Daily Archives: April 16, 2008

Reasons for Hope Retreat

This looks good. It’s another one from the kids at VCSYA. Unfortunately, if you are over 35 you are disqualified from attending!

Reasons for Hope

Friday 25th – 27th April
“Preparing for World Youth Day”

Incorporating the Journey of the Cross and Icon! Check Out: www.towards2008.org.aufor more info.

Weekend Highlights!· Inspiring Speakers
· Journey of the Cross and Icon Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
· JCI Concert with Guy Sebastian and Paulini
· Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
· Daily Mass and Rosary
· Chance to meet other Catholics and make new friends
· Free time to relax!


Dr. Tracey Rowland is the Permanent Dean of the John Paul II Institute and graduate of Oxford University. She is widely seen as one of the foremost theologians in the world and has just published a book called Ratzinger’s Faith – The Theology of Benedict XVI. She will give a talk titled “An Introduction to Benedict XVI” .
Fr. Gregory Jordan SJ is originally a New Zealander who has spent most of his life acting as a Rector at various Jesuit schools and colleges around Australia. Fr. Jordan is also the National Chaplin to ACSA. He is renowned for his wit and erudition and for always leaving his audience wiser while cracking a few jokes on the way. Fr. Jordan will speak on “How the Church has handled the pagan world: how should we?”.
Fr. Paul Newton is the Priest-in-Charge of Sacred Heart Croydon where he supervises a youth group and over 100 pilgrims planning to go to World Youth Day. He is known as an entertaining and direct evangelist and he loves to challenge young people to live the Gospel. Fr. Paul will speak on “How to be a Catholic in a Secular World”.
Fr. Joe Pich is Assistant Priest at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, West Melbourne and is a priest of Opus Dei (Work of God). He is originally from Spain where he served in the army for some time before he entered the seminary. On the retreat Fr. Joe will guide a series of meditations on pilgrimage.
The Missionaries of Charity were founded by Mother Teresa in India to bring the love of Christ to the poorest of the poor. In Melbourne the MC Sisters run separate men’s and women’s homeless shelters. They will speak on “Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy”.
Br. Vincent Magat OP was born in Slovakia (Eastern Europe) but grew up in Australia where he joined the Dominican order which in Melbourne is based at St. Dominic’s Camberwell. He has spent some time working as a chaplain to secondary and tertiary students. Br. Vincent will be one of the leaders of the forum on “Masculinity and Femininity”.
Angela Conway works for the Australian Family Associaition as National Research Officer. She is interested in the interplay of economic, cultural and political forces that impact on marriage and the family. Angela will be one of the leaders of the forum on “Masculinity and Femininity”.
Tim Davis works for the Melbourne Days in the Diocese Office. He has worked for many years in Youth Ministry mainly with the Marist Brothers. In his spare time he loves to surf and hike. Tim will speak about World Youth Day and some exciting opportunities to volunteer for Days in the Diocese.
ALSO: Br. Dean Mathieson OFM Cap, Br. Ben Johnson OFM Cap and Conor Sweeney, a top student of the JPII institute Conor will be one of the leaders of the forum on “Masculinity and Femininity”.

What is “Reasons for Hope”?
RFH Melbourne is the annual retreat of the Victorian Catholic Students and Young Adults (18-35), a group that provides spiritual and intellectual formation for, you guessed it, students and young adults! This year Reasons for Hope provides a fantastic opportunity to continue your spiritual preparation for life in general and especially if you are going to Sydney World Youth Day, the biggest youth event in the world.
Where is it held?
This year, RFH wll be held at the Edmund Rice Centre Amberley, Amberley Way, Lower Plenty (see website for map)
Contact Infomation
Matt Restall – 0407 883 494 (vcsa@melbourne.catholic.org.au)
Lucy Righetti – 0433 981 789 (lucyrighetti@hotmail.com)

You can register online at
$20 day pass for Friday/Sunday ($30 Saturday)

Enquiries to:
Matt Restall – 0407 883 494 (vcsa@melbourne.catholic.org.au) Lucy Righetti – 0433 981 789 (lucyrighetti@hotmail.com)

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Pope auditions for Flight Attendant’s job?

