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Spirit of giving continues at Parkside/Glen Osmond

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‘Hands-on commitment to our faith’ is how Trish Wilson describes her parish’s 35 year association with the Brother Michael Christmas Hamper Appeal.

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What started in 1983 with a few members of the St Vincent de Paul Society Glen Osmond Conference preparing a small number of Christmas hampers has grown to the distribution of more than 200 hampers to 700 individuals by up to 70 volunteer drivers.

Trish and other volunteers involved in Brother Michael Hampers explained the history behind the charity during the Archdiocesan team’s ‘long day’ visit to St Paul of the Cross parish, Glen Osmond/Parkside, this month.

Named after Brother Michael Kirgan CP, who expanded the initial concept in the 80s and took it on himself to door knock local businesses for donations, the charity was continued after Brother Michael’s death in 1994 by Father Peter Gardiner CP.

In October 1997 the Appeal was incorporated as a charitable status and each year the organising committee obtains the names of vulnerable families and individuals from four Vinnies conferences and other welfare and disability services in Adelaide.

“The fact that it has continued since Br Michael’s passing in 1994 demonstrates that his spirit of giving is still amongst us,” Trish said.

A lunch is held in the parish to launch the annual Appeal which raises funds for food hampers, grocery vouchers and toys.

Parish pastoral associate Pauline Connell said the initiative was a good way of getting sacramental families engaged in community outreach.

The visitation team also heard about other parish programs such as the Cross Road Forums where guest speakers are invited to speak on social justice issues and other topics such as ‘navigating the health system’ and walking the Camino.

Members of the local Vinnies conference outlined the assistance provided to families and individuals in need.

The visitation team of Father Philip Marshall, Teresa Lynch, Sarah Moffatt, Jill Gallio and Youth coordinator Peter Bierer split into two groups during the ‘long day’.

Parish priest Fr John Curtis CP said a highlight was the home visit to people who aren’t able to get to Mass, in particular one couple who recently lost their daughter and were really struggling with grief.

“Just to sit and have a cuppa and talk was a wonderful affirmation of their struggle,” Fr Curtis said.

“We also had wonderful conversations in the nursing homes – both Fullarton and Lourdes Valley – and we met one man who was 100 and had lived in British India when it became independent.”

The team also met a parishioner who takes her young granddaughter with her when she gives communion to the sick.

Fr Marshall described her as “our youngest pastoral worker”.

The team also met with a group of students from St Raphael’s School, who shared glowingly of their experiences. Parents and staff also took part in the visit.

The evening session was attended by about 32 people and Fr Curtis said there was a rich sharing and reflection on life in the parish, issues within the Church and the upcoming Plenary Council.

“It was a very rewarding and enriching day for all involved,” he said.

The visitation closed the following Sunday with Fr Marshall leading the 10.30am Mass at The Monastery and parishioners enjoying a ‘cuppa’ with the team in the Sebastian Centre.

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