Rosanne Romero is the bestselling author of Amusing Grace, a collection of articles from her well-loved column in Kerygma Magazine, Kitchen Scribbles. In 2015, she launched Amusing Grace, A Second Helping which was nominated for Best Inspirational Book for the Cardinal Sin Book Awards in the same year.
A very active teenager who was into horseback riding and ballet, Rosanne started experiencing strange symptoms in her university days which no doctor then could diagnose.
It was only years later, in 1986 following the birth of her second child that her mysterious symptoms were given a diagnosis– Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating degenerative disease of the brain and spinal column.
Currently living in Manila, she and her family spent a good chunk of their lives as missionaries in Jakarta, Indonesia from 1995-1998.
She is a sought-after speaker on the subject of Adversity, speaking from her own experiences of God not only in spite of, but mostly because of her illness.
She is a wife to Omy Romero, PhD, a management consultant, mother to two batty daughters, Rinka and Becca. The most recent addition to the hats she wears is “Lola” (grandma) and she wears it proudly. She enjoys babysitting her only (for now, at least!) grandchild, Malaya who is four going on twenty-five.
This week Rosanne Romero, who will be one of the guest speakers at our 2017 Eucharistic Convention, visited that same prison in the Phiippines to give a talk entitled “We are all Prisoners in the War of our Lives” One of Rosanne’s sponsors to bring her to New Zealand in April is Tina Cochrane who told me: “Rosanne was very brave to do a talk to these women, they are hard, tough and criminal women. She was astoundingly accepted and applauded by them all.”
Rosanne Romero giving her talk at the Baguio Women’s Correctional Prison. Don’t miss hearing her talk when she comes to speak at our 2017 Eucharistic Convention over the weekend 21 to 23 April 2017
We are so fortunate to have been able to encourage Mariatu to come half way around the world to share her story with us. At the Eucharistic Convention Dinner on the Saturday evening of our 2017 convention, Mariatu will talk about what happened to her as a young girl in war torn Sierra Leone.
This Dinner will be held at the North Harbour Netball Centre, 44 Northcote Road, Takapuna on Saturday 22nd April 2017 beginning at 7.30pm. Tickets for this event are $65 per head. There will be a cash bar operating also. See the REGISTRATIONS PAGE to book your place.
On Sunday Mariatu will tell us how she has managed since. Mariatu will not speak during the day on Saturday, only at the dinner on Saturday evening. John Porteous
Susan McClelland’s review of the book The Bite of the Mango which is a story of the tragedy suffered by Mariatu Kamara as a 12 year old girl best tells the story of this incredible woman we are so fortunate to have as Keynote speaker at our 2017 Eucharistic Convention Dinner. This is an event not to be missed. There is limited seating so book your place early to avoid the disappointment of being told “sorry – there is no more room available”.. JOHN PORTEOUS
“There are times when silence is louder than any voice” (Kamara)
The Bite of the Mangois a remarkable story of a 12 year old girl named Mariatu Kamara who was living peacefully in a rural village in Sierre Leone with her family and friends before the rebel soldiers invaded her life and destroyed everything she once knew. Her story deals with the most brutal 20th century civil war in Sierra Leone. A coming of age novel, it’s written in a simple first person perspective as her story deals with loss, sadness, letting go, acceptance and ultimately the path to recovery.
Mariatu’s narrative starts when she describes her day to day life before the rebels attacked her village; she describes some beautiful memories she has of her childhood. Her everyday life comes to a halt when there is a rumour that rebel soldiers are making their way to her village. Mariatu and her family decide to flee to another village to seek safe haven form the bloodthirsty rebel soldiers. But Mariatu and some of her family are captured by rebel soldiers as they make their way to the second village. The rebel soldiers kill members of her family in front of her and she knows that she must be next to die. But surprisingly, the rebels decide not to kill her but rather amputate her hands, it is here that Mariatu describes the horrifying and disrobing details as to how her hands were cut off. She pleads with the child soldiers who have been drugged and created into vicious monsters. The following is the dialogue she has with a rebel child soldier:
“If you are going to chop off my hands, please just kill me,” I begged them.
“We’re not going to kill you,” one boy replied. “We want you to go to the president and show him what we did to you. You won’t be able to vote for him now. Ask the president to give you new hands” (Kamara 40).
“As my mind went dark, I remember asking myself: “What is a president?” ( Kamara 41).
