On Thursday 1 March, 60 parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills were joined by members of the community and representatives of the local Uniting Church as they gathered to listen and engage in meaningful conversation around refugees and asylum seekers.
Central to this dialogue was listening deeply to the story of two people who had sought protection in Australia, due to war and persecution in their homelands of Kenya and Syria.
From the moment the evening began we knew that this evening was going to be different and was going to require all of our hospitality, engagement and participation. We got to know each other and listened to each other’s experiences and stories around values such as freedom, justice, peace, self-determination. We learnt that we had more in common than what divides us.
The evening also enabled us to plan for the way ahead for a concrete journey of walking with refugees and people seeking protection, and the newly formed social justice group from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills skilfully and competently enabled, planned and engaged all of us in this.
RELATED: Table talk – North Rocks Parish
Answers were provided to our many diverse questions from expert staff working at the coal face. Manish, a policy and research staff member from Jesuit Refugee Service skillfully answered our range of diverse questions. We heard that current policies in regard to people seeking protection commonly led to homelessness and destitution. Towards the end of the evening, we were in a good place to make practical plans and commitments for the way ahead, skilfully led and implemented by the social justice group from the parish.
As Social Justice Coordinator in the Diocese of Parramatta, I was inspired by the way parishes were participating in the journey of walking with refugees and people seeking protection, and the way it is making an impact across the Diocese for those most in need.
This table talk followed a recent table talk at North Rocks Parish and prepares the way for future table talks. The next table talk will be held in the Downey Room of St Michael’s Church, Baulkham Hills at 7:00pm on 16 March, Chapel Lane, Baulkham Hills. Please RSVP to the Diocese of Parramatta Social Justice Office on 02 8838 3458.
You are welcome to join us.