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I was shocked by Father Egar's unsubstantiated accusations of "gross distortions of the truth" (April AD2000). As to his assertion of "nonsense" regarding the Noarlunga community's economic status, I must assume, in charity, that he has been seriously misinformed. Correlated data relating to employment, earnings, family and housing is easily available from the ABS and from local reports compiled by various government and private instrumentalities.
A few facts relating to the Noarlunga Catholic community:
* It is currently burdened with a debt of approximately one million dollars.
* Diocesan subsidies are required to cover other substantial debts.
* The parish has a predicted increasing deficit, despite further pruning.
* There are additional debts related to parish schools.
Fr Shinnick's "brick tent" may well be impressive (especially when compared with the homes surrounding it), but: it is leaking - again; several thousand dollars are required for repairs; in other places, local skilled tradespeople have erected equally impressive, but much less costly churches.
Father Egar's final emotive sally of "cowardly anonymity" is inappropriate: it is still quite common for reports to appear in newspapers and magazines with only a reference to locality; anonymity often indicates self-effacement and/or discretion; what of the injunction, "Judge not, that ye be not judged"?
The most remarkable and enduring feature of the Noarlunga parish is its people. Their example reflects their belief: I have had personal experience of their quite extraordinary faith-filled resilience, hopeful good humour and sacrificial charity during more than thirty years with them: as a young single parent, I was uplifted and sustained by their unstinting practical care and friendship; while teaching in one of the local Catholic schools, I have been enriched daily, witnessing parents' sacrificial love and determination. Their charity has been extended, in recent years, to the people of Bobonaro, in East Timor.
Father Egar referred to "the Gospel values of justice and charity". I suggest that, to mark the great Jubilee Year, all parishes that are free of debt volunteer further assistance to those ensnared by spiralling costs. Father Shinnick's goodwill and charity could be expressed by offering the Noarlunga parish a percentage of the revenue he expects to raise from leasing land, and from weddings celebrated in the revamped St Patrick's Church.
MARGRET E. MILLS
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 13 No 4 (May 2000), p. 14
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