Cult check brings claims of stalking

The Chronicle/June 11, 2003
By Krysten Booth

Claims of people travelling far and wide to view the Magnificat Meal Movement have proven correct, with Irishman Mr Mike Garde travelling to Helidon to take a closer look.

However, Mr Garde's interest is purely academic, given that he is completing a thesis as part of his Masters in theology.

Having arrived in Australia on Monday last week, Mr Garde's presence has already prompted MMM leader Ms Debra Burslem (formerly Geileskey) to phone police, allegedly claiming the group was being stalked.

He has already received a letter from Ms Burslem asking him to stay away from their Helidon compound.

"Due to past intrusions of my privacy I must demand that you respect my privacy and that of my guests without obstructing or stalking our passageway," Ms Burslem said in the letter.

"Please allow us to live our lives in peace and prayer. Please do not come to my home univited."

Mr Garde said he had no intention of upsetting MMM members, but simply sought to further his thesis which is looking to define what a cult is.

Having interviewed former MMM members, Mr Garde said it was obvious the movement was having a profound effect on the Helidon community.

"You have a sense that this town is in the shadow of this woman," Mr Garde said.

"This place seems to be the way it should be, but it seems to have died on its feet."

Mr Garde said Ms Burslem had spoken on Irish radio making false claims including that her centre was part of the Toowoomba Catholic Diocese.

Aside from his interest in theology, Mr Garde said he was concerned for the welfare of the MMM's followers.

"I'm a Christian concerned about other Christians leading people down the garden path," he said.

Mr Garde is due to return to Ireland tomorrow.

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