of Jesus. As a refrain from a song that my teenage son likes to listen to puts it: Love’s the greatest thing! At the darkest moments of our lives it is not only the greatest thing, it is the only thing that makes sense. The only thing that heals and makes us whole again. In a world of brokenness – terror, sickness, alienation, meaninglessness, poverty, homelessness – we need to go home to this love to rekindle hope in our lives.


Edmund’s response to the healing he experienced through his relationship with God expressed itself in an heroic reaching out to those most in need. Unlike the rich young man in the Gospel he is willing to sell everything to follow Christ. There is a beautiful symmetry in Edmund’s life. He is healed by God’s love for him and he in turn becomes an instrument of healing. There is a profound truth in this. Hurt and pain, on their own, tend to close us down and make us self-absorbed. It is illuminating that Julian of Norwich suggests that God sees sin as pain in us. Sin separates us from our true selves, from each other and ultimately from God. Love, on the other hand, opens us up and helps us to reach out to the other as other. To live a magnificent life that is open to others, we need to be connected to the Father who fills us with such love if we are able to imbue the world with love. What could be more relevant, more life-giving, more needed in the global village we now inhabit?


The Edmund Rice story is a great story! There is a shared responsibility for those who inherit that story to remember it. We need to remember it so that we are inspired by the life and works of Edmund Rice. At another level we must allow the story to re-member us so that our lives also are a faithful telling of that story. We truly honour the tradition of Edmund Rice when we have the courage to live that story in a way that is faithful to the person and life of Edmund and in a way that speaks eloquently to the times, opportunities and problems that we confront in the here and now. Finding this balance is our greatest challenge and surest hope of authentic living.

In a broken world we can, like Jesus of Nazareth and his faithful disciple Edmund Rice, re-member those who are broken by retelling the sacred story of Blessed Edmund Rice. It is a privilege, a responsibility, and a part of our own healing to be part of the retelling.

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National Coordinating Group – Edmund Rice Network (NCG-ERN)

JILL PARKER is the Holy Spirit Province representative on the National Coordinating Group of the Edmund Rice Network. She provided us with this update on the work of the Group...

At the National Gathering of The Edmund Rice Family, hereafter referred to as the ERN, in Melbourne in 2001, a group was mandated to continue the work begun at the Gathering, including the establishment of some kind of national structure for the ERN.

Representatives of the ERN from each state and New Zealand met again in Melbourne in February 2002, to decide upon the structure and role for the group. The recommendations from that meeting were subsequently approved by the Interprovince Leadership Committee (ILC) of the Christian Brothers.

The role of the group was defined as being to:
Coordinate processes that facilitate:
The development of the ERN across Australia and New Zealand
The identification of core values of the ERN
Clarification of language eg family, network etc
The development of structures that help the further growth of the ERN
Convene and organize Interprovince Gatherings of the ERN and follow up issues when required
Facilitate effective communications between the various expressions and groups of the ERN across provinces (eg magazine, website.)
Identify issues relating to the development of the ERN and, where appropriate initiate National/Inter-Province responses
Communicate with the ILC and other groups as appropriate
Encourage and support local expressions of the ERN

The group meets once per year and via teleconference on three other occasions. At its first meeting, held in Melbourne in June, the group re-affirmed its role as a coordinating and facilitating group that was supportive of local expressions of the ERN in each state/province, rather than a controlling group.

The meeting also agreed on a strategic plan for the next two years, which included the following goals:

Establish a national process for coming to an agreed vision statement.
The process is to include the following:
Consultation at local level
Drawing on previously developed material (ERN Gatherings)
Testing notion of ‘formal commitment’
Establish province / State Working Groups to undertake the following:
Visit ministries and other groups to promote the network
Promote formation opportunities
Provide information concerning vision and core values
Implement other strategies in accord with local needs and structure
Seek to adopt edmundrice.org as an official channel for the ERN
Compile a list of publications in each province as a preliminary step towards the possible establishment of a single national publication for the ERN. This would be done in consultation with the wider ERN.

The representatives for each state are:

Convenor: Dennis Farrar NSW,

Members: Br. Jim Darcy QLD, Br. Brian Bond VIC, Anthony Chapman TAS, Libby Oudshoorn SA, Jill Parker WA, Denis Corcoran NZ, Peter Nicholson representing the National Formation Board, and Br. Frank Hennessey representing the ILC.

