By Joyce Mondalek
This winter the good people of Fairfield parish left the warmth of heaters and blankets at home to serve up some soul food for the wider community.
The Soup 4 Soul project, running four nights over July and August, was partly sponsored by St Vincent’s Health Care Services and began as a way to put faith into action through outreach in line of the vision of the Our Lady of the Rosary parish and supported by its pastoral council.
About 30 volunteers including school students, parents and parishioners came together to cook and serve a meal of soup and bread for anyone passing by the church, which is close to Fairfield train station and shops.
Organisers said it was successful in raising awareness of the social, economic and spiritual state of individuals in the Fairfield community, while encouraging the faithful to address the pastoral needs of the community by way of charity in action.
Soup 4 Soul initiative brought along many people from all walks of life, including bystanders who attended spontaneously after walking past on the street, thus the outreach project was community building and brought people into a closer connection with their local parish.
The group promoted the event with free soup offered at the train station and also ran a Soup 4 Syriacs night, where more than 300 soups, bread, pastries, chocolates were served for hundreds of children and their parents in the Syriac Catholic community, many of whom are refugees, who use the parish’s facilities on the weekends to provide catechesis.
Bao-Huan Nguyen, a volunteer and Year 12 student at Patrician Brothers College, Fairfield, said that taking part in the outreach allowed him to develop his interpersonal skills “and at the same time put my faith into action with outreach”.
Karina, a mother of the parish, said she enjoyed the sharing aspect of the event and seeing older people and younger members participate. “Running the event is very meaningful, giving the community a chance to connect,” she said.