Reflections

Our Latest News…

Emmaus Supervision Program 2022/23
We are excited to launch our Emmaus Supervision Program!  This program has been developed in response to the demand for professional supervisors in individual ministry – priests, chaplains, spiritual directors, spiritual health workers, pastoral carers etc. It is a program for the formation of competent, experienced professional supervisors. The program draws on the encounter of the two disciples with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

Emmaus is studied part-time over eighteen months.  It comprises a number of four-day intensives (in the Victorian school holidays) and 2 x 14-week seminars, followed by monthly gatherings to continue supervision input and practice. The program begins in February 2022 and concludes in June 2023. For information, visit our Emmaus webpage.

Applications invited for:  Director,  Heart of Life
On the retirement of Emeritus Professor Paul Beirne, effective 31/12/21, applications are invited for the position of Director, Heart of Life Centre for Spiritual & Pastoral Formation. The initial term is for three years, and will commence on 1/1/22.  Applications close on 10/9/21 and the position description is available by emailing our secretary, Susanah.

Taster Session, 11 September 2021, 9.30am-11am AEST
Our recent Siloam Taster Session was a great success and we were blessed to meet many fellow pilgrims, some of whom are considering studying our Siloam Program in 2022.  We have decided to hold another Taster Session in mid-September, giving attendees the opportunity to briefly learn a bit about Heart of Life before breaking into groups for an experience of either the Siloam Program, the Emmaus Supervision Program, or Let the Heart Listen. To book for the Taster, please click here.

Alumni – Invitation to Facilitate a Reflection event in 2022
We are now planning our 2022 Program of Events and invite our Alumni to consider whether they wish to present a reflection event at Heart of Life (via Zoom or in-person Covid-permitting) during 2022. To make submissions easier, we have put together a form to complete for your event. We invite graduates to complete the form and submit it to us by email – before 10 September 2021.

Applications invited for:  General Office Assistant
Due to Heart of Life’s growth, we are adding a General Office Assistant to our administration team. We envisage this person assisting us on Mondays 9am-3pm with potential for Tuesdays as well. This staff member will be needed for work during school terms only, ie they will not be required to work during Victorian school term breaks. For the position description, please contact us by email.  Applications close on 28/8/21.

August 2021 – What We’ve Been Up To…

Siloam 2022
We continue to receive interest from prospective candidates for next year’s Siloam Program.  A Taster session will be hosted by Rita Malavisi rsj, Marlene McGrath and Clare Shearman on 14 August 2021, via Zoom from 9.30am-11.00am AEST. (Whilst we had hoped to see some participants in-person, due to the likely extension of the Covid restrictions, the Taster session will go ahead via Zoom only.) We look forward to seeing all the people who have registered. This will be an experiential opportunity, and will enable participants to get a sense of what following the call to spiritual direction through Heart of Life means. For further details or to book click here.

Note that we’ll be repeating the Taster on Saturday 11 September 2021 – we’ll have more information soon.

Mindfulness & Meditation via Zoom – Drop in during August
With the success of our Mindfulness & Meditation Tuesday night series in July, we have extended this Tuesday night offering until 24 August 2021. Join us for one or more sessions of this centering and relaxing practice. Our qualified meditation teacher leads us in one hour of meditation and mindful self-compassion practice on Tuesday nights from 7.30pm-8.30pm via Zoom. To participate, pop us an email or call 03 9890 1101. Cost: $12.50 per session.

What Graduates and Current Students are Saying about Siloam
Past and present Siloam students are sharing their experiences of Siloam through a series of short videos that are viewable on YouTube. Click here to listen to a brief account of graduate Jovito Dales’ experience.

Heart 2 Practise (H2P) – ‘Spiritual Direction on the Margins’
H2P (our 2020 Alumni Program) hosted a thought-provoking professional development lunchtime session that attracted additional participants. Liz Lee, of Vision and Action, inspired us with her experience of working with those on the fringes of society. Liz herself was compelled to action when she read an article by Paula Ferris, which commented that spiritual directors need to “recognise that practicing addicts, still in their addiction, are not good candidates for spiritual direction, as is the case with any person suffering with untreated mental health issues.” Liz begged to differ, and has gone on to develop her spiritual direction ministry in prisons and with those who have no place to call their home. She also has big dreams for the future of this ministry. We are hoping she will come back to Heart of Life and run a longer session for us in the future.

Schools Team
This month, a team of four spiritual directors representing Heart of Life will facilitate workshops at a staff spirituality day for a high school in Point Cook.  This is the first of such initiatives being led by Rita Malavisi rsj, our Spiritual Liaison Manager.  If you are interested in working with Rita and our spirituality-in-schools work, please contact her via email.

