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Archbishop blesses Vinnies House of Welcome


The core Christian value of welcoming a stranger was highlighted by Archbishop Patrick O'Regan at the blessing of the Vinnies House of Welcome at Kilburn and the Vinnies Refugee and Asylum Seeker Service this month.

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Archbishop O’Regan linked the blessing of the relocated Vinnies centre, which builds on the work of the Sisters of Mercy, to the Pope’s historic visit to Iraq this week.

“This is big at an international level but what’s happening here at the local level means in our own way we are entering into that wonderful gift of solidarity,” he said.

“Welcoming a stranger is not an option, it is part of our core,” he said. “This House of Welcome is at the heart of the Gospel and sums up our desire to put a human face to the words Pope Francis often uses , that is, ‘we are all sisters and brothers’.”

Brad Hocking, SA president of the St Vincent de Paul Society, spoke of the hardships faced by asylum seekers and refugees, exacerbated by the Federal Government’s hardline immigration policy.

He said there were still 572 asylum seekers who arrived in SA nearly a decade ago and were still on temporary protection visas.

“It’s a bit of a contradiction of terms, it’s not really protection if it’s temporary,” Mr Hocking said.

“This generates the fear of deportation and can generate desperation because of there is uncertainty about the future, especially when there are cultural and language barriers.

“Each person has a name, each person has a story that we need to hear and our lives will be enriched by hearing it. Those stories need to be woven into the fabric of our society.”

Sr Mel Dwyer FdCC, the Society’s spiritual adviser in Brisbane, reflected on the organisation’s founder Blessed Frederic Ozanam, who responded to a need to make a difference to the poor of France.

“In the same way, his dream lives on in our hearts today as we open this House of Welcome,” she said.

All those who serve at this place have the opportunity to live their faith in action by serving those who are vulnerable in the local community.”

In his Welcome to Country, John Lochowiak from the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry said the occasion had special significant for him because his father had migrated from Poland in 1949 and married a Kaurna woman, Linda Walker..

The liturgy featured singing by six children from St Gabriel’s Primary School, Enfield, and concluded with the song I am Australian sung by Lindsay Dunn.

Clearview Kilburn parish priest Fr Selva Raj, Claire Boan, Mayor of the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and local MP Steve Georganas attended the blessing, along with  Vinnies staff, volunteers and companions.

The Vinnies Migrant and Refugee Service was previously located at Hindmarsh but moved to Kilburn last year after the Sisters of Mercy closed the Mercy House of Welcome and embarked on a new Mercy Works project at Port Augusta.


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