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Europe should look to Australia as a
beacon of multicultural reconciliation as
the world comes to terms with escalating
religious tensions recently witnessed in
Paris and Copenhagen, says the spiritual
leader of a French-based Christian
fellowship visiting Adelaide last month.
“I see that in this country there is this effort
made of being multicultural and being
together,” said Brother Alois, Prior of the
“Australia’s...awareness of coming from
different cultures and places is more alive
and I think this is a sign that it can give to
the rest of the world.
“It is something specific that is part of the
history of this country and in Europe we
have forgotten this.”
Br Alois made the comments while visiting
South Australia’s first Catholic-Anglican
school, St Columba College, on February
13.– a month after 17 people were killed in
Paris in terrorist attacks. .
“Inter-religious dialogue is urgent today,”
said Br Alois.
In January, Br Alois and Taize brothers
visited a mosque for the first time in a town
neighbouring their community in Taize.
“I think we have to go and visit and
discover that we can listen to each other.”
Br Alois said the community had also
welcomed its first Arab refugees who
had been living in Paris for a year without
having learnt a word of French.
The Taize Community was founded in
1940 in the village of the same name in
central France. It is made up of about 100
brothers from different Christian churches,
representing 25 countries. The Taize
Community wants its monastic life to be
a sign of reconciliation between divided
Christians and separated peoples.
This year the community celebrates its
75th anniversary and the 100th year of the
birth of Taize founder, Br Roger. As part of
the celebrations, Br Alois has concluded a
three-year pilgrimage called “Toward a New
Since the 1960s, young people from across
the globe travel to Taize, with the summer
population swelling to about 5000 people.
St Columba College student Christina
Mathieson was 10 when she and her family
spent four days in Taize. “I remember
feeling so peaceful,” she said of the
experience. She met with Br Alois last
month and plans to return to Taize upon
completing university studies.
Principal Wayne Gladigau said: “Students
and staff alike have cherished the
opportunity to hear the brothers reflect on
what it means to live a truly Christian life.
“Their spreading of the Gospel and
calling to love one another in peace and
reconciliation is a timely reminder of
how we are asked to respond in a world
of varying religious beliefs and social
Thursday, 26 March, 5 -7:30pm
For enrolment enquiries or tour bookings:
8266 0622 or firstname.lastname@example.org
792 Grand Junction Rd, Gilles Plains
Come and see our
facilities and meet our
new College Principal
ABN: 69 060 056 639 CRICOS: 00824D
RELIGIOUS UNITY: Br Alois and students Christina Mathieson and Alec McClymont.
Australia is a multicultural lighthouse: Taize Prior
By Rebecca DiGirolamo
An Adelaide Hills parish priest affected by
January’s Sampson Flat fire has double-
checked his presbytery’s sprinkler system,
reviewed the parish fire plan and is writing
to the local council regarding unkept
parklands near his church.
“I thought I was going to lose all my
parishes,” said Fr Alfred Farrugia, who
serves communities in and around
Birdwood, Lobethal and Bridgewater.
It was his first fire season in the area since
being appointed six months ago. And it
was a close call.
The Sampson Flat fire began on January
2 and burned through 12,500 hectares
across the Adelaide Hills over six days,
killing hundreds of animals and destroying
sheds, farms and 27 homes. The fire
destroyed the fencing and livestock of
several Adelaide Hills parishioners.
Fr Fred said he became concerned when
residents were told to evacuate from
Balhannah – just under 10 minutes’ drive
from his presbytery in Bridgewater.
“I was very terrified when the television
started broadcasting evacuation notices,”
said Fr Fred, who is from Malta.
Holed up in his presbytery, Fr Fred prayed
and waited for news of his parishioners in
the line of the ever-changing fire front on
Saturday night. He was deeply concerned
for three parishioners working with the
CFS, including Birdwood brigade volunteer
Tim Morley who was fighting the blaze.
Though fully aware of the area’s bushfire
risk, Fr Fred said the experience had
made him more alert to potential dangers
he is now writing to the council regarding
overgrown vegetation at a park near St
Matthew’s Church and plans to open the
Church to parishioners should a similar
situation occur again so that he can be
with, and support, his community in time
Last month Fr Fred presented parishioner
and Mount Pleasant CFS administration
officer Sue Streich with $675 raised by the
parish for the Mt Pleasant, Birdwood and
Springton CFS units.
Ms Streich was coordinating radio
communications for Mt Pleasant CFS
crews fighting the fire when she was forced
back home to protect her own property
and horses. She’s been working with the
CFS for five years and said her faith helped
her find strength in tough times.
“I actually don’t do too much praying until
afterwards when I say thankyou for getting
us out of this,” she said.
The Adelaide Hills parish has been part of
a volunteer roster of Christian Churches
feeding teams of volunteers who have
travelled from interstate to help locals
rebuild fire-damaged fencing.
Fr Fred said he had been overwhelmed
by his parish’s generosity. He said one
parishioner had donated $4000 to the St
Vincent de Paul Society Inc (SA) bushfire
appeal, which has helped more than 70
“We have to thank God for how generous
people are; not only in money but in
time and energy,” he said. “I think that is
something that has really put the gospel in
Donations to the Vinnies SA Bushfire
Appeal can still be made online at
stores across the State; or by calling
Vinnies on 13 18 12. Anyone seeking
assistance from Vinnies can call 1300
729 202 (weekdays between 9am-1pm).
baptism of fire
FIRE SAFETY FIRST: (clockwise) Mt Pleasant CFS administration coordinator Sue
Streich, Birdwood brigade CFS volunteer Tim Morley and Fr Alfred Farrugia at the
Gumeracha CFS station.
By Rebecca DiGirolamo
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