I have returned home after spending ten days with my family on the Gold Coast, especially with the family of our newest grandchild, Rowan.

The constancy of these ten days has left me weary and has served as a reminder to me of how tired I was while having our own five children, but also how robust Allen and I were, as we worked hard to establish a family unit with a home and with all that comes with caring for those you love. During these days away, we got together to celebrate Ezekiel’s fifth birthday and then Spencer’s second birthday. Much of what Allen and I did with our children was repeated in these celebrations – partying at home, family time, special homemade birthday cake, games – just a real sense of being special for the birthday person. It was good to spend time and to be affirmed.

I recognise how blessed we are to live in Australia, to have the resources we have and the freedom we have to celebrate, to be gift givers and to be family across great distances, courtesy of air travel.  

With this in mind, I hope you and your parish are aware that next weekend, Sunday September 30 is Social Justice Sunday and the 2018-19 Social Justice Statement – A Place to Call Home – Making a Home for Everyone in Our Land, will be available for you to read, contemplate, share and take on board. I hope some copies will be available in your parish, or if not, I invite you to log onto the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) website to find a copy of this resource along with the prayer card, ten steps brochure as well as the PowerPoint and video productions. Bishop Bill will launch this Statement at the Matthew Talbot Hostel on Friday night where the Diocese, along with CatholicCare and St Vincent de Paul will speak about what we are presently doing to provide accommodation and affordable housing, and where the gaps remain.

The place of the Church, or religion, in the community is vital, to give voice to the social conditions that leave people without – without housing, food, clothing, finances, family, health provisions, etc. I am saddened that sexual abuse in the churches and other community groups has contributed to the ‘destruction’ of the trust that people should be able to have in these organisations, whose main purpose is for the good of the community and its followers. One of our challenges is to provide evidence that we are bigger than the shame that has been placed upon us, that the message of Jesus is for all and makes a difference to the lives of those who believe and who are served by such a faith-filled community.

As humans we are at our best when we are respectful, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, honest, trusting, joyful, gentle, peaceful and patient; qualities which our scriptures and church teachings ask of us and teach us.

The second reading from the letter of St James (3:16 – 4:3) from the weekend speaks of the struggle we have from within us:

Wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done, whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it also makes for peace, and is kindly and considerate; full of compassion and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. Peacemakers, when they work for peace, sow the seeds which will bear fruit in holiness.

While at Mass on Sunday night, we sang the following hymn which spoke powerfully to me. Even though you won’t have the tune to sing it to, I think the words remind us of how we are meant to live and be. If you google it, I am sure you will find it on YouTube.

I hope this is what I am able to do and to be, especially with my own children and extended family. 

Put peace into each other’s hand

Put peace into each other’s hand
and like a treasure hold it;
protect it like a candle flame,
with tenderness enfold it.

Put peace into each other’s hand
with loving expectation;
be gentle in your words and ways,
in touch with God’s creation.

Put peace into each other’s hand
like bread we break for sharing;
look people warmly in the eye:
our life is meant for caring.

Give thanks for strong yet tender hands,
held out in trust and blessing.
Where words fall short, let hands speak out,
the heights of love expressing.

Reach out in friendship, stay with faith
In touch with those around you.
Put peace into each other’s hands:
the peace that sought and found you.

Words by Fred Kaan, copyright 1999 Hope Publishing Company

Once again I remind you of the Give Us A Sign campaign and its associated website and the messages you can read on this website. I hope you have seen some of these signs around on church and school signs. The Season of Creation comes to a close on 4 October. I have no doubt that we are one with each other and with our earth. All is sacred, and to be cared for in unity and community. Our bodies and the earth are temples of some higher realm, which we name as God, and for which we are custodians for the time we inherit them. We are then responsible for passing that inheritance onto the generations which follow us.

May you put peace into each other’s hands as your week unfolds.




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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.