EASTER 2023 NEWSLETTER
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
JULIAN BUTLER SJ – Exciting New Beginnings
The Cardoner Network has begun the year with some fantastic engagement with program participants domestically and abroad. We are so pleased to be offering immersions and service placements overseas again and are grateful for the generosity of those young people who have spent time in Daly River, Nepal and now Thailand. We are already hearing about the deep impact these experiences are having, as you’ll read in this newsletter.
This service embedded in community happens alongside the wonderful work done locally, particularly through the Burrito and Brownies program, which our Rector writes movingly about. A dedicated and engaged group of residents are giving life to Bellarmine House.
We are pleased to have entered into a lease agreement with Plate It Forward to operate a social enterprise restaurant in our first-floor space at Jesuit House in Chippendale. There will be more information about this to come, but with a range of options for collaboration for service we see it as a key part of reinvigorating our base at Jesuit House. Along with this new move we are working on an upgrade of our basement space to further refresh our engagement offering onsite.
Last year, when The Cardoner Network was announced, a significant growth in the engagement of Cardoner was that the Jesuit Province missioned us to work with and help build upon young adult communities in Melbourne and Adelaide. It’s my pleasure to accompany a group of mostly Xavier College alumni, called The Cardoner Community, in Melbourne and we are working with an energetic group based at the Jesuit parish in Adelaide. The Adelaide group, Wolves In Action, are sending a strong contingent to World Youth Day along with others from across the Jesuit and Ignatian family in Australia.
I am very grateful to my fellow Directors on our Board for the work they are doing to set and oversee the strategic direction of The Cardoner Network. Murray Happ has provided continuity in a period of transition. Known to many for his years at St Aloysius’ College, Milsons Point, Murray chairs our Finance, Property and Risk committee.
We have been joined by Cate Sydes who has a long association with the Jesuits, having been college counsellor at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview. More recently Cate has served as CEO of Marist Youth Care and Loretto Ministries. Fr Kieran Gill SJ is a Jesuit and Parish Priest at Sevenhill in South Australia. Fr Kieran was ordained in 2019 and has been a teacher at St Ignatius’ College, Adelaide.
Philippa McIlroy is Manager, People and Leadership Development at Jesuit Social Services in Melbourne. Philippa has degrees in theology and education and was previously Group Mission Integration Manager for Formation and Ethics at St Vincent’s Health Australia. Christian Prowse is Business Development Manager at a renewable energy fund manager. Now Sydney-based Christian is an alumnus of Xavier College in Melbourne and has previously held corporate advisory roles.
The Board is very grateful to our management team, especially to Fr Ramesh Richards SJ who has been Acting CEO, as well as fulfilling his duties as Rector, for the past several months. To fully operationalise our strategic priorities, we are currently advertising for a Chief Executive Officer. We are seeking a leader with commercial acumen, alignment to a faith-based culture and a willingness to engage directly in the delivery of our programs to join our team. If you are interested in the role, or know someone who is, you can find out more HERE.
I wish you a blessed Easter. Embrace the joy of the Resurrection!
MESSAGE FROM THE RECTOR
FR RAMESH RICHARDS SJ – “I am eating ‘clean’ food today”
A fortnight ago, a group of new young volunteers went out to share the Burritos and Brownies they made earlier in the morning with our friends living on the edge of society. It is nerve wrecking even for seasoned volunteer, let alone 17-18 year olds to approach someone sitting at the edge of the long pedestrian tunnel under Central Station connecting Devonshire Street and George St. For the volunteers this week, that feeling of anxiety was quickly replaced with inner joy when one of the volunteers bent low and asked a man if he wanted some food. The man accepted the food, looked at it, thanked the volunteer and said, “I have been shoplifting to feed myself these past few days, I am happy knowing that I am eating ‘clean’ food today.” For the volunteer, he felt the pain and the joy the other was going through because of the vulnerability both parties found themselves in. Easter is about our vulnerability to meet Jesus in his most vulnerable state, to experience the pain and the joy of Jesus suffering, death and resurrection.