The rebel soldiers were amputating people’s hands, legs, arms and ears to display their frustration at the government whom they accused of being corrupt and not helping its people. Thus, by cutting off people’s hands the logic they derived at was that these people would no longer be able to vote for the same president, thus he would be overthrown. This amputation was a sign of their protest against the government.
Mariatu’s horrifying encounter with the rebels is similar to the other 20,000 civilians who have had their body parts amputated. After the rebels amputated her hands she ran away in search of some form of safety and it was while she came to a village that she was offered a mango and she learned of her grim reality- she no longer had hands. She was taken to a hospital by a woman from a village and she spent a lot of time at this hospital. She was then taken to a refugee camp where she reunited with some of her family members. Through this time she constantly fought extreme cases of depression and many times contemplated and attempted to kill herself, but was watched closely by family members. In the refugee camp she joined a theatre troupe, who put on shows to display Sierra Leones problems. It was through this group that she began to deal with her depression. In the refugee group, she met a Canadian journalist who decided to sponsor her to Canada. Mariatu Kamara now lives in Toronto, with a Sierra Leonean family.
Mariatu doesn’t hold any grudges against the rebel soldiers because she has come to understand that like her they too are victims of the war, she says, “At first I felt only anger: I wanted those four boys dead. But the anger made me sick, and over time I saw that taking a life was not the solution. They were kids, like me who’d got caught up in something beyond their control” (Kamara 197). Her text starts with a child like innocent tone which later as her narrative progresses transforms into a mature tone- one of understanding and great insight. Her narrative screams hope, love, understanding, letting go and saying goodbye. Mariatu is a voice of courage and her raw compelling passion is vivid in her narrative. Mariatu is such a brave heroine because she has agreed to share her story with the world which is one of the most heroic things one can do as it is stories and words which make us understand, accept and ultimately it is stories which heal us. Mariatu comes to a realization which is that she that has been given a chance to change the condition of her people. Mariatu says at the end of her book, “Something in me had changed. I knew now that I could look forward and back-without any regrets at the same time” (Kamara 212). This is her road to recovery.
I met Mariatu Kamara two years ago when she came to my high school to promote her book. She is an amazing person, having gone through so many hardships she is able to tell her story and hold herself together with such great poise. Although she is at times shy and concerned with the way people perceive her, it is through telling people her story that she is bring about change. Mariatu says, “I will speak for all the people of Sierra Leone who are not being heard” (Kamara 212).
Mariatu Kamara is a very inspirational person. I believe she is a vessel of hope and optimism. Mariatu is a proof that even in the grimmest times one can change the world for the better with their actions and that is why Mariatu Kamara is a hero, because as Maya Angelou says, “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” I encourage everyone to read this book!
Mariatu Kamara is UNICEF Canada’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict and is also the founder of the Mariatu Foundation, which seeks to provide refuge and healing for women and children in her native Sierra Leone
It is interesting how the Spirit of God has His Hand covering every aspect of this Eucharistic Convention.
In 1994 Bill and Anna Moore attended our very first event with their five year old son Eli. As you will know Bill has dedicated himself to working with us in the years since using his professional skills to promote this convention. Anna has been a tower of strength also; many will remember the beautiful Logo Design she made up for us all those years ago.
As the wheel turns it is gratifying for us to experience contemporary enthusiasm for this event through Bill and Anna’s son Eli, now an adult and an accomplished musician in his own right. Eli recommended a beautiful young singer Alanna-Marie Boudreau as someone who could make a worthwhile contribution to our 2017 Eucharistic Convention. Those of us at the cutting edge of this event agree, as does Bishop Pat – so Alanna’s coming to our 2017 Convention. We are excited about that and we are sure you will be also. Don’t miss this event next April.
Here’s how Eli describes his discovery of Alanna:
I somehow came across her either from a link or a sidebar in the link that my cruise ship agent, based in Canada, posted on her Facebook wall. Through a conversational moment on a business call with her, she asked what my particular engagement was for that January, and it happened to be Hearts Aflame, which I of course explained. And it turns out she’s a very vocal and dedicated Catholic. So there you go.
We will give you more information about Alanna as our promotion for the Eucharistic Convention next April develops, meanwhile we invite you to enjoy this video where Alanna sings: “I’m Sorry”
UPDATED 17 JANUARY 2017
WHY I WROTE A SONG ABOUT PORN Dismantled by Love is one of the heavier songs I’ve written, but it has undoubtedly instigated the greatest volume of response I’ve ever received from friends, fans, and random listeners alike.