We are in the process of forming a working group in Western Australia, and I am looking forward to meeting you all. Our first state gathering will be at the Bush Retreat in October. (See Ad below.)

God Bless
Jill Parker

We invite you to relax and enjoy the beautiful bush setting for the Edmund Rice Network Bush Retreat. Enjoy...

   –sunrise, sunset, birdsong, the stillness...
   –connection to earth, air, fire, watr and each other...
   –an encounter with the Spirit within and around you...
   –sharing stories around the campfire...
   –exploring the difference and diversity of the universe...
   –and the uniqueness that is you and in all things.

Only $45 per person (includes meals & accomodation)

$30 student concession & children ($20 12-14yrs $15 6-12yrs)

Creche available, dining room, dormitory style rooms, shower & toilet blocks, byo tents if preferred

PLEASE BRING: A small symbol of something that is important to you. Cake, biscuits or slice to share for morning/afternoon tea & supper. BYO Drinks and Bedding, and musical instruments – if you wish

Thanks to Mrs Collard for the input with the Noongar language

The challenge of living on the edge ...
of society ... and of the Church!

Brian Coyne's interview with Br Steve Bowman cfc on the meaning of Vocation today. This article was originally published in the special Vocations edition of The Record newspaper on 21 August 2003.

ELIGIOUS LIFE TODAY, according to Steve Bowman is “a challenge of trying to live on the edge ... of society ... and of the Church”. At the mid-point of his life and with 30 years of professed life behind him and some pretty rugged challenges, he’s had a lot of time to think about what he’s doing with his life.

Today his life is consumed helping those people at the margins of society who have been displaced from their homes and countries and end up in our country as refugees.

Most of them have spent years in refugee camps. Some are young, some are old, many are family groups cut off from their larger families still held in refugee camps or back in the turmoil of their homelands.

Steve’s story is part of a wider story. It is the changing story of how religious orders have adapted over the centuries and gone out, like Christ, to meet the figurative “outcast woman at the well” whomever that “outcast woman” has happened to be at any particular time in history.

When Steve joined the Christian Brothers in the 1970s, the work of the Brothers in Australia was still focused at the then “margin” in society where many were struggling to access a decent standard of education. Catholics in particular were among “the poor and marginalised” in Australian society.

   Lifting people up…    

The Christian Brothers, along with all the other great teaching orders, played an enormously important part in lifting Catholics, through education, so that they could play an equal role, and compete on an equal footing for jobs in the professions and in industry.

Today, thanks to generous government funding and the way in which Catholics are no longer treated as second-class citizens in Australia, our children have equal rights and access to the educational opportunities that are no different to what is available to any other Australian.

Education, in the sense it once was, is no longer “at the margin” in Australian society. In a sense, Catholics themselves are no longer “at the margins” either.

But while education has moved on, and Catholics have moved on, there are many others who remain marginalised and struggling to get a foothold on the edges of society.

Those who follow in the footsteps of Edmund Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers, are also constantly moving to the new “margins” in society. In 1998 Steve put the idea to his superiors of establishing a shop-front operation to serve refugees. He saw this as a work “on the edge” of the mission of the Church as well as a mission on the “edge of society”.

From small beginnings in 1998, the Edmund Rice Centre at Mirrabooka has now helped over 1,000 migrants find their feet in Australian society. Steve, and a small band of Brothers, are the yeast amongst over 30 lay volunteers who teach English, offer companionship, collect and distribute household goods, undertake youth work, and raise money to help the new marginalised in Australian society.

The programs offered by the Edmund Rice Centre also reach out to assist urban indigenous people, particularly young people, who are still caught in that enormous trap where they find themselves in the disequilibrium between two cultures.

Steve does not see the work of the Centre as political – agitating for change. The Centre seeks to serve refugees face-to-face. For a time it was providing much assistance to refugees on Temporary Protection Visas who had been released from the detention camps in Australia. The bulk of their work though continues to be with the vast number of refugees who arrive each year through the official channels from refugee camps overseas.

But even within this population of refugees there are many who can’t master the language skills within the courses paid for by the government. Many lack the basic essentials to even set up a home.

As Steve says, “others drop through the net in other ways and require more assistance than can be provided directly by the government programs”. Much of the work of the Edmund Rice Centre then tends to be with those who are the marginalised within the already marginalised.

