CATHOLIC ABORIGINAL MINISTRY
There is no Resident Pallottine in Geraldton at present.
The Aboriginal Ministry is concerned with the Spiritual,
Cultural and Social Development of people of Aboriginal descent.
The Liturgical and Social Functions are based at St. Joseph’s
Sunday Eucharist is held at 10:30 a.m. and the congregation
is a truly Catholic (Universal) one as it comprises people of Aboriginal decent
as well as people from a number of other national backgrounds.
The Children are taken separately for the Liturgy of the
The Music is of a modern contemporary style with the
occasional use of the "Aboriginal Mass" based on the "Misa
Kimberley" (similar to that used at the Eucharistic Congress in Melbourne
Services Provided by the Ministry:
Scripture Classes in Government Schools
Bus Service for Sunday Eucharist and Local Funerals
Emergency Transport Help
Liaison with Wandalgu Hostel Tardun
Registrar of Families
Small Library of Books on Aboriginal issues
Sunday News Letter
Prayer of the Aboriginal People.
Father of all, you gave us the Dreaming.
You have spoken to us through our beliefs.
You then made your love clear to us in the person of Jesus.
We thank you for your care.
You own us. You are our Hope.
Make us strong as we face the problems of change.
We ask you to help the people of Australia
to listen to us and respect our culture.
Make the knowledge of you grow strong in all people,
so that you can be at home in us
and we can make a home for everyone in our land.
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THE LIFE OF JACK RYAN
1925 - 2004
(Jack was a long time member of the Pallottine
Family in Geraldton & Tardun)
Jack began his life in Brisbane. He grew up in Breakfast
Creek during the depression years. Many times he told stories of his mother,
Maimie and his father, Vic and the long hours they had to work in their corner
shop. His father, whom he idolized, died from TB when Jack was still in his
On completing his education with the Christian Brothers, at
St Columban’s College, he served an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner,
working on ships at South Brisbane docks until after the war. He then had a milk
run in partnership with his brother until after his first marriage in 1947.
Meanwhile he changed his occupation again, going into menswear, first on his own
and then in partnership with his father in law. Again he often regaled us with
stories of his co-workers and customers and their adventures at Chapman’s
Together he and Joan had six children: Mary, Elizabeth,
Margaret, John, Catherine and Gerard. While she was still relatively young, Joan
developed breast cancer with all its painful complications and consequences. As
well as raising his children, caring for his wife and running his business, he
found time to do welfare work with the St Vincent de Paul Society, becoming
Queensland state president for a period of time. It was during this time that
his close and enduring friendship with Terry Moynihan developed. Later they
expanded their work for the poor, reaching out to other countries with
Australian Catholic Relief.
When Joan became too ill, Jack moved out of his business and
gave up his other interests to care for her and his children until Joan died. A
short time after her death, he set up ‘Jack Ryan’s Menswear’. However, before he
had a chance to get started, he lost most of his newly acquired and uninsured
stock in a burglary. In spite of all these difficulties he managed to get going
again and ran this business successfully until only Gerard was left at home.
Over the years he had read, studied and questioned in his
search to understand more about God, the meaning of life and Jesus’ message in
the Gospels. In his quest for this deeper understanding, he decided to sell his
business and pursue full-time theological studies. About this time he also met a
young lady called Margaret (Marnie) Graham. They both moved to Sydney; one to
study, the other to teach. Although Jack’s studies did not work out the way he
had planned, he was able to do some study and spend a lot of time with Father
Ted Kennedy, the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Aboriginal people in Redfern.
He also took a job for a time with Transrail, a company constructing demountable
This year, 1980, proved to be a turning point in his life. As
well as getting married on August 23rd in St Vincent’s Church, Redfern, towards
the end of the year he and Marnie moved to central Queensland hoping to work
with Aboriginal people there. Again this did not work out the way they had
planned. However, in 1983, after the birth of Simone, they answered an add in
the ‘Catholic Leader’ and came to work with the Pallottines at Tardun. Here he
was truly a ‘Jack of all trades’! During the four years spent here, he did
maintenance work, drove the school bus, dug drains, fixed septic systems, baked
bread and much more. It was also while they were working at Tardun that Luke was
born. At the end of 1986 they moved to Geraldton to continue working with the
Pallottines in the ministry to Aboriginal people. It was not long before he
began his work visiting Greenough Regional Prison and driving the bus for Church
on Sundays and funerals on other days..
He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1989. At first he had
surgery, followed by further treatments, including chemo therapy which held the
disease under control until only three years ago. A few days before Christmas
2001, the doctors discovered cancer had spread to his prostate, then eighteen
months later to his bones. This last phase of his illness was the most painful
and debilitating, but in spite of it all, he continued his chaplaincy work at
the prison until only a couple of months before his death.