Good Morning! Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome onboard this AirItalia flight to the United States.
My name is Pope Benedict and I will be your In-flight Service Director for the journey…

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A beautiful essay on the meaning of Conversion to the Catholic Church

And baptism. And relations with Islam. But I relate to it because of what it had to say about conversion to the Catholic Church. I am speaking of Pietro De Marco’s beautiful essay that appeared in L’Osservatore Romano and was translated on Sandro Magister’s website, Twofold response: to the Catholics, and to Aref Ali Nayed.

De Marco’s essay forms a helpful counterpoint to the essay on conversion by Scot McKnight (“From Wheaton to Rome”)which I blogged about earlier. I have read all of McKnight’s essay now, and actually find it quite gentle and gracious (well worth reading), but he doesn’t really understand the heart of the Catholic convert. De Marco does. I found many occasions when reading McKnight when I said, “Yes, he is right, that is what I thought during my conversion process”, but when I read De Marco I thought, “This bloke has it spot on–that is what I FELT during the process.”

De Marco is writing about the controversial conversion of Magdi Cristiano Allam, and the controversy that followed Allam’s own statements and the reactions to it. But he is also writing for Catholics who have become uncomfortable with conversions to Catholicism and don’t know how to deal with the exhuberant enthusiasm of the convert.

For instance:

Thus the process of the overturning of the relationship between Revelation and humanity that has marked recent modernity was manifested even in the Catholic Church. Only the human, according to this logic, is universally constituted; while all Revelation can be nothing other than individually given or founded. From this it emerges that the passage, or the return, to a religion can be seen as an undesirable, incomprehensible act, and all the more so when the elites of this religion are trying to emancipate themselves from this individuality.

Fortunately, the current terms of Catholic reflection are no longer the ones just described, but trans-religious spirituality and vague philosophical religions still tempt it. And conversion is still not admired, even today. Magdi Cristiano Allam will have the chance to see this for himself: among the intricacies of the splendor of the City of God, he will experience the bitter side of the Catholic “complexio oppositorum.”


Like McKnight, De Marco understands that conversion is about a “search for transcendance”. “Conversion is always the crossing of a threshold”, he says, and “the threshold implies the human-divine in the search for transcendence.”

But he has a better understanding of the role of “journey” in conversion. McKnight speaks of the search for “certainty”, but De Marco speaks of the ‘call of certainty’ that compels one to begin the journey in the first place:

It is an often painful journey through unknown lands, following the splendor of a call, following the appearance of a “certainty of a pure Presence” (Louis Massignon) that judges and burns the heart. It is the exit from a spiritual Egypt, by a voyage whose arrival point transcends the search, and reveals a land that is not that of the departure.

At the start of my own conversion journal after Easter in 2000, I quoted Newman’s famous words from his Apologia:

You may think how lonely I am. ‘Obliviscere populum tuum et domum patris tui,’ has been in my ears for the last twelve hours. I realise more that we are leaving Littlemore, and it is like going on the open sea.

Even more striking is the way De Marco describes the peril of the journey–for you do not know how the journey will when you set out. This is great paradox for those who, according to McKnight, have a transcendant need for certainty. They must launch themselves into the unknown relying totally on God’s mercy for any hope of reaching their destination. De Marco writes:

The fact that the arrival point is not guaranteed, that it must always be desired as if it were not possessed, as a gift that remains under the sovereignty of the Giver, all of this does not negate, but rather confirms the reality of the threshold. The precariousness of the gift, in fact, is such only for man. But with the crossing of the threshold, we know that He, the divine Lover (as the true mystics know him, beyond his ineffability) “takes us as it were by the hand, and introduces us to lasting life, to the true and correct life.” And therefore: “Let us hold on tightly to his hand!”. These are the tender, perfect words dedicated to baptism by Benedict XVI at the homily for the Easter vigil, at which Allam was baptized.

I commend the essay to you for consideration along with McKnight’s article. If you are on the journey at the moment, may God bless you with the trust that you need to reach your destination. Don’t let go of that Hand!

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The Pope Arrives in the US

Just want to say that we are with you guys over there in the great US of A, and accompanying the Holy Father’s journey in prayer. We are looking forward to his visit here in a few months when we can share the pleasure.

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