at ‘peace’ Mass
Olympic challenge in ‘little Bronx’ for the Exodus Six
By Marilyn Rodrigues
A Redemptorist priest, a Marist brother, a Mercy sister and three lay people are looking for others to join them in their work for the disadvantaged living in Housing Commission accommodation in Melbourne.
The six make up the Exodus Community, a ministry formed five years ago in the old Olympic Village in West Heidelberg, where they conduct outreach programs under the auspices of the local parish, St Pius X.
The village makes up about a quarter of the parish’s geographical area, but the parish had very little presence there before the Exodus Community moved in, says parish priest Fr Anthony Hicks.
Now, although the area still doesn’t have many churchgoers, says Redemptorist priest Fr Frank Smith, of Exodus, the number joining the Exodus Community at Sunday Masses has at least increased significantly from the initial half dozen.
The village, built for the 1956 Olympic Games, was converted into a Housing Commission complex after the Olympics.
And it soon became “a sort of little Bronx”, says Fr Frank.
“It is not so bad now, although we still have crime and violence and some other difficulties, but the people here are just wonderful.
“But they are very disadvantaged; unemployment is about 80 per cent here.”
The Exodus Community operates a youth ministry with the help of young adult volunteers; a bread ministry, where surplus bread collected from three bakeries is distributed to about 50 families each week; and a team that organises holiday camps, activities and fun days for kids and their families. Now, Fr Frank says, they have been invited to set up another Exodus Community in Wendouree West, a suburb of Ballarat.
So the Exodus Six are looking for people, either lay, religious or priests, willing to live in community, pray and minister in a low socio-economic area.
Call Fr Frank Smith, on (03) 9457 7593.