I have felt very strongly about pornography for a long time, ever since the first crystallized moment when I myself saw a pornographic poster flash past my eyes at a music shop when I was a little girl…more
This choir and music group are a group of families and friends who have come together to use their gifts in support of the convention and for the glory of God.
Jess and Mya Rogers, Kate Brannigan, and Eli Moore
Our soloists are all professionally trained and multi talented. Combining their talents as singers, pianists, guitarists and composers, they will perform for you as a witness to the goodness of God in their lives.
This choir is made up primarily of the children from the choir of Holy Family Parish in Te Atatu (Michael Loretz – conductor) joining with other families from around our diocese keen to join our combined choir.
David Bennett – Piano
Mary Hartley- violin
David McNeill- violin
Paula and John Brannigan – cellos
and others to be confirmed…
We are all musicians and friends who teach and play at church. Our desire is to provide beautiful music that draws the soul to greater praise of God. This is what gives us the courage to perform before our convention family.
Diane Foley, whose son was murdered last August, forgave Emwazi. “It saddens me – his continued hatred,” she told The Times. “He felt wronged, now we hate him – now that just prolongs the hatred. We need to end it. Ms Foley added: “As a mum, I forgive him. You know, the whole thing is tragic.”
“The “blood of martyrs” is already uniting divided Christian communities, as the indiscriminate persecution and murder of Christians worldwide has shown. Those who hate and target Christians are not interested in finding out whether they are Lutheran or Methodist, it is enough that they are committed to Jesus Christ. The killers “aren’t confused, they know there is a common root there” and they have no problem recognizing it as the devil guides them” Pope Francis – July 2015
Come and listed to this woman of great Faith and courage who has a common bond with St Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist who was also beheaded for Christ.
Diane will be the Keynote speaker at our Dinner on the Saturday night of the Convention weekend. At the Dinner she will focus on sharing where she and her family got the strength to get them through such a terrible tragedy. On Sunday Diane will also address our Convention audience with her focus being “Forgiveness”.
You are encouraged to attend both the Dinner and the Convention if at all possible – a chance like this does not happen often.
“If I had to boil down the essence of what I feel called to do, it is to encourage people—whether through singing, storytelling, or teaching from the great Catholic spiritual writers and my own life experience. Tears in the audience (and occasionally from me) are not uncommon, and I consider them sacred. My audiences and I also laugh a lot, which I consider to be a true gift of the Holy Spirit. These audiences range from women’s prayer breakfasts like Magnificat, to Catholic leadership groups like Legatus, to retreats and large regional conferences.
My heart burns with a desire to share the riches of our Catholic faith in an engaging way, especially to lapsed or lukewarm Catholics. I submit myself to the teaching authority of the Magesterium of the Roman Catholic Church in matters of faith and morals, and I delight in her guidance.”
What People Are Saying
“Kitty’s love for the Lord and for her Catholic faith was palpable, and she left us all uplifted and encouraged with her message and music. I wholeheartedly recommend Kitty Cleveland for your future event.” Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.I, Archbishop of Denver
“Kitty shared her inspiring story and beautiful singing with endearing personality and delightful humor. Many of the 500 women said afterward that she was their favorite Magnificat speaker of all time—out of 40 speakers! I heartily recommend her for any group.” Kay Burkot, Magnificat of Pittsburgh, PA
“I have the privilege of counting Kitty Cleveland as one of my close friends, and for that I am most grateful. When I listen to her CDs I’m touched by her wellspring of talent, but even more I’m moved knowing that her music is the result of God interacting with her in the valleys and the mountaintops of her life. She is real, she is deeply spiritual, and she has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard.” Jeff Cavins, bible scholar and Catholic evangelist
“We are all still floating since your appearance at our Endow Gala! This week I have had more positive calls and emails than I can possibly handle. The humor, warmth, and love that came through in your talk had all 500 people in the room riveted.” Terry Polakovic, Endow Co-Founder and Executive Director
Surrender: Collection of popular liturgical songs, plus two originals. Winner of Unity Award® for “Sacramental Album of the Year” (2000, 2007 remix). Sacred Arias: Twelve classics with a chamber orchestra. Final Unity Award® nominee for “Devotional Album of the Year” (2001). The Miracle of Love Rosary: International best-seller featuring music and meditations on the sanctity of life, including the Luminous Mysteries. Recorded with Fr. Robert Cavalier (2002). O Holy Night: Well-loved Christmas songs with a Celtic flair (2003). The Miracle of Divine Mercy: Original sung Divine Mercy chaplet with a children’s choir, plus two inspiring songs and Kitty’s Divine Mercy miracle testimony (2004). Be Not Afraid: Includes 12 songs of hope and consolation, including “Now You Come to Me”, an original song inspired by the last words of Pope John Paul II. Winner of Unity Award for “Devotional Album of the Year” (2006) Sublime Chant: The Scotland Project: An ambitious recording of 17 Gregorian chants recorded in a 13th century Scottish cathedral (2008). Lighthouse–God Will Provide: 2010 release by Lighthouse Catholic Media includes Kitty’s testimony plus nine songs from her previous collections. The Miracle of Life Rosary for Children: Kids love hearing the upbeat, life-affirming music and meditations written by Kitty specifically for a young audience, with all of the prayers led by kids. Kitty’s daughter, Cecilia (age 7), also sings with her to music arranged by Joe Hand (2-CD, 2011). Lighthouse–The Miracle of Divine Mercy: 2013 release by Lighthouse Catholic Media of Kitty’s Divine Mercy chaplet with a sample of her Divine Mercy testimony. Blue Skies:A collection of jazz standards with some of New Orleans’ greatest musicians, including Summertime, My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch over Me, and many other well-loved classics (2014).
