June 2023 Newsletter

Religious resources in Auslan

We are always eager to promote any resources in Auslan that our Catholic Deaf sisters and brothers could use. Below are a few of them, some we produce ourselves here at Emmanuel Centre and some are resources available online courtesy of other organisations. Please feel free to forward it to anyone who would benefit.

Gospel Readings in Auslan

You may know that we have started a youtube channel that publish weekly Gospel reading in Auslan. It started at the start of Advent Year A  and we will continue to publish one weekly, hopefully until we complete the cycle of year A, B, and C. You could subscribe to it so that you don’t miss out: https://www.youtube.com/@catholicdeafandemmanuelcentre

On top of this, we also prepare the same Auslan Gospels as powerpoint slides so they could be used at Mass in parishes. At the moment they’re used weekly in St Francis Xavier church in East Perth but we’re hoping to spread it further afield. Let us know (via email emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au) if you’re interested in these. They’re in google drive for download but we need to add your email address to the list if you want to access it.

Auslan Bible

This is a project by the Bible Society to make The Word accessible for all Deaf Christians. You could view it on their website https://auslan.bible/

Mass For You At Home

The diocese of Wollongong in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference  produces a weekly Mass (with Auslan) that broadcasts around the country on Channel Ten (6am) and Foxtel’s Aurora Channel 173 (10am) each Sunday morning. It is then available to watch on their website massforyou.com.au

Wellbeing Sessions

Joe O’Brien and Dr Abesh Antony (a psychiatrist) ran a session on mental wellbeing on Saturday 27 May at Bateman parish that is a part of a series of sessions on Good Self Care.  The session was well attended and received by the 50 people that attended.  The session looked at keeping ourselves in a good place, mental health stats and the link to our faith.

All parishioners from the archdiocese are warmly invited to further sessions in the series on Saturday  24 June and 22 July 9.30am to 11.30am, at Bateman Parish, cnr Dean and Marsengo Roads, Bateman. Workshop 2 will focus on practical ways to look after our physical health. Workshop 3 will be on feeding the soul and will demonstrate how our spirituality is the foundation of our Good Self-Care. Each workshop will be interactive, educational, inspiring and a great opportunity to grow together as a caring, sharing, content and healthy Christian community. The workshops are cost free; however, seats are limited and will be offered on a first come first served basis. Click here for the flyer. Further info: Mario Sequeira (mlsequeira@iprimus.com.au) or joe.obrien@perthcatholic.org.au.

We Recycle!

We are still taking newspapers and 10c Containers for Change for recycling. Drop off at 25 Windsor St.   If you can’t get your containers to us, you can put them into to your local Containers for Change Depot and quote our ID C10471612.

In our most recent Deaf gathering, we were looking at some archive photos in a series titled “A Lonely World” with one of our deaf participants, Lyn, as the main character. Talking to us through an Auslan interpreter, Lyn said that she couldn’t remember who took the photos, but most probably it would have been Fr. Paul. Below are some of the photos and Lyn’s reflections on them, with additional commentaries from other Deaf members.

Overall, when asked to reflect how life now is different from back then, most of the Deaf said it’s better now. Technology is better and people are more cooperative.

Lyn said this was her house for 40+ yrs on Royal St, Yokine. It was small and she didn’t like it much. She’s happier now in her current home.
This photo gives us a clue to the timeframe of the photos taken. Lyn remembers that this was the bus trip that the St. Denis (Joondana) Parish organised to go to Belmont Racecourse to see the Pope who was visiting Perth at that time. That would mean these series of photos must have been taken in 1986 or thereabout. Lyn recalled that everyone else on the bus was hearing. She was the only Deaf.
Even Deaf people have telephones as they could send text messages with them. In the 1990s, they would use a tool called TTY which needs to be attached to a home telephone on both ends and both parties could type on the TTY and it would appear on the other end. Michael remembered how when he was going out with Jenny (now wife, both deaf), they would use TTY for a long chat. Linda (whose mother was deaf) said that it wouldn’t work for  all deaf people. Firstly they must have the additional TTY tool on both ends. Secondly, they need enough English to understand the text the other person types and Linda remember having to interpret the messages that came through TTY into Auslan for her mother. Nowadays these are not commonly used anymore as most people could send text using mobile phones.
TV at that time didn’t have caption and Lyn remembered that watching TV without being able to understand was very depressing. It’s even worse when the TV was black and white as it’s very hard to read someone’s facial expression . Thankfully, most TV programs are now captioned.
Tony, one of our deaf members, uses his mobile phone to “caption” live conversation too. Using voice to text capability that most mobile phones have, he’s able to ‘listen’ to conversations, which is crucial when he has to talk to medical professionals without an interpreter. Linda warns that it’s not perfect though. The voice to text function sometimes get it wrong and that’s how gossip starts when you takes the text as 100% truth and passes it to others.
Another way to communicate with someone who doesn’t know Auslan is of course using pen and paper. On this shopping trip (which Lyn thinks was on Flinders St, Yokine), she  wrote down her shopping list and recalls asking a shop assistant to tell her where these items were located.


Ageing is a funny thing, when we were kids and teenagers there are people around us who we looked up to.  People who cared for us and watched us grow.  These people get older and over time they pass away.  It is sad.  It hurts. But it is part of nature’s way.

We get older and now we are those people who support the young people.  We are part of a community, ours is a faith community that gives us a way of dealing with the problems in life.  One day we realise we are in positions of responsibility.  We are doing those things our parents and the generation before were doing.  We are the ones who are setting the direction for the future.

