A New Expression of Mission
When the Sisters came to Australia in January, 1930, it was with the purpose of starting a school at Kedron on the fringe of Brisbane. In subsequent years the Sisters were involved in education in a number of centres across Queensland. By the mid 1960s and into the 1970s the call from the Second Vatican Council to religious to “return to your roots” saw the Sisters move out into pastoral ministry in isolated Indigenous communities in a number of States. In the 1980s as the Sisters neared retirement age many of them opted to live in small communities in semi-retirment embracing pastoral roles. These ministries were pastoral. A ministry of presence and being one with. The Sisters visited the shut ins, the sick, the lonely, and supported a wide array of people in the various challenges of life.
As they had in 1949 when the first Sisters travelled to Papua New Guinea, a number of Sisters went overseas to serve in foreign missions such as Tchad, China, Bolivia, Egypt and Papua New Guinea. There, as at home, education, pastoral outreach and ministry of presence were central expressions of our mission.
Today we are just a handful of Sisters in Australia and many of us are retired from full time active ministry. Those not actively engaged in pastoral ministry embrace a ministry of prayer and support.
In recent years we have come to understand that we can do mission by reousrceing other people and organisations. While we do not have vast amounts to donate we do like to support a number of charities whose work mirrors the outreach of our younger days, and whose values and purposes are in alignment with ours. We decided to share information about these groups in the hope that others might also like to add their support. Some of the charities that we have supported are:-
St Vincent de Paul Society.
As well as assisitng a wide variety of families and individuals with basic needs and emergency assistance with food hampers, vouchers, furnitures and clothing, Vinnies also assists women and children at risk of homelessness, particularly those who have experienced domestic violence. [In recent years we were able to partly fund the purchase of a house for such a purpose.] The Vinnies outreach embraces refugees and asylum seekers, providing all of the usual supports as well as the supports needed for young people to engage in educatinal opportunities.
Vinnies runs a number of youth projects to assist youth develop leadership skills, to take a break from stressful situations and to simply enjoy a break in a camp or gathering setting.
We are proud that our Franciscan Schools in the Kedron areas also support the wonderful work of Vinnies, particularly with hampers at end of year.
Smart Pups Assistance Dogs
This a group is a not-for-profit organisation based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. They provide assistance dogs to children with special needs. Trained in task-specific skills, Smart Pups improve children’s independence and quality of life. This unique form of early intervention therapy has a profound effect on the day-to-day lives of children and families… making a positive change that keeps growing. For life. According to the webiste, Smart pups has provided 180 assistance dogs.
We first donated to this group in 2021, having come across the wonderful work they do by accident. We like the fact that individuals can make a one-off small donation, a monthly donation, or make a donation as a a corporate entity, or raise money for one of the children who are fundrising for their own life-changing companion.
You can donate to Smart pups on their website. Their are campaigns listed on the site that show the very real needs of children who face some huge challenges, and for whom a Smart pup is life enriching and empowering. For Besides, who doesn’t love a lab? https://www.smartpups.org.au/
Second Chance is a small charity set up by women twenty years ago to help women access accomodation so that they are not forced into homelessness. The co-founders are Brisbane philantropists Dr Dale Spender and Marjorie Morton.
They run a number of fundraisers each year and accept donations via their website. https://secondchance.org.au/. Second Chance has received endorsement by the Australian Taxation Office as a deductible gift recipient, as well as endorsement for charity tax concessions.
One of the things that we like about the group is that they work alongside other organisations who assist women and children at risk of homelessness.
Some years ago we learnt that the Staff of our College, Mount Alvernia College at Kedron, were salary sacrificing to raise money for a Work and Welcome Program which is a part of this organisation. The aim of Work and Welcome is to give refugee / asylum seeker men and women the olpportunity to work within an organisation for a short period of time. During their time at the school or workplace they build friendships with the community, learn about our Australian way of life, improve their language and professional skills, and if needed brush up on their language skills. They are also able to share about their experiences of having to leave their own home country to seek freedom in Australia.
We decided that we would make an annual donation to the Work and Welcome Program at Mount Alvernia College. We wanted to do this, not in our own name, but just as a part of the community at Mt A, which of course our Sisters founded. We are so proud of the College and the many ways they support outreach activities across a wide number of organisations. We have been so happy to hear the stories of the “Work and Welcome” men and women who have spent time at the College.
Gail Hyslop – Multicultural Australia founding member
In 1997 a group of concerned Queenslanders met in an unassuming Brisbane backyard, in the shadow of an Australian icon, the hill hoist, to discuss the future of Queensland’s multicultural sector after the defunding of the Brisbane Migrant Resource Centre.
