August 2014

Dear sisters and brothers in the Union,
we are happy to present to you in this newsletter a sharing regarding the pastoral initiative called “A Light in the Night” in Ostia, Rome, prepared by Sr. Sheena Madathiparambil CSAC, along with other news from the Union.

When I arrived in Ostia in 2002, the Vicariate of Rome organised a week of mission for young people. I was able to participate, and it was a very important and enriching experience. In fact, a decision was taken, along with those leading it, to continue “a light in the night” every month. It was a way of meeting many young people and families and of inviting them into our church of St. Thérèse to remain before Jesus. This initiative was welcomed by my community as a call of the Lord and a blessing, and so we opened the doors of our hearts and of the church to Christ in order to allow our brothers and sisters to enter. Pope Francis is strongly urging us to become more and more aware of the new evangelisation, and this invitation is an opportunity for all to meet Christ, to bring to light the thirst which everyone has to encounter Truth within ourselves, to place our desires, our sufferings and our hopes into the heart of Christ. The encounter with Christ generally does not leave people indifferent; there is always a spark kindled, opening up a new path.

Everything begins with the leaders’ meeting: we meet in our Community of St. Therese, eating a pizza together, to share and tell each other about our lived experiences, dividing the tasks and, before beginning the vigil, we go into the church to share a moment of prayer.

Afterwards, the priest gives a mandate to the four groups: one for evangelisation, one for the music, one for welcoming and one for prayer. The group for evangelisation goes out to where young people gather to give the invitation, and those who accept it are accompanied to the church. Here the young people are welcomed by members of the other group who give each of them a piece of paper on which to write whatever their hearts suggest. Each person is accompanied before Jesus in the Eucharist with a nightlight in hand for a moment of prayer. They leave the piece of paper before the Lord and take another one containing a phrase from the Word of God. There are always priests available in the church to hear confessions.
In this experience we have found that there are young people and families who have not been in church for some time and have not confessed for years. In quest’esperienza abbiamo costatato che ci sono ragazzi o famiglie che da qualche tempo non entravano in chiesa e da anni non si confessavano. Here we see that the grace of God is ready to act when given the opportunity.

Whoever wishes may also leave their email address in order to receive news of the next meeting. All means are good for communicating and spreading the love of Christ, and we as Pallottines must interpret the signs of the times, collaborating with all who intend to work to make Christ and the Kingdom of God known.

In my experience I realised that for young people to fulfil themselves, they need to develop and mature in rationality and in freedom in order to be able to live in love. Sometimes a young person has a kind of crisis because of a friend being missing, or a small failure, or a lack of decision or the effort of trying to accept themselves as they are. Young people have difficulty accepting sacrifice and renunciation. Above all, they have a lot of fear of making definitive choices regarding their future. Listening to and understanding them better requires much patience, but above all, much love. Young people love being understood and loved, and feel the need for this. Contact with their families is necessary in order to understand them more fully. Great courage is needed in order to do everything with love as did our beloved Father Vincent Pallotti, and to always do everything for the glory of God.

The Annual Course in Pallottine Spirituality in which I had the grace to participate confirmed me more fully in my choice of life and in love for the Founder and for the spirituality which he left us as a gift.

My community and our fellow Pallottines found ourselves in this mission without having planned it and with little information, but love for our charism made us open and convinced us to take it on and make it our own.


The Australian NCC President, Cheryl Sullivan, writes: There are two happenings which I would like to share; the first, the death of two long-time members of the UAC, so a somewhat sad occasion, and the second a beginning, an evening where twenty one people enrolled to undertake formation in the UAC with the view of commitment. So, as so often in life, we have endings and new beginnings combining together.