We have changed and we are changing things like it or not.  Though some things don’t change.  Our faith grows and the more we know about it, the more we realise we don’t know. Yet the more comfortable we are with it.  We watch young people searching, looking, trying to find where they belong.  Enticed by the myriad of options they have. Enticed by things, yet at times they miss the simple beauty of faith that brings peace to the soul.

We are tempted by things, and at times we succumb but our faith turns us around.  We start again.  Start again knowing we are loved.

Joe (31/05/2023)

How to achieve Inner Peace

Life can be overwhelming, and often it is hard to find a moment of calm amidst the chaos. However, achieving inner peace is essential for overall well-being, as it allows for a greater sense of clarity, contentment and happiness. Here are some simple ways to achieve mental calmness and find inner peace:


Mindfulness is a powerful tool for achieving mental calmness. It involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. This means focusing on your thoughts, feelings and sensations without trying to change them. By practicing mindfulness regularly, you can train your mind to be more present and less reactive to stressors. To practice mindfulness, try sitting in a quiet place and focusing on your breath. As you inhale and exhale, notice the sensations in your body and the thoughts that arise. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. You can also practice mindfulness while doing everyday tasks, such as washing dishes or taking a walk.


Self-care is an essential part of achieving mental peace. This means taking care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Self-care can include activities such as taking a relaxing bath, practicing yoga, reading a book or spending time with loved ones. It’s important to prioritise self-care and make time for it in your daily routine. When you take care of yourself, you’ll feel more balanced and energised, which will help you find inner peace.


Spending time in nature can be a powerful way to find inner peace. Being surrounded by greenery, fresh air, and natural beauty can help you feel more grounded and connected to the world around you. Research has also shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost overall well-being. To spend time in nature, try going for a walk in the park, hiking in the bush or the forest or simply sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine.


Practicing gratitude is another powerful way to find inner peace. It involves focusing on the good things in your life and expressing gratitude for them. By doing this, you’ll shift your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings and cultivate a more positive mindset. To practice gratitude, try writing down three things you’re grateful for each day. They can be simple things like a good cup of coffee or a kind word from a friend. Focusing on these positive moments can help you find more joy and contentment in your life.

Courtesy EAP Assist

For people of faith, we need to thank God for everything he does in our life, big and small.  Each and every day holds precious gifts. From the air we breathe to the friendships we hold close, there is always something to be thankful for.  The more we thank God the more we will see him working in our lives. Gratitude helps us become aware of God’s presence, his personal care and perfect timing.

-Emmanuel Centre-

<Image credit: Benjamin Balazs from Pixabay >

Snippets from Our Day Activities Program

It seems this year is just flying by. Already we are looking at what’s left to do before the next set of holidays begins! We finished last term with making lovely bunting for Easter with a little bag of chocolate eggs and Hot Cross Buns. This term has been mostly about creating things with calm focus. We made a lot of very cute little origami stars called Lucky Stars. We also celebrated Mother’s day, making lovely scented bath bombs and creating a gorgeous bunch of Yarn flowers to go with them. Further along we made some felt Name Flags and did some jewellery making. And every Tuesday we get to spend our time doing our wonderful paint class. A couple of this terms topics included self-reflection, still life, landscapes and fruits! 

March 2023 Newsletter

Where We Are Going 2023

Last year was a challenge with COVID but we have got through it.

This year is shaping up to be busier than last year.  The Deaf Social group is running on the last Friday of the month and we are close to trialling the Mass Translations in parishes.  Every week now we are uploading an Auslan translation of the Gospel on Facebook.  We plan on being more active on social media this year.

Mental Health is also firing up.  The program Do Not Be Afraid we have prepared has been trialled in two Parishes and is now available to all Parishes.  So far we have run sessions in Kalgoorlie and Karrinyup/Innaloo, specifically designed to meet their requirements.  Later this year we will be doing a program in Bateman Parish.  Hopefully toward the end of the 2023 we will running all ten sessions in one program.  During the year we plan on having Masses for the Mental Health Group.

The Activities group is running and we have new participants.  The Committee of Management has approved us taking the participants on excursions which will start soon. Shannon has got an interesting program organised for the participants for Term 1 and is already looking at ideas for Term 2.

Gospels in Auslan

We are very happy to announce that we have started a youtube channel that will have weekly Gospel reading in Auslan. We hope that it will be helping the Catholic Deaf community in our faith journey. We started it to coincide with the start of Advent  Year A. And we will continue to publish one weekly, hopefully until we complete the cycle of year A, B, and C. You could subscribe to it so that you don’t miss out and feel free to forward it to anyone who would benefit from this: www.youtube.com/@catholicdeafandemmanuelcentre

Emmanuel’s Christmas Party

The Emmanuel Centre would like to thank everyone who attended our Christmas Party in December 2022. Despite the rainy weather, we hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did and here are some pictures from the event.

Pastoral Centre’s Statues Restorations

Our resident artist Geoff  has been busy doing some restoration work on two statues at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, Highgate. The process  started in October 2022 and the first step was for Geoff to assess the statues to see what needed doing. The statues are very old, possibly 100 years old or more, and were in pretty bad condition. One had some damages including a broken limb that was previously inexpertly cemented back together by a handyman (the arm became a lump protruding out of the side of the statue), so Geoff needed to fix it first.

