New book captures themes from national social services conference

23 October 2020
Image: Catholic Social Services Victoria/Supplied.


“We have to learn to persist in our resistance to injustice, to refuse to be cowed into giving up on what we know is wrong, and to call out the interests being served. As Mary MacKillop reminds us, ‘In our unity under God lies our strength’.” 

Dr Ursula Stephens, CEO, Catholic Social Services Australia.

As we face the devastating impact of COVID-19 in Australia and its compounding effects on the most vulnerable within our communities, Catholic social services are called more than ever to be bearers of hope, to serve with courage and compassion, and to draw strength from our collective and collaborative approach to advocating for a more just and equitable society. More than ever we are called to being living signs of the Gospel, wherever we are, in the services and care we provide.

A new book, Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion will be an invaluable tool to assist us in this mission.

Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion, edited by by Gabrielle McMullen, Patrice Scales and Denis Fitzgerald. Image: Supplied.

In February 2020, Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV), together with Catholic Social Services Australia, hosted the national conference, Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion. More than 200 representatives from across Australia and New Zealand working in Catholic social services and related fields gathered in Melbourne from 26-28 February.

In keeping the key learnings, conversations and formation alive from this event, CSSV is excited to announce the publishing of a new book, which goes by the same name – Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion. This valuable resource includes more than 20 chapters that capture the key messages and themes from the conference, and which are highly relevant in our work today.

The principles of Catholic Social Teaching underpin all of our work in Catholic social services, whether that be in a parish, health care, education or social services setting. With its emphasis on lessons learnt, collaborative and effective ways of serving with courage and compassion, deepening formation, and identity and mission, this book is a timely and accessible resource for staff, CEOs, Board and Council members working in social services, health and education, as well as those working within parish and diocesan communities, and with religious congregations.

The book has been edited by long-term contributors from the Catholic social services sector – Gabrielle McMullen, Patrice Scales and Denis Fitzgerald – and includes contributions from more than 50 professionals who shared their expertise, knowledge and insights at the conference by way of keynote, plenary and workshop presentations. The book is divided into three thematic sections: Serving Communities in a Renewed Church, Courage and Compassion in Action and Catholic Social Services at the Margins.

In his chapter, Margin Call: The Risk of Integrity, former CEO of the Truth Justice Healing Council Francis Sullivan writes, “Catholic social services’ function in aiding society’s most vulnerable is an inherently Catholic exercise”. He says, “To be truly ‘Catholic’ is to find unity across differences. It is to acknowledge that everyone is being made in the image of God. We are unfinished products, glimpses of the divine, symphonies aching for the crescendo! Sullivan provides a challenging overview of the state of the Church in Australia, alongside an uplifting affirmation of “good works by good people for the good of others.”

Book contributors also include Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv; John Lochowiak, Chairperson of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council; Dr Ursula Stephens, CEO, of Catholic Social Services Australia; Jack de Groot, CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society NSW; Professor John Warhurst AO, Chair of Concerned Catholics, Canberra Goulburn; Jocelyn Bignold OAM, CEO of McAuley Community Services for Women; Mark Monahan, Executive Officer of Edmund Rice Services – Mount Atkinson; and Sheree Limbrick, CEO of Catholic Professional Standards Ltd.

Though the conference is over, the ongoing, national conversation and work, is not. This book will be an invaluable tool to assist all in the Church’s mission of serving with courage and compassion, and of being the living sign of Christ among the most vulnerable.

Order your copy of Serving Communities with Courage and Compassion, here.

Serving our Communities with Courage and Compassion, Edited by Gabrielle McMullen, Patrice Scales and Denis Fitzgerald, Connor Court Publishing, ISBN:9781922449085

With thanks to Catholic Social Services Victoria.


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