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Thankful spirit shines

Deep connections: Frankie O’Leary, now a St Stephen’s Cathedral guide, once went to St Stephen’s School next door. Photo: Paul Dobbyn

By Paul Dobbyn COLOURFUL Frankie O’Leary’s many loves include her family, her faith, volunteering and Brisbane’s mighty Broncos. The spritely 71-year-old’s bright pink hair renders her unmissable in any scenario – whether as a guide in St Stephen’s Cathedral or at a crowded football match. She dyed her hair for ... Read More »

Free to sing for Christ

Set free: Brisbane musician Steph Unger is hoping to flip the music industry upside down with her repertoire of positive, uplifting lyrics. Photo: Emilie Ng

By Emilie Ng STEPH Unger is tired of hearing the barrage of pop songs with inappropriate, demeaning and degrading lyrics. As a former teacher at Our Lady’s College, Annerley, an all-girls’ Catholic secondary school, Steph witnessed first-hand the way music could mould minds, especially young women. “Sometimes the content or ... Read More »

‘Christ among us’

Peace be with you: Maryknoll Father Mike Bassano greets people during the sign of peace at Mass on April 9 in a makeshift chapel inside the Malakal UN base. Photos: CNS/Paul Jeffrey

By Paul Jeffrey BEHIND the blue-helmeted United Nations soldiers ringing the periphery, their tanks and heavy weapons pointed outward, Maryknoll Father Mike Bassano’s parish is a tightly packed maze of tents and tarpaulins filled with people hiding from war. Fr Bassano is the only priest amid the 25,000 civilians who ... Read More »

Miracle of forgiveness

Healing mission: Carmelite Father Aurelio Gazzera is a man taking on a mission to help heal the wounds in the relationship between Christians and Muslims in Central African Republic. 
Photos: Aid to the Church in Need

By Eva-Maria Kolmann CARMELITE Father Aurelio Gazzera was almost lynched by an angry mob in Central African Republic. He prayed the Rosary as rocks pelted his car and furious people pointed weapons at him. The priest had brought the wrath of a number of Muslims down upon himself by supporting ... Read More »

The cunning psychology of a cult

Road to freedom: Standing at the top of the drive to Helidon’s Magnificat Meal Movement headquarters are (from left) Clare Birchley, Claire Murphy and Eilish Gaffney.

By Paul Dobbyn WHEN Debra Geileskey, a charismatic, seemingly devout young Australian woman, arrived in Dublin in 1995 the authority of the Catholic Church in Ireland was under attack. Allegations of corruption and abuse were rocking this once integral part of Irish society. Fr Brendan Smyth was at the centre ... Read More »

Karen’s spiritual journey

Spiritual journey: Karen Gerrard and her husband Mick on the Camino Frances.

By Paul Dobbyn THREE days into her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Karen Gerrard wasn’t travelling well. Her knees felt as though they were about to give out after her trek down part of the Pyrenees in this early stage of the Camino Frances (the French Way). Stretching ... Read More »

Coming home to the Church

Leaving cults

By Paul DobbynEILISH Gaffney was at Helidon’s Magnificat Meal Movement headquarters in early 2012 listening to a live Skype talk from the movement’s founder in Vanuatu.To her shock, she heard the founder Debra Burslem denounce two of her closest friends.That was when Eilish felt the first serious stirrings of doubt ... Read More »

Rising to the challenge

Steph Lalor of Caritas

AMAZINGLY Steph Lalor’s faith was not shredded by her exposure to the devastation and trauma caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu last month. Quite the opposite, the Caritas Pacific program manager said. The monster cyclone, the strongest ever recorded to make landfall in the South Pacific, was responsible for ... Read More »

Hail Mary to the end

Timeless bond: Michele Gierck with her mother Jean holding a glass of brandy, an old favourite mentioned in the book.

By Paul Dobbyn AUTHOR Michele Gierck is emphatic that accompanying her mother through Alzheimer’s to her eventual death “is not a sad story”. Reading the Melbourne author’s latest book, “Fraying: Mum, memory loss, the medical maze and me”, it’s easy to agree. “Touching”, “inspirational”, “heart-warming” and “informational” are words which ... Read More »

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