As going gets tough, parishes get going

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Volunteers Caroline and Jacob Badra, volunteers with ‘Food for Friends’, prepare a meal for fellow parishioners in need.
Volunteers Caroline and Jacob Badra, volunteers with ‘Food for Friends’, prepare a meal for fellow parishioners in need.

As the COVID-19 crisis in NSW continues, harsh restrictions and an extension to the lockdown have increased the strain on many families throughout Greater Sydney.

In response, communities from Sydney’s South-West have started volunteer-run meal services to provide those in need with home-cooked dishes.

St Peter Chanel and St Joseph parish in Berala, together with St Peter Chanel Catholic Primary School, have launched ‘Food for Friends’, a parish-focussed program that joins willing volunteers with fellow parishioners who are doing it tough.

“The program has given the parishioners a way to have purpose in the lives of others.”

Amanda Gahan, acting assistant principal of St Peter Chanel Catholic Primary School in Regents Park, credits the origins of ‘Food for Friends’ to the parish’s fervour for keeping its community connected during the lockdown period.

“We have always been a parish with a strong focus on social justice and our St Vincent de Paul conference is extremely active in the local community,” Mrs Gahan said.

In response, communities from Sydney’s South-West have started volunteer-run meal services to provide those in need with home-cooked dishes.
In response, communities from Sydney’s South-West have started volunteer-run meal services to provide those in need with home-cooked dishes.

“We wanted to find a way that the parishioners could feel like they were still doing something to reach out to others while at the same time helping those people that may be struggling during the lockdown.”

The program was well received by Regents Park/Berala parishioners who have united to bring relief to those who are sick, struggling financially or just need a break from meal preparation after long days of remote schooling and work.

“Our parish community is always very generous and they have been very keen to jump on board preparing meals and making donations for fresh food,” said Mrs Gahan.

“We have had large families, couples or those living alone reach out to us for some help …”

“The program has given the parishioners a way to have purpose in the lives of others.”

The parishes of St Joseph’s Moorebank and St Christopher’s Holsworthy, run by the Somascan Fathers, also launched a similar program on 1 August.

Volunteers with ‘Miani Meals’ serve up a variety of delicious dinners for a number of families.
Volunteers with ‘Miani Meals’ serve up a variety of delicious dinners for a number of families.

In the spirit of the Somascan Father’s founder St Jerome Emiliani, the ‘Miani Meal Service’ seeks to serve those in most need with a home-cooked dinner every Saturday during lockdown.

Both the Somascan Fathers and Somascan Movement Australia, a laity run charity, have received an overwhelming response from parishioners keen to volunteer.

“We have had large families, couples or those living alone reach out to us for some help but there is plenty to go around. We are here to support you,” read a post on St Joseph’s Moorebank’s Facebook page.

“… the ‘Miani Meal Service’ seeks to serve those in most need with a home-cooked dinner every Saturday during lockdown.”

Those who wish to receive a meal from St Peter Chanel and St Joseph’s ‘Food for Friends’ program can contact the parish on 9644 7787 or the school office on 9644 9083 and via email at [email protected].

To sign up for ‘Miani Meal Service’, families or individuals can fill out the form (anonymously if preferred) via https://forms.gle/7NpHRc5mUHnEnn7C6 or via email at [email protected]