The Brothers and volunteers at the Edmund Rice Centre serve people of all faiths and none. Steve does not see their work as any attempt to “convert” anyone. Their work is there merely to serve people.

He finds this life of service certainly impacts on his own prayer life and personal growth.

The Brothers and the volunteers do strengthen one another through a shared spiritual outlook and times for prayer, quiet meditation and shared meals. But they see that as their own personal spiritual “refuelling” station to maintain the sense of optimism and hope that they can share with those who have often come from years of nothing but pessimism and totally devoid of hope.

   Witnessing to all…    

Steve does not see his work as preaching to anyone but a life of trying to witness to all. In the spirit of Edmund Rice, he sees his Centre as offering companionship and hope to those trying to re-discover these most essential human qualities in their lives.

Steve’s own days as a classroom teacher are now behind him. In a curious twist of irony he finds himself more of the entrepreneur and enterprise manager.

He’s now “out there” seeking to motivate people, seeking enterprising ways to raise money to sustain the endeavour just as two centuries before Edmund Rice as well as being out there building his schools was also “out there” at the edge of the Church seeking to find the financial patrons, donors and the volunteers who could help bring hope to those who had come to see themselves as “hopeless” or simply without hope.

If you would like to assist the work of the Edmund Rice Centre financially (donations are tax deductible), or as a volunteer, or you have household goods to donate that can be used by refugees contact Br Steve Bowman at the Edmund Rice Centre Mirrabooka on 9440 0625. If you would like to explore volunteer work or a vocation with the Christian Brothers or the wider Edmund Rice Family contact Br Tony Hackett on 9450 5912.

“and now for the story about kissing giraffes and doing a thousand other brilliant things”

Edmund Rice volunteer Kelsey Wilson reports from Tanzania

Kelsey’s fallen in love not only with elephants and giraffes but is trying to find a way to smuggle some of the local kids she teaches back to Australia when she returns. Here is her recent email and if you click here you can read a more detailed report on some of the activities she's been engaged in with some photographs.

WELL I HOPE this finds you all warm and happy. I hear it has been quite cold in the land of Oz ... it has actually been freezing here too! It is starting to warm up now and I'm sure soon we will be cursing the hot weather we were wishing for.

So what’s been doing in my life ... it has been alot of ups and downs since my last message when I had just arrived back in Arusha from Safari ... alot has happened. I had my first taste of homesickness which was interesting and about time I guess. It was a culmination of many things ... finally being frustrated with the logic of Tanzanians and the small town-ness of Arusha, tackling some hardcore things at work that were a little heartbreaking, missing Juliann and Shona and missing my Mum and everyone at home. Maybe also realising that I had been away for a very long time and there is still a very long time left. So up and down is the way but mostly my days are busy and mixed with magic and time is flying and I am smiling alot.

So my new housemates are here. They are Irish folks – two girls and one boy – they are a bit crazy but we get along great. It’s interesting to see how differently they look at things coz they are here for only a short time. Alot of the time I am being the boring responsible one ... who would have thought that? But it is refreshing and we have had loads of fun. I have been spending lots of time at the orphanage and have picked about four or five kids to bring home with me ... thats just the tally now. I was negotiating with a couple of four year-old girls on the way to school this morning. They didn’t get what Australia was but I told them it wasn’t too far away and I'm sure they would love to live there!

I have finally been to my village church. It’s just magical and I have never concentrated so hard on a sermon becase its all in Swahili! (Usually I just pickup the gist and invent the rest ... like ooh he just said ‘because’ and ‘then’ so that must mean because you eat cheeseburgers then you get fat).

At school I have been doing random things. I have been teaching many classes about emotions and how to understand and express them. I have also taken some classes about relationships. It’s interesting. I am trying to sort some problems with naughty boys who take drugs. It’s been kind of frustrating and sometimes feels a bit futile because these kids don’t feel like they have futures worth looking after, they are all very good at lying which makes me really, really angry.

Anyway I have been visiting some people who are very sick with AIDS. We see the same ladies every week. It is both incredibly uplifting and heartbreaking. A few weeks ago myself, a few teachers, about one hundred kids from school and another hundred youth from town climbed a mountain. It was insane and tough but lots of fun. The next few days at school were funny as we all hobbled around with our battle stories. This weekend there is another march in town for orphans. I am keeping the kids pretty active – the plan is not to give them time to get into trouble.

