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THE SOUTHERN CROSS June 2017 | www.thesoutherncross.org.au 11
ot long after I started working for the
Archdiocese in 2009, I received a letter
from a very devout Catholic lady called
Therese whose beloved two-year-old
grandson Jack had recently died from a
She wanted to share the story of his suffering but
also his beautiful personality and the joy he had
brought to her family.
I published her moving tribute to Jack and
subsequently she sent me a lovely card with a photo
of Jack to thank me for the story. “Today everything
stopped! For your lovely presentation...In memory of
Jack...filled my family’s heart with joy, something that
we have not known for a long time. No words can ever
be found to express our THANK YOU!”
I was blown away by her kind words and her
thoughtfulness at such a difficult time in her life and
I placed the card on a shelf behind my desk where it
remained for several years until eventually I put it with
clean out of my office and tossed most of these old
documents in the bin. I don’t know why but for some
reason I couldn’t bring myself to throw out this card –
perhaps out of respect for little Jack or to remind me
of the impact that sharing someone’s story can have.
I remember thinking when I received Therese’s letter
that we publish obituaries about people who have lived
to a wise old age but rarely do we write about young
people who die, and yet surely their short life is just as
important. In Jack’s case, it was obvious that although
he was here for only three and a bit years, his loving,
happy nature had an immense impact on all those
Last month I received another letter from Therese –
eight years after the first one – to tell me her daughter
Tarina had written a book about Jack’s life and to invite
me to the launch. She said Tarina had written from
“deep within her soul – struggling with God, wanting to
ask why but knowing within her soul that is not going
to be answered here in this life”.
Of course I didn’t hesitate to contact Tarina, and
organised to meet her one morning at her home after
she’d dropped her nine-year-old son Luke at school.
As luck would have it, Luke had stayed home with
a tummy ache that day and I was able to meet this
beautiful young boy who has been such a source of
hope and comfort to Tarina and her husband Anthony.
She spoke openly about Jack’s death and how she
wanted it to be an inspiration to others. She surprised
herself when she started crying while speaking about
the strength of her relationship with Anthony.
We talked about her mum’s faith and her own
questioning of God but as she explains in the final
chapter of her book, it is believing in herself that has
been Jack’s greatest gift: Jack never doubted me. He
never judged me. He believed in me. I choose to follow
his wisdom and to give myself the greatest gift I can; I
I have put Therese’s card back on my shelf, in pride
of place. It reminds me to be grateful.
See story page 17
Online news service coming soon
The Southern Cross will next month embark on an
exciting new format for delivering the latest news and
information to the South Australian community.
For the past few months your award-winning
newspaper’s website has been undergoing a major
transformation to make it a digital media platform
where news stories can be posted on a daily basis.
The introduction of The Southern Cross online news
site will enable us to provide readers with up-to-the-
minute coverage of issues and events related to the
Catholic Church at a local, national and international
Subscribers to the free online website will also
receive fortnightly emails directing them to stories
of interest, but they will be able to access the site at
any time to keep abreast of what’s happening in the
The printed version of The Southern Cross will
continue to be published each month and distributed
to all parishes and agencies, however, from July the
digital flipbook version of the newspaper will no longer
The move to the online digital media platform is an
exciting innovation that will better serve the changing
needs of news consumers.
We know that our readers, particularly the younger
ones, want their news as it happens and they generally
read it through a digital platform such as on their
mobile phone or iPad. Our new website will better
serve their needs.
It will also significantly increase our reach to not
only regular Church-goers but those committed to
the values of the Catholic faith, including the 35,000
families who choose to send their children to Catholic
The new website www.thesoutherncross.org.au will
be ‘live’ from early July.
A card for keeping
Pentecost literally means ‘50 days’. For Christians, the 50 days in question
are those that follow Easter Sunday, concluding with the feast on which we
commemorate the dramatic coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples as
tongues of fire while the rushing of wind was heard outside. And just as Easter
is forever associated with baptism, the sacrament of new life in Christ, so
Pentecost is linked with confirmation, the sacrament of activating the power of
the Holy Spirit that we received in baptism.
While many of us can list the gifts of the Spirit without any difficulty –
wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the
Lord – what do they really mean to us? It is these very gifts that enable us
to live our lives as Christians every day. Just think about it. How many days
go past that we are not in need of wisdom to help us make good choices in
our own lives and offer support and comfort to others, knowledge to lead us
in the right direction, strength and courage to face the situations of everyday
life, the love of God to draw us closer to Christ, and wonder and awe in God’s
presence to recognise the many gifts we have been given and the marvels of
God’s creation? It is by making use of the gifts given to us by the Spirit that we
can live the life to which our baptism calls us.
St Basil, one of the fathers of the early Church, spoke of the Holy Spirit as the
source of all holiness, because it is this Spirit of God that slowly transforms our
hearts, making us more and more like Christ, able to call God ‘Abba, Father!’
and not only to know just how precious we are in God’s eyes but to be able to
share this knowledge with others. In his letter to the Galatians, St Paul tells us
that the fruits of the spirit are love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We are naturally drawn to people who
exhibit these beautiful qualities and delight in being with them. “If only we
could be like that,” we say to ourselves. The truth of the matter is that we
CAN be like that; we just have to remember that the Holy Spirit is present
with us in every moment of every day and that by using the gifts ‘activated’ in
confirmation we can develop the fruits that life in the Spirit brings.
In years past the chief image associated with confirmation was that of ‘a
soldier of Christ’. While it served to illustrate the need to be ever ready to
‘battle’ against evil, it also implied a ‘them against us’ mentality, where everyone
outside the Church was seen as the enemy. How much more appropriate to
stress the everyday use of the gifts of the Spirit and to draw people to Christ
through the beautiful personal qualities that are the fruit of this!
Jenny O’Brien is liturgy educator at the Office for Worship.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
precious moments become precious memories
24 hr phone
08 8223 5879
As we approach Pentecost, JENNY O’BRIEN writes
of the power of the Holy Spirit received at baptism
and activated at confirmation.
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