He spent November with Eric’s help sanding down, plastering, and preparing the statues before painting them in January this year, making sure he gets their skin tone as close as possible to the original. To make sure he has the materials he needs, a staff member from the Pastoral Centre went with Geoff to the art shop to order suitable paints and other supplies.

They are finally finished now. Geoff’s been working on them indoor in the chapel but once they’ve been given a weather proof coating, they will go out into the grotto where they belong.

If you or your organisation has some religious statues that need Geoff’s loving restoration, you could contact us via emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au.

Eric has left the building

Eric (pictured below at his last Christmas party with us last year) has left us for a well-paid job as a journalist. Here is a few words from Joe:

Eric is a character that doesn’t stop, with amazing energy.  Always smiling. What we often don’t think about is Eric’s other qualities.  He holds two university degrees and is without doubt a very intelligent person, who is brilliant at putting words together. He is passionate and caring, willing to bend over backwards for anyone.

He is incredibly attentive and doesn’t miss a lot, this combined with being genuinely good at listening makes people feel comfortable.  It could be said he is somewhat charismatic.  He puts his heart and soul into anything he does picking up Auslan quickly after he started work with Catholic Deaf.

We will miss him as nothing is ever boring when Eric’s around.  We wish him the best in his new adventure.

We were saddened by the news of Graham’s passing in January. Fifty one years ago Graham was instrumental in the founding of Catholic Deaf and Hard of Hearing WA which is still running today. We offer our sincerest condolences to Michael, Jenny and family in this time of grief.

Below is some of the beautiful sentiments Michael shared with us at his funeral.

Hi I am Michael, Graham and Helen’s second eldest son.

It was a surprise to mum and dad when they realised I was deaf not too long after I was born. Dad was very supportive and took me into the Speech and Hearing Centre to learn more about having a deaf child and how to communicate with me. Dad was so involved and invested so much time in the Speech and Hearing Centre he eventually became a life member. I was very proud.

Some of my favourite memories of Dad was through playing sports especially baseball which was Dad’s favourite sport, Dad was always there watching and made sure he was involved in one way or another. He would always tell me how I could improve and give me some strong feedback after the game.

I was lucky enough to be able to travel the world with Mum and Dad when I was 23. To this day this trip is still so memorable to me and I love reflecting back on it thinking about how fun it was especially the part when he forgot his key and I was sitting in the room watching TV for 1 hour while he was knocking at the door. He wasn’t very happy.

Dad helped me get my first job in a printing factory and I eventually worked with him for 6 years at Cypress Print which had its good and bad moments. But it is something I am forever grateful for.

Dad was always very strict with us growing up but always looked after me and was a good role model for me teaching me the importance of hard work and providing for your family. Dad thanked me for bringing my wife Jenny and two boys Tim and Liam into the family which he loved so much.

I am very lucky to have a father like him and I will miss him so much but I am sure he will be so happy to be reunited with Mum.

Love you Dad.

Snippets from our weekly program

A lot has happened since our last newspaper, but the highlight was definitely our Christmas party. Although this year there was rain!! We had a couple of tables set up with some examples of the Arts and Crafts we do during the year, as well as lots of yummy things to eat. Here are some pictures of the great day we had .

We started again after the holidays in January. We celebrated Allan’s birthday during our first week. Allan was very pleased that we remembered, as his birthday is during the holidays.

Do Not be Afraid is a Mental Health Program published by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference which is headed by our very own Bishop Don Sproxton. It is a resource for parishes for ministry to people with mental illness and their families. 

Emmanuel Centre has put in the additional resources such as articles, links to you tube videos etc to help us better understand the different mental illnesses and ways in which we as parish members can walk with and accompany people in their recovery journey.   

Emmanuel centre has conducted a condensed version of the ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ program in the parishes of Innaloo and Kalgoorlie and are in the process of planning their next parish session.

This programme is available on the Emmanuel Centre website.  Below is the Link:

I encourage everyone to visit this website and avail yourself of this resource.  It is of course a work in progress.

Whether you are a Parish member or not, I promise, you will find this very useful in understanding some of the mental health issues and hopefully journey in faith with someone in need .

November 2022 Newsletter

Reflection on 2022

This has been an interesting year for the Centre. Most importantly we have been able to bring our faith into what we do.  Emmanuel and Catholic Deaf are growing.

We are all making a real effort to put our faith into action.  Trying to bring the light of Christ to those around us, by being like the first Christians who could not say anything but rather attracted people by their actions and its working.  Our monthly Deaf night group includes a short reflection.  We are trying hard to encourage people to look at the good things in life and to look after those they love.

We are producing a signed translation of the Mass.  It’s a huge project, so far we have got the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds, Eucharistic Prayer II and some of the Gospels of Year A done.  These will be put into Powerpoints in sections, so the speed of the translation can match the pace of the Mass.  When released this will enable the parishes if they wish to show the Mass signed, with the words.  It will enable Deaf people access to the liturgy over more of the Archdiocese

This year is the 50th Anniversary of Catholic Deaf and they asked for, a very low-key celebration.  The Deaf group and a few people that have been involved over the years had a BBQ on the 18th of November.

The Activities Group has now run for over 40 years and some of our original members still come.  Shannon does a great job of providing stimulating activities and creating some fantastic art and craft work.  Some of the craft will be on display at our Christmas party.

Mental Health has been a part out Mandate for a while now.  This year we have begun to trial a Mental Health and Spirituality program, which we have reworked, called Do Not Be Afraid to parishes and Church organisations.  The first being delivered to Karrinyup/Innaloo parish and a group from Catholic Outreach.  In late November we will be in Kalgoorlie delivering the program.

