Drought area bishops thank Gymea parish

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Drought stricken plains in western NSW. Photo: Tim J Keegan/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The cheerful givers at St Catherine Labouré Parish in Gymea have been at it again, raising $20,000 in a single weekend to support families who have been doing it tough due to the drought.

While this month’s rain throughout the country’s east has been welcome, hailstorms have destroyed some crops, and the parish’s donations have given struggling farmers a break from debt while keeping local businesses afloat.

At the suggestion of parish priest Monsignor Brian Raynor the parish held a special collection for drought-affected communities in the Toowoomba and Armidale dioceses.
They sent $10,000 to each diocese, to be distributed to the most needy families and individuals in a way that benefited the whole community.

Bishop Robert McGuckin of Toowoomba said it was great that people in the city realise the reality of the impact of the ongoing drought on people in country areas, and could help in a practical way.

“What happens often when a call goes out for assistance is that people send food supplies but that disadvantages the local stores especially in towns further out which are already struggling as populations are dwindling,” he said.

Bishop McGuckin said that his diocese gives donated funds to whoever is looking after the parishes and can liaise with local suppliers to identify the customers who due to the drought need large debts cleared.

“We don’t advertise what we’re doing – the people just know they have received some assistance with their debt, not who it came from,” he said.

“Eventually with this rain the hope is that the farmers can think of putting some crops in so they can feed their stock and don’t have to keep buying stock feed. That’s what’s so expensive.

“In one way Queensland farmers are used to times of drought but this drought has been severe for a long time and any sort of relief they can get is great.”
Bishop Michael Kennedy of Armidale was delighted by the “generous donation” received and said the support, along with those from others, has been given as gift cards to needy families.

“The gift cards were purchased at stores in local towns thus supporting the local businesses as well as the individuals,” he said.

Monsignor Raynor said the parishioners at Gymea “are always very generous,” one factor making his 13 years with the parish “very rewarding”.