What would a ‘parish of mercy’ look like? We asked two of our young writers to help us put together a newsletter for the imaginary Australian parish of St Teresa of Calcutta.
From the parish priest
This Sunday the Catholic Church brings to a close the Year of Mercy. Over the last 12 months, we have tried to make real the vision for the Church that Pope Francis has set out. He stated in his announcement that we should ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36). So that has been our guiding mission for this year.
I’m very pleased to say that our parish of St Teresa’s has already done some great things within the community. However, the work is not yet done.
Earlier this year we welcomed a family of refugees into a new home funded by all of you. But there are still many other desperate families in need, so the committee and I have decided to organise a charity dinner which we warmly invite all parishioners and their family and friends to attend. All proceeds from the night will be put towards another property for a new deserving refugee family.
Another issue we need to tackle is climate change. The Catholic Church has recognised that this issue is not just one for the scientists and politicians. St. Teresa’s is working in partnership with Catholic Earthcare, in order to educate and aid us in creating a sustainable relationship with the Earth. It would be great to see more of you join us on our environment committee at the parish to help us improve our efforts.
Today also I’d like to give a special thanks to one of our parishioners who has served with us for 35 years. Our secretary Cathy has done a great deal for our community as she has been running our bingo nights for our ‘young at heart’ parishioners every Thursday as well as many other spontaneous events. Thank you for everything you do, Cathy.
Youth Outreach Update
This year our youth group has been involved in many events. With the commencement of the soup van earlier this year, our youth have been merciful to everyone in and out of the parish. If you want to get involved, get in touch with Clare and Matt.
School Update: Grandmates
Soon we will be starting our students’ favourite social justice program Grand-mates! About five years ago, two social justice-minded students wanted to make a difference to those living in our local aged care facility. They approached our school’s principal and pitched their idea: for students from Prep to Year 6 to brighten the day of those who live at Golden Days Home each week. Since then, a small mixed-age group has visited the care centre to do crafts, sing songs and play games with the seniors. The students look forward to the visit as much as the residents.
Help migrant workers beat the summer heat
Maybe you’ve asked Santa for a new pair of sunglasses? Why not donate your old pair to our annual ‘Beat the heat’ drive for migrant workers. Imagine if you had to pick the fields in 40+ degree heat, or work 11-hour days cleaning houses or laboring on a building site? Our migrant worker outreach program is hoping to provide migrants with some much-needed items that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Our parish is collecting hats, sunglasses, toiletries, sunscreen and reusable water bottles. Please drop off your donations at the collection bin in the parish office.
Thank you from Chelsea
We were very sad to say goodbye last month to our international visitor, Chelsea, who returned home after her 12 month scholarship in Australia. But we were very happy to find this letter in the mail this week.
I was 20 years old, travelling to Australia on an education scholarship and knew no one. In the months leading to my departure I spent weeks anxiously researching possible Catholic parishes I could be a part of. After much angst and prayer I finally settled on St Teresa’s of Calcutta.
I was drawn to this particular parish because of their interactive website, where different young people explained the many varied activities they had the opportunity to be part of within this community. For me personally hearing these people speak really connected me to their work and the parish. After contacting the parish, they immediately offered to help find me affordable accommodation. I was so grateful for this. One of the parishioners, Ivy, even offered to collect me from the airport.
Shortly after I arrived, they took me to the large red brick church. The gardens were blossoming making everything smell and look beautiful, and my spirits lifted. I followed Ivy into the big community hall. The walls were covered with drawings and paintings from children of all ages and skill levels. Half the room was filled with children eating lunch and the other half with soft inviting beanbags to relax on.
Ivy told me that the children had parents or guardians who could not take care of them properly during the day. I noticed above the community door the quote by St Teresa ‘if you judge people, you have no time to love them.’ This hooked me immediately. I could not agree more.
I was drawn to the parish St Teresa of Calcutta because I sensed it was a welcoming place. I suppose what cemented my attraction to this parish was how the initial group, in particular Ivy, really helped and made me feel welcome in those crucial early weeks. When I arrived raw, anxious and certainly frightened, all I received was love. I could not have asked for more.
Dinelle Hettiarachchi was part of our 2016 internship program, and is a student at Avila College in Mount Waverley, Victoria.
Nieve Walton is a student at Thomas Carr College in Tarneit, Victoria.
View the reflection questions and activities for ‘St Teresa of Calcutta Parish Bulletin: What would a ‘parish of mercy’ look like?’ here