PRH in Australia
PRH was first introduced to Australia by Bev Noonan in the early 1980's, and grew and thrived through the work of a group of dedicated and passionate people. It is wth great pleasure that we present some of their reflections here. Thank you to Bev Noonan, Bernadette Eckersley, Carmel O'Reilly and Margaret Bubb for sharing their stories.
Twenty-five years of preparing the way …
by Bev Noonan
PRH found me without my knowing it. Working as Schools’ Supervisor of the Sisters of Mercy Schools in the Diocese of Lismore, one of my responsibilities was to keep teachers up to date. Second Grade teachers, working with First Communicants, requested something on conscience. In a monthly periodical called Sursum Corda, I came across a superb little article entitled Consciences by an Abbe Andre Rochais. It gave me a new and most relaxed way of viewing me and my behaviour. I couldn’t wait to share it. Out of it, I made two consecutive full-day workshops for teachers. Both were well received. From then on, I waited avidly for the monthly Sursum Corda to arrive so I could assuage my own hunger for such liveable psychology and to make scrapbooks and workshops for hungry teachers. Four years I lived and breathed that “stuff”.
At the same time, I was doing my masters in educational administration, and so I was offered by my Congregation, the Sisters of Mercy, two years abroad. One year for personal renewal at Gonzaga U. in Spokane and one for further academic study at the University of Washington. What a surprise waited for me in the U.S. of A.! At Gonzaga, the spiritual director I chose, from the many offering, just happened to be Sr Beatrice Maree Farrell, who unknown to me was a PRH educator. In my first interview with her, I told her that I was interested in a thing called PRH; that I knew it was based in Winnipeg and that I planned to visit Winnipeg and find out about it. So within a fortnight of my arriving in the States, I was participating in a WHO AM I? programme. Six weeks later, I found myself in a training programme for the USA North-west PRH Educators, for Maureen McAlduff, the training educator for the English speaking world, wanted to take a look at this Australian who knew all the theory of the programme but had no idea of what PRH meant by analysis. I took to it like a duck to water! I spent the next two and a half years (and the money I had for other studies) doing programmes in the USA and in Canada and pursuing my own growth in the PRH way.
1981 - 2000
I arrived back in Australia, licensed (as we call it today) and authorised for four PRH sessions, Who Am I, Leading My Life, PRH Analysis and My Affective Relationships. I was fortunate in my “day” job as Diocesan Primary Schools’ Consultant in that the then Director of Education was keenly interested in personal growth and so gave me the green light to use this “new thing I had brought home from the States” in my everyday work with schools. So, in March, the very first Who Am I? was offered to priests and principals of the diocese. Even the bishop turned up! From there, principals recommended it to parents and so it began to spread. Along with my diocesan work, I also plied the PRH trade in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
The highlights of my journeying have been many. Among them was my ten-day visit to France with Maureen McAlduff where I met with Andre himself and many of the early French animators (the old French name); Bea Farrell’s two lengthy visits to Australia for training purposes; the Meeting of the Body that I was privileged to attend on two different occasions, once in Montreal once in Winnipeg; two Thailand Intensives; and Margaret Bubb, the first educator to be licensed in Australia, gaining her license on 6th August, Feast of the Transfiguration, PRH’s celebration day.
There are names that stand out, all of whom I was privileged to walk with in some way. Deirdre O’Sullivan, who had done her first session with me in the States and then further PRH work, had arrived home in Adelaide and she was ready to go. Margaret Bubb, who had been introduced to PRH in New Guinea, applied for a renewal year using PRH as her tool; that she lived in Coffs Harbour with me. Bernadette Neville, touched by reports of PRH, was instrumental in its introduction to Victoria and eventually became an educator. Significantly, Bernadette Eckersley, who had accompanied me on my return from the States, intuitively knew what PRH accompaniment was about and so pursued her training in that area and then later into becoming an educator. The early team was completed by Stan Dobbs, Mary Quinn, Miriam Devine, and Jeannette Bubb. Jim Noonan joined Bernadette in Victoria as did Zofia Di Stefano. South Australia grew under Deirdre’s auspices; over the years, she was joined by Carmel O’Reilly, Lynn Beck and Maeve Judge.
