Home' Aurora : Aurora April 2012 Contents 10
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
"IFELT LEFT out a lot at school because
I wasn't the 'sporty' type. I think I work
so hard to try and bring more art into
schools so no other child has to endure
the loneliness or bullying that I experienced
because I was different," reflects 22 year
old Hillsborough resident, Michael Nolan.
2008 was a busy year for Michael who
completed his HSC, was school captain at
St Francis Xavier's College, Hamilton, and
a member of the diocesan Youth Advisory
Council, which planned and co-ordinated a
number of local World Youth Day activities.
"We were responsible for creating the World
Youth Day concert at Foreshore Park in
Newcastle. I was also lucky enough to sing
during the concert. Standing on the stage
looking out on the magnificent vista of
7,000 people all singing along with me is
an image I will never forget."
At 19, Michael spent a year working for
former Member for Newcastle and NSW
Cabinet Minister Jodi McKay MP. "I feel
blessed that I had the chance to work for
such a dedicated and passionate woman.
As an electorate officer my job was to
directly help the people who lived within
the Newcastle state electorate. We would
help homeless people find a place to sleep
that night, assist people with addictions,
provide information in response to
enquiries about local government and help
people with questions or concerns relating
to the state government.
"On 31 March 2011 Jodi released a
statement conceding the election to her
opponent. What many people don't know is
that Jodi's staff of three electorate officers
were out of a job too. We had a matter
of days to be out of the office with keys
handed over to the incoming member.
"I feel that we instigated more change
for the city of Newcastle in one day
than some people do in their lives,"
The desire to bring about change
and improve his community,
his society and the world is
evident through Michael's
remarkable contribution to a
number of voluntary pursuits.
His considerable efforts have
granted him the privilege of being
recognised as a Fellow of the
London-based Royal Society of Arts,
which entitles him to place the letters
FRSA after his name.
"I was thrilled to be accepted as a Fellow
of the Royal Society of the Arts. There are
only 27,000 Fellows around the world so
I am honoured to have been welcomed
into such a wonderful organisation. It's
all about helping people and raising
awareness of key problems the world
faces," explains Michael. "The
Society's Fellows use their individual
skills and talents to attempt to
break the systemic cycles of poverty
and lack of education in Third World
countries as well as in our own backyards.
I hope that I can instigate real change with
my Fellowship, using the resources and
knowledge base of the Royal Society."
Michael's application included an essay on
"what I could bring to the society and how
I would instigate change in my corner of
I'm sure the four character referees
interviewed by the Society would have had
plenty of evidence of Michael's commitment
to the arts and his local community to
"I am passionate about giving back to
the community. I am also interested in
fundraising and event management which
is why I combine all my passions to direct
and produce a charity concert every year.
"In previous years Singleton Hospital has
benefited with the money raised going
towards a new kidney dialysis machine. In
2010 Hunter Surf Life Saving received a
motorised beach wheelchair which cost
$25,000. Last year over $6,000 was
donated to the John Hunter Children's
Hospital for speciality equipment."
Michael believes "the most challenging
part of fundraising is getting the broader
community interested. Not everyone can
donate money and it's not just about trying
to get a handout. It's about educating
people, letting them know that there is
a problem or a need and getting them to
spread the word. All I ask is for people
as many people to the event as possible.
Some people volunteer their time and come
and sell tickets or snacks at interval or help
backstage and that's charity work too."
Michael is also "heavily involved in the
schools of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese
as well as in my own parish community,
St Philip's at Kotara South. I get involved
because I have hope that in some small
way I am bettering the community that I
take pride in belonging to by doing all I can
for it: from assisting with liturgies, music
and drama within our schools, to giving
time and helping raise funds for Catholic
Mission. I do everything I can because I
have the ability and there is a need."
Like many of his peers, Michael is very
aware of the shortcomings of the Church
and yearns for it to be different. Michael's
level of commitment is particularly inspiring
when you consider the difficulties he
acknowledges experiencing as part of a
small minority of young people who remain
actively involved in parish and diocesan
life. He says he feels a tremendous sense
of responsibility as part of such a small
group, and admits that he feels his faith
A statement by Margaret Mead sustains
Michael during difficult times: "Never
doubt that a small group of thoughtful and
committed citizens can change the world.
Why? Because it's the only thing that
Editor's Note: This month Michael is
performing in Opera Hunter's production of
Fiddler on the Roof at the Hunter School of
Performing Arts theatre in Broadmeadow.
thrilled to be
a Fellow of the
of the Arts.
By CATHERINE MAHONY
Michael and "Toby".
Links Archive Aurora March 2012 Aurora May 2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page