During his life Jack did many things; working in the docks,
driving a milk truck, selling menswear, running a motel, building and
maintenance, driving buses and many other things and there were many facets of
his personality. He loved music and singing, and was a pretty good actor. He
could always speak from the heart and do it with a touch of Irish charm. Some
say he kissed the Blarney stone. He had a sharp intellect that was always
questioning and searching for the true meaning of life. He was passionate in his
belief in Jesus and determined to give his life in service to those who had been
badly treated and marginalized in society. However, none of this really
expresses who and what he was as well as a letter he received recently. This
letter came from a lady he got to know during her stay in Greenough Regional
Prison. She writes:
"Over the years it was your warm smile, a friendly ear that listened and
genuinely cared, that picked me up and warmed my heart. Just by being there
and listening you touched more people than you know. You are truly a good man
and thank you for always caring with an honest and pure heart."
Another woman who met Jack at Greenough Prison,
also speaks of the fact that Jack touched more people than he knew.
‘I was amazed in fact, when he told me how inadequate he felt when he first
started his work at the prison in 1987 - 17 years ago. I just thought, as most
other prisoners did, that Jack always knew what he was doing and where he was
going, unlike the rest of us ‘lost souls’ and ‘hopeless cases’. The whole
point of Jack’s work with prisoners is that to him, none of us were hopeless
cases. He believed we all had value, he told us we had value, and many of us
were strengthened at a most difficult time in our lives by his unyielding
A turning point for Jack, he told me recently, was when an Aboriginal man
asked him to help write a letter to his girlfriend. "I wrote a nice letter, I
thought," said Jack, "talking about love and other pleasant things."
"That’s no f ’ing good!" said the man when Jack read it to him, "Tell her
I’ll bash her if she don’t come and see me ..... etc, etc.
Jack was shocked, but instead of trying to force his thoughts and ways onto
this man, he decided then and there that he had to learn to understand
Aboriginal culture and their different way of doing things. He learnt to see
life through other people’s eyes, to share their vision of life, and ALWAYS to
treat people as his equal. This last point was very important to Jack, and he
lived up to this ideal every day in his actions and deeds. As a result, the
prisoners all came to trust Jack and respect him. He wasn’t just
another prison visitor; he was ‘father Jack’.
A lot of the prison officers and administrators liked and respected Jack as
well, and he listened to their stories with as much concern as he did the
prisoners. Jack treated all people as his equal, and he loved all people
despite their human frailties. His only failing, if I can call it that, was
his underestimation of his own capability and value. He praised others while
doubting himself. He was a truly wonderful man, and a very good friend.’
Perhaps his approach to life can best be summed up in one of his favourite
New Testament passages which he always strove to put into action and often
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it
is not proud.......... It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always
perseveres.’ 1 Cor 13: 4 - 7
NAIDOC CELEBRATIONS 2002
Bishop Bianchini Confirms Samantha Green
at Beachlands on Sunday 08 July 2001
picture to enlarge
100 years Pallottines in Australia
2001 is not just the Centenary of Federation for Australia,
for the Pallottine Priest and Brothers it marks their 100th
Anniversary of coming to this country, and as such this year is a year of
celebrations for them. In January, after their triennial Assembly in Millgrove,
Victoria, a new book telling of their story in Australia: "Nothing is
wasted in the Household of God" by Sr Brigida Nailon CSB, was launched. The
title was taken from one of the favourite sayings of one of the early Pallottine
pioneers of this country, Bishop Raible, and it underlines perhaps the spirit
with which those early missionaries works in ministering to the aboriginal
people of this land.
On the 11th of February, celebrations started in
earnest with a gala day at Rossmoyne, Perth; marking the day the Pallottines
first set foot on Australian soil, landing in Fremantle. As an offshoot of that,
Fr Norbert Hannappel, the German Pallottine Provincial, and Fr Alexander
Holzbach, editor of the German Pallottine magazine, are visiting Australia and
the many places those early missionaries established over the last 100 years.
(Though an Italian order, it was the members in Germany who first responded to
the Australian Bishops call for help). The 14th of February saw the
German Delegation (with Fr Michael McMahon, the Australian Regional Superior) at
Wandalgu, Tardun, where the children there gave them a taste of aboriginal
culture in an evening concert.
