The Swag

This long running, quarterly NCP publication was first published in 1969 as The Priest Forum, then as the NCP Newsletter in 1973 and finally as The Swag in 1993.

The Swag provides a forum for publishing progressive but responsible Catholic thinking within the Church featuring a wide range of topics from local and international contributors.

Under the superb editorship of Rev Peter Maher, this publication continues to go from strength to strength – devoured by clergy, religious and lay people both across Australia and worldwide.

The Returned to God section where we honour the life and ministry of deceased clergy is an important feature of each edition.

In 2015, The Swag was the winner of the Best Catholic Magazine at the Australasian Catholic Press Association Awards for Excellence.

For an annual print subscription, please contact the NCP National Office.

For an annual online subscription – go to and subscribe and pay online.

Why is it called The Swag?

Back in the Gold Rush days of the 19th Century in Australia,  many men, and I’m sure many women, left home - such as it was - to seek new hope, new life, maybe a fortune on the gold fields. Later on, especially during the dark time of the 1890’s and during the deep depression years of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s many more left home to seek new hope and new life.

The travellers on the long country roads of inland Australia were often called “swagmen” or “swaggies”. They carried on their backs whatever was precious and dear to them in their swag, usually a canvas bag which was slung over the shoulder as they walked along.

Their lives became a long, long journey from place to place and often they added a new memento or a symbol of a new experience to their swag. Sometimes they left behind something that had lost significance. They were walking, walking in hope and often on unmade very rough tracks, and because it was a long journey they couldn’t carry a swag that was too heavy and cumbersome.

Back in the 1970’s reflection on the symbolism and significance of all this brought priests who were members of the NCP to name their national newsletter The Swag.

The “Australian-ness” of the title appealed. But the appropriateness of the title was deeper.

We were, and still are on a journey, filled with hope; in many ways we are constantly leaving home, taking with us only the things that really matter; we’re constantly re-assessing what needs to be set aside or left behind and what needs to be picked up and carried forward on the journey.

We priests are in so many ways “Swagmen”!