Our Mental Health First Aiders group is still running for which we have had masses and meetings for the group during the year.  Fr Mark from the Redemptorist Monastery has been wonderful to us this year by making himself available to say Mass for our group.

We are blessed with supporters who have been with us for many years.  All of you are in our prayers.

by Joe O’Brien

September 2022 Newsletter

A small group of women started Catholic Deaf and Hard of Hearing in WA to provide Catechism to the boys and girls at the old Deaf School in Mosman Park.  They worked with one of the Sisters of Mercy from the Convent in Broome Street Mosman Park.  The convent is just around the corner from the old Deaf School.  Fr Chris Reidy was the first Chaplain appointed in 1972.  Fr Reidy was followed by Fr Brian McKenna and then Fr Paul Pitzen in 1978. 

In 1982 Barbara Harris a Special Ed teacher was appointed to help Fr Paul as the Coordinator.  Geoff Scott taught Barbara Auslan and like a duck to water Barbara picked it up. Barbara a parishioner at St Denis’s in Joondanna later started translating Masses every week which continued until 2021. 

Fr Paul passed away in 2018 Barbara soldiered on until 2021 when she retired.  Joe O’Brien took on the role of Coordinator and as of yet a new Chaplain has not been appointed.

Barbara and Fr Paul fought hard for the disabled in the diocese during a period when society had a growing awareness of the needs of the disabled. 

Everyone is born in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27)  Fr Paul although hard of hearing himself would go out of his way to help the deaf including visiting prisons when necessary.  The Deaf were his flock and as a good shepherd he fought for the flock. In naming the new Centre he and many others built it called got the Emmanuel Centre.  Emmanuel translates to “God is with us.”

Fifty years after the first Chaplain was appointed Catholic Deaf are still going.  Still working to ensure the Deaf have access to the liturgy and resources to help them grow in their faith.  God loves all of us and over fifty years Catholic Deaf have been helping Deaf and Hard of Hearing find him.

 (by Joe O Brien)

Joe with Janina and Tony, two of our deaf community members.

Timeline of the Deaf Ministry

(from old letters we found in the archives)

1972: There was a meeting in NSW with representatives from all over Australia. WA representative was Ms. Beverley Wallace, a teacher of the deaf. Association of Catholic Deaf in WA was formed.

1973: Fr Chris Reidy was appointed first chaplain.

1975: WA Association for Catholic Deaf was run from the Convent of Mercy (13 Broome St, Mosman Park). There was monthly mass for the deaf, followed by social gathering over a cuppa. The Mass was held at different parishes each month, such as Shenton Park, Hilton, Dianella, etc. The front seats were reserved for the deaf so they could see the sign language interpreter (Ms. Wallace). Fr Brian McKenna was appointed by Bishop Quinn to be chaplain (Fr Chris Reidy was transferred to Kellerberrin).

1977: The Association’s president was Graham Pittaway, the secretary was Helen Pittaway. Family membership subscription of $2.00 is requested to cover the running cost of the Association. Fr McKenna and Sr Maria Mols were sent to Sydney in November to attend the National Catholic Deaf Association Conference.

1978: Fr Paul Pitzen was appointed chaplain (Fr McKenna was transferred to Kalgoorlie).

1981: Emmanuel Centre was born.

1994: The Archdiocese of Perth established the LifeLink organisation as a means of uniting and identifying ‘Church based welfare delivery’. These include Emmanuel Centre and Catholic Association for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired People of WA.

2022: 50th Anniversary of Catholic Deaf Ministry. Coordinator is Joe O’Brien. We have no chaplain since Fr. Paul’s passing in 2018.

Deaf Story: Tony Klimek

This is the story of one of the regular participants in our monthly Deaf Gathering, Antoni (Tony) Klimek. Tony was born in Poland in 1946 and has been living in Western Australia since 1965. He was declined in his application to migrate to Australia as a teenager due to deafness, the family had to wait two years for his visa to be finally approved, as his hearing mum and younger brother would not leave him behind to join his older brother who migrated here during World War II.

 His first job when he arrived in Australia was as a deckhand on his older brother’s crayboat, on the coast of WA, around Geraldton/ Dongara area. Interestingly, another one of our regular Deaf Night participants, Mark, was also a deckhand on a crayboat along the same coast. But at that time, these boats were manned by more or less family members, so Tony worked on a Polish boat and Mark on an Italian boat. There was friendly banter when we chatted about this recently, such as what to do about crayfish with eggs (kill vs throw back into the ocean) etc.

 Tony has worked in many different areas of employment since: broom-maker, fork lift and bobcat driver, self-employed building subcontractor, administrative and teaching posts with the WA Deaf Society, also executive and coaching posts in such diverse fields as weightlifting, basketball, badminton, chess, darts and continuing education for the Deaf.

 Tony is also a top notch sportsman. Most notably, he is a fine golfer. He started golf quite late at the age of 32. Only two years later he won his first State Deaf Championship and in the next seventeen years, won it 13 times and runner up on four occasions. He was team captain of the Australian Deaf Golf Association, President of the World Deaf Golf Federation, and represented Yokine Golf Club in Division one AGC Pennants. In other sports, he has also represented Australia in World Deaf Chess Championship in Hungary and in Scotland (as a player and team manager). Also, he broke all State Hearing Weightlifting records in 1967.