The 15th saw them arriving in Geraldton to be
greeted by Bishop Justin and to meet the local clergy over a beautiful meal in
the Australian tradition prepared by Jillian. That evening the celebrations
continued at Jack and Marnie Ryan’s place at Moresby with a Mass "For the
Spreading of the Gospel", followed by a bring and share by the Beachlands
community, to which Bishop Justin was able to join in. In his homily, Fr Kelvin
cited the example of St Vincent Pallotti’s celebration of the Epiphany octave,
in which he drew together the various traditions in Rome for celebrating the
Lord’s birth. This he claimed put those first missionaries in good stead to
look for the buds of faith in–"those whose faith is known to you
alone" (EP IV) the aboriginal people they came to evangelise. The same
sentiments are echoed in the prayer said every Sunday at Beachlands church taken
from the Papal visit to Alice Springs: "You have spoken to us through our
beliefs. You then made your love clear to us in the person of Jesus".
After Mass a great evening was had by all, with Phil Canny playing on his
squeeze box and Margaret Neville trying hard to whip up a sing along. One
wonders what sort of impression the whole event made on the German visitors.
Click on pictures
THE PARTY GOES
The visit of the German Pallottine Provincial, Fr
Norbert Hannappel to Beachlands in February was not to be the last of the
Pallottine order’s celebration of their 100th anniversary of
coming to this country. May 10th saw the visit of Fr Seamus
Freeman, the Pallottine Rector General from Rome. The Beachlands community
turned out in force to welcome Fr Seamus, accompanied by Fr Michael McMahon,
the Australian Regional, at an evening mass at St Joseph’s followed by what
has become now the Beachland traditional bring-n-share and community sing
along. The numbers at Beachlands were swelled that night by a group of
pilgrims from the East. To celebrate the centenary a group of Pallottine
associates have been on a pilgrimage around Australia, visiting Pallottine
places, past and present.
The group was partly made up of past Lay Missionaries
and Lay Volunteers who had worked with the Pallottines over the last 30 years.
Sr Carthage, a Mercy sister from Sydney, who had worked at Pallotti College
Millgrove Vic for many years, took the prize for being the eldest. ‘Sissy’
as she is affectionately known, at 88 still hasn’t lost her spirit. The
pilgrims, having gone directly to Beagle Bay to join in the centenary
celebrations there, on their return to Perth, made their way up to Geraldton
by bus, stopping off at New Norcia on the way. The New Norcia connection goes
back a long way, to the time of St Vincent Pallotti himself, when a fire
threaten the Mission and it miraculously turn away when a painting of the
Blessed Virgin given by St Vincent was brought out in procession.
Greg and Marilyn van Eede from the Beachlands community
had meet up with the Pilgrims at Beagle Bay earlier when they made their own
private pilgrimage there for the occasion. Marilyn had been a lay missionary
at Lombadina, and Greg while working at Tardun as a mechanic, visited the
Kimberleys, where they met for the first time over 25 years ago. They, like
many of the pilgrims had much to talk about, especially the changes that had
taken place since the time they did their service. Unfortunately Bishop Justin
was unable to join us at Beachlands that night, being delayed in the East with
Bishop Pell’s installation in Sydney after the Bishops’ conference. But as
the party was still going on, he was able catch up with whole group at
Wandalgu, Tardun, on the Saturday night, when it was the Hostel’s turn to
greet Fr Seamus with mass celebrated in the true Tardun Aboriginal style
followed by an evening concert.
But like the advertisement on TV: "But wait there’s
more!" Fr Kelvin Kenny is claiming his own little centenary by
celebrating his 25th anniversary 4 times across Australian from
West to East starting on the 20th of May at St Joseph’s. But that
a story for the next edition.
by Fr Kelvin Kenny SAC
Pallottine General visits Geraldton
as part of the 100 years Celebrations. 10.05.2001
FR KELVIN CELEBRATES - 25
YEARS IN THE PRIESTHOOD
After this year's Pallottine celebration of their 100 years
in Australia, Fr Kelvin Kenny is claiming for himself a centenary by
celebrating his 25th anniversary of ordination four times across the
On Sunday the 21st of May the party began with a Special
Mass at St Joseph's Beachlands, Geraldton. Bishop Justin Bianchini presided,
with Fr Michael McMahon. The Pallottine Regional Superior preaching the
homily. Fr Michael spoke about his life (Kelvin's) and The Life (The Lord's),
needing to become one, and that being the vocation of every Christian. Mass
was followed by the traditional Beachlands 'bring and share'. Once again Phil
Canny provided the music on his squeezebox while Margaret Neville lead the
sing-a-long. Peter van Eede made and decorated a delicious sponge cake for the
gathering. That afternoon Greg van Eede presented a private viewing of slides
from Kelvin's early training in 1969-70 at Pallotti College Millgrove, and
Marilyn van Eede presented him with a memento of his ordination back in 1976.
