Home' Aurora : Aurora July 2014 Contents 16
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
Sacred Hear t Cathedr al. I sit waiting, my
sponsors close by. Excited, I watch pews
fill - the middle-aged, the elderly, many
with walking sticks , couples with young
Their greetings flow, war m and sincere.
This is family - my family - all here to take
par t in the symbolism, the ritual of fire, air,
ear th and water - the dramatic impact of
the Pa schal Vigil.
Recently I was asked what had attr acted
me to the Catholic Church.
A big question!
Images flashed by.
Pageantry, procession, incense, the
nourishment of the Eucharist, Gospel
readings and homilies with words I'd
needed on that par ticular day, a message
in a bulletin on 'forgiveness' that had
paved my way for ward toward a personal
A glass filled with water sitting on the
bottom step of St Mary's most Sunday
mornings. Water car ried down by a
kindly parishioner for my pal John, a man
who prefer s to sit outside awaiting his call
to come for Communion.
John comes, 'as he is', kneels, receives
the sacrament, returns to his place of
comfor t on the steps, leaving many there
enriched, not only by his presence but
most of all, the Church's acceptance of
this break from conformity.
"God is in the attention to detail and in
the loving of the needy."
The words of Laurence Freeman OSB
ring tr ue at St Mary's along with the most
power ful image of all, his analogy of the
church and its structure as the timber
sur rounding a window of stained glass and
the impor tance of looking through, on
past the stains, to the light shining beyond.
This is the Church I now belong to, for
better or for wor se, in all its beauty and
bounty, fault and failing, and mystery.
SEASONS OF GRACE
It's Holy Saturday 2013, Vigil Mass, Sacred
Hear t Cathedral; my friend and I speak
in whisper s befor e the ser vice. I say I
wish I was able to receive the Eucharist
this year; how I now find it so difficult
just to sit while others brush by me. I
wonder, if I joined them, would anyone
know I was not Catholic? Wise-woman
Jane mur mur s a few words of prudence.
"Well, you could, but perhaps it would be
better to wait until you are."
I do wait; a Catholic-in-waiting, knowing
there will be a time of readiness , a time to
take the next step.
This step would be reception into the
Roman Catholic Church, knowing that
this measure could possibly become
one of the most impor tant and per sonal
decisions I would ever make.
I remember another Easter, fifty year s
ago, an open Sacred Hear t Church, a pew
in the back row, where my companion
and I had sat alone. He, grieving the loss
of a family member over seas; me, wide-
eyed, in awe, a Protestant in a Catholic
Church, filled with apprehension that a
priest could walk in at any moment and
know immediately I was not one of his
The vivid memor y of that fir st visit has
stayed with me; the majesty, the peace,
my instant awareness of a great 'at-
homeness', a feeling of reassur ance and
As a Methodist, I'd been well-Sunday
schooled, enjoying all the picnics , clubs
and social activities offered. I rarely had
the oppor tunity to meet a Catholic, let
alone walk into a cathedr al.
In my late teens, for a number of reasons,
like so many, I tur ned away from any
church and religious instruction, deciding
to drift, to 'do it alone'. However, I
was still conscious of a latent sense
of searching, a need for direction, for
About thir ty year s ago, I began attending
Ma ss; always a back pew, near a door,
never quite knowing when to stand
or when to sit, but with an incr easing
realisation that one day I would become
a Catholic. I knew without r eally knowing
why, and always had a sensation of being
pulled, from above. Perhaps the Catholic
genes of my long-deceased gr andma
from Ballarat were star ting to kick in ? But
where would I begin?
Happenstance led me to the parish of
Newcastle where there wer e people I
could question, be open with, and be
guided by in my spiritual journey.
There I wandered for another seven
year s, mumbling about becoming
Catholic, ever mindful that I wasn't
actually doing any thing about it, ever
conscious of something intangible blocking
me. It would happen, but when?
Late in 2013, two significant doors in my
life closed, allowing the dust of the past
to settle. Not only did I know I wa s ready,
I knew that it was impor tant for this
formal procedure to take place before the
In hindsight, the ceremony on 15
December (2013) seems like a hastily
arranged marriage! I needed a church,
a priest, sponsors, guests, an available
restaur ant to celebr ate the occa sion;
I needed to find words for my fir st
confession, choose a confir mation name
and appreciate fully the profession of faith.
Ama zingly, every thing fell into place
within a few hour s.
Father Geoff Mulhearn, a priest whose
suppor t I'd valued for many year s, would
preside. Sister Carmel Moore of Living
Water s and Jane Walton agreed to be
sponsors. And there wa s a small group
of friends, who, often unknowingly, had
given their guidance in the pa st, and
who agreed to take par t in the liturgy, to
bear witness and honour me with their
At the eleventh hour, as Sister Car mel
worked mir acles with the order of
ser vice, chose the music and continued
with my ongoing spiritual super vision, I
realised I was liter ally walking around in
ever-tightening circles -- ridiculous circles
How would my Mum's Presbyterian
God react? Would I need to be for mally
released from my baptismal faith ?
I contacted Rev Amelia Koh-Butler
from Hamilton-Broadmeadow Uniting
Church. Amelia understood, affir med
my decision, believing this a sacred calling;
gave me the most wonder ful blessing, and
said she would like to be present at the
Ma ss. Could there have been any greater
Third Sunday of Advent -- a time for
giving, a time to recall those in need.
Guests came bearing gift voucher s to be
passed on the following day to homeless
youth through CatholicCare's "Links to
The sun shone, St Mary's Star of the Sea
Church r adiant with Sister Car mel's pink
and mauve hydr angeas. The processional
hymn, "Come as You Are", will ever
remain special along with unexpected
gif ts -- St Paul's Sunday Missal, signed by all
those present, a beautiful bouquet from a
Quaker friend's garden and a rosary and
crucifix in gold from Timor Leste given
by another friend -- a committed atheist
-- who works tirelessly for women's
It's Holy Saturday, 2014, a candle-lit
BY SUZANNE ROMANI
Links Archive Aurora June 2014 Aurora August 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page