 In 1991, with interpreting support from WA Deaf Society, Tony did a special bridging course for the disabled at ECU, with the intention of continuing to do the Bachelor of Science for computing. He started his bachelor study for 4 units without interpreter. But he didn’t complete his degree due to a job opportunity.

 Tony clearly has not allowed his profound deafness to stop him living a full and distinguished life. He is married with one son, one grandson, and two granddaughters. He married his wife Helena in 1967 at St. Brigid’s Northbridge Parish and it’s so lovely to see them as a loving couple now, 55 years later!

Below are their photos on their wedding day and recently at one of our Monthly Deaf Gathering here at Emmanuel Centre. We congratulate Tony and Helena on their upcoming 55th Anniversary. May you and your loved ones continue to have abundant blessings!


Emmanuel Centre holds a deaf social gathering monthly on the last Friday night of the month. From the conversation, we gain snippets of stories on the challenges they face, made worse by COVID. Below are a couple of snippets:

Mask: You probably already heard about how wearing masks make it impossible for the deaf to read lips. One solution proposed to solve this is to use transparent masks. Unfortunately they are more difficult to find in the market and more expensive to buy. Another solution is to engage an Auslan interpreter so that the deaf don’t need to lipread. But even this is not a perfect solution when there are a group of people. By watching the interpreter, the deaf could know what is being said. But if everyone wears a mask, the deaf won’t be able to see whose mouth is moving, and therefore don’t know who’s speaking!

Auslan interpreter: With the availability of NDIS funding and also the popularity of Auslan interpreters who interpret for government press conferences, such as Fiona (WA) or Mike Webb (Qld), lots of people and organisations now would like to engage Auslan interpreter to allow the deaf to be included in events. This is a positive development for the deaf. However, demand surpasses supply and Auslan interpreters are generally booked out weeks in advance. And then if the interpreter gets COVID, they have to cancel last minute. Very frustrating for all involved. Lots of people are interested in being Auslan interpreters, and the government is helping this process by providing subsidy, but each of these candidate would have to take a journey of around 5 years including studying and then passing the NAATI test to be certified. So we will only reap the harvest in a few years time. In the meanwhile, Auslan interpreters are working very hard indeed, often into the night to cater for evening social events. They risk burnt out and we hope the next batch of interpreters would graduate soon and help them out.

So if you are a hearing person who would like to communicate with a deaf person, what are your options? You could try either of the following options:

1. You could learn Auslan.  The majority of the signs in Auslan are closely linked with the meaning, for example the sign for swimming is your hands making breaststroke movement. This makes it fairly easy for relatives and friends of the deaf to learn sufficient signs to be able to carry on a simple conversation with the deaf. There are online courses available to start you off an your learning journey if you are interested in this.

2. For more complex communication, you could engage an Auslan interpreter, bearing in mind as stated above that they are very busy at the moment, so you need to book early.

3. You could write down what you want to say. However, please be aware that for many deaf people, their first language is Auslan. They learn English as a second language, and they may not be as good at it as a hearing person. So it’s a good idea to keep your English simple.

4. You could use the voice to text function on your phone. Many mobile phones nowadays would allow this and this could be a life saver in urgent situation, for example when a doctor needs to communicate with a deaf person.


Do Not Be Afraid Trials

Emmanuel centre has reworked a program called Do Not Be Afraid prepared by the Australian Catholic Bishops Council with the support of Bishop Sproxton. The program has had resources added and more topics included.  The program is designed in a series of sessions so parishes can choose what they need to meet their needs.

On the 20th and 21st August the program was successfully trialled at St Dominic’s in Innaloo receiving good feedback from the parishioners and Fr Bernard the Parish Priest.  Joe O’Brien and Eric Martin presented the Introduction to Mental Health and Youth and Drugs and Stigma modules which were chosen by the parish in 2 hour sessions.

The parish provided lunches and morning and afternoon teas which were organised by some wonderful parishioners.  On the Sunday everyone went to the Sunday Mass together which was followed by the final session.

We extend our thanks to the Innaloo/Karrinyup Parish for having us.


R U Ok day was celebrated on 8th September 2022. Asking someone R U OK might just make a positive change in the life of others as well as in our own.

Consider using ALEC to help you start the conversation:

· Ask: Pick the right moment and ask R U OK? in a way that feels right for you. Mention changes you’ve noticed and that you’re concerned. 

· Listen: Listen without judgement. Don’t rush or interrupt but encourage them to explain what’s going on for them. 

· Encourage Action: Ask what they’ve done in the past that has helped. There might be something practical you can do, or you could help them access professional support. 

· Check in: Stay in touch after the initial conversation. Check in to ask how they’re feeling and if things have improved. Stay connected so they’ll know you’re there for them. 

For more information, go to www.ruok.org.au


Emmanuel Centre currently has vacancies for Fun Day activities for people with disabilities on Mondays and/ or Tuesdays  from 9.30am-2pm at our centre.  We are conveniently located near East Perth train station.

Cost is $4.00 per day to cover morning tea and light lunch. If you or anyone you know is interested, please talk to our coordinator Joe (9328 8113 or emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au).

June 2022 Newsletter

National Volunteer Week is Australia’s annual celebration of volunteering. Emmanuel Centre would like to take this opportunity to celebrate and recognise the important work of volunteers and to say thank you. In this edition, we’d like to highlight one of our volunteers, Ann Page. Ann has been a volunteer here for 15 years! She is a wonderful volunteer: supportive, a good listener, and responds to the needs around her naturally. An absolute blessing!