Pat Heywood died on 16 July 2014. Many of you may remember her from the two UAC General Congresses, in Poland and Rome. Pat had spent more than fifty years of her life following the vision of Saint Vincent – as teacher/educator, contributor to her parish, friend to many. When the UAC was formally established with the promulgation of the General Statutes, Pat took the role as the Executive Officer of the UAC and established the annual Walter Silvester Lecture and developed the Saint Vincent Pallotti Scholarship Trust, which offers scholarships to lay people, enabling them to complete education, attend conferences, undertake a specific piece of work, all with the aim of enhancing the apostolic outcomes of those with whom they work. Pat worked in each of these roles with skill and diligence, always seeking new ways of bringing the life and charism of Saint Vincent alive within the diocese.
The second life I would like to reflect on is that of Betty Spence. Betty died on 26 May 2014, again a woman who had followed the charism of Saint Vincent for most of her more than ninety years of life. She was a wife and a mother, and a friend to many. Betty and her husband Jim (who predeceased her) worked for many years at Pallotti College Millgrove and continued to live in the area, assisting and participating in the life and works of the college. Her apostolic life was lived in her own neighbourhood, constantly reaching out to all who came in contact with her; indeed it was rare to visit Betty’s home without finding others there and she had an amazing listening ear. One of Betty’s sayings quoted in her Mass booklet stated: “My house is small – No mansion for a millionaire – But there is room for love – And there is room for friends – That’s all I care”. Not seeing Betty at the Sunday Eucharist at Pallotti College is a poignant reminder of her faithful and love-filled life. So, two women, living their lives so differently and fully, each were following their specific vocation in the spirit of Saint Vincent. When Saint Vincent wrote “Never relent in your apostolic work. If you do that you work out of obligation rather than out of love”, I think it was people like Pat and Betty that he had in mind. Both women certainly lived their lives in the apostolate, working out of love.
On a different note, on Sunday 17 August, a group of over thirty people gathered at St. Christopher’s parish Syndal, a Pallottine Parish for many years with parishioners well imbued with the spirit of Saint Vincent, for an event titled “Come and See the UAC”. Lorraine, the UAC formation worker, encouraged us to hold such an evening to invite people who already had this knowledge of Vincent to hear more, and to offer them an opportunity to undertake formation with the intention of considering making a commitment to become a formal member of the Union. The invitations were sent broadly to people in other SAC-ministered parishes and on the night over thirty people gathered. The evening events outlined the charism of Saint Vincent and the UAC’s integral role in his vision, an overview of the formation process and a shared meal. Over twenty people indicated their wish to participate in the formation process – so an exciting new time for us in Australia, as we pray that with this formation many more will recognise their specific vocation and in turn continue to being the love of God to all they meet. Let us continue to pray for and with each other.

The annual meeting of the Union was held from June 6th to 9th, during the weekend of Pentecost, at the Bethany Retreat Centre, near the Pallottine Merciful Saviour Parish in Yopougon, Abidjan. It was attended by about 25 members of the Union, members of local councils from Yamoussoukro, Grand Bereby and Yopougon, who gathered to pray and reflect on the life of the Union in days marked by prayer and training sessions.

There were three presentations during this session. The first, given by Fr. Franck Allatin SAC, outlined the foundations of a fruitful apostolate: union and configuration to Christ, a strong conviction and vision, knowledge of the cultural environment where the apostolate is exercised and the research and development of skills. Further reflection and discussion regarding this topic was undertaken in workshops. The second was given by Fr. Gerard Kamegeri SAC, who presented the different aspects of Pallottine spirituality with an emphasis on the theme of the sequela Christi (the following of Christ). The third was animated by Fr. Zenon Bazan SAC, who spoke about the crises in the various stages of human maturity.
After the sessions, participants spoke of the life of the Union in general. Each local community presented a report on their challenges, projects and activities. Some of the local councils are developing well through the enrolment of new members, whereas that of Yamoussoukro is losing motivation. After these reports, the office of the NCC presented its annual and financial report, which was approved by the Assembly. The report noted the difficulty for all the NCC members to meet given the remoteness of their places of residence and the resulting cost entailed in such encounters.

One of the main benefits of this annual session is the choice of a common theme for all of the Union in the Ivory Coast. Following exchanges, the theme chosen for this year is: “Family, place of evangelization and sanctification”. It is up to each LCC to organise activities and training sessions that focus on the family. Thus, at the next annual meeting, we will take stock of what was achieved in each entity.

The three new members of the UAC who made their act of apostolic commitment last January, Mr. Alexis Kolga, Mr. Maurice Kentega and Mr. Elie Zongo, all from Grand Bereby, were presented during this annual meeting. Grand Bereby LCC therefore received encouragement from the whole assembly, since they remain faithful to their commitment despite exercising their apostolate in extremely difficult conditions.

At the end of three days of prayer and reflection, participants were encouraged by the NCC President Mrs. Christine Boussou, to keep alive the Pallottine charism while taking into account the realities of our country. Next year’s annual session will be held in Yamoussoukro at the same time of the year.


