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Newsletter 0809


									Australian Network for Spiritual Direction Inc.
For people engaged in godly listening Website:

Newsletter September 2008

Greetings to you all! The 2008 conference has arrived and gone and the word is…fantastic. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. Great venue! Great teaching! Great fellowship! Well done and thank you to Kate and the Queensland team and to our speakers John Stewart and Christina Fox. Roslyn Wright has provided us with a reflection on the conference and Elizabeth Palmer has expressed her response in a Mandala (seen at its best in colour in the newsletter on the website). The September newsletter includes the reports presented by our president John Stuart, the executive and regional representatives at the AGM. There are also quite a few important changes that have taken place since the AGM. Heather Northwood is our new secretary. For those who weren’t at the conference to meet Heather, she will not be completely new to you as she was one of the graduates mentioned in Beryl Rule’s article in our last newsletter, where she shared her experience of Spiritual Direction. Our new treasurer Elizabeth Palmer will also not be a stranger to anyone as she is a long standing member of ANSD who has contributed to our organisation over the years by printing and mailing the newsletters, being on several conference committees and most recently setting up and running our website. Denise Brosnan is the new representative for Brisbane. Vicki Cullen has moved to Canberra so her contact details have changed. Another important change since the AGM is that we are able to offer our members the newsletter in electronic form. Sending newsletters by email is very popular in organisations that rely on volunteer work because it is simple and saves a lot of work and a lot of money. It is also understood that many people prefer a hard copy even if they have an email address. If you would be happy to receive the newsletter by email please email Elizabeth Palmer at so that she can record your email and establish an accurate email distribution list. If you do not email Elizabeth, you will continue to receive a hard copy. There are quite a few little upcoming events mentioned in the newsletter for your interest. Contact details for the events are also provided.
Joanne Windeyer (Editor) and Sheila Bourne (Assistant Editor)
Contributions for the next ANSD Newsletter should be sent by post to Joanne Windeyer, 10/4 Cromarty Rd., Soldier’s Point. NSW 2317. Phone (02) 49846715 or email:

President: John Stuart Unit 2/16 Sycamore St, Frankston, VIC 3199 P: 03 9781 1683 E: Treasurer: Elizabeth Palmer 39 Rutledge St, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620 Ph: 02 6299 3920 E: Secretary: Heather Northwood Unit 5/41 Barrington St, Bentleigh East VIC 3165 P:03 9570 5320 E: Public Officer: Adrian Jones 13 Aanensen Court, Montmorency, Vic 3094 P:03 9439 1545 E:

Adelaide (SA/NT):Dianne Bradley 3 Doncaster Ave, Colonel Light Gardens SA 5041 P: 08 8276 2928 E: Queensland: Denise Brosnan 206 Clifton Drive, North MacLean, QLD 4280 P: 07 3200 0207 E: Canberra Region Vicky Cullen 142 Drake Brockman Drive, Holt ACT 2615 P: 02 6255 3191 E: Melbourne Cath Connelly 1 Apsley Road, Tecoma, Vic. 3160 P. 03 9754 3518 E: Newcastle Sheila Bourne 71 Porter Ave, East Maitland NSW 2323 P: 02 4933 4696 E:: WA vacant Sydney: Mary Hagan PO Box 288, Quakers Hill, NSW 2763 P: 02 9626 2899 E: Tasmania: Denise Stephenson 3 Drew St., East Devonport,.Tas 7310 P: 03 6427-8548 E:

PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2007-2008 “When will they ever learn? Oh! When will they ever learn?” This is the refrain of a folk song most of us are familiar with “Where have all the flowers gone?” It was written by Pete Seeger in 1961. The song reflects on the life cycle by pondering or wondering where have all the flowers, young girls, young men, soldiers, graveyards gone? “Flowers picked by young girls Young girls gone to young men Young men gone to graveyards Graveyards gone to flowers” And so it starts again... “Flowers picked by young girls- everyone.” There are different ways we may view the refrain: • As a sad shaking of the head that history’s lessons have not been learned. • As a carping criticism. • As a grace filled reflection that points to an ongoing journey of discovery. Let us look at the second and third options. The refrain can be seen as an admonition, a carping criticism “You will never, ever get it right.” It can also be read/heard as a grace-filled reflection that alerts us to an ongoing process of our restless journey into self and home to God. Augustine has already pointed to the restless heart as an essential element of our journey home. “Our hearts are restless O Lord until they rest in You.” And he also indicated that this restless energy leads us to know ourselves and therefore God. “Help me know myself that I may know You better.” There is no dualism here - our restlessness allows us to take the opportunity of making the inner journey home to the True Self (of Merton) where God is known in all Her fullness. Restlessness and self- knowledge far from leading us away from God actually alerts us to an ongoing love affair with life/Life. And as we all know, in any grace-filled love affair we always come to know ourselves and our lover more intimately. When will they ever learn? Taken in the context of this journey of discovery will always lead to something positive and life giving. Two recent and now, unfortunately, ongoing incidents can make us wonder whether the refrain is linked more to a negative, cynical approach than alerting us to an ongoing journey of discovery. Both pertain to Institutional Church. The quite sad and tragic call by Peter Jensen, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, to boycott the Lambeth Conference. The other an equally sad incident of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference issuing a statement questioning the bona fides of one of their own, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, for his book “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church” subtitled “Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus.” Both incidents reveal an almost pathological inability by some in positions of power to listen and to be open. Perhaps this is too harsh, but the incidents do reveal a tendency to react negatively if the promptings of the Spirit are not attended to. When will they ever learn, can quite easily descend into a sense that those in such positions actually do not listen and cannot learn. Thankfully in both incidents there are rays of sunshine. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has continually invited the dissenters to come to Lambeth and keep the conversation going. Pat Power, auxiliary Bishop of Canberra/ Goulburn, has taken a public stance of solidarity with Geoffrey Robinson. ANSD Newsletter 2 September 2008

‘When will they ever learn’ ascends here into a grace-filled call to be open to conversation that always leads to a process of discovery. What, may you ask has this to do with ANSD and the ministry of Spiritual Direction? I believe it situates us in the context of prophetic ministry. Eileen Glass, two years ago, at the inaugural AECSD gathering spoke to this very point. Someone had bemoaned the lack of endorsement by Church leaders of the gathering. Eileen responded by saying we need no such endorsement. If this ministry is a prophetic one then, by and large, those in positions of power will be reluctant to engage in conversation. Perhaps they will never learn; for as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross found out, they were rarely flavour of the month people, to the extent that John’s own Carmelite community imprisoned him because they did not like what he was saying. Where has ANSD been in the last year? I would suggest two ways that we have been active and present is in our regional groups and individually as members of the wider Church and World communities. We are not a large organization, but we are part of a larger network of people engaged in the ministry of spiritual direction. While our regional groups met with varying degrees of success they have nonetheless made a significant contribution to supporting their own local members. And while some regions struggle to meet, the members individually have made a contribution at grass roots level by offering spiritual direction and by encouraging the ministry of spiritual direction by making it known. Another challenge is how do we spread the wisdom of the process of self-discovery that the ministry of spiritual direction offers? Many of us work in situations where the spiritual direction process will help those we work with or for. We know the world will benefit from spiritual direction. How do we promote it without being spiritual imperialists? Perhaps one of the big challenges is how do we, and all spiritual direction groups, ensure that spiritual direction is not seen or does not devolve into an elite ministry? In conversation with members outside of the big cities, comments about the Melbourne /Sydney or big city focus have been mentioned. This challenge – to support rural groups and individuals offering spiritual direction is to be taken seriously. For example – in Melbourne we take Supervision and its provision for granted. Rural people cannot; and therefore their need is compounded. How is this need to be addressed? When will they (we) ever learn? Our openness to conversation, our openness to life surely will be the catalyst that makes sure we learn. The flowers picked from the graveyards only grow from the rhythms of nature. In his study guide for the ACU Course “Prayer and Spirituality in the Christian Tradition” Patrick Oliver helps us see these rhythms of nature as the pattern for our own journey. “Creation is the first scripture, and Jesus’ illustration of the wheat grain shows he is in touch with the pattern that exists in all nature and creation:” ‘Unless a wheat grain falls to the ground and dies, it yields a rich harvest’ (John12:24). Jesus knows that this life-death-life pattern is at the heart of what exists, and that nothing can continue to exist unless it dies to itself. Jesus’ life and death is a physical enfleshed enacted parable of what has been true and always will be true.” Our call as ANSD and as spiritual directors is not to serve our selves but to die to self and perhaps our notion of spiritual direction. Our biggest challenge is how do we attend to the question When will they (we) ever learn? Not be seeing it as a carping criticism; but only by seeing it as an invitation to know the process of where the flowers come from and how they are fertilized. John Stuart President ANSD Newsletter 3 September 2008

