Kildare Ministries Newsletter

23 March 2020
Issue Two
Update from the KM Office 
Justice across our Ministries - St. Joseph's College
An insight into our Ministries -Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project
Formation Events
2020 Calendar Dates
Keep updated!
Kildare Ministries
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As we all struggle to wrap our heads around the uncertainty the world finds itself, we are intensely reminded of how connected we all are, and how isolated. In the train from Echuca to Melbourne I sat largely alone, and though it was pretty pleasant on the surface it was discomforting to contemplate where everyone was, and how those same people were feeling. 

We are seeing around the world that the Novel Coronavirus Covid 19, will target the most vulnerable and hide them from the rest of us– and we know that this is where we are called as Christians to step in. 

As social and work gatherings are cancelled around the world, we know that we are not just calling ourselves indoors, we are being called into ourselves, into our thoughts and feelings. There is plenty of wondering and pondering how best to protect ourselves and our families, our co-workers and our students, our elders, our vulnerable – and these wonderings represent the best of ourselves.  

In a society which largely tells us that we need to look after ourselves first or suffer the consequences, we have seen the hoarding of groceries in supermarkets which has been roundly criticised. At worst, those who have hoarded toilet paper and groceries have been abused and only slightly better, ridiculed. We have done this probably as a strange and awkward attempt to demonstrate our better sides; our community spirit and possibly the best result of this is that the more self-conscious shopper among us, has left something on the shelf for the next person. 

But the hoarding isn’t the issue. One of the biggest underlying issues is the fear and anxiety that people feel – and this is a thing that ought to be addressed among us. 

Like Italians leaning over their balconies to sing to their neighbours and lighting candles in their windows in a show of solidarity, we too need to remember and stand with the physically vulnerable, and those who are anxious, emotionally and spiritually. 

We are reminded by the virus that we are one – that our health and security cannot be separated from the others around us. In fact, it reminds us that our collective human and spiritual health and wellbeing is dependent on caring for the most vulnerable among us – which is something that Jesus has reminded us for over 2000 years. It doesn’t take a virus to make this true. 

And we also need to remind ourselves that those who were vulnerable before Covid-19 reared its head – still are, and they still require justice and assistance. We simply can’t turn away from them because their needs are still more urgent than the pandemic and perhaps exacerbated by it. They can’t afford for us to be completely distracted for long, if at all. We need to be having these conversations. 

So, we are challenged by the events of today – and as Christians we expect to be. Where there are the vulnerable and scared, there we need to ‘be’ also. 

So, hopefully we will take time to be thinking and pondering in what we can choose to perceive as an enforced sabbath away from our big events, but allow ourselves out of our interior contemplation long enough to ‘keep up the talk’ between us and continue to keep looking outward. I hope that we ask after each other, ask after each other’s significant others, ask after those caring for the vulnerable and keep asking… What do you need? How are you today? Who else do we need to reach out to today? We are technologically equipped like no other generation before us to keep our physical distance but keep our emotional and spiritual intimacy. 

So, life changes but it also stays the same – the call to Christ, to prayer for the good of others, and to the common good and solidarity remain the same even in these days of heightened anxiety.  

Go gently everybody. 

For you has God commanded his angels 
to keep you in all your ways. 
They shall bear you upon their hands, 
lest you strike your foot against a stone. 
Psalm 91 

Eternal God,  

Lean into all our efforts to keep ourselves and each other safe. 

Hold our health care workers in your mighty arms,  

Shine your boundless creativity on all scientists working on a cure 

And with your fingertips comfort the sick and anxious with gentleness. 

In Jesus Christ,  




Renee Oberin

Mission Leader

Kildare Ministries

Update from the KM Office 

Dear members of the Kildare Ministries community,


Firstly, let me say that each of our Boards, our Leaders of the Community Works and our Principals have been exemplary in the way they have managed their responses to the COVID19 pandemic. Not only have they communicated clearly and calmly to their own communities, but they have also been a great source of supported and wisdom for each other.  I am in deep admiration for their compassion and care, their ability to navigate this space and their professionalism.  Further, their ability to respond appropriately and strategically when time is really working against them, has been a lesson for us all in collaboration, team work and shared responsibility.

To switch gears and to transfer to electronic learning in a matter of weeks is no easy task.  So many contingencies need to be considered.  Thank you to every teacher and support staff in schools who have had to navigate this new challenge. Leaders of our Community Works have had to reassess their business model and make difficult decision in terms of what services can still be offered to the most vulnerable in our society. There is a great comfort in knowing, that for the moment, each of our ministries has worked to  secure the employment of their staffs.   


Like you, we have been discerning the best way to respond in this critical time and like you we have considered the health and wellbeing of our community in making these decisions. As a general rule, we have cancelled/postponed all face to face gathering until the end of Term 2. We are looking at some on-line options for the network meetings but will communicate this in time.