Just last weekend the Irish and I went to Nairobi for a visit. It was fantastic. We stayed with our Aussie volunteer friends, John and Ann, and apart from me getting sick we also visited Karen Blixen’s house. She is the author of Out of Africa ... Miss “I had a farm in Africa”. I found it very difficult to contain my excitement at the sight of Robert Redford’s pants from the movie!!! We spent the night at a Rasta party with some locals. It was very cool – especially when they are all laughing at the Wazungus (white people) dancing! we also visited some baby orphan elephants. I blew air into one of their trunks ... it makes you friends forever ... truly! Then we went to this place where you feed giraffes. You get so close you can hug them and they taught us a trick where if you put the feed pellet in your lips the giraffe kisses you to get it! So as you can see my love life is very rivetting ... it consists of elephants and giraffes!!!

So that’s probably enough excitement for one email. I tell you I truly am missing everyone and thinking of you all loads,

Take care all of you,  

Our Cover Image: ©2001William Eric McFadden. The photograph of the Giraffe used as out cover image was taken by William Eric McFadden a photographer in Ohio and found using a Google search. The image is copyright and has been used with permission. William’s web page is: http://www.qsl.net/wd8rif/

Qavah – the new name for the Dadirri Spirituality Program

THE Dadirri program has a new name, Qavah*, and is seeking applicants from the Edmund Rice Network now for the 2004-5 retreat program.

Qavah is an invitation to faithfully ‘wait upon God’ – eagerly, expectantly, trustfully. While waiting and watching, listening and acting, God might surprise you. From all directions you can be renewed, maybe even transformed. New energy will flow through you to others – and to the earth.

Qavah will re-connect you with your own personal sacred narrative, and how your story relates to four other sacred stories: the Universe story, the Christ story, our own Australian story, and the Edmund Rice story. In addition you will have the chance to develop some spiritual practices and to volunteer a little of your time for people who are most in need.

Qavah is an initiative of the Edmund Rice National Formation Team. It involves three National Residentials – plus some gatherings of participants locally. The programme begins Easter 2004 and concludes January 2005.

Applications for Qavah 2004-5 close on 28th November 2003 and interviews will be conducted during December. The successful applicants will join a group of 25-30 people in the 15-month personal journey. The following are the general criteria that you need to meet to be selected. You should be:

  • a minimum of 25 years old
  • willing to work for peace and justice for all God's creation
  • open to deepening your spirituality through exploring your own story in relation to the stories of Jesus and Edmund
  • invited to respond practically to the call of the gospel by reaching out to those on the margins of society
  • interested in examining the universe, the and Australian story, from new perspectives, and be keen to reflect alone and within a community context
  • willing to place yourself in unfamiliar situations – to stretch your thoughts and actions beyond comfortable boundaries
  • be familiar with and supportive of the spirit of the Christian Brothers and the Edmund Rice Family but you do not necessarily have to be Catholic.
  • willing to engage in a wide-ranging program, including reading, the study and praying of scripture and theological reflection
  • willing to commit to being present for all components of the fifteen month program, including three 5-day residential workshops (held in school holiday periods), and in a position to contribute $700-$1000 toward the cost of the program. The dates for the residential workshops are: Monday 12–Saturday 17 April 2004 (Easter); Monday 6–Saturday 11 September 2004; Monday 17- Saturday 22 January 2005.

Members of the Edmund Rice Family in the Holy Spirit Province who are interested in participating should contact Br Gerry Faulkner in WA on 9365 2815 or Br Des O'Grady in SA on 8384 5871. Late applications accepted only if vacancies exist. For further information also visit the official Qavah website at: http://www.edmundrice.org/qavah or you can print out an A4 Flier here.

*The name of this program had to be changed at the request of the Christian Brothers' National Coordinating Group – Indigenous Ministries (NCG-IM). The name Dadirri was dropped due to sensitivities among some aboriginal people regarding intellectual property and the risks associated with appropriating aboriginal spirituality. The National Formation Team graciously agreed to this request. The new name, Qavah, is full of rich meaning and comes to us from the Old Testament. In brief, Qavah is a word that means “waiting in expectant and renewed hope on the Lord”. For a fuller explanation of the word read the article below which is taken in part from the book, The Greatest Old Testament Words, by Edgar Jones.