God In His Mercy Inspired Me – Derry Murphy sac


“God, in his mercy, inspired me…” 

A recent edition of the Asian-Oceania E-Bulletin focused on the Divine Mercy devotion. Reading Fr Stanislas Filipek’s article on the effect God’s mercy had in the heart and soul of a young man who had been badly scarred during the genocide I thought of Vincent Pallotti and his experience of God’s mercy.


An incident in St Vincent’s life that stands out for me took place in Camaldoli in July 1839. Vincent went to the monastery on 10 July to recuperate and remained there until 28 Oct. He recorded his experience in these words: 

“It was in 1839 and … Jesus Christ wished to show me mercy ….I left for the hermitage of the Camaldolese Monks near Frascati with the trust and confidence that God had disposed to give me in that hermitage, the graces and the illuminations which I was in need of, in order to write on the Society (Union) of Catholic Apostolate; this confidence and trust was upheld by the obedience I showed to my confessor ….  On arrival at the hermitage God in his mercy inspired me to attend seriously during the course of several days to a reordering of my poor spirit, and so I found myself immersed in an immense sea of divine mercy.”

Vincent wrote powerfully of his experience of God’s infinite mercy and love and of the transforming effect it had throughout the remainder of his life. He could later pray:

“My Jesus (…) make me always aware of and experience my nothingness, so that I may be all you, lost in you, transformed in you, in the Father, in the Holy Spirit and that I may be all of your attributes, of your will and of your love”.

A poem on the mercy of God by the late Jessica Powers (Sr Miriam of the Holy Spirit) has also struck a chord with me:

The Mercy of God 

I am copying down in a book from my heart’s archives

the day that I ceased to fear God with a shadow fear.

Would you name it the day that I measured my column of virtue

and sighted through windows of merit a crown that was near?

Ah, no, it was rather the day I began to see truly

that I came forth from nothing and ever toward nothingness tend,

that the works of my hands are a foolishness wrought in the presence

of the worthiest king in kingdom that never shall end.

I rose up from the acres of self that I tended with passion

and defended with flurries of pride;

I walked out of myself and went into the woods of God’s mercy,

and here I abide.

There is greenness and calmness and coolness, a soft leafy covering

from the judgment of sun overhead,

and the hush of His peace, and the moss of His mercy to tread.

I have naught but my will seeking God; even love burning in me

is a fragment of infinite loving and never my own.

and I fear God no more; I go forward to wander forever

in the wilderness made of His infinite mercy alone.


In this poem, Sr. Miriam with the deft brush-strokes of an artist uses words to evoke visual images.  I like Vincent’s image of being immersed in a sea of divine mercy and Miriam’s  lovely image of walking out of self and into the woods of God’s mercy and abiding there.


Derry Murphy sac [IR] – Dublin – IRELAND





Elizabeth Sanna: A Reputation For Sanctity by Jan Korycki sac


she died with a reputation for sanctity…

Elisabetta Sanna was born in 1788 in Sardinia. She died with a reputation of sanctity in Rome on 17 Feb 1857 and was buried in the Church of SS Salvatore in Onda. Soon afterwards the recognition of her holiness became very evident, so much so that in just four months, on 15 Jun 1857, her cause for beatification was initiated. St Vincent Pallotti had been her spiritual directer for 18 years and regarded her highly.

As an infant Elisabetta contracted smallpox when she was just three months old. The result of this was that she was never able to raise her arms. She was able to move her fingers and wrists but could not bring food to her mouth with her hands, nor could she make the sign of the Cross. Neither could she comb her hair, wash her face nor change her clothes. She could however knead bread, place things in the oven and remove them from it and raised five children.

Despite her physical disability marriage was proposed to her and it was a very happy marriage. Seven children were born to them, two of whom died soon after birth. Together with her own children Elisabetta educated other children of the town teaching them catechism and preparing them for the sacraments. Her house was open to all women who wanted to learn hymns and prayers. Her husband died at the beginning of 1825 after seventeen years of marriage and she assumed full responsibility for the family and the administration of the home.

While growing in the spiritual life, Elisabetta was influenced by a Lenten preacher and decided to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land together with her confessor, Fr Giuseppe Valle. Thinking that her absence would be a short one she entrusted the care of her children to her mother and her brother who was a priest. She also sought the help of a niece and some neighbours. The two pilgrims had difficulty in getting a visa for the Orient and had to abandon the planned journey in Genoa. They then went to Rome as pilgrims.

