St Clare’s Early Learning Centre – New Management

Changes are being made to the management of St Clare’s ELC/ Kindergarten. What follows is a letter I sent to the ELC families to advise of the nature of these changes. Parishioners will be interested to read a slightly edited version of what is happening.

In the Diocese of Sale we have only one ELC/ Kindergarten. This change follows the change in governance of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Sale, management of which has moved from the responsibility of the parish priest, to Diocese of Sale Catholic Education Limited, based at Sion House, Warragul. Fr B.

Dear Families of St Clare’s Early Learning Centre,

Recently St Patrick Parish, Pakenham, made the decision to transition the operational and administrative running of the Early Years’ service to an Early Years Management (EYM) service provider. This decision was made with the encouragement and approval of Bishop O’Regan and authorities in the Diocese of Sale. The successful service provider selected is ‘bestchance’ and we believe they are well placed to continue successfully managing St Clare’s Early Learning Centre, supporting the excellent kindergarten programs offered to our families. Bestchance have also assured us that we will retain the Catholic identity and culture of St Clare’s Early Learning Centre.

The ELC Executive Group, which I chair, led the decision-making process and staff were duly informed. The transition will not affect either the service delivery or the operational aspects of the kindergarten. The changes are administrative in nature and for children and families there should be no noticeable impact. Both the Parish and bestchance will be working together to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible and, most importantly, that there is no impact on the children, families and staff at St Clare’s Early Learning Centre.

What you need to know:

* The official transition date is 1st July 2018.

* bestchance will contact families with further enrolment requirements for Term 3, 2018.

* Session times and educational staff will remain as they currently are for the remainder of the year.

* bestchance will survey 2019 families in the coming weeks to confirm the program timetable for 2019.

We look forward to this new, sustainable phase of St Clare’s Early Learning Centre. I fully expect you will continue to enjoy kindergarten with your family in 2018 and beyond!

Yours faithfully

Fr Bernard Buckley      Parish Priest


Update – 27th May

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Alpha  has to  be postponed. Dates and more details will be published in the bulletin. We will need more volunteers  to create a core group to run the programme. If interested please contact Tresa Andrews (mobile: 0421931888, email:


The Parish Pastoral Council has been discussing bringing the Alpha program to St Pat’s. Alpha is a series of interactive sessions exploring the Christian faith. It is run all around the world – in cafes, churches, universities, name it, but all programs have three key things in common – eat, watch and chat.

Alpha coversing topics like: Is there more to life than this?; How does God guide us?; What about the church? ……… and many more.

Expert contributors include Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna and Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, as well as inspiring stories from around the world, people transformed by the love of Jesus.

When? The PPC is considering starting on Friday evening, June 1st at 7:00pm and to continue every Friday for 5 weeks; breaking for two weeks of school holidays and back again in mid-July. The commitment doesn’t need to be the 15 weeks; parishioners can join in and feel free to make their own choice.

It would be really great to have a couple more people to add to the Team to get the ball rolling. For more info contact Tresa Andrews @0421 931 888, or Fr Bernard.

Multiplatform Journalist Needed (Diocese of Sale)

The Bishop of Sale is seeking to appoint a Multiplatform Journalist for a fixed term of 2 years on a part time basis of 3 days per week (0.6FTE). The position forms part of the newly established Digital Media and Communications Team, reporting to the Bishop through Diocesan Digital Media Manager. The role will be actively involved in contributing content to the development of the Diocese’s new information and news websites. The Multiplatform Journalist will actively seek news stories from around the Diocese and be able to present these stories in written and video format. The position will be based in Warragul and will require travel to Parishes in the Diocese. Read more

Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment – 2018 Part 1

Last week in the bulletin (7 Jan 2018) we included part of a report of a survey offered to young Catholics last year to help prepare an Australian response to the forthcoming Synod of the Church, discussing the above topic. Following is another extract from that response, following on from last week:

THE IMPACT ON YOUNG PEOPLE: Along with the changes in the religious landscape, the Church’s significance as the centre of local community life has declined at the same time as people’s mobility and reliance on electronic forms of communication has increased. Young people are faced with a rising level of secularisation and materialism in the Australian society. Social media and main-stream media influences often conflict with the teachings of the faith. In addition, the Church’s teachings seem increasingly irrelevant to contemporary forms of relationships and do not support an individualistic way of working and living, so that the importance of religion has greatly decreased in many people’s lives. One of the challenges is also the variety of approaches to faith and church practice. On the one hand, there are those who adhere to traditional devotional, liturgical and hierarchical styles. On the other hand, there are those who place more emphasis on being Catholic within the world, in dialogue with others.

Rural dioceses face unique challenges in their ministry to young people. Going to Mass and attending youth groups is not very easy due to the large distances, the absence of regular weekend Mass and a lack of parish resources. The movement of young people to larger towns and cities sometimes creates a changed relationship with the Church and community. The Church can sometimes be seen as part of their childhood and not part of their daily life as they move to a new location and commence as adults. Individuals often return to their home parish for special moments such as a child’s baptism or a funeral but, due to the separation from the faith community of their childhood, they cease to engage in Church and have an ongoing faith life.