The Meaning of the word Qavah

This explanation of the word is taken in part from The Greatest Old Testament Words by Edgar Jones [London: SCM, 1964; 93-96]

For what are you waiting in life? For whom do you long? What are you seeking? Are you dry and weary, like the Australian desert, which waits patiently for water? At the first sign of moisture, life flows in unexpected abundance. Might Qavah be this moisture for you in the coming year – a time of revitalization?

Testimonial from Marie Francis – a previous participant

Dadirri – a word on a small information package, and a remarkable influence on my life!

My involvement began when I received some information about the Dadirri after making general enquiries about Edmund Rice and the faith formation programmes available to me as Christian Brothers' College staff member.

The wording and the presentation of the invitation appealed to me, particularly the phrase ‘an inner deep listening and quiet, still awareness’.

I found the application and interview process rewarding and began to look forward to further involvement. The commitments required of me to be a participant were clearly stated. Although some aspects would be new to me, the opportunities available seemed considerable.

The program also consisted of three Residentials in three different places – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. When I first met my fellow participants in Sydney in October 2002, and the four members of the leadership team, I felt a rapport and experienced friendship almost instantly – something most unusual for me!

We chatted and laughed. Very quickly we learned a little about each other, and our connection with the Edmund Rice Network. The Residentials were for six days (including travelling). I found that each venue had its own individual charm, and offered accommodation and surroundings that greatly supported the atmosphere generated by our participation in the daily activities.

Our Residentials followed similar patterns: the opportunity to learn some spiritual practices to support our faith and personal development, and the exploration of five stories: the Christ Story, Australia Story, Edmund Story, Universe Story and Personal Story, We had relaxing times, and time for ourselves. We shared some great meals and laughs, and enjoyed special moments together.

I found the whole programme, with people from all over Australia, to be a time of great ‘connectedness’. a time of learning and deepening of knowledge regarding my faith and Edmund Rice involvement, and especially a time of sharing and support for the people involved.

I do not feel the program has finished, Over the last twelve months, Dadirri has become part of my life, I have received many intrinsic gifts from my involvement in the Dadirri process. Hopefully there can be, for all involved, an ongoing commitment to elements of the program. I have certainly benefited from my participation, both professionally and personally.

Marie Francis
Wakefield Street, Adelaide
August 2003

To earlier generations the phrase wait upon the Lord had deep undertones of fellowship and communion with God. It was used to express the intimacy of a person’s prayer life and meditation.

Qavah also suggests waiting in ambush. The word echoes expectancy, eagerness, urgency, being tensed and ready for action – but only after first watching, waiting and listening in silence.

Qavah invites you to (re) discover the art of and power in waiting. It calls upon you to trust – and to believe that what one seeks – and truly desires – will, in time, be realised.

The word Qavah also suggests God waiting upon all of creation – and humanity in particular. God waits expectantly, hopefully, and faithfully for people to respond lovingly, creatively and freely to the gift of life bestowed upon them.

Qavah is a call to renew yourself: to change, to return from exile, from being a refugee in a strange land.

It is an opportunity provided by the Edmund Rice National Formation Team to deepen and explore that which is most vital to living.

Qavah will re-connect you with your own personal sacred narrative, and how your story relates to four other sacred stories: the Universe story, the Christ story, our own Australian story, and the Edmund Rice story.

You will have the companionship and support of others from the Edmund Rice network during what will be, hopefully, a transformative journey! For you will discover a new source of power – the strength of God given to those who ‘wait upon the Lord’

“For thou, O Lord art my hope (Qavah), my trust, O Lord from my youth’ [Ps.71.5]
God is our hope, the one upon whom we wait and depend as a lifeline.

“The Pearl Shell” — a local prayer group supporting your work

A SMALL BIT OF GRIT finds its way into a pearl shell and in time gives birth to something very beautiful. This is the image behind the title of the latest prayer group within the Edmund Rice Network, that thinks of itself very much as “family”. An offshoot from the Perth based ERFLink, this group gathered at the home of Betty and Alan O'Neill on the evening of Friday 29th August, the anniversary of Edmund’s death, for their inaugural meeting. Betty and Alan had even “made” a pearl shell complete with pearl as a symbol of the group. After a shared meal there was a little discussion about the best mode of operation. It was agreed to stay with Friday evenings but to switch to the third Friday of each month. So the next meeting will be on Friday 19th September at the Brothers’ Community at 25 Amberton Way, Girrawheen.