Cardoner in the past 3 months has welcomed 4 young adults as staff to carry on the good work of many others. Brendan Kell is the Formations Programme Coordinator. Brendan volunteered in Thailand for 1 year in 2019. Joshua Esman who also volunteered in Thailand for a year in 2019 and is currently a member of the Bellarmine House community is the Two Wolves Abroad Intern, Violet Cabral who was part of the Bellarmine House community in 2022 is Cardoner’s Marketing Intern, and Samuel Vermeulen a member of Bellarmine House community has been employed as Volunteer Engagement Intern. Brendan, Josh, Violet, and Sam have contributed in many ways over the years and now their involvement at management level will assist Cardoner in responding to the needs of young adults serving the people who are often forgotten by the mainstream.
I hope the pieces written by our volunteers in this newsletter will assist you in spiritually celebrating Easter, the celebration of Hope.
WHAT ARE OUR VOLUNTEERS UP TO NOW?
FIRST IMMERSION SINCE COVID!
CAMERON HUGHES – NEPAL CVC
To unreservedly say Nepal gave me the best three weeks of my life can only begin to articulate how truly incredible the experience was. The immersion had a profound impact on my worldview, my values, and my sense of meaning. I can confidently say that the way I choose to act today and in the future has been significantly influenced by my time in Nepal, and I’m sure I will look back on this experience in ten or twenty years time and continue to show the same appreciation for how it shaped me in such an important time of my life.
The immersion provided exposure to a completely different way of life, which in turn has developed my sense of gratitude and reshaped how I see my own life. My time in Nepal affirmed my awareness of how much I really do have while others have so little. There was one moment in particular which resonated with me strongly. We were milling around when a mother and her children, aged no older than six or seven, passed us with a ridiculous mound of grass and wood on their backs. In that moment, I remember reflecting on how insignificant the things that I worry or complain about are. It told me that I should never have any reason to feel sorry for myself or whine about an inconvenience when there are children out there struggling more than I ever have, and doing so with a smile on their face. Indeed, the same was true in Tipling – everyone was so satisfied with what they had, and the smiley “namastes” they gave us as we passed them reflected an earnest happiness with their way of life, beyond much of what I see in Sydney. So Nepal showed me that there is no way to judge what a good life is, that our way is not better or worse than others. It showed me what really matters is being grateful and content with the life you’re given the chance to live.
Nepal taught me so much more than the importance of gratitude, though. The most transformative part of the trip for me was the daily reflections as a group, and I am sure the closeness of the friendships I formed on the trip can be largely attributed to these deeply moving reflections. Some insights that were born from them that continue to impact me are the need to live presently, to be loving without skepticism, and to experience what the world has to offer. Nepal crucially showed me the importance of ‘jumping in rivers,’ as I called it – that is, when an opportunity comes around, grab it with both hands.
To quote from my final journal entry, “I laughed more in those three weeks than any before, opened myself up to more people for more time than ever, built intimate, loving friendships with an incredible group of people, experienced a natural beauty beyond any I’d seen before, and grew into myself in a time where growth was needed and stagnation was to be avoided.” I can say without any doubt that going to Nepal was the best decision I’ve ever made, and can’t wait to go back.
INTERESTED IN SERVING ABROAD OR DOMESTIC?
Placements available for 3, 6 or 12 months:
Two Wolves Abroad sent their first volunteer placement overseas to Thailand this year after 3 years of disruption from COVID19.
Opportunities for placements in Nepal, Thailand and Daly River are available!
Apply for Semester 2 2023 or 2024 HERE.
Immersions for 3 weeks:
Opportunities for immersions in Nepal.
For more information click HERE.
BURRITOS AND BROWNIES
JUSTIN – RIVERVIEW STUDENT
On the last two Sundays, I went to the Two Wolves Cantina to assist with the Brownies and Burritos at the Cardoner Network service program. With a few peers and two older volunteers who had graduated from other Jesuit schools, we made burritos and packed brownies into bags. After completing this, the volunteers showed us their dorms upstairs in Bellarmine House. They explained to us how they live and contribute to this community. It was such a wonderful opportunity to be shown an insightful look into what Jesuit life after graduation could look like.
