Monday Missive – March 25th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you – a little worn and weary after our explosive Boot Camp weekend at Binacrombi – but feeling very much alive! :-)

It was a magnificent experience!

I don’t want to get too carried away but I could eulogize on the joys of the weekend for a few missives if I allowed myself:

  • the workouts
  • the relationships
  • the wonderful catering
  • the beauty of the environment

All added up to a weekend that everybody who participated deeply appreciated.

And it wasn’t just us hardened pugs who benefited. We had about a dozen children, including a number of pre-schoolers.  Indeed, I was planning on sharing one of my favourite snaps from the weekend which pictured three of our young girls proudly showing off the ‘fairy castle’ that they’d constructed for their dolls out of stones on the property!:-)

Unfortunately that pic is on Ange’s phone which she seems to have misplaced, so you’ll have to wait until she recovers her phone before you can see that exciting image.

In the meantime, here are some other excellent shots:

Below is our Boot Camp leader, Mick Richards (right) with Fighting Father Mungo. Mick is one of the most professional trainers I’ve ever met and is certainly the least pretentious!

Mungo (left) with Mick Richards

click to see the full-size image

We didn’t see a lot of Mick strolling about and looking relaxed like that. He was normally standing over us with a stop-watch or throwing a medicine ball at us!

Below is a pic of Mick with big Trent in the Binacrombi Wrestling Cage, doing an intensive punching and fitness workout!

Mick Richards takes Trent on a pads workout

click the pic to see the image full-size

I’ll tell you how Mick structured out Saturday so that you have an idea of how the Boot Camp training works:

  • Session 1 was a 45-minute intensive workout on the punching bags and weights equipment.
  • Session 2 was a one-hour run across Binacrombi’s hills and valleys in the heat of the day.

We then broke for lunch (exhausted).

  • Session three was 45 minutes of hill running, where we had to do our best to sprint 250 meters up a steep hill, jog back down, and then do some intensive upper-body exercises before shooting straight up the hill again. I don’t remember 45 minutes every lasting so long! 
  • The last session involved one-on-one work with Mick in the wrestling cage, alternating with sparring in the boxing ring. This lasted until everybody collapsed in a screaming heap and then gradually crawled back to the dining room for some sustenance. 

My account probably isn’t enthusing anybody to join us for the next camp but, in truth, everybody who came enjoyed it so much that they determined to bring friends next time! :-)

Mick said at the beginning that his job was to help us each ‘find our engines’ and, in truth, we all found them!

One of the personal highlights for me was having Dimitri Patsouris as my guest on the camp. I made my professional boxing debut with Dimitri (then ‘Jimmy Pat‘) back in 1996!

What is so special about this is that Dimitri didn’t have a lot of love for me at the time of our fight in ’96. Indeed, he didn’t want to shake my hand after the fight!  But since that time Dimitri has become a man of faith and has developed into an enormously big-hearted human being! :-)

The weekend climaxed for me with doing three rounds with Dimitri, who hasn’t lost any of his skills. The disheartening factor for me was that he’s now more than 30 kilograms heavier than me, and packs one helluva right hand! 

Dimitri Patsouris lines me up for a big right!

click the pic to see it full-size

I wish I’d taken some group shots of all of us together. Unfortunately I was in the middle of it all the whole time, so didn’t really get a chance! Fighting Father Denning though had an injured foot and spent a lot of time videoing the weekend. He should have a watchable version for us real soon!

In the meantime, here’s a pic of our boy, Sol Egberime, sparring with one of the hardest workers on the weekend – Nadine, whom I believe was German women’s welterweight champion.

Sol Egberime and Nadine

click the pic to see it full-size

Our next Boot Camp is scheduled for May 10th to 12th. Let me know ASAP if you’d like to join us! I can pretty much guarantee that we can help you find your engine! :-)

There’s no sermon video this week as I wasn’t preaching.

We did have a wonderful time of prayer and worship at the Boot Camp, with Fighting Fathers Caine and Geoff doing the leading and preaching, respectively, and me presiding at the Eucharist. Even so, there’s no video.

What I do have for you this week is a new website that Fighting Father Jim and I have been working on for a while.