This brief resume of the early days of PRH in Australia would not be complete without my paying tribute to the Religious Orders who made it all possible. They released their personnel from previous work, supported their livelihoods and provided premises from which they could work. These Orders, to which we owe much, are the Sisters of Mercy, the Dominican Sisters, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, and the Christian Brothers. To them, grateful thanks.
Today, I am delighted that this very special programme lives on in Victoria, therefore in Australia, in Zofia Di Stefano.
A Short History of My PRH Journey
by Bernadette Eckersley
For a long time I had been longing for a tool or a "how to" to help me stay on my growth path but without success. Then in January 1981, Bev Noonan, after almost three years in USA/Canada, returned to Australia as a licensed PRH educator. Fortunately for me, Bev came to live in my community. As a result, I had many opportunities to discover what PRH was about and something of its power to help bring about change and growth in persons. It was not until I did "Who Am I?" towards the end of 1981 that I experienced first-hand its power.
For the next 4-5 years I did sessions on a regular basis with Bev. During this period of time, Bea Farrell from the PRH group of North Western USA came to live in our community in order to work with Bev to solidify PRH in Australia. As well, Maureen McAlduff of Winnipeg, Canada, came for 4-5 weeks each year from about 1983-86 in order to present new sessions and to work with emerging educators.
These were wonderful opportunities! By 1987 I had completed the FPM programme and had entered into the FRA. In April, 1987, I left Australia to participate in the four-month Intensive Formation Programme in Winnipeg which was facilitated by Maureen McAlduff. At the end of the programme I was privileged to visit Andre Rochais in La Puye, France. In the latter half of 1987 I continued my PRH training with Bea Farrell in Seattle, USA.
I returned to Australia in January, 1988 and was licensed as a PRH educator in July that year. For 5 years I worked in Coffs Harbour. Prior to my overseas experience I had clients in the PRH helping relationship and continued with these on my return. In 1993 I moved to Grafton where I set-up my work-place in Dobie Street. From this base I travelled to other centres to present sessions and GRACs. This continued until 2003 when I retired from PRH.
Today, I live a deep gratitude for the PRH gift and for the years of my active involvement in making it known to many others. I hope and pray for its continued growth in Australia.
PRH in South Australia
by Carmel O'Reilly
Deirdre O’Sullivan O.P. from St Dominics’ Priory North Adelaide introduced the people of S.A. to PRH.
After completing her time as Principal of “Signadou” Dominican Teachers’ Training College in Canberra Deirdre spent time at Gonzaga University Seattle. Bev Noonan RSM whom Deirdre knew from sharing time on educational committees was also there.
One of the Courses at Gonzaga was ‘Who am I?’ given by the PRH Animator Sr Beatrice Maree Farrell.
The flame of PRH was ignited in Australia!
Deirdre O’Sullivan with Andre Rochais taken at La Puye 1987
After completing her time at Gonzaga Deirdre had planned to go to Europe for 3 months. However after completing ‘WHO AM I”’ plans were changed! She pursued what was required for her to become a Licensed PRH Animator under the direction of Sr Maureen McAlduff who was the Animator responsible for persons in the English speaking world. On returning to Adelaide Deirdre gave “WHO AM I?” as part of the Catholic Adult Education Program.It was a great success and Deirdre continued to give “Who am I?’ each year.
PRH now had a public face in Adelaide and continued to attract many persons who were seeking to further their growth. Two persons who were interested in becoming Animators also emerged namely Lyn Beck RSM and Maeve Judge.
As well as ‘Who am I?’ Deirdre offered “Leading my Life” “PRH Analysis” “Managing my Growth” and other PRH Sessions at the Catholic Adult Education as now there were persons who having found a personal growth program which helped them wanted to continue on their journey.
Deirdre returned to “Signadou” Dominican Teachers Training College in Canberra to give “Who Am I?” to the students.
