Media and Communications Office
‘A ripping yarn of how one solitary Australian bishop stood in solidarity through oppression and liberation, with downtrodden people who rose up and established the newest nation in our region. This larger-than-life voice has witnessed much human misery and triumph and in the process found a whole new life in the politics and advocacy of human rights, mixing with people he would never have met in the Church.’
—Fr Frank Brennan SJ
This evening, a generous audience gathered for the launch of Bishop Hilton Deakin's memoir Bonded through tragedy, United in hope at the Cardinal Knox Centre in East Melbourne.
Co-authored by Dr Jim D’Orsa and Professor Therese D’Orsa, the book describes Bishop Deakin's story of becoming a confidant to the East Timorese independence fighters and their supporters during the country’s struggle for self-determination. It covers Deakin's political activism in East Timor and Australia since 1991 and his consequent time in jail in Kuala Lumpar. The memoir illuminates his long-standing friendship with East Timor's Nobel-laureate Bishop Belo, as well as his visit to genocidal Rwanda in 1994 as the head of Caritas Australia.
L-R: Bishop Hilton Deakin signing books, Therese D'Orsa with Bishop Deakin and Jim D'Orsa, Jacob Rumbiak from West Papua, and display of books.
'Bishop Hilton gave us a voice in Australia, at a time when our struggle was largely forgotten or ignored, and around the world in various forums within the Catholic Church and the wider community.'
—Xanana Gusmão, first President of East Timor
Bishop Deakin was ordained a priest by Archbishop Justin Simonds at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, in 1958. In 1987 he became Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and, in 1993, he was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne.
During this time, until his retirement in 2007, Bishop Deakin worked on many different social justice issues and causes. In 1973 he coordinated the Aboriginal section of the Eucharistic Congress, including the world's first Indigenous liturgy. In 1991 he was instrumental in forming Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria. For his service to the international community, Bishop Deakin PhD Anthropology (Monash University), Doctor of Divinity, has the received the Order of Australia, Order of the Republic of East Timor and the Martinho da Costa Lopes Medal. For the past 17 years, he has been the Patron of the Australia West Papua Association (Melbourne).
People mingling before the event, enjoying traditional food, provided by the West Papuan's Women's Office.
The evening's ‘Welcome to Country’ was provided by Vicki Clarke, the former coordinator of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria. Describing Bishop Deakin as one of her closest confidantes, she told the gathering how his inclusion of Indigenous cultures in the Catholic faith had enabled and fostered her own sense of ‘strong Aboriginality’.
L-R: MC for the night Joyce Loh from ACU, Therese D’Orsa, Vicki Clarke, and Bishop Vincent Long.
Author Therese D’Orsa spoke of the immense joy the project gave her and her husband, which they completed pro bono over six years. She emphasised that the book is dedicated to those who lost their lives in forging the road to East Timorese independence.
‘We wanted to capture Hilton's voice, his feelings, his thinkings,' said Therese.
This was sentiment was echoed by Fr Bruce Duncan, Director of the Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy, who had initially pushed for the memoir to be written.
L-R: Audience members listening attentively, Sandy Notch from Garratt Publishing, and Fr Bruce Duncan SSR.
Parramatta's Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv was a special guest at the launch and also addressed the audience. He praised Bishop Deakin's strong commitment to creating a church who cares for the poor and those in need, mirroring itself in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
'This is the first detailed account of the interaction of the Vatican, the Indonesian government, the Indonesian Catholic Church, the Australian government, Australians and others dedicated to justice and human rights, and the Australian Catholic Church.'
—Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv