Thursday, 08 March 2012 13:44

Are there any effects in Civil Law?

Written by

In Australia ecclesiastical annulments have no civil effects and a civil divorce decree must be obtained before any formal action to investigate a marriage may be taken at a Catholic Tribunal.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 13:43

What about the Children?

Written by

Church law states that the children of an annulled marriage are considered legitimate (canon 1137). An annulment affects only the marital status of the parties themselves and then only according to Church law.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 13:41

What is an annulment?

Written by

An annulment (decree of nullity) is a declaration by the Church that a marriage is not considered binding for life. This does not mean that the parties are free of the continuing obligations of the union such as the welfare of children. An annulment does not deny that there was a wedding ceremony or erase the relationship that existed. Nor does it make any comment on any moral fault in the parties. Rather, a decree of nullity is a declaration by the Church that, at the time the couple attempted to exchange wedding vows, an essential element was lacking in the consent of at least one of them and thus the union which followed such a consent is not considered to be an obstacle to either party remarrying in the Catholic Church.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 13:40

The Tribunal

Written by

Marriage breakdown is unique among life's experiences. There is nothing which can prepare or equip a person for the trauma or grief which is involved. The breakdown of marriage is a process which spans years of one's life and is not just restricted to when the parties actually separate. Separation and divorce are preceded by a history at least as long as the marriage itself. The causes often reach back to the wedding day, to the time of courting, or to the childhood environment of one or both parties. The ending of a marriage is a critical time for all concerned. Both parties may have invested a major part of their lives, their resources, their hopes, their dreams in the relationship.

The Church is aware of the stresses in our modern world associated with marriage breakdown and divorce. The Church endeavours to reach out to the pain and hurt of a divorced person, while upholding the permanence of a valid marriage. By declaring invalid those marriages which fall below the minimum standards set by canon law, the Church protects the dignity of marriage for those couples who have a valid marriage.

The Tribunal is a Church court which makes these declarations. Such a declaration can often help the divorced person who has remarried or is intending another marriage in the Catholic Church. It may also assist a divorced Catholic who is seeking clarification of his/her position for peace of conscience, or for reassurance in developing relationships in the future.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 13:38


Written by

Our own experience teaches us that not every human endeavour will be successful. Certainly, when success is hard won it means all the more to us. While we would not wish anyone to fail, it is a fact of life that sometimes our best efforts come up short of the success we had envisaged. Such failure is often the result of unforeseen difficulties, inadequate planning or preparation, the combined pressure of circumstances or just plain bad luck. Very rarely is it the result of a lack of good intention.

When two people decide to marry, it is never done lightly. Most often it is accompanied by the best of intentions and good will. However a divorce rate in Australia that sees some four out of ten marriages fail reminds us that such love and good will may not be enough to guarantee success.

The Church teaches that all weddings correctly performed and consummated create marriages that are presumed to be binding for life. This presumption of validity is the basis from which Church matrimonial courts proceed, just as "presumed innocence" is the basis of our criminal court system. However, not every wedding becomes a true marriage. Like every legal presumption, the presumption that a marriage is binding for life falls away when proof to the contrary is presented to the Church Tribunal.

The Tribunal itself does not annul marriages, any more than a cricket umpire bowls batsmen out. The umpire has no role in the dismissal. He simply adjudges whether the fielding team has dismissed the batsman. When the fielding team appeals the umpire has only two findings open to him, "out" or "not out". So too when the Tribunal receives a request from one of the parties to the marriage to declare it not to have been binding for life, it then thoroughly investigates the circumstances within which it was contracted. The Tribunal then has only two findings open to it; "proven not binding for life" or "not proven" in which case the marriage continues as presumed to be binding for life.

