What would I know about isolation or being lonely you ask?
I was the middle of nine children growing up and certainly didn’t feel alone or isolated.
Now as an adult my wife and I have eight grown up children, nine grandchildren and I still have those eight brothers and sisters so it hardly qualifies me to be an expert but let me tell you what I do know.
You don’t have to be on your own to feel isolated or alone. Since the pandemic arrived March 2020, it highlighted the issues of isolation and loneliness, many people for the first time got a taste of what others have experienced in some cases all their life.
Our members have taken their dedication to a new level and I am extremely proud of them … [they] are living out their faith through their actions.”
We have seen a small number of incidents where greed and selfishness was at the forefront but as Sydney Archdiocesan President of St Vincent de Paul, I have had the privilege of witnessing more than one thousand members, staff and volunteers working tirelessly to serve all who have felt vulnerable, alone and yes isolated.
While we have had to find a COVID safe way of serving those who called upon us, serve them we did and will continue to as long as needed.
The every day requests of those who call upon us in their hour of need would be addressed but during these unprecedented days of lockdown, our members have taken their dedication and commitment to a new level and I am extremely proud of them.
From supplying essential items to those in need to actually doing the grocery shopping for them to picking up items such as medication, our members are living out their faith through their actions.
Of course we don’t live on bread alone and lockdown, isolation and loneliness can effect mental health and wellbeing so our teams have also been working the phones to ensure our dear companions don’t feel forgotten.
If there was anything good to come from the situation we find ourselves in, it might be that we have a better understanding and awareness of what it is like to be scared or feel alone and isolated where a daily struggle might involve worrying about what many of us take for granted … enough food on the table, being able to turn the heater on, buy a school uniform for your child or provide the laptop or participate in the school excursion etc to afford your specialist appointment or medication and other essential bills.
Yes the pandemic and lockdown has caused inconvenience and real concerns for many including job losses, but what it has also done has highlighted the plight and struggles that many in our community face on a daily basis with or without the pandemic.
Fortunately it has also shown that when times get tough, people with a love of God step up to show by actions their faith and let me conclude with a quote from Mother Teresa…
If we pray, we will believe,
If we believe, we will love,
If we love, we will serve.
Only then we put our love of God into action.
May God bless all who suffer and we give thanks to God for all those who strive to serve him through their missionary work as Vincentians.
Tony Cranney is the President of the Sydney Archdiocesan St Vincent de Paul Society