In reflecting on the year that was, I think it is often important to take into consideration what we learnt and how we grew as human beings – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When we do this, we are given the opportunity to continue to pursue the things that excite us, that make us better people, and leave behind the parts of us that might hinder future growth. This is all part of what it means to be human.
Looking back on 2022, two words come to mind – opportunity and learning.
This year, my parish experienced a significant change. After the retirement of our longtime Parish Priest, Fr Andrew, we welcomed new Parish Administrator Fr John Paul. With change comes new opportunities and learning. This works both ways. As parishioners, we learnt from Fr JP, and Fr JP learnt from us. In this way, we were able to continue to build a vibrant and welcoming parish that, in my humble opinion, is thriving.
This change in personnel also presented some incredible opportunities for me personally. At the beginning of the year, being unable to teach Scripture due to my vaccination status, I was asked to take over the role of Special Religious Education (SRE) Coordinator. To be quite honest, I never thought I would actually take on such a role. But it was new, and it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the SRE classes and teachers both in my own Parish and across the Diocese.
I cannot say that the role has been all too easy. At times, I have been challenged, and I have had to face conundrums that have been difficult to solve. But, with the help of an incredible team, I have managed to get through my first year in this role, and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I am so grateful to have been able to lead this Ministry at my parish this year. Seeing the students responding to teachings about God and the faith is always such a spiritually rewarding part of my life, as I’m sure it is for all the Scripture teachers. I want to thank each and every one of the SREs and Regional Coordinators who helped me to guide this Ministry successfully this year. Without you all, I would not have been able to get through it.
Alongside this new role, I was also asked to take on the position of Assistant Secretary at our Parish by Fr JP. After seven months in the role, I can safely say that this has been such a Godsend. Working in this role has allowed me to see the parish in a new light. I have become more well acquainted with parishioners that I have seen in the parish for years but never really gotten to know. I have had the opportunity to meet so many new people throughout the year, to help them with booking in baptisms for their children, to assist with weddings and funerals, to help with events. I have had the opportunity to meet priests I had not met before and get to know them, to get our new parish website up and running, and to attend events that have helped me to gain further insight into how the Diocese itself operates.
And I feel that, through all of this, I have been able to grow deeper in my faith and my relationship with God.
I count myself incredibly lucky to work with such an incredible group of people. Our parish office is one of the best places to work. It is such a friendly and joyful environment. There is always much laughter to be had and many stories to be told, and I thank God every day for blessing me with such an amazing job and the best colleagues. And to Fr JP, if you’re reading this, I can never thank you enough for the opportunities you have given me to serve God in our parish this year. You have helped me to learn, to grow, and to become a better version of myself all while serving the people of God and helping to make our parish such an incredible place to be. For this I am eternally grateful. Thank you for putting your faith and trust in me to take on these roles.
As many of you are no doubt aware, I have also been able to keep writing for The Spectator Australia this year as a regular contributor. As someone who always wanted to be a writer, this has been a dream come true, and I am so grateful to the team at the Speccie who continue to give me a platform to share my views. I am also thankful to my editor, Alexandra Marshall, for helping me to continue to learn and grow as a writer, and to the community of writers that write for this brilliant publication. I recently had the opportunity to meet many of my fellow writers, and this made me all the more grateful for the community I am a part of.
I was also able to attend several events this year which came about through my writing and politics, including the Liberal Democrats’ campaign launch and the Conservative Political Action Conference, where I met and heard from many like-minded individuals. In addition, I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at an event for the Northwest Forum alongside the Institute of Public Affairs’ Daniel Wild. It was such a great experience to be able to attend an event as a speaker and address a live audience.
I was also incredibly lucky to attend a live lecture given by Jordan Peterson this year, an event I will never forget. It was truly a privilege to listen to one of the greatest minds of our time.
I also attempted to diversify a little this year by starting a podcast called The Agius Hour. After two episodes, I became increasingly busy and was unable to find the time and the guests to keep it going this year, but I am hoping to revitalize it in 2023 and get it going again. I would, however, just like to quickly thank Andrew Cremen and Kurt Mahlburg for agreeing to come on the show this year and providing some brilliant insights into the current state of society and culture.