It’s not fully completed yet but it’s in the BETA testing phase. In other words, it’s good enough for me to show to my mates – that is, YOU:-)

The purpose of the site is pretty straightforward. We’re trying to build zero-cost websites for good people like yourself and we’re hoping that it’s going to be productive and viable.  We need your feedback though before we go any further.

Could you do me a favour please and check out

The offer of the free site on there is genuine and if you’d like to sign up for one you can. Either way, could you please also check out my alternative homepage for the site which you’ll find here.

When you compare the two pages you’ll see that one uses full-screen video and one uses a normal framed video.

I personally like the full-screen version as I feel it helps me to relate to the viewer better. Jim finds the full-screen version intimidating and thinks it will turn people away.  What do you think?  Both Jim and I would sincerely value your opinion.

OK, it’s time for me to get some sleep, fighter. I’ll see you next week!

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.

Your brother in the Good Fight,


P.S. Last week I mentioned the death of my dear friend, Grace Reppion. If you’d like to join us for the funeral, we’ll begin at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill this Wednesday morning at 10am.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – March18th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

I hope you’re having a good week. This last week for me has been one of great highs and lows (and not much in between).

One of the highs was tonight! Ange and I had the opportunity to go and hear an address from Ed Bearss – one of the world’s greatest historians on the American Civil War. He is a living legend in his field and turns 90 this year!

Those who remember Ken Burns’ documentary series on the US Civil War will remember Ed. Those who have taken one of Ed’s battlefield tours will never forget him!  :-)

My whole family had the privilege of doing a tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield with Ed back in 2001. Unfortunately, while we were re-tracing the progress of a battle through some thick grass, my eldest daughter, Veronica (who was only 11 at the time), walked on to a hornet’s nest!

The result was very painful for her and for me as well as I ran to her and picked her up and then just stood there, getting stung myself, as I  couldn’t think what else to do until Ange yelled at me “get off the hornets’ nest!”  

I got some time with Ed after his talk tonight and asked him, “do you remember a young girl who you gave a ‘Courage Under Fire’ award to for her bravery when attacked by hornets back in 2001?”  His response was “Like it was yesterday!”

The Legendary Ed Bearss

The Legendary Ed Bearss (click to see the pic at full-size)

Fight Night Wrap-up

Our fight night last Friday was an event of both highs and lows.

The lows started the day before when Reza’s opponent pulled out! Then we arrived at the venue and found that Kath’s opponent had weighed in too light and her fight couldn’t go ahead either! That left only Ash and Caine.

Ash put in a great performance. He’s only 17 and it was his first stoush! Caine, on the other hand, didn’t do as well as we’d hoped!

Caine’s opponent was an old student of mine. He is the only student I’ve ever had to ask to leave the club! It was many years ago, and suffice it to say that he’s not known for his self-control. Nothing had changed. There were lots of shots to the kidneys and the back of the head. At one point Caine was wrestled to the ground and at another he was almost pushed through the ropes and out of the ring!

The experience broke Caine’s concentration and he lost his will to fight. He stayed in there like a good soldier and saw the fight to its conclusion, but it left a bad taste in our mouths.

As St Paul says, “We get knocked down but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9), and I’m trusting that this will ultimately be a growth experience for our brother. Even so, I’d sooner that none of us had to venture into the darker side of boxing.

Trinity Gym Fight Team of March 14

Left to Right: Reza, Kath, Mungo, Caine (in front), Sol, Eric, me & Ash

Partying with Jesus

My sermon this week focuses on the scandalous party-behavior of Jesus, and I hope I communicate the controversial nature of Jesus’ actions clearly enough!

The passage is John 12:1-11, where we read of a young woman who throws herself all over Jesus – perfuming his feet and wiping his feet with her hair!

The fact that Jesus lets this sort of thing go on in public should offend most conservative Christians. It certainly offended the religious leaders of His day, as did Jesus’ drinking and the general company he kept!

I hope I do the passage justice. You’ll find the written version here if you prefer to read it.

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you can’t view the video, click here.

Farewell to an old friend

The most painful low for me this week has been the death of a dear old friend – Grace Reppion.

Grace was a mother to many in our parish family. She was a saintly woman with a great sense of humor. Each year at around this time she would tell me that she’d decided to give up sex for Lent as a part of her spiritual discipline! 

