A parishioner who is an alumnus of the London School of Economics (LSE) recently invited me to an alumni meeting in Sydney where the chaplain at the LSE Faith Centre, Anglican priest the Rev. Dr James Walters, talked to us about the work of the chaplaincy. In recent years LSE has developed a multi-million dollar Faith Centre with rooms for communal prayer, quiet prayer, consultation and social meetings. Why had a school founded by the Fabian Society in 1895 to further democracy and society's betterment through political influence invested in a significant religious space employing two chaplains?
NEWTOWN: The foundation stone of St Joseph’s Catholic Church was laid on July 31, 1866 and the building opened in May 23, 1869. It is a heritage listed building which holds a special place in the history of Newtown. The church is Gothic Sydney sandstone with original stained glass windows. The church stands for the 150 years of a church community committed to engagement with the local community.
Recently I had the privilege of hearing Joseph Wakim, an independent writer on human rights issues, founder of the Australian Arabic Council and former Victorian Multicultural Affairs Commissioner, speak about how ISIS gained its strength. The talk was provocatively titled “Who is helping ISIS?”
Recently, Chris Sidoti, the past Australian Human Rights Commissioner, lawyer, advocate, educator and activist, spoke at our church on the future of human rights in Australia. He spoke passionately about the shocking record of the last ten years when we have gone from “best practice” on issues of international treaties in the eyes of the world to a position of shame and ridicule internationally. This is due mainly to our record on those who seek asylum in this country and arrive here by sea.
Christmas is a wonderful time when celebrations, religious and secular, abound. Children and adults enjoy what we call in Australia “the holiday season”. Sometimes it comes as a shock that Christmas can be a time of challenge and heartache as relationships and friendships fray.
As our jet banked left to land at Lahore airport, I was feeling a little like Tin Tin on one of his exotic travel adventures about to turn into a mystery thriller. Watching Zero Dark Thirty on the flight from Sydney was, in hindsight, not a wise choice to inspire confidence. I was beginning to wonder whether I should have listened to those advising against accepting the invitation to visit a school in Hafizabad that the Barkat Foundation, of which I am a board member, has been supporting for five years.
Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, now a masterful film by Ang Lee, is about a boy who struggles to find his life’s meaning. As with all good personal search stories the metaphor is a journey. This one is from his family’s zoo in Pondicherry, French India, to Mexico via a shipwreck in the Pacific.
I have found this particularly challenging to know what to say about the tragedy of the destruction of people’s lives through the sexual abuse, especially of the young, by people representing the church. Priests are seen by society, and indeed by many Catholics, as the problem or a potential danger in this regard and thus the least qualified to speak. I have a real fear of making matters worse.
The Marrickville Multifaith Roundtable (MMR) is a small group of faith communities in the Marrickville Local Government Area that meets regularly to promote a better understanding between people of different faiths and denominations. It is represented by faith groups from Anglican, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Uniting Church traditions.