While podcasting didn’t exactly take off for me this year, what did arise was an opportunity in another area of media. It is here I would like to thank Rick Munn and the team at TNT Radio for inviting me onto your show and network throughout the year. I never thought I would be on radio, yet here we are. I have thoroughly enjoyed speaking on every topic we can cover in the space of 45 minutes to an hour, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity you have given me this year to extend my reach and be a part of your platform.
In terms of writing in 2023, I am also hoping to expand out a little and start writing for a Catholic outlet. While there was an opportunity that came up with one publication this year, it unfortunately and disappointingly did not work out. I am looking into The Catholic Weekly for the new year.
While on the subject of writing, I want to take this opportunity to thank all my readers this year. Your support of my work is greatly appreciated. I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed that people take the time to read what I write and to listen to what I have to say. There have been several times this year where articles I have written have hit the number 1 spot on The Spectator Australia website, which has just amazed me. It is an honour to write pieces that people enjoy and share, and I hope that they have helped to inform and put things into perspective. I would not be where I am today without you all. So thank you.
As always, I am so incredibly grateful to have such a supportive family and great friends who have my back. They are there for me at every up and down on this rollercoaster we call life, and I would not be the person I am without them.
Looking back on this year, I think I’ve learned a few things.
First, if you surround yourself with good people you are bound to feel happier and have a better outlook on life. I have discovered this not only through my writing and my work in the parish, but also through connecting with others at events and groups within the Diocese. I have been fortunate enough to meet some really great people this year at formation and Young Adult groups, people who have enriched my life and made 2022 a great year.
Second, push through the anxiety. At times this year, I have felt a little anxious to go somewhere or attend an event. But, after pushing through and going, I have found, for the most part, it was absolutely worthwhile. Sometimes we can miss out on the best parts of life because we give in to anxiety. While it can be difficult to overcome at times, push through it. You won’t regret it.
Third, put yourself out there. Sometimes we can shy away from opportunities to volunteer and help to better our community. But, through volunteering, we can truly make a difference, both for ourselves and others. And we can also get to know our community better. I have met and gotten to know so many more people in my parish community through volunteering in various ministries in the parish. It is such a rewarding thing to do. So put yourself out there and do what you can to help out. I promise you, it’s worth it.
The final lesson I have learnt this year is one that is not so much personal as it is a lesson that pertains to the Church as a whole and how we can improve it to ensure it does not become something of the world and remains of God. Throughout the year, I have seen several issues occur, each stemming back to an underlying cause. While some within the Church speak of diversity and inclusion, they do so while being exclusive of those with certain views and values that they do not like. Conservative and Traditional Catholics are being treated like outcasts. It is true that the Church needs to be united under the teachings of Christ, the Word of God. But this cannot happen while division is being sewn from within.
My participation and work in the Church this year at a Parish level has helped me to see that great things can be achieved when we respect each other and the views we all hold, even if they differ from time to time. Conservative and Traditional Catholics do not need to be cast out; they are not people who need to be discriminated against and treated like lepers. They have immense reverence and are deeply faithful individuals. They are part of the Catholic Church, and anyone who attempts to deny them is only doing a disservice to themselves and the Church.
I think the key takeaway from this point is this:
People working within the Church need to ensure they do not allow their own personal biases to get in the way of being pastoral. A Church divided against itself is a weak one, and allows evil to begin to seep through the cracks. We need to make sure that we are truly inclusive and adhere to the teachings of Christ, the Word of God contained within the Bible.
With all that being said, it’s time to say adieu to 2022. I hope that this year has been a fruitful one for you all, one of learning and understanding, of amazing opportunities, and of love, light, and kindness. And no matter how your year was, take in the lessons, cherish the memories, and put your best foot forward into 2023.
Wishing you all the very best for the New Year. May God Bless you all with good people, great memories, and opportunities to continue to learn and grow. I hope 2023 is a fantastic year for all of you.