2023 Eucharistic Reflection review

Catalyst’s last function of 2023 was held at Holy Name of Mary parish hall, Hunters Hill, on 5th November. Members and Friends of Catalyst were invited to gather for a Eucharistic reflection, followed by a light repast. About 50 attended. Fr David Orr, OSB, was our celebrant and reflection leader. Everyone joined in to make the occasion a warmly memorable one.

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Global Synod Update

Join prominent Australian broadcaster Geraldine Doogue as she follows two big events in the life of the Catholic Church in Australia and worldwide. Australia’s Plenary Council concluded in 2022 but the deliberations will continue to shape the Church in the years to come. The global synod launched by Pope Francis is also shaping a modern, synodal Church. Geraldine talks with other Catholics about the challenges and hopes in a Church still seeking what matters. She also explores the emerging opportunities for leadership and creative commitment that is set to become a hallmark of this new stage in Church life.

Follow Plenary Matter’s coverage from Rome here.

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Geraldine Doogue awarded honorary doctorate

Respected Australian journalist and broadcaster Geraldine Doogue , a foundation member of Catalyst for Renewal, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Australian Catholic University. After establishing herself as a serious journalist with formidable training in reporting hard news stories, her Catholic faith and curiosity launched her into content that went beyond the headlines. This included her work as the first presenter of ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program, nearly two decades of hosting ABC TV’s Compass, and conversations with Church leaders on her podcast, Plenary Matters.   Read more…

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Catalyst Luncheon with Jon Owen

At the Catalyst Luncheon on October 14, 2023, Jon explained that his work at the Wayside Chapel is influenced by what he and his wife learned while volunteering in Calcutta in places founded by Mother Theresa. The task of the working at Wayside Chapel is to listen, accompany, and accept each person who comes there. If a volunteers feel the need to give good advice on how to live to one of the visitors, the suggestion is that they “put a sock in it”. In a caring community there can be “No Us and Them”. Success is celebrated, failure requires deeper accompanying.

While at university Jon had asked himself hard questions about what he wanted to do with his life and had the courage to change direction because he wanted to help marginalised people. He was a member of a group who shared their home with people who were doing it tough for whatever reason. He had the good fortune to fall in love with a woman with a similar goal in life. At her suggestion they spent their honeymoon in Calcutta working in Mother Theresa’s hospice for the dying and in the orphanage for rescued children. This is where Jon was taught to focus on accompanying people, showing love, focusing on the person not the “problem”.

At the Wayside Chapel something of the larrikin approach of Jon’s predecessor remains. There is no rule saying that you can’t laugh. The café provides a selection of good food at a modest price. People are invited to sit and start to form a community. A branch has been established at Bondi with similar facilities, showers, clothing, café. The lonely have someone to listen, someone to be with, without judgement of them or their lifestyle. In short, the aim is to live as a good Christian providing a loving presence to others.

If you wish to learn more about the Wayside Chapel or subscribe to their newsletter, go to their website

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The James Alison Forum

The James Alison Forum held on 27 September 2023 in St Aloysius’ Great Hall, Kirribilli, attracted an audience which was thoughtful and perceptive. Geraldine Doogue facilitated a conversation lead by James Alison and assisted by Finn Stannard on What does radical inclusion really mean for a modern synodal Church?   The word of the night was “talkability”. If an idea has talkability the issue can be explored, discussed, perhaps understood, perhaps normalised.  It is only in recent times that same-sex orientation has begun to be talked about in an open way.  Relationality, James suggested, may be a better way of understanding human behaviour than rationality.

The video of the event provided by BAM Studios can be found here.

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Danny Meagher and John Warhurst Reflect on Unity in the Church

Bishop Danny Meagher and Emeritus Professor John Warhurst spoke to an appreciative audience about “The Future of the Catholic Church: Creating Unity through Diversity” at a Q&A in the Crypt on Sunday 27th August 2023.