Supervision
With the Royal Commission recommending that everyone in individual ministry be the recipient of supervision, and the scarcity of trained supervisors on the ground, Heart of Life:

  • continues to offer individual and group supervision;
  • will soon launch its professional supervision program – the Emmaus Supervision Program – to train experienced practitioners in the art of supervision using the experiential Heart of Life methodology.
  • is compiling a list of accredited supervisors who can be approached for group or individual supervision (for publication on our website);

Please email us if you are interested in finding out more about any of these aspects of supervision.

Facebook
Our fellowship on Facebook is growing! We hope that our page is informative and educative. Please continue to Like our page, follow us and share the good news of what is happening at Heart of Life with others. Find us on https://www.facebook.com/HoLMelbourne

July 2021 – Our Latest News…

‘Siloam’ Taster Session, Saturday 14 August 2021, 9.30am-11am
(In-person & Zoom event)

We are planning a taster session for the 44th Siloam Program for the Formation of Spiritual Directors that will begin in 2022. This will be held at our Centre in Malvern as well as via Zoom on Saturday 14 August from 9.30am-11am AEST. The event will be an opportunity for a gentle exploration of the Siloam Program and who we are at Heart of Life. Book here to attend. Feel free to encourage others to join with us. Continue reading

June 2021 – What’s Happening at Heart of Life…

Looking for Candidates for the 44th Siloam Cohort to Study in 2022

Over 75% of Siloam candidates come to Heart of Life because they have been recommended by our network.  THANK YOU!  We will be advertising for our 2022 cohort throughout July. This year, we will be offering a series of on-line Continue reading

1968: A Reflection in Four Parts

Part I: Preamble

In 1965, I was faced with a challenging decision. In 1964, I had successfully completed my Senior exams at Downlands College, Toowoomba, and I found myself looking at two life choices, viz., whether to enrol in an Arts/Law degree at the University of Queensland, or to join an Order of priests and brothers to train as a missionary and to work among the poor and the powerless in one of the 55 countries around the globe in which the Order was involved. I chose the latter.

Continue reading

The Story of Emmaus – The Awareness in the Breaking of the Bread

Two disciples leave Jerusalem on a seven-mile journey to the village of Emmaus. Their demeanour is downcast as they reflect on the life of Jesus of Nazareth in whom they had placed such faith and hope until his untimely, brutal death snatched him from them. On their journey they are joined by a third person who responds to their confusion and despondency by contextualising the life and death of Jesus in the spread of salvation history.

As the three draw near to Emmaus, the stranger prepares to move on, but the two companions press him to stay and share an evening meal. During the meal, ‘he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and handed it to them’. Immediately their eyes were opened and they recognised him. Then Jesus vanished from their sight.

The two disciples immediately abandon their journey and return to Jerusalem—the location of Christ’s life, death and resurrection—where they joyfully share with Peter and the disciples the story of what happened on the road and how they recognised Jesus ‘in the breaking of the bread’.

In other words, the disciples return to the heart of the matter–to the place where life, death and resurrection intersect and hope and transformation blossom.

Heart of Life’s Emmaus Supervision Program draws directly on this encounter.

안녕하십니까? [annyeong-hashimnikka?] (Are you at peace?)

by Paul Beirne, Director

Let me state at the outset that I am a great fan of a tragically divided country that lies directly to the north of Australia—Korea, and specifically, South Korea, where I lived for 17 years, from 1984 to 2000.

Soon after arriving in Seoul, at age 38, I entered into the struggle to learn the Korean language. Amazingly, I survived, but the experience left me with a huge respect and sympathy for anyone attempting to become fluent in a foreign language, particularly one as complex as Korean. I learned very early on the truth of the saying: “Korean is the language they speak in heaven, because it is too bloody difficult to learn on earth!” Why? Because the sago-bang-shik, the way of thinking, is so very, very different.

There is however, a lighter side to the struggle to master two disparate ways of thinking, in the flowering of a hybrid language called ‘Konglish’ where two languages merge to create something descriptively unique and expressive. For example, wandering past one of the many universities in the capital Seoul at the end of the academic year, I noticed, hanging above and across the main entrance, a banner which proclaimed, CONGRADUATIONS!! which, in a stroke of etymological brilliance, someone created a single word to convey a dual message. (Feel free to use it for someone you know who is graduating!) The example I wish to present to you now, however, while strictly not an example of ‘Konglish’, carries with it the same creative genes.