The evening saw the party continue with a gathering of the broader Pallottine
Family, the priests and brothers coming in from Tardun, for a meal at the
Boatshed Restaurant. Unfortunately Fr Michael had been called away due to the
sudden death of his sister in the eastern states, but Bishop Justin was there
to add to the joviality.
Two days later the celebrations started again; this time in
Rossmoyne Perth. Six priests con-celebrated mass with Kelvin on the evening of
the 22nd of May in the community chapel at Rossmoyne; Frs Butscher, Tiernan
and Kearney from the Rossmoyne community, Frs Luemmen and Bradbury from the
Riverton Parish, Fr John Lisle from the retirement village next door, and Fr
Myles Lynch OSM (former PP from Fr Kelvin's home parish of Kingsbury Vic.) All
were invited after the mass to continue the celebrations in the community hall
after the mass, where Denise Wilson, with the help of Nan Little and Laurel
Nanup had prepared a lavish spread. During the evening, Laurie Phillips made a
presentation to Kelvin on behalf of the Village and Hostel residents for all
he had done for them whilst at Rossmoyne. Dorothy Daniel from the parish
provided a beautiful cake to mark the occasion.
Next it was across Australia to his home parish of
Kingsbury Victoria, where Kelvin joined up with the Parish Priest, Fr Terry
Bergin, in a joint 25th Celebration on Sunday the 27th May. As they have
discovered, they were in the same group on that day 25 years ago that fronted
up in St Pat's cathedral to be ordained by Archbishop Little, though not
knowing each other at the time. The mass was prepared by Shane Crawford, the
primary school's RE coordinator and the school children sang beautifully the
responses to the children's Eucharistic prayer used. At the end of mass Fr
Kelvin thanked everyone for inviting him and for the support they have given
him in responding to the Lord's call, urging them to continue fostering
vocations in their young. Afterwards it was into the parish hall to continue
the celebrations where Fr Kelvin was able to meet up with some of those
parishioners he grew up with so many years ago. But it didn't end there, the
Kenny clan then gathered at the family home. This time it was Fr Kelvin's
sister Bernadette who had baked the cake and the family presented him with a
Papal Blessing for the occasion.
On the 29th, the actual day itself, it was off to Kew, the
original motherhouse of the Pallottine, to complete the celebrations. There
with his fellow Pallottine brother priests, Frs Hennessey, Silvester, Flynn,
Winson, Jackson, Wehrmaker and Campbell, and the broader Pallottine family,
Kelvin at mass and afterwards remembered that great moment of his life. Fr Pat
Jackson spoke on the occasion, mentioning Fr Kelvin's family and his parish's
first Parish Priest, Fr John Brennan, and the effect he had on Kelvin, in
imaging Christ. Unfortunately Fr Roger McGinley had taken sick and was unable
to join them.
Before returning to Geraldton, Kelvin was able to attend a
workshop hosted by the Catholic Archivists Association, and spend some quality
time with his parents.
Sunday the 9th of July saw the conclusion of
the first Naidoc week for the new millennium and with it, the final celebrations
of this annual event. The congregation of St Joseph's Beachlands parish
celebrated this with a special Mass followed by a bring and share morning tea.
As the congregation Indigenous and others, entered the church spirits were
purged by way of the traditional cleansing properties of smoke provided by a pot
of smoking gum leaves. Bessie Dingo explained the significance of this
traditional process and its healing and cleansing purposes during the ceremony.
The Mass was attended, and participated in, by many Aboriginal people including
representatives of the Dann and Boddington families of the Murchison area.
Click on pictures
The children decorated the church with colourful images of their
hand prints and presented them at the offertory. They were aided in their
efforts by Marnie and Simone Ryan. The music provided by Brother Barry reflected
the joyous, hopeful spirit of reconciliation. The celebrations spilled over into
the hall adjoining the church as the many guests of equally numerous mixed
decent mingled and enjoyed the tasty dishes, generously prepared by some members
of the congregation. They revelled in the engaging conversation and company of
each other. The morning drew to a rousing conclusion serenaded by the familiar
and melodious tunes of the very talented Phil Canny on his piano accordion. Mr
Canny was accompanied in his musical efforts by many of the congregation in
particular the tuneful strains of Margaret Neville. Anne Bell and Father Kelvin
also provided a great deal of entertainment in which many of the children
eagerly participated with their energetic example of barn and folk dances.
by Simone Ryan
ST FRANCIS XAVIER CATHEDRAL GERALDTON
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