Bishop Danny, by starting his talk with some solid theology, laid a good foundation for the rest of his talk and for Professor Warhurst’s too. Both explored the areas in which diversity is not only accepted but even celebrated while also identifying some area’s where it is not.

Professor Warhurst explored the background to both the Plenary Council and the upcoming Synod. While happy with a change in approach he is looking for practical outcomes especially in matters concerning the rights of women and the inclusion of gay and gender diverse people.

To listen to an audio recording of both talks click here.

To read the notes from which Bishop Danny spoke click here.

Professor Warhurst’s paper has been published in Pearl’s and Irritations and can be read here.

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Theologian Richard Lennan speaks on God and the Church

Theologian Richard Lennan speaks on God and the Church

On Sunday June 25, Fr Richard Lennan strolled around the stage in the Crypt at St Patrick’s, Church Hill explaining the Theology of Church and how it relates to contemporary changes in society, with the ease of one who had thought long and deeply on the subject. Our understanding of “God”, of “Church”, our anxieties, our feeling of dislocation and suspicion of institutions were explored. Then the large and enthusiastic audience discussed several scenarios, “Do we as church……?”.

Richard is a priest of the Diocese of Newcastle (NSW) who has taught theology at Boston College, USA since 2008. Richard’s research and teaching focuses on ecclesiology, ministry, and the theology of Karl Rahner.

Listen to the audio recording of Richard’s rich address here, and download the slides used in his address and his sheet on current challenges for the church.

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Catalyst Congratulates Sr Mary Shanahan rscj on Papal Award

Congratulations to Sr Mary Shanahan RSCJ OAM , a patron of Catalyst for Renewal, on her recent award, presented by the Archbishop of Sydney, His Grace Anthony Fisher OP, of the Papal honour of Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, at Sancta Sophia College on Friday, 26 May 2023. The award is in recognition of her distinguished services to the Church in the Archdiocese of Sydney and Australia.

Sr Mary Shanahan made her final profession in 1954. She studied at the Universities of Sydney, Yale and Oxford. While she taught in schools in both Australia and France her outstanding contribution has been to Sancta Sophia, a residential college for catholic women within the University of Sydney. (More recently men who are post graduate students have also been welcomed to the College.) Her contribution has extended over 60 years as student, dean, counsellor, principal, fellow and chaplain. The citation for her OAM: For service to tertiary education, and as a mentor of young students.

The current principal of Sancta, Fiona Hastings, summed up Sr Shanahan’s contribution with a warmth which was obvious at the awards ceremony. She’s remembered as a much-loved principal, but since then she’s continued to have a very deep spiritual influence on the college. Really she’s kept the heart of the college beating, and maintained that really strong connection not just with the RSCJs but with the heart of Christ. She’s an amazing woman.

It was pleasing to see some familar Catalyst faces including foundation member Marea Donovan at the award ceremony.


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Large Turnout Hears Frank Brennan on the Voice

Over 200 people packed the Crypt of St Patrick’s Church on a wet Sydney afternoon on Sunday, 2 April to hear Fr Frank Brennan sj speak on the subject of his latest book, An Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Frank’s prepared address was followed by a vigorous and searching conversation, with a wide range of questions and comments offered by the appreciative audience.

This forum was organised jointly by St Patrick’s Parish and Catalyst for Renewal. Fr Michael Whelan sm welcomed the attendees and introduced Fr Brennan.

A sound recording of Frank’s prepared address is available for download here. The recording is copyright of Catalyst for Renewal Inc and is made freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives license (CC BY NC-ND). For details of the license, see the Creative Commons website. For permission for uses not permitted by the license, contact Catalyst for Renewal Inc.

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2023 New Year Newsletter

The Catalyst President has issued the following message to all Catalyst supporters, previewing our programs for 2023:

From Catalyst for Renewal, we send greetings and best wishes for the new year and an outline of our 2023 program.

Our schedule for 2023 begins already this Wednesday 1 February.

Continue reading →

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