Because of serious physical ailments Elisabetta was unable to return to Sardinia. She entrusted herself to the spiritual direction of Vincent Pallotti who contacted her brother, Fr Antonio Luigi, to inform him that his sister could not undertake the journey by sea but would do so as soon as she was better. However her ailments increased year by year and Elisabetta was obliged to remain in Rome.

Elisabetta suffered greatly because of the separation from her family. She wept a great deal but was not discouraged. Instead she entrusted herself to God, accepted this new situation and served others while remaining faithful to the teachings of the gospel and of the Church. She was often to be found visiting the sick and bringing comfort to them in the Hospital for Incurables, and in private homes. She knitted and the money she received for her work and the gifts given to her were used to help the poor and also the orphans in the two houses founded by Pallotti. She sought to bring peace to families, to convert sinners, she prepared the sick to receive the sacraments, and she took care of the altar linens and decoration of the Church of SS Salvatore in Onda. She participated in several Masses each day, in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and would pray with visitors in her room as many people came to her for advice. St Vincent and the first Pallottines also sought counsel from her.

Pallotti often stressed the merits of Elisabetta with regard to the UAC. Fr Vaccari reports: “Our Institute has been carried forward up to now by two persons; a poor woman, Elisabetta Sanna, whom you have heard of many times from Fr Vincent Pallotti, and by Cardinal Lambruschini” (Summarium, Rome 1910, p. 145, par. 33). She witnessed the foundation of the UAC and followed its development for 22 years up to the time of her death.

The cause of her beatification continues. We wait in hope for a clear miraculous sign obtained through the intercession of Venerable Elisabetta which fulfils all the criteria requested by the Holy See. Recently a case of healing which has certain indications of being a miracle was examined. Numerous persons pray with trust that it be recognized as miraculous or that the Lord give another sign.

It is also important to make known the life and virtues of this Servant of God.

Jan Korycki sac – Rome – ITALY

Help Us To Keep On Keeping On – Dr Patricia Heywood


help us to keep on keeping on…

Dr Patricia Heywood, whose almost six decades in the Australian Pallottine Family included a term as inaugural Executive Officer of the UAC, died recently in Melbourne. Pat, as she was known in her many roles, was active in the UAC from her introduction to the charism of St Vincent Pallotti in the 1950s (!) until her death, from cancer, on 16 July.

Pat Heywood was one of many Australians who spent decades serving the UAC – before that acronym was recognised – after her introduction to Pallottine spirituality through apostolic groups that flourished in Melbourne in the 1950s and 1960s, fostered by priests such as Fr Walter Silvester sac.

In her last decade of life she instigated a free annual public lecture, named in honour of Fr Walter and held in conjunction with Australian Catholic University (ACU). This has developed since 2007 and attracted lecturers including Archbishop Mark Coleridge, then of Canberra-Goulburn; Dr Donna Orsuto, co-founder and Director of the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas in Rome and Professor at the Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Gregorian University; former Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr Tim Fischer; and Fr Frank Donio sac, Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center in Washington DC. This year’s event will include a tribute to her.

The establishment of this lecture, designed to make Pallottine spirituality more widely known in the Church, illustrated several of Pat’s qualities – inspiration, perseverance, a desire to educate and a keen sense of collaboration with others. She sought advice from Melbourne’s Office for Evangelisation, whose Helder Camara Lecture Series on Social Justice have been a well-established feature of life in the local church for almost 30 years and worked hard to make her own project a fixture in the Melbourne Catholic calendar.

The Walter Silvester Memorial Lecture was only one of Pat’s UAC apostolates. She was also a key figure in the St Vincent Pallotti Scholarship for Lay Ministry, which offers financial and prayerful support to people wishing to study or work in this area; the development of a formation program in the Australian SAC/UAC context; the establishment of a spirituality team; and Remember in November, an initiative to gather people, many of them with a long association with the Pallottines, in the month of the Holy Souls to pray for those who have died. It is centred on a celebration of the Eucharist, at which is featured a book recording those who have passed away.

Following a Catholic primary and secondary education she completed a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma of Education at Melbourne University and a Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Monash University. She majored in English and History, with theses on The Nature of Religious Belief and Its Bearing on Education in 1975 and Elementary Education in Port Phillip, 1836-1851, the latter exploring early schooling in the earliest days of colonial Melbourne. She then went on to teach at a girl’s school, followed by many years forming prospective teachers at Mercy College. As was noted in the days after her passing: “She was a born teacher … She had a desire and also the ability to transmit the message she wanted to.”