She also travelled to New Zealand where she gave “Who am I?” at Teschmakers the Dominican Retreat House at Omaru in New Zealand. She continued going to both places each year giving “Who am I?” and other PRH Sessions.
As a result of her days at Teschmakers in New Zealand another person who was interested in becoming a PRH Animator emerged in the person of Lorraine Challis O.P. Under Deirdre’s guidance Lorraine completed all that was required for her to become a Licensed Animator.
Deirdres’ Congregation provided her a place to live and to undertake her PRH work. “Pleroma” was in the Adelaide hills at Aldgate. An ideal place to pursue ones growth. The peace and quiet, the song of birds and the rippling of water, together with the beauty of nature especially the trees in Autumn and Spring “Pleroma” was a haven which nurtured growth.
On returning to Adelaide Deirdre continued her own personal growth.
Mary Grantland an American animator came to stay and work with Deirdre at “Pleroma” for three months. Mary loved Australian beer and it was my job to drive her!! She had a wonderful sense of humour and we had many a laugh.
Deirdre continued her formation by taking part in the Intensive Four month Programme in Winnipeg.
She also travelled to La Puye to meet Andre Rochais. She shared in the first Intensive in Hua Hin, Thailand and in the third Intensive in Hua Hin when she was asked by Maureen to be part of the team of Educators to give Sessions.
Both Lyn and Maeve under the direction of Deirdre completed the Sessions and the requirements to enter the PRH Foundation such as the FPM, FRA and PC 6.
They travelled to America and Canada where they completed Sessions and met contacts who like themselves were on their PRH journey.
On returning from overseas they were licensed Animators and ready to begin.
Both were well known in Adelaide and so had a ready public for Sessions, Personal Accompaniment and GRAC.
My PRH Story
by Carmel O'Reilly
The South Australian team: Carmel O’Reilly, Deirdre O’Sullivan, Maeve Judge and Lyn Beck
For myself PRH found me. I was living in a Community consisting of Sr Jen Secker RSJ and two young lay women who were interested in setting up a L”Arche community here in Adelaide. At one of our Community meetings I suggested that we might like to ask somebody to come and facilitate the group. Jen threw the question back to me “Carmel who would you suggest?” to which I replied “I believe Deirdre O’ Sullivan O.P. from St Dominics’ Priory has just returned from overseas. I don’t know what Course she is offering”. Jen asked me to contact Deirdre and see if it was possible for her to come and facilitate for our group.
Deirdre said she was happy but she had never given “Who am I?” to a group of four. Sharing “Who am I?” turned my world upside down and I was on a spin called discovering myself using the process of PRH. I completely fell in love with the gentleness of the process which allowed me to discover ‘WHO I AM?” I did not pursue L’Arche but returned to my Dominican Convent at Glenelg and began my PRH journey. This all began in June 1982.
Following the Session I commenced Personal Accompaniment with Deirdre as my Accompanist and took part in GRAC. I totally involved myself in all aspects of PRH. The Observation notes were my bedtime reading each night. I could not get enough!!
Under the guidance of Deirdre I took part in whatever Sessions she thought was the next step for me to take on my journey.Sessions, regular Personal Accompaniment and GRAC were now part of my life.
In 1985 Maureen McAlduff who was responsible for training of Educators in the English speaking world came to Adelaide.
Sessions were held at the Passionist Monastery Glen Osmond where we were able to live in. Sessions were directed towards the on-going formation of Animators and those persons who were interested in becoming Animators. I was now a person interested in becoming an Animator and shared in these Sessions.
At the completion of this Maureen gave me an invitation to come to the Intensive Formation Programme of four months which was to be held in 1987 in Winnipeg.
My Congregation were happy for me to take part and supported me financially.
This PRH journey was on a roll!! The Intensive Programme was a wonderful experience of meeting and sharing Sessions with persons from many countries around the world. I am ever grateful to God for the gift of Maureen McAlduff in my life.
Another special meeting which has left an indelible mark on me was meeting Andre Rochais at La Puye. Maureen arranged for a group of us after our Winnipeg experience to go with her and meet Andre. We received gracious hospitality from many of the French Animators.
