Pages

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Fr Peter's Thanksgiving Mass on Retirement

The Homily at Mass on July 28, 2017 on Fr Peter's Retirement



Exactly 20 years and six months ago I came to Newtown after Fr Jeremy Flynn disappeared in the Bass Strait. The Dominican friars had held the fort for about 6 months between Fr Flynn and myself.
I was keen to come to Newtown because I had wanted to work in the inner city and I was chaplain to the University of Technology, Sydney. The fit seemed right to the powers that were and to me.
Newtown offered a few challenges such as getting used to new arrangements, the closure of the primary school previously run by the Good Samaritan Sisters till the year I arrived and some liturgical innovation took some time to take off.
I found that soon gifts and possibilities emerged. The new approach to liturgy soon found a home at Newtown. Simplicity, accessible music, nourishing homilies, communion under both kinds and baptisms at Sunday Mass became valued by the parishioners. Children's First Communion and Confirmation and adults becoming Catholics were done simply and professionally.
Into this mix came the gift of LGBT Catholics. I had been a part of the ministry with LGBT Catholics for some years through my contact with the Friday Mass when it was celebrated at Elizabeth Bay. This group taught me something I had learned before in a different way from Aboriginal Australians in Redfern. I learnt that being different is something to celebrate - especially when discrimination dulls the heart. The antidote to discrimination, dispossession and disempowerment for Indigenous Australians is, where possible, to tell stories, laugh and have a cook up. I learned that difference does not have to end in fear and anxiety that casts the other as dangerous or the enemy.
I had already begun raising the consciousness of discrimination and 'othering' found so often  in Australia among the dominant culture. Combating this is the gospel response to the way we sometimes see Aborigines, women, asylum seekers, the poor, Muslims and divorced people. It was not such a long way to apply the same principle to LGBT Catholics. Parishioners welcomed LGBT Catholics their families and friends not just on Friday nights but at every level of parish life and it became accepted for people to be known as LGBT even to the extent of celebrating baptisms of gay couples at Sunday Mass.  I don't know if this shocked anyone but I never heard anyone from the Newtown faith community question the practice. LGBT Catholics are able to participate fully at every level of parish life. I learned that, like Aborigines, they wanted to be accepted as legitimate members with gifts to bring, not treated as clients of the church purely because of their sexual orientation.
LGBT Catholics are not the main game at Newtown but the way Newtown parish has accepted LGBT Catholics as members is significant as a living symbol of everything Newtown parish has come to be and stand for in my time here. It is this story that is repeated in the way the parish has supported those in need through the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Barkat Foundation, the Asylum Seeker Centre and our community outreach to such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous, the Turtle Lane Community Garden, the many projects engaging ecumenically and as multifaith in the broader community.  These and many more are not the "other" to be feared and kept at arm's length, but people to be included and honoured and valued as sisters and brothers.
It is this more than anything that I have valued in Newtown parish and it is the worshipping faith community that has been the container in which the giftedness of all, marginalised and discriminated against, has found a home, a faith family. It is this of which I am most proud because we have achieved this together and in a simple life-giving way.
We are a lot more than the things mentioned above. I must mention the Catholic Indonesian Community, the faithworks program, adult ecumenical faith groups, liturgical ministries and practical support in church care and liturgy preparation. These groups have enabled our ongoing life at faith, liturgy and personal levels.
It has been a wonderful journey. It's a story of God jealously favouring God's own - but God's own spread beyond our imagining. It's about us seeing the abundance of seed thrown around as in the Jesus' parable and carefully awaiting its fruiting spontaneously and without prejudice. 
I am very grateful to have been a part of this marvellous embodiment of the gospel. Thank you all for making it happen.  I wish you all the best in transition and into the future. You will always be in my prayer and heart.
Thankyou

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Parish Statement from Parish Future Meeting


ST JOSEPH’S NEWTOWN
A WELCOMING CATHOLIC FAITH COMMUNITY.
CELEBRATING DIVERSITY
AND
VALUING FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, PEACE, JUSTICE AND COMPASSION

Who we are and what we value
We acknowledge the Cadigal people of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which St Joseph’s stands. St Joseph’s aims to provide a safe place for all people to pray regardless of age, race, creed, gender, cultural background or sexual orientation.

