In the first two weeks of December 1998, by way of a positive response to the papal encyclical Faith and Reason, Raymond de Souza, the Founder and Director of WA's first lay apostolate to promote Catholic apologetics, St Gabriel Communications, conducted a speaking tour of the eastern States.
The mission of St Gabriel Communicahons is to present the truths of the Catholic Faith in a dynamic, contemporary style, thoroughly grounded on the Catholic Catechism, Sacred Scripture and the best contemporary authors in the field of apologetics.
Catholics and non-Catholics alike were able to come in contact with this novel approach to share the Faith: in 15 days, Mr de Souza was the guest speaker in lay Catholic gatherings in eight cities (Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney, Wagga Wagga and Brisbane).
Talks were given on topics as varied as the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the Biblical inspiration of the prayer of the Rosary, why contraception is against the mind of Christ, the Biblical foundations of priestly celibacy, and why the Church cannot ordain women to the priesthood. Ample time for questions from the audience was provided, which helped dispel many a misconception about Catholic teaching.
This speaking tour was supported by several lay organisations formed by Catholics, such as the Thomas More Centre (Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane), Lumen Verum Apologetics and the Centre for Thomist Studies (Sydney), the Confraternity of St Michael and the Newman Centre (Melboume), Catholics United for the Faith (Brisbane), as well as the Catholic Ukrainian parish in Adelaide, the St Francis de Sales parish in Melbourne, The Sisters of Nazareth in Launceston, St Thomas More parish in Canberra, St Michael's parish in Sydney, the Dominican Sisters in Wagga Wagga, St Kevin's parish and the Ligourian Reading Centre in Brisbane.
In the aftermath of this first speaking tour, Mr de Souza has already received invitations to return to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Launceston and Brisbane to organise weekends of talks on apologetics with a view to training groups of young adults to become lay Catholic apologists in the style of St Gabriel Communications.
Back home in WA, beginning in January 1999, Mr de Souza has given talks on apologetics at the Disciples of Jesus' Summer School in Bunbury, (at which Bishop Peter Quinn of Bunbury and Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth were present), the Annual Conference of Flame Ministries International and a Boys' Retreat organised by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.
Anyone interested in booking a St Gabriel Communications apologetics presentation for a parish, school or organisation, should contact Raymond de Souza at PO Box 201, Burswood, WA 6100 Australia, tel +61 (08) 9277 5987, e-mail: St_Gabriel_Comm@bigpond.com or visit St Gabriel Communication's website at http://www.users.bigpond.com/St_Gabriel_Comm/. The Flame Ministries' website is at http://members.networx.net.au/~fmi/news5.htm