2017 LIFELINK WINTER APPEAL: Ocean Reef parishioners look forward to supporting the local community
Attendees at the training session and information night for Simon Peter Care at St Simon Peter Church, Ocean Reef Parish on 23 March 2016. Photo: Caroline Smith.
By Caroline Smith
“What does it mean to ‘do the will of my Father who is in heaven’? For us as Christians it is about following the one who said, among other things, ‘Whenever you give a cup of water to someone who thirsts, or clothes to someone who is naked, or shelter to someone who is homeless, you do it to me,’” (cf Matt 25:31-46).
These are the words of Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB in a letter to launch the 2017 LifeLink Winter Appeal.
The Archbishop says that it is his hope that together - united by faith, service and action, we will raise a minimum of $300,000 to help people in need this winter.
A number of social service agencies come under the LifeLink umbrella, to deliver professional services and caring assistance to thousands of people in need throughout Western Australia each year.
Catholic Outreach is one of those agencies, with pastoral care programs spread across Perth.
With a growing number of people in need and in line with Archbishop Costelloe’s appeal, parishioners at St Simon Peter Church in Ocean Reef have recently decided to reintroduce a pastoral care program – Simon Peter Care – after a hiatus of more than ten years.
At a training session earlier this year, around 40 people from the parish gathered to find out more about the program, which will be supported through Archdiocesan agency Catholic Outreach and how they might help.
Speaking at the session on Thursday 23 March, Catholic Outreach Director Peter McMinn said the group would facilitate a range of services including provision of meals and transport to local people, irrespective of their religious affiliation or practices.
“Care programs serve anybody in need who live loosely within the parish boundaries. So whether they’re Catholic or not, whether they come to Church or not, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
“People are in need and we have volunteers that are happy to help them out with particular things. If they need something that we can’t do, then we’ll try and find a referral to another agency or to somebody else.”
Catholic Outreach Director Peter McMinn addressing the group of parishioners who attended the training session for Simon Peter Care in March. Photo: Caroline Smith.
Simon Peter Care has appointed six coordinators to oversee different areas of care provision within the parish, with Angela Boothroyd acting as the group’s chief coordinator as well as handling the area of bereavement.
Other coordinators include Beatriz Blackall (family support, meals), Russell Blackall (gardening, handyman), Paul Blackall (transport), Henry Milner (visiting) and Gerry Kelly (home help).
Mrs Boothroyd said the Parish Council at Ocean Reef had proposed setting up a group through Catholic Outreach during a meeting two years ago, inspired by the words of Pope Francis.
“The idea was first brought up at our parish AGM (annual general meeting) in Nov 2015 and was prompted by the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the advice of Pope Francis to ‘return to basics and bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters’,” she said.
“Over the previous couple of years it had become apparent to some parishioners that there were many people in our own parish in need. With an aging congregation, an increase in migrant families and many facing illness or unemployment, there was an obvious need for support.
“We had many desperately lonely and vulnerable parishioners who just needed to know that someone cared.”
Previously, a similar group also called Simon Peter Care, had operated from 1996 to 2002 in the parish.
Mr McMinn said that Catholic Outreach care programs would often work in conjunction with other agencies and Catholic organisations to provide support in areas such as family support, meals, gardening, handyman work, transport, visiting, bereavement and home help.
“Care programs work alongside other parish organisations and don't compete with anybody but often work with St Vincent de Paul or with the Legion of Mary,” he said.
“So sometimes, St Vincent de Paul will come along to a care group and say ‘we’ve been visiting a family that really needs help with transport, or a hot meal next Wednesday’ and vice-versa.”
LifeLink is the umbrella organisation which provides on-going funding support for the Church’s social service agencies. In 2017, more than 34,000 Western Australian families and individuals will be helped by a LifeLink agency.
Your generous support of the Archbishop’s 2017 Winter Appeal for LifeLink ensures agencies continue their ‘mission of care’.
The goal this year is to raise more than $300,000 to respond to the calls for help from people in need this winter.
To donate to the Archbishop’s appeal, please visit www.lifelink.com.au
All donations are tax deductible.