I found this lovely pic of Grace with dear Father Elias, taken back in 2009. Her funeral will be held at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill on Wednesday week (March 27) at 10 am.

Grace Reppion with Father Elias in 2009

Grace Reppion with Father Elias in 2009

OK, I’d better get to bed! It’s gone 4am and there’s much to do tomorrow/today.

I’m busy preparing the final details for the Boot Camp this coming weekend. I should have lots of pics for you next week of us training and swimming and riding go-carts etc. There are still a few spots left if you’re keen to join us but please let me know right away.

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called

Your brother in the Good Fight,


P.S. I should mention too that Denning and I have decided NOT to go to Syria next month.  We are no less committed to the people of Syria or to the work of peacemaking, but the original program we were hoping to be a part of is not taking place now. Hopefully we’ll get our chance later in the year. Thank you very much for your prayers and advice.

About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – March11th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you again, and I must confess that I’m feeling a little tired and overwhelmed this week.

  • I’m anxious about the Boot Camp.

As you’ll remember, our Boot Camp is scheduled for two weekends’ time – March 22 to 24.  We are pouring a great deal of time and energy (and money) into this event and I am determined to make it the greatest bush adventure that our young people have ever experienced!

We still have spare cabin accommodation if you’d like to join us at Binacrombi. The details are all on this poster.  Get back to me ASAP if you want to join us.

  • I’m unsure about the trip to Syria

I only got off the phone from speaking to Mother Agnes about an hour ago. She’s in Beirut at the moment but is about to head back into Syria.

It seems that our Mussalaha (‘reconciliation’) visit is back on and scheduled for next month. Our visit is apparently being merged with a larger peace conference, attracting hundreds of delegates from around the world!

I am unsure as to whether I should be going. My original intention was solely to support the work of Mother Agnes. It seems now that the project has taken on broader political dimensions that I don’t fully understand. Please pray for wisdom for Denning and myself, and feel free to hit me back with your thoughts.

  •  I’m confused about Wikileaks

I’ve met again with John (Julian Assange’s dad) and this time we met up with another old friend of mine, Jamal Doud – a Palestinian Muslim man who has more insight into the situation in the Middle East than any other human being I know.

I had been thinking that Jamal was going to be the Wikileaks candidate for our area and that I’d be supporting him. That suited me fine. I appreciate though that Jamal is a fighter who leads with his chin (as we say in the game) and so is not a natural politician. The problem is that I’m not a politician either (God forbid!). Of course, Julian Assange isn’t a politician either and that’s what makes the Wikileaks Party so attractive!

I’m not sure where this is all going but there’s talk at this stage of me heading over to London to meet up with Julian and give him a few boxing lessons. I think that would be a great way to develop our relationship. :-)

The local Wikileaks team - John Shipton, Jamal Doud and me!

The local Wikileaks team – John Shipton, Jamal Doud and me!

  • I’m excited about Friday’s Fight Night

Four of our team will be fighting this Friday night at the Randwick Labor Club (135 Alison Road) and I am expecting big things from them.

    • Reza Sazesh – our strongest amateur – will be having his sixth fight and I’m expecting a strong win.
    • Fighting Father Caine Pennell – Pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in Enmore and senior youth worker at Trinitys Youth Centre – will be having his third fight. Again, I’m expecting a strong win.
    • Asher Caroll is only 16 years old but has been boxing with us for more than a year. He’ll be making his debut.
    • Rampaging Kath Briggs (pictured below) will be having her third fight. Kath had her first fight with us when she was only 13. She’s now in her 30’s and is  a hot tip for the Australian Commonwealth Games team (nb. Kath is the larger of the two fighters pictured).
Kath Briggs and her lovely daughter, Sarah

Rampaging Kath Briggs and her lovely daughter, Sarah

The action starts at 7pm if you can join us. Proceeds from the night go to Hope Street Baptist Church’s ‘Urban Compassion Project’ – a worthy cause indeed!

Dueling Preachers!

It’s a bizarre coincidence that Sunday’s Gospel reading centered around a story Jesus told that began “a man had two sons” (Luke 15:11).

My dad actually had three sons, but two of them have preached at Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill in the last two weeks and I thought I’d put us side by side in a sort of ‘preach off’

Dueling Preachers

No, we’re not preparing to wrestle each other.