Executive Report In the last year ANSD through the Executive has addressed a number of issues. Liz Palmer has our website up and running. The Constitution and our Incorporation have been put to bed and are now able to serve our ongoing work. Incorporation has brought with it a new dimension; while it comes out of a legal context it can also be situated in a moral setting that comes out of a duty of care. Jo Windeyer has done a marvellous job with the Newsletter. We hope to have a more integrated relationship between the Newsletter and the Website in the coming year. The issue of copyright has been addressed and we have come to a decision to have a yearly payment. The other big issue has been that of Public Liability Insurance. Incorporation alerted us to the need for ANSD to have Public Liability Insurance and the issue is currently being investigated. Our thanks go to Liz Palmer for the care of the Website, Jo Windeyer for the publication of the Newsletter, Caroline Pearce for finalizing copyright arrangements, and a special mention to Jeff Lawrence, from Brisbane, for his invaluable assistance in helping us deal with the Public Liability issue.

“The Ammas teach us not to fear the desert, rather to see the life present there as its gift... Because our initial entrance can be painful and confusing, we fear it and try to escape…until a wise one unpacks the potential of the desert for us. The desert requires us to explore our crisis of personal meaning. The Ammas show us how the work of our desert moves us through integration toward authenticity. The fruit of the desert struggle is abundant life and deep abiding joy.” Laura Swan The Forgotten Desert Mothers Paulist Press, New Jersey. (2001) p 167

Response to the Conference by Elizabeth Palmer ANSD Newsletter 4 September 2008

GIVE ME A WORD… ANCIENT DESERT WISDOM FOR THE 21ST CENTURY Reflections at a Distance I have been going to ANSD conferences whenever I can for the past 11 years, and there are always good reasons to go. The top of the list for me is always the friendships and connections with people who share a passion and interest in spiritual direction. We are a motley bunch, doing different things in different places with different ways of operating. But we share at heart a desire to facilitate people’s grow in their relationship with God. I love to meet again and hear what is happening in different places across our country. The input is always good, sometimes challenging, sometimes affirming, but always thought provoking. Christina Fox and John Stewart stood firmly in that tradition. John teased us with snippets of the ‘great contemporary classic’ series Harry Potter, and Christina developed the theme for each presentation with glimpses of the early desert fathers and at least one mother. Each session was grounded in scripture and invited us to make connections between our practice and our lives and the wisdom we had been invited to share. Stop Look Listen The director I am very glad to know that the presentations by John and Christina are being edited for distribution, so that I can revisit the words, the images and the stories. We have been given a gift that can now either sit on the shelf gathering dust, or become polished by our use and ongoing exploration of the wisdom offered. Roslyn Wright MEETING GOD IN THE OUTBACK An opportunity to explore the spirit of the land. DIARMUID O’MURCHU IN AUSTRALIA IN 2009 Workshop 1 – Ecology and Spirituality 9-10 January Wellspring Centre, Ashburton 6th -10th October 2008 Retreat Director: Suzanne Dunbar For information and registration forms contact Ross Neville, PO Box 70 Orange 2800 Tel: 02 6366 9698 Fax: 02 6362 5328 Email: Workshop 2 – Transformation of Desire 12-14th January Whitley College, 27 Royal Pde, Parkville. Bookings can be made by ringing The WellSpring Centre on 03 9885 0277 or emailing

