In last week’s newsletter I paid tribute to Tom McDonough who has just completed eleven years as Provincial. Tom completed Joachim Rego’s term as Provincial when Joachim was elected General, and then was elected in his own right, twice more, serving during the years of expansion in Vietnam and throughout COVID-19. This has been a huge and generous commitment.
Following our discussions throughout the week, which were focused on the areas we had identified as critical (Culture and Identity, Mission and Ministry, Community and Formation, Finance, Governance and Legislation) the Chapter turned its attention to the election of a new Provincial and Council.
Denis Travers who is well known to us at Holy Cross, was elected Provincial on the very first ballot. Denis previously served as Provincial from 1999-2007. He was elected to the General Council in October 2006 and served two six year terms before returning to the Province in 2018. He was elected to the Provincial Council in 2019. So Denis brings vast experience and many years of continued involvement in leadership and governance of the Congregation.
Our ELSPM (English learning students) arrived early on Sunday July 2nd. Erick and JD met them at the airport. Despite the flight arriving on Saturday, there was a delay of almost 3 hours for their luggage to come through, so by the time they got home and had some much needed food, it was 3.30am when they went to bed.
Hai (32), Thang (28) and Cu’ong (27) are mature aged and each of them has each completed a university degree. Hai and Thang are from northern Vietnam and Cu’ong is from Dong Nai, one hundred kilometres from Saigon. They are all musical so we’ll look forward to hearing them sing (see the next item in the newsletter) and dance. They are most welcome at Holy Cross and we hope that they will soon feel at home. Our first meal together at lunch on Sunday showed they have some English and they are very keen to use it, but it will take them some time to get accustomed to our accent – and idiom. There will be amusing moments over the coming weeks!
In 1989 Irvine Green wrote a history of the aboriginal people (Wurundjeri) who lived in the Bullen, Doncaster, Templestowe and Warrandyte district. Below are some extracts from his book.
The Wurundjeri people were part of a larger Tribe, the Woiworung, who claimed as their territory the basin of the Yarra and all the streams flowing into it. The Wurundjeri occupied the area south of the Yarra from Gardiners Greek, past the northern slopes of the Dandenongs to the Upper Yarra. The name Wurundjeri is made up of two words, Wurunn, meaning the white Manna Gum that grew along the river flats, and Jeri, meaning a grub, similar to the Witchetty grub, which lived in the roots of the tree. The Wurundjeri people were given the name because they ate the grub. They also enjoyed a sweet drink made from a white fungus which grew on the Manna Gum. Europeans named the tree after likening the fungus to Manna from heaven.
The start of Passionist Family Groups in New Zealand in 1988
I discovered last week while in New Zealand, that most people did not know how the PFG’s got started in NZ, and especially about the experience in Otara described below which some might see as having been a nudge from God.
Fr Peter McGrath, the founder of the Passionist Family Group Movement was Provincial when he appointed my brother Paul and myself to our community in Oxley, Brisbane in 1985. Peter asked us to assist with the slowly developing PFGM in Brisbane. Many parishes were asking: ‘How can we go about building
Double Good news for Br John Baptist Cao Anh Phi:
Not long after getting his licence, Phi was approved to take his final vows on 11th of August. Fr Tom our Provincial wrote. “Phi will make his final profession in Vietnam with not only the three brothers (Danh, Vinh and TJ) but also with the novices who will be ready at that time to make their temporary profession”
This is special news for Phi because he had taken an extra year of discernment for his final vows even though this decision meant that he had to witness his classmates progress to being professed and they will be ordained as deacons next week.
Phi chose the photo above when I asked him to choose one for the newsletter. I asked him why this photo and he said two things. (1) It’s the most recent one; (2) it shows my brothers in the background. Without my brothers, there would be no final vows”. Congratulations Phi, we are eagerly waiting for the party time after your final profession.
It would be nice to say “I’m back”, but the truth is that I was, and now I’ve gone again (yesterday) to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Passionist Family Groups in New Zealand. There will be special; celebrations over two weekends.
It will be quite special to celebrate in Paeroa which is about 100 kilometres south-east of Auckland this weekend. Steve McGarry and I conducted a mission there in 1979. It was a special experience for a number of reasons including that I met some wonderful couples who have become great friends. It was from that time until 1988 that Lynn Hill began to hound me about “What about these Family Groups?” Maggie (from Ballarat) and Charlie Gribble have been leaders of a PFG in Paeroa all 35 years. They just need to work a bit harder at having fun!
Welcome to June! We are halfway through 2023, Christmas is in 6 months! If I’m getting that wrong it has to do with my poor mathematical skills. Brian Traynor will be returning soon but do not hold your breath just yet -we all miss him, it’s not just you! Soon after he arrives, he will have to go away from Holy Cross again for about 10 days, for meetings and other ministries. He has provided a lot of materials for this newsletter for which I am hugely grateful but would not like to take credit. Any thankyous send to Brian as he puts a lot of work into this. I admire such exceptional work.
This weekend we celebrate Pentecost Sunday which is usually referred to as the birthday of the Church. With this in mind, happy birthday to us all. Another great excuse to celebrate.
I appreciate the response from an anonymous person who kindly wrote back last week after my apology for committing the mortal sin! Although this was obviously done in an attempt to brighten our spirits with a bit of humour, the person’s reply was to say 9 Hail Marys. After I did that, I felt much better, thank you. As you know, there was once a time when confessions were exercised publicly in our Church history, so this disclosure is not new to our mature Church. But today Conon Law would have me excommunicated today if this was done in a serious manner. Enough about that, let us look at some of this week’s happenings.
Br Jerome Dunn and the birds make it to front page
While Chris Monaghan was away teaching in Ballarat, Jerome got up on a beautiful morning of Friday to feed the birds that Chris normally feeds each morning. They had been waiting for Chris and wondered where he was. As soon as Jerome or anyone came closer, they flew closer wanting to have their daily bread. They were rather pleased that Jerome came with bread and fed them to the brim! As Jesus said “Look at the birds of the air… your Heavenly Father feeds them…(Matt 6:26)”, - it is pleasing to see that Chris and Jerome participate in the Heavenly Father’s role on earth. Jerome noticed that the stingy birds weren’t around which allowed most of the birds to feel more safe while eating. I am not sure what The Heavenly Father thinks of the stingy birds but I know that sometimes we people can be like birds.
Welcome to Holy Cross Newsletter
This week and for the following weeks until June, we will miss Brian Traynor as he is currently away. This means that we will also miss his regular efforts to find humour content to keep us smiling as well as the regular meaningful communications.
With me, learning on the job, you might be able to go through the newsletter in 2min and 17 seconds, or 5 more seconds if you are distracted.
Fortunately to help us not regret the fact that the newsletter is too short, Brian kindly left some meaningful information to share on PFGM as well as some humour. I might add something to it but will not disclose who is the editor of what – leaving this to your great minds to work it out. Enjoy your reading, remember to time it and let your neighbour know how you went! Complaints to me are welcome, I promise to read them during my Christmas holidays ☺ With all seriousness, I would appreciate constructive feedback as long as it is not only behind my back.