We are delighted to share with you the amazing outcome of our recent fundraising campaign for LAP, a non-governmental organization that provides care and support for children living with HIV/AIDS in Jakarta, Indonesia. Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to raise almost $2,600 at our Masses last weekend. This amount will be added to the funds from our regular pledge-givers and sent to the LAP team as soon as possible.
Your support is making a real difference in the lives of these children, who face many challenges and stigma due to their condition. LAP helps them access antiretroviral treatment, education, nutrition, and psychosocial support. They also advocate for the rights and dignity of people living with HIV/AIDS in Indonesia.
We are very grateful for your kindness and compassion. You have shown us what it means to be a caring and faithful community. May God bless you and reward you for your generosity.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who attended my Farewell Lunch on Sunday and also to those who sent me their regrets due to their other engagements. The food you brought was delicious and generous. I was deeply touched by such a wonderful gathering that marked the end of my very joyful time among you. May God keep blessing us all.
We are delighted to announce that Elisha has joined our Altar Server Team. This is a great opportunity for Girls and Boys who are over 10 years old and have received their first Eucharist. If you are interested in becoming an Altar Server, please contact Michael at 0417332186.
The LAP Team is a group of dedicated volunteers who provide care and support for children living with HIV/AIDS in Jakarta, Indonesia. They work in some of the poorest slum areas of the city, where access to health care and education is limited. The LAP Team helps these children by providing medical treatment, nutritional supplements, school fees, counseling and recreational activities.
Next weekend,29th/30th April, our parish will have a special collection for the LAP Team, to assist them with their work. This is a great opportunity to show our solidarity and compassion for these children who face many challenges and hardships. If you are unable to attend Mass on that weekend and would like to contribute, you can make a donation directly to the following parish account established specifically for LAP:
BSB 083347, ACCOUNT NO. 546358602, ACCOUNT NAME: OLMC CHURCH ACCOUNT – LAP DONATION.
Thank you for your generosity and support for the LAP Team and the children they serve and if attending 8:30 Mass, we invite you to join us for Morning Tea after Mass.
Want new friends, new skills, and fun at the same time? Then have you thought of enquiring about:
· the Welcoming Team offering a cuppa after 5.30 or 8.30 masses?
· or the Parish Coordinating Team, bringing people closer together?
· or the Team Protecting People at Risk such as our children, FIrst Nations people and our elderly?
· or the Sunbury Winter Shelter on Mondays June 1 to August 31 at the Parish Centre?
Lyn or Liam, Juan Carlos or Jane are available in the church foyer after mass this weekend to answer your questions.
Application forms available on the Welcome Desk and at the Parish Office.
As part of the compliance for our Parish with the Archdiocese of Melbourne Safeguarding requirements, we require that volunteers complete online Volunteer Training every 3 years. Our parish is currently overdue.
We will require you to complete the online training by 1st April 2023 please. When you log into the online training, you will acknowledge the Volunteer Code of Conduct Declaration and complete a 30 minute online training module.
When this is completed, the parish will receive notification from the Archdiocese that you have completed it.
Ten years ago, the Parish Assembly recommended the Parish support a small and dedicated team associated with the Catholic University in Jakarta. The team called Lentera Anak Pelangi (abbreviated to “LAP” and meaning “Children Shining like Rainbows”) provides support for many very sick children living with HIV-AIDS, the majority of whom are orphaned and living with grandparents or other relatives in appalling slum conditions. The parish LAP group coordinates fundraising activities in support of the Jakarta LAP support team.
Achievements in 2022 that we are most proud of: A continuation of the wonderful support from people across the parish that has resulted in over $134,000 being raised to support the HIV AIDS children since the inception of the project in 2014. In a typical year 40% of the donations have come from collections at Masses, 50% from regular pledge-givers and 4% from school community contributions. We are also most grateful for the ongoing support from Fr. Kevin for the project and this continual support from parishioners and school communities.
Our aims for 2023: Maintain close contact with the LAP team in Jakarta to ensure we understand their needs and challenges. Encourage a continuation of the generous contributions from the Parish community.
Guest speaker, Fr Professor Frank Moloney, held the 60 participants spellbound with his insights into the Australian Plenary Council decrees and into the significance of Pope Francis who has given Catholic Christians the motivation to pay as much attention to the Word of God as we do to our traditional liturgies; to become a more joyful and merciful people, more Christ-like in our relationships; to dream of a better future for our community and our planet, walking together listening to and sharing each another’s joys and sorrows. Any nervousness about voicing our thoughts on the eight identified themes and writing them on tens of Post-It notes, evaporated as the table facilitators quickly established a respectful listening atmosphere for each break-out group. Michael McConville and his youthful apprentice, Natasha John, did an amazing job facilitating the day overall. Michael’s great skills and good sense of humour were much appreciated. The small-group discussion approach was hugely successful in allowing parishioners to drill down into what the themes and decrees will actually mean for our parish in 2023. For three hours there was such a joyful buzz in the hall which can be attributed not only to the wonderful finger food lunch (Thank you Mary, Nilda, Sr Jose and Juan Carlos.) but also to the display of so many parish group reports as well as to the time and energy put into planning by the Parish Pastoral Coordinating Team (PPCT). Thanks also to the many parishioners who, while not present, prayed for the success of the assembly. All these efforts paid off. By 3 o’clock on the day we were revitalised. We felt proud to be Catholic.