She doesn’t baulk at a challenge and is willing to give things a go. Although normally quiet, Ann will ask and challenge us if she sees something is not right or needs doing. On the occasion when she sees a need she will buy something and donate it. Below is her story about her work with us, in her own words (edited). We thought it would be good to include some photos of her with us. But there are not many photos of her as she’s the type that works quietly and efficiently in the background. We hope the couple of photos that we did find would show us all her wonderful involvement throughout the years. The first photo was taken at one of our Monthly Deaf Nights and there she was in the background, the one making sure we’re all well fed. The second photo was taken last year on the 3rd anniversary of Fr. Paul’s passing. Ann led us in prayer at the Garden of Remembrance that day.

My involvement with the Emmanuel Centre (by Ann Page)

In August 2006, my daughter was struggling with the effects of living alone along with depression. I knew about the Emmanuel Centre, and thought it might be helpful for her to volunteer there. To encourage this, we both worked on a project together as it was overwhelming for her to do it by herself.

In March 2007, I decided to become a volunteer at the Centre 1 day a week. My daughter did not join me, as she had found some paid work.

The task that became mine was to do the shopping for the two houses that are managed by Emmanuel Centre (27 and 29 Windsor Street). The Centre had a history dating back to 1981 of helping people needing care, and a place of shelter. In earlier days, a much higher number of houses meant that there was a house carer in each. By 2007 the residents managed themselves. Every week, each resident produced a list of items they needed to make their meals, I would assess the lists, and begin by identifying whatever was already in stock. The remaining items not in stock would form the combined shopping list.

In the years that followed, I also became involved with the Catholic Mental Health Network, where small groups in parishes were set up. Regular training sessions and meetings took place, mostly on weekends. I would take the minutes at these meetings, and also deal with hospitality.

Today I am still a volunteer at a very different Emmanuel Centre. It is now 40 years since it began. Why am I still coming? I guess some kind of loyalty to the original self-help philosophy by which it has operated for all these years. The concept that each person who comes here, either as a volunteer or as a resident, has something to give, and their best endeavours, however small, must, and will be honoured.


Below are the Ladies from some of the Parishes in Perth who attended the Mental Health First Aiders Mass, followed by afternoon tea, held at the Cathedral undercroft on the 12th of March 2022.  The Ladies discussed some of the challenges they are facing with helping people in their Parishes with their mental wellbeing.

Joe O’Brien, Director of the Emmanuel Centre, informed the group that the “Do Not Be Afraid” project was still in progress and discussed some of the processes it was going through.   We would welcome more members, who have done the Mental Health First Aid Course from Parishes, to attend these meetings which are held regularly.  The problems, challenges and resolutions discussed, could help others facing similar situations.  If you are a member and would like to attend our meetings, and are not already receiving our emails, please contact the Emmanuel Centre on emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au or 9328 8113.


I’m sure most of you know of our resident deaf artist Geoff. He has a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Curtin University and he leads the Tuesday morning art class here at the Emmanuel Centre.

Since the middle of last year, Geoff has applied his artistic skills to repairing and restoring religious statues, bringing the saints back to life if they have been damaged or their colours have faded over the years. So far, Geoff has repaired two Marys (one belonging to the Legion of Mary and the other a personal owner), a baby Jesus (personal owner), and an Archangel Michael (St. Denis parish).

To give us a glimpse into his process, I asked him to describe his work process and this is a summary of what he said: First, he’ll glue back any broken parts, including gluing back statues that have been completely broken in halves. After that, he’ll use plaster to fill in any missing bits, for example the baby Jesus was missing a toe so he used plaster to give it a tiny toe to complete his foot. After that he’ll smooth down any uneven surface by sanding. And lastly is painting, which is very delicately done to restore faces, clothes, and any other parts. Geoff will match skin tone etc to the original to the best of his ability, and also add touches of paint that he thinks will improve it (eg he painted the saints’ halo in gold paint to make it more shiny).

In the attached photos, you can see some of the materials that he uses in his work (plaster, paint). And you can also see a couple of the statues he repaired. Mary was very faded and missing half her facial features when she was brought to us. After a couple of months with Geoff, she went home with a much better appearance, with her new nose job, blue dress, and gold hem. The Archangel Michael statue was completely broken in half, with a crooked lance when presented to Geoff, and he restored it to his former glory—standing over the devil that he stabbed.

The latest project that Geoff just finished is a statue of Infant Jesus of Prague (right). He said it’s tricky because after looking at how it’s supposed to look (through internet research, as shown in printed photo), he realised the small statue should have two crucifixes, one on the crown and the other one on the globe that’s held in its hand. Both crucifixes were missing, so Geoff had to build tiny crucifixes and affix them in place, before going on with finishing, painting etc. We are very impressed with the final result!

If you have any religious statues that need repair, we encourage you to get in contact with us either by calling 9328 8113 or email emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au. Please be aware that repair will take time (a few months) as Geoff only works on it part time and he needs to allow drying time in between each step of work/ each layer of paint. Geoff doesn’t charge any fee for his time, but would gratefully accept donations to contribute towards purchasing his materials (please ask if you’d like some indication of materials cost).


With Covid in the community, we have our share of members or staff self-isolating, but thankfully we are able to keep the Day Activities open and running for those that are able to come. Here are some photos to show what we’ve been up to this term.

Hodan playing Uno with Elita and Geoff. Our members are learning simple Auslan signs to be able to communicate with Geoff, for example Auslan signs for different colours in an Uno game.
Here are some of us enjoying sharing lunch together.