Under the maternal leadership of Susana Fiu Fetalai the Mother of Mercy Divine Refuge Group will be leading our singing at the convention Masses and assisting wherever else they see a need. For the last two years their assistance has been invaluable – we welome them back on board again this year with open arms!
Here’s a little about their leader Susana – she is the reason the group exists
The message is heard loud and clear when Susana Fiu Fetalai counsels a family stuck in a cycle of violence.
That’s because she’s lived through it. Mrs Fiu Fetalai has helped hundreds of families in her time as manager of Mother of Divine Mercy Refuge where she started as a volunteer in 1993.
The mother-of-four gets by on three hours sleep a night.
Many families stay at the refuge at any one time and she works with all of them, including the fathers.
“I look into what has happened to them, it’s about counselling and self-healing,” she says.
“They get into a cycle and they don’t know how to get out of it.”
Mrs Fiu Fetalai was in an abusive relationship so she knows what the families are going through.
“I left quite a few times and would often go back thinking he would change.”
Her journey wasn’t easy but her faith and love of her children got her through.
Father Paul has been good enough to give of his time to come to our conventions on many occasions over the years. In the early days he spoke about the work both his brother Tony, also a Marist priest, and himself were involved in reconciling the peoples of Japan and Australia following the terrible events that took place during the second world war.
Father Paul introduced us to Dame Jan Ruff O’Herne who was a sex slave for the Japanese during the war who told of the plight of her and other young women who were treated very harshly at that time.
Father Paul was not going to come this year because he wants to get another book he is writing finished but then changed his mind so that he could assist our event by hearing confessions over the weekend. If you have not read any of Fr Paul’s books you are encouraged to do so – every cent made from the books help a charitable cause. Here are some samples
Fr Paul has made a very generous gesture by deciding to join us again this year for which we are most grateful. Even though he has to come all the way from Australia to do this for us.
Here is the communication I received from Fr Paul about his change of mind:
Dear John, After reading Pope Francis’ document announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which includes a section on the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and also on the need of priest confessors to make the Sacrament encouraging and helpful to the penitent, I reversed my thinking on the Convention.I shall be happy to go with the job of making it possible for everyone to go to Confession. If I am of use in this capacity, and in any other way, I shall happily co-operate in anything you require. If I would be helpful, let me know
We are indeed most grateful to Fr Paul – we look forward to having him with us once again at this years convention
Christine Bell holds the vision to open a residential House of Welcome for men in New Zealand who are struggling in life whether from depression, anxiety, addiction or other presentation.
Christine has recently lived with communities in Italy who have successfully operated in this ministry and has witnessed first hand the miraculous transformation of these men as they follow the two-three year residential programme. She is working to open a similar community, St Philomena House, on a ‘farmlet’ in the wider Auckland area, prior to Christmas 2016. Christine is excited to share the progress to date and will present a 7 minute video that gives an inside view of life in a House of Welcome in Italy.
A house of welcome in Trento, Italy. Christine is second row to the back.
The ‘boys’ and house leaders lunching alfresco, Trento, Italy.
The boys cater for weddings at the community house, Trento, Italy. All dressed
and ready to go! Solid evidence of the transformations that occur in community.
This ministry is long overdue in New Zealand and well timed in this Year of Mercy.
Christine resides in Auckland and is the mother of adult children, a lawyer and gained a Masters in Theology from Franciscan University, Steubenville, USA.