The current drought, which is devastating farms and farmers across the country, has been dubbed by the Bureau of Meteorology the worst on record.
Images of brown, scorched land across parts of Australia that have normally been lush and green have become common.
In fact, the reach of this drought has expanded into areas people don’t traditionally associate with droughts, including the snowy mountain region.
“This drought has spread everywhere in NSW, and in parts of Victoria and Queensland as well,” Cooma Parish Priest Fr Mick MacAndrew said.
“I’ve had farmers come to me in tears… men I haven’t seen cry before… and they’re at their wits end. They don’t know when conditions will improve, they don’t know where they’ll get the money to purchase more feed for their stock.
“Some have already sold half of their stock to pay for the feed for the other half, and are now in a position where they need to sell half of the remaining stock.
“It really is the worst drought in living memory.”
To assist and support the farmers, the Cooma parish held a day of prayer for farmers on Friday August 9 involving all parishioners and school children in the area.
“The idea for the day came about because so many parishioners were saying prayers for rain and for the drought to break,” Fr Mick explained.
“And from my conversations and from my own experience it was clear the situation was quite dire. So we thought we’d try to help by applying our faith and having a day of prayer.”
The day of prayer began with a special Masses at 10am celebrated by Fr Mick and ended with another special Mass at 5pm celebrated by Fr James Onoja. Throughout the day, parishioners came and shared their prayers for those suffering through the drought.
Children from St Patrick’s School in Cooma, many of them from farming families, visited the Church to offer their prayers throughout the day and provided prayers they had written for farmers and the farming families. Adults were encouraged to do the same.
“We also had our children in the government schools to contribute their prayers as well, “he said.
“We had a great big bale of lucerne hay at the front of the church and the prayers were placed inside and around it. Lots of parishioners, and most of the farmers who come to Mass on a Sunday came and supported the prayer day.”
Fr Mick encouraged other parishes to support their farmers in this and other ways. While the focus of the day was on prayer, Fr Mick said that the local St Vincent de Paul conference was open to receiving donations for the drought appeal as well.
“We’re a community and at times like these we help each other out,” Fr Mick said.
Drought assistance links:
- St Vincent de Paul NSW Drought Assistance
- Salvation Army Drought Relief Appeal
- Buy a Bale
- Rural Aid
- Aussie Helpers
If you or anyone you know needs help:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
By Chris Gordon. Republished with permission from the Catholic Voice.