While her life was spent in Melbourne and its surrounds, she was a keen traveller, with a special affection for Japan. In recent years, she visited the Holy Land and also travelled widely within Australia.

Pat asked that there be no eulogy at her funeral Mass. Instead her last contribution to the Pallottine Family Newsletter was read, in which she recalled an advertisement for a paint company that used the slogan: “Keeps on keeping on”.

“According to Christians, each person’s basic design and materials are God-given, but maintenance and improvement are collaborative,” Pat wrote. “In our lives then, it’s good to check with the Maker and plan together for the future. What area(s) of my life need attention? Is there a special ‘colour’ I’m being asked to use?” She concluded with a prayer:

Lord of our lives, help us to keep on keeping on.

Thank you for different coloured blessings you give.

Grant us a share in Your faithfulness of love

That we too may renew the world

With all our sisters and brothers

Each day, every day praising and

Blessing, seeking and finding,

On and on.

Mark Brolly – Melbourne – AUSTRALIA


The Path Of Hope For Rwanda by Stanislas Filipek sac


“The art ofmercyis toknow how to drawgood from evil” – JP II

– the path of hope for Rwanda

I experienced the atrocities of war and genocide in Rwanda. As we all shared in what was unfolding around us we said that hell had opened its doors and the devils were out! The genocide in Rwanda had been planned and well prepared despite the presence of UN peacekeeping troops already for a year.

As a consequence of those tragic events, of genocide and war, with so many physical and spiritual wounds, so much pain and suffering, so many crosses, the reconciliation process is very long and almost impossible.

Despite this we can use it as a stimulus for acts of charity and mercy, and thus we can at least open a door to reconciliation. The words of St John Paul II – ‘The art ofmercyis toknow how to drawgood from evil’ –inspire us to fall back on spiritual values and promote whatever pastoral initiatives we can towards reconciliation and forgiveness.


  pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at Kabuga 

That is why the Pallottine family decided to organize a Shrine of Divine Mercy in Kabuga. Back in 2010 the Sanctuary organized a Congress on Divine Mercy. The objectives to come out of that Congress can be summed up in its theme: ‘The divine mercy as an antidote to the evil ravaging our society’. 

This Congress was able to gather 550 people from the three countries of the Region: Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. By its closure there were many Bishops, priests, religious and more than 7000 faithful. What emerged were 9 popular missions in various parishes of the city of Kigali during the evening, where more than 13,000 people attended! This is truly a kind of New Evangelization.

The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy with its program helps the christians of Rwanda to associate their daily passion and suffering to the passion of Christ, to find new strength and a will to live as brothers and sisters – Come to me all you who are exhausted and overburdened. And I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11, 28). Every Friday we celebrate the Way of the Cross.

It is at Calvary that Jesus shows us his great love and the mercy of the Father. There we learn that Jesus took upon his shoulders all the evil that affects humanity. He was buried in the tomb and in the tomb Jesus buried all evil. The tomb tells us that God is able to draw good from evil. We are called to do the same: to draw good from evil.


prayer time in the chapel of the tomb of Jesus

The number of faithful attending the Sanctuary increases, with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as the main activity. Every day from 14:30 to 15:00 there is adoration, confession, the hour of Divine Mercy followed by the Eucharist.

I would like to share a story that shows how an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist can be a source of inner healing and a path to hope:

In 1996 we started to build a Center for Reconciliation of the Merciful Jesus, with a chapel of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, in Ruhango. Once, travelling from there to Kigali, I brought in my car someone who used to provide technical assistance to this project, a young man of 28 years. During the way we talked, and listened to a radio program that commented on the genocide with a lot of hatred against Hutu, even inciting revenge! I discovered that the man who was with me was a Hutu and that his family had been exterminated.

I asked him: “When you hear that sort of thing on the radio what are your feelings, how do you react?” And he replied: “At the beginning I was like a madman, I did not know what to do; I felt anger and a desire for revenge rising against those who killed my family. Fortunately, I later met a friend who invited me to a daily hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The first time I felt very upset, I wanted to flee the chapel, but out of respect for my friend I tried to spend that time. I accompanied him during the following days and, after some time, an inner peace returned to my heart and up until now I have remained faithful to adoration. Incentives for revenge have no more impact on me because I am reconciled with God and with myself – and I have forgiven others”.

