This weekend we mark Prison Sunday (7 November), an opportunity to acknowledge the important work of prison ministry. ‘Whether the setting is a hospital or a custodial facility, the offer to reconnect with a sense of purpose and meaning is at the heart of the pastoral relationship between the chaplain and the person,’ says Paul Zammit, Senior Manager of Pastoral Care Services at CatholicCare Victoria. Providing this care during the pandemic has been a challenge. Prison chaplain of 27 years Sr Mary O'Shannassy SGS says that while she and her team have maintained connections with those imprisoned through video conferencing, telephone calls and written messages, they feel the pain of residents who have been deprived of family visits, support and education services, and religious services.

‘When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you get to know a lot of people,’ Sr Mary says. ‘It really is a privilege to be able to journey with these people, and to encourage them to grow and to eventually move on.’

Also this week we feature two books worth adding to your shelf: Streams of Light by Dr Nigel Zimmermann and Shadow of the Cross by Greg Craven AO. Both works explore the radical contributions that the Catholic Church and people of faith can make in a world desperately in need of tangible hope. Archbishop Peter A Comensoli will officially launch Shadow of the Cross on Thursday 18 November, alongside former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. (If you haven't already registered for this online event, make sure you do it soon!)

Pastoral Care in pandemic times
'Pastoral and spiritual care is, ultimately, a ministry of presence. Up until two years ago, such a statement would simply have been taken as a given, especially for those of us who know and understand the world of pastoral and spiritual care. But then the world changed.' In the lead up to Prison Sunday (7 November), Paul Zammit, Senior Manager of Pastoral Care Services at CatholicCare Victoria, shares the experiences of chaplains trying to provide a ministry of presence during the pandemic, and why it remains a vital work of the Church.
Prison ministry: a living sign of God’s love and mercy
Sr Mary O’Shannassy SGS OAM has been walking alongside men and women ‘as a messenger of compassion and hope’ in Victoria’s prisons for the past 27 years. She says it's a ‘great privilege’ and in May of this year, Sr Mary was conferred with an honorary doctorate from Australian Catholic University in recognition of her service and leadership in chaplaincy for all prisoners in Victoria.
Greg Craven book launch: Shadow of the Cross
What can Catholic Social Teaching offer in the way of forming public policy in Australia? This is what Professor Greg Craven’s latest book, Shadow of the Cross, seeks to explore. Archbishop Peter A Comensoli will officially launch the book on Thursday 18 November, alongside two of the book's key contributors: former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott.
Streams of Light: 2020 Easter Homilies Collection
In a new book, Streams of Light, Dr Nigel Zimmermann presents a collection of 2020 Easter homilies that were preached to mostly empty cathedrals around Australia as the country reeled from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Pandemic or not,’ Zimmermann says, ‘Christ’s resurrection changes the whole course of our lives and gives them meaning.’ This collection reflects the ingenuity of Australian Bishops as they try to bring the hope and meaning of the resurrection into a time of profound darkness.
Continued segregation deeply damaging: Archbishop Comensoli
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli continues to work with other faith leaders on proposals that will allow for the vaccinated and unvaccinated to worship in person safely. ‘After many long months of isolation, continued forms of segregation within the community are deeply damaging. We cannot let this become the only way for COVID-accommodation,’ the Archbishop recently told The Age, saying the government needs to be clear on when a unified gathering might happen.
Heroism and the universal call to holiness
Each year, we begin the month of November with the Solemnity of All Saints, celebrating the holy men and women whose lives put before us an ideal worth striving for. Some would argue however that given the messiness and complexities of today's world, achieving holiness is simply not possible. So, we must ask: is it possible to become a saint right now?
‘We offer encouragement for them to address the behaviour that’s brought them to prison so that they can have the courage to move on with belief in themselves as worthwhile people.’
Sr Mary O'Shannassy SGS OAM
On prison ministry
Upcoming events
Care for Our Common Home: A forum for parishes
Tuesday 16 November 2021
Organised by the parishes of Our Lady of the Assumption, Cheltenham, and St Agnes', Highett, together with the Justice and Peace Group of St Dominic's Parish in Camberwell, this online forum invites participants to: reflect on the message of Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato si', and developments since its release; share...
Public lecture: "How Do We Know What We Don't Know?" by Bishop Michael McKenna
Wednesday 17 November 2021
In 2021 the National Centre for Pastoral Research (NCPR) is celebrating 25 years of service to the Church. To mark the occasion, this free online lecture will look at how research and analyses undertaken by the NCPR have informed the planning for parish, school and other ministry developments, and have...
Virtual Open Day: Getting Started in Theology
Wednesday 17 November 2021
Whether you are interested in learning more about your faith, have a desire to study and research, wish to pursue a career in ministry or pastoral areas, or need to gain qualifications to assist your current teaching or ministry position, you will find something at Catholic Theological College (CTC) to...
Book launch: Shadow of the Cross
Thursday 18 November 2021
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli invites you to the launch of Greg Craven’s latest book, in which he argues that Catholic social teaching remains an important resource for addressing the challenges of Australian politics. The launch features former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. In Shadow of the Cross, Craven's...
Virtual Open Day: Pastoral and Spiritual Practice
Tuesday 23 November 2021
Catholic Theological College (CTC) invites you to join this free online information session to explore courses and pathways for study in pastoral and spiritual practice. Courses are designed for those working in parishes, schools, chaplaincy, hospitals, prisons and social services. This includes: Pastoral Practice Pastoral Studies and OutreachLeadership for a...
Consultation for National Youth Ministry Network
Thursday 25 November 2021
Representatives of Australian Catholic youth and young adult ministries are invited to take part in a consultation to explore the establishment of a new national network. Hosted by the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry (BCELM), with the Australian network of diocesan youth ministry coordinators (ANDYMC), this online consultation...
Ordination Mass at Patrick's Cathedral
Saturday 4 December 2021
Join us for the Ordination Mass of transitional deacons Alexander Chow, Hoang Dinh, Jaycee Napoles, Joseph Nguyen and Samuel Pearson at St Patrick's Cathedral on Saturday 4 December. The Mass will be broadcast live on our YouTube channel ( and via free-to-air TV on Community Channel C31 (channel 44 on...

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