Mary, Queen of Queers, Pray for us

As a young boy I have a vivid memory of the first Marian Procession I attended at the local convent of Stella Maris in North Geelong. The candlelight movement of women in dark habits singing the Lourdes Hymn took me into a world where heaven touched earth and all tears were wiped away.

In my mother’s kitchen a small Icon of Our Lady of the Way sat alongside the detergent just above the sink where our daily dishes were washed. My grandmother was a member of the Legion of Mary and walked the streets of her neighbourhood to join  families who prayed the rosary as the Fatima Statue moved from house to house. Each rosary with finish with a rousing chorus of Hail Queen of Heaven that echoed down the street

Whoopi Golberg brought a new generation of people the spirit of Marian Hynms and devotion spiced up and inviting with a freshness and adventure that reflected the reality of the young woman of Palestine more faithfully than the Living Parish Hymnal.

The most popular Marian prayer in Catholicism has been the Litany of Loreto. Its invocations of Mary under Biblical and popular titles has  made it a feature of Catholic Spirituality in chant and languages As well as the litany I have invoked the custom of decorating statues in popular culture with flowers and rosaries,  and even money.

As an older Queer Catholic I continue the venerationof  Mary in  the Litany to which I have added invocations from my life and experience. I also continue the  custom of bringing elements of my life such as the rainbow colours to decorate and honour the place of mary in my spirituality.

In this month of May  we invoke Mary Queen of Queers, Pray For Us.

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Reclaiming May in Catholicism

serversmallAs a young boy I was fully inducted into my privileged state  in the Catholic Church. I was a altar server which meant I had access to the sacred in ways that my revered grandmother would never know.I was taught the ritual language of Latin and dressed in robes that marked me off from others in the Church.

The elite male caste of clericalism is one that can easily trap a young boy with religious interest,imagination and dreams of adventure. Although I had my share of comic book heroes, some of whom were military monsters, I also read of the martyrs and wonder workers of my faith tradition who ranged from the hard working to the eccentric. Few of these stories were of women whether  in comic books or biographies of saints.

I spent a number of years as a young adult within this culture of male clericalism. I learnt much from this  experience. My choices meant that I lived in a  multicultural religious community of men. This nurtured a  new appreciation of cultural diversity that has stayed with me since.It also gave me insights into masculinity that have led me to a new understanding of my sexuality as a gay man.

My passion for social justice led me to an awareness that at the core of my life was a deep injustice both personal and systemic. It was an injustice deeply rooted in  the very culture I had taken on board as my  source of meaning and fulfillment.

Patriarchy is the elephant in the room of Catholicism and much of Christianity.In my younger days I took it for granted that males had rights and privileges.When I was a young altar boy there was one Sunday in the year when girls took centre stage in the Church.

The annual crowning of Our Lady’s statue was a high  religious festival in May. It involved  flowers, lyrical songs and young girls dressed in white strewing rose petals on the nave of the Church, There was even a “WHS” factor ignored at the time, when one  special girl in full white wedding gear had to climb a ladder to place a wreath of flowers on the head of the statue. Many observers would see the day as a bit of Goddess worship Catholic style where women had their  15 minutes of religious fame. But after all the processing and drama of the crowning we went back to hearing a male priest tell of the glory of Mary.

In  2012  the NCR  published one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read by Sr Joan Chittester : Silence about the global treatment of women is disquieting. Chittester concludes this item with this call:

From where I stand, it seems to me that male “protection,” paternalism and patriarchal theology are not to be trusted anymore because the actions it spawns in both men and women have limited the full humanity of women everywhere, and on purpose.


Isn’t it time for us all to really be converted, to say the real Truth about women from our pulpits, from our preachers, from our patriarchs, until both they and we finally believe it ourselves? Then surely the actions that make it real will follow.

I am all for keeping May as a month of “woman awareness”. I believe we should rediscover the mythology and person of Mary of Nazareth in our day. My preferred text for such an approach is Marina Warner’s “Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary“. It speaks with far more religious and feminine insight the Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary.

