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VERBUM DEI ARTICLEWHAT IS THE CONTEXT OF THE MISSION IN AUSTRALIA?Australia has a population of approximately 22 million p...
perception that they offer a better quality of education, especially in the area ofmorals and values.In the multi-faith co...
Weekend RetreatsWe hold retreats about once every two or three months. They are ecclesial innature and based on the Temari...
To reach out to younger children, a Children’s Liturgy is held during Sunday Masseach week, where a sketch, puppet show or...
have values and morals that reflect those of Jesus. In this way loss of hope andmeaning can be avoided and hopefully lead ...
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23 misión en australia 120715

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Archivo Anexo a la conferencia "Interculturalidad y Encarnación del Carisma"

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23 misión en australia 120715

  1. 1. VERBUM DEI ARTICLEWHAT IS THE CONTEXT OF THE MISSION IN AUSTRALIA?Australia has a population of approximately 22 million people. It is a vast countrygeographically but notin terms of population. The initial population of Australia wasmade up of Aborigines, who inhabited the land forover 40,000 yearsuntilAustraliawas colonised by the British in 1788. Culturally British colonisation has affectedthe style of government, the business and industrial set up (especially agriculture)and many typical entertainment activities and sports such as cricket and rugby. Ithas also resulted in English being the predominant spoken language. Significantfor the church in Australia is the Irish influence, as many Irish people settled in thecountry after colonisation.After World War II there was heavy migration from Europe, especially fromGreece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, and Turkey. Thiswas in response to the Australian policy of proactively trying to attract immigrantsto boost the population and work force. In the last forty years, Australia hasliberalised its immigration policy and opened its borders to South East Asia, whichhas contributed to Mandarin becoming the second most spoken language afterEnglish. In the past twenty years there has been much more immigration from theMiddle East and Africa, which further adds to its multicultural identity. This hascaused a real shift in self-perception as Australians begin to re-define themselvesas a multi-cultural and multi-faith society rather than the old homogenous, white,Anglo- Saxon, Protestant nation.Australia is a western country, significantly influenced by the United States ofAmerica in terms of TV, music and film. There is also a culture of materialism andsecularism and a sexualisation of the human body. It tends to be a veryindividualistic society with people very concerned with their wants and needs as anindividual rather than the common good. More and more there is a prevalence ofpeople coming from broken backgrounds and coming from dysfunctional familieswhere there has been abuse whether it be emotional, physical, sexual orpsychological. There is a high incidence of depression within society as well ashigh suicide rates.RELIGIONAt the latest census, Catholics made up the largest denomination in Australia,followed by people who do not profess a religion. Of the people who identifythemselves as Catholic, less than 20% are regularly practising. Many wouldsupport practices contrary to church teaching such as same sex marriage,abortion, euthanasia, divorce, contraception and IVF.In general, there is little societal pressure to practice one’s faith. However, manypeople send their children to Catholic schools, even non-Catholics, because of the 1
  2. 2. perception that they offer a better quality of education, especially in the area ofmorals and values.In the multi-faith context, there is a growing need to find ways of building bridgesbetween different faiths and as a resultinterfaith dialogue is avidly encouraged.SPIRITUALITYSpirituality in Australia is seen to be a private affair, and not to affect the publicsphere. There is an unspoken assumption that religion is not talked about, for fearof causing offense or division among workmates, family and friends and there ismuch diversity around beliefs and values. This can make it challenging to talkabout faith and religion.However, people are searching for a greater meaning in life whether they areaware of it or not and this is evidenced in people looking for love or attention but inthe wrong waysand manifests in addiction, unhealthy relationships or patterns ofbehaviour.HOW IS THE VERBUM DEI MISSION INCARNATED INTO THIS CULTURE?The Verbum Dei Charism comes alive and responds to this context in the followingways:SCHOOLS OF THE WORDOur Schools of the Word are held regularly in different places: in Sydney,Wollongong, at the university campus where Verbum Dei hold the Catholicchaplaincy and in various workplaces around Sydney during lunch breaks. In thisway people are introduced to prayer with the Word of God and experience how toapply it to their lives. People start to change as they pray and experience the Wordin a very practical and concrete way in their life.Once every three weeks, we hold a School especially for couples, complete with achildren’s program. The children’s program is integral to allowing both members ofthe couple to attend the meeting. A program is prepared for the children so thatwhile their parents are being nourished, they too are receiving valuable spiritualnourishment and a foundation for their faith and their relationship with Jesus.SCHOOL OF APOSTLESA School of Apostles is held every Saturday in Sydney where formation is give todisciples and lay consecrated missionaries. This formation consists of: aspects ofVerbum Dei Spirituality, formation on mission, learning how to give the talks fromthe Temario, and human development. The School is usually followed by acommunal lunch which is important for fostering a sense of community.RETREATS 2