Stanislas Filipek sac [SF] – Kabuga – RWANDA


a monologue with the sons of Zebedee…Joe Kallani sac


Dear disciples, James and John, from the Gospel accounts I realise that you both have a very close and compact family, blessed in many ways.

zebedeeYour father, Zebedee, comes across as a hardworking and enterprising fisherman who owned at least one fishing boat and employed more than one worker. You both laboured along with your father who built up a successful family business. Some think that your father supplied fish to the high and mighty in Jerusalem and also owned a house in that capital city, maybe even personally knew Caiaphas, the High Priest.

Your mother, Salome (?), wanted you both to climb up the ladder of power and position. You both enlisted her support and entreated of Jesus a privileged position in His kingdom.

It is heartening to see that you both had a very healthy relationship with your father and had a very personal and persuasive closeness to your mother. She must have been a very courageous woman, to walk up to Jesus and make that request for her sons.

To some extent I feel envious of your closely knit family, both really fortunate and blessed to have had such a healthy childhood enjoying the loving presence and caring support of parents. Looking at my life, my father was a hard working farmer but depressed after the untimely death of his wife and my mother. I wasn’t even two months old when we lost her. Now you know why am I a bit envious of you!

Yet I am glad for you that you had a happy family and a healthy childhood. The Lord must have liked your hardworking, ambitious, and forthright approach to life. No wonder he groomed you both to be a part of his inner circle along with Peter. Despite the Lord denying your request, you both stuck with him as he helped you to grow and to see the stark realities of life. He helped you both and you cooperated with him. And as a result, your relationship with the Master grew closer and deeper.

Once along with your Master, on your way to Jerusalem, when the inhospitable Samaritans blocked your Master’s way, you wanted fire from heaven to come down and set them ablaze. As I look back to into my own past, I have had multiple instances where I was intolerant towards people and to ideas which were opposed or even different from mine. And I made known my intolerance through rough words and rude actions. I brooked no opposition…so much for me!

On a number of important occasions you were both there with your Master – when He raised the daughter of Jairus, when he experienced the glory of Transfiguration, when you witnessed his agonizing hours in Gethsemani. You never, even in your wildest dreams, thought that your desire to sit at the right and left of your Master would take you to Gethsemani and Calvary, did you!

Though Jesus, your Master, had turned down your request, you became neither angry nor depressed. Otherwise you wouldn’t have followed Him. You would have rather left him. You both accepted His call and followed Him for over three plus years.

And your approach to life changed. I am amazed at the way you both followed him to Gethsemani and accepted the tragic realities of Calvary. You grew by leaps and bounds out of your initial unbridled ambition. You both grew out of your inclination to violence in the face of obstacles and opposition.

Looking into myself, though close to becoming a seventy year old priest, my growth is rather stunted, my dreams are still infantile, and am often addicted to and stuck with my selfish ambition.

I want to grow up like you even in these sunset years of my life. I want to go through – and grow up through – my Gethsemani and Calvary and to experience and enjoy the bliss of Transfiguration and Resurrection.

Lord Jesus, You never ever scolded them for their raw ambition and the indignant intolerance of their youth. Instead, you accepted them patiently and helped them grow by challenging them to drink the cup, the cup of suffering. And they did!

Lord Jesus, while you were patient with them just for three plus years, in my case you have been accepting of me  and been patient with me for well close to seventy years! Incredible indeed!

While James and John kept growing up fast, my growth is still at a snail’s pace! While they grew from being ambitious disciples into ardent apostles, I am still struggling to be a disciple! That’s most of me!!!

Lord Jesus, thank you for being patient with me all through these years of my life. As I look back innumerable are the occasions when you have shown immense patience towards me. Time and again you have been very patient with my unbecoming behaviours. You continue to be patient with me even now. You haven’t given up on me have you? I know you haven’t!

It makes me humble and challenges me to keep growing at a faster pace. I had better speed up as I am in the last lap of life.…I shall…

Lord, now I wish to spend some time in silence and listen to what you want to say to me. Surely you must have a lot to tell me? “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening”.

Dear disciples James and John, after listening to the Lord I want to listen to you as well…keep telling me your story of your transforming growth.