We are a welcoming and inclusive faith community bringing our diverse life experiences, gifts and talents. We celebrate and value our diversity.
We are united in a strong faith committed to gospel values of love, hope, peace, justice and compassion.
 We are open, accepting and non-judgemental. Our faith community participate in ways of meaning to each of us. We do not demand conformity in how we participate.
 We celebrate liturgy with simplicity, grounded in our real world around us and utilising the diverse talents of our faith community.
 We value unity through difference and actively reach out to those marginalised in our Church.
 We offer hope, healing and reconciliation.
 We reach out to support and strengthen our community through interfaith, advocacy and making our facilities and resources available for wider community use.
 We are proud to provide a safe space and home through our ministry with LGBTI Catholics.
 We are actively committed to social justice in our community, our nation and our world.
 We value gathering together for conversations, discussion and social events. 

Faith “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”
A true “Catholic” parish
An inclusive, reality centred liturgy calling us to live the gospel in our lives
Respecting each other’s gifts
Active participation in liturgy through readers, special ministers and music
Supporting and encouraging the gospel in action through advocacy, social justice and ministry to the marginalised
Ecumenical, through shared Advent and Lent programs and special services

Love “Let all that you do be done in love.”
Inclusiveness and acceptance, all are created in the image of God and are our neighbour
Warmly welcoming all who wish to journey in faith, no matter what stage they are at
Special ministries to those who have been or feel excluded

Hope “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection.”
Authentic engagement with each other, valuing relationship, reconciliation and healing
Seeking to live the gospel message of hope through our liturgies and our inclusiveness, welcome and acceptance
Belief in the power of advocacy and social movements to achieve change
A positive “optimism”

Justice And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Advocacy
Active outreach to the marginalised in our church and in our community
Commitment to reconciliation with our Indigenous citizens
Practical support for asylum seekers and refugees
Ministry with LGBTI Catholics
Faithworks program
St Vincent de Paul
Making our parish facilities and resources available to groups working with and supporting people in need
Partnering with and building coalitions with others
Genuinely valuing diversity

Compassion “Love one another as I have loved you
Accepting people as they are
Acting in love and with empathy to affirm and care for others
Accompaniment, walking with, listening and sharing with others
Hospitality and welcome
Looking out for each other
Sharing ourselves and our parish resources with others

Our faith community “tree” has deep roots of faith, many strong branches of diversity and shade and shelter for all who seek to journey with us.
Developed with the Parish community May 2017
Download the document here


Thursday, 4 August 2016

An apology to LGBTIQ People


Recently the Pope said 'I believe that the Church ... should apologise
to the person who is gay.' We invite you to a community prayer
where we can recognise the failure of the church, God's people,
to keep LGBTIQ people safe from discrimination and hurt.

 On August 12, we celebrated a Liturgy of Lament and Apology.
(L-R) Justin Koonin, ACON President, Chris Pycroft, co-convenor NSW GLRL, Chris Pycroft,
Co-Convenor, Natalie Cooper, PFLAG Secretary Organization and Father Peter Maher.

 If you wish to download the liturgy we used, click here


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Sesquicentennary of the Laying of the Foundation Stone of St Joseph's Church

Sesquicentennary Report
at St Joseph's Church (cnr Bedford and Station Sts), Newtown
to mark the 150th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the church.
The Mass was a wonderful celebration of the many ways the church is used to support the local community and the Indonesian Catholic Community.

Below are pictures of the Mass, the plaque and the cake supplied by the Catholic Indonesian Community.





SESQUICENTENARY DINNER was held on Wednesday, 13 April, 2016. It was a wonderful occasion to celebrate the way the church building and basement has supported the faith community for 150 years.  
Sr Clare Condon sgs spoke about the historical and educational role of the building in the community. See full speech here
Fr Peter spoke about the current uses of the building to support a Post Vatican II vision of church embodied in the Newtown parish endeavouring to reach out with gospel values. See full speech here