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To Fr. Herman Roborgh SJ

Fr Herman Roborgh S.J is actively involved in creating understanding between those of different beliefs and cultures. After obtaining a B.A degree from Monash University (Melbourne) in 1973, Herman went to Indonesia and completed his seminary studies there.  For the next fifteen years he worked in various pastoral roles in Indonesia and then moved to England where he completed a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies. After this he went to Pakistan where he lived for the next eight years and learnt Urdu.  Herman became interested in a commentary on the Qur’an written by a Pakistani scholar and completed a PhD thesis on this Qur’an commentary for Aligarh Muslim University in India in 2006.

High up in this heavenly afterlife,
Far from earth's ongoing stress and strife,
I often speak with Rudolf your father here
Whose memories of you as a child are clear
He has told me that you are his third son
- Always thoughtful to others yet so full of fun.
He's extremely proud of all that you do,
Ignatius Loyola insists he is too,
For with interfaith dialogue your constant goal
You draw many together, soul to soul,
So when speaking of you he agrees with me
That your Saintly service creates harmony,
While the Prophet Mohammad says accurately
That you're healing the wounds of humanity,
For with scholarly insights you're able to see
How Islam shares with Christianity
A true understanding of human frailty,
The Qur’an and Bible stating similarly
- God’s eternal love for the human family.

Born in a humble manger 2000 years ago,
I pray the tyranny of money down below
Does not obscure God's message I strove to impart,
Passed on in essence from my soul, mind and heart
- Compassion, forgiveness and understanding,
So needed with anger day-to-day increasing, 
Since, as T.E. Lawrence often stresses up here
‘All pledges and promises were caste aside’ down there.
     ‘Let’s make friends with the Taliban’ you’ve wisely said,

Had this happened there would be far fewer dead.
    A talk with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who insisted
With Osama Bin Laden that revenge persisted,
Could have helped clarify why anger’s still growing
As reports from the region are quite clearly showing,
For the West tends to rationalize its own brutal acts
Often promulgating distorted views of the facts
So national and strategic interests are protected
- With arguments against them promptly rejected.

    It would surely prove wise for the West not to use
Words such as ‘Collateral Damage’ which spark anger’s fuse
- When women and children in their thousands die
And all those who are angry keep on asking ‘Why?’
   While to say ‘The Axis of Evil’ is not wise at all
   And the words ‘Pre-emptive Strikes’ causes fury as well.
   With the constant purloining of Palestinian lands
   My concern for such obvious greed still stands,
   Is counter-terrorism now a two way threat?
    - If so a World Forum surely is the best bet.

     May each year ahead prove rewarding for you
As you continue what you so brilliantly do.
For with interfaith discourse you create harmony
     - Thus you’re serving with love all humanity.
     Quite clearly you’re passing my message across
- The true symbol of which is a simple Cross.

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Prince Abdullah AI-Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz to Australian Poets


I know the Greek word for love is Eros,
Just juggle the letters and this word becomes Rose,
As ardent lovers, Aphrodite and Adonis
Believed they would enjoy eternal bliss.
Adonis shed blood on a white rose when wounded
-Thus the legend of the Red Rose of Love was founded.
Carried from Greece across desert sands,
Red Roses inspired love in all Arab lands.
From Taif in Arabia on star-spinning nights,
Fragrant rose oil ascends from these heights.
For each April Rose petals are boiled here in oil
As they have been for centuries, with endless toil.
The city of Taif’s a very ancient place
- Near Mecca but higher and with cooler space.
The Turks named this region 'Arabian Rose,'
- Perhaps for the perfume inhaled by each nose.
Up here A.D Hope often talks to me
About how much he enjoys Arabic poetry.
He agrees that poetry brings understanding
For it’s a celebration always transcending
Divisions caused by politics, faith or race,
Drawing people together, thus helping erase
Those conflicts on earth so many must face.
I believe our poems help humanize the other,
So people embrace as a sister or a brother.
- Soul to soul let's recite our poetry
And thus help create human harmony …
May poetry and Ward Taifi the Red Rose of Love,
Bestow the true peace on earth enjoyed up above.


Anne Fairbairn AM