Roman Catholic Theology teaches that at the wedding the couple marry each other. The officiating clergy is simply the Church’s witness, just as the best man and bridesmaid are the community’s witnesses to the public reality of the ceremony. So too, only the husband or wife can challenge the validity of their marriage and ask the Tribunal for a ruling on its status.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 12:49

Our Lady of Good Counsel

Written by

olgc genazzanoIn the Alban Hills, not far from the city of Rome, lies the little town of Genazzano, where the miraculous image of Our Lady of Good Counsel is venerated. The story of the picture dates back to 1467. Pilgrims assembled on the feast of St. Mark were startled by a mysterious rustling sound and strains of sweet music. Looking toward the sky, they beheld what seemed a soft cloud. Slowly it descended and rested in front of the unfinished wall of the church dedicated to the Mother of God under the title of Good Counsel. The picture rests suspended in the air without any visible means of support to maintain its stable condition, and this for five centuries! Although painted on a piece of plaster no thicker than an ordinary visiting card, the image has withstood the ravages of time.

The Augustinian Order contributed to the spread of this devotion internationally. Through the years, various institutions have been named in honor of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Good Counsel.  Our first Augustinian, Bishop Martin Crane came from the community of the Church in Dublin, Ireland, and its tradition of devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel. He was also co-founder of this Church, the (st) John's Lane Augustinian Church and his picture is in a frame on the back wall.  The side chapel at the front right of the Church is dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel.  It is for this reason that she is the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Sandhurst.plaque dr martin crane dublin

Her Feast is celebrated on April 26.

Prayer to Our Lady of Good Counsel

Most Glorious Virgin, chosen by the Eternal Counsel to be the Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh, thou who art the treasurer of Divine graces, and the advocate of sinners, I, thy most unworthy servant, have recourse to thee; be thou pleased to be my guide and counselor in this vale of tears.

Obtain for me through the Most Precious Blood of thy Divine Son, the forgiveness of my sins, the salvation of my soul, and the means necessary to obtain it.

In like manner, obtain for Holy Mother the Church victory over her enemies, and the spread of the kingdom of Jesus Christ upon the whole earth. Amen.


Year of Grace 2012

yearofgracelogo 125The Coordinator for the Year of Grace in the Diocese of Sandhurst is Margaret Mary Flynn and she can be contacted at the Chancery (03) 5441 2544.  A monthly article will feature in the Sandpiper.

The Bishops have chosen a phrase from Pope John Paul II’s Novo Millennio Ineunte:“starting afresh from Christ”.

The Sandhurst Diocese Adult Faith Education Reference Group, established in 2008, recognizes that Adult Faith Education in our diocese is built upon, and seeks to continue, the vibrant ministry and achievements of Faith Education Sandhurst, established in 1993 by Fr Michael Goonan and Ms Anna Tuck and developed by other diocesan personnel. FES served the people of Sandhurst for many years, supporting growth in faith and formation for ministry.  The Adult Faith Education Reference Group works with the Adult Faith Education Coordinator to implement the Diocesan Strategic Plan with particular reference to Goal 5, Lifelong Faith Formation and Education:

Faith Education Sandhurst Directors and Coordinators during the years 1993 - 2004

Fr Michael Goonan
Mrs Anna Tuck
Fr Gerard Gallagher
Ms Vivienne Williams

“I came that they may have life and have it to the full” [John 10:10]

The ministry of Adult Faith Education in the Diocese of Sandhurst responds to the Church’s expressed need for programs and resources to support Faith Education, Spiritual Formation and Ministry Skills Training, recognising that all the baptized are called to share Christ’s mission in the Church for the world:

“We will be learning communities providing diverse, flexible and accessible opportunities for adults across the diocese to explore scripture, Vatican II, theology, Catholic social teaching, and a spirituality which connects prayer, faith, life, culture and mission.” [Sandhurst Diocese Pastoral Plan 2005, Goal 5]

“…spiritual formation ought to occupy a privileged place in a person's life. Everyone is called to grow continually in intimate union with Jesus Christ in conformity with the Father’s will, in devotion to others in charity and justice. ..” [Pope John Paul II, Christifidelis Laici, 1988,  par 60] .

Items of Interest

Psalms and readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, and Mass readings.

Upcoming Events

No events found