"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: 'Give them something to eat' (Mk 6:37)." (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (November 2013), #49)


Course: Restorative Dialogue - The Explicit Practice of Relationships

JTerry OConnell
Terry O'Connell OAM
Starts 10am Tues Aug 6

In this series of talks, you will be invited on a ‘journey’ to discover how restorative dialogue helps build and sustain healthy relationships. Estrangement and separation often result from our inability to deal with vulnerability. By understanding the ‘why’ of relationships, the ‘what’ we do to strengthen those relationships becomes more purposeful.

Restorative dialogue focuses on harm and relationships, rather than blame and consequences. It involves conversations about inclusion, respectful challenge and learning. Its explicit nature helps us to better understand self and others.

We derive identify from our relationships – with our God, with self and with others. We are social beings hardwired for connection. Our constant struggle is trying to make sense and meaning of life, to work out what matters.

Nobody will be turned away simply because they cannot afford to pay. Offer a donation if you cannot pay the full registration fee.

Presenter: Terry O'Connell OAM
Where: Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington St, The Rocks, Sydney
When: 4 Tuesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, August 6,13,20, 27
Cost: $150/person

For further information please telephone 02 9247 4651 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please register before the course starts so that notes will be available.

Course Outline

Talk 1   In the beginning – My Restorative Journey   [Tuesday 6th August]
This session briefly traces the history of restorative justice including its evolution from a program to an explicit restorative practice framework. Examples of its wide use in schools, families, community agencies, aged care facilities, faith communities and many other settings will be shared.

Talk 2   Developing an Explicit Practice Framework   [Tuesday 13th August]
This session explores how to develop an explicit relational framework, one that will help participants understand the ‘why’ of relationships. Crucial is an understanding of the role shame plays and how the restorative questions create the conditions that allow us to learn to sit with the discomfort of our vulnerability. A brief overview of the Psychology of Affects will provide a sound theoretical foundation to explain why restorative processes work.

Talk 3   Restorative Dialogue In Action   [Tuesday 20th August]
This session begins with the screening of Part 2, ABC documentary ‘Murder He Wrote’. Participants will then be invited to critique this experience using the restorative framework. Group discussion will explore issues of empathy, apology, healing, forgiveness, closure and peace.

Talk 4   Now It Is Your Turn   [Tuesday 27th August]
This session is an invitation for participants to identify how restorative dialogue might become a ‘normal’ part of their lives. An opportunity to share specific issues around the potential use of restorative processes will also be provided. A restorative kit will be given to each participant. It will be invaluable in helping them engage others in restorative dialogue.

Terry O’Connell is a restorative justice pioneer. In 1991 as a police officer in Wagga Wagga, Terry developed a ‘conference script’ for dealing with young offenders, victims and families. His work has featured in a number of ABC Television documentaries:

  • Facing The Demons
  • Murder He Wrote
  • Justice for All

His practice has evolved as a relational practice that has universal application in our daily lives.

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