Rod Ellyard, Lawrie Mousely, with
hosts Betty and Alan O’Neill

The focus of the group is praying and sharing together. Each month a special intention of prayer will be one or other expression of the Edmund Rice Network and members will take this intention forward for the following month in personal prayer. This first month the group decided to pray for their parent group ERFLink, with the success of the coming retreat at Dwellingup on 17-19 October a particular intention. The group would welcome requests for prayer from any of our ministries or other ERN groups. A small statement by email saying what in particular the group would request our prayers would be the way to go.

Some of the other members of
"The Pearl Shell"

The group welcomes new members. An aim is to grow to the point where we need to split into two groups and so spread the prayer base. Each meeting the intention is to take an aspect of the life of Edmund as the point of take-off for prayer. The book by Teresa Pirolla, God is in the Ordinary is a useful aid to this. The group has also adopted a prayer of Mother Teresa of Calcutta for regular use by members. Sharing of our own experience where we experience God in the ordinary events of life is part of the process.

The contact persons for the group are:
Betty O'Neill on 9446 5451,
email: aboneill@bigpond.com, or,
Rod Ellyard at Westcourt, 9365 2804,
email: ellyard.rod@westcourt.wa.edu.au.

Meeting of Communities

Meeting of Communities –
inspirational and challenging!

WESTCOURT COMMUNITY hosted the Christian Community from Westminster Street, East Victoria Park on Thursday evening 4th September. Four members of the community, Clare, Mark, Joshua and Jarred joined us for prayer, a sharing around the question, “Why do we live in community?”, and a meal. This comm-unity of young adults come from different religious traditions. Clare is Lutheran, Mark is Catholic, Joshua an Anabaptist and Jarred whose father is Catholic and his mother Church of Christ is a little unsure about affiliation but is sure he is post-modern and committed to Christ.

We found the experience inspirational and challenging. Radical, prayerful, people of integrity, authentic, ecumenical and courageous are words that come to mind in describing these impressive people. They expressed themselves as unable to make long term commitments, but their commitment to Jesus seemed very strong. We gained from a meeting of minds with the younger generation and realize there is much more such contact needed. We are looking forward to a reverse visit later.

St Paul’s “Old Scholars” on a “winning streak”

FOR THE FIRST TIME in their history, the Old Scholars Football Team from St Paul’s, Gilles Plains have gone through the season undefeated and, of course, have finished on top of the ladder. Congratulations guys and best of luck from all of us in the Edmund Rice Network for the finals. Next year they’re going to field two teams.


Kudos for St John’s, Whyalla

Eddie Rice Campers

ST JOHN’S COLLEGE, WHYALLA is currently involved in their collection of milk for the Eddie Rice Camps in South Australia. The College has established a reputation for supporting the kids who benefit from these camps by organising a massive collection of long-life milk each year. Each student is asked to supply one cartoon. Congratulations also need to be extended to everyone at St John's for the success of their musical, “Gel”. This is the first musical the college has mounted in over ten years.


Shane Wood’s work in Broome

WE’LL LET YOU IN ON the story that Shane Wood published on the national website about his work in the Broome Diocese...

My work in the Broome Diocese has taken a new turn and I am grateful for the request to write something about it as it has helped me to see my work through the lens of formation in a way that I might not have otherwise done.

I have two positions at present: one working for the Diocese 2 days per week in the Office of Justice, Ecology and Peace and also with Diocesan Volunteers; the other is as Director of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice on the Broome Campus of Notre Dame University.

Br Shane Wood cfc

The annual gathering of Priests and Pastoral Associates from around the Diocese (covering an area three times the size of Victoria) was focused this year on the education and training of our lay people. How is this to be done? What training is required for our various parish ministries? What resources do we need? We had a very lively and helpful discussion around this whole issue and left with firm commitments by all parishes to further this issue of training (which will involve formation as well) in practical ways through the year. I was pleased to be able to facilitate this gathering and to see the positive energy for formation and training of our lay people, mostly indigenous, to be able to take their rightful place more confidently in local church ministries.