My brother Rob preached two weeks ago on Luke 13:1-8. I preached last Sunday on the three parables in Luke 15. You’ll find both sermons below.

Rob’s style is very different to mine. Rob is also an Anglican priest but he dresses differently, speaks differently and has a different slant on things altogether.  I’ll be keen to get your feedback on the dueling preachers. Leave your comments below please.

For those who don’t know, I must mention too that Rob is an amazing musician and has had more hits in the music world than I’ve had in the boxing ring! You can hear some sample of Rob’s music on his website.

[imaioVideo v=1]

If you can’t view the video above, click here.

Please be warned that there is one and a half minutes of video missing from my sermon below.  It’s right at the beginning. Don’t bother adjusting your controls. It won’t help. 

[imaioVideo v=2]

If you can’t view the video above, click here.

That’s plenty from me for this week.

Let me conclude by encouraging you again to participate in our online members’ forum.

There’s been plenty more provocative discussion over the last week on the topic of religion vs. science. I’ve also put out a challenge to discuss one of my favourite philosophical papers on the subject of science and language. Unfortunately I don’t seem to be capturing anybody’s imagination yet. 

Be reminded that it is a members-only forum, and yes, membership will cost you $10/month BUT, as I’ve mentioned before:

  • This means that the forum has NO SPAM on it!
  • Your $10/month is what keeps this work going

May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called

Your brother in the Good Fight,


About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

Monday Missive – March 4th, 2013

Hi Fighter,

It’s Father Dave back with you again, and I’m a little soggy and deflated this week!

I was planning on showcasing a series of wonderful pics for you this week – pics from our church weekend in the bush:

  • go-karting
  • swimming
  • caving
  • toasting marshmellows

Unfortunately the whole event got washed out!

As Fighting Father Jim pointed out, it was s kinda odd having our church retreat sabotaged by an act of God. Even so …

For those who don’t live in this part of the world, let it be known that there are unprecedented levels of flooding across the Blue Mountain National Park where our beloved Binacrombi Bush Retreat is situated (in the south-west of New South Wales).

Normally when it rains, the river-crossings never remain swollen for more than a couple of hours. On this occasion it rained so hard and for so long that our caretaker family were completely cut off for a few days.

Oh well … the rain now seems to have stopped and the rivers are cross-able again and I’m trusting that nothing will interfere with our Warrior Weekend, planned for March 22 to 24. :-)

Our Warrior Weekend will be two days of intense fitness training, run by world-renowned Boot Camp expert, Mick Richards.

While some of Australia’s (and the world’s) greatest boxers will be joining us (such as our own Solomon ‘Mr Jones’ Egberime) the weekend is not designed only for boxers. It will be a fitness camp with an emphasis on boxing training, rather than a boxing training camp.

Either way, you are invited. I’m trying to convince all the guys who missed out on the church weekend away that they are invited too but I haven’t had many takers from the church yet. I’m hoping to get a more enthusiastic response from the online community.

Download the promotional poster for the March 22-24 event here. It includes the phone number to ring in order to book yourself a spot. Alternatively, if you email me we can work it out from there.

Please do consider being a part of this historic adventure I. I’m hoping that we’ll run a lot of these Warrior Weekends over the months and years to come, but this will be your only chance to a part of the FIRST EVER Warrior Weekend! :-)

 Vote Wikileaks!

In case you’re not aware, I’m a great fan of Julian Assange and Wikileaks., though I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard that Mr Assange wanted to run for a seat in the Australian Senate!

I assumed initially that it must have been some sort of publicity stunt. I couldn’t see how Assange could run for a seat in the Australian Parliament when he’s holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London!

Apparently though it’s all very serious, and my friend Father Roy (who is my co-conspirator in has been urging me to get in contact with my fellow Australian and see how we can help him!

My knee-jerk reaction was to assume that I could never get to Julian, but for Roy’s sake I contacted my friend Ciaron OReilly – a full-time peace activist from the Catholic Workers Movement who has been picketing the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since Assange arrived there.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, last week Denning and I met up with John Shipton and his friend, Graeme Dunstan. Graeme is another peace activist. John is Julian Assange’s dad!

