News & Events

Moving from Denial to Sustainability via Wonder

Environmental scientist and writer Haydn Washington believes that we will not solve the environmental crisis unless we change our worldview and ethics, and to do so we must rejuvenate our sense of wonder at nature.

Our goal should be to look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.
Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; to be spiritual is to be constantly amazed
Rabbi Abraham Herschel

About Haydn

Haydn has degrees in Ecology, Eco-toxicology (MSc) and Social Ecology (PhD).
He has worked as an Investigations Scientist in the CSIRO, as Director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and as an environmental consultant.
Haydn has conducted many flora surveys as plant ecologist (e.g. in the Gardens of Stone and Wollemi National Parks).
He has been a councillor on the Australian Conservation Foundation and a media officer for the Wilderness Society.
Haydn was Director of Sustainability at Willoughby City Council from 2007 to 2009, and wrote the first Sustainability Charter of any Council in Australia.

Date: Saturday May 25, 2019
Time: 9.30am-12.30pm.
Place: Catherine McAuley Room 6 Victoria Road, Parramatta, NSW, 2150
Parking: In grounds or church parking area opposite

Everyday I see or hear something which kills me with delight
- Mary Oliver

Kids Off Nauru

'We will open our hearts to the cries of the poor using our energies, gifts and resources to address violence and discrimination especially for women and children...' (Chapter Statement)

The Sisters of Mercy and colleagues are appalled that children have been languishing in offshore detention on Nauru for five years.

To show our support for the young casualties of this cruel offshore detention policy, we joined the Kids Off Nauru campaign by going #Blue For Nauru at our morning tea table.

We also signed a petition that was sent to Prime Minister Morrison, the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten and our Parramatta Federal Member Julie Owens, asking them to free the remaining children and their families immediately.

Join the Call here

Second World Day of the Poor

'We will open our hearts to the cries of the poor...' (Chapter Statement)

Sunday, 18 November is the second World Day of the Poor, instituted by Pope Francis during the Year of Mercy (2016).

This year's message focusses on the cries of persons who are poor.
Who are the poor? What cries must be heard? 

There are many different forms of poverty. This year the Pope highlights "those whose hearts are broken by sadness, loneliness and exclusion...those trampled in their dignity...those persecuted in the name of a false justice, oppressed by policies unworthy of the name, and terrified by violence...those poor, rejected and marginalized'.

May we each respond generously to the cries we hear.

In the Service of Peace: November Prayer Intention of Pope Francis

We are all invited to join with Pope Francis and his worldwide prayer network in praying this month's intention: In the Service of Peace.

Text of this month's video:

'It is desired above all by those who suffer its absence.
We can speak with splendid words, but if there is no peace in our heart, there will be no peace in the world.
With zero violence and 100 percent tenderness, let us build the evangelical peace that excludes no one.
Let us pray together that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.'
- Pope Francis, November 2018

We invite you to post a prayer or reflection in our prayer space

The Wonderful World of Trees

At the most recent gathering of the Earthkin Group in Parramatta, the focus was on Trees. Kevin Mc Donnell led us in a reflection on the Science, Evolution and Spirit of Trees, while Patrick Shirvingham demonstrated how artists had evolved in their perception and artistic presentation of trees in the Australian landscape. A lively discussion followed both presentations.

Kevin had this to say-The story of trees, from the miracle of chlorophyll in ancestral blue-green algae to the wonderful diversity of eucalypts (more than 800 species of them) that cover Australia today, is one that spans 2.7 billion years or more. It is an immensely long story that includes constantly shifting continents, major changes in climate, and millions of generations of plants in interaction with their changing environments through time.

When the southern hemisphere continents were grouped together as Gondwanaland and the climate was much cooler and wetter than it is today, it was covered with rainforest. Remnants of that rainforest with its giant figs, Antarctic tree-ferns and vines, and its wonderful array of conifers (Bunya Pine, Hoop Pine, Kauri Pine, Wollemi Pine etc.) are still present all along the east coast of Australia, much of it thankfully now given national park protection.

When Gondwanaland fragmented and Australia began to move northwards about 95 million years ago, the climate became warmer and drier and fire became more common. The myrtles of the rainforest that were better suited to the new conditions evolved slowly into the trees we now call eucalypts or gum trees. They play a big role in giving our continent its distinctive character.

On another level, as John Feehan, Irish scientist and theologian, says, “Trees are at the root of our psyche. We – we as a species – were born in and of the forest, and grew up with it, and, as literally as makes no difference, carry its echo in our genes… No day should pass, whether we walk in the forest or on the street, or carried on thought through a window from our bed – no day should pass without our reaching for that thrilling thought, that the tree my vision enfolds, and all that is growing upon it, and all the other species that people this moment of Earth’s time with us, are in a sense beyond human comprehension, each in its unique way a living ex-plication of an aspect of divinity”. (The Garden God Walked In: Meditation on the Spirit of Trees (2011).

Pat began his talk on The Lure of Trees for the Artist by reflecting on the inherent connection artists have always had for the natural world, describing an artwork discovered at an archaeological site known as Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini, dating back 1600 years BC.

From there he introduced us to the unusual landscape confronting the early colonial artists, as the shape and textures of the Australian eucalypt and bushland was something they had never before seen. It didn’t take artists long to realise the colony and early development was impacting on the bushland, as they were the ones out there documenting the clearing. As a result there were artists describing the impact through their paintings. Artists like Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Hans Heysen, Fred Williams were discussed as early environmentalists and this tradition continues today with not only traditional art practice but also contemporary mediums.

Pat also showed us sketches and paintings of trees from his own art work, including the Banksia-Serrata (pictured). He introduced us to the two children’s books he illustrated, introducing young ones to the flora and fauna in which they will grow up and hopefully venerate.