Home' Aurora : Aurora December 2013 Contents Corpus Christi Waratah was named Climate Cam Primary
School of the Year by Newcastle City Council. Pictured are
just some of the students involved with Sr Jenny Gerathy OP,
pastoral carer at the school.
(l-r) Bishop Bill Wright, Helen Belcher, Council for Australian
Catholic Women and Donella Johnston, Office for the
Participation of Women at a recent lunch for diocesan
women. See www.mn.catholic.org.au for gallery.
Kate Morrissey, a Year 2 student at St Therese's Primary, New
Lambton, was awarded a prestigious Prime Minister's NAIDOC
Medal of Excellence for her entry in the annual NAIDOC Week
Baden Ellis counts walking the camino,
the ancient pilgrims' track across France
and Spain, last year as one of the most
significant experiences of his life.
It's characteristic of Baden, 21, that he
planned everything. "Being a Scout, I knew
how far I would walk each day, how much
money I would need for each section, how
many cafés and bars there would be and
if there were none, how much food and
water I would need for that day. In my bag
was A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de
Santiago by John Brierley. I carried the
However, just like life, his plans soon went
awry. "On the second day, setting out just
before sunrise from Virgin del Camino and
following painted yellow arrows, walking
well-worn dirt paths and roads through
beautiful sunflower farms, we had a plan to
reach Villar de Mazarife, 14km away. At the
end of the day, a local farmer told us that
the pilgrim hostel was closed.
"I knew at that moment I wasn't going to
stick to this plan, and after all, this wasn't
my plan, it was God's plan. This became
more apparent as the pilgrimage unfolded."
Despite being a 'planner', Baden's
decision to walk the camino was all but
spontaneous. When he learned that his
friends, teachers Brian and Sue Morgan,
were plotting their third camino, he
impulsively asked if he could join them. "I
thought it would be a great opportunity,
and I've always enjoyed hiking. There's
something I love about walking, it's just you
and God's great land."
Faith in God's plan is a thread running
through Baden's life, although it's not always
been easy to maintain. Being a Catholic is
not just about 'going to Mass'; belonging
to a community that met at Mass (amongst
other gatherings) was nourishing for Baden.
He was an altar server for several years, and
used his musical talent to contribute to the
liturgy at St Francis Xavier's, Belmont.
Like many young people, he has
experienced criticism for putting what he
believed into practice. "Towards the end of
my primary school years I stopped going to
Mass because of the lack of young people
and the criticism I received."
A turning point for Baden was joining
Antioch, at the suggestion of his parish
priest, Fr Gerard Mackie. Antioch
supports young people in their faith
through community activities and mutual
support. Baden says, "I loved Antioch!
By the time WYD came around in 2008,
I was playing guitar at Mass and helping
prepare for Days in the Diocese. I was
beginning to feel needed."
He also became a Youth Vinnies leader, and
is currently on the organising committee for
An important part of Baden's journey has
been his work life, and the common thread
seems to be food! He began at a fast food
establishment that probably looms even
while walking the camino, and progressed
to working on his Dad, Brian's, hydroponic
lettuce farm in Queensland. After some
coursework, he found himself at the
Fishermen's Co-operative at Wickham.
Currently he's on contract work at
Daylesford but he will be back in
Work-life balance can be elusive
but Baden tries to maintain it.
Walking keeps him fit and he's
learning new skills all the time at
work. He has managed to attend
three World Youth Days (WYD),
ticking the social and spiritual
boxes at the same time.
I ask Baden what he's gained from WYD.
The answer's simple: "What haven't I
gained? Between WYD Sydney --- and
Antioch --- I found my faith (again). So I
guess you could say I gained everything.
"World Youth Day is one of the most
incredible experiences you could have.
I've gained something different each time.
Sydney (2008) opened my eyes to the
fact that there are other young people of
faith and it's pretty cool! Madrid (2011)
confirmed I was on the right faith path. This
year in Rio was a big eye opener --- there's
a lot to be done, it's time to go out and
help those in need.
"The most amazing part of WYD is the
profound effect it has. You come away asking
yourself, how can I make better use of it? "
This "better use" is something that
preoccupies Baden. He has a strong sense
of calling, and a young man he met on the
camino is partly responsible.
"I met many different people along the way,
but one man affected me more than anyone
else: 21 year-old Marcel, from Germany.
He started in St Jean Pier de Port, 500km
from where I began. He walked at a slow,
steady pace with a limp that would stop
most walking uphill, let alone ascending a
mountain. He had the brightest outlook and
nothing was going to stop him. His sense of
humour and optimism kept me going.
"Marcel returned a year later to walk a
second time. He helped me with my
struggle to find God's plan, just through his
determination to keep going.
"I feel God's asking me to put others
first and to encourage them as Marcel
encouraged me. I don't have all the answers
yet -- but I have the right questions."
Baden will no doubt experience another
camino because, "The lifestyle is something
I truly miss. Everything you need is on your
back and in your heart."
Meanwhile, he's walking the daily camino,
and I have every confidence Baden will
not only live his way into the answers to
his questions, but encourage others along
For more about 'Seven@Sacred Heart',
see page 21.
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
Everything you need is on
your back and in your heart
Baden Ellis rests his weary feet along 'the way'.
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
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