Dreaming together of a Queensland where everyone felt welcome and included, they committed to start a new organisation to support new Queenslanders. In 1998, the Multicultural Development Association became incorporated to deliver essential migrant services, advocate for multiculturalism and build a strong future for all Queenslanders.
21 years and one small name change later, Multicultural Australia provides welcome and support to more than 5000 newly arrived Queenslanders every year, including refugees, migrants, international students and people seeking asylum.
Royal Flying Doctor Services
I doubt that this great organisation needs any commentary. The Sisters served, and continue to serve, in some very isolated places across Australia. In the 1970s we established houses in Dajarra, Tennant Crrek, Fitzroy Crossing. Sisters have ministered also n Goondiwindi, Cunnamulla, Port Augusta, Dyssart and Emerald. We have a Sister today in Woorabinda. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to people that live, work and travel across the 7.69 million square kilometres of Australia. As well as emergency evacuations the RFD provide GP, nurse and dental clinics in many very isolated places.
Caritas is an organisation that is based on Social Justice Principles. They “are committed to work alongside the most vulnerable, and to address the imbalance of power by including the people affected in the decisions impacting their lives.” in Australia and across the Asia Pacific. Many will know their Lenten Project Compassion as a main fundraising strategy. Caritas does the work of providing infrastructure in developing countries – fresh water, sanitation, meidcal aid – and provides humanitarian aid in the face of disasters. https://www.caritas.org.au
Fuel for Change: Dhaka
We were able to donate to this group for the first timein 2021. We really liked its simple approach to vastly transform the lives of families living is smke-filled, unhealthy, high density housing n India. For jsut a small amount a gas stove is given to a family to reduce the hours spend collecting for wood for the stove and also to reduce the smoke which causes many respiratory problems and harms the environment. Providing a small gas stove for as little as $35.00 provides the means to to replace wood burning is transformational, particularly for women, in terms of health, education, livelihood and dignity. https://fuel4change.org.
Rosies – Friends on the street.
Rosies aims to offer friendship and unconditional acceptance to those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or are experiencing social isolation or loneliness. Just as you would offer a cup of tea or coffee to a friend who was visiting your home, we do the same for our friends on the street. We also appreciate the great care extended by Rosies the young people who attend end of school events. https://rosies.org.au
There is no need to explain this organisation which provides care for animals across Australia, by rehoming neglected and unwanted animals through their shelters and by educating the community about responsible pet ownership. RSPCA also advocates for laws and policies to protect all sorts of animals, and also has officers who respond to reports of neglect and cruelty. RSPCA is a compassionate friend to those who struggle to afford the best care for a beloved companion. https://www.rspca.org.au
The Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Cerebral Palsy Alliance is an Australian nonprofit organisation helping babies, children, teenagers and adults living with cerebral palsy and other neurological and physical disabilities. Its therapy teams work with individuals and families to maximise their participation in the community. It was founded in 1945. We ;like the fact that CPA not only provides the hands-on assistance to children and families facing the challnegs of cerebral palsy, but also has a research arm which seeks to one day bring an end to this disease.
Franciscans International (FI) is an international non-governmental human rights organization, established in 1989 by the Franciscan family, in General Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Its staff consists of professionals of diverse backgrounds working to translate grassroots voices in human rights advocacy action at the United Nations level. FI seeks to promote and protect human rights and environmental justice. It is the only organisation that all branches of the Franciscan family support.
A global community in which the dignity of every person is respected, resources are shared equitably, the environment is sustained, and nations and peoples live in peace.
Using a rights-based approach, FI advocates at the UN for the protection of human dignity and environmental justice.
WHAT WE DO
To fulfill this mission, FI builds on more than 30 years of experience in human rights advocacy to address the root causes of injustices. We do so by bringing cases of discrimination and violence committed against individuals and groups living at the margins to the attention of the UN, and by influencing UN decision making and standard setting processes accordingly.
According to their spirituality and values founded on simplicity, fraternity, peace, and care for creation, Franciscans very often live and work with disadvantaged groups and individuals, have their trust and are among the closest to their concerns. In doing so, many Franciscans are human rights defenders, and FI serves as their voice at the UN.
FI’s added value lies in the combination of two distinctive features:
Its strong ties with Franciscans and their civil society allies who work at the grassroots with some of the groups that are most discriminated against, and
Its expertise in bringing these testimonies to the UN and effectively translating them into strategic interventions to hold States and other actors accountable, compelling them to address policies and practices that are harming human rights.