Tentative new dates for the Living Justice Conference are 28-30 April 2021 and the Pilgrimage to Ireland is postponed to 2022.  

Cancelled until further is the Board Directors and Stewardship Council Seminar scheduled for the 9th May at Marian College Sunshine West. The Founding Grace Retreat 13-15 May is postponed until later in the year – date to be advised.

Please refer to the calendar at the end of the newsletter on the status of other formation programmes.


Recruitment for the Mission Leader

Renee Oberin’s secondment has been extended until the end of the year. We are most grateful to Michael Delaney, Principal of St Joseph's for granting Renee leave and to Renee for agree to work with us until the end of 2020. This extension allows us stability in terms of the delivery of our formation programme as well as an opportunity to explore and develop on-line resources. 

We hope to advertise in July/ August but it will depend on the impact of this pandemic if we still go ahead with this plan. 


Mission and Ministry Team

As of Tuesday 24th March we will be working from home until further notice. We can be contacted via mobile phone and via email but be mindful that there will be no-one in the office. Thank you for your understanding as we all try to work through this together.


Let’s not forget the grace of Easter

This morning I was reading a post from Brené Brown.  She says it so eloquently:

This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection. We don't have to be scary when we're scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other.

It really does feel that we are entering, the wilderness and the unknown like Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. Pope Francis says,  “If we enter the desert with Jesus, we will leave it at Easter when the power of God's love renews life, and just like those deserts that bloom in spring with buds and plants suddenly sprouting from the sand, if we follow Jesus, our deserts will also bloom."


Let us focus on being hopeful, supportive and community minded and may we feel the strength of our unity through this crisis at the end.


Finally let’s try to  share the good news stories and the acts of kindness which might easily be dwarfed in the fear. If you send htem to me, I will be happy to distribute to others. 


Take care of yourselves and others and go gently my friends.


Erica Pegorer

Executive Director



Justice across our Ministries - St. Joseph's College


We asked St. Joseph’s College Echuca to describe how they have given expression to the theme of Justice - the Kildare Ministries Value for 2020.


The development of the College Theme is done by College staff working with the twelve Year 11 students who have been appointed as House Leaders for their Year 12 year.

The College Theme for 2020 is

Assume Responsibility 

Seek Unity 

Restore Reason 

Students were able to identify in their theme development that they would like our school to focus on Care of Creation in this 2020 school year.


Student Leadership Formation

Our Student Leaders have had two opportunities for formation in Term 1.  The Diocese of Sandhurst provided a leadership development day for student leaders that focused on ‘ethical leadership’.  Students were given the opportunity to listen to speakers such as Mr Paul Desmond, the Director of Sandhurst and Kate Wilde who is an independent consultant for youth development.


Our 12 school leaders attended the recent Social Justice Camp, organised by Kildare Education Ministries.


Ceres Sustainability

We have been participating in a Resource Smart Schools activity called Ceres . The Sustainability Hub.  We have had students across year levels involved in onsite workshops.  Our Student Leaders (Eco Leaders) attended a meeting with the Minister for the Environment (Victoria) on the 6th of March in Shepparton.  We are hosting a PD for Staff next week where teachers and leaders will come to learn and share at our school.


Dr Jim Nickoloff

On Monday the 2nd of March Dr Jim Nickoloff worked with our Staff.  His first session, with Religious Education Teachers, focused on areas of reform in the church.  His presentation looked at the recent synod of South American Bishops and their focus on environmental and ecological justice for the Amazon.  This was then linked to the hopes and dreams of Australia’s Plenary Council in 2020.  Of the two sessions in the afternoon, for all Staff, Jim explored the concepts of wonder and justice calling on the personal experiences of both in order to assist people to see how we see God in the works of justice in the world around us.


New Look Foundation Day

In 2020 we have introduced new elements to our Foundation Day celebrations.  In 2020 our liturgy will reflect our school theme and will focus on environmental and ecological justice, through the lens of St Brigid, Daniel Delany and Nano Nagle.  In the lead up to Foundation Day students will be exposed to 3 elements of social justice across the world – access to education, water and food.  On Foundation Day we will hold our traditional mini marts, which are designed in the context of a birthday party and assist us to raise money for Caritas’ Project Compassion.  To finish the day our Houses will participate in a range of Justice Games, with activities such as The Water Bucket Challenge.

Year 8 Retreat 2020

Year 8 Retreat has taken a new form this year.  Our Year 8 students spent the day in Bendigo on Tuesday the 17th of March. The day was divided into two parts.  To complement the RE Curriculum topic – Why are there differences in the world?’  Year 8 students visited The Great Stupa of Compassion.  Their visit comprised a presentation on Buddhism, a tour of The Great Stupa and they undertook a meditation in the sacred space.  The intention of this activity was to increase students’ awareness of diversity in cultural and religious beliefs in contemporary Australian society.