It is always hard when someone you love is suffering

Watching the confusion in their eyes

Knowing that its not going to get better

That their time is close

No idea exactly when

Their bodies giving out on them

Their freedom being taken away

Their frustration growing

As they struggle to express themselves

At times not knowing who you are

Other times asking for you

Then not remembering what they wanted

Still you calm them down

Listen even though it doesn’t make sense

Or they are far in the past

Their eyes light up when you arrive

Happy to see your face

Responding to your love

Love borne out of a long standing relationship

The person you remember gone long ago.

Joe (27/04/2022)

The reflection above is about my Dad.  He is 99 years old and takes a lot out of me when I visit which I do regularly. It is a struggle at times getting the motivation to go and see him.  He is my Dad so I go. 

22 years ago my Mum was diagnosed with cancer that wasn’t operable.  Dad is just 5 foot tall and Mum was nearly 6 foot and overweight.  He nursed her with a dedication that was incredible. When she got bad he bathed her, turned her and fed her without flinching for almost 12 months. He has significant problems with his legs and they are painful at times, he never complained. Finally totally exhausted he agreed for her to have some respite in a hospice where she passed away.

I have learnt a lot from Dad.  Learnt if you love someone you don’t give up.  If someone you love is fighting to look after a loved one, often you feel that you can do nothing. It is not true though, simply being around and listening is powerful. It is that sometimes silent presence that can be truly beneficial.  Frustrates you but it is beneficial. 

Over the years I have found a beautiful way of looking at suffering.  Christ called out on the Cross eli eli lama sabatani or “My God, My God why have you abandoned me”.  It is in offering suffering to God that I have found peace.  Christ suffered then he rose.

March 2022 Newsletter



Option 1:    EMAIL newsletter–This will be our default option going forward. If you’re already receiving this newsletter via email, you don’t need to do anything. If you’re reading this in hardcopy, please send us an email to emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au so we can update your details.
Option 2:  POSTED hardcopy–We’re happy to keep sending you the newsletter by post, but we’d need a small donation to cover postage. If this is what you prefer, please let us know either by phone 9328 8113, email emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au, or write to us at 25 Windsor St Perth 6000. If you have already contacted us in 2021 to let us know, you don’t need to do it again, we have already noted your preference.

If we haven’t heard from you by the time we send out the next newsletter, unfortunately we’d have to stop sending you one. To avoid this, please do contact us!


The year 2021 was a special one for us. We started the year with a new coordinator, and we ended the year with a celebration of our 40th anniversary. Below are a few photos from our day of celebration in December 2021, and also a reflection from our coordinator Joe on his first year with us:

This year has been a big year for the Emmanuel Centre and Catholic Deaf.  My first year as Co-ordinator has been full of surprises and lots to learn. I have been supported by the Diocesan hierarchy and a great team here at the Centre.  The support coming from the Clergy has also been fantastic. Our new Committee of Management is full of really well qualified people. The Diocese is going through some big changes and as part of the Diocese we have not been exempt from change.  COVID, National Disability Standards along with Federal Governance requirements have led the Diocese to prevent services overlapping.  Due to this the beautiful house Barbara built has been handed over to IdentityWA (formerly CatholicCare) who specialise in the area of disability accommodation.  We have also lost the school building due to structural and safety issues. All the things that have been sent to try us in many ways, have made us stronger and more determined to make a difference.  We have endeavoured to follow the philosophy of a self-help model which is what the Centre was built on and it’s working. Christ is at the centre of what we do and building on a lived faith is important to the people here at Emmanuel.  We have been doing a lot of research and consultation to enable us to best utilise our resources.  Examples of this work are; Deaf nights on the last Thursday of the month.Mental Health Group masses and group gatherings.Parent Groups for children with disabilities starting early 2022. The ideas that are coming to us have been great.  It is clear we can’t do everything but we can make a difference in what we do.  Your support through this year has been a real blessing and I would encourage you to keep it up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Story from People living with Hearing Loss: COVID and the Community

(by Eric Martin)

Imagine trying to navigate the world of COVID directives and health mandates without being able to hear what everyone is saying or struggling with the vocabulary to make clear sense of the scientists’ findings or the politicians’ statements. Imagine not being able to communicate clearly with people at the shops to find out why there are gaping holes in the aisles where the products that you need should be.

This is the situation in which many people from the Deaf Community find themselves as COVID-19 begins to make its presence known in WA and reflects the experience of Deaf people across Australia over the last two years.

Geoffrey Scott, an Emmanuel Centre employee and volunteer of over 30 years, says that Covid has stopped him from doing many of his normal activities, such as swimming, playing water polo or going to parties. He has found it isolating and has kept away from friends and family during the pandemic.

“Hearing people tend to ignore Deaf people when out. People are too busy to stop and try to talk anymore, there is less and less time to talk with someone who is serving you at the shops and that has become even more normal now with everyone in masks,” said Geoff.

“For example, one thing that surprised me was seeing the shortages in the shops – I went to buy cat food and the shelves were empty. I had to watch the news, with captions on, to find out about the trains and trucks had been stopped coming across from the Eastern States due to the floods.”

During the height of the pandemic, Deafness Forum Australia felt compelled to issue a statement about the importance of accessible communications, highlighting that one in six Australians who live with a hearing loss that impacts their daily lives, “experience communication issues that make it hard to interact with other people and that these issues can result in loneliness, anxiety, and depression.”