As we celebrate the Christmas season, we would like to thank everyone in the Parish for your generous contributions to the LAP team in Jakarta throughout the year.
The latest newsletter received from LAP outlines several initiatives launched by the team that have only been possible with the support from our parishioners.
Highlights included: Case workers are continuing to collect and distribute milk and nutritional support to over one hundred HIV- AIDS children, despite the ongoing Covid threat. Using on-line platforms, LAP has expanded their counselling and peer support services beyond Jakarta to regional areas, enabling more children and care-givers to be supported. The LAP team has now set up Computer and Programming classes covering fourteen sessions to help teenagers become “job-ready”. Already sixteen young people have enrolled.
Your contributions go directly to funding the milk and vitamins essential for maintaining the health of the children and to supporting the case workers who are driving these new initiatives.
Thank you again. May we wish everyone all the blessings of Christmas and a very happy New Year…
Marilou Elderfield, Victoria Fitzpatrick, Mick Hetherington, Helen Lee, Frank O’Connor, Teresa Quin, Jill, and Tony Kiley
Well, not really but now that we have your attention, Fr Kevin’s garden at the presbytery is in need of a little TLC. To this end, we are having a good old-fashioned working bee on Saturday 9 April and we would love to see you there. There’s nothing too strenuous to do and we will commence at 9:30am. Morning tea will be provided. For information, please contact Mary Macdermid (0414 241 815) or Peter Rush (0418 148 586)
Life is complex and, as Christians, we look to the Bible to give us direction on how to live. But we are going to be disappointed if we think that we are going to find easy answers to our issues. Take this Sunday’s story, commonly known as ‘The Widow’s Mite’. We may be forgiven for thinking it is about generous giving. But, considering it in its wider context, it is more a critique of nature of giving within the religious legal system of Jesus’ time. Jesus severely criticised the scribes, the judicial religious experts, for ‘devouring the estates of widows’ i.e. that is they used their legal powers to swindle the vulnerable. He then went on to attack the way money was collected for the Temple. The collection box at the treasury was a copper funnel shaped container which resounded according to how much was put it. Thus when the wealthy gave, all could hear the mighty rush of coins echoing around. The piteous ‘ping, ping’ of the widow would have sounded destitute in contrast. Such widows couldn’t win out in any way, legally vulnerable, even their generous giving was up for ridicule.
So on one side, we have hypocritical religious experts and wealthy donors ensuring that what they do is seen by all in order to attract praise. On the other hand, we have a weak and vulnerable person pressurised by the religious system into making herself even more destitute. In this drawing by Paul Delaroche (click red text) we see a widow with two small children giving her all. It is obvious what is happening. Jesus wasn’t showing extraordinary powers of observation when he said she gave her all. Why weren’t the religious experts and the wealthy coming to her aid rather than expecting her to give? Simply because the source of their religious practice was misplaced. It was not a work of the heart, a desire to love God and neighbour but rather their practice had been distorted into a passion for self-glorification.
My father has his first, and only, heart attack in St Vincent’s Hospital as he was waiting for heart surgery. The doctors decided not to bring forward his quadruple by-pass surgery but leave it at the scheduled time. Dad said he spent the next 36 hours in intensive care, repeating a cry very like Bartimaeus’, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner’. Like Bartimaeus, he prayed fromthe depths of his need.
Desperation can be a great gift. It focuses us on reality as it truly is. In his need, Bartimaeus did not care what the crowd thought, whether they were telling him to be quiet or how to relate to Jesus. In his need, he knew who Jesus was at a level deeper than this crowd knew. In his need, he was able to state simply and starkly what he wanted from Jesus. In his need, he realised what truly mattered. Unlike James and John, in last week’s Gospel, who, when asked by Jesus what they wanted, had sought power and prestige, this man’s need was simple and basic. And when Jesus fulfilled his need, he responded in the true manner of a disciple, following Jesus along the way – the way leading to Jerusalem, to suffering, death and through to Resurrection.
Our desperate needs are to be treasured. When their time has passed and our lives have returned to what passes for normalcy, for equilibrium, we should often revisit them to recollect the wisdom they have to offer us: the clarity regarding what is truly important in life, the knowledge that we can truly open ourselves to God, the experience that God can be truly merciful and tender in our lives.