In the afternoon the Year 8 students visited the Bendigo Art Gallery and were exposed to four exhibitions.  Each of the exhibitions had a ‘justice focus’.  The ‘They Can’t Take the Sky’ exhibition focused on the stories of Asylum Seekers held in mandatory detention in Australia.  The Jim Muir Exhibition follows the spiritual development of Jim Muir, a Yorta Yorta man, who represents is Aboriginal spirituality through art.  The Rivers of Gold exhibition explores the environmental degradation of Australian waterways.  The Living in Multicultural Society LMCS Exhibition assisted in the exploration of the RE Unit mentioned above.  Each of the exhibitions had a tour guide assisting students to access the materials.  The Tour Guides were asked to focus on themes of justice in their explanations and questioning of our Year 8 Students.


Students will continue their work in their RE Lessons.

St. Joseph's College Stewardship Council

St Joseph’s Echuca is blessed with the challenge of providing the opportunity for our community to receive a Catholic education. One of the challenges is meeting the demand for spaces at our school. Finally, we are on the way to meeting this challenge through building a second campus.

After many years and particularly the last 12 months of planning, we have acquired 80 acres of land and developed a plan for the new campus. This enormous task has also involved the development of a master plan for the Dickson St campus.


Dickson St has significant meaning to both the Brigidines and the people of Echuca and district. Especially being the first of the schools established in Australia. Ensuring our 134-year-old school continues to demonstrate the presence and endurance of the Brigidine’s is one of our key priorities.


As we plan the development of the new campus, we have a huge opportunity to provide state of the art education into the future. The 80 acres will give students, staff and the community opportunities to spread their learning, teaching and engagement in areas beyond traditional school. We have the opportunity to provide innovative academic, environmental, agricultural and recreational resources for our students, as well as investigate mutually beneficial partnerships with the wider community


Challenges from here are obviously securing funding to build the new campus and to refurbish the Dickson St campus.


The other challenge for our Stewardship Council is to bring on board new, additional members. I know we are not unique in this challenge in today's environment. We pray for success in both these endeavours for 2020.


Member details:

Kirk Teasdale

Kirk is an accountant and chairs our Finance committee. I cannot praise his work enough having joined Stewardship last year. Kirk provides the skills and advice in this key area whilst juggling his work, home and children. I believe he may have a future Australian Cricket Captain among his children.


Matthew O'Farrell

Matthew has been a boon to our team having a business and property development background. This experience is invaluable in our current work to build a new campus. Matthew also juggles a corporate role and family commitments amongst his involvement with St Joseph's.


Matthew and his family have a long history of commitment to St Joseph's. His mother, Judith, taught at St. Joseph’s and maintained her relationship with the school for over 40 years.  


Selina Handley

Selina is a solicitor, teacher, mother and wife. Again, she juggles a full diary whilst giving time to St Joeseph's. Selina's broad education and experience provide us with a diverse set of skills instilling wisdom into all areas.


Leah Taffe

Leah is CEO for Community Living and Respite in Echuca. Leah has a passion for the disadvantaged coupled with corporate skills. I like to think Leah provides us an extra link to our Brigidine ancestors as she hails from Ireland.


Shane Stacey

I am the current Chair of the Stewardship Council. My children attended St Joseph's over a period of 28 years. The school has given so much to my boys. Now I am attempting to give a little back.

An insight into our Ministries -Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project


Asylum seekers are particularly at risk at present. Most agencies they can access for some assistance are closing.  Any who had work were casual and part time and in jobs they will be likely to lose.  Most can’t work and have no regular income beyond help from charities.  All are very frightened about what is happening.  BASP is continually getting requests for rent utility and food money.  We are concerned about the physical and mental health of many of those we work with.  We are hoping that our supporters can continue with donations to ensure our ongoing support for those who are relying on us for help.


On the brighter side Killester College just delivered a huge number of Easter eggs to give to our folk and a young woman (ex Albert Park College) brought in a food voucher saying she was selling some of her clothes and as she sells them she will bring in vouchers to us.



Directors of the BASP Board


Julie Francis (Chair)

Coordinator City Design, Moonee Valley City Council


Norman Katende

Communications Coordinator, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, West Gate Tunnel Project


Mark Northeast

Chartered Accountant, Director, Board member, Company Secretary and Treasurer of a number of Boards


Joshua Lourensz

Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Victoria


Margaret Hill csb

Retired Primary School Principal


Cecilia Merrigan csb

Retired member of Leadership Team Brigidine Congregation


Julie Catalano

BASP Board Secretary


Libby Saunders and Brigid Arthur csb

BASP Project Coordinators



Formation Events

Student Seminar - Amberley

On the 5th and 6th of March eighty-four representatives from eleven schools descended upon the Edmund Rice Centre in Amberley on a very rainy day for the Kildare Ministries Social Justice Student Seminar for 2020. Student Justice Leaders accompanied by their teachers attended workshops and contributed to group work which was designed to flesh out the nuances of Justice and Justice work. 