  3. 3. Weekend RetreatsWe hold retreats about once every two or three months. They are ecclesial innature and based on the Temario. We advertise these widely through word ofmouth, and in the local parishes, bulletins, newsletters and on our website. Onaverage about 60 to 70 people attend these weekends. Some are held as silentretreats and some as Life and Love weekends, where people have a chance toshare in small groups after their prayer.Day RetreatsDuring the year we also offer day retreats for singles and couples who may not beable to attend a full weekend retreat. These are very popular as people are oftenvery busy and find it easier to commit to a day retreat rather than a full weekend.“Just for Men”/ “Just for Women”Once a year, we offer a retreat “just for men”and “just for women”. Having just mentogether means that men can talk freely about men’s topics. Currently there are nomale missionaries in Australia, so male missionaries come from Philippines to leadthese retreats. Women’s retreats also allow women to speak freely and openlyabout topics which affect women and help women to understand their femininityfrom a faith perspective, and that their body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and notan object of pleasure.Easter EncounterAt Easter, we hold an Easter Encounter, which follows the liturgical celebrations ofEaster from Holy Thursday to Easter Saturday Vigil.The Easter encounter consistsof: personal prayer and sharing, dynamic rosaries based on the Word of God,dramas, and the opportunity to participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation.A dramatisation of the Stations of the Cross is performed in the parish byretreatants and members of the parish and provides a focal point for prayer duringGood Friday of the retreat.Disciples RetreatsOnce a year we hold a disciples retreat where people renew their commitment toJesus and the Verbum Dei Family, of daily prayer and participation in thepreparation of Verbum Dei activities and retreats.Children’s Liturgy 3
  4. 4. To reach out to younger children, a Children’s Liturgy is held during Sunday Masseach week, where a sketch, puppet show or dynamic are used to bring out thetheme of that Sunday’s Gospel, followed by a discussion with the children beforereturning to Mass. The aim is to help the children apply the Gospel in a practicalway in their life and to experience Jesus as someone who is real for them, thatJesus can change their lives and that He is not just a theory.Teenager’s GroupA teenager’s group is held every first Sunday of the month with predominantly thechildren from the parish who have outgrown the children’s liturgy. We talk aboutissues that are relevant to them as teenagers and things they might be strugglingwith or are affected by. Some of the topics that have been covered this yearinclude: self esteem, meaning of life, friendship, relationships and how to deal withbullying.The aim is for the children to have a strong foundation in Jesus so thattheir faith can be practical and they can overcome challenges such as peerpressure, drug and alcohol use as well as being able to live chastely.MUSIC MINISTRYVerbum Dei Australia also produces its own music, based on the Word of God,with the view to evangelising people through music. In this way we can respond topeople who already have faith but also reach out to people who in many cases arefrom other faiths or no faith background at all.WHAT IS THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE VERBUM DEI MISSION IN THISCONCRETE CONTEXT?Verbum Dei’s contribution is invaluable and is concretised in this cultural context.Through the Schools of the Word and Retreats we introduce people to the verycore of their existence: that they are a child of God and that here is more to lifethan just consumerism, materialism and the “success” that is shown to us by theworld. People experience the power of God’s unconditional love and this helpsthem heal from backgrounds of abuse, dysfunction or lack of love. We havewitnessed countless people’s lives change as a result of prayer and theirrelationship with Jesus: people who didn’t want to live, whose hope has beenrestored as a result of prayer and now they are committed members of theVerbum Dei Family, sharing the word and spreading the Jesus’ message toothers.Through the Children’s and Teenager’s programs we try and facilitate the childrento have a strong foundation in Jesus so they can live a life of faith and as a resultto have healthy self esteem, knowing that they are a child of God and that they areloved. We aim to restore children’s hope and help them to see the meaning andpurpose of their lives so that they can treasure them as being a gift from God, and 4
  5. 5. have values and morals that reflect those of Jesus. In this way loss of hope andmeaning can be avoided and hopefully lead to a reduction of children andteenagers who experience depression or have lost their desire to live.We face many challenges in the task of Evangelising in this beautiful country ofAustralia, but we rely on the grace of God to guide the way to reach the hearts ofpeople with the love of God through our prayer, witness and ministry of the Word. 5

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