“We face challenges with social distancing and the use of face masks which impedes lip reading,” the statement says.

And to compound matters, many specialist communication providers, such as the National Relay Service (NRS), are operating with reduced levels of staff due to the impact of Coronavirus on their workforce and have advised that “people who communicate in Auslan using the Video Relay service will experience longer than usual wait times to have their calls answered.”

“Yet just like everyone else, the Deaf community has been meeting up online, in the virtual space, chatting on Facebook and Messenger, which is still the best way to catch up at this time,” said Geoff.

“I have been lucky to be in contact with friends who have kept me updated, also, working here at The Emmanuel Centre means that Joe (the coordinator) has been helping to keep me up to date with the changes to what I need to have for work. For example, the team at work have helped me access my Covid Vaccine Certificate through MyGov, which would have been very difficult to find by myself.”

One positive that has emerged from the crisis is the overwhelming popularity of Fiona Perry and the other Auslan interpreters working with Premier Mark McGowan at each of his press conferences, and according to Geoff, this has had a profound impact, not just on his and others’ ability to follow the news on TV, but also by encouraging widespread awareness of Deafness and a focus on communication amongst hearing people.

“The interpreter has been really helpful in understanding what has been happening on the news and Deaf people see it as a big positive for them, she has encouraged lots of people to become more interested in Auslan,” he said.

“Her work has really helped to put Deaf and Hearing people on a level playing field, this kind of equality is great to see. Sometimes I can still miss what she has signed, and sometimes they use different signs for words than the ones that I know, but overall, it has really helped me to follow the news.”

MONTHLY DEAF Spiritual Fellowship

Since last year, Emmanuel Centre has been hosting a monthly deaf group get together, combining spiritual fellowship with the sharing of a meal and a social gathering. We took a break during the Christmas/ New Year period and we started again on 24th February 2022. Everyone is requested to bring a plate of finger food to share, with coffee/tea and softdrink provided by us. If you know any deaf person who would be interested in this, please let them know. They could RSVP to us at emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au.


We are sure that you are aware of the escalating number of people in our community experiencing mental health issues. To help tackle this issue, for the last ten years, Emmanuel Centre has offered a limited number of scholarships for a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course. Over that time, we have observed that having people trained for each parish not only helps the leadership but also provides more support for the people with mental health issues as well as their families

Training in the Mental Health First Aid Course teaches adults how to assist people who are experiencing a mental health crisis or are developing a mental health problem. Participants in the Mental Health Course will learn the signs and symptoms of these mental health problems, where and how to get help, and what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective. MHFA is not a counselling course. The first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis is resolved.

Just as many of us have completed Red Cross First Aid and CPR certification, Mental Health First Aid follows a similar model and is designed to train lay people how to recognize indicators of mental health problems, how to talk appropriately to individuals experiencing mental health problems and how to make appropriate referrals for additional resources.

Once the parish representatives have completed their course and receive their certificate, they become part of a network of Catholic Mental Health First Aiders in the Archdiocese of Perth. We invite all members of the network about once every quarter to Mass followed by a social gathering where we share our work, our challenges, and our plans. The last one we had was at the Redemptorist Monastery, North Perth (photos below) and the next one we’re having in March 2022 will be at the Undercroft of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

If anyone is interested to be a Mental Health First Aider for their parish, you could register your interest with us at emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au and we will contact you when we have the next batch of Mental Health First Aid training.


Our regular weekly program is going strong thanks to our activity coordinator Shannon who always work hard to provide our members with creative, and fun activities for everyone to do!

We have had some membership change this term. We are sorry that one of our regular members has not joined us this term, but we are happy to have our other regulars back and we welcome our new member too. Here are some photos to show what we’ve been up to this term.

TIMETABLE for the rest of Term 1

(Please check as services may change due to COVID)

February 28th 9:30 – 10:30am: Pastel Clouds 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening         1-2pm: Boardgames/ ColouringMarch 1st 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: Free Painting 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Outdoor Games
March 7th PUBLIC HOLIDAY 9:30 – 10:30am: 11-12:30pm:         1-2pm:March 8th 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “The Beach” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Outdoor Games
March 14th 9:30-10:30am: Mosaic 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening         1-2pm: Boardgames/ Colouring/ Free ChoiceMarch 15th 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “Vehicles” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Outdoor Games
March 21st 9:30-10:30am: Mosaic cont’d. 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening         1-2pm: Boardgames/ Colouring/ OutdoorsMarch 22nd 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “Still Life” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Scrapbooking
March 28th 9:30-10:30am: Key Wind Chime 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening          1-2pm: Boardgames/ Colouring/ Indoor GamesMarch 29th 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “Landscapes” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Outdoor Games
April 4th 9:30-10:30am: Easter Egg Bath Bombs 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening 1-2pm: Boardgames/ Colouring/ Free ChoiceApril 5th 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “Easter” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games 1-2pm: Outdoor Games

A reflection on COVID

by Joe O’Brien (10/02/2022)

The impact of COVID cannot be overstated

It impacts on our lives

On our ability to communicate

It requires us to change the way we do things

Most of all it requires us to think

If we are to love our neighbours

We need to think about how we treat them

How they would want to be treated

COVID requires thought

Requires us to realise that to protect those who are entrusted to us

We need to take care

At times they won’t like it

They may rail against it

Our boundaries protect them

Jesus was no push over

He was tough

He knew what he wanted and paid for it with his life

Out of love

He doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle with his help

Let us lean on Jesus as we walk the COVID path.