One afternoon after class, travelling on the subway in Seoul, in a carriage which contained the equivalent population of a mid-sized Australian town, I notice a young child, sitting on her mother’s lap. What drew my attention to the child (apart from the fact that she and her mom actually managed to get a seat on the train!) was the T-shirt she was wearing, which proclaimed in English on the front:

“I want to taste a little bit of everything”

The fact that I remember the T-shirt message after the passage of 34 years indicates that it had quite an effect on me. A part of me wanted to say to the child and to her Mum: ‘Jo-do creo’ (“I do too!”). But I didn’t.

I do question, however, why the message moved me so much. Perhaps it is because it carried with it an inquisitive innocence that I had long since discarded. Yet tendrils of the message and the longing that accompany it still remain somewhere in the depth of my psyche, emerging occasionally, and all too briefly, as a yearning to return to a time of ‘awe-some’ innocence.

And yet … and yet, I truly believe that in my life, I really have tasted ‘a little bit of everything’. The reason being that from a very early age I have been aware of a silent presence within, guiding me gently, care-fully, lovingly, with the delicacy of a feather floating on the wind, but with a purpose that I could only occasionally glimpse, ‘through a glass darkly’[1]. Naturally, there has been pain, sorrow, loss, grief and failure—which are an inevitable part of the human condition. But they have been more than balanced by the other side of the ledger– wonder, tranquility, companionship, creativity and love. I am certainly not alone in ‘tasting’ all these experiences—as we are, each one of us, ‘feathers floating on the wind’ of divine benevolence.

Now, as I delve further and further into my 70s, and undoubtedly because of this silent, guiding presence, I feel a deep sense of peace. The peace expresses itself sometimes as ‘I just cannot be bothered with that—life is just too short’. At other times, I

  • rejoice in the simple joy of preparing Saturday night dinner with Anna for our children Sarah and Sean;
  • am captivated by tiny flowers on the side of the road which blossom and disappear at the end of the day;
  • am struck with wonder at the giant English Oak, more than a century old, which towers over the track in the bush surrounding Blackburn lake;
  • savor the taste of spray off the crest of a wave the second before it breaks and tumbles to the shore;
  • laugh with a flock Rainbow Lorikeets as they mirror the clouds at sunset;
  • locate the Southern Cross as it spirals across the night sky.

It is at times like these that I remember the child on the train and her Mum. That child must be nearing 40 now. I hope and pray that life has been good to her, and that she is still on her quest ‘to taste a little bit of everything’. I hope that her Mum is too.

But back to where we began, to Korea and Korean.

Koreans have many beautiful practices, but there is one in particular which stands out for me:

When Koreans greet one another, they bow respectfully and say: annyeong-hashimnikka? which means: ‘Are you at peace?’

To this question, having tasted ‘a little bit of everything’, I can truly answer:

‘Yes. I am at peace.’

I can do this because I believe, intuitively, that the Alpha and the Omega of this peace is the still, silent presence within, nurturing me gracefully, who I am, and who I may yet become. I am fully aware that I am not alone in this becoming, and this fills me with hope for the future.

Because death, however and whenever it arrives, will be a new beginning, when the still presence will break the silence with

CONGRADUATIONS! Come on in.

And I will be at home.

 

(image of the author, Christmas 1949, Main Beach, Gold Coast, Australia)

 

[1] 1 Corinthians Chap 13 verse 12 (King James version)

 

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times & Covid One Nine

by Paul Beirne, Director of Heart of Life Centre for Spiritual & Pastoral Formation

Some years ago, I attended a Higher Education conference in Canberra at which the key-note speaker—The Federal Minister for Education– began his presentation by posing a question to the assembly:

“Can anyone name the Three Chinese Curses?”, he inquired.

He paused for approximately half a minute, and as no one had responded, he named them himself: Continue reading

The Tree on the Hill

by Paul Beirne

In 1966, after taking a year ‘out’ following high school to determine what to do with my life, I joined a Catholic religious order to begin training as a missionary priest. One did this by ‘entering a Novitiate’–a religious tradition dating back centuries–which required a significant leap of faith. There were twenty of us in the Novitiate, and ironically, considering our future occupation, we were required to spend the first two years of our training in prayer and reflective silence, hidden away from society, rather than proselytising within it. Continue reading

Autumn Reflection

by Paul Beirne

About 25 years ago, give or take, when I was residing in Seoul, South Korea, I had the opportunity to play host to two German priests who were on their way home from missionary work in Indonesia. They were in Seoul for a day and a half, and they had just one simple request: “Show us Korea” they said. “We want to see it all!” At least they had the grace to laugh! Continue reading