Tri-diocesan evening reflects on 2018/19 Social Justice Statement

By Mary Brazell, 11 September 2019
Social Justice coordinators Ruth Moraes, Sr Louise McKeogh FMA and Pina Bernard. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


Efforts to reduce homelessness in the greater Sydney region have been given a boost at a gathering of Catholic social justice advocates.

The annual Tri-Diocesan Social Justice Reflection Evening was hosted by the Diocese of Parramatta at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, on Thursday 29 August. In attendance were advocates from the Archdiocese of Sydney, and the Dioceses of Broken Bay and Parramatta.

View images from the Tri-Diocesan Social Justice evening here or below.

“This is the fifth year that the Broken Bay, Sydney Archdiocese and Parramatta Social Justice Networks have come together to both share the Good News of the social justice work that is happening at local levels across parishes as well as provide a space of networking and support. It aims to acknowledge the work of parish social justice groups and foster collaboration and networking across groups and diocese,” Sr Louise McKeogh FMA, Social Justice Coordinator and Caritas Diocesan Director, Diocese of Parramatta, told Catholic Outlook.

The evening, “Putting Rungs on the Ladder,” reflected on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s 2018/19 Social Justice Statement A Place to Call Home: Making a Home for Everyone in our Land.

Attendees began the evening with fellowship over dinner.

Attendees during the Tri-Diocesan Social Justice evening at St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

“On behalf of the Sydney Archdiocese, Broken Bay Diocese and Parramatta Diocese, we welcome you all very warmly. We hope you enjoy this evening, and feel appreciated and a sense of gratitude – our way of saying thank you for the work and enthusiasm and passion for social justice that we do together,” Sr Louise said during her welcome.

Carolyn D’Mello from Citizen Action Penrith Affordable Housing (CAPAH) began the evening with a reflection on the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) and how it still challenges us today.

“Putting Rungs on the Ladder is such an apt title for this evening’s tri-diocesan social justice reflection gathering. Tonight is an opportunity to reflect and share our stories across three dioceses where parishioners are reaching out to those struggling, offering ladders, and thereby enabling support, enabling participation, contribution of ones gifts and talents and creating inclusion in our community,” she said.

The audience then heard a story from Steven, an active member of CAPAH, who has experienced housing stress and instability.

Guest speaker Sue Mowbray, CEO of the Mercy Foundation, explained some of the root causes of homelessness and what her organisation is doing to help end homelessness in Sydney and around Australia.

Sue Mowbray, CEO of Mercy Foundation, speaks during the Tri-Diocesan Social Justice evening at St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

“We can’t end homelessness alone. We have to do this together, we have to work collaboratively,” she explained.

Attendees were then able to network and share with one another the projects they are participating in that are working towards ending homelessness in their communities.

Pearl from Penrith shared her story of housing affordability with the group, and how her own experiences and faith drive her passion to helping others.

Fr Peter Smith from the Justice and Peace Office in the Archdiocese of Sydney shared his own reflection on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, before blessing participants as they returned to their parishes and organisations.

Attendees during the Tri-Diocesan Social Justice evening at St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

Ruth Moraes, Research and Project Officer from the Justice and Peace Office, Archdiocese of Sydney was encouraged by the stories shared during the evening.

“The evening was an excellent opportunity for representatives from social justice groups from the three dioceses to get together and hear about the work that is being done to address the homelessness crisis in Australia as well as to share with others the work that they have done over the year.

“While the problem of homelessness can seem daunting, it was encouraging to hear stories of positive steps forward taken by the Mercy Foundation and parish social justice groups to help in this area. Looking to the future with hope is an important aspect of working in the social justice sphere.

“The evening also provided an opportunity for new relationships to be formed, which we hope will lead to more action on social justice in the homelessness space in the future,” Ruth said.

Pina Bernard, Team Leader of Catholic Life & Faith Formation for the Diocese of Broken Bay said she was inspired by the commitment from those in attendance to end homelessness.

“The evening allowed us to share stories of the amazing things that can happen when a small group of committed people come together to make a difference. It is possible to forge new ways to tackle homelessness and housing affordability, and I was encouraged by some of the initiatives currently underway in this space, as well as the enthusiasm and dedication of the participants present,” she said.

View images from the Tri-Diocesan Social Justice evening here or below.

Tri-Diocesan Social Justice Reflection Evening

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