The Second National Gathering of AECSD is to be held in Sydney (Mary MacKillop Centre in North Sydney) on Friday 24 to Sunday 26 April 2009. "Connecting the Voices" is the theme of the Gathering. The Friday will focus on issues relating to Formation Programs. More details will be available soon on

ANSD Newsletter 5

September 2008

FATHER MENINGER’S VISIT TO AUSTRALIA Father William Meninger, a monk and retreat master at St Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass in 1974 discovered that the book “The Cloud of Unknowing” presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process. The work he began has been taken up by others [Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington], and has led to a realization that this kind of prayer, "resting in God" as St Gregory the Great called it, was the goal of all Christian spirituality until it was lost sight of at the Reformation. In recent times through the work of Fr Meninger and others it has enjoyed a world wide revival across the Christian Church. Father Meninger will be visiting Australia in November. Dates and contacts for his visit are as follows:
Parramatta and Sydney, November 7 - 13. Contact: Sr. Sheila Normoyle, , tel. 02-45753059 ; Rev. Michael Whelan, SM, , tel. 02-02474651 Canberra, November 13 - 20. Contact: Rob Moore, , tel. 02-62921167; Peter Ahern,, tel. 02-62547168; Sepp Babler, , tel. 02-62914500 Adelaide, November 21 - 23. Contact: Rev. Caroline Pearce, , tel. 08-83445255 ; Elizabeth Connolly, , tel. 08-82237499 Melbourne (and Tarrawarra), November 27 - 30. Contact: Christopher Morris, , tel 03-92474651

South Australia/Northern Territory Region 2007 Annual Report As reported in previous years, South Australian and Northern Territory ANSD members have not met as a group. Likewise they have not this year though I have made tentative enquiries about the possibility of occasional events in future amongst the membership and other local people interested in the spiritual life. All, but two of our members, however, meet as members of the Ecumenical Spiritual Directors Association of South Australia (ESDA). Membership of ESDA encompasses monthly Peer Supervision in groups, three Inservice Training days each year as well as the Annual General Meeting which traditionally is preceded by an hour of prayer and silent reflection. I have made informal inquiries about opening up the ESDA In-service Training Days, whenever appropriate, to include ANSD members who are not spiritual directors themselves as well as to potential members of ANSD. I believe that this will be a good way forward for members in South Australia and from these informal discussions with members of ESDA, I am hopeful that it will happen. I have made a practice of sending emails with ANSD news and links to the website and newsletters to people whom I know to be interested in direction and spirituality generally and occasionally to the ESDA membership as a whole. I am delighted that as a response to these emails and those to the wider ESDA membership, Adelaide has a small contingent present at this Conference. The region’s membership for 2007 was 8. At this 2008 Conference the number has increased to 10. Dianne Bradley

ANSD Newsletter 6

September 2008

Newcastle Region 2007 Annual Report After the AGM in 2007 it was decided we have four meetings during the next 12 months. It was necessary to contact members scattered around the region as we had been inactive for some time. The closure of the St. John’s College Conference site at Morpeth has caused much distress. This followed on the heels of the down-sizing at the Tenison Woods Centre at St. Joseph’s, Lochinvar – and now we have no local retreat/ conference site to accommodate more than about 20 people. The Course in Spiritual Direction, which has been held at Morpeth for the last 8 years, has relocated to Kincumber on the Central Coast, with new leadership from Sue Dunbar and her team, and has eight students in each year. Roger Sharr’s initiative in setting up the program as part of the offering of formation through St. John’s College of Theology in Morpeth is greatly appreciated, and his presence, wisdom and wit is missed. Activities for local ANSD members (8 to date) and interested persons have been held from 10am - 3pm, with shared lunch, enabling us to reconnect and share significant matters of interest to us. The topics have been: • ‘Going Round In Circles’ presented by Jenny Parsons and Sheila Bourne • ‘Reflections On The Woman At The Well’ – a Quiet Day in Lent guided by Mary Hagan • Silence, The Absence of God’ – given by Roger Sharr • A Day at the Monastery, Stroud’ – Bro. Alfred Boonkong Dates and contents for 2009 have yet to be determined. Now that we have a basic grouping, we will advertise more widely to encourage others to join. Sheila Bourne

