Australia’s oldest diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, celebrated twenty-five years of service to the Archdiocese of Brisbane this year.
The Commission was established by the late Archbishop Francis Rush in 1985 and held its first meeting in what was, then, the Indooroopilly Parish Education Centre in October of that year.
Its first Chair was the late Fr Morgan Howe who was Parish Priest of Indooroopilly Parish at the time.
With the opening by the Sisters of Mercy of Justice Place in Woolloongabba in 1992, the Commission established an office and moved its meetings there.
Former Deputy Director of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, Mr Garry Everett, and Principal of St Agnes Primary School, Mt Gravatt, Mr Rick Sheehan, have followed Fr Howe in the role of Chair of the Commission.
The Commission has been served by three Executive Officers, Mr Brian O’Halloran, Sr Annette Arnold rsj and the current Executive Officer, Mr Peter Arndt.
Over seventy Catholic women and men, religious, priests and bishops have served as members of the Commission in its twenty-five years. Among those who have served on the Commission are Bishop John Gerry and Bishop Joseph Oudeman, President of the Senate, Senator John Hogg, Member for Morayfield in the Queensland Parliament, Mr Mark Ryan, Aboriginal elder, Aunty Joan Hendriks an former Josephite Provincial Leader, Sr Margaret Robertson rsj.
The Commission’s current Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission had walked with many people who face injustice, violence and discrimination.
“The Commission has been there with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they struggled for justice in relation to native title, the Stolen Generations, stolen wages, deaths in custody and the Northern Territory Intervention,” Mr Arndt said.
“We have tried to bring Catholics face to face with the indignities confronting refugees as they sought protection in Australia,” he said.
“The Commission has also tried to support the struggle of people for their human rights and for justice in places like East Timor, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and West Papua,” he said.
“Many Catholics around Brisbane joined with the Commission in challenging Australia’s participation in the Iraq War,” he said.
“In recent years, the Commission has also put more emphasis on caring for the Earth with our Cool Communities Project in 2003 and 2004, our collaboration with the Social Action Office in the holding of a Climate Change Conference in 2007, and our more recent collaboration with Catholic Earthcare Australia on the ASSISI Project,” he said.
The Commission marked its silver anniversary with a Eucharist led by Archbishop John Bathersby on Friday 5 November at Holy Family Catholic Church, Indooroopilly.
Sr Annette Arnold rsj, the Commission’s second Executive Officer, delivered an address: Mary MacKillop and the challenge to the Australian Church after the Eucharist. Sr Annette is now a member of the Provincial Leadership Team of the Sisters of St Joseph and was heavily involved in the recent celebrations surrounding the canonisation of Mary MacKillop in Rome.
For further infomation, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.