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Blessing gives thanks for 70 years of service


A papal blessing for the Daughters of Charity was the highlight of a commemorative Mass held in St Francis Xavier's Cathedral last month to mark 70 years of the Hutt St Centre.

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The Daughters of Charity established the Hutt St Centre in 1954 in response to a need for assistance for homeless men in the south-eastern corner of Adelaide, many of them returned soldiers from World War II.

Seven decades later, seven Daughters of Charity Sisters attended the Hutt St Centre Commemorative Mass led by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan on June 22. During the service, Archbishop O’Regan presented the Sisters with a blessing from Pope Francis.

He thanked the Daughters of Charity and the Hutt St Centre for showing what “accompaniment” looks like and “how we might be able to share in it”.

At a gathering of staff, volunteers and clients after Mass, Sr Debra McCarthy DC, a director of the Hutt St Centre Board, put the focus on those whom the Centre serves.

“I’d like us to stop and think about all of those people who are out in the freezing weather under a tree or in fragile housing because they are not in this room, yet they are the heart of what we are on about,” Sr Debra said.

“Seventy years ago a small group of Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul came to Adelaide at the request of Archbishop Beovich. In some way, it was his vision. He saw the need and thought, ‘who could meet this need?’

“Hutt St Centre is at the heart of the Catholic Church here in Adelaide and from that early vision and the early Sisters, the Daughters actually spread to a lot of other ministries in Adelaide. It was the beginning of a seed that spread through South Australia.”

Despite the decades that have passed and the technological changes in the world, Sr Debra reflected on what remains the same.

“The core vision is to see Christ in each and every person. To see God in each and every person. To see the God within. To see the good within. And for us, to be Christ for each and every person. “

The goal is to search for those on the margins of society.

“The disadvantaged, those living in poverty, those who society see as maybe ‘throwaway’.

“From the beginning to today, those basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, a shower…that continues. More important is providing a kind word. Recognition that they are real and not invisible. Calling a person by their name, welcoming them, accepting them, a smile, just looking into their eyes…compassion.”

Sr Boyland, Sr Debra McCarthy, Sr Ratana Sriwarakul, Hutt St Centre volunteer Dulcie Boag, Sr Lin, Sr Haywood, Sr Maria Comito and Sr Carole Jones.

Also in attendance was the charity’s longest-serving volunteer, 89-year-old great grandmother Dulcie Boag.

“Dulcie has volunteered here for 43 years,” said Hutt St Centre’s chief executive officer Chris Burns.

“That’s the calibre of our volunteers. I want to thank our staff, our volunteers, and our supporters; you give so much of yourselves in kind to make sure we can deliver what we do.”

Chair of the Board, Tim O’Callaghan, spoke of Hutt St Centre’s future.

“We have grown into a multifaceted organisation, adapting and expanding to meet the changing needs of our community” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“One of our flagship programs, Aspire, has played a key role in this evolution. Aspire focuses on providing long-term support, helping individuals find employment, secure housing, and reintegrate into the community. This program has been a lifeline for many, offering a tangible path out of homelessness.”

Hutt St Centre has also launched Aged Care Living, a program dedicated to supporting older individuals experiencing homelessness.

“In recent years, we have embraced the concept of ‘homefulness’ which represents more than just providing shelter,” he said.

“Homefulness is about creating a sense of belonging and stability, ensuring that everyone has a place they can truly call home.”



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