Left to Right: Kate Scholl, Peter Gormly, Leo Tucker, Joy Bowen and Greg Ryan.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me…”

The St Vincent de Paul Society, as a lay Catholic organisation, aspires to live this gospel message from Matthew each day. We continue the good works started by Frederic Ozanam over two centuries ago. We are guided by our Christian values and the inspiration of our patron St Vincent de Paul. Our good works are based on an enriching heritage of living our Christian faith in service of others and advocating for a more just and compassionate society.

During the past year the Mission and Spirituality team have played an important role in maintaining the culture of compassion and support started by Frederic Ozanam almost two centuries ago. While the scope of our good works may have changed over the years, we remain a Society devoted to alleviating poverty and disadvantage in all its forms.

As part of the restructure from 10 Central Councils to five Regions in September 2019, the Mission, Spirituality and Pastoral Care partner roles were created to ensure better support for our members, volunteers, staff and most importantly – the people we assist. Led by Leo Tucker, Executive Director – Mission and Spirituality, these partners work collaboratively with Central Council and Conference Presidents, Regional Directors, managers and leaders across the Society to enable new models of pastoral care and mission engagement to serve those in need.

We introduced partner roles across the state in the North East, Metropolitan and South Regions who are responsible for a range of functions within the Society including reflection and retreat opportunities, offering pastoral care for bereavements, debriefing post‑crisis, hosting pastoral care forums, and assisting with Masses, liturgies, blessings and Council festival events.

The team oversaw the provision of a placement space for seminarians from the Good Shepherd Seminary, refurbished the Matthew Talbot Hostel Chapel space with a blessing performed by Bishop Terry Brady, collaborated with the social engagement team to support residents at the Matthew Talbot Hostel, and participated in the annual Internment of Ashes of the Homeless ceremony at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery.

A REFLECTION FROM JOY BOWEN ON THE ROLE PLAYED BY THE
MISSION AND SPIRITUALITY TEAM WITHIN THE SOCIETY

He sits with the nurse, waiting to receive his injection. God knows where she might find a site to use as there is barely any body fat left…. he stands as I enter and holds out his hand, which I take and hold – a strong connection unlike the fragility of everything else in his life.

We have walked together for two years now.

He is a regular Mass goer here at the Talbot – his “home”, every Sunday without fail, except these last three. I first met him at Mass my first Sunday. He believes in the mercy and forgiveness of a loving God, without that he would not survive. He is always the first to share his own meagre supplies of tobacco and change with those “less fortunate”. He calls everyone “brother” and “sister” and means it. He has a very strong sense of justice and always wants to teach. He used to be a functioning professional. His family used to support him until it got too much for them.

His clothes float on his wasted body, clearly damaged from years of alcoholism, but this current “bender” he names as the biggest, the worst. As the three of us converse about the possible choices, he leads us to accept that the outcome will be the same as “usual”. The empathy of the nurse is simply beautiful – fully loving, respectful and compassionate. He explains he will continue to drink until he has run out of money and then he will start from rock bottom again. He knows this journey, and his own demons, (often sharing them and prayer in my office) like the back of his hand.

What he has said in this precious, vulnerable, encounter between three human hearts, in love. What he has said, drenched in pain and hope I don’t believe I will ever forget….

“Just stay with me sisters, just keep loving me…”

That is our mission and vision – keep loving, serving in hope.