There are also challenges in ministering to migrant youth, with differently tailored youth programs needed for those who are born in Australia and new arrivals from overseas. These two groups of young people are distinct in their mentality, needs and also their choice of spoken language. For example, in the Chaldean diocese, some youth still speak only Chaldean and Arabic and struggle with English. This makes it a challenge to have an event that suits everyone. Indigenous Australians also face greater challenges with issues of equality and a lack of educational and work opportunities.

 Additional challenges for young people, as identified by both young people and the wider Church, include the breakdown of family relationships and an increase in domestic violence; the negative effects of social media (including cyberbullying, the need for constant connection and the resulting rewiring of how young people now think) and a lack of self-esteem and concern about what the future may hold for them. Another challenge is the over sexualisation of entertainment, advertising and media. This exposure to explicate concepts normalises the use of pornography, which leads to many different social challenges.

 Finally, the recent Royal Commission inquiry into the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in Australia has had serious repercussions in many communities. The legacy of child sexual abuse in some dioceses has tarnished not only the institution of the Church but also anyone who remains an active member of its community. There is a general loss of trust in society’s institutions and leaders, including the Church. In some places, priests refrain from visiting schools as they used to. There is a perception that the Church has lost the moral high ground.

Sections Two and Three of this report provide further details on the challenges faced by young people and the responses provided by vocational programs, pastoral care workers and youth ministries in Australia.  

Parishioners might be interested to read more of this report on the Australian Catholic Bishops’ website:



The Catholic Community in the Australian Religious Landscape

The Australian religious landscape has constantly changed over the centuries. Prior to 1788, an Aboriginal spirituality, expressed in myth, ritual and way of life, prevailed. Most of Australia’s religious groups trace their origins to Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe, with Catholics and Protestants being the main religious groups in the early years of European settlement. Over the years however, large surges in the immigration of people especially from non-English speaking countries, have led to an increase in non-Christian religious groups, and a greater diversity of religious affiliations than in previous times. Added to these changes is a rejection of religion by a large and growing number of Australians. Research findings from the 2009 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes suggest that for almost half of Australians, religion or spirituality is so weak that it is not present at all. 

The demographical profile of the Catholic community in Australia is increasingly multicultural with 23.6 per cent of the Australian Catholic population born overseas. An additional 22 per cent are second generation immigrants. While the Catholic population continues to increase, vocations to religious life (and even marriage) are on the decline. The number of Catholic religious in Australia shows a downward trend. In 2009 there were 8,422 Catholic religious in Australia as compared to 17,029 in 1976. The median age of Catholic religious was 73 as compared to 46 in 2006, confirming a rapidly aging profile. While these figures do not include diocesan clergy, Australia still has a relatively older religious community ministering to a younger Catholic population.

CATHOLIC PARISHES: There are currently 1,364 Catholic parishes operating in twenty-eight dioceses based on territorial divisions, five dioceses of Eastern Catholic churches and three other non-geographical dioceses which include the Military Ordinariate for the Armed Services of Australia, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross and the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei.

Australian parishes and dioceses are very diverse in terms of their location, size and population demographics. The average number of Catholics per parish doubled between 1947 and 2006, 2006, from 1,735 to 3,729. Nevertheless, this population is unevenly spread across the country resulting in some very large parishes and other very small ones. Burleigh Heads in the Archdiocese of Brisbane is the largest parish, with over 32,000 Catholics. In comparison the smallest mainland parish of Jugiong in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn has only 86 Catholics. The percentage of the Catholic population in each parish in comparison to the total population of the area also varies greatly. In parishes such as Bathurst Island and Santa Teresa in the Diocese of Darwin, both of which are Aboriginal communities, Catholics make up 86 to 89 per cent of the population, while a few parishes in the dioceses of Geraldton, Darwin, and Cairns exist in communities that are under 10 per cent Catholic

Recent research has shown that vibrant parishes are those that are inclusive and welcoming, with committed parishioners, active parish groups and a strong sense of belonging and community. Rural parishes face greater challenges due to the declining number of priests and lay leaders for ministry, shrinking Catholic populations and a lack of adequate resources to support Mass and other parish ministries.  Despite this, some rural parishes continue to excel through innovative leadership structures and parish events, dynamic youth activities, strong community engagement and adaptability, planning and vision.

Parishioners might be interested to read more of this report on the Australian Catholic Bishops’ website:

MEDIA STATEMENT-Royal Commission Response

Australian Catholic Bishops and Religious Leaders Respond to the Royal Commission Final Report: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has today released its final report, which includes a large number of recommendations, many of which will have a significant impact on the way the Catholic Church operates in Australia.

Read more

Calling all Dads with young(ish) families…

Following on from the recent Men Alive weekend, a group of dads has started to get together in the Parish Centre on Saturday mornings @ 8am for an hour of prayer, reflection, praise, and fellowship together.

Why not consider joining them as a way to prepare for Advent?

Simply turn up on Saturday @ 8am or contact Patrick (0427 682 208) for more information.