Home' The Southern Cross : July 2015 Contents Page 10 July 2015
A group of women, most of them Catholic
parishioners, have been meeting to
discuss liturgy, social justice and their lives
as women in the Church every two weeks
for the past 32 years.
The most recent arrivals joined 28 years
Together they have experienced births,
deaths, weddings, marriage break-ups
and terminal illnesses through a unique
union that has outlasted the Christian Life
Movement (CLM) that originally brought
“We talk about many issues with a social
justice, ethical slant affecting women
and society in general,” says Kingswood
parishioner Marnie Watts. “Most of us
are fairly active parishioners,” she adds.
Marnie joined the group 28 years ago with
“We discuss the world as it affects us, our
children, and our grandchildren, including
how the Church responds to the needs
of women living out their lives in today’s
world,” says Marnie.
“We also have some quite theological
discussions,” says Lyn von der Borch,
who founded the group in 1983. Lyn too
belongs to the Kingswood Parish.
Each meeting, held at Cora Nankivell’s
home in Torrens Park over the past two
decades, involves prayer, reflection,
a discussion topic and sharing their
“We sometimes come out of prayer and
it’s quite surprising how the discussion
goes into Church issues or family issues or
world issues,” says Cora.
Over the years, conversation has roved
from bicycle helmets for children to
ethical shopping, Australia’s treatment of
asylum seekers, climate change, domestic
violence, women’s rights, the arrest of
Australian journalist Peter Greste, the
death penalty, and the need for more high
chairs in a local cafe.
“But it’s not all talk,” says Lyn. She says
the group follows the Cardijin method of
review: to see, to judge, to act.
The group has written letters of support to
Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia
Gillard when she was unceremoniously
deposed in 2013 and a letter to the local
Mitcham café, which resulted in more
high-chairs being made available. For
the past 11 years, instead of gifting each
other at Christmas, the women have
donated money to the Venny Girls’ Group
in Melbourne. The money is used to fund
an annual sleepover for the group of
disadvantaged girls who have come to
Australia from Ethiopia.
Lyn says the Venny project was one of
the initiatives of the Whitlam Government
to create play spaces, community and
support for disadvantaged families.
“As older women, we support this
initiative, not only with money but also
by keeping in touch, through letters and
cards, encouraging these young women of
The original CLM group evolved from a
Lenten discussion group held at Lyn’s
home in 1983.
The Newman Institute of Christian
Studies was the forerunner of the CLM
and focussed on social justice through
sponsored lectures. Over time, the CLM
was established in Adelaide as the first
Diocesan sponsored adult lay movement
| living catholic
The Southern Cross continues its Living Catholic page which features articles and photographs highlighting the many good works that often go
unnoticed but make a big difference to people’s lives and to the community in general. Parishes are invited to submit suggestions for stories
that demonstrate in a practical sense Living Catholic. Please send an email to email@example.com.
Beulah Hayter has spent more than 27
years counselling hundreds of teenagers
and women with unwanted pregnancies.
The Modbury parishioner retired from
Birthline Pregnancy Support Service
Inc. as a volunteer in May. The 77-year-
old grandmother of eight, and great-
grandmother of two, and her husband Neil
are planning to retire to Brisbane to be
closer to family.
Reflecting on her time as a phone
counsellor since 1987, and later a face-
to-face counsellor, at Birthline, Beulah
says the most confronting moments were
almost always those responding to calls
for help from pregnant teenagers, some as
young as 15.
“The calls that tend to upset you most are
the young people...who have their whole
lives ahead of them and you know this
pregnancy is going to change their life, but
you also know that they have a life growing
within,” she said.
Beulah counselled her last call at Birthline’s
Magill call centre on May 25. She was a
member on the Board of Management for
She said the 1969-legalisation of abortion
prompted her to get more actively involved
in the issue, finally leading her to Birthline’s
doorstep more than a decade later.
“I would go to (anti-abortion) marches,”
she says. “I can remember being outside
the town hall in the city...and the Queen
Victoria Hospital, and one day we found
out there was a doctor who did abortions
and we found out where he lived – I can’t
believe I did this – we protested outside
his house with our placards and there were
two little children in the window and they
were looking at this group of protesters
and right then and there I felt there had to
be a better way than this.”
This was followed by a Mass Beulah
attended with Neil in Los Angeles while on
holiday in the United States in September
1987. At the Mass, a priest explained
he had been so looking forward to
concelebrating Mass with Pope John Paul
II during his fourth visit to the US but that
his chance was missed when he took a call
from a very distressed young woman with
an unwanted pregnancy. He spent time
counselling her and the pregnancy was
“So I came home from the trip and there
in the letter box was a pamphlet from
Birthline about a telephone counselling
course,” says Beulah. “I rang them up, did
the course and started counselling,” she
Beulah says her interest in the impact of
abortion was first sparked by a friend’s
experience. “It was only after I saw the
incredible destruction of a person’s life
when they have had an abortion – they
never get over it, they suffer for the rest
of their lives,” she says. “And I really do
believe that life begins at conception.”
Beulah and her husband Neil, a Catholic
convert, were married on the Feast of the
Assumption in 1959. Neil received his
sacraments on the same day.
The couple were parishioners at Clearview
for 22 years before becoming involved in
the Modbury parish for the past 35 years.
They have both been involved in various
Christian Communities, including the
Christian Life Movement, Bread of Life
Community and Couples for Christ. They
have conducted the ALPHA course at
Modbury and been involved in RCIA (Rite
of Christian Initiation of Adults) for eight
years until recently.
Sisterhood of faith
By Rebecca DiGirolamo
FRIENDS FOR LIFE: Christian Life Movement group members (L-R) Mary Heard, Cora Nankivell, Marnie Watts, Penny Cahalan
and Lyn von der Borch at a recent gathering. Absent are Barbara Brown and Libby Pusz.
HEART-FELT HELPER: Beulah Hayter recently retired after 27 years volunteering for
Birthline Pregnancy Support Service Inc.
Birthline counsellor retires
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