Sydney Region 2007 Annual Report During 2007 I was approached by the Executive, prior to the last AGM, to initiate the reforming of the Sydney ANSD group. After the July Conference I contacted the financial members within this region and other previous Sydney members for whom I had a contact address, email or phone number. This took some time contacting and waiting for replies and to ascertain the level of interest in reforming. A meeting was held on 27th October at Oak Hill College, Castle Hill. Ten members attended – other than myself, all were new to regional ANSD meetings. There were several apologies from the former members of the Sydney group who hope to attend in future. It was decided by all that we would continue to meet at six weekly intervals for prayer, input, networking and support. The dates of meetings for the new year were set as follows: July (National Conference – Brisbane) January 19th th February 16 August 2nd September 13th March 1st October 25th April12th May 24th November 29th One member offered St. Joseph’s Centre for Reflective Living at Baulkham Hills as our base for meetings. However we may change our venue from time to time. It was decided that at our first meeting in January we would take up the topic of Supervision and work through the CD input given by Lucy Abbot-Tucker at the recent SDI Conference in Canada. We will continue with this topic throughout the year. Mary Hagan rsj

ANSD Newsletter 7

September 2008

Victorian Region 2007 Annual Report Victoria continues to have an active commitment to the Australian Network for Spiritual Direction. Approximately twenty people attend the monthly meetings to explore a variety of issues related to our work as spiritual directors. In 2007 the group responded to requests from its members to provide alternative meeting times to the regular Thursday meetings. A combination of evening, weekend and day-time meetings were offered. The response to these alternate arrangements was not encouraging, with few new people attending and regular members not able to accommodate these different times. The decision was made, from within the group, to return to the monthly daytime format. An ongoing strength of the group appears to be in the annual format of dedicating the November meeting to a day of reflection on the past year and discernment about the theme and topics for the coming year. This format appears to lend itself to a high degree of group ownership of the program, with numbers remaining high and new people joining the group. Several of our members attend the four-year Spiritual Direction Training Program, currently based at St Faith’s Anglican Church, Burwood. The program is in its fifth year, with 45 people participating, eight of them currently preparing minor theses as part of their final submission for accreditation. The program continues to attract participants, with people travelling from NSW, ACT, South Australia and across Victoria. Our theme for the year was Living Contemplatively. The following programs have been offered by the Victorian ANSD program during 2007: • 15 February Discernment. This day was led by Ruth Fowler, the National Co-ordinator of the School for Christian Meditation. • 15 March John Stewart led a reflection day on the theme for the year Living Contemplatively. • 19 April Evening Incarnational Living. This evening helped us get a sense of the broader context of our spirituality and prayer. It was led by Greg Thompson, the CEO of AngliCORD. • 17 May On he Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, we had a day of reflection on the person of Jesus, led by Sister Margaret Anne CHN. • 14 June The Heart of Life Centre ran a day for the professional development of spiritual directors and invited people connected with various centres in Melbourne. The day was facilitated by Philip Carter, President of AECSD. • 6 to 9 July ANSD Annual Gathering in Canberra. • 19 July An evening of reflection on the national conference experience. • August 16 – Andy Teehens, a Gestalt therapist, led a day exploring connections between therapy, counselling and spiritual direction; • September 20 – a day of reflection on Desert spirituality, led by Christine Fox; • October 20 – Verna Holyhead looked at the role of scripture in spiritual direction; • November 15 – a reflection and discernment day for 2008; Thank you for the support you have given me as your Victorian representative over the past year. Cath Connelly

Spiritual Directors International in Europe conference is in Dublin October 16-18 2009
ANSD Newsletter 8 September 2008

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