I have  my own Marian Shrine in the back garden. “Our Lady of the Milk Crate” is a local devotion inspired by the appearances of Mary at Coogee Beach. Readers may be surprised to know that the Virgin Mary had made an earlier visit to Coogee in 1911 to a young woman, Eileen O’Connor who founded Australia’s Brown Nurses.


On a practical and pastoral response perhaps our Churches could begin by recognizing May as Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month with the same enthusiasm that goes into devotions to the Fatima visions.

My many women friends continue to challenge me into the full maturity of my masculinity. I recall with gratitude the women of global influence I have been privileged to meet or know online and through their writings. I honour the work of Dorothy Day, Jean Houston, Helen Prejean, Pauline Coll, Julia Cameron. Marina Warner, Janet McKenzie,   Mirium Therese WinterOdetta, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Maureen Watson, Oodgeroo  Noonuccal  Mirium Rose Ungunmerr Baumann and so many more.

Just Dates: May

30 April -6           Heart Week

1          International Workers Day

2           World Asthma Day

3           World Press Freedom Day

5           International Day of the  Midwife

6           World Labyrinth Day / World Naked Gardening Day

6 – 14     Bike Week (Qld)

7-13     International Composting Awareness Week Australia

7           Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy  / Mothers Day

8 – 13     National Volunteer Week

10          World Lupus Day

10-16 Schizophrenia Awareness Week

14 – 20   Food Allergy Awareness Week

15            International Day of Families / Al Nabka 

17            International Day Against Homophobia /  World Telecommunication and Information  Society Day

21           World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

21-28    National Palliative Care Week

22           International Day for Biological Diversity

25-31        Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories / Spinal Health Week

26           National Sorry Day

27 – 3 June          Reconciliation Week

29           White Wreath Day / International Day of UN Peacekeepers

31    World MS Day

 Community Celebrations you might like to mark with me!!

Easter Greeting 2017

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Welcome to the season of Easte
r. Yes, it runs much longer than tomorrow’s public holiday and the end of Easter specials on offer.

Thanks to joy filled Christianity there are 50 days for the greetings, the chocolate, the hot cross buns, and the ‘Alleluia” refrain that will echo with hope in worshipping communities.

As we Christians complete our Easter celebrations on June 4th we will join our sisters and brothers of Islam who will commence their holy season of Ramadam on May 27 .

Truly this is a season of new life, peace among peoples and universal hope for the future of our planet, May this time of renewal and f33cf-fullsizerenderpeace find a home in our hearts.

The tee-shirt I wore to services on Good Friday and for the Easter Vigil. Alongside the First eoples image of the cross is the sticker placed on each of us who attended the Lamentations at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Dormition of Our Lady, Mt Gravatt

The Easter spirit is captured in the burst of light across the top of the tee.

Just Dates April

Neighbours on the Boundary

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A Photographic Exhibition to Celebrate  Neighbour Day 2017 in West End

Dates: 26th March – Late  April

Venue: Hope Street Cafe 170 Boundary Street West End

This exhibition celebrates Neighbour Day 2017 on 26th March. It features people for whom Boundary Street is a neighbourhood of life, work, relaxation, shopping , celebration, and friendships.


Boundary Street is a neighbourhood that embraces diversity. Shopfronts tell stories of the old and new cultures that have made a home here. Private homes and public space sit side by side. Street signs tell the history of a colonial presence on ancient land of the Jagera and Turrbal peoples
This exhibition is running conjunction with an online exhibition and a Facebook Collection 

cropped-img_4898.jpgTony Robertson is a Brisbane photographer whose works in the tradition of social documentary and storytelling. His folio of images includes, political rallies, cultural celebrations and memorials for bereaved communities.

The exhibition will include a series of “Meet the Photographer Events so come back and check on dates and times!!
#neighbourday