In my work with Diocesan Volunteers, I help to recruit, screen and place them in the Diocese. I have set up an Orientation Program for all personnel new to the Diocese as an essential part of their formation for mission. The program is delivered at Mirrilingki Spirituality Centre, staffed by the Josephite Sisters. No that I am at the University for three days a week and involved in some teaching, I am sadly not able to be part of the delivery of the Orientation Program, but I keep an eye on its content and try to ensure that all those who ought be there actually get there. The emphasis in the Program is on the cross-cultural nature of mission in the Diocese and on the development of a personal spirituality of mission in that context.

As I follow up with Volunteers throughout the year, I try to keep them informed of happenings in the Diocese and the wider church scene and to encourage them to continue to feed their spiritual life by sending them suitable short articles that I hope will help them in this area. Hopefully the whole experience of living and working in the Diocese is a formation experience.

The articles I write each month for the Diocesan magazine under the Justice, Ecology and Peace banner are intended to be informative but also formative. My hope is that having been informed on various issues, people will be moved to do further reading or investigation on an issue and then to take some sort of personal action. This is another aspect of formation.

The Edmund Rice Centre for Justice has been established to facilitate service learning programs for students of the university. I am hoping that this will be very much a formation experience for those who take up the invitation to become involved as volunteers in various service agencies in Broome. The program will involve an introduction to volunteering, keeping of a journal, reflection on experience and debriefing with staff of the Centre. Those who wish to undertake this experience as an academic exercise will be required to attend further class hours involving lectures on church social justice teaching and theories of ministry with the marginalized. Again, I see this as very much a formation opportunity for the students involved. The university sees it as an opportunity for the students to forge links between the university and the town. I think it can fulfill both expectations quite successfully.

So, when I come to think of it, formation is really at the heart of my being Brother in this part of the world. In the midst of it all, my own formation continues!

The national website, www.edmundrice.org, is worth checking out regularly for the excellent stories it carries.

Some thoughts from the Congregational Leader...

Br Philip Pinto cfc

FROM BR PHILIP PINTO’S address to the members of the Leadership Teams - Oceania and India - in Adelaide on Friday 7th February 2003

"I invite each of you today: To reflect daily on how your life interfaces with our sacred story. That is how you will receive the new wine. To look carefully at your personal and community life-style. Holiness does not sit easily at laden tables or splendid homes. It does not mix with habits that are more easily associated with the privileged classes of society. If you are for Yahweh then worship him, if for Baal, then worship him. To continue to spend time as Teams to reflect on the Chapter Insights. Make this a priority if you wish to have something genuine to offer your brothers and sisters. The greatest gift of leadership you can offer those you serve is to tell your story and listen to theirs. All else can be done by others. You and I are the storytellers, we keep the story alive and fan the flames of energy and help keep memory alive."

The full address can be viewed at: http://www.edmundrice.org/spirituality/Articles/609pinto.html

The struggle in building Catholic schools in Papua New Guinea

IN A SUPPLEMENT to this newsletter we are publishing the text of an address by Br Graeme Leach on the history of Catholic Education in the Wewak area of Papua New Guinea. Catholic Education in Australia was only established after a long struggle and as late as the 1960s the Australian Bishops were seriously wondering whether the effort could be sustained. The story Br Leach has to tell illustrates that the challenge has not yet been met in other parts of the world and just as tens of thousands of men and women came from elsewhere in the world to establish the Catholic education system in Australia, the call for others to do likewise continues. The article can be found here.

The example of Mary, Mother of God, supported Edmund in his faithfulness. In the Icon, the words muire matair de (Mother of God' in Gaelic) circle Mary's head.


In the life of Edmund Rice

Amidst Edmund's resounding success as an educator and Christian Brother, he endured many trials, conflicts and persecutions.

  • He suffered the anti-Catholic prejudices of his own countrymen.
  • He grieved the sorrows of family life, most especially the death of his own wife.
  • He had friendships turn sour because of stands he took on matters of principle.
  • He suffered the petty jealousies and resentments of members of his own community.
  • He suffered anxiety over financial matters.
  • His good name was tarnished through false rumours and accusations.

Edmund suffered deeply, yet trusted that God would never abandon him and that from 'death' comes new life.


Lord Jesus, you gave of yourself to others, even to the point of death.
Free us from all that makes our love less than selfless.
Teach us to love like you. Amen.

This reflection is taken from Chapter 12 on Accepting the Cross in God is in the Ordinary by Teresa Pirola.


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