On returning to Adelaide I continued working on the FPM programme and when completed this was followed by the FRA programme.
Then I worked through the PC 6 .
In 1992 I had another very rich experience when I went to Hua Hin, in Thailand for the second Intensive Formation Programme.
In the early 90’s Maureen McAlduff came and gave Sessions in Sydney which Deirdre O’Sullivan, Lyn Beck, Maeve Judge and myself attended. There I met and shared Sessions with Bev Noonan, Margaret Bubb, Miriam Devine, Jeannette Bubb, Jim Noonan, Bernadette Neville, Mary Quinn and Bernadette Eckersley.
I became a Licensed Animator in 1989. I was fortunate that on our Cabra Campus we had a building called Sophia – an Adult Education Center which allowed me space to give PRH Sessions, Accompaniment and GRAC.
In 2002 because of health reasons I retired from PRH.
In my life the gift of PRH has been a rare jewel which has given me so much to be thankful for. The process has allowed me the space and time for my growth.
I will continue to use PRH as I journey in my life and be thankful for the many persons I have met along the journey.
Finding PRH or PRH Finding Me
by Margaret Bubb
The first ‘happening’ was in 1983 from Papua New Guinea. Having undertaken to be the Co-ordinator of a Renewal Programme for the Sisters of St Therese in 1984 I was looking for something for myself in preparation for this.
Someone, who had been on leave, said that there was a new, really good programme in Australia called PRH and the person to contact was Beverley Noonan. So a search began for Bev and this programme. This resulted in me being invited to Yamba in November where Maureen McAlduff from Canada would be giving ongoing Formation to the new Australian Animators. Maureen said that much of what was being given would probably be beyond me but I was welcome to just take what was helpful.
Who am I? was offered as necessary for an introduction into the PRH Programme. After participating in this and two other sessions I was completely convinced of the value of programme for me.
Before leaving Yamba Maureen told me that I could use anything from PRH that was of use to me with the PNG Sisters. She also suggested that I begin the PC 6 programme. So yes, what lived in me from my Yamba experience became an important part of the Renewal Programme for the Sisters gathered in Bundi PNG.
One of the St Therese Sisters was Martha Lonai who later on was able to join Sr Doris Holohan and Br Barry Louisson, who were already Animators working in PNG. Thus Martha too went on to train as an Animator of PRH in PNG. It was also a pleasure to be able to welcome her to some sessions in Australia along the way.
During 1984 I asked my Congregational Leader to be able to take time out from my PNG ministry to continue my own Formation in PRH. In 1985 Bev Noonan generously arranged for me to live with the Coffs Harbour Mercy community so as to begin my Formation as an Animator.
At the end of the year I returned to Bathurst to continue my preparation for giving my first Who am I? session. When all of this was completed I had hoped to return to PNG but this was not to happen. After receiving my PRH License on August 6th 1986 PRH Sessions began in the Central West of NSW.
Jeannette and Margaret Bubb in Thailand
In October 1993 I was joined by Jeannette Bubb, my sister, who had also become an Animator. The centres to which we travelled were Bathurst, Orange, Wellington, Dubbo, Coonamble, Warren and Cowra. Numbers were never an indication of the value in which the programme was held. However, they were one of the contributing factors in PRH finishing in the Central West in 2000. Another was PRH International considered my turning 70 was time to retire! Appreciation is still expressed when we meet many of those who participated years ago.
These early years were times of intensive formation of Animators working in Australia. Maureen McAlduff continued to come to Australia. Bea Farrell, an American Animator, also came to give sessions. Intensive Formation Programmes began in 1989 in Thailand where we joined Animators from Asia, USA, Ireland, and Ukraine for our Ongoing Formation.
These were scheduled every three years and each time Andree Lumeau or someone else came from France. These programmes were significant for each personally, but also for the future of PRH in each country. 1999 was my last time in Thailand and I was one of the Team for that year.
Dwelling in me now is much gratitude for all the people who were such a significant part of my personal PRH journey. Providence too was so obviously at work throughout.