By Elizabeth McFarlane
If in giving we find joy, then it is true to say that the parishioners of St. Bernadette’s are indeed nurturing their souls through their annual response to the Christmas Hamper appeal.
Inspired by the example of the Passionist Family Group Movement (PFGM) at St. Anthony’s in the Fields at Terrey Hills, St. Bernadette’s began to provide hampers to poor and disadvantaged families in 1982. In that year, they raised and delivered 10 hampers to meet the need of the time.
From such humble beginnings, each year the demand has grown and each year so has the response to meet that demand.
Coordinated by Maureen and Ray Scully, the leaders of the Family Group Movement in Castle Hill, the annual appeal raises and distributes some 400 – 450 hampers to families identified by the St Vincent de Paul Society as being truly in need of love, help and support at every level.
“The very warm response to the annual Hamper Mass has once again been magnificent, ensuring that many very needy families will share in the joy and the true spirit of Christmas,” Ray said.
The students from St. Bernadette’s School, Gilroy College, Oakhill College, Tangara School, and Redfield College, as well as the wider parish community, also generously supported it.
The schools, Youth Group and many parents encourage the young people to be involved in this important ministry.
Maureen and Ray, who have coordinated the hamper appeal for the past 14 years, say that they never cease to be moved by the generosity of spirit displayed each year, not only by those who donate the hampers but also by the many volunteers who assist in the sorting and distribution.
“The logistics involved in the planning, coordination and execution are quite significant and a seamless outcome can only be achieved by the support of the many helpers who come with smiles on their faces to demonstrate that true joy is to be found in giving,” Ray said.
“This is Christianity in action, displaying love for one another as Christ loves us.”