Our own Sr. Brigid Arthur, using analogy and metaphor to describe the challenges of pursuing justice captivated students and inspired them. Sr Brigid’s vast experience and knowledge was not lost on her silent audience. She pointed out some of the differences between the way stories are told by media and politicians compared to the truth of the stories ‘on the ground’ where people were suffering. She challenged the students to get to the heart of the truth for themselves and most importantly, speak out on it.  

Our other keynote speaker was (again our own) Rida Khan from Wellsprings for Women. Rida’s colourful and humorous presentation inspired our students to seek solution based approaches to injustice – to look beyond the current situation and aspire to reach for creative plans for solutions. Her youthful exuberance and experience as a marginalised woman of colour within her rural community as a child was compelling and eye-opening for our students. 

The final key presentation was from Gwen Michener from Caritas. Playing ‘real-life’ monopoly in groups (and getting mightily frustrated when the board and dice just wouldn’t deliver a winning chance to any ‘marginalised’ player) and plotting real life opportunity across the tennis court got the student’s up and out of their seats creating and experiencing ‘virtual’ injustice – a memorable lesson for them all. In addition, Gwen presented a couple the case studies presented by their 2020 Project Compassion campaign. 

Further to these two keynotes; Jacqui Dunstan opened the Seminar with a peaceful and moving prayer-time for students. It really set the tone for commitment and centred learning. Matthew Baker (Marian College Sunshine West) and Matthew Selby (Brigidine College, St Ives) presented a thorough explanation of the difference between charity and justice and why we need both in equal measure – this was powerfully supported by both Catholic Social Teaching and our Kildare Ministries Principles of Living Justice. Ryan Healy from Clonard College prompted deep reflection with the ‘Justice Tree’ presentation bringing the students together to share their aspirations for going forward in a concrete and tactile mode. Mary Harmes from Star of the Sea College, Brighton taught the students how to mine the spiritual riches of a walking labyrinth meditation in the sunshine and finally, Neisha Hart and Nidean Dixon closed our seminar with a prayerful meditation with the key theme; ‘Justice – Just-us’ 

Credit is owed to the students who participated so fully in the seminar and their teachers and schools who so clearly laid those foundations. The students were inspirational to all the adults who were witnesses to their sincerity. 

A heartfelt thank-you must go to all the teachers who came with students to the seminar – your commitment and engagement with the students was admirable. Finally, a special thanks to those the Social Justice Leaders (teachers) who threw themselves into the planning with enthusiasm  - Thanks! from KM. 



Principals and Managers Network Day

The main focus of our KM Leaders network in March was to better educate ourselves on the Religious Discrimination Bill and how as KM we might respond.  Fr Frank Brennan was appointed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to service on the Phillip-Rudock review into religious freedoms.  Frank shared his insights into the process and where the current situation rests.  The CEO of the Sacred Heart Mission, Cathy Humphrey shared the processes that several community groups had undertaken in preparing a joint statement, primarily against the Bill but also reiterating the need for inclusion and equality, values that we hold firmly.

Our Leaders helped workshop the Kildare Ministries Statement on Inclusivity and Justice, which will be made available on our webpage on due course.   

National Conference for Catholic Social Service

In late February, the National Conference for Catholic Social Service was held and this year’s theme was Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion.  There was an impressive list of guest speakers.  Amongst them our very own Janet Cribbes, Chair of the Wellsprings for Women Board who shared her insights about the management of bushfire crisis on 2009 and what we might learn in the recovery of the 2019-2020 fires.  Josh Lourensz, as the newly appoint CEO of CSS and Director of the BASP Board, was an excellent facilitator and is congratulated on an excellent conference.  


2020 Calendar Dates

KEM Principals Meetings

10th June (To be advised)

31st August


KM Principals and Leaders Meeting

9th June (To be advised)

27th November


KEM Business Managers

16th October


KM Chairs of the Board Network

8th May  (Online)

3-4th September (Venue tbc)


Justice Coordinators

6th May (Online)

25th August (Online)

6th November


Faith Leaders

30th April- 1st May (Cancelled-seeking an alternative)

21st August

6th November


Student Seminar 

13th May (Postponed)

28th October


Kildare Ministries Conference

Postponed until April 2021



Student Leadership Retreat

7-9th December


New Staff Induction

1st September 


New Leaders Seminar

28th August 


Founding Grace Retreat

13-15th May (Postponed)


Keep updated!

Kildare Ministries Newsletter