MARIST Brother John Venard (Smith), who has written more than 1000 Sacred Space columns for The Catholic Leader, has called it a day.
Having released his seventh and final book – Finally, The Battler’s God – three years ago, Br Venard has decided it was time to retire from writing his weekly The Catholic Leader column.
“I’m 88 this year,” he said as he talked about his decision.
Br Venard said his parting message to his many readers would be that “the reason I’ve written the books and columns is that I think God is a good God”.
“He’s on our side, and so we should be bouncing up and down, loving everybody,” he said.
“When I was a young guy, God was a guy who put us into hell … but I think God, he’s on our side.
“To me, God and religion are supposed to cheer us up.
“Life’s good, and we have one life and he wants us to help him to spread the Good News, and people ought to be happy.”
Br Venard started writing on spirituality when he was a school principal and one of the tuckshop ladies suggested he should write his newsletter editorials by drawing on his own experience in the “battle” of life.
“When somebody suggested writing something more, that was the thought in my head, that I look at myself as an old battler guy – that’s why I used that word – and I’ve been up and down and had rough times but God’s on my side, and he’s sort of saying ‘Keep going, John; you’re doing a good job’,” he said.
“But it took me a long time because the Church I grew up in the ’30s and ’40s, it was all about hellfire. That was a slow, slow process (moving on from that), and not always an easy one.
“It’s been a long journey for me and hard work … but I believe in what I’m doing, and that is, giving people the idea that God is helping them – God’s on their side (no matter what’s happening in their lives).”
In his writings, Br Venard has often focused on prayer being about building up a relationship with God.
He said his own relationship with God “is much better now because as I move around, as I talk to people, as I do things, I’m conscious of I’m doing God’s work, and he’s up there in Heaven saying ‘Good on you, John. Keep going, keep going …’”
Br Venard’s seven books – Walking with a Battler’s God; A Journey with a Battler’s God; In the Arms of a Battler’s God; At Home with a Battler’s God; Surprise! The Battler’s God Dwells Within!; The Best of the Battler’s God; and Finally, the Battler’s God – are compilations of his Sacred Space columns.
Proceeds from the sale of the books go to Marist Missions.
The books are still being sold through The Catholic Leader and are still popular.
By Peter Bugden