Joe Kallani sac [NA] – Cochin – INDIA


Aisan Bulletin #132

I’m an ordinary sort of person… Judith Lynch


I’m an ordinary sort of person and that’s how I find God; disguised in the ordinary of my life. That’s my vocation too – helping others to recognise God in their ordinary. 


At some point in my early teens, just when I was discovering there was more to the opposite sex than beneath-my-notice little brothers, I fell in love with God. Which is why, aged 16, wearing a fetching little hat and my first pair of high heels, I left my weeping parents and chuffed off to be a nun.

While the rest of my class prepared to be nurses, teachers or secretaries, I was one of the chosen ones! In the terminology of the day, I had a vocation. Nobody questioned it, least of all me. In the family photo album there is a shot of my mother and me taken the day of my first vows. There I am, all flowing black and white, my 18-year-old face encircled by a stiff coif, and there’s my mum in a smart, tight-fitting suit, spike heels and red nails.

That picture captures something of what I understand about vocation. It’s a trust in something way bigger than the imagination can capture. In its first heady romantic moments it makes light of the cost. That’s why my mother’s spike heels and red nails didn’t stand a chance against God. Vocation is not about the what, but the Who.

My God-dream carried me through teacher-training and 12 years on Aboriginal settlements. I survived sand fly bites, the heat and living in communities of three or four women. I loved outback teaching and something about the wide open spaces of the Northern Territory touched a place in me that I didn’t yet know was there. But by my early 30s, I knew it was time to take me and my vocation somewhere else.

A Michael Leunig cartoon says, “You can’t lose the plot; it’s stuck to you!” So is vocation – God’s plot, if you like. I thought I’d left my vocation along with my neatly-folded habit. What really happened was that it took a back seat while I earned a living teaching grade fours, learnt to drive and discovered the joys of shopping.

God waited for me to catch up. Years of formal morning meditations hadn’t exactly honed my love of Scripture. A semester of Scripture studies did. I realised that I loved teaching and now I loved Scripture too. So I combined the two in a Good Samaritan venture called the Motor Mission, taking the Gospel and sacramental preparation into Government schools and after-school classes, as well as writing for “Let’s Go Together”, a diocesan religious education program. God had a finger on my creative bent and I found that exciting. As Jeremiah said, “You have seduced me Lord…” (Jeremiah 20:7).

In my spare time I met Terry. Marriage followed but the longed-for babies didn’t. We placed it in God’s hands, and God answered with the gentle suggestion that maybe we could look outside the square. We did, and one unforgettable weekend, three shy children, siblings, in need of permanent care, came to enrich our lives and leave my ‘anything-for-a-quiet-life’ husband wondering what marrying me had got him into.

Within a couple of years they were joined by first, one baby girl, who died in early infancy, then another, both of them gifted to us by brave young women who knew they were unable to care for their child. Now, many years on, their children call me Nana.

I knew that being a wife, a teacher, a mother, was vocation in itself, but Vatican II had blossomed into a multitude of possibilities for women and men who meant it when they called themselves Church. So I waited and listened and worked behind a counter. Before his increasing weakness was eventually diagnosed as MND (Motor Neuron Disease), my husband had followed his dream and bought a country store. It wasn’t my dream, but teaching catechetics in that small tourist town eventually led to my 17 years as a parish pastoral associate (PA).

Once the parish recovered from the shock that I was Mrs, not Sister, I settled in as a PA, leading Gospel discussion groups, writing inclusive liturgies, co-ordinating the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and having fun with “Ripples”, a family based religious education program. The opportunity to participate in a two-year program called “Siloam”, culminated in my accreditation as a spiritual director. My seductive God was at work again and Sophia Circle, for women who wanted to explore their spirituality, resulted.

Terry had died, the children had left home, and suddenly it was time to retire. In an inspired gesture, my youngest brother offered to build me a website as a combined birthday-retirement present. And so Tarella Spirituality was born. Now writer is added to my biographical details.

I’m an ordinary sort of person and that’s how I find God; disguised in the ordinary of my life. That’s my vocation too – helping others to recognise God in their ordinary. It means deep inner listening, lots of waiting, being silent enough to hear God gently whispering invitations and challenges, learning to take risks even when your loved ones don’t understand. And it will never make me rich.

And so my love affair with God goes on. Next… ?

Judith Lynch – Warrandyte – AUSTRALIA


Aisan Bulletin #132