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www.mn.catholic.org.au | Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle |
What's a life for?
What's a life for?
A discernment weekend for single men, 19-40 years.
This weekend is offered regularly and begins on a Friday night and includes prayer,
meditation, reflection and self discovery.
It is designed to help discern life: Married, Single, Religious, Priest...
To make a booking or chat further please call
Fr Chris McPhee msc 0419 149 793 or 4630 0127
St Mary's Towers, Douglas Park NSW
FOR MOST PEOPLE, two of the happiest
and most celebrated days on the
calendar are Mothers Day and Christmas
Day. But for me, those special days are
two of my darkest days.
Don't get me wrong, I love to spoil my
mum on her special day and to host a
combined family breakfast on Christmas
morning. But as half of a childless couple
(Michael being the other half), I feel the
pain and emptiness of not having my own
children to share special moments with.
Generally comments and opinions of
others, whatever the subject, pale into the
ether and don't impact me. But it hurts
when people say 'Christmas is only for
kids' or when society encourages some
to enquire 'when will you be starting
Having grown up in a Catholic family
and believing that marriage is about
procreation, I felt like a failure when
after so many tests I was told 'you won't
be able to have children'. This seemed
against everything I had been taught at
both a Catholic school and in church. Why
then did God make me?
Michael and I endured many harsh
comments from people who believed
we were too selfish and materialistic to
share our lifestyle with children. Others
would taunt us with 'you're so lucky that
you can come and go as you like'. 'Lucky'
wasn't a word that came to mind in my
Eventually when I thought I was
comfortable with my situation I responded
by telling people I was unable to
have children. My comments usually
shattered the speaker but dispelled their
But did I really accept my situation? I
involved myself in committees, trained
sporting groups, never said 'no' to any
request and basically ran from the reality
of the situation.
We were excluded from adoption because
I suffered anorexia when I was in my late
teens (fortunately adoption laws are now
more compassionate). We worked with the
CentaCare Foster Care team and whilst we
enjoyed many happy experiences, giving
the child back was too hurtful.
I never turned away from the church. I
didn't blame God for my situation but
searched for meaning for my existence,
but there didn't seem to be any answers.
On my 50th birthday I made an
appointment at the fertility clinic. I needed
one last attempt and hoped that advanced
techniques and research may have offered
me some hope. Wrong! The specialist told
me my chances were 'nil, zero, zilch! Go
Helene O Neill shares her personal story, her family story
Former Newcastle Councillor and local sports identity Helene O Neill
reflects on what it s like to be told she couldn t have children,
society s expectations, and her eventual acceptance.
home and get on with your life'.
That was red flag stuff! I almost accepted
the specialist's recommendation. Almost!
My search for meaning continued until three
years ago when I was diagnosed with an
endometrial cancer. The affected organs had
never been used and now they were going to be
removed! This however wasn't to be the end of my
world. In fact the diagnosis provided closure, at
least physically. I knew now that my chances of
ever conceiving were gone.
Emotionally it was also the beginning of a new life
and I accepted the hand God dealt me. I'm in a
happy place right now. I'm president of Blackbutt
South PPC as the church needs true believers to
move it along; my workplace brings me lots of joy;
I enjoy my own company especially when pursuing
physical exercise and I'm part of a national
consumer group that presents workshops around
Australia to cancer sufferers and survivors.
My greatest support comes from Michael who
also feels the pain but together we know we are a
family rather than a childless couple.
I will always shed a tear on Mothers' Day or
Christmas Day. Not for me, but for those who feel
the pain I once endured and who struggle with a
battle to accept their childless situation.
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