It is amazing how, in a fearful situation, people can be blinded by alternate concerns. Immediately before this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus had been clearly predicting his coming passion, death and resurrection. Hot on the heels of that momentous teaching, James and John, taking advantage of a moment alone with Jesus, try to manipulate him into giving them positions of power in the coming Kingdom. Jesus sees through them yet leads them on. With his mention of ‘cup’ and ‘baptism’ they should have realised that the game was up and they should back out now. But blindly they plough on and Jesus, taking advantage of this, promises them the ‘cup’ and ‘the baptism’ but not the power and authority they desire. Is this unfair? Not really because he, in his authority, can see the true nature of their needs and knows that the ‘cup’ and ‘baptism’ are what they will need to make them fit for authority.
But, at this point in time, their blindness makes them unfit for authority. They, and the other disciples, see the prestigious position as the place where they can lord it over others, telling them what to do. Jesus, in contrast, regards authority as the position where a person, seeing the bigger picture, and having access to greater resources, can be at the service of those in his or her authority. This type of authority does not make life easy for the one wielding it. Rather it is an extraordinary challenge. Called upon to juggle the disparate needs of the group with the limited resources at hand, the person in authority actually needs to use every bit of wit, creativity and sensitivity to respond appropriately to changing situations. Ask any good parent with adolescent children, any decent parish priest, what are the questions that haunt them in the night. Invariably it will be how they can adapt themselves to serve better the people they love. Truly such people are giving their lives in ransom for the ones in their care.
You are invited to join our Parish initiative – “Our Vision through the Spirit”. A journey of 3 sessions over 6 weeks where we join in prayer, scripture, reflection, discussion and personal commitment as we work together with the Holy Spirit to bring our Parish Vision to Action. Sessions will be conducted over Zoom and you have a choice of day or evening sessions. 1.30pm Wednesdays 13, 27 October, 10 November or 7.30pm Thursdays 14, 28 October and 11 November. Each session is planned for 1.5 hours.
Please let the Parish Office know which session you would like to join: firstname.lastname@example.org or 9744 1060.
This is not an easy Gospel to write on. Many hearing or reading it could think that it does not apply to them as they are widowed, unmarried, celibate, rejected, deserted or even divorced. That is quite a swathe of people. But it still does speak to us, to all of us. It tells us that long-term loving relationships are integral to our development as persons. I recently watched the movie The Way and while it received rave reviews I was profoundly disappointed with the ending. While the central character Tom did need to learn to embrace life and allow it to form him, I question whether becoming a traveller of the world would actually bring him to a rich deep life – who would he love? Who would challenge and form him radically on a daily basis? For it is in the deep bonds of love that we are formed as persons. And, as antithetical as this is to the popular notion of romance, this usually happens in ordinary mundane situations devoid of glamour or excitement. The Bridges of Madison County is a movie with a very different ending. Romance here does not trump everything. It is not the high road to self-fulfilment justifying abandonment. After her four day affair, Francesca is profoundly tempted to abandon her family and leave with Robert, the lover who has brought her so much joy. But she does not because her husband, her boring husband, is a good man and doesn’t deserve this. And what would it teach her 16 year-old daughter about love? After her death, her children discover the true stature of the woman who was their mother. Harriet Goldher Lerner in her book The Dance of Anger gives a definition of ‘intimacy’: maintaining a relationship over the long haul. As we do that, our strengths and weaknesses are revealed, as are those of the other in the relationship. In dealing with each other, we necessarily change. As we chose to grow in love, we are transformed. As we chose to remain in that delicate and difficult dance, we will discover that we have entered into the Kingdom of God.
In his book Life without Limits Nick Vujicic tells the story of the most sensitive embrace he had ever experienced. Born without arms and legs, Nick had become an inspirational writer and speaker. At a social event, a small girl was introduced to him and she was encouraged to give him an embrace. She drew back in fear. Nick understood. As various other people came and greeted him, the little girl noticed how he treated each one. Eventually she decided to embrace him herself. Drawing near, she stopped, then put both arms behind her back and embraced Nick in the manner by which he embraced, putting her chin over his shoulder and she hugged him close with it. This small child understood a crucial element of the way Jesus wants us to relate. To embrace the weak and helpless, we have to become weak and helpless ourselves. We simply cannot serve from a position of power.
When we look at the person of Jesus, we see a God who chose to be born powerless and to die helpless. We see someone who could have stunned us with his wit, ingenuity and power but who didn’t. His example tells us to take on the humility and simplicity of spirit that can welcome and embrace a small child. Sadly, like the disciples on the road, we are slow learners. It may take us a lifetime to learn this wisdom but it is crucial if we wish to be embraced by God.