After this, we took the packed burritos and brownies, and walked through from Broadway to Central Station. It was here where we met two homeless women on the side of the street. We approached and greeted them, offering warm food that we had made earlier. I remember how grateful they were eating a warm meal that they most likely could not always have. This was a touching experience, showing firsthand what a small amount of service can do for others.
Passing through Central, we then gathered at Eddie Ward Park in Surry Hills. We then offered food to those who passed by. The people who came through were regulars, mainly residents of the adjacent Northcott Housing Commission Estate, people on the margins who come each week. They were very friendly and trusting of the Cardoner Network volunteers. It was uplifting to see and be part of this community that has been built upon mutual trust. I distinctly remember an elderly lady with whom I had a lovely conversation in Chinese, talking about her grandson and how she thought I resembled him. Overall, this was a rewarding and valuable experience, one where students got to converse, do what little we could to help, and interact with the marginalised firsthand. Hearing from and working with the volunteers was also very insightful. I highly encourage other students to take this opportunity.
The Cardoner Network Formation team engages with schools by presenting talks and workshops revolving around Ignatian spirituality and young adult opportunities (e.g. immersions and abroad placements). This involves preparation and presenting the talks to schools and our presenters are from our pool of alumni who have served on one of our programmes. This peer to peer platform allows for deeper connectectivity with our audience.
Just recently, we gave a talk about finding courage through adversity. The students really connected with the core message of inner strength. It was lovely to see young people engaging with personal reflection and how their actions can impact those around them. The talk allowed for a deep discussion on how our characters are formed through our actions and the standard that we set for those around us. With our presenters sharing personal stories on their own difficulties in being courageous in their lives.
This is a great opportunity to share our experiences and make connections with other young people through school workshops, expos, and retreats. We are always looking for new people to join our group of presenters (paid) and add their own experiences and personalities!
If you would like to get involved, email Brendan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Around late last year I was searching for accommodation near Central. I had heard about Bellarmine House through an intelligent, quick witted Priest named Fr Robin. He told me he was living in a shared community of uni students and they were currently looking for new residents. I was interested.
About a month later I walked in and had a meeting with a tall priest by the name of Fr Ramesh. He told me they were (and still are) open to new applicants to fill the available rooms.
I moved in earlier this year, and have not looked back. The accommodation is great, the food is amazing. It’s just nice to live in a place where everyone is involved.
The best part about living here however is the community. Not only the Bellarmine community but also our local communities where we take it amongst ourselves to volunteer each week, whether it be handing out food to the marginalised, or investing our time back into the house itself.
Right now we are clearing out the basement to hopefully open up a common space down stairs. These activities ensure the residents know each other on a personal level, and make the house feel more like a home. And as a bonus these volunteering hours also help cover our rent a tad.
I would highly recommend Bellarmine House for any uni student who is looking for affordable accommodation around Central, is looking to make a few good friends, and likes to give back to the community
My experience living in Bellarmine House has been nothing but joy. From the moment I moved in I loved every moment of not just living out of home, but being able to be a part of a community is not something you’ll find anywhere else. Not having to cook 7 nights a week, but rather enjoying meals cooked by others in the house frees up a large amount of time during the week, which can be used for study, finishing assignments, watching a movie, or even just a good afternoon nap.
Bellarmine House is also full of other like-minded students, meaning that the house has an environment which is directly suited for doing well in your studies, or just enjoying uni life. The prime location also means you can enjoy your sleep-ins, with the commute cut down to mere minutes walk to USyd, UTS, Notre Dame, and a short public transport trip to UNSW.
Community night every Sunday brings an amazing dynamic to the house, allowing us as a community to strengthen our relationships with one another and to have meaningful conversations with the great people we live with. I have loved being able to have deep discussions with the whole house together and to spend the night together, enjoying one another’s company.
I could not be happier living in Bellarmine House. There is no better place to live that has this amazing sense of community and friendship in such a convenient location for any of the Sydney universities.