Check out the pic below. You’ll be able to tell straight away which one John is! :-)

Denning and I meet up with John Shipton and Graeme Dunstan

Denning and I meet up with John Shipton and Graeme Dunstan

Anyway, it turns out that not only is Julian Assange standing for a seat in the Australian Senate, but the newly-formed Wikileaks Party is planning on putting forward a number of candidates across the country, including one in my own area! The party’s sole platform will be ”the democratic requirement of truthfulness from government”.

Isn’t that the most unheard of thing you’ve ever heard of! Can you imagine what the world would be like if our politicians actually told us the truth! :-)

What’s more, the guy they have in mind as the candidate for my area is a good friend of mine! I won’t mention his name at this stage but I thought he was an excellent choice, and I said that I’d be happy to support the campaign in any way I could!

So … I’m not sure what form my support will take and I’m not sure how formally involved I will be, but I do expect to be campaigning for Wikileaks and for truth-telling in the Australian Federal election this coming September!

Bad Religion

You could be forgiven for thinking that we’ve been gradually abandoning quality-control when it comes to our sermon videos over the last few weeks. Firstly we had problems with the audio overly track. Then both the video and the audio recorder broke down!

Denning salvaged a recording of this sermon on his mobile phone!

As you’d expect, it’s not the greatest recording we’ve made and it’s probably not the greatest sermon I’ve ever given either, but the topic is important and worth thinking about. My topic is ‘bad religion’.

What is it that separates the religion of Mother Theresa from the religion of Osama Bin Laden? Is it purely a matter of which Scriptures they considered to be sacred or is there something deeper that separates them? How can some people kill in the name of God while others can only love in the name of God? Can it really be the same God?

I don’t pretend to give any definitive answers to these fundamental religious questions but I do offer my thoughts on how we can prevent sliding into bad religion ourselves, and how to recognise the signs of when religion is starting to go bad.

This mobile-phone recording actually starts a few minutes in to the sermon while I’m in the middle of retelling the story of the death of Darth Vader!

It may help you to make better sense of the sermon and to understand why on earth I’m using Darth Vader as a sermon illustration if you have the written version of the sermon to refer to. It’s recorded on in full. Click here.

[imaioVideo v=1]

(and if you can’t see the video, click here)

Mr X – the Saga Continues

I mustn’t let you go today without updating you on our situation with ‘Mr X’ – the young hooligan I mentioned last week who has been terrorising our Youth Centre and damaging our church property.

Thank you for all the emails I received over the last week on this subject. Thank you both for your prayers and for all the stories that you shared of similar experiences!

It seems that Sydney is not the only city in the world where teenagers seem to be able to flout the law with impunity. Moreover it seems that we are not the only place where representatives of the police force make mind-numbing statements like “I’m sorry, but the video you took of the person committing the crime cannot be used as evidence because you didn’t get their permission to film!”

I didn’t mention it last week but a large part of the problem, I think, was that the police persons who we were dealing with still had pimples!

I don’t mean to be mean or to be ‘ageist‘ (if there is such a thing) but the male and female couple who responded to our distress signal last week looked younger than some of my own children!

I shouldn’t be ungrateful. Most of the calls I’d made to the police that week had resulted in no uniformed police showing up at all! Even so, last Tuesday afternoon two new policemen arrived at my front door, and I can’t tell you how my heart leaped for joy when I saw that they had grey hair! :-)

Constable Russell James is now my new local hero! It took him about three minutes to get a complete picture of what was going on and only another hour before he’d caught up with the boy in question, put the wind up him, and organised a sit-down meeting between the three of us for the next day!

The meeting itself didn’t go brilliantly as I might have liked as Mr X wan’t showing many signs of repentance and new life. Even so, Constable James clearly knew exactly what was going on, and I have every confidence in his ability to help us keep Mr X and his mates under control.

Oh, and did I mention that Constable James boxes for the Police Boxing Squad?! :-)

Share your Wisdom!

And one final exhortation today: Please share your wisdom on our FORUM.

There have been two very active threads in the last week and both of them are focused on the same area – the tensions between religion and science.

Yes, it’s a members-only forum, and yes, membership will cost you $10/month, BUT keep in mind that:

  • This means that the forum has NO SPAM on it!
  • Your $10/month is what keeps this work going

That’s enough from me today. We’ll speak again next week if